Posts from the ‘middle grades’ Category

DOGS HAVE FEELINGS TOO…

Lucky’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland (Lucky’s Adventures)

Written by Elizabeth Macey

Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky

Lucky Charms is an adopted rescue dog who happily lives with her human family and a cat named Hershey Kisses. She is excited to wake up to a snowstorm. Lucky promptly goes out to play with her neighborhood dog friends. They go ice-skating and skiing. The day ends with barbecuing hot dogs. That night Lucky reflects on how fortunate she is to have such a comfortable life with a loving family and so many dog friends. She figures out a way to help less fortunate dogs and rallies her neighborhood dog friends to assist her.

Children will love seeing these dogs take on human characteristics and do the activities they love participating in themselves. The illustrations consist mostly of two-page spreads featuring many vivid drawings of adorable dog breeds. Macey includes a list of suggestions for her readers to get involved in animal rescue. I would recommend this picture book especially for elementary school readers, but it has appeal for a reader of any age.

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SECRET SANTA

Sophie Washington: Secret Santa

Written and Illustrated by Tonya Duncan Ellis

This Christmas themed story adds a nice touch to the Sophie Washington series of books. These chapter books are geared to middle-grade readers. The black and white line drawings enhance the tale and provide added incentives for beginning readers.

Sophie is now a sixth-grader at Xavier Academy. Her younger brother, Cole, is sometimes a thorn in her side, but she loves him dearly. Sophie steps in to protect him from a new neighbor who is bullying Cole. The main part of the plot involves a series of Christmas gifts that mysteriously appear on Sophie’s doorstep. The signature says from your Secret Santa. Sophie is puzzled. She and her girlfriends try to figure out the mystery. Then she learns that another boy in school is also receiving gifts. Sophie’s grandmother helps them to solve the mystery when a clue emerges. The giver is certainly not anyone they might have suspected.

This book is a beautiful story portraying the true Christmas spirit. Lots of wholesome family values, like supportive family relationships, bullying, and preteen angst are addressed. I highly recommend the book to lift holiday spirits. If you enjoy it, check out the entire Sophie Washington book series.

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WHO’S WHO

Brian: The Helmsworth Project: Book Two

Written by Madison Key

I did not read the first book in this science fiction, coming of age series, but I caught on after the first few pages. Sixteen-year-old Brian has managed to escape after his parents are killed and his home blown up. Brian’s sisters Claire and Jenna are under the protection of the FBI, as were his parents. He is being held off the coast of Mexico. It appears that his captors know of his psionic and pyrokinesis powers. While being held, Brian keeps in mental touch with his sister. But he is having difficulty figuring out who is the real enemy and being forced into submission to do their bidding.

Will Brian be able to untangle the web of deceit in time to get back to his sisters and safety? This book of fewer than fifty pages moves along quickly. Middle-grade, young adult and adult science fiction, and genetic engineering fans who enjoy a light, fast-moving read will probably like this series.

SIBLING LOYALTY

What It Means to be a Big Brother

Written and illustrated by Lindsey Coker Luckey

This charming picture book is told in the first person. The older sibling professes his unending love and loyalty toward his younger brother.

The book is written in rhyme. While I believe the story would be just as effective if told in verse, the rhyme succeeds for the most part. This older brother promises to protect his brother from harm, and teach him new skills like how to fish, ride a bike, and play games. He promises lots of adventures. The older sibling injects realism and humor into the story. He admits there will be times when they play pranks on their parents or get into trouble for drawing on the table or bringing bugs into the house.

Many books written on siblings focus on the rivalry and adjustment issues when a new sibling enters the family. This one focuses on the family’s love for one another. The soft, gentle illustrations work to enhance the mood. Recommended for any age reader.

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One of a Kind

Only One Samantha

Written by Allesandro Reale

Illustrated by Hank Darwin

Samantha enjoys being unique. She doesn’t need to fit in with the crowd. Every day she wears a different outfit to school. It doesn’t bother her that her classmates criticize her for not wearing clothes like them.

One day, Samantha’s teacher arrives strangely dressed. It is School Dress up day. All her classmates have forgotten. Only Samantha has dressed appropriately. What will happen?

Samantha has the confidence and courage to be true to herself and not depend on the opinions of others. This message is an important one for elementary and middle-school children to understand. This book contains black and white images that the reader may dress and color to their own preference.

Recommended especially for children ages six through twelve, but certainly appropriate for any age.

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COMMUNITY COALITION

Nobody’s Cats: How One Little Black Kitty Came in from the Cold

Written by Valerie Ingram and Alistair Schroff


The authors wrote this book based on a true story and contribute the proceeds of sales to animal welfare.

One day a little boy finds a hungry black kitten in the snow next to an old shed. He notices that there are many other cats there. Children passing the cats throw rocks at them. The boy asks neighbors in the area who owns the cats. They tell him that these cats are feral cats that belong to no one.

A few months pass by before a visitor to the boy’s schools comes to teach them about animal rescue. The boy learns he can become a superhero. He can spearhead a community effort to care for these abandoned animals. What will happen to the black kitty? How can the community solve the problem of overpopulation and animal neglect?

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FEAR NOT

Scaredy Bat and the Frozen Vampires: An Illustrated Mystery Chapter Book for Kids 8-12 (Scaredy Bat: A Vampire Detective Series 1)
Written by Marina J. Bowman
Illustrated by Yevheniia Lisavoya

Ellie is a twelve-year-old vampire who loves to solve mysteries. The fact that she is afraid of almost everything fails to deter her. Ellie fears loud noises, spiders, and clowns, among many other things. One thing she does have is a large network of friends who come to her aid. When Ellie attends a vampire wedding, everyone freezes solid. How can she overcome her fears and solve the mystery before it is too late?

The author includes bonuses for budding detective readers. She offers a quiz to test if the reader qualifies to be a detective. Readers receive a guide to analyzing suspects and recording evidence.

Lisavoya draws excellent black and white illustrations to sustain interest levels. The book is not too lengthy, which encourages reluctant readers.
One caveat, I read the Kindle version which contains formatting errors. I would rate the book three stars in the Kindle version, but five stars in the paperback edition.

Recommended for middle-grade readers in the print version.

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