Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sun Dragon's Song #1

by Joyce Chng and Kim Miranda
Rosarium Publishing
Publication date: September 21, 2016

Ho Yi wants to be a sun dragon rider like his parents, but he uses a crutch to get around and he is often bullied by a larger pupil at his school. Still, he feels their song in his heart and he believes that despite his disability, he can become a rider. 

Set in a distant land, this origin story sets up a little of young Ho Yi's life. The reader sees a little of his grit personality. We learn a bit about his parents and the struggles that this young boy goes through. However, there is much left unanswered, which I think will keep young tweens invested in reading. For example, what is he gathering in the cave and why does he have to wash it down? What happened to his legs? Why does the bully hate him so much? And will the feisty young girl that his father released at the border play a part in the next installments?

If readers liked Avatar, they will like Sun Dragon's Song. 

An e-galley provided by Net Galley and the publishers for an honest review. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016


Publication date: October 1, 2016

From the Publishers:
August 9, 1945, began like any other day for six-year-old Sachiko. Her country was at war, she didn't have enough to eat. At 11:01 a.m., she was playing outdoors with four other children. Moments later, those children were all dead. An atomic bomb had exploded just half a mile away.
In the days and months that followed, Sachiko lost family members, her hair fell out, she woke screaming in the night. When she was finally well enough to start school, other children bullied her. Through it all, she sought to understand what had happened, finding strength in the writings of Helen Keller, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Based on extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui, Caren Stelson shares the true story of a young girl who survived the atomic bomb and chronicles her long journey to find peace. Sachiko offers readers a remarkable new perspective on the final moments of World War II—and their aftermath.

My Thoughts:

With the mix of poignant storytelling and sidebars of historical facts, this multi-genre novel will be a wonderful resource for middle level students to learn about World War II from the perspective of a Japanese atomic bomb survivor. It chronicles the moment right before the Nagasaki bomb as well as the devastating after effects that continues to be felt in Japan today. Sachiko's loss is devastating and unfathomable, and yet through it all, she continues to speak out for peace. Like the late Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, Sachiko has found her voice and continues to push for a peaceful world, lest we forget the atrocities of history. 

This is a well researched book and a good model for student research.

This advanced copy provided by Net Galley (dot)com and the publisher for an honest review. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Magic of Wish

Publication date: August 30, 2016

From the Publishers:
Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.
From award-winning author Barbara O'Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.

My Thoughts:
Summers are made for just these types of books: funny and sweet, with a lovable character whose world reveals itself like the stars coming out after a long dusk.  Charlie Reese joins the ranks of strong girls who come from brokenness and just need a little time to see that when a door closes, look for an open window. I hope that everyone is having adventures this summer, whether it's in the backyard, or in the pages of a book like this. Summer is for loving a dog, understanding the expanded definition of family and a loyal friend in an up-down boy. 

An advanced copy provided by Net Galley (dot) com and the publisher for an honest review. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Gertie: Greatest 5th Grader

From the Publishers:
Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind. There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.
From debut author Kate Beasley, and with illustrations by Caldecott Honor artist Jillian Tamaki, comes a classic tale of hope and homecoming that will empty your heart, then fill it back up again--one laugh at a time.

My Thoughts:
The main character, Gertie, is reminiscent of another spunky classic heroine: Claudia from E.L. Konigsburg's The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Gertie is just as stubborn, just as creative, and just as broken as Claudia, but spunk and loyalty, as well as a strong supportive friend in Junior as well as a loving great aunt and dad help Gertie to see that striving to be the best is really about being her best self. One of the best epilogues I have read in a while. 

Friday, July 1, 2016


From the publishers:
From the minds of Tom Angleberger, the New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Origami Yoda series, and Paul Dellinger, an adult science-fiction writer, comes a funny middle school story with a memorable robot title character. Reluctant readers and robot lovers in elementary and middle school will enjoy this fast-paced read that shows just how strange a place middle school can be, particularly when the new student is a state-of-the-art robot.

When Max—Maxine Zealster—befriends her new robot classmate Fuzzy, part of Vanguard One Middle School's new Robot Integration Program, she helps him learn everything he needs to know about surviving middle school—the good, the bad, and the really, really, ugly. Little do they know that surviving sixth grade is going to become a true matter of life and death, because Vanguard has an evil presence at its heart: a digital student evaluation system named BARBARA that might be taking its mission to shape the perfect student to extremes!

With a strong female main character who will appeal to all readers, Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger's new novel offers readers a fresh take on robots. Fuzzy will find its place in the emerging category of bestselling books featuring robots, including Jon Scieszka' s Frank Einstein series and James Patterson's House of Robots.

My thoughts:
This just screams of a great summer book - eases the boredom of long days with a fast-paced, funny adventure through middle school.  Vice Principal Barbara is determined to send Max to reform school and Fuzzy, her best friend is just as determined to save Max. It makes it even more exciting because Barbara and Fuzzy are both robots who can learn and adjust and react like humans with their own "fuzzy logic" or artificial intelligence. Can Max gain the trust of her parents again? Will she be able to save Fuzzy? Will she ever get through a whole week without flunking a test or getting detention?
Fun end for a fun book. Will there be more?

Publication date: August 16, 2016


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