Review / We Dream of Space

20210103ma_0014Book: We Dream of Space (2020)
Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
Genre: MG, Historical [1986]

Basic plot: It’s January 1986. The whole school is preparing to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Cash, Fitch, and Bird are three siblings, each with their own troubles. Cash breaks his wrist and has to deal with being held back due to his poor grades. Fitch struggles with the teasing of his friends and trying to avoid a certain girl who keeps calling him by his real name, Henry. And then there’s Bird, the good student who wants to be an astronaut herself but begins to doubt she has what it takes. As the days count down to the shuttle launch, the lives of the three kids seem as doomed as the tragedy that’s about to happen… 

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Rocket launch. Shuttle launch. Pretty much anything to do with the history of NASA and you got my attention. This book reminded me of Planet Earth is Blue, but it’s also so different. Yes, they’re both set during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, but their focus is different. I enjoyed both very much.

2) I probably identified mostly with Bird, and not just because she’s the only girl in the sibling trio. I got her interest in the topic of the day and her big dreams. I loved her “conversations” her hero, astronaut Judith Resnik. Of course, she not really speaking with the astronaut, but it’s Bird’s way working out what’s true about her own life and situation. Particularly poignant is a quote from near the end of the book after the (Spoiler!) the space shuttle explodes and Resnik, as well as the other astronauts, die. “Is it okay to cry for people you don’t know?” Bird didn’t know Judith Resnik, but that’s how close she felt to the astronaut. (End Spoiler) 

3) I absolutely loved Cash’s character arc in this book. He’s the one who loves basketball but realizes he’s not very good at the game. So, he tries other things, like cooking… until, finally, he figures something out. (I won’t spoil it here.) I loved the scene with his coach near the end of the book.

4) And then, there’s Fitch. He’s Bird’s twin brother (more on that later). He was the hardest of the three (for me at least) to like and understand. And yet, I still enjoyed seeing him develop and grow over the course of the book. In some ways, he has the most courageous arc of the three.

5) My favourite scene (early on in the book) was when the teacher, Ms. Salonga, has the class imagine they are going through the steps of a shuttle launch; that they are the astronauts taking a last minute simulation. This particular chapter is told through Bird’s POV, so we get her imagination full-on. Wonderful scene. Which is, of course, interrupted by one of Bird’s classmates (Dani) bringing her straight back to Earth. My other favourite scene (from near the end of the book) is the picnic. Which I won’t spoil.

6) I though Erin Entrada Kelly did an amazing job of bringing out the era of 1986. Everything about the story (from the basketball references to the video games to the music, etc.) let us know that this was happening in a decade gone-by. 

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) Okay, two little things. Fitch and Bird are twins. But I didn’t figure this out until page 77 when we’re told this. And prior to that, they didn’t feel at all like twins. Granted, I’m not a twin myself, but I have taught several sets of twins, and there’s one thing I’ve noticed. There is this bond that happens between twins. A protectiveness. I didn’t see that in Fitch and Bird, at least not in the first part of the book. It’s hinted at a little maybe in some of the car scenes, but those scenes came rather late in the book. Not a huge thing, but a little thing that bothered me.

2) The parents. Oh, boy! I had a hard time with these parents. By the end, I was hoping for some redemption for Mom and Dad, but there was none. The parents just made me really sad.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this book and the historical journey it took us on! Overall, it’s a hopeful book, and I’m glad about that (especially in light of the historical events). I highly recommend this book, especially to anybody who likes NASA stories or even just historical fiction. 

*Note: This week (January 28th) marks the 35th anniversary of what happened to the Challenger. I have vivid memories of seeing the footage play out on the TV. I don’t remember if we watched in it real time or not, but that image certainly seared itself on my young brain.


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

Review / Clutch

FITZ_Clutch_Cover.FNL

Book: Clutch (2017)
Author: Heather Camlot
Genre: MG, Historical [Post-WWII]

Basic plot: With his father dead and his mother struggling to keep her store afloat, Joey tries to come up with ways to make money. And guess what? He’s pretty good at it! But then comes the dad of his best friend Ben; Mr. Wolfe promises to help Joey outwink, wink. (Not even Ben trusts his father-of-shady-repute. Don’t trust him, Joey!)

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Joey is such a little entrepreneur! I love all his plans. And he’s a pretty good brother to young David (a kid obsessed with Jackie Robinson). Every time Ben’s bad dad showed up, I wanted to chase him away and protect Joey.

2) I always love learning a bit of history I never knew before. This book sort of revolves around the time that baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, was playing in the minor leagues in Montreal, Canada. (Who knew he played in Montreal???) However, note that Jackie Robinson isn’t really a character in the story. Instead, the little brother David is the one obsessed with baseball.

3) There’s a sweet little romance between Joey and his “crush” Shelly. They’re both studying for their bar mitzvah (bat mitzvah for Shelly). I’m not super crazy about middle school romance, but this was handle just about right!

4) I like the different characters that Joey has to learn to trust (or not trust). Especially with regards to Mr. Wolfe and Dr. Richter.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) Interestingly, with the baseball on the front cover, I expected a little more about the game. Fact: There isn’t a huge amount of baseball in this book. I think some readers who expect a lot about sports may be disappointed.

FINAL THOUGHTS

An interesting look at life in 1940s Montreal… A true coming-of-age story, you will be rooting for Joey… future businessman of the world. As long as he learns to stay away from trouble.


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

 

Review / Keep it Together, Keiko Carter

Keep it Together Keiko CarterBook: Keep it Together, Keiko Carter (2020)
Author: Debbi Michiko Florence
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Keiko is best friends with Audrey and Jenna. They decide to make it the goal of the new school year by getting boyfriends. But things become complicated when Jenna and Audrey fall for the same boy. And then Keiko has to deal with her first crush; the confusing behaviour of Audrey’s brother, Conner; her mom being perpetually gone; and just all-around trying to keep everything together…

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Keiko is best friends with two girls: Jenna and Audrey. I love this dynamic. Seeing the three girls interact at the beginning is wonderful. Of course, because it’s a book, there’s got to be some conflict to appear and it certainly does.

2) I loved the dog connection in this book! Conner’s dog, Lumpy, is such a fun addition. I just wish there had been more to the animal shelter part of the book. It might have been nice to have Keiko volunteer at the shelter, only to discover that Conner volunteered there as well! (And make it more awkward.)

3) The chocolate references throughout the book are fun. I like how Keiko makes her special spicy hot chocolate (such weird ingredients! I do wonder how it tastes) and how that fits in with the plot. Especially with regards to Audrey and Conner.

4) There was some great tension with the mom being gone all the time. And then, tying that into Jenna’s parents who just got a divorce. I liked how that all came to a head and got resolved.

5) I liked the scenes with the sister, Macy. Especially with her little secret that she’s keeping from Keiko. (Slight Spoiler) It’s theatre-related. (End Spoiler)

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) I didn’t really like the ending with regards to Audrey. I wanted a better, more satisfying ending. (Spoiler Alert!) Keiko ends up as Conner’s girlfriend, and I don’t see why Audrey doesn’t think this is a good thing. Keiko and Conner could get married and they’d be sisters!! Instead, Keiko chooses Conner over Audrey. I would have liked it if Audrey figured out that choosing doesn’t have to be a part of her world. (End Spoiler)

FINAL THOUGHTS

A cute book about middle school dating. I’m not usually crazy about these types of books (I’d rather keep it at first crushes in middle school and save the dating for YA), but this one worked. I would recommend to young people who are looking for a little sweet romance!


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

Review / Real Friends and Best Friends

Real & Best FriendsBook: Real Friends (2017) & Best Friends (2019)
Author: Shannon Hale
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham
Genre: MG, Graphic Novel/Memoir

Basic plot: This is author Shannon Hale’s memoir about her awkward middle grade years. Set in the 1980s, Little Shannon struggles with growing up, and especially with the complicated nature of friendships. These two follow her life journey as she finds her place in the world… and the discovery that she’s a writer at heart. 

*Note: I’m reviewing two books for the price of one in this blogpost!

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Normally, I save this for last, but I wanted to bring up the Author Notes at the end of the book. I really enjoy reading what’s true and what’s been changed for the story. (Note: Most character names have been changed!) As a memoir, the plot revolves around her memories of that time, which she stresses are from her POV. I love how she mentions a few things she wishes were different (like how she could have become friends with the younger girl in the hedge). Also, in the second book, it was fun to see that the fantasy-writing by Little Shannon are based on her real writing at that time!

2) The complicated nature of friendship in middle school is portrayed in all its awkward glory. Poor Little Shannon! Such a yo-yo ride where she’s friends sometimes and other times, not.

3) I loved how the sixth graders (Zara and Veronica) make friends with Shannon (in the first book). I think it’s so important to show that friendships can span different years. It was also great to see the older girls embrace Shannon’s creativity as they join in her imaginary-play games… Yes, even though as sixth-graders, they’re too cool for school.

4) The relationship with Wendy (the sister) is pretty intense at times. I’m glad that it gets worked out in the course of the books. And to know that things became much better in their adult years (via the Author Note). 

5) And that scene depicted on the cover of the second book! I felt for Shannon with regards to her fear of roller coasters. I too had a bad experience on a roller coaster. (Nobody told me I could close my eyes. At five years old, I did the whole ride with my eyes open! Note: Like Shannon, due to peer-pressure, I did go on roller coasters I was in high school (with eyes closed, because I learned that it’s okay to close your eyes!). However, in my 20s and 30s, I learned that I don’t need to put myself under such stress anymore for fear of trying to fit in with the crowd! Let others enjoy the roller coasters!)

6) I liked the little “notes” in front of each chapter. “Do you want to be best friends? (check one) Yes! No Maybe”. Cute! (And very middle-school.)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Since these books take place in the 1980s, there were a few historical references that popped in. And then they kind of popped out again because they didn’t really go anywhere. This felt a bit disjointed to me. For example: the reference to the Challenger tragedy. Perhaps this could have been better dealt with in a regular novel, but it seemed stilted in this one.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really did enjoy these two graphic novels! And I do think the graphic novel was the right way to go for this memoir. I would recommend the books to fans of Shannon Hale, but they’re also good to get a glimpse at how hard middle school can be… to know that you can get through those years.

Note: In many ways, this book reminded me of the Sunny graphic novel series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm.


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

Review / Tyrannosaurus Wrecks

tyrannasaurus-wrecksBook: Tyrannosaurus Wrecks (2020)
Series: FunJungle #6
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: MG, Mystery

Basic plot: Teddy is back for another mystery, this time involving dinosaur bones discovered on a friend’s ranch. When the enormous T-Rex skull goes missing, Teddy’s friend turns to him. And of course, Summer. On top of a disappearing skull, there’s a new competitor for FunJungle called Snakes Alive! Teddy and Summer team up once more to figure out who’s legit and who’s shady. And things are never easy when Summer’s dad is one of the suspects. 

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I loved how Stuart Gibbs worked a T-Rex into this story! FunJungle is a series about a zoo-like amusement park. Who would have thought to bring in dinosaur bones? Summer’s dad, that’s who! Which gives us an archaeological dig! And also, the mystery when the skull goes missing…

2) Speaking of mysteries, there were some nice red herrings and misleads. But, when I think back, the clues are all there.

3) As always, Teddy remains a very likeable main character. And Summer, too. I like how they work together. In this book, they’re boyfriend and girlfriend. (More on that later.)

4) Another enjoyable part was the subplot… the angle on exotic pets. I am slightly horrified by people wanting to own snakes. *Shivers*. I will say that I particularly enjoyed reading the author’s note at the back about what’s legal and what’s not about owning exotic pets. *Shivers again*

5) It’s been awhile since I’ve read a FunJungle book. Actually, I think I’ve only read #1 and #2 of the series. (Which means I missed #3-5???) But, I didn’t find it too hard to pick up where I left off. The only major change was Teddy’s relationship to Summer. I recall it being an antagonistic partnership in the first books, something that’s now missing from the series now that they are boyfriend and girlfriend. (More on that later.)

6) Stuart Gibbs knows how to give us an exciting climax! The chase at the end is full of action and is completely centred on Teddy, our hero. (He even gets to drive! Every kid’s dream, right?)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Okay, about Teddy and Summer. I did not care for the fact that they are now boyfriend and girlfriend. (Could you guess that from my hints above?) I do like the enemies-to-lovers trope, but you can’t make them lovers if you’re going to continue the series! Where is the banter? The bickering? The tension between the two? All missing! (And Stuart Gibbs does that type of tension-filled banter quite well, especially in his Spy School books.)

2) There were some random characters that didn’t do much for the story… namely, some of Teddy’s friends from school. Not a huge deal, but I found them to be superfluous and actually ended up distracting me from the story itself. I had to go back and re-read some parts because of them.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Another fun book from Stuart Gibbs to end off the year of 2020. Loved the dinosaur and snake angle on this 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

Review / How to Speak Dolphin

jkt_9780545676052.pdfBook: How to Speak Dolphin (2015)
Author: Ginny Rorby
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Lily loves her half-brother, Adam, but she struggles with dealing with his autism. Her stepfather relies on her too much. Adam loves dolphins, so when Don goes to help a young dolphin with cancer, he brings Lily and Adam along. He instantly sees the bond between Adam and the dolphin, Nori. Lily and her new friend Zoe are concerned for Nori (a wild dolphin) being held in captivity even after her cancer is cured. But Lily worries that Nori is Adam’s only hope…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I really enjoyed all the information about dolphins in this book. There are a few short chapters sprinkled throughout the book where we get Nori’s POV. (Nori IS the dolphin.) And then there’s the info uncovered by Lily and Zoe, especially regarding dolphins in captivity. 

2) I was definitely rooting for Lily. She was such a responsible and resourceful girl. Her patience and care for Adam (her autistic half-brother) was wonderful to see. But it was also heartbreaking that she had to act like a mother to Adam (their mom was dead) at such a young age.

3) And then there’s the stepdad Don (Adam’s father). I was intrigued by this character. At times, I hated him for relying on Lily so much. But then, the author would let a little humanity peek through and I felt compassion for him. There’s a particularly touching scene where Lily (*slight Spoiler) calls him “Dad” instead of “Don” (End Spoiler).

4) I loved watching Adam progress over the course of the novel as he gets help for his autism. Suzanne (the nanny) is great and so is the school!

5) I loved when Lily met and connected with Zoe (a blind girl). It was nice to see the friendship that develops, especially over their concern for Nori, the dolphin, in captivity.  And with regard to Nori, I like how the situation is painted as the complex issue it is.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Very slight issue here, but Lily has several (too many, in my opinion) moments when she feels bad for pointing out Zoe’s blindness. And Zoe’s reaction is always the same. No big deal. It just felt repetitive and didn’t really go anywhere. Not a major problem.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book is for the animal lover in your life! Dolphins are amazing creatures. And I love the connection Adam and Nori have in the 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

Review / All the Impossible Things

all-the-impossible-thingsBook: All the Impossible Things (2019)
Author: Lindsay Lackey
Genre: MG, Magical Realism

Basic plot: Red is a foster kid who’s been in and out of foster days. And her newest placement, with a family who owns a petting zoo of sorts, is just going to be temporary. That’s because Red’s mom will be released from prison, and she promised to stay off those white pills. But then Red meets a the tortoise named Tuck and she starts to fall in love with her new foster home. So, what can she do when she learns that her mom is getting out on good behaviour? 

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I felt the emotional struggle of poor Red through the ups and downs of being a foster kid. The magical realism kicks in with the fact that her emotions are somehow connected to wind. Red’s mood can cause horrible storms. It’s a neat little twist on a term called pathetic fallacy. (I love that term!) 

2) How great are Jackson and Celine! They’re the foster parents. At first, Red isn’t sure about them, but through the book, we see her becoming more and more comfortable around this couple. I love how they interact with Red, especially when they see her connection to their tortoise, Tuck! (All the animals on the farm have great bookish names… like Frodo and Gandalf and Bronte!)

3) And then, there’s Marvin. Love this kid! He instantly reaches out to Red and accepts her, even when she’s a little too quiet. I like how he works with her to get the video production to help at the end. And the Hawaii connection is interesting.

4) Even though Gamma (Red’s grandmother) is no longer alive in the book, we get little flashbacks to when she cared for Red. She’s the one who gets Red to write in a notebook about all the impossible things. Because a thing is only impossible until it is done. I love her wisdom and her love. And I like how the impossible things permeates throughout the narrative.

5) The scenes with Red’s mom were painful, but I liked the realism there. She really struggles with being a mom. And I like how Lindsay Lackey shows how complicated life can be.

6) The cover is beautiful!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I mentioned earlier that there’s a scene where Marvin is helping Red with producing a video. Right at the end (Spoiler!) he loses the footage. “Sorry, Red!” This scene is almost an afterthought, a throwaway. As somebody who does work with video, I’m not even sure how he lost the edit. Did he just erase the original videos… ALL of them? That’s pretty hard to do unless your drive fails or something. In any case, the part of the story felt like a cheap way out for the author. I would rather have seen this actually play out in real time with Marvin and Red reacting to what is happening… and not simply as a report from Marvin. (End Spoiler)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Loved this book! It’s really a contemporary novel with elements of magical realism. I would recommend it for readers who loved The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson.


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

Review / A Field Guide to Getting Lost

field-guide-to-getting-lostBook: A Field Guide to Getting Lost (2020)
Author: Joy McCullough
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Sutton loves robots. Luis loves to write. Their parents are getting serious in their dating relationship, and now it’s time for the kids to meet. But things don’t always go so smoothly, especially with Luis’ severe allergies in play. And Sutton tends to fixate on her robots. That’s when it’s decided that a hike might just do the trick to bring the families together.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) This book has two main characters. Let’s start with Sutton (because the book begins with her). She is a robot-loving introvert. I loved the exchange with her dad about news (regarding a fancy dinner date) he had given her early in the morning. “Was I fully prepared to engage?” she asks him about the fact that she doesn’t really remember him telling her about this date. I love her relationship with the neighbours in their apartment. (More on them later.)

2) I found myself drawn to Luis. I definitely related to him a little more than to Sutton. He’s pragmatic as well as a budding writer working on an epic story about a character named Penelope Bell. There’s the scene where he’s going to the emergency room (with an allergic reaction). He knows that his best friend’s mom is over-reacting, but we get his inner thoughts. He knows that this is just part of his life as he calmly greets (by name) the hospital staff. (These severe allergies (to peanuts and bees) come into play later in the story.)

3) I loved the parents and how they interacted with their children. Sutton and her dad have a wonderful relationship, as do Luis and his mom. And I was rooting for them to become a blended family quite early on. Of course, the book doesn’t extend that far, but still. 🙂

4) The cover of the book promises a hike, and yes, we get a hike. It’s kind of a fun story that’s partly based on the author’s own experience. I love how both kids come to the hike with (almost identical) fully-prepared backpacks.

5) Sutton’s neighbours (in her apartment) are adorable! Mrs. B and her dog Moti, and Mr. Wong and his cat… I loved Mrs. B particularly and how she knows how helpful a glass of golden milk can be to an injured soul. My favourite type of neighbour!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) The hike did seem a little less dangerous/important than I was expecting. (Expectations set up by the cover, probably.) This wasn’t a huge deal. I just guess I was expecting more hiking in the book. While it is mentioned a bit, it only comes into the plot at the end. And there was that weird scene with the bee. (Yeah, not sure about that bee.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I did enjoy this book! The kids are engaging. I liked the parents (minus the one!) I would definitely recommend 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

Review / Daily Bread

Daily-BreadBook: Daily Bread (2020)
Author: Antoinette Truglio Martin
Genre: MG, Historical [1911]

Basic plot: It is 1911. Crammed into a three-room flat in a Mott Street tenement, the large Taglia family needs all the help they can muster. Spunky songbird Lily wants to help by baking Daily Bread at the bakery like big sister, Margaret. But Margaret says Lily is just a little kid, and there is more to baking Daily Bread than height and an artist’s heart. Lily learns to navigate in a grown-up world when facing bullies, disasters, dotty bakers, and treacherous streets to cross by herself..

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Loved Margaret and her ambition! In some ways, she reminded me of Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I especially loved the little part where she reveals to Lily how she saves her money. Of course, what’s also nice is how this is juxtaposed by Margaret’s friend, Connie, and her views about money.

2) And then there was Lily’s connection to Mrs. Goldberg through song and dance (ballet). One particularly touching scene is when Mrs. Goldberg seems to be in a deep depression which is then breached by Lily’s song. Later on in the story, I found the revelation about the Goldbergs’ backstory to be fascinating.

3) And let’s not forget the knot surprises. I want a knot surprise! (Not with cheese, though. Jam, please!) Frankly, all the bread in this book did make me hungry. And, while I have never worked in a bakery, I have helped my mother bake bread. (There is almost nothing more fun than punching down the raised dough.)

4) I loved the Lower Manhattan setting. One of my favourite “tourist sites” in all of New York City is the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. It’s a spot I’ve repeatedly taken visitors when I lived in New York. This book took me back to those places!

5) When I first saw mention of the Triangle Waistshirt Factory, I knew there was something coming. Whether or not you’re aware of what happened there in 1911, this book will let you relive that historical moment in time.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I found the ending a little abrupt. Like, that’s it? I liked the ending, but I wanted a bit more of a resolution after the very traumatic climax. That said, it’s not a bad ending, it’s just that I wanted more.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book definitely had the flavour of the classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I would recommend this book to readers who are fans of authors like Patricia Reilly Giff, especially if you’re interested in the immigrant experience to New York.

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


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

Review / The Bicycle Spy

bicycle-spyBook: The Bicycle Spy (2016)
Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Genre: MG, Historical (WWII)

Basic plot: It’s Marcel’s job to deliver bread from his parents’ bakery on his bicycle. And with the French occupation by the Nazis, he often gets stopped. Luckily, they haven’t discovered Marcel’s secret… that the bread hides messages for the French Resistance. And then comes Delphine, a new girl to the village with her own secrets. It’s up to Marcel to help her.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I liked the Tour de France references in this book. Marcel, like many kids his age, wants to “train” for the big race. Of course, with the war going on, there was no race. Loved the little history of the race at the end of the book.

2) Marcel’s parents (the bakers) keep him in the dark about their connections to the Resistance. I love how Marcel accidentally figures it all out. And then, how he joins in with his family’s mission, full speed ahead.

3) Delphine. Loved her! I liked the intrigue and how, little by little, we find out her story. By the end of the book, I was definitely rooting for Marcel and the others in their rescue attempt.

4) This book made me hungry with all the talk of bagettes! And I don’t blame the soldiers for focusing on Marcel’s tasty pain d’épice. Yum.

5) I like how Marcel’s ordinary bravery and courage are what push the book. One of the best scenes for me came at the end with regards to his bike (his wonderful bike!) and a flat tire and the sacrifice he makes to complete his mission.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Not a huge thing, but I was expecting a bigger pay off with the Tour de France. Other than the bicycles used, there isn’t much of a connection. Of course, there weren’t any races during the war, but he could have met somebody who had won the race in the past.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I love historical fiction, and I do like a good World War II spy book. This one is a quick read and overall, quite satisfying.


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