Posts from the ‘middle grades’ Category


In partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Susan R. Stoltz


The Crabtree Monsters

Written by Chris Wieland

Ages 10+ | 384 Pages

Publisher: The Smart Aleck Press | ISBN-13: 9798985701302

Publisher’s Synopsis: Moving from Los Angeles to tiny Crabtree, Michigan, is the last thing thirteen-year-old Kat Dylan wants to do. Crabtree’s seen better days and isn’t what you call welcoming. Worse, the move means living with her gruff Grandpa Nick, the town’s police chief, and having to look after her little brother, Alec.

And that’s before Kat and Alec find themselves in the middle of a bank holdup by the Monster Gang—four robbers in monster masks. Before the heist is over, the kids lose their cash and Alec comes within a hair of losing his life. When it is all over, Grandpa Nick goes to jail, accused of being one of the robbers himself.

Suddenly, this boring little town isn’t so boring anymore. Kat’s determined to find out who the men are behind the masks, and she’s going to need help. But exposing the robbers could have big consequences. The deeper Kat goes, the more she learns life is about making choices, including some that are a matter of life and death.



Chris Wieland is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is also the father of two fierce children, including a tough, smart tween who helped him find the voice of his protagonist, Kat Dylan. He lives in Southern California with his family.

For more information, visit



The Crabtree Monsters

Written by Chris Wieland

Thirteen-year-old Kat and her ten-year-old brother, Alec have much to worry about. Their parents are divorced. Mom has been deployed to Afghanistan and they are moving from their father’s apartment in Los Angeles to a rural town in Michigan to live with their grandfather for nine months. They are distraught.

Kat is a wonderful character. She is bright, stubborn, determined and so relatable to the middle-grade audience. The book is full of coming-of-age issues, sibling rivalry, difficult family relationships, adjusting to a new school with new friends, and the problems of moving to a completely different neighborhood. To add to the appeal, their father and grandfather are both lawmen. Kat and her brother have inherited their penchant for solving mysteries.

Not long after the move, the siblings learn of the Monster Gang and become embroiled with the crimes plaguing their new home. That sets the stage for a fast-moving detective mystery that Kat and Alec decide to solve.

I love the humor, appealing characters, and plot of this novel. The middle-grade readers will not want to put it down.


Enter for a chance to win a signed copy of The Crabtree Monsters and a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

A signed copy of The Crabtree Monsters and a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card.

Four (4) winners receive:

A signed copy of The Crabtree Monsters.



Tuesday, June 14, 2022The Children’s Book ReviewA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Wednesday, June 15, 2022Satisfaction for Insatiable ReadersAn article by Chris Wieland
Thursday, June 16, 2022The Fairview ReviewA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Friday, June 17, 2022The Momma SpotA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Monday, June 20, 2022Because I Said SoA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Tuesday, June 21, 2022The Children’s Book ReviewA Growing Readers Podcast interview with Chris Wieland
Wednesday, June 22, 2022icefairy’s Treasure ChestA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Thursday, June 23, 2022Lisa’s ReadingA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Friday, June 24, 2022J.R.s Book ReviewsA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Monday, June 27, 2022Tales of a Wanna-Be Superhero MomA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Tuesday, June 28, 2022The Children’s Book ReviewAn Instagram Video Review
Wednesday, June 29, 2022Barbara Ann MojicaA book review of The Crabtree Monsters
Thursday, June 30, 2022Shooting Stars MagAn interview with Chris Wieland
Friday, July 1, 2022Writer with WanderlustA book review of The Crabtree Monsters




This book is just what the title says, a guide to positive sentences to put in your mind to help you achieve goals in various areas of your life.

A total of 500 positive sentences you can use to motivate yourself in self-worth, achieving success, developing financial success, health, and wellness, and overall happiness in life.

If you are looking for a convenient reference guide to jumpstart your mood and outlook for the day, this book gives you a plethora of mantras to get you started on a positive mindset.



Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in …Tiger Trouble!

Written by Grant Goodman

Agent Darcy is a gifted ninja who never misses an opportunity to display her talents. Unfortunately, her younger brother, Steve, does not possess her ninja skills. Darcy never lets him forget it.

Book One in a series portrays Darcy and her cohorts as strong female role models. The sibling rivalry scenarios will ring true with elementary and middle-school readers. I believe the book is a good choice for reluctant readers as well because the characters are authentic and the story moves smoothly and quickly. It also could be an excellent tool for a short classroom daily read-aloud book to open a reading lesson.

Subscribe to this blog to get new book suggestions every Wednesday and Sunday.


Fun Facts: Volume 4

Written by Irish Castor

If you have a child who cannot get enough trivia and likes to show off his smarts, this book might be for you. It is targeted at late elementary and early middle-school ages.

The facts cover almost any subject imaginable. Readers learn what happens to children in China who cheat on tests, how many people believe in vampires, what happens when you eat too many apple seeds, and how penguins propose to one another. The organization of the book is random with no chapters or subheadings. There are lots of illustrations that make the book appealing to reluctant readers.

Despite its limitations, it is a quick read providing snippets of knowledge with some entertainment value.

Looking for more family books, follow my Pinterest Board at


Millie the Cat Has Borderline Personality Disorder

Written by Jessie Shepherd

Some reviewers have criticized the book for being too simplistic. The author uses a cat named Millie as the protagonist with a borderline personality disorder. Using simple illustrations, Millie first explains the disorder by revealing the opposite emotions it brings on.

The second part of the book is my favorite part. Millie points out certain skills may be learned to control her emotions and then provides concrete examples of how persons suffering from this disorder have significant strengths and advantages as well as weaknesses and disadvantages.

I believe this book can be a valuable tool when used in conjunction with a skilled therapist or teacher. If read independently by a child, it will need adult explanation and elaboration to ensure there are no misunderstandings.

Do you love getting great book suggestions for your family? Subscribe to this blog to get new ideas every Wednesday and Sunday.


Piano Made Easy: Learn to Play Nursery Rhymes

By Piano Made Easy Press

This book lives up to its title. It is a learning guide that focuses on familiar tunes from cultures across the world. The introduction section is important to spend time learning the basics. There are clear visuals and simple text explanations. This section must be mastered to proceed to the next level.

The book can be used with very young children with parent or teacher guidance. The songs are familiar to school children and fun to play. As the student gains more confidence, she can move up to level two in the series or graduate to more difficult sheet music.

Looking for more interesting books to read? Subscribe to this blog to get new suggestions every Wednesday and Sunday.


Command (Lt Peter Harding Book 1)

Written by Antony Melville-Ross

The author is a veteran submariner in the British navy. This book benefits from his experience and attention to detail.

As the tale opens, a British submarine is en route to Norway to target German ships, when it is badly damaged by an Arctic storm. Already under stress, the crew struggles to maintain composure and teamwork because they are being pursued by the Nazis.

The adventure is fast-paced and the characters intense. Readers experience life as a submariner. Fans of World War II history and naval warfare will enjoy the first book of this series.

Looking for more interesting books to read? Subscribe to this blog to get new suggestions every Wednesday and Sunday.


The Magic Volcano: Molly’s Magical Adventures: Book One

Written by V. K. May

Although this book is targeted at a middle-grade reading audience with short chapters, it contains all the elements that will please young adult and adult audiences.

Molly Marsh possesses an insatiable curiosity and strong determination to get to the bottom of things. As the book opens, she has departed Australia for Papua, New Guinea. Upon landing, a blue butterfly lands on her nose assuring her things will be okay. Let the adventures begin.

Molly teams up with Michael to explore the island. The characters are well-defined, and the action is continuous. Readers discover all types of useful information. I won’t spoil the plot but will say once you start reading, you will not be able to put the book down.

A delightful chapter book for readers eight through eighty.

Subscribe to this blog to get new book suggestions every Wednesday and Sunday.


Scaredy Bat Books 1-3 Series Collection: Illustrated Vampire Detective Stories for Kids (Scaredy Bat Collection)

Written by Marina J. Bowman

I previously reviewed the first book in this series and enjoyed it so I jumped at the chance to obtain the boxed series.

Ellie is a vampire detective who is very smart, but she is limited by some very real fears. She has a crew of friends who supplement her weaknesses and team up with her to get to the bottom of each mystery.

This is a wonderful detective series for beginning or intermediate chapter book readers. There are lots of supplementary illustrations to keep the story interesting, along with a few puzzles and bonus pages to make the books interactive. Most children enjoy becoming involved with characters in a series as they are well-developed and interesting.

Highly recommended for budding detectives who love a good mystery with interesting characters and questions to answer.

Do you love getting great book suggestions for your family? Subscribe to this blog to get new ideas every Wednesday and Sunday.


Bright Ideas: Creative Writing for Children

Written by Luisa Plaja

While this book is written to inspire children, anyone of any age who wants to write will find it useful.

It gives prompts to jumpstart the writing process. First, simple ideas to create a story. Then, scenarios for creating compelling characters. Can’t think of a plot? Plaja provides ideas to weave details into a finished plot. She even includes suggestions for creating the dialogue between characters and finding an appropriate title. Before closing, the author tackles organization with suggestions for keeping track of your progress.

The book provides a quick reminder of writing tasks and a good reference checklist for the newbie or established writers.

To get free tips for authors and teaching lessons subscribe to my youtube channel

%d bloggers like this: