It All Comes Down To This by Karen English

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*Thanks to the @kidlitexchange for a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

It is 1965 in Los Angeles California. Twelve-year-old Sophie has never been good at making friends. Instead, she’s always kept to herself. Ever since her family moved into a new neighborhood, Sophie has had to deal with change. First off, they are the first black family to live in the neighborhood. Her new housekeeper doesn’t seem to like Sophie very much. And even though her neighbor, Jennifer, seems to be a promising friend, others in the neighborhood refuse to accept Sophie. And this is only the beginning.

Wow, this book blew me away. Not at all what I was expecting (even though I do not know what I was expecting). It is the kind of book that wraps around you and will not let you go until you finish. Only to wish it wasn’t done. I picked it up and finished it in one sitting despite its 300+ pages. I appreciated the honest, raw take on family life. No fairy tale, perfect family here! Viewing life through Sophie’s eyes was vivid and real. She will stay with me. Thank you, Karen English! I recommend this book for grades five and up.

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Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten

Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten

*I received a copy of this graphic novel for review purposes via the @kidlitexchange network. All opinions are my own.

This is such an adorable graphic novel about a “boy” created out of different pieces of lint in a dryer. Lint Boy and his friend Lint Bear spend happy days in their dryer until an evil old woman takes them away. Apparently, she does not like dolls and traps them in cages. Lint Boy must muster up his courage to save Lint Bear and the others trapped by this horrible woman.

I loved the illustrations in this graphic novel. It was sweet but with a twist that reminded me of the movie Coraline. This is the perfect addition to any school library or classrooms grade three and up.

Book Review: The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

Thank you to the @kidlitexchange network for providing this book for review.

Yuriko is a twelve-year-old girl living in Hiroshima. She lives with her Papa and has a happy, well-to-do, life. But things begin to change for Yuriko. Not only does Yuriko notice those who leave to fight in WWII stop coming home, her family has change coming too. Her Papa and Aunt Kimiko are getting married. All of who will live with Yuriko and Papa. Just as Yuriko starts to get used to the daily air raids and the family changes, she learns of a shocking family secret.

I love that, as a reader, I got to learn about the Japanese culture and life as an adolescent during WWII. Experiencing the Hiroshima bombing through Yuriko’s eyes was heart-wrenching, but important. Author, Kathleen Burkinshaw, draws you into Yuriko’s world, keeping you there long after you put the book down. This book is a must-have for every school/classroom library.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie: A Book Review

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*I received an ebook copy of this book via the @kidlitexchange for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Tessa’s family is moving from Florida to Chicago. Her parents are excited about the old 1800s house they purchased, but right away Tessa can sense something is not right. Weird, creepy, and downright scary things start to happen to Tessa in her home. Is her home haunted? What does this ghost want? Can Tessa’s new friends help her discover what is happening in Tessa’s home?

I absolutely loved THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET! This is the perfect ghost mystery for any middle-grade reader. Creepy, but not too creepy. Although the mystery of Inez Clark is at the heart of the story, the main character Tessa, also learns a lot about friendship and dealing with change. This just might be my favorite ghost mystery book of all time! I recommend it for grades four and up.

Book Review: THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU by Jennifer Maschari

Things That Surprise You by Jennifer…

  • I received an ARC in return for an honest review via the #kidlitexchange. This book will be released August 22nd.

Emily and best friend Hazel are about to start middle school. Hazel is excited about all the new things middle school will bring, while Emily just wants things to stay the same. As their first year of middle school progresses, Emily and Hazel drift apart. Emily’s older sister arrives home from an anorexia treatment facility, causing stress for Emily and her family. Will anything stay like it used to be for Emily? Can Emily survive all the changes?

Wow, I absolutely loved this book. Did author Jennifer Maschari write about my adolescence? Emily thought she could deal with all the stresses by herself, not letting anyone in. She thought her problems were nothing compared to her older sisters’ problem. I was the same way as a child. This book captured what I believe a lot of tween children deal with. THINGS THAT SUPRISE YOU is a wonderful reflection/mirror for many middle-grade readers or those of us who used to be middle grade! I highly recommend this book for grades four and up.

Book Review: REFUGEE by Alan Gratz

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Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are on the run. Josef’s family is escaping Nazi Germany in the 1930’s via the St. Louis, traveling to Cuba. Isabel’s family is avoiding jail in Castro’s Cuba in 1994 by sailing on a makeshift boat headed for Miami. And Mahmoud’s family is leaving behind war-torn Syria in 2015, in hopes to make it to Germany. All three families are leaving behind the only life they have ever know, risking everything for a better life. They are refugees.

Author, Alan Gratz, is one of my favorite middle-grade historical fiction writers. And he knocked it out of the park with REFUGEE. I could not put it down and finished the book in one sitting. REFUGEE was intense, real, heart-wrenching, yet hopeful. As a reader, you will ride the roller coaster of life on the run. An important book for everyone to read, especially now. I recommend it for grades four and up.

Caleb and Kit by Beth Vrabel: A Middle- Grade Book Review

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Thank you to the @kidlitexchange for providing a copy for review purposes.

Caleb is a twelve-year-old boy who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Caleb’s mom tends to be a “helicopter mom” hovering over her fragile boy. When Caleb meets Kit, a girl his age, in the forest by his house, Caleb finally has something all to himself. He decides to keep his friendship a secret. But secrets can cause you to do things you otherwise might not do.

I absolutely adored this story. Caleb and Kits friendship was magical, needed, and heartwarming. Beth Vrabel wrote a feel-good story worthy of reading. This must be included in every classroom and school library. If you loved WONDER, you will adore Caleb and Kit.