Quick Pick Reviews #11

Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick // by Jennifer L. Holm

eighth-grade-making-me-sickGenre: MG, Contemporary (2012)

My Thoughts: This is the sequel to Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf. The subtitle pretty much sums up the style of this book: Ginny Davis’s Year in Stuff. And it’s surprising how much plot we get from just reading report cards, notes from mom, bank statements, etc. This book picks up where the last one left off and Ginny’s life proves to be as interesting as ever.

I will say that the title of this book is actually quite plot relevant (as opposed to the Meatloaf title; I don’t remember meatloaf factoring into the plot of the first book.) [4 Stars]


Baby-Sitting is a Dangerous Job // by Willo Davis Roberts

baby-sitting-dangerous-jobGenre: MG, Contemporary (1985)

My Thoughts: A cute book about a teen named Darcy who gets a baby-sitting job for a family known to have three, rambunctious kids. That’s how she ends up being kidnapped along with the children. I like how she and the children bond and work together.

Is the book realistic? Not really, but it’s fairly entertaining. I do love teh cover on this re-release. (I’ve seen the original 1980’s cover and, well, this one is so much better. Although I’m not exactly sure what the tree house has to do with the plot!) [3 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

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ARC Review: Squint

SquintSquint // by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genre: MG, Contemporary

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

Basic Plot: Squint has problems with his eyesight… but he isn’t letting that stop him from creating a comic for a contest. Except then his former friend plants the seeds of doubt. When he meets McKell, he’s introduced to her brother’s challenges, which is something that just might give him that lift to finish what he started.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I loved Squint. I definitely felt for him and his insecurities as he navigated through the rough waters of middle school. I was rooting for him the entire book.

2) The Danny subplot was really good, and I liked how it merged with Squint’s story. The authors were able to capture the hurt and emotion necessary to make this work. And yes, I cried at several parts in the book! And there’s a twist with regards to Danny and Squint’s eyes that I didn’t see coming…

3) I loved all the discoveries and the twists. I saw some of them coming, but there were others that I didn’t anticipate. However, once I read those parts I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before!

4) I enjoyed how the comic (the story-within-a-story) worked with Squint’s real life. It was nice to see how Squint took the events of his world and worked them into his comic world.

5) The little “Rules” that Squint scattered throughout were a great addition to the story.

6) Also, what a roller coaster of emotions this book was! There’s a great scene with Squint and his grandfather. And then there’s McKell. There’s a stunning moment when Squint begins to wonder if he’s just an item for McKell to tick off her challenge-list. I liked how this book shows that friendship isn’t always easy.

7) And I liked how things don’t exactly work out in the most ideal way… that things aren’t perfect by the end of the book. And I think that is part of this book’s power. (Not that this story doesn’t have a satisfactory ending, but it’s more a realistic/happy ending.)

8) Love that book cover!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) While I liked the story-within-a-story, I did find was a skipping some of it a bit. I wonder if I would have liked it more IF it were actually the comic itself?

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 5 Stars (out of 5) – I don’t often give 5 starts. But this is probably one of the best MG reads I’ve read this year. Highly recommend it! 🙂

Newbery Verdict: Thimble Summer

Thimble Summer // by Elizabeth Enright (1938)

Winner of the Newbery Award (1939)
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Historical
Rating: 3.5 Stars

thimble-summerBasic Plot: When Garnet finds a silver thimble on their farm, that’s when the adventures begin. From raising a piglet for the county fair to being locked inside the library to hitchhiking by herself into town… Garnet finds her summer to be magical.

MY THOUGHTS…

I know I would have absolutely loved this book as a child! As an adult, I did find it enjoyable, but not perfect. I wished the thimble was a little more prominent throughout the story.

One of my favourite scenes was when Garnet and her friend are locked in the library. This is both my dream and my nightmare! I also love how she hitchhikes over to the next town because she’s so angry with her family (particularly Jay, her brother) and then she buys them all little gifts. And the scene with the chickens! It was cute how she names the chicken, Bnnhilde. And the neighbour, Mr. Freebody! One of my favourite characters 🙂

FAVOURITE QUOTE…

“Yes sir!” said Mr. Freebody coming in the door. “Don’t you be fooled! Those ain’t two little girls you see settin’ up there; those are two genuwine bookworms, couldn’t stop reading long enough to come home. Planning to take up permanent residence in the liberry from now on, ain’tcha?”

(Chapter V)

NEWBERY VERDICT…

A sweet and fun Newbery winner for 1939. This book is a bit of the Little House books meets Charlotte’s Web (sans the spider). While I did enjoy reading this book, I still like Enright’s book The Saturdays better. (Alas, The Saturdays didn’t even get nominated for a Newbery!)

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Newbery Verdict: The Egypt Game

The Egypt Game // by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1967)

egypt-game.jpgNewbery Honor Book (1968)
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Basic Plot: When April meets Melanie and her brother… that’s when the Egypt Game begins. It starts off pretty simple, just an empty lot and a lot of imagination. And then the boys come and join the fun. But there’s danger in the neighbourhood. And somebody has their eyes on the children. Nobody notices except Melanie’s brother, four-year-old Marshall.

MY THOUGHTS…

I love the imaginative play and creativity of these kids… how they immerse themselves into this whole land of Egypt. I love how the boys will have nothing to do with the girls at school, but are totally into the game as soon as they’re out of sight of their peers.

One of the best parts of this book is watching the friendship develop. First we see April and Melanie, but that circle quickly widens to involve Elizabeth, and then Ken and Toby. (And I love how Ken just doesn’t quite get the whole Egypt thing, but he’s here anyway!) There’s more to this theme, but I won’t spoil it. And I particularly enjoyed the character arc of April.

And this book has one of the best ending lines ever. I won’t spoil it, but it’s quite genius!

FAVOURITE QUOTE…

“But as the Egypt Game became second nature to its six participants, and they began to feel more and more at home in the land of Egypt, they gradually began to forget about being cautious. Ceremonies, discussions and arguments began to be carried on in normal or even louder than normal tones, and no one stopped to worry about being overheard.”

(Chapter 15)

NEWBERY VERDICT…

So the Newbery winner for this year (1968) was From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. Oh, boy. Both these books are SO good. In fact, I would have had a very hard time choosing between the two. My gut tells me that they chose the right book, but man, The Egypt Game really is a close second!

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Quick Pick Reviews #8

Clementine // by Sara Pennypacker (2006)

Genre: Lower MG, Contemporaryclementine

My Thoughts: A cute story about an ants-in-her-pants girl named Clementine. She gets in trouble for helping her school friend cut her hair. And she’s always being sent to the principal’s office.

But Clementine has a big heart. I love how she tries to help out her dad and mom. This book is definitely meant for a younger audience. I loved the illustrations! [4 Stars]


Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing // by Judy Blume (1972)

Genre: MG, Contemporaryfourth-grade-nothing

My Thoughts: I can’t believe I haven’t read this book until now. Peter is in fourth grade, and his nemesis is his little brother: Fudge. In some ways, this book reminds me a lot of the characters of Beezus and Ramona (Beverly Cleary). Fudge is definitely a Ramona character, and (from what I can tell) goes on to having his own books.

I loved the story of the turtle and how that plays into the plot. And the visit by the dad’s client and his wife. The birthday story is also pretty funny, especially the kid that doesn’t want to stay, but then doesn’t want to leave. [4 Stars]


Raymie Nightingale // by Kate DiCamillo (2016)

Genre: MG, Historical (1975)

raymie-nightingaleMy Thoughts: This is the story of three girls: Raymie, Beverly, and Louisiana. As Louisiana likes to say, they are the Three Rancheros. They are all preparing to enter the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. I love the idea of incorporating Florence Nightingale into the story (I loved Florence Nightingale when I was a kid. In fact, all my dolls were named Florence.) Although, that part of the story didn’t pan out in any way that I felt was very meaningful. It somehow lacked something.

Overall, though, the three girls are delightful. I love their chemistry and antics. And Louisiana’s grandmother is adorable. (Just saying!) [3.5 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

Quick Pick Reviews #7

The Ravenmaster’s Secret // by Elvira Woodruff

ravenmasters-secretGenre: MG, Historical Fiction

My Thoughts: Set in the Tower of London in the 1700s… the best part of this book were the little historical tidbits about living in the Tower with the ravens. Forrest Harper is the son of the Ravenmaster. For those unfamiliar with ravens at the Tower, there’s a legend that the Tower (and by extension, the Crown) will fall into enemy hands if ever the ravens were to leave.

The story itself is about Forrest and how he (and his young rat-catching ally, named Rat) befriends a Jacobite (Scottish) prisoner. I won’t spoil the prisoner’s name as this is an important part of the plot. But I will say that this book includes a raven who can perform tricks, covert messages, and a plot for a daring prison escape. [3 Stars]


The Girl with 500 Middle Names // by Margaret Peterson Haddix

436283-M

Genre: MG, Contemporary

My Thoughts: I picked this title up because it intrigued me. What kind of girl has 500 middle names? I was curious. Well, I’m glad I did. The story is about a girl named Janie. Her mother is determined to get her out of the run-down, poorly-funded school she attends. Now she goes to a new school… where she has no friends. And to top it, her mother loses her job.

I enjoy how Janie takes her situation and decides to do something about it. Hence the 500 middle names. She’s feisty. And she’s ultimately willing to learn. Especially when it comes to Kimberly, the rich girl. [3.5 Stars]


Let’s Pretend We Never Met // by Melissa Walker

Let's pretendGenre: MG, Contemporary

My Thoughts: Mattie suddenly moves with her parents to Philadelphia to be closer to her ageing grandmother. She meets her next door neighbour, Agnes, who acts a little strange sometimes. And Mattie soon finds out that if she wants to make friends at school, she needs to keep her distance from Agnes.

I loved how this book deals with befriending the “weird” people in our lives. Mattie learns the value of Agnes, even with her quirks. I love how the teacher (and the door-people at the apartment) play a supportive role for Agnes in this story, helping Mattie see Agnes’ value in the world. The grandmother, Maeve, is an enjoyable character. I felt they dealt well with her onset of dementia, especially as Mattie starts to figure out that that’s what’s going on.

Love the cover on this one. The two girls standing with their backs to one another, with Agnes focused on her birds. And Mattie, not quite sure what she wants to do about Agnes. [3.5 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

Newbery Verdict: The Higher Power of Lucky

The Higher Power of Lucky // by Susan Patron

higherpoweroflucky1.jpgWinner of the Newbery Award (2007)
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Basic Plot: Ten-year-old Lucky lives in Hard Pan, California, population 43. Her mother has died and Brigitte has come from France to be her temporary guardian. It’s Lucky’s job to clean up after all the twelve-step anonymous programs, so she finds herself eavesdropping on their meetings and hearing the stories of how they hit rock bottom, only to find their Higher Power. That’s when she realizes she wants to find her own Higher Power.

MY THOUGHTS…

I really liked the town with all its quirky characters. Everybody from Lucky, Lincoln, and Miles to Short Sammy, Dot, and Brigitte. I thought Susan Patron captured this very well. Especially all those twelve-step anonymous programs on which Lucky eavesdrops! I particularly liked how she portrayed Miles and his obsession with the book Are You My Mother? …and how that connects to the search for his own mother… which is connects to Lucky’s own search for a mother. (I also happen to really like Are You My Mother? I love it when books are referenced in books! 🙂 )

I thought the ending wasn’t set up quite as well as it could have been. I actually had to go back and re-read it. Which means it didn’t have that cathartic feeling that it should have had. I mean, I saw how the situation with Brigitte was going to pan out. But that just made me think Lucky was totally over-reacting. I didn’t fully believe that this was enough to cause her to reach her rock bottom.

FAVOURITE QUOTE…

Miles is trying to get Lucky to read to him from his all-time favourite book, Are You My Mother?

Lucky had no time to be nice. “That book is wrecked,” she said. “It looks even worse now.”

Miles smoothed the duct tape. “It’s still fine inside,” he said. “Could you read it to me?”

“Miles, get a life. You already know the story by heart, and it’s boring.”

“No, it’s not! The part about the Snort is good, and so is the part where he finds his mother at the end.”

(Chapter 16)

NEWBERY VERDICT…

So… did it deserve the Newbery Award? Well, I happen to know that Rules by Cynthia Lord was also in the running for 2007. I really liked that book and I probably would have given it the Newbery instead. Not that I didn’t like this book. I would have given this book a Newbery Honor.

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? What did you think of the ending? Do you think it deserved the Newbery? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.