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The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

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The Wonderling is a middle grade novel written and illustrated by Mira Bartok. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I have three girls in the middle grade range, and I knew this book would appeal to them.

Arthur is a young fox groundling (a sort of anthropomorphic animal). He lives in an orphanage with other groundlings, ruled by the cruel Miss Carbunkle, who metes out punishments to maintain order and has placed a permanent ban on music or anything happy. Arthur meanders through his miserable existence, but that changes when he meets Trinket. It is Trinket who gives him his name- before that, doesn’t even have a name and is referred to as Thirteen. Trinket becomes Arthur’s first friend, and she tells him wonderful stories about the world outside the Home. Arthur is terrified by change, but with Trinket’s coaxing, he agrees to escape with her. This proves to be the beginning of an amazing adventure, as Arthur tries to discover his origins. Continue reading

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Elsie Mae Has Something to Say by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

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Elsie Mae Has Something to Say is a middle grade novel written by Nancy J. Cavanaugh. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because we’ve read Cavanaugh’s last book- Just Like Me.

This book takes us back to the 1930s, and we are immediately introduced to Elsie Mae, a young girl living near the Okefenokee Swamp. The swamp is very dear to her heart; not only do her grandparents and uncles live there, but Elsie has spent the last several summers with her grandparents. As the story begins, Elsie Mae is mailing a letter to the White House because she has heard about a canal project that would cut right through her beloved swamp. Elsie Mae is determined to do something about this, and fervently hopes that her letter will reach President Roosevelt’s desk.

The summer starts out well enough- Elsie’s Uncle Owen presents her with a dog, something she has always wanted. Elsie is looking forward to spending the summer becoming acquainted with the dog, but she faces two obstacles: the arrival of her cousin Henry James (who wants to be a preacher when he grows up) and the news that there are no good hog bandits on the loose in the Okefenokee. Continue reading

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Long Live the Queen by Gerry Swallow

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Long Live the Queen is a middle grade novel written by Gerry Swallow. It is the sequel to Blue in the Face, and it features the (mis)adventures of a young girl named Elspeth who needs to return to the fairy tale land of New Winkieland to help her old friends. The queen has been kidnapped, and Elspeth discovers the rescue operation might involve working with an old enemy. Continue reading

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The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I always appreciate the opportunity to read advanced copies of middle grade novels because I have three girls in elementary school. We read the books together, and their feedback helps me with my book reviews.

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina  is the first book in a new series by Kara LaReau. Jaundice and Kale Bland live by themselves. Their parents left on an errand several years ago, and never returned. This does not bother Jaundice and Kale; they are perfectly content to sit at home, darn socks, and eat cheese sandwiches. If there is a question that they can’t answer, they consult their beloved children’s dictionary. Their lives are simple and predictable. But one day, a mysterious visitor arrives, and Jaundice and Kale are carried off (quite literally) on an unintentional adventure featuring a ferocious crew of female pirates. Along the way, they will make friends, and more importantly, they will learn that they are intelligent and capable.   Continue reading

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The Adventures of Henry Whiskers by Gigi Priebe

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I am always excited about the opportunity to read ARCs of middle grade books because my three girls are in the target demographic. Not only do we get quality time together every night, but they are able to provide valuable feedback for my book reviews.

The Adventures of Henry Whiskers is author Gigi Priebe’s first book. She transports the reader to England and introduces us to a young mouse named Henry Whiskers. Henry and his family live in Windsor Castle; specifically, they live in Queen Mary’s dollhouse, a grand edifice with functioning appliances and real books, etc. Henry is always very careful to avoid being detected by the museum staff, but when his little sister goes missing, Henry knows that he is the only one who can find her. Accompanied by his cousin Jeremy, the two mice set out on a grand adventure to rescue their beloved Isabel. Continue reading

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Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

51wa5tvta3lI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My oldest daughter is almost nine years old, so I have recruited her to help me with the middle grade ARCs that I receive from Netgalley. She is a voracious reader, but she tends to gravitate towards comics and graphic novels rather than novels. Reading together gives her the opportunity to expand her repertoire, and I get some great feedback from the target demographic.

We just finished reading Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood. This is Liesl Shurtliff’s third novel featuring fairytale characters. Red’s grandmother is feeling ill, and a basket of goodies is not enough to restore her to good health. Red’s grandmother happens to be a witch, but she is too sick to prepare a potion for herself.   Red sets out to gather the ingredients for a restorative draught, but it proves to be a more difficult job than she anticipated. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a pesky girl named Goldie insists on tagging along, and Red can’t shake the feeling that they are being followed! Continue reading

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Uncle Louie’s Fantastic Sea Voyage by Jan Loof

My oldest daughter and I have been reading the advanced copies of middle grade books that I receive from Netgalley. I wanted to be able to include my twins, who are a little too young for middle grade books. So, my twins and I have been reading books from the Best Book Club Ever. You might remember these books from the late 1970s and early 1980s. They have been picking one book each night, and I have been enjoying rediscovering some childhood favorites.

Uncle Louie’s Fantastic Sea Voyage was written by Jan Loof, and it was originally published in 1977.

Rusty is a young boy who enjoys tinkering with things. As the story begins, Rusty’s parents are going away, and are leaving him with his Uncle Louie. Rusty is pleased with this; his uncle has a scrap yard, and also enjoys tinkering. Uncle Louie has a grand plan to sail to Africa in a paddle streamer that he is building himself. Rusty meets Uncle Louie’s friend Millstone, who looks very mysterious. Rusty stows away on the boat, and sees Millstone casting some magical spells- but can the boat and the spells really take them all the way to Africa? Continue reading