It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers
Last week, my IMWAYR post featured some new middle grade novels that would make excellent choices for summer reading or end of the year read-alouds! Turns out there were TOO MANY books to mention in one blog… so here is Part 2!
Heartseeker by Melinda Beatty
I actually haven’t read this first book in a debut series as it is not released until June 5th – but it’s certainly on my TBR summer list. It’s getting a lot of great ARC reviews and I so like the concept behind this fantasy adventure about a girl named Only who can see lies. When news of Only’s abilities reaches the king, he commands her to work for him to seek out traitors and corruption. WOW! Sounds like a winner!
The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider
So this book may sound a little weird and morbid – parents who work in a cadaver lab, a tiger kidnapping, talking severed heads… but with such an original plot line, and laugh-out-loud humour – I think it will appeal to many middle grade readers. Fovea (whose name means eyeballs, by the way), is a 7th grader – embarrassed by her parents, mocked by her peers and without a single friend. She spends the summer working in her parent’s cadaver lab with a whole lot of body parts and in the process, discovers herself, some new friends and a new “embrace the moment” approach to life. Perhaps not for everyone – but would certainly appeal to middle grade readers (Gr. 6-7 range) who enjoy this type of “screw-ball comedy” and the “ickier” side of things!
Nightbooks by J.A. White
Another book I have on my MUST READ this summer (not released until mid July but I have my pre-order in!) is this scary (but apparently not too scary!) re-telling of The Arabian Knights that sounds like a mixture of Neil Gaiman’s books and Grimm’s fairy tales. It is the story of Alex, a monster-loving boy, who finds himself trapped in a magical apartment building. In order to stay alive, he has to tell the witch who captured him a scary story every night. Sounds Ah-Mazing!
Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea – Lynne Rae Perkins
A charming, breezy read – perfect for summer! A family with two young girls goes on vacation, spending a week on the ocean. No huge dramas, life-threatening crises, or earth shattering issues – but a heart-warming celebration of small moments. Walking on the beach, feeling the ocean waves for the first time, sand castles with different kinds of bucket mixtures, imaginative play, a new friend, horseshoe crabs and learning to be brave. Sweet but not fluffy. Love the addition of some wonderful illustrations! This is the kind of book I would have LOVED when I was in grade 6 or 7 – and I love it now!
Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe – Jo Watson Hackl
A charming coming-of-age story – this one with an endearing protagonist, lots of adventure and an added suspense, mystery and a treasure hunt. I was hooked right away with the authentic voice of Cricket – a young girl dealing with the death of her father and the disappearance of her mother. Cricket’s adventures are driven by a longing to heal her family and are filled with ups and downs and twists and turns. Lots of life lessons in this one that will leave you filled with sadness, hope and love.
Where the Watermelons Grow – Cindy Baldwin
WOW – a beautifully written, moving, sensitive story about families living with mental illness. Gorgeous writing with wonderful descriptions of the charming characters in a small southern town and the sticky summer heat. My heart ached for Della and her concern about her mother, who suffers from schizophrenia. The author does not shy away from difficult, important issues that we often have no control over. A wonderful, heart-wrenching story filled with hardships and harsh realities, yet also filled with love and hope. Likely this would be more suited for older middle grades and even teen readers. I recommend a box of Kleenex and a fresh watermelon close by – I started craving one while I was reading!
You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
I was excited to read this second book by Erin Entrada Kelly, who won the 2018 Newberry for her book Hello, Universe. She focuses on similar themes in this book – family stress, bullying and friendships. Charlotte and Ben are two middle school students who connect through an online Scrabble game. Their new friendship becomes invaluable as the chaos in each of their lives begin to spin out of control. I enjoyed the alternating chapters that focus on the scenarios in each child’s life. A great story about the importance of connecting with others for helping us navigate through life’s ups and downs.
Breakout – Kate Messner
A group of young students everyday lives are turned upside down when two inmates escape from the local prison. This compelling story about prejudice and racism in a small town was inspired by the escape and subsequent search of two prisoners from the Clinton NY correctional facility in 2015. Written in a very unique format depicting multiple points of view told through a series of letters, essays, articles, texts, newspaper articles and poetry. Even though it is 400 pages, the format makes it a surprisingly fast read. I really like how Kate Messner weaves important and current themes into her books and believe this one will spark many thoughtful and reflective conversations.
Sunny – Jason Reynolds
Sunny is the 3rd book in Jason Reynold’s popular Track series. This book follows 12-year-old Sunny Lancaster, the #1 middle distance runner of the Defenders whose mother died the day he was born. Sunny’s story is very different than Ghost or Patina. It is told in a series diary entries Sunny keeps to help control all the thoughts and ideas swirling around in his head. It becomes clear through the stream of consciousness entries that Sunny’s brain doesn’t process things like other kids – he jumps from thought to thought, from subject to subject, rhyming and playing with words. Sunny’s story is so authentic, so sad, so full of hope – I think it is my favorite in the series.
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
Charming story about overcoming obstacles and finding your place in the world. Twelve year old Lucy was unharmed after she was struck by lightning strike four years ago. But it left her with some compulsive behaviors and somewhat of a mathematical savant, making navigating, fitting in, and being accepted in middle school very challenging. So much to love about this book… the short chapters make easy reading, great character conversations, very “connectable”, lots of math and STEM connections, and love the dog!!!
Thanks for stopping by! Hope you found one or two titles that caught your eye!