Jillian is a shy fifth grader put to the test when her teacher suggests she join the Mind Bender quiz competition in her school. Her class is also learning about chick development and incubating a few too! As Jillian works to improve her mindset and use her voice, she also has to deal with the grief of losing her grandmother, her mom’s lupus flares, and helping out a friend dealing with his own family challenges. Will Jillian get it right?
Review | Best Friends, Bikinis, and Other Summer Catastrophes
Alex is looking forward to spending the summer (as she’s always done) with her best friend, Will. Will’s mother runs the concession stand at their community pool, and both kids have spent several summers playing games at the pool. This summer, though, a schoolmate named Rebekah has eyes for Will — and him for her! As Rebekah and Will begin a tentative crush-friendship, Alex feels threatened and ropes Will into a big summer project (building their treehouse) for which they’ll need several summer jobs to afford building supplies. Surprisingly to Alex, Rebekah also wants to be her friend too. Can Alex get over her jealousy and other issues in her life to figure out this summer friendship drama?
Review | Not Starring Zadie Louise
There’s one thing to note about this summer’s theater show: it will be NOT starring Zadie Louise. Because of tight financial circumstances, Zadie’s summer activities have all been replaced with helping out (or at least trying not to cause a disaster) in the theater where her mom directs plays. Unlike her older sister, Zadie is not interested in acting and would rather hang out with the lights and tech crew, but it seems that she ruins everything she touches! Soon everyone is frustrated with her — and on top of that, she finds out her grandma who lives in their basement is moving! Can Zadie find her place this summer?
Review | Join the Club, Maggie Diaz
New seventh-grader Maggie Diaz is not the most organized person. But she’s trying to become her best self this school year so she can win her parents’ trust and get a new phone by the end of the year. She soon finds out that getting on honor roll is not that easy. Worse still, Maggie’s dealing with so many changes. Her best friends have joined after-school clubs to pursue their interests and have little or no time for Maggie (who can’t seem to find her interests). Since her Abuelo died, her Abuela has become her roommate and Maggie just wants some alone time! Will Maggie find her place and “join the club”?
Review | Just Harriet
Just Harriet is a new chapter book/young middle grade book by Elana K. Arnold who wrote the A Boy Called BAT series. This new title features young Harriet whose family is undergoing a change. Her mom is pregnant and has been placed on bed rest until the baby is born. Harriet, an energetic child has been sent to Marble Island where her grandmother lives and runs a bed and breakfast. She’s understandably frustrated, feeling abandoned by her parents. Thankfully, she takes her cat, Matzo Ball with her. When she arrives at Marble Island, Harriet starts to learn more about her father’s childhood and discovers that they have more in common than she expects.
Review | Maizy Chen’s Last Chance
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance follows Maizy and her mother who return to Last Chance, Minnesota when Maizy’s grandfather becomes ill. We learn that Maizy’s mom had her with the help of a sperm donor and seems to have taken a less traditional, unexpected career route since her parents expected her to take over their historical Chinese restaurant The Golden Palace. However, Maizy’s grandparents love her, and Maizy quickly bonds with them, especially her grandfather. One day, she sees pictures of several Chinese young men and when she asks her grandfather about them, he begins to tell her a sprawling story about their family’s history in Last Chance, which is interwoven with love, racism, and community. At the same time, The Golden Palace experiences a hate crime and Maizy is shocked to discover who the perpetrator is.
Picture Book Friday | Bella’s Recipe for Success
Bella’s Recipe for Success is about a girl who can’t seem to figure out what she’s good at. Her brother plays piano excellently and her sister is a brilliant gymnast, but Bella can’t do either of those things well. She decides, though, that she’s going to bake, but it turns out baking isn’t that easy and her first recipe is a bust. But just before she gives up, her abuela steps in to teach her and Bella learns that learning new things — and becoming good at them — takes time and effort.
Review | Hope Springs
Jubilee and her Nan are always moving, on the search for their perfect place, and this time Jubilee has her heart set on Hope Springs, Texas. The small town is where her crafting heroine Arletta Paisely is from, and Jubilee is sure that if it’s good enough for Arletta, Hope Springs will immediately feel like home for them, too — because she’s honestly tired of moving and saying (or not saying) goodbyes.
Books Like… Louisiana’s Way Home
Today’s pick is Kate DiCamillo’s Louisiana’s Way Home, a bestselling book about a girl who is forced to leave town — and leave behind her two best friends — with her grandmother. Louisiana also has the voice of an angel and it quickly becomes apparent that her grandmother can barely care for her. Eventually, she has to make her way home. I recommend 7 books for fans of Louisiana’s Way Home.
Review | To Tell You the Truth by Beth Vrabel (+ Giveaway)
Fourth-grader Trixy’s gran died in a car accident (Trixy was in the back seat and survived) and since then things at home have not been the same. Her parents don’t want to talk about Gran and her mom isn’t eating well and is exercising a bit too much. Trixy’s only solace is her gran’s stories. However, only Trixy seems to believe Gran’s stories about her childhood and she promised Gran that she would keep some of the stories to herself. But when Trixy NEEDS to write stories to pass fourth grade, the only stories she can think to write are Gran’s.
Review | Squad Goals
Magic Pointdexter is her family’s “ugly duckling.” Her father is an ex-NBA player, her sister a famous cheerleader, and her late grandmother was also a ceiling-shattering cheerleader. Magic is awkward, chubbier than your typical cheerleader, and loves sweets more than anything else. But she’s decided: she’s going to cheer camp to try her hand out at becoming a Honeybee. Her best friend and child star Capricorn is coming with her (mostly for moral support — Cappie is an athletic, talented dancer). But once they arrive at camp and get sorted into teams by ability, Magic and Cappie’s friendship starts to show cracks.
Review | Rule of Threes
Rule of Threes is Marcy Campbell’s debut middle grade novel. Maggie and her two BFFs share a love for design and decorating. They’ve entered a school contest to redecorate a section of the school. Maggie’s life at home is also fairly stable — until one visit changes everything. All of a sudden, there’s a new stepbrother named Tony who is moving in with Maggie and her parents. On top of that, one of her best friends is withdrawing because Maggie refuses to call her by her preferred name, Rakell (not Rachel as she’s previously gone by).