Winter Reading Bingo Challenge / January


It’s time again for another round of Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge!

This month, I finished nine middle-grade books that fit the descriptions on the bingo card.

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.


  1. Because this is a #MGCarousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during this month.

Here are my results…

Box on the Cover

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel // by Firoozeh Dumas

Aint-So-Awful-FalafelMG, Near-Historical (2017)

I loved the story of Cindy (aka Zomorod, which is her Iranian name). She was a likable character. And reading this book was definitely meant to feature her character. I loved the historical setting and learned a lot about Iranian customs.

The historical setting is great. The Iran Hostage Crisis (which is featured in the book) doesn’t occur until halfway through the book. This makes the story a little long. But other than that, I really enjoyed the themes, the friendships, the troubles that are explored in this book. [4 stars]

Full Review coming soon.

‘Lock’ or ‘Key’ in the Title

code-breakers-1The Secret of the Skeleton Key // by Penny Warner

Lower MG, Mystery (2011)

I think the fun about this book has to do with all the different codes. Seriously, there’s a different type of code for each message, including sign language. My favourite, I think, is the semaphore code. And the book doesn’t give away the solution to each code so YOU get to solve it as it comes.

For me, as an adult, I didn’t find the story to be super engaging. But kids will probably like it. This would be a perfect book for kids who enjoy solving puzzles and codes. [3 stars]

Pick Your Prompt / An Epistolary Novel

sure-signs-crazySure Signs of Crazy // by Karen Harrington

MG, Contemporary (2013)

This isn’t quite a true epistolary novel, but it does contain letters, and in many ways, it does read like it’s a diary. It’s the story of Sarah. She doesn’t know her mother because, when she was two, she (the mother) attempted to drown Sarah and succeeding in drowning Sarah’s twin, Simon. Sarah’s worried that she might end up mentally ill like her mom. She doesn’t feel she can confide in her dad (who has a drinking problem… and that’s kind of understandable; but not helpful to a daughter who needs you.)

So, Sarah begins to write to the dad she wishes she had: Atticus Finch. And through the letters, and with the help of some neighbours, Sarah begins to work through her anxieties. And get her dad some help. [4 stars]

‘Brave’ or ‘Fear’ in the Title

igraine-the-braveIgraine the Brave // by Cornelia Funke

MG, Fantasy (1998)

Igraine wants to be a knight! When her magician parents make a tiny mistake and turn into pigs, it’s up to their daughter to go on a quest to save the day… and the castle.

A fun book, Igraine is a very likable character. I love the little touches… Like the Sorrowful Knight. Or the castle called Pimpernel! And how the mother is referred to as the Fair Melisande. And even how the brother (Albert, a magician-in-training) can only conjure up blue eggs and dry biscuits, no matter what! [4 stars]

Red Cover

Firegirl // by Tony Abbott

fire-girlMG, Contemporary (2006)

This is an interesting what-if story. What if a girl is burned so badly in a fire… and then has to go to a new school… how would her new classmates treat her? The story is told through the eyes of Tom. I actually liked the complexity of emotions of this book. I enjoyed the subplot of the two friends (Tom and Jeff) and the uncle’s special “car”. Throughout, the reader isn’t sure if Jeff is lying or what. And when you find out, there’s another dilemma that Tom has to face.

The one thing I did not quite find believable is the fact that the parents choose to send their daughter (Jessica) to face school in her situation. Especially, since she is still recovering. But, in spite of that, if I can put that aside, I did like the themes that the book explored. And overall, I enjoyed this story.

And for some reason, I really like that cover! [4 stars]

Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

  • A Pretty Book Cover // Roll // by Darcy Miller
  • Character’s Name in the Title // Dear Mr. Henshaw // by Beverly Cleary
  • Set in a Small Town // The Only Girl in School // by Natalie Standiford
  • A Ladder on the Cover // The Case of the Missing Moonstone // by Jordan Stratford

Final Thoughts…

January Bingo: Complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

For February’s challenge, go to

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

10 thoughts on “Winter Reading Bingo Challenge / January

    • The great thing about doing a reading bingo, is that it sometimes “forces” me to read something I might not otherwise pick up. And sometimes I am very pleasantly surprised at how good the book is. (Sometimes not, but that’s going to happen anyway!)


  1. I read Igraine the Brave (and many of Funke’s other books). I have Firegirl and It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel- but haven’t read either of them yet. Enjoyed reading all your thoughts on these. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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