Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
When I started reading A Good Kind of Trouble (Balzer + Bray, 2019) by Lisa Moore Ramée, I thought, here we go again with another friends-changing-when-they-enter-Junior-High story. But it’s so much more than that. It’s about your own identity and how you don’t have to fit in a box. It’s about getting rid of assumptions. And standing up for what you believe in. And, yes, changing friendships.
Twelve-year-old Shayla wants to avoid trouble, but she discovers that sometimes you have to be trouble. Whether it’s in a relationship with friends or standing up to others, Shayla learns how to do the right thing.
I love the first line: “I’m allergic to trouble.” There’s strong seventh grade voice and humor in this story. This book is a Walter Dean Meyers Honor book, and can also help explain why Black Lives Matter.
Lisa is also the author of Something to Say (2020) and has a middle grade fantasy called Mapmaker coming in 2022. Read more about her here.
Perfect Picture Book Friday
I love this picture book I’m a Hare, So There! (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2021) by Julie Rowan-Zoch coming out this month. It’s humorous and so true to how we are. Plus kids will be learning about a variety of animals as they read. And who doesn’t like a main character with an attitude?
When called a rabbit, Hare is incensed. He argues about why he’s not a rabbit. Of course, he calls the ground squirrel a chipmunk, a tortoise a turtle, a coyote a jackal, and doesn’t seem to care that he is wrong about them. But don’t call him a rabbit!
Lovely back-matter explains the differences between other animals who are similar. I can see this book being read and reread.
To learn about the author/illustrator read her bio. See some other books Julie has illustrated here and check out her portfolio with a variety of styles of artwork here.
Perfect Picture Book Friday
I didn’t expect The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t (North-South Books, 2020) by Artie Bennett and illustrated by Dave Szalay to make me laugh out loud, but it did. Who’d have thought a true story about a loser could be so fun? And touching?
Zippy Chippy was a racehorse descended from legend racehorses, who couldn’t win a race. He even lost a 40 yard race against a human baseball player! He retired after losing 100 races, yet somehow his popularity has grown.
Definitely read the back matter after the story. It’s so fascinating.
Read the author’s amusing bio here. And read about Artie’s other books here.
You can find the illustrator’s bio here where you’ll find out he’s also an author. There are lots of sample illustrations on his home page. I like many of his other illustrations here, too.
Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot! (Candlewick Press, 2019) written and illustrated by Cece Bell is a hilarious book. It’s also a 2020 Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor Book.
Brain is not as smart as he thinks he is. Chick is trying to teach manners. It’s not going well. Then Spot comes along and even more trouble ensues.
This book is divided into four chapters–Foot, Spot, Lunch, and Other Foot. Kids will really enjoy figuring out things before the characters do. So much better than Dick and Jane. (Read the back of the book to get this reference.)
A sequel Chick and Brain: Egg or Eyeball that came out in March looks funny too.
Cece Bell is the 2015 Newbery Honor winner of the graphic novel El Deafo. Read about her other books here. And you have to check out her studio here. You may also want to read her bio.
Secret Agents – Junior Style
Double Vision (Harper, 2012) by F.T. Bradley is the first book in a very fun series. On the first page, 12-year-old Linc tells us a field trip to a chicken farm ends up changing his life. Funny, right? And the rest of the book does NOT disappoint.
Here’s a brief intro:
Lincoln wanted to be good on the field trip, but when the farmer wouldn’t let them near the chickens, temptation was just too great–Linc pushed the big lever which let the chickens out of their cages. To get his family out of the resulting lawsuit, Linc agrees to go with two secret agents on a trip across the world.
I loved book one with it’s unexpected twists and humor.
The next book Double Vision Code Name 711 just came out last month–I need to get it. There’s a website where you can keep up on the books: www.doublevisionbooks.com.
You can also check out the author’s website here: http://ftbradley.com/.