Review / The Day I was Erased

day-i-was-erasedBook: The Day I was Erased (2019)
Author: Lisa Thompson
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Maxwell has a habit of getting in trouble…  for everything. And when he makes a wish that he no longer existed, poof! his wish comes true. Now, nobody knows who he is. Not his father or mother. Not his sister or best friend. And suddenly, he realizes that, if he never existed, then his beloved dog wouldn’t exist either…  because it was Maxwell who had saved the dog from certain death. Now, all Maxwell wants is to exist again, and he’s on a mission to figure out how to make that happen.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) While It’s a Wonderful Life is never mentioned in the book (not that I recall, anyway), this book has a lot of parallels… Except it’s the teen edition! And it’s set in the UK. (Bonus for me, since it’s one of my favourite movies!) I love how it slowly dawns on Maxwell how important he is to those around him.

2) My favourite character, by far, was Reg, the neighbour. Reg is so forgetful, even on a good day! Maxwell constantly has to remind him who he is. And so, he’s the perfect guy for the non-existent Maxwell to crash with. The best part is how Reg’s forgetfulness plays into the plot in other ways!

3) It’s interesting to see how Maxwell interacts with his sister and best friend after he ceases to exist… how different they are in this alternate world. I like the bit about how he calls his friend Charlie Geek (because he’s a bit of a geek), only to realize that Charlie never really liked the nickname but never could tell the old Maxwell.

4) In some ways, I think it’s the dog’s disappearance affects Maxwell the most. He has such a good relationship with Monster (the dog).

5) The little historical tidbits (no spoilers!) sprinkled throughout added a nice little mystery for Maxwell to solve. I knew some of the references, but the other ones were new to me… I definitely found that information very interesting! And I like how it all connects to his disappearance.

6) Chris Danger does the artwork on the front cover (see above). What’s cool (for me) is that he’s the illustrator who illustrated my magazine story! When I went to his website to see his work, I saw this book cover and said to myself: “Hey! I have that book!” 🙂

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) A few of Maxwell’s antics at the beginning initially made me not like him very much. I usually don’t mind antics, but especially the one with lights just seemed a little too premeditated to me.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I enjoyed this book, especially how Lisa Thompson was able to weave history in with an It’s a Wonderful Life story line. The little bit of mystery is also a bonus.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #39 / Something Old

20200812ma_1032“Fancy a Joyride?” / Theme: Something Old

A little about this photo…

This blue beaut belonged to my mom (apparently) when she was little.  Looks like it even has room for a passenger in the back! And if you ever got bored waiting in traffic, it looks like you could practice counting on those wooden beads in the front. (I also love that it’s blue.)

I made sure to capture this near sundown to get those nice long shadows…


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

#MGTakesOnThursday / Cat Found


cat-foundBook: Cat Found (2011)

Author: Ingrid Lee
Publisher: Chicken House
Genre: MG, Contemporary

This book in three words…

Cats, Rescue, Strays

Favourite Sentence from Page 11…

“Billy didn’t move. His big toe itched, but he kept still.”

My thoughts on this book…

This book is a companion book to Dog Lost, although there really is no direct correlation between the two books other than the topic of a community up in arms over animals. In this case, it’s about feral cats. Billy rescues a cat and hides her in his room, away from the prying eyes of his parents. (That’s where my favourite sentence from page 11 comes in… He’s trying to keep still so the cat won’t be frightened of him.)

However, it’s getting harder to keep her hidden in his room. He tries to hide Conga in an abandoned church, but when the town decides to get rid of all the feral cats in the community, now Conga’s in grave danger. Billy needs to do something!

This book is definitely for the animal-lover in you. You’ll be rooting for Billy and Conga. And who can resist that adorable kitten on the front cover?

Note: You can read my review on the companion book for this: Dog Lost.


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/09/24/mg-takes-on-thursday-17/

How to take part…

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

Review / Dog Lost

dog-lostBook: Dog Lost (2008)
Author: Ingrid Lee
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Mackenzie loves his new pit bull puppy, Cash. But when Mackenzie’s dad gets angry, he takes the dog and leaves her on the side of the road. At the same time that the town is trying to ban pit bulls, Cash has to learn how to live on her own. But Mackenzie hasn’t given up all hope of finding his beloved pup…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The bond that develops between Mackenzie and Cash is delightful to watch (er… read about?). Pit bulls really do have a bad reputation, but this book showed Cash as a dog who loves her owner.

2) Speaking of pit bulls… This book does a good job of showing the complex nature of a situation like Mackenzie and Cash. It talks about the fears people have. But it also shows a pit bull (Cash) in a positive light. What makes it even more interesting is that the story is apparently based on some true events in the author’s life.

3) There are a number of side characters that don’t seem to have any connection to one another that (in true Dickensian fashion) come together by the end of the story. My favourite of the bunch are Mrs. Brody (the old lady who watches the train) and Abi Waters (who’s on the train).

4) Some complex characters in this story… especially the dad. He’s not very sympathetic, and yet at times, I felt sorry for him. Especially because he has such nice kids!

5) I found the dog-fighting parts interesting. It wasn’t so detailed that it was distasteful. Instead, I felt it highlighted what can happen with these types of dogs. Which is really sad. (It reminds me of Jack London’s White Fang.)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) As I mentioned earlier, this story is somehow connected to some true event in Ingrid Lee’s life. I wish there was an author’s note explaining a little more about that.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book is definitely for animal lovers! Especially if you want a good dog story where the dog doesn’t die. You’ll definitely be rooting for Mackenzie and Cash… (And you might just want to go out and adopt a dog from a dog shelter after reading this book.)


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #38 / Framed

20200901ma_1472“Little Cabin in the Woods” / Theme: Framed

A little about this photo…

Saw this adorable little log cabin on a hike. It’s certainly seen better days, but I like the fact that it looks like it’s seen a lot of use. Like one of those bird hotels. (This one looks a little “seedy”, don’t you think?)

I decided to frame it with the leaves from a nearby tree, which gives it a nice effect.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Review / Until Niagara Falls

until-niagara-fallsBook: Until Niagara Falls (2020)
Author: Jennifer Maruno

Genre: MG, Historical Fiction (1960)

Basic plot: Brenda lives in Niagara Falls, Canada. She’s doing a school project on the Great Blondin who’s famous for walking across the falls on a tightrope. When she meets Maureen, the new girl from Toronto, Brenda begins to feel like she’s walking on her own tightrope…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I loved all the Niagara Falls information in this book. I didn’t actually live there, but we lived close enough that I knew about most of her references. Like Dufferin Islands as a swimming location! (Sadly, you can’t swim there anymore. Really, it was one of the coolest places you could swim!)

2) Maureen was a complex character to like. And yet, she really needs a friend like Brenda! At times I felt bad for her, and other times I wanted Brenda to just get out of there.

3) I liked how the neighbour fit into the story. Especially, with the dog and the CNE. I thought it worked well.

4) The scene with the bicycle at the library! Ooh boy. That Maureen is a tricky one. I love how it slowly dawns on Brenda about how Maureen really got the bike. And even better yet was how it all fit into the plot by the end of the story!

5) I liked that Maureen’s mom, while obviously overwhelmed, isn’t a horrible parent. I was glad that Brenda figures out that she can go to the mom to appeal to her with regards to Maureen and the stolen bracelet.

6) Granny is also a complex character that I grew to love. I was prepared to NOT like her, but she grew on me. I hope she does make it to Scotland!

7) Loved the Krick’s Pickles story line! (Doubly cool that it’s partly true!)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) (**Spoiler alert! The chicken pox came on a little too suddenly! Normally, it takes two to three weeks for the spots to appear… rather than the two days in the book! Minor problem.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Love this book! I found all the Niagara Falls bits to be like a nostalgic walk back in time. But, even if you’ve never been to the Falls, this would be an enjoyable read. The friendship between Brenda and Maureen complicated. Well worth the read!


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #37 / This is It

20200911ma_1546“It Came By Post” / Theme: This is It

A little about this photo…

Look what came in the mail! If you can’t see it, that’s my name in the byline. This is my first children’s story to be published. And to make it even more meaningful, it’s the story of my grandmother during WWII. That’s her photograph and her Red Cross brooch. (In the artwork, she’s the girl on the right. I think it’s pretty cool that they came pretty close to her correct hair colour!)

Note: In the story, she’s about 16 or 17 years old. However, in the photo, she was probably already in her twenties…


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Review / Connect the Stars

connect-the-starsBook: Connect the Stars (2015)
Author: Marisa de los Santos & David Teague

Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Aaron and Audrey both have special abilities. Audrey can tell when somebody’s lying. And Aaron has a photographic memory. When they end up at the same desert survival camp, that’s when things start to get interesting. They meet two more misfits and try to avoid the two bullies. But then one of the bullies simply disappears…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Let’s start with Audrey and Aaron’s special abilities (superpowers, if you will). It certainly makes for interesting reading! I love how these abilities prove to be their downfall at the beginning of the story, and that they have to “learn” how to use them. I love the juxtaposition of the “abilities” of the others in their group (Kate and Louis). While their abilities aren’t quite as spectacular, the four of them make a good team!

2) It’s written in the alternating POVs of Audrey and Aaron. I almost wanted the POVs of Louis and Kate as well, but I’m not sure if that would have made it better. I was nice to get the different perspectives. (I’m guessing each author is responsible for one POV.)

3) I liked the crusty Jare! (Sure, at times he was over-the-top; and if I were writing him, I’d have toned that part down.) He’s the leader of their group and I enjoyed the twists and turns and the mystery surrounding him.

4) Daphne and Randolph are introduced as your typical middle-school bullies. But the story takes a little turn and they turn out to be not quite so typical and I liked that.

5) At one point, the story seems to turn into a murder mystery! I loved how the little clues got the kids thinking along those lines. And I also love how the authors dealt with the “reality” of the situation.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) The final question in the quiz competition (the one that is Aaron’s downfall) did not feel like a real quiz question. It felt forced to me, like the story needed it to be that way. Not a huge deal-breaker.

2) I kept wondering if a wilderness outing like this would be a legal nightmare, and thus, realistic in today’s world. But that’s probably just the grown-up talking in me.

FINAL THOUGHTS

You probably have to suspend some disbelief to enjoy this wilderness survival story. With a little mystery thrown in, and a lot of teamwork, the story was quite enjoyable.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #36 / Watch Me

20200815ma_1099“King of the Castle” / Theme: Watch Me

A little about this photo…

Came across this statue of King George VI… and these birds were sitting on his head. As you can see, I managed to get one in flight. (The other bird still on the head left shortly afterwards.) And just look at King George’s face. He doesn’t seem to mind a bit.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Review / Soof

soofBook: Soof (2018)
Author: Sarah Weeks

Genre: MG, Contemporary
Companion Book to: So B. It

Basic plot: Aurora (or Rory) has always heard stories about a girl named Heidi. Her mom always claims that Heidi brought her good luck since it was after Heidi left that Rory was born. But in all these years, Rory’s never met this “perfect” Heidi. So, when she learns that Heidi’s going to finally visit, she’s not too happy…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I enjoyed Rory as a narrator. She’s sweet but doesn’t hide her negative feelings from us. She worries about being weird, yet also embraces that “weirdness”.

2) I liked how the story deals with how Rory’s reaction to events that happened before her birth… how everybody expects something from her. But how can she react when she didn’t experience it.

3) The scene with the lighter is good. The interplay with her parents before and after what happens. (I won’t spoil it.)

4) I particularly love Rory’s dad! (Notice how I call her ‘Rory’ instead of ‘Aurora’? This is his nickname for her!) I love how he interacts with Rory and, well, everything about him. I love good dads!

5) I liked how the search for Duck (the dog) fits into the plot. Especially with what happens at school.

6) And Heidi. I wasn’t sure she was going to show up in the story! (**Spoiler alerts! She does show up at the end. And since I’m using spoilers here, I might as well tell you that I really like the relationship that develops between Heidi and Rory.)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) (**Spoiler alert! The scene with the baby seemed a little over the top to me. There’s a line: “It seemed too perfect that Heidi’s baby would be born just as I reached the end of the list, but that’s what happened.” Yes, I found that a little ‘too perfect’. A little too much. But, I’m probably being super critical here.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

I don’t often read the back of the book cover before reading the book (since it often contains spoilers!). So, I missed that this was a “sequel” of sorts to Sarah Week’s book, So B. It. It wasn’t until halfway through, that I started to say, “Hey, wait a minute. Some of this sounds familiar!” And yet, I think you could enjoy this book without having read the first one.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday