#MGTakesOnThursday / The One and Only Bob


20210103ma_0002Book: The One and Only Bob (2020)
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: MG, Animal

Companion Book to: The One and Only Ivan


This book in three words …
hurricane, family, spunk

Opening lines from the book …
“Look, nobody’s ever accused me of being a good dog.”

My thoughts on this book…

We’re back in the world of that famous mall gorilla, the One and Only Ivan! This time Ivan and Ruby (the elephant) are living in an animal sanctuary. And their friend Bob is a regular visitor. But with a hurricane coming, they’re in for an adventure.

Bob is the narrator. (He is voiced by Danny DeVito for the audiobook; that should give you a hint as to his personality.) And he really is full of spunk. He ends up in an animal shelter and meets his long lost sister, Boss. Then, he and Ivan and Ruby (can I say right here how much I like Ruby! I want a One and Only Ruby book!) head off on a rescue mission. One of the best scenes in the book is when the police come across the gorilla and the elephant and put them under arrest! (Of course, Bob manages to get away. Which is good. Because he needs to do a little rescuing.)

A must-read for animal lovers! And especially if you enjoyed The One and Only Ivan.


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2021/02/25/mg-takes-on-thursday-32/

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. (*Note: I’ve changed this slightly.*)
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

#MGTakesOnThursday / Prairie Lotus


20210217ma_0330Book: Prairie Lotus (2020)
Author: Linda Sue Park
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: MG, Historical


This book in three words …
pioneers, dressmaker, prejudice

Opening lines from the book …
“Should be our last day,” Papa said when they stopped to make camp. He unhitched the tired horses from the wagon, then led them down a little draw to water, while Hanna began clearing the ground for a fire.”

My thoughts on this book…

Hanna and her father are about to settle down in a brand new town in Dakota Territory. What Hanna really wants to do is graduate from school, but there’s a problem. The pioneering townsfolk don’t like that she’s half-Chinese. But Hanna’s determined. With the teacher on her side, and her new friend, Bess, Hanna gets her wish. But what’s next. Like her mother before her, she wants to be a dressmaker. How can she convince the town that she’s a person, just like them?

Set in the days of Little House on the Prairie, Linda Sue Park draws on her love of the Wilder novels. (I love this little tidbit from the author’s note!) Of course, Hanna’s world is a little different in that she has an extra obstacle to overcome regarding her Chinese heritage. But I love her pluck and determination. Her friendship with Bess made me smile (because I did notice the little nod to the author of the Little House books in the naming of this character!)

I highly recommend this book to anybody who likes historical fiction, and especially if you love the Little House books. While I’m not the best at sewing, reading books like this makes me want to pick up a needle and thread and try my hand at button holes! (Okay, maybe not button holes.)


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2021/01/28/mg-takes-on-thursday-30/

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. (*Note: I’ve changed this slightly.*)
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

#MGTakesOnThursday / Spy School Revolution


20210204ma_0253Book: Spy School Revolution (2020)
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Publisher: Simon & Schuster*
Genre: MG, Espionage/Adventure

*Note: I listened to the audiobook, which is read by Gibson Frazier. I always enjoy a good audiobook and this one did not disappoint!


This book in three words …
George Washington, traitors, sister

Opening sentence from the book …
“I’m afraid we have lied to you,” said Alexander Hale. “A lot.”

My thoughts on this book…

Another successful book about our favourite students at Spy School!

It was nice to read this book back-to-back with the previous book in the series. At this point, SPYDER is no more, but that doesn’t mean there are no more Bad Guys! Now we have a new threat, and it seems to be coming from … Erica Hale herself? But Ben’s certain she’s innocent.

Love how Erica and Ben’s friendship has been developing, especially Erica has learned to trust in his abilities. (She’s still the better “spy” of course, but she recognizes what he brings to the mission. There are hints at romance, which is fine with me. I just hope they don’t suddenly fall into the same pattern as Summer and Teddy of the FunJungle series.)

I was glad to be reunited with Catherine Hale, Cyrus and Alexander Hale, and Mike, etc. We also get to know Ben’s parents in this one. (Both have a great sense of humour!) Zoe’s character does some interesting twists (won’t spoil it here). And, well, if you read the last book, then you won’t be surprised when Ben, et al. meet up with Murray Hill.

I loved the historical elements that come into play with George Washington being the first spymaster during the Revolutionary War. We (as readers) get to visit Mount Vernon! (I miss visiting historic sites.) Of course, there’s destruction that happens… which I mentioned in my last review. And there are definitely some nice twists with Ben deciphering spy codes.

I’m looking forward to the next book. (Which apparently is set in either Nicaragua or Antarctica!)


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2021/01/28/mg-takes-on-thursday-30/

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. (*Note: I’ve changed this slightly.*)
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

#MGTakesOnThursday / Lupe Wong Won’t Dance


Lupe Wong Won't DanceBook: Lupe Wong Won’t Dance (2020)
Author: Donna Barba Higuera
Publisher: Levine Querido
Genre: MG, Contemporary


This book in three words…

Baseball, Square Dancing, Determination

Favourite Sentence from Page 11…

“When the halls come into view, Andy, Niles and I exchange a glance. Extra crammed halls mean extra danger.”

My thoughts on this book…

This book is about a young “social justice warrior”, Lupe Wong. She loves baseball above all things, and when her uncle promises to let her meet the star pitcher of her favourite baseball team, she’s all in. Except, she’s got to get all A’s or else. No problem. But when her teacher sneaks in a square dancing unit in Phys.Ed, Lupe is in trouble. Square dancing isn’t even a sport, is it?

First, let’s talk about Lupe’s love of baseball. I loved the connection Lupe had with her dad (who’s dead). How she hears his voice in her head, giving advice on baseball, etc. It definitely helped me sympathize with her. Lupe’s such a firebrand that she is (at times) hard to like.

Now to the square dancing… I loved the scenes where (slight spoiler) she dances with an invisible partner! I am glad that she does give it a try, even after she tries so hard to get out of the whole thing at the beginning.

Personally, I kind of enjoyed our square dancing unit in middle school, and I’m not one for dancing, per se. I remember doing the Virginia Reel, which was pretty fun (and later reminded me of all the Jane Austen style dances). We also learned to line-dance! (Note: I don’t dance these days, but I also don’t really play sports either. Looking back, I’m glad I had to do both in school, even if wasn’t really my thing.)

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I’d recommend it for readers who like sports (especially baseball).

Please note: This book has a fair amount of potty-humour which I, personally, don’t need; but I can understand there are readers who enjoy that sort of thing!


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/12/31/mg-takes-on-thursday-27/

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.

#MGTakesOnThursday / The Well


the-wellBook: The Well (1995)
Author: Mildred D. Taylor
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: MG, Historical


This book in three words…

Hatred, Bullies, Water

Favourite Sentence from Page 11…

“I was kind of a quiet boy, and Hammer in his way was too, except he always spoke like a man, a man sure of himself. A man sure of himself even in front of white folks.”

My thoughts on this book…

Wow! Wow! Wow! This book… I went through a huge range of emotions while reading it. Mildred D. Taylor (author of the amazing Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) weaves such a tale that I hardly have words to describe it. And such characters! The likable narrator, David. The hot-headed Hammer. The wise parents, Mama and Papa. Simple Joe McCalister. Ma Rachel, who has is getting so old that she doesn’t quite seem to be all there.

I love how Taylor weaves the plot in and around the drought and the well on the Logan family’s property. She also works in little family stories, like the one about Ma Rachel and how she had her name stolen from her. My heart went out to this woman, once a slave, now an old lady. The story is so powerful my blood boiled against the Simms family.

And yet, I also like how Taylor tells us that things are complicated. Take Mama and Papa. They’re exact opposite of their hot-headed son, Hammer. They have so much wisdom. They dispel the hatred and distrust in the community by freely sharing the water from their well. Yes, even with such awful people like Old Man McCalister Simms and his two boys. David, the narrator, can hold his head high having Mama and Papa for his family. And yet, there’s a scene where Mama makes the decision to whip the boys so that Mr. Simms (a white man) will be satisfied. (Like I said, it’s a complicated scene.)

Warning: This book is quite raw in spots. Mildred D. Taylor doesn’t hold back in using the N-word in dialogue. And while I don’t enjoy reading language like this, I admire her for this historical accuracy. There is also a lot of whipping that happens, and again, it’s not pleasant to read about. But I think it’s important to the history behind this story. It’s good to know that this type of thing happened. We need to know history so we don’t repeat it, folks! We need more people in the world like David Logan’s parents. And we also need brave (albeit hot-headed) people like Hammer who will stand up to injustice. And definitely, we need people like young David Logan (who is based on Mildred Taylor’s own father).


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/12/03/mg-takes-on-thursday-25/

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.

#MGTakesOnThursday / Lost and Found


lost-and-foundBook: Lost and Found (2008)
Author: Andrew Clements
Illustrator: Mark Elliott
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genre: MG, Contemporary


This book in three words…

Twins, Switch, Deception

Favourite Sentence from Page 11…

“The picture-taking frenzy started the moment the twins got home from the hospital.”

My thoughts on this book…

A fun book about identical twins who end up with an interesting proposition… what if they were only one person? What would it be like? When Jay goes to a brand new school alone (because his brother Ray is sick), he realizes that the school somehow mixed up their files and thinks there’s only one of them.

Of course, Ray goes along with the scheme, and we get a series of scenes where the boys trick their teachers, classmates, and even their parents. One of the best scenes is when the mom figures out that something is up (but she hasn’t figured out the truth yet) and she catches Jay pretending to be Ray, thwarting all of Jay’s plans to go skating.

And then there’s the scene where the one boy seems to have figured things out and confronts Jay (or is it Ray?) and, well, I won’t spoil it here.

Andrew Clements knew how to write school stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It almost made me want to try the experiment myself. Except, I don’t have a twin. Where do I apply for one of those?


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/11/12/mg-takes-on-thursday-23/

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.

#MGTakesOnThursday / The Wedding Planner’s Daughter


wedding-planner-daughterBook: The Wedding Planner’s Daughter (2005)

Author: Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: MG, Contemporary

This book in three words…

Cherry-pits, Weddings, Cape Cod

Favourite Sentence from Page 11…

“Billy was jogging through Poet’s Park on his lunch hour when the wind whooshed, wait, and he turned just in time to see this beautiful woman strolling toward him through a fog of pink and white.”

My thoughts on this book…

I loved all the literary nods in this book… like Ms. Havisham is the wedding planner? (Don’t worry, she does wear an old wedding dress.) And her name is Stella (Estelle, anybody?) and she has great expectations for her daughter (Willa, the protagonist) that doesn’t include weddings! Oh boy. I’m afraid every single one of those allusions will be lost on the young reader, but I enjoyed them!

The little quotes at the beginning of each chapter were a nice touch. They included real quotes from people ranging from L.M. Montgomery to Robert Frost; and then, there are quotes from the characters in the book!

Willa is a likable protagonist. I also liked the information about living on Cape Cod. This book definitely had that rom-com feel to it, with a nod to some classic literature.


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/10/08/mg-takes-on-thursday-19/

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.

#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.

#MGTakesOnThursday / Ebb and Flow


ebb-and-flowBook: Ebb and Flow (2018)
Author: Heather Smith
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Blank Verse

This book in three words…

Fresh-Start, Secrets, Forgiveness

Favourite Sentence from Page 11…

I was Jett the Incredible Shrinking Boy, small in her arms again.

My thoughts on this book…

Jett has come to live with his grandmother for the summer holidays. Written in blank verse, we know something’s wrong. Slowly, at the novel unfolds, the reason is revealed. We get to relive moments where Jett makes poor decisions.

And his Grandmother Jo is delightful. She’s the type to dye her hair the colour of her house (blue!) to match the colour of her house. 🙂 I love how she’s able to reach out to her hurting grandson as he works through issues like abandonment and betrayal. And the little stories they tell each other are wonderful.

Highly recommend!


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/07/30/mg-takes-on-thursday-9/

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.

#MGTakesOnThursday / Curse of the School Rabbit

curse-school-rabbitBook: The Curse of the School Rabbit (2019)
Author: Judith Kerr
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Lower MG, Contemporary

Rating: 4 stars

This book in three words…

Humour, Pets, Family

Favourite Sentence from Page 11…

Then Dad said, “He won’t like me being taller than him,” and Uncle Mike said, “Well, most people are taller than Gordon Strong, but it might be a good idea for you crouch down a bit, so that it won’t be so noticeable.”

My thoughts on this book…

This lower middle-grade book revolves around a classroom pet (a rabbit in this case) who comes to stay at the home of Tommy and his sister Angie. Actually, the rabbit comes from Angie’s classroom; Tommy can’t stand the rabbit. But guess who has to take care of the rabbit? If you guessed Tommy, you are absolutely correct!

The rabbit causes all sorts of headaches. And not just for Tommy. Tommy’s dad and uncle are trying to get the famous actor, Gordon Strong, to hire Tommy’s dad for his next movie. But the rabbit does help matters. Tommy’s pretty sure that rabbit carries a curse!

The only odd thing about this book is that there are no chapters. I really think it could have benefitted from chapter divisions. There are lots of pictures, though. And lots of run-on sentences! But those sentences fit in very nicely with Tommy’s first-person narration.

Overall, it was a delightful book.


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/07/23/mg-takes-on-thursday-8/

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.