Monday, March 18, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt


Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 288 p. Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, February, 2015. 9780399162596. (Own.)

Middle Grade Monday continues to celebrate Lynda Mullaly Hunt and her upcoming visit to TMS on May 6. Fish in a Tree is her sophomore effort and a TMS favorite as well. Ally is a master of deception. The fact that she has moved to seven schools in the previous seven years has helped her mask the fact that she can't read. That and her flippant persona that often land her in the principal's office and out of the spotlight in the classroom. When Mrs. Hall leaves to have her baby, Mr. Daniels is her long-term sub. He sees past Ally's machinations and refuses to let her hide. This is a touching story about a lost little girl and her inspirational teacher.  

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Picture Book Review: Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen


Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Shape trilogy #3. unpgd. Candlewick Press, March, 2019. 9780763696085. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Triangle and Square are joined by Circle and the three friends decide to play hide and seek near Circle's place. Circle has two rules, 1. go and hide and, 2. do not hide behind the waterfall where it is dark and scary. Readers familiar with the trilogy will anticipate what happens next as sassy Triangle announces she's not afraid of the dark and heads where she has been warned not to go. Square, being Square, immediately rats her out to Circle. Brave Circle follows Triangle into the very dark until all the reader sees are her eyes. And then another pair of eyes appear. We assume they belong to circle. But wait!

As in all their previous collaborations, Barnett's spare yet droll text and Klassen's spare yet engaging art meld perfectly to provide read aloud delight. I really don't understand how Klassen manages to create such substance and texture with his digital and watercolor art. The illustrations appear so simple and yet are so beguiling. 

All three books are first purchases and perfect for any school, public, classroom or home library. More please!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

What's New? Stacking the Shelves


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

Vacation for Dexter by Lindsay Ward. A Dexter T. Rexter Book. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, April 16, 2019. 97815420432025. 

Publisher synopsis: Dexter T. Rexter is on a plane—for the very first time.

Dexter can’t wait to go on vacation with his best friend, Jack. Supercool orange sunglasses? Check. Nifty travel hat? Check. Plane tickets? Uh, what? Dexter may be the toughest, coolest dinosaur around, but everyone knows T. rexes don’t fly! If anyone could do it, he could. It’s just that he’s suddenly feeling a little hot. And maybe a little nervous. But just as he starts to melt down, he notices Jack looks upset. Dexter realizes he has to be brave enough for both of them. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll start to have a bit of fun in the air.

Both nervous and funny, Dexter tells the readers what he’s feeling and even asks their advice as he comes to understand that being brave with a friend makes everything a little better. And hey, those cookies during the flight don’t hurt, either!


My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi. 252 p. Dutton Children's Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, August 27, 2019. 9780399187353.

Publisher synopsis: National Book Award-finalist Ibi Zoboi makes her middle-grade debut with a moving story of a girl finding her place in a world that's changing at warp speed.

Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet has lived with her beloved grandfather Jeremiah in Huntsville, Alabama ever since she was little. As one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA, Jeremiah has nurtured Ebony-Grace’s love for all things outer space and science fiction—especially Star Wars and Star Trek. But in the summer of 1984, when trouble arises with Jeremiah, it’s decided she’ll spend a few weeks with her father in Harlem.

Harlem is an exciting and terrifying place for a sheltered girl from Hunstville, and Ebony-Grace’s first instinct is to retreat into her imagination. But soon 126th Street begins to reveal that it has more in common with her beloved sci-fi adventures than she ever thought possible, and by summer's end, Ebony-Grace discovers that Harlem has a place for a girl whose eyes are always on the stars.

So excited to read Zoboi's Middle Grade debut! I adored her YA debut, American Street and her most recent YA, Pride.



All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker. 320 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, June 4, 2019. 978451479532.

Publisher synopsis: SoHo, 1981. Twelve-year-old Olympia is an artist—and in her neighborhood, that's normal. Her dad and his business partner Apollo bring antique paintings back to life, while her mother makes intricate sculptures in a corner of their loft, leaving Ollie to roam the streets of New York with her best friends Richard and Alex, drawing everything that catches her eye.

Then everything falls apart. Ollie's dad disappears in the middle of the night, leaving her only a cryptic note and instructions to destroy it. Her mom has gone to bed, and she's not getting up. Apollo is hiding something, Alex is acting strange, and Richard has questions about the mysterious stranger he saw outside. And someone keeps calling, looking for a missing piece of art. . . .

Olympia knows her dad is the key—but first, she has to find him, and time is running out.



Testimony from Your Perfect Girl by Kaui Hart Hemmings. 264 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 14, 209. 9780399173615.

Publisher synopsis: Annie Tripp has everything she needs—Italian sweaters, vintage chandelier earrings, and elite ice skating lessons—but all that changes when her father is accused of scamming hundreds of people out of their investments. Annie knows her dad wasn't at fault, but she and her brother are exiled to their estranged aunt and uncle's house in a run-down part of Breckenridge—until the trial blows over. 

Life with her new family isn't quite up to Annie's usual standard of living, but surprisingly, pretending to be someone else offers a freedom she's never known. As Annie starts to make real friends for the first time, she realizes she has more in common with her aunt and uncle than she ever wanted to know. As the family's lies begin to crumble and truths demand consequences, Annie must decide which secrets need to see the light of day . . . and which are worth keeping.



Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya. 326 p. Kokila/ Penguin Young Readers Group, August 6. 2019. 9781984884800.

Publisher synopsis: Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It's hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. When Dad returns from deployment, Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal. Instead, it unravels.

Dad shuts himself in the back stall of their family's auto shop to work on an old car. Emilia peeks in on him daily, mesmerized by his welder. One day, Dad calls Emilia over. Then, he teaches her how to weld. And over time, flickers of her old dad reappear.

But as Emilia finds a way to repair the relationship with her father at home, her community ruptures with some of her classmates, like her best friend, Gus, at the center of the conflict. 

Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya is a tender story about asking big questions and being brave enough to reckon with the answers.



I Am Not a Fish by by Peter Raymundo. unpgd. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, June 4, 2019. 9780525554592.

Publisher synopsis: Edgar is a jellyfish, but he doesn't look, act, or feel very much like a "fish." With a little help though from some friendly starfish, Edgar realizes that labels aren't important, and he should celebrate what makes him unique!

Purchased: Nothing!


If you leave a comment, I will definitely stop by and try to comment back - unless commenters have to sign onto Discus or whatever that's called. But I will check out your stack!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Fact Friday and Review: Itch! Everything you didn't want to know about what makes you scratch by Anita Sanchez


Itch! Everything you didn't want to know about what makes you scratch by Anita Sanchez. Illustrated by Gilbert Ford. 74 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March, 2018. 9780544811010. (Review of finished copy courtesy of author.)

Fact Friday features Itch! Everything you didn't want to know about what makes you scratch by Anita Sanchez. If the title doesn't make you want to scratch, just wait until you take a deep dive into this fun, engaging, informative text. After learning the basics of the largest organ of the body, Sanchez covers plants and animals that make us itch and why in a playful, conversational tone. Nine short chapters cover lice, fleas, plants, mosquitoes, tarantulas, fungus and bedbugs concluding with a chapter about a surprising benefit of itching and other fun facts. I can now defend my less than stellar housekeeping habits. 

Busy, bright illustrations vie for attention and amuse, though I'm not sure about the wooden frames around the edges of the pages. The backmatter includes an Author's Note, Glossary, Notes and a Bibliography for readers "itching" to know more. (I know. I couldn't help myself.)

I really enjoyed, Karl, Get Out of the Garden and was so pleased to be asked to read Itch! Here's a link to the author's website to learn more about her and her books. 

Display prominently and Itch is sure to attract and inform. Itch is a fine addition to any school or classroom library.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

#tbt: Everlost by Neal Shusterman


Everlost by Neal Shusterman. 336 p. Skinjacker Trilogy #1. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August, 2006. 9780689872372. (Own.)

#tbt features Everlost by Neal Shusterman. It is book one of The Skinjacker's Trilogy and was published in 2006. Allie and Nick have not survived the car accident they were in but they are stuck in between life and whatever happens after death. They are in what they learn is Everlost along with other souls who didn't make the leap either. It's an eerie, mysterious, potentially dangerous place where Allie and Nick need to constantly move or they are in danger of sinking beneath the soil and getting stuck. Atmospheric and unlike anything you've ever read, Everlost and its companions are must-reads. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Just Jaime by Terri Libenson


Just Jaime by Terri Libenson. 256 p. Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins Publishers, May 7, 2019. 9780062851062.

Publisher synopsis: 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?

Libenson's companion novels, Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy are quite popular at my school as are graphic novel hybrids. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Teen Tuesday: Tamar by Mal Peet


Tamar: a novel of espionage, passion and betrayal by Mal Peet. 432 p. Candlewick Press, January, 2007. 9780763634889. (Own.)

Teen Tuesday features Tamar: a novel of espionage, passion and betrayal by Mal Peet. Originally published in 2005 in England, where it won a Carnegie Medal, which is a prestigious literary prize, It published here in the U.S. in 2007. The story begins in 1995 when a fifteen-year-old Tamar, grieving her grandfather's death finds a box labeled, Tamar, which contains clues to his mysterious past. The novel flashes back to occupied Netherlands in 1945 and the efforts of the Dutch resistance. Tamar  is a sophisticated, satisfying read for teen fans of historical fiction.