Title: Just Jaime Author: Terri Libenson Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel Publisher: Balzer and Bray Source: Borrowed from a friend Format: Paperback Release Date: May 7, 2019 Rating: ★★★★
Another spot-on story of middle school drama and friendship from Terri Libenson, national bestselling author of Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy.
Friends. Frenemies. Middle school…
The last day of seventh grade has Jaime and Maya wondering who their real friends are.
Jaime knows something is off with her friend group. They’ve started to exclude her and make fun of the way she dresses and the things she likes. At least she can count on her BFF, Maya, to have her back . . . right?
Maya feels more and more annoyed with Jaime, who seems babyish compared to the other girls in their popular group. It’s like she has nothing in common with Jai anymore. Are their days as BFFs numbered . . . ?
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jennifer L. Holm.
I really enjoyed this new graphic novel!
This story shows what can happen when kids grow up and grow apart. Jaime didn’t wear make up or want to do the same things as her other friends, so her friends wanted to cut her out of their group. It wasn’t fair to Jaime, but she ended up making new friends. It’s common for friends to drift apart, especially during preteen years, so this book is very relatable.
All of the books in this series have a twist at the end, where you discover something about a character that you never expected. The twist at the end of Invisible Emmie was kind of creepy, but the twist in this book was really clever. I didn’t see it coming.
This is a great story!
What to read next:
Invisible Emma by Terri Libenson
Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson
Have you read Just Jaime? What did you think of it?
Title: Once Upon a Frog (Whatever After #8) Author: Sarah Mlynowski Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy Publisher: Scholastic Press Source: Borrowed from a friend Format: Paperback Release Date: April 25, 2017 Rating: ★★★★★
My brother, Jonah, and I just want to TALK to the magic mirror — we’re not planning on traveling into any fairytales today. Promise.
Except we do wind up going through the mirror, this time into the story of The Frog Prince. The princess, who’s supposed to transform the cute little frog back into a handsome prince, turns out to be super rude. Jonah and I decide we don’t want — or need — her help. We can take matters into our own hands and turn the frog into a prince ourselves! Can’t we?
Now we just have to:
– Climb out of a smelly well
– Canoe over a waterfall
– Sneak into a palace
– Kiss a frog (ack)!
And there’s no time to waste — let’s hop to it!
This story is a little different from the others in the series. In each book, Abby and Jonah travel to a fairy tale. They end up messing up the ending in some way, such as preventing Sleeping Beauty from falling asleep. However, in this one, they intentionally try to change the ending.
In the original story of the frog prince, the princess is so mean that she throws the frog against a wall which makes him turn back into a prince. Abby didn’t want this frog prince to have the same fate, so she stops the princess from rescuing him, and instead tries to change him back into a human. This doesn’t end as she planned, when it turns out that the prince is actually evil!
Abby was able to apply what she learned about the mean prince in the fairy tale to her real bully at school. This shows that kids can learn things from fairy tales, even if they aren’t set in real life.
I love this series! I can’t wait to read the next one which is based on Aladdin!
What to read next:
Genie in a Bottle (Whatever After #9) by Sarah Mlynowski
Upside-Down Magic (Upside-Down Magic #1) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins
Have you read Once Upon a Frog? What did you think of it?
Title: The Castle in the Sea Author: Mardi McConnochie Genre: Middle Grade Publisher: Pajama Press Source: Publisher Format: Hardcover Release Date: June 14, 2019 Rating: ★★★★
The adventures of the Sunfish continue as twins, Annalie and Will, inch closer to finding their missing father in this highly original nautical adventure story with a speculative fiction twist. This time, the twins face even more challenges, including terrifying pirates and a devastating storm that will test the strength of their small wooden boat and their friendship.
Once more, Annalie, Will, Essie and Pod set out on the Sunfish to look for Spinner – their only clue a coded list Spinner left behind, naming four scientists who were once his colleagues on a top-secret project.
When a terrible storm separates the crew and almost wrecks the boat, Will and Essie must use all their courage and ingenuity to try and make their way back to the others. Meanwhile, Pod and Annalie, travelling in the crippled Sunfish, are captured by pirates, who agree to fix the Sunfish – at a price.
Not all of Spinner’s former colleagues can be trusted. Worse still, their old nemesis Beckett is still on their trail. Can they follow the clues, track down the scientists, and find Spinner before Beckett does?
The second breathtaking adventure in the Quest of the Sunfish series.
This was a great middle grade adventure story!
I didn’t read the first book in the series, but I understood this one. It began right in the middle of a storm, which ended up separating the kids. I was thrown right into the action. The story made sense, even without reading the previous story.
There was a lot of science in this book, but it was different from the typical science themed stories for kids. They didn’t do experiments or use technology. The kids had to solve their problems using the things they found in nature. Since they were on a boat, there were many nautical problems, such as sailing without any wind and navigating through a storm. This is a great way to teach kids how to solve their problems anywhere.
I really enjoyed this story!
Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
The Skeleton Coast by Mardi McConnochie
Have you read The Castle in the Sea? What did you think of it?
Title: Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts Author: Esta Spalding Genre: Middle Grade Publisher: Tundra Books Source: Library Format: Ebook Release Date: May 3, 2016 Rating: ★★★★★
Kim Fitzgerald-Trout took to driving with ease–as most children would if their parents would ever let them try. She had to. After all, she and her siblings live in a car.
Meet the Fitzgerald-Trouts, a band of four loosely related children living together in a lush tropical island. They take care of themselves. They sleep in their car, bathe in the ocean, eat fish they catch and fruit they pick, and can drive anywhere they need to go–to the school, the laundromat, or the drive-in. If they put their minds to it, the Fitzgerald-Trouts can do anything. Even, they hope, find a real home.
Award-winning poet and screenwriter Esta Spalding’s exciting middle grade debut establishes a marvelous place where children fend for themselves, and adults only seem to ruin everything. This extraordinary world is brought to vibrant life by Sydney Smith, the celebrated artist behind Sidewalk Flowers.
This was such a fun story. I started to read the latest book in this series, but I couldn’t understand it because of the complicated relationships. I’m so glad that I went back to the beginning of the series, because it is a great introduction to the characters.
This story reminded me of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Fitzgerald-Trout children live on their own, without their parents. The narrator is also a character in the same way as Lemony Snicket. However, the Fitzgerald-Trouts are not running away from a villain like Count Olaf.
I loved the unconventional family of the Fitzgerald-Trouts. All of the kids think of themselves as brothers and sisters, even though they aren’t all related. They have a mixture of four different parents, with some sharing a mother while others share a father. This family is complicated in an exaggerated way, but it is important to have these kinds of unconventional family structures in novels, especially kids books. Kids who read this story may see their own family reflected in some part of this family.
I loved this story! I’m excited to read the rest of the series!
What to read next:
Knock About with the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue
Have you read Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts? What did you think of it?
Title: The Golden Lion (Cleopatra in Space #4) Author: Mike Maihack Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel Publisher: Graphix Source: Library Format: Ebook Release Date: June 27, 2017 Rating: ★★★★★
Cleo is back at Yasiro Academy, recovering from the tragic events that occurred on planet Hykosis. She feels responsible for the death of her friend Zaid, and trains nonstop. And when she learns that the Golden Lion — a star with immeasurable energy that could destroy them all if weaponized — has been located, she goes alone to the snowy, icy planet Cada’duun to find it. There, she faces off with a new enemy who has been instructed to destroy the Golden Lion… and her.
This is a fun series about Cleopatra in space.
Cleo is just a regular kid, even though she is the prophesied queen from ancient Egypt. She disobeys her teachers and doesn’t keep up with her algebra homework. However, she faces much bigger consequences than an ordinary kid would face by doing the same things. She travels to distant planets and almost becomes trapped when she can’t communicate with a group of people who speak only in equations.
There is tons of action in these graphic novels. I think they would be great for reluctant readers, because there are a lot of pages without a lot of dialogue. There are some fantastic battle scenes, which look like the characters are really moving. I love the art in these comics.
I highly recommend this fun series!
What to read next:
Fallen Empires (Cleopatra in Space #5) by Mike Maihack
Have you read The Golden Lion? What did you think of it?
Title: Secrets of a Fangirl Author: Erin M. Dionne Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary Publisher: Scholastic Source: Publisher via Edelweiss Format: Ebook Release Date: May 28, 2019 Rating: ★★★★★
Sarah Anne loves lacrosse, and the MK Nightshade series that everyone was obsessed over in grade school. The problem is that she’s still obsessed, which is way too nerdy for a popular kid like her. So she hides her geekiness with a set of rules meant to keep her geek and jock selves separate.
Except when she’s offered a spot in a Nightshade fandom contest, where the winner gets to see the new movie premiere in LA. No one seems to think Sarah Anne can win, since she’s up against a pair of guys in high school–but the more she’s called a fake fan, the more determined she is to wipe the floor with her competition. As long as none of her friends or anyone at school knows what she’s doing.
Can she keep her geek identity a secret, win the contest, and manage to keep her friends even though she’s been living a lie? Sarah Anne is going to have to make some choices about what’s truly important to her and which rules she’s going to break to stay true to herself.
I loved this book!
I could really relate to Sarah Anne, the main character. She was a huge fan of a series called Nightshade, but she had to hide it from her friends. Her friends no longer thought it was “cool” to belong to a fandom, so Sarah Anne had to pretend that she didn’t like it anymore either. When she enters a contest online and wins, entering her into a fandom challenge, her secret “geeky” identity is put on display. I could relate to this because I remember in middle school and high school when liking geeky things, like fantasy book series or video games, was uncool. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I chose to ignore the fandoms that I loved, so that I could fit in with the rest of my classmates and friends. Now that I’m older, I wear tons of fandom gear, and I’m not afraid for anyone to know what geeky things I love.
I kept cringing at Sarah Anne’s popular friends. They were mean to so many kids, just because they liked certain movies and fandoms. One boy even expected Sarah Anne to keep up her position on the lacrosse team, because he couldn’t be seen with her if she wasn’t the best. This was so sad to read about, but it is definitely a real part of school. There are always the mean kids who think they can control what everyone else does in the school. The important thing is to continue to stand up for what you believe in.
This was a great book!
Thank you to Scholastic for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Tournament Trouble by Sylv Chiang
The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne
About the Author:
Erin Dionne’s latest book for tweens is Lights, Camera, Disaster (Scholastic 2018). Her other novels are Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies, The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet, and Notes from an Accidental Band Geek.
Her novel Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking: A 14 Day Mystery, is based on the real-life Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist and was a 2014 Edgar Award finalist. The series continues with Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting. Her first picture book, Captain’s Log: Snowbound, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, was released in 2018 and received a starred review from Kirkus.
A graduate of Boston College (BA English & Communications) and Emerson College (MFA), she teaches at Montserrat College of Art and lives outside of Boston with her husband, two children, and a very indignant dog.
Title: Beauty Queen (Whatever After #7) Author: Sarah Mlynowski Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy Publisher: Scholastic Press Source: Library Format: Ebook Release Date: April 28, 2015 Rating: ★★★★★
The magical seventh installment in this NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series!
This time, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Beauty and the Beast. When Jonah angers the Beast by picking flowers from his garden, he becomes the Beast’s prisoner! Abby has to save her brother by finding Beauty, whom the Beast will surely fall in love with, right? NOPE. The Beast doesn’t like Beauty, so it’s up to Abby and her brother to match-make this reluctant pair and fix this fractured fairy tale before things get pretty ugly!
This is another fun fairytale retelling!
In this story, Abby and Jonah have to fix the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. Abby also has to find a way to get Jonah’s memories back. His memories were wiped at the end of the previous novel so he didn’t remember any of their other fairytale adventures. There were many twists throughout the story, including Abby being turned into a beast!
As the series progresses, the characters are becoming more developed. Abby and Jonah’s lives outside of the fairytale adventures was shown at the beginning of the story. Abby has trouble with her friends at school. She becomes jealous when her friend makes a new friend. However, she learns how to fix the situation while in the Beauty and the Beast story.
The Whatever After series is great! I highly recommend it!
What to read next:
Once Upon a Frog (Whatever After #8) by Sarah Mlynowski
Have you read Beauty Queen? What did you think of it?