Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Middle Grade Shorts

Middle Grade Shorts is a new random feature that is basically replacing any Book Views. Instead, I'll be reviewing any Middle Grade fiction novels I've read in a shorter format. They'll still be rated, it's just a nicer way to get my feelings out quicker about all the middle grade fiction I've been reading or listening to.

Title: The Problem Child
Author: Michael Buckley
Publication Date: May 2007
Genre: MG Fairy Tale/Mystery
Copy provided by: School Library
Summary (via Goodreads): A GRIMM FAMILY REUNION
For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, there is one mystery they want to solve more than all the others: Who kidnapped their parents more than a year ago? Sabrina enters the hideout of the Scarlet Hand, the sinister group of Everafters who are keeping her parents prisoner. She has a chance to rescue her mom and dad but is foiled by the most famous fairy-tale character in the world. How can a human child defeat a magic one? With the help of her little sister (who might be tougher than Sabrina realizes) and a long-lost relative, Sabrina finds a powerful weapon for fighting her enemies, and discovers that magic has a high price.

The Short of It:
Another great addition to a series that is easily becoming one of my favorite middle grade fantasy/mystery series. I just love reading these books. They're quick reads for their length and always very entertaining. The characters are so unique and the world is so well-built I feel like I am there when I read these books. I can't wait for the next one.

Rating: 5/5 Roses

Title: Bless This Mouse
Author: Lois Lowry
Publication Date: March 21, 2011
Genre: MG animal novel
Copy provided by: School Library
Summary (via Goodreads): A resilient and quirky colony of church mice fears another Great X more than they fear cats. Under Mouse Mistress Hildegarde’s leadership, they save themselves from one danger after another—sometimes just by the skin of their tails! Can one ultimate act of bravery during the feast day of St. Francis get Father Murphy to bless these mice and keep them safe forever?

Rife with humor and personality, this young middle-grade novel has an old-fashioned feel with the makings of a modern classic.

The Short of It:
An interesting new novel by the wonderful Lois Lowry. I just can't help but fall in love with the illustrations of cute mice in this novel. Their world, however, is full of peril, as they must get by with not letting the humans know how big their society of mice is, or the evil X will come and kill them. It's definitely a book that reminds me a bit of the Rats of Nimh combined with Lowry's wonderful writing and is a book I think a lot of my students will enjoy.

5/5 Roses

Title: The Shadows
Author: Jacqueline West
Publication Date: June 2010
Genre: MG Fantasy
Copy provided by: School Library
Summary (via Goodreads): Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there's something odd about the place—not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside these paintings to a world that's strangely quiet . . . and eerily like her own Yet Elsewhere harbors dark secrets—and Morton, an undersized boy with an outsize temper.

As she and Morton form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself ensnared in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It's up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good.

The Short of It:
A fantastical new story that takes us into a creepy old house where the paintings are more than they seem. Olive finds herself in the middle of a mystery that she can't help but try to solve. Why do things move in these paintings, what is everyone so afraid of, and what exactly are those cats guarding? A slightly creepy, and definitely adventurous tale of a girl who isn't afraid to believe in the unbelievable.

5/5 Roses

Title: The Shadow Thieves
Author: Anne Ursu
Publication Date: April 2007
Genre: MG Fantasy (Mythology)
Copy provided by: Myself - Bought
Summary (via Goodreads): See that girl, the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness? That's Charlotte Mielswetzski. And something extra-ordinary is about to happen to her.

Oh, it's not the very cute kitten that appears out of nowhere and demands to go home with her. It's not the sudden arrival of her cousin Zee, who believes he's the cause of a mysterious sickness that has struck his friends back in England. It's not her creepy English teacher Mr. Metos, who takes his mythology lessons just a little too seriously. And it's not the white-faced, yellow-eyed men in tuxedoes, who follow Charlotte everywhere.

What's so extraordinary is not any one of these things....It's all of them. And when Charlotte's friends start to get sick one by one, Charlotte and Zee set out to find a cure. Their quest leads them to a not-so-mythical Underworld, where they face rhyme-loving Harpies, gods with personnel problems, and ghosts with a thirst for blood.

Charlotte and Zee learn that in a world overrun by Nightmares, Pain, and Death, the really dangerous character is a guy named Phil. And then they discover that the fate of every person -- living and dead -- is in their young hands.

In her dazzling debut for young readers, Anne Ursu weaves a tale of myth and adventure, danger and magic that will keep readers engrossed until the very last secret is revealed.

The Short of It: A great series that involves Greek mythology that I may point my Percy Jackson fans to at school. I really like middle grade novels that have both a boy and girl main character, as I think it appeals to a wider audience. I definitely enjoyed this first novel in a series that I will be reading more of soon. Full of courage, these two tweens must overcome an evil demi-god and his army of shadows created from their blood. However will they win?

5/5 Roses

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  1. I've just read the last two books in this list, but I agree they are excellent!

  2. My daughter and I love the Grimm Sisters. I may have to pick up The Shadow Thieves. It sounds like one she would like.

  3. Ooh, The Shadows and The Shadow Thieves look good! And I have the first Sisters Grimm book, but I haven't read it yet.


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