Review: Pickled Watermelon

38397825-2.jpg

Title: Pickled Watermelon
Author: Esty Schachter
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Source: Thomas Allen & Son (book distributor)
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s the summer of 1986, and eleven-year-old Molly just wants to spend the summer with her friends at camp. Instead, she reluctantly heads to Israel to visit family she barely knows! With a less-than-basic knowledge of Hebrew that she picked up in Hebrew school, Molly wonders how she will be able to communicate and have fun in a country that is new and foreign to her. Luckily, surprises are in store.

Review:

I enjoyed this story about a girl who travels to Israel with her family.

I learned a lot about Israeli culture from this book. I have never read a book set in Israel before, so it was new to me. Molly was also discovering new aspects of her culture, because her mother’s family lived differently from her father’s family in the United States.

I’m curious as to why the story was set in 1986, rather than today. Perhaps this reflects a real trip that the author took. This setting put the characters in a unique position in time. Molly’s parents lived through the after effects of World War II, and her grandparents lived through it. That close relationship to WWII wouldn’t have been apparent if the young girl was living in today’s world.

This is a great story for middle grade readers.

What to read next:

  • Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

    30623067-2

  • Anya’s Echoes by Esty Schachter

    6534855.jpg

Have you read Pickled Watermelon? What did you think of it?

 

Review: No Fixed Address

37683441

Title: No Fixed Address
Author: Susin Nielsen
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

From beloved Governor General Literary Award–winning author Susin Nielsen comes a touching and funny middle-grade story about family, friendship and growing up when you’re one step away from homelessness.

Felix Knuttson, twelve, is an endearing kid with an incredible brain for trivia. His mom Astrid is loving but unreliable; she can’t hold onto a job, or a home. When they lose their apartment in Vancouver, they move into a camper van, just for August, till Astrid finds a job. September comes, they’re still in the van; Felix must keep “home” a secret and give a fake address in order to enroll in school. Luckily, he finds true friends. As the weeks pass and life becomes grim, he struggles not to let anyone know how precarious his situation is. When he gets to compete on a national quiz show, Felix is determined to win — the cash prize will bring them a home. Their luck is about to change! But what happens is not at all what Felix expected.

Review:

This is a great story, with tons of emotions.

Felix is homeless, though he tries to hide it. He and his mother live in a van. He tries to keep that a secret from his friends, but it keeps coming back to haunt him that he has no address. His biggest fear was that he would be taken from his mother, so he had to keep it a secret.

Felix has a modern, complicated family. His parents were never together. His “father” was his mom’s gay friend who was a sperm donor. His grandparents have passed away, and his mom’s brother died of an overdose when she was a teenager. This all makes for a unique situation for Felix. Though he has had many hardships in his young life, Felix works hard toward his goal of being on a trivia game show.

I liked his narration style. Felix did a great job of explaining things about his family in an entertaining way. For example, he listed the different kinds of lies his mother tells, and he made acronyms for different things.

This is a great middle grade story!

What to read next:

  • Clara Voyant

  • Quid Pro Quo

Have you read No Fixed Address? What did you think of it?

Review: Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party

38256494.jpg

Title: Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party
Author: Megan McDonald
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Jolly smashing! Could the Moodys really have royal blood? Judy brings her new look to a comical episode about the ups and downs of exploring a family tree.

Judy Moody is in a royal purple-mountain-majesties mood. Make that Majesty with a capital M! With Grandma Lou’s help, Judy has dug up proof that some old-timey Moodys (aka the brave Mudeyes) lived in merry olde England. In fact, if her grandpa’s notes are right, Judy might even be related to — royal fanfare, please — the Queen herself! Should Judy start packing her purple robe for a sleepover at Buckingham Palace? But then Judy’s family tree gets a few more shakes — thanks to her nemesis, Jessica “Fink” Finch — and some more surprises come tumbling out. Crikey! These new gems are not nearly as shiny or sparkly as the crown jewels. Now Judy has some right royal family secrets she’d like to keep hidden away in a dungeon somewhere — and especially away from Jessica, the princess in pink herself!

Review:

Judy Moody becomes a Queen in this new story.

I had never read a Judy Moody book before this one, and I enjoyed it. Judy is a quirky, funny girl. She reminded me of Junie B. Jones, who was one of my favourite characters when I was a kid.

I liked the plot of this story. Judy has to do a family tree project for school, which I remember doing too. It was surprising that Judy’s grandmother could trace their family back to Queen Elizabeth I! It encouraged Judy to explore her royal roots and become a queen herself.

I really enjoyed this story. It would be great for middle grade readers!

What to read next:

  • Nancy Clancy Seeks a Fortune by Jane O’Connor

  • 27036766.jpg
  • Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime by Barbara Park

  • 196283-2.jpg

Have you read Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party? What did you think of it?

Review: Hilda and the Hidden People

40614266.jpg

Title: Hilda and the Hidden People
Author: Luke Pearson, Stephen Davies
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Flying Eye Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Introducing the novel based on the Netflix animated series, Hilda, coming to screens in fall 2018.

Meet Hilda: explorer, adventurer, avid sketchbook-keeper and friend to almost every creature in the valley! Join our beloved heroine as she encounters her very first troll, negotiates peace with some very persnickety elves, and reunites two lovelorn ancient giants. Fantastic creatures and daring adventures are all just part of another average day for Hilda, but what will she do if she is forced to move to Trolberg city, far away from her beloved valley home? Dive into the adventure with this illustrated chapter book, based on the first two episodes of the show.

Review:

This is a cute middle grade story.

Hilda and her mom are going to be kicked out of their house by the invisible elves that live in front of it. The elves can become visible if you sign a form to see them (the elves love forms). Hilda must travel to see the elf Prime Minister and elf king to save her home.

Hilda learns a lot about her homeland throughout the story. It is a land with elves and giants shaped like mountains. There are also trolls that can be scared off by bells. But Hilda realizes that the land doesn’t belong to her and her mom, since they built on top of someone else’s home.

This series is becoming a Netflix show, and I’m curious to watch it. This is the start of a book series that will be continuing next year. I look forward to following Hilda’s story.

What to read next:

  • Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! (Lumberjanes #1) by Mariko Tamaki

    34324434-2.jpg

  • Hildafolk (Hilda #1) by Luke Pearson

    9700137.jpg

Have you read Hilda and the Hidden People? What did you think of it?

 

Review: The Benefits of Being an Octopus

35890044.jpg

Title: The Benefits of Being an Octopus
Author: Ann Braden
Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?

This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.

Review:

This is a powerful story for young people.

Many important themes were explored in this story, such as poverty and abuse. Zoey takes care of her siblings while her mom works. She learns that her mother is in an abusive relationship, and Zoey tries to find a way out of it. Even though she is a child, she knows she can and must do something to help her mother.

Her friend Fuchsia faces similar problems. Her mother’s boyfriend threatens Fuchsia if she reports her mother to family services. Fuchsia feels trapped, as if she cannot tell her mother because she won’t believe her, so she is ready to accept her future. Zoey has to show her that she can stand up for herself.

Zoey is a very strong character. She stands up for many people in this book, including her siblings, her mother, and her friends. Though some parts were difficult to read about, these are real situations that happen to kids all the time. I really enjoyed this book.

What to read next:

  • Ghost (Track #1) by Jason Reynolds

  • 28954126-2.jpg
  • Small Things by Mel Tregonning

  • 31437878.jpg

Have you read The Benefits of Being an Octopus? What did you think of it?

Review: Study Hall of Justice (DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #1)

25786965.jpg

Title: Study Hall of Justice (DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #1)
Author: Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Being the new kid at school is tough, especially when your school is called Ducard Academy and your name is Bruce Wayne. There’s a gang of jokers roaming the halls, a muscle-headed kid named Bane wants to beat you up, and your guidance counselor Hugo Strange seems really, well, strange.

This inventive novel follows young Bruce Wayne and his friends Clark (Superman) and Diana (Wonder Woman) as they start a Junior Detective Agency to investigate their teachers and find out what’s going on behind closed doors at Ducard Academy, all before recess.

This all-new story presents a twist on the idea of junior sleuths, using comics, journal entries, and doodles to reimagine Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman as three students in the same school. They’ll try their best to solve their case, but just because you’re faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive, it doesn’t mean you get to stay up past eleven.

Review:

This is a great middle grade story for fans of DC Comics.

This story takes place before the DC Comics characters became super heroes. They give hints to the superheroes that we know they will become. Bruce Wayne loves bats and working in dark spaces. Clark Kent is super secretive about where he comes from and says he knows nothing about Krypton. And there’s also the class clown Joe Kerr who is always pulling pranks in the halls.

The illustrations in this graphic novel were done in grey and white. Some of them looked like pencil sketches. There were some documents in the story, such as Bruce’s electronic journal and flyers from school. These told more of the story in an abstract way so that we can see what is happening around the students without them stating it.

I liked this graphic novel. It was a quick read, and funny too!

What to read next:

  • Fort Solitude (DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #2) by Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen

  • 30254987.jpg
  • Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

  • 27245995

Have you read Study Hall of Justice (DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #1)? What did you think of it?

Review: City of Ghosts

35403058-2.jpg

Title: City of Ghosts
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Purchased
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Review:

I absolutely loved this book! I couldn’t put it down!

This book reminded me of The Mediator series by Meg Cabot. In that series, Suzannah can speak to ghosts, and she has one particular ghost, Jesse, who follows her around. Cass and Jacob’s relationship reminded me of Suzannah and Jesse. There were also loads of Harry Potter references in this book, which is always a plus for me!

This story was very fast-paced. A lot of things happened in a short amount of time. The ending also left it open to become a series. The only problem is that I want to read the next book now!

I’ll definitely be recommending this book to YA and middle grade readers!

What to read next:

  • Shadowland (The Mediator #1) by Meg Cabot
    187811-3.jpg

  • The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles #1) by Toni DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
    444304-2

Have you read City of Ghosts? What did you think of it?