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Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

#Bookaday – June 3 – Twenty-One Steps

Twenty- One Steps Book Review:

Finding picture books that are non-fiction and as beautiful as fiction books is sort of one of my joyful librarian wins. Twenty-One Steps promised to be thoughtful, beautiful, informational, and emotional – and it fulfilled those things.

The history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier isn’t known by children, unless they perhaps have a military family member or have visited it. This little-known history is both sad and beautiful. The story behind it haunting, yet necessary to our country’s history. This book was so well written and captured these feelings perfectly. The illustrations were gorgeous and I took my time flipping through this book to really soak up these thoughts.

I gave this book 5/5 stars for its uniqueness and for the beautiful writing accompanied by equally beautiful illustrations. The powerful message, fantastic vocabulary, and stunning verse will keep kids engaged with this text more than once. A perfect read aloud for teachers, librarians and parents. Recommended by me for grades 3 to 7.

REVIEW

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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

#BookaDay June 1 – Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

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This beautiful immigration story told in prose is one for every middle grade bookshelf, whether at home, in the library or in the classroom. Nurah, the main character, is just trying to blend in and find her place in her new school in Georgia after moving from Pakistan.

The characters weave this story together in ways that everyone reading it can relate to someone along the way, whether or not they have experienced moving across the world. I related to Nurah so much, because I had moved across the US at her age and felt so different in my new school in Texas. I loved reading Nurah’s story as she found her voice, and found a place to fit in , in her new world.

I highly recommend this to readers who love novels in verse, quick, beautiful reads, and realistic fiction. Recommended for grades 4-6 specifically. Nothing stood out to me as content to be aware of, but this is a good book to read about tackling bullying as well.

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bookstagram Weekly Reviews

#BookaDay Day 2 – May 31 – When You Ask Me Where I’m Going

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When I picked this up on May 31, I was already most of the way through this collection as I had started it in February and had slowly been making my way through it.

Jasmin Kaur has a beautiful way with words and art to make this amazing collection of poems and prose. There were a lot of poems I bookmarked because they had such a deep meaning to me and I understood them so well because of things I had personally experienced.

Throughout this book Jasmin explores what it means to be a young woman in today’s society and what it means to be a minority woman in today’s society. Her points of view are powerful and meaningful. I think there is something in this collection that will speak to every young woman who reads this.

I gave this book 5/5 stars because I know I will pick this up again and find something new to love about it. This is definitely a collection for adults, anyone who has enjoyed collections such as The Princess Will Save Herself in This One, and The Sun and Her Flowers.

You can order this collection from Amazon in Paperback for $9.99 or from Bookshop.org for $10.11 (10% goes back to support Indie bookstores). Both links give me a little kickback which I use to add books to our school library!

This is the bookmark that I designed based on this book. Preorders are open on my website.
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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie- MG Fiction Review

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Title: Scritch Scratch
Author: Lindsay Currie
Publisher: SourceBooks for Young Readers
Publishing Date: September 1, 2020
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this e-ARC

Scritch Scratch had me on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this story! I couldn’t put this down. I was asked to be on Lindsay’s street team for this novel and I have enjoyed getting to know her while helping her get the word out about this story. when I finally sat down to read it I couldn’t have been more impressed. Horror is not an easy genre to write for kids. You can’t make it too scary or it becomes too much, but you don’t want it to come off as too silly either. Kids like to be thrilled and scared sometimes! I know this will be recommended in my library to my students who love a good thrill!

The characters in Scritch Scratch are so relatable so I know students in grades 4-8 will be able to relate to them as well. There is a good blend of frightening scenes with realistic friendships, sibling relationships, and relationships with parents.

I would recommend this to fans of Goosebumps and Mary Downing Hahn books.

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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Maurice and His Dictionary- Picture Book Review

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Title: Maurice and His Dictionary: A True Story
Author: Cary Fagan
Publisher: Owlkid Books
Publishing Date: October 15, 2020
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an E-Arc of this book.

Maurice and His Dictionary is a wonderful true story of a boy who worked around so many roadblocks to get his education. Maurice fled Europe during WWII and ended up in an internment camp where he couldn’t finish high school. He managed to get tutors from all over the camp and studied to get into a local school and take a test to finally get his diploma. He then pursued University in Canada at the age of 16.

I really liked the perseverance of Maurice and his family as well as the fact that this was a true story. I do wish the ending was a little more resolved so that it was just a bit longer and we could find out what happened to Maurice in the later years of his life. The author’s note provides a little of this and the real history behind this story, but it still doesn’t feel totally wrapped up like it should.

Would recommend to lovers of history, fans of graphic novels and students in grades 3-6.

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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

From the Desk of Zoe Washington – MG Book Review

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Title: From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Author: Janae Marks
Date Published: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
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I have two words: MOST NEEDED. This should be the book put into every single classroom curriculum this year from 4th through 8th grade. Seriously, the discussions that could be had because of this book would change the way we discuss race with our students completely.

Let me back up, Zoe Washington is the story of a girl who loves baking, her best friend, her parents, and writing letters with her two besties. Then she discovers a letter from her dad, her biological dad who has been in prison her entire life. When she hides the letter and writes back the discussion about race and wrongful imprisonment come to light and shine throughout this book which is a great conversation starter for younger kids and definitely should not be the end of that discussion with them. Thankfully Zoe has a happy ending but I won’t reveal what it is or how we got there.

Though the material presented in this book is heavy, the way it is presented is easily relatable and understandable for our middle grade kiddos. I am so glad I had an opportunity to read this book, and I know most readers will. I recommend this book to everyone, young and old, of all races, religions, etc. Everyone needs to know Zoe’s story because it is the story of thousands of Black girls throughout our country. Thank you Janae Marks for writing this story.

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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island #1) by Alex Aster

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Title:Curse of the Night Witch
Author: Alex Aster
Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Publishing Date: June 9, 2020
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In the spirit of Percy Jackson, this epic fantasy adventure novel had me turning the pages as fast as I could! Emblem Island is a place of magic, but none like we have read about before. And when a young boy wishes for a future different that what he has been given, he ends up cursed along with his best friend, and a girl from his class. They must break the curse by finding the Night Witch.

What I found the most lovable about this trio is that they reminded me so much of Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter franchise. Tor, born with the leadership emblem, is our fearless hero, his best friend, Engle, is the lovable side kick, and Melda, is witty, brave, and sometimes annoying, but overall a wonderful friend to have by Tor’s side. This type of trio is often found in epic fantasies and is one of my favorite parts of the structure of these types of middle grade literature.

The most frustrating part was the ending… WHAT A CLIFF HANGER! I cannot wait to see what happens in book 2! I highly recommend this to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, For readers ages 9- 14, and for anyone who needs a little magic and a little adventure in their lives.

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Weekly Reviews YA Reviews

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

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Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publishing Date: October 8, 2019
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WOW! This was a phenomenal story and a phenomenal audio book. In a dystopian world, women are born with magic and during their grace year, are banished from the community into the wilderness to burn it all off. It becomes clear the the main character, Tierney, that this is just a way to keep the women in control and to keep them oppressed, but when she tries to point the truth out to the other girls in her grace year, they turn on her.

Tierney is a wonderful and strong character in the likeness of other strong girls coming out of dystopian literature such as Katniss and Tris. She was relatable and likeable in many ways and imperfect in many ways. I was on the edge of my seat listening to this story, wondering what was going to happen to Tierney and the women in her community.

This is a YA book recommended to ages 14 and up. I definitely recommend it to women who like feminist works, anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction, and those who are fans of The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Divergent.

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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Horace & Bunwinkle by P.J. Gardner

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Title: Horace and Bunwinkle
Author: PJ Gardner
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publishing Date: September 15, 2020
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This is one of the cutest debut novels I have read this year! I absolutely adored the premise of this story and the characters. Ellie is the owner of Horace, a slightly grumpy and anxiety filled Boston Terrier. When she moves herself and Horace out to a farm and adopts the adorable Bunwinkle, a piglet with a heart on her nose, chaos and mystery ensue!

I absolutely adored the playful and sweet relationship between Horace and Bunwinkle. This is a perfect example of a friendship where opposites attract.

This book is perfect for reluctant readers as it is just plain fun! I recommend for ages 7 – 9 (late 1st grade to early 4th grade), for anyone who loves a mystery or fun animal story!

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Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

Noodle Bear by Mark Graves: Picture Book Review

Title: Noodle Bear
Author: Mark Graves
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publishing Date: July 14, 2020
Ages: 3-7 Years Old
Sensitive Content: None
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Noodle Bear is a fun and entertaining book about a bear obsessed with Noodles. I enjoyed this cute story and I can see my students in early grades really enjoying this silly little bear. This is a great story to just escape into with your kids and read over and over again. I know as a child I loved pasta and would have found this little bear so silly, yet so relatable. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend to teachers and parents of 3-5 year olds.