Posts Categorized: middle grade

Classic MG discussion: Mary Poppins

Classic MG discussion: Mary Poppins

Welcome to our Mary Poppins chat–the final classics discussion for the year! At the end of the post, you’ll find info on how to tally up your reviews if you participated in 2015, as well as what we think we’ll be doing going forward. Wendy: I’ve literally seen the movie Mary Poppins over a hundred times. (What can I say, as a child, when I loved things, I loved them intensely.) I can’t remember how far into those viewings that I decided to read the books, but I was surprised to find how much I loved them–just as a much, but in a very different way.  Layla: While I’ve definitely seen this movie several times, I don’t think I’ve ever read this book! So thanks for finally bringing this one to the front of my queue, Wendy. It was really different from what I was expecting, I’ve got to say –… Read more »

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Classic MG Discussion: The Witches

Classic MG Discussion: The Witches

Wendy: Welcome to our discussion for Roald Dahl’s The Witches. This is the story of a boy named — um, this is where I realize the main character is unnamed! His grandmother charmingly calls him “my darling” often, but I’d never before realized he didn’t have a name. So let’s start again. This is the story of a boy who happens upon a gathering of witches (who despise children and want to wipe them off the face of the earth) while staying at a hotel in England with his Norwegian grandmother. It is a funny, sweet book that I’ve loved since I was little, so let’s begin! Layla: Woah, mind blown. Did not realize that child was unnamed either! Wendy: He’s given the name “Luke” in the movie, but yes, no name at all in the book. Layla: I also forgot his grandmother was Norwegian. I forgot a lot of this… Read more »

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Hook’s Revenge, The Pirate Code: guest post!

Hook’s Revenge, The Pirate Code: guest post!

One of my favorite people on the planet is Heidi Shulz. She’s the author of the delightfully funny book Hook’s Revenge, which was one of my favorite debuts from last year–and now its sequel The Pirate Code is out! Heidi was actually in Los Angeles last month, and I got to celebrate the book’s release day with her. In the first photo, we’d just eaten mountains of pasta in Venice Beach, and Heidi is beaming over a plate of cannoli. <3 Here’s more about the new book: Fresh off a fearsome encounter with the Neverland crocodile, Jocelyn Hook decides the most practical plan is to hunt down her father’s famous fortune. After all, she’ll need the gold to fund her adventuring in the future. (And luckily, Hook left her the map.) But the map proves to be a bit harder to crack than Jocelyn had hoped, and she’s convinced that… Read more »

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Classic MG Discussion: A Girl of the Limberlost

Classic MG Discussion: A Girl of the Limberlost

Hey all, I’m especially happy to be hosting today’s discussion of Gene Stratton Porter’s 1909 novel, A Girl of the Limberlost. Come talk to me in the comments, since Wendy and Kim aren’t able to participate this month. I am eager to chat! This book was one of my childhood favorites (and I mean favoritest favorites) so I was really looking forward to revisiting this one. I remembered it being chock-full of food porn and also involving a lot of rhapsodizing about nature. Trees! Moths! Butterflies! THE LIMBERLOST! On those fronts, I was not disappointed. As Wendy noted last month, it’s also the sequel to Stratton Porter’s earlier book, Freckles, which I also read as a kid. It’s not necessary to read Freckles to appreciate this book (which is good, I think, because Freckles is by far the weaker book), but if anyone’s interested in knowing a bit more about it, the… Read more »

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Middle Grade Round Up: Mini Reviews

Middle Grade Round Up: Mini Reviews

I don’t get around to reading as much middle grade as I’d wish to, but I’ve really lucked out so far this year. Every middle grade I’ve read has been so charming and heartwarming. A real highlight has been Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger, but today I’m bringing you two other 2015 MG’s I’ve really enjoyed.     Title: Echo Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan Rating: 3.5 A lovely story and beautifully told, this book tells the tales of 3 different children in different times and place in the world all connected by one magical harmonica. Friedrich in pre-WWII Germany is first hand witness to the slow motion horror of Hitler’s rise to power and gradual degradations to his family.  Mike in a Depression era orphanage fights to keep his little brother from being adopted without him. Ivy in WWII era California comes up against the harsh racism of segregated education and the horror of… Read more »

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Review: Goodbye Stranger

Review: Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger affectingly and realistically tells the intertwining stories of three young teenagers navigating the confusing and tumultuous time of early adolescence. Bridge, an accident survivor is looking for meaning on why she’s still here. Sherm is dealing with the aftershock of a family betrayal. And an unnamed 9th grader (written in a surprisingly effective second person) is grappling with a potentially friendship-ending mistake. The story is about how life gets so suddenly and shockingly complicated in middle school. And it is about how teens deal with the newness, rawness, and intensity of their emotions. Best friends can suddenly betray. A beloved grandparent can walk out on his family. A boy can text you asking for “a picture ;)” but what does it mean? Throughout reading this book I couldn’t help pausing repeatedly to think, “Man, it is so stressful to be a teenager.” The narrative seamlessly intertwines to show… Read more »

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Classic Readalong Discussion: The Secret Garden

Classic Readalong Discussion: The Secret Garden

First off–my sincere apologies for the delay in posting this discussion. It’s the first time something has failed to publish the day it was supposed to, and it’s my fault entirely, as I’m in the middle of a rather intensely busy and crazy-making period offline. Thank you all for being so patient with me, however, and thanks to Kim and Layla, too. I’m eager to get into this one, so let’s begin! Wendy: This is one of my favorite books of all time. As a child, I responded so strongly to the lovely English-ness of everything–it’s part of what set me on the path of being a lifelong Anglophile.  And whenever I was in botanical gardens and parks, I was always on the lookout for secret doorways and walls that might be hiding something. And look! As an adult, I finally found one. The photo to the right was taken… Read more »

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