#MGTakesOnThursday / Bat and the Waiting Game

bat-waiting-gameBook: Bat and the Waiting Game (2018)
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Genre: Lower MG, Contemporary

Rating: 4 stars

This book in three words…

Siblings, Autism, Skunks

Favourite Sentence* from Page 11…

“I don’t talk about the audition nearly as much as you talk about Thor,” Janie said.

“How much can anyone say about an audition?” Bat said.

“How much can anyone say about a skunk?” Janie said.

(*Or Favourite Sentences?)

My thoughts on this book…

This is a lower middle-grade book about a boy who copes with autism. And he has a baby skunk that helps him out. What’s not to love about a baby skunk?! (Hmmm? I wonder.)

This is a nice quick read. It gives a nice glimpse into the mind of a child who has to deal with the sensory issues of autism. And he has a lot of little annoyances to navigate, especially when his big sister gets a part in the school play.

Apparently, this is a sequel to another book that I didn’t read. But, I didn’t find that to be a problem. Very cute story.

Did I mention the skunk?

This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/07/09/mg-takes-on-thursday-6/

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 / On the Horizon

on-the-horizonBook: On the Horizon (2020)
Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: MG, Non-Fiction/WWII
Rating: 5 stars

Basic plot: A memoir of sorts, this book focuses on two major events during World War II: The bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Lois Lowry takes her experiences as a young child living in Hawaii, and later Japan, and mingles them with the stories of people who lived (and died) during these pivotal events.


1) As a history buff, I love anything with a connection to history. Most books that focus on World War II tend to discuss the European theatre. This book focuses on the Pacific theatre.

2) The poetry (sometimes blank verse, sometimes rhyme) give this book the quality of introspection. I do think the style ramps up the emotion of the devastation that these two dates in history bring. I’m not always a fan of books written in verse, but this one works very nicely in this format.

3) I like that the book dives into the lives of the ordinary people who died during these events. It makes it that much more personal. That these people were real. The dates (December 7, 1941, and August 6, 1945) aren’t just some historical dates in some dry textbook.

4) I loved the emphasis on healing from the hurts and atrocities of war and hatred. I loved the part about the misunderstanding she has in Japan about the woman who reaches out to touch her hair. What did the woman really say? Did she mean hate or was it really pretty? I love Lowry’s conclusion.

5) The Author’s Note at the end pulls everything together… The two kids—one American and one Japanese—who grow up and connect many years later. And they know their connection is real because of the green bicycle.


1) I have nothing to put here. This book was beautiful.


My rating is 5 Stars (out of 5) – I loved this short, poignant look at these two major events during World War II. This book was, in many ways, haunting. But I also love how it focuses on healing from big hurts on both sides of the War. I would recommend to anybody interested in World War II. Note: This is definitely not just for kids. I also think this would make for great classroom discussion.


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 #27 / Shadows

20200701ma_0759“Sunshine in the Garden” / Theme: Shadows

A little about this photo…

I saw this shadow while out working in the garden one morning and thought it would be the perfect way for me to use this photo prompt. I love how the sun shines through the little in-cut flower details along the top of the can. (For those who are curious, those are cucumbers and beets growing in the background.)

Please note: This is not the watering can I use to water. It’s more of a decorative one that hangs out in the garden. Because… well, yes, water does come out of those flower cut-outs. That’s not exactly practical even if it IS beautiful!

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

Review / Wayside School #4

wayside-4Book: Wayside School: Beneath the Cloud of Doom (2020)
Author: Louis Sachar
Genre: MG, Humour
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: The students from Wayside School are back. And of course, they’re all the way up on the 30th floor in Mrs. Jewls’ class. Not only is there the Ultimate Test, but there’s a very scary Cloud of Doom that’s making everybody just a little testy.


1) The Author’s Note at the beginning made me smile. Louis Sachar reminisces about how he wrote the first book forty years ago and… well, I won’t spoil it here. You have to read it yourself.

2) I think everybody from the Wayside universe makes some sort of appearance. Except maybe Mrs. Gorf. (Thank goodness!) Yes, even that mysterious class on the 19th story. (Except, there is no 19th story.)

3) As I was reading about the Cloud of Doom, I couldn’t believe that Louis Sachar would have written this before the existence of COVID-19. I like the optimism that the book has.

4) One of my favourite stories/sequences involved Stephen and the gong. I love how he was mistakenly chosen. And then there’s the build-up to just… Breathe.

5) Another favourite story involves Jason and the book that 999 pages. I love how the librarian arranges her library and how Jason tries to out-do the other students, only to have to read the longest book in the history of the world.  (Not really, but 999 pages is a really long book!) And the outcomehow he comes to feel about the book—is one of the best moments for me!

6) This book made me want to start collection 1 million toe nails just like they do in Mrs. Jewls’ class. 😉

7) And of course, you can’t have a Wayside book without Louis the yard teacher. He doesn’t seem to be in the book as much as in previous books, but he does have that umbrella scene!


1) I have mixed feelings about the ending of this book. In one way, I liked it. But, in another way, it wasn’t quite as satisfactory as I’d hoped. Maybe it was because I had a hard time trying to imagine the grey-goop they were supposed to eat. And when I did, I tried not to imagine it because it caused a gagging-reflex in me! I did feel glad for Miss Mush, though. Finally, she had something going for her at Wayside School.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I was very excited when I saw this book and put a hold on it way before the libraries closed. The book finally came in this past week! Yay! I tried not to read it too fast, but let myself enjoy the story. I’d definitely recommend this to anybody who loves Wayside School. Yes, it’s been forty years, but the kids and Mrs. Jewls and Louis the Yard Teacher are still the same.


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 #26 / Plant

20200614ma_0717“Dino-Stick” / Theme: Plant

A little about this photo…

I found this stick lying on the ground. And I was so intrigued by it, I picked it up. Because, well, doesn’t it look like some prehistoric dinosaur? May I present to you, Dino-Stick. (But sadly, I’m afraid this guy might be last one of its kind.)

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

Photo Challenge #25 / Take Note

20200619ma_0721“Notebook” / Theme: Take Note

A little about this photo…

I just cracked open my newest writing notebook! Always fun to start a new book. The clean, crisp pages! Of course, the pen there is just for the “promotional purposes” of this photograph. (That is, I don’t really write with such a fancy pen in my notebooks. This is one of my calligraphy pens, but as you can see, one that has never really been used. Just look at that clean golden nib!)

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

Picture Book Mini-Reviews #3

karate-kidsKarate Kids // by Holly Sterling
Release Date: May 5, 2020

This would be a perfect gift for any kid who is interested in taking karate! You can join the main character, Maya, and the rest of the karate kids as they go to their lesson. Illustrations are adorable! And I love the little author blurb at the end with a photo of Holly Sterling all decked out in her karate gear. [4 stars]

mars-first-friendsMars’ First Friends // by Susanna Leonard Hill
Release Date: June 1, 2020

What a fun story about the planets! I like how Pluto was brought in as the planetary-family pet. This story is all about Mars who wants a pet/friend of his own. He tries to play with his brothers and sisters, but they are all too busy.

The solution comes in a gift from his sister, Earth. You can probably guess it (I know I did), but it’s a nice way to introduce the space program and what’s currently happening. I also really liked all the information at the back of the book. [4 stars]

how-selfishHow Selfish! // by Clare Helen Wels and Olivier Tallec
Release Date: April 21, 2020

Cute story about a kid who doesn’t want to share anything. The fact that it features a human kid and a duck makes the story seem less didactic, which is good. I liked the little switch at the end (with the duck and the sword). And also the solution. Great story to help teach kids about sharing. [4 stars]

**Note: I received a free copy of these titles from the people at NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.**

Photo Challenge #24 / Quality of Light

20200612ma_0690“Stained Glass” / Theme: Quality of Light

A little about this photo…

There’s just something about the light that comes through stained glass. I love the different shades of colours. And the patterns. I also like how you get a glimpse of the treeline outside. Just enough to know it’s there.

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

Review / Gold Rush Girl


Book: Gold Rush Girl (2020)
Author: Avi
Genre: MG, Historical
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: Tory is determined not to be left behind when her father and brother set off to join the gold rush in San Francisco. Of course, things aren’t quite as “golden” once they arrive. Dad leaves the kids behind while he goes to strike it rich. Tory is supposed to watch Jacob, and when Jacob goes missing… it’s up to her to find him. With the help of some new friends, she’s determined to search high and low, even if it means searching every abandoned ship on Rotten Row.


1) This book has a great opening line: “Have you ever been struck by lightning? I have.” Of course, she’s not talking about actual lightning, but more about being struck by gold rush fever. Clever way to get us into the story!

2) At first, I thought the style was a little old-fashioned, but then I realized this was done on purpose. All the literary references warmed my heart! From Mr. Poe to Mr. Benjamin Franklin! The “fine new publications such as Oliver Twist, Wuthering Heights, and Vanity Fair…” Not sure how young kids will read this, but I liked it.

3) I loved the character of Senor Rosales! I love how he believes Tory about her missing brother. And even makes them his priority. (I liked him better than the dad.)

4) An interesting historical setting is always a bonus for me! I particularly enjoyed the author’s note at the end about Rotten Row…

5) Thad and Sam make for some good friendships for Tory. The end of the book is rather open-ended which leaves room for some more adventures for these three!


1) Gold Rush Girl, I expected a little more gold in the story. All the hunting for gold is done off-page. Instead, this book has a lot of ships…

2) I did find the middle of the book to drag a bit. However, it does pick up again when the brother goes missing.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I enjoyed this book. It reminded me a lot of Avi’s True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, which is another rollicking sea-adventure. I would definitely recommend for kids interested in history, especially the era of the gold rush. Note that the style of writing is a little old fashioned.

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**


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 #23 / Treetops

20200528ma_0414“Reaching Skyward” / Theme: Treetops

A little about this photo…

I took this photo after a visit to our local lilac garden. While it’s not quite the sky I was hoping for⁠—a nice sunrise, anybody?⁠—I did find myself drawn to those clouds. And, as you can imagine, the fragrance of this place is amazing. All because of those beautiful blossoms reaching skyward.

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