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Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

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I’m so happy that my girls enjoy reading as much as I do. We try to read together every night, and we also listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car. We’ve read several of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, so when the girls asked if we could listen to a story, I put on Ramona and Her Mother.

Ramona and Her Mother is the fifth book in the Ramona series, and it takes place immediately after the events of Ramona and Her Father. Some of the other books in the series jump forward to the next school year, but Ramona and Her Father ends with a Christmas pageant and Ramona and Her Mother begins with a New Year’s Day brunch.

In this book, Ramona struggles to find her place within her family. She has some moments of introspection when little Willa Jean acts like a pest, and Ramona is indignant when people compare Willa Jean to her. Ramona has always appreciated being the baby of the family, but now feels left out when she sees her sister Beezus helping their mother with chores. 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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I Want That Love by Tatsuya Miyanishi

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

My girls and I have been enjoying the Tyrannosaurus books. This is a series of picture book written and illustrated by Tatsuya Miyanishi. The books are very popular in Japan, and are now being published here in the United States. They have been releasing a new Tyrannosaurus book every six months or so.

I Want That Love is the third Tyrannosaurus book that they have published. In this story, a mean Tyrannosaurus goes about terrorizing people simply because no one can stop him. He receives his comeuppance when he is an old dinosaur, and is attacked by a masiakasaurus. After that, the Tyrannosaurus is still not ready to mend his wicked ways, but then he is helped by a group of baby triceratops. Only then, does he truly learn that kindness is more important than strength and power. Continue reading

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The Charming Life of Izzy Malone by Jenny Lundquist

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

I have a nine-year-old daughter who loves reading, and I am always looking for new books for her. Jenny Lundquist’s The Charming Life of Izzy Malone sounded like something that my daughter would like, so I was looking forward to reading this book.

Izzy Malone is a sixth grade girl who just doesn’t fit in. To make matters worse, her mother is running for mayor of their small Napa Valley town, and Izzy is expected to be on her best behavior all the time. Izzy’s mother also signs her up for charm school, but instead of going to lessons each week, Izzy receives her assignments in the mail. If she can complete an assignment, she will receive a charm for her bracelet. Izzy tries to follow Ms. Whippie’s directions, but things don’t always go according to plan. But on the bright side, some of Izzy’s classmates are curious about what Izzy has been doing, and they want to help out.         Continue reading

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Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

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My oldest daughter is nine years old, and she loves reading. She has started reading novels, but her favorite genre has always been graphic novels. Raina Telgemeier has always been my daughter’s favorite author; she has all of Telgemeier’s books, and even met her a few years ago. Needless to say, my daughter has been looking forward to Ghosts for months.

Ghosts is Telgemeier’s newest graphic novel.   Teenage protagonist Cat is not very happy about having to move to the small town of Bahia de la Luna, but her little sister Maya has cystic fibrosis and the climate will help her breathe better. Cat learns that the whole town is really into Dia de los Muertos; she thinks this is silly, but Maya really wants to meet a real ghost.

There is a boy in the story, Cat’s friends tease her about Carlos liking her, but the focus is not on a romantic relationship. Instead, there is an emphasis on friendship; Carlos shows Cat and Maya around the town, and he is the first one to tell them about the ghosts who live near the mission. Continue reading

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Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung

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

I love school stories, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read Lucy and Linh. This is a YA novel written by Alice Pung. It was originally published in Australia as Laurinda in 2014.

Lucy Lam is a teenage girl who wins an academic scholarship to attend Laurinda, a prestigious private school. This is a very big opportunity for her, and it is a testament to how much she has achieved since arriving in Australia as an immigrant when she was seven years old.

The story unfolds in an almost epistolary format, as Lucy recounts her experiences at Laurinda to Linh, who used to go to school with her. The girls are very different than what Lucy is used to, and this is not simply because they come from more affluent backgrounds than her old schoolmates. Lucy quickly realizes that a trio of girls called The Cabinet are the ones really running the show, and she is even more surprised when they take an interest in her. Continue reading