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The Dollmaker of Krakow

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The Dollmaker of Krakow is a middle grade novel written by R.M. Romero. My three girls are in the middle grade range, and so I always end up reading the children’s fiction I receive with them because their feedback is invaluable.

Karolina lived quite happily in the Land of the Dolls until the rats invaded. Her peaceful existence was shattered as the rats began a reign of terror. When things are looking their bleakest, Karolina awakens in a toy shop in the city of Krakow. She meets Mr. Brzezick, the Dollmaker who brought her to life. At first, the Dollmaker is shocked that Karolina can speak to him, but he quickly accepts the magic for what it is. 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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The Force Oversleeps (Star Wars: Jedi Academy) by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

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I purchased The Force Oversleeps for the girls because they have enjoyed the previous books in this series. This is the fifth book in Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Jedi Academy series.

This book is about a boy named Victor who is starting his second year at Jedi Academy. He’s hoping to get the lead role in the school play, but it doesn’t work out. That’s not even the worst thing though- everyone thinks that Victor’s big sister is going to the dark side! Continue reading

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The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

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I initially read/listened to audiobook version of the Enola Holmes mysteries when my girls were very small. Now they are much older and enjoy listening to audiobooks, I thought it would be fun if we listened to the Enola Holmes stories this summer when we drive around on errands.

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets is the third book in the Enola Holmes series. Even if you are unfamiliar with this series, you might be able to deduce that Miss Enola is the younger sister of the famous detective. After her mother’s disappearance, Enola runs away from home and has been living in London. She has her own detective business, and solves mysteries in between evading her brothers and trying to figure out what happened to her mother.

After the events in the second book, Enola is afraid her cover has been blown, so to speak, and that her brothers will be able to track her down. So when she sees a newspaper article about the disappearance of Dr. Watson, she initially suspects that it might be a trick to lure her out of hiding. Continue reading

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The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell

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

The Crooked Sixpence is the first book in Jennifer Bell’s The Uncommoners series of middle grade books.

Ivy and her brother Seb are the only other ones in the house when their beloved Granma Sylvie is rushed to the hospital; their parents travel for work, and it is up to them to answer questions are ensure that she is taken care of. As if that were not daunting enough for two children, little do they realize that the hospitalization serves as the catalyst for a series of mysterious events. Continue reading

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Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary

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My girls and I actually listened to Ramona and Her Father last summer, but I never got around to writing the review. This is the fourth book in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby series.

In this book, Ramona is still struggling to find her place in the world and in her family. Things are somewhat complicated because her father has recently lost his job. They are already on a budget, and now they must become even more frugal.

This book is somewhat dated because a major plot point involves Ramona trying to get her father to quit smoking- both for his health and also because of the money he can save. When I first read this book in the 1980s, I could empathize with Ramona’s plan because my own father smoked cigarettes. But my girls’ experience is vastly different because neither of their parent smoke, nor do we know anyone who smokes cigarettes. They were somewhat surprised at the smoking, but were charmed by Ramona’s attempts to get her father to quit. Continue reading

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Unicorn Crossing (Phoebe and Her Unicorn) by Dana Simpson

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

Unicorn Crossing is the fifth book in the Phoebe and her Unicorn Adventure series by Dana Simpson. My three girls- especially my oldest- are big fans of this comic, so I was very excited about the opportunity to share this with them.

Phoebe is a fairly average girl, with one notable exception: her pet unicorn Marigold. Phoebe and Marigold navigate a fairly typical American childhood with a good sense of humor. This dynamic duo experiences seasons, holidays, school, friendship, and more. A fairly small ensemble rounds out the cast: Phoebe’s parents, her friend Max, and her frenemy Dakota. There are plenty of pop culture references, with a notable geeky slant. Continue reading