Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Hippo at the End of the Hall

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Hippo at the End of the Hall (Candlewick Press, 2017) by Helen Cooper was a fun read full of magic. There’s often a different flavor in books written in the UK–and I’m not sure what it is exactly–but this one has it. Maybe it’s just the use of words that are not the same as American usage. Or maybe it’s something else that’s special.

Ben, who doesn’t normally like mail, received an invitation to the Gee Museum. Mom thinks it has probably been shut down, and doesn’t want him to go even if it is. It’s too close to the river, etc. But a handwritten note on the ticket says, “Come now or come never,” has him intrigued. When Ben goes without permission, he has no idea that his visit will end up changing his and his mother’s life.

A bonus in this book are all the illustrations.

Helen Cooper is an author and illustrator. She’s won the Library Association Kate Greenaway Medal – twice. Read more about her here. And you can see all of her books here.

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Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I don’t even know how to tell you how much I loved The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl (Random House Children’s Books, 2018) by Stacy McAnulty. It was soooo good. I’m not surprised it has been put on some best book lists.

Four years ago, 12-year-old Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. It turned her into a math savant and gave her some OCD characteristics. She’s been home-schooled ever since, but now Nana is making her to go to middle school. Lucy doesn’t think she can learn anything in seventh grade. But Nana makes her promise to “Give it 1 year…Make 1 friend.” Plus do 1 activity and read 1 nonmath book.

Day 1 doesn’t start out well when Lucy does her compulsive sit, stand, sit, stand, sit on the bus. And it doesn’t get better from there. Although she does like her math teacher.

Will Lucy be able to make good on her promise?

This is author Stacy McAnulty’s debut novel. However she’s written dozens of picture books and chapter books. Since then she’s had two more novels published (one is coming in September). I’m hoping my library has them.

One amazing fact about Stacy is she’s a 2 finger typer! Read more here.

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Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Dog Driven

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Dog Driven (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2019) by Terry Lynn Johnson is quite the scary adventure.

It’s risky enough for any teen to participate in the Canadian Great Superior Mail Run dog race, but for fourteen-year-old McKenna, who has hidden her deteriorating sight from her family, it could mean death for her and her dogs. But she is determined to win this race to encourage her younger sister Emma in her battle with Stargardt, an eye disease. Afterwards, she’ll tell her parents about her vision problems. And maybe she can help eight-year-old Emma gain some independence, too.

The author puts you right on the trail with McKenna and her dogs so you hear and feel what’s going on. As I said above, it’s scary to see what McKenna risks, but her determination is believable. Plus there are letters from the late 1800s about this mail run that increase the tension of the story.

Earlier I recommended her award winning book, Ice Dogs. I missed reading Falcon Wild, which I need to catch up with. Her newest book, is Rescue at Lake Wild–coming soon. Read about Terry Lynn Johnson here.

Note: Dog Driven is aimed at ages ten to sixteen according to the publisher.

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Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

A Dash of Dragon

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

A Dash of Dragon, The Mystic Cooking Chronicles, (Aladdin, 2017) by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski is an interesting mix of fantasy, cooking, and adventure.

Thirteen-year-old chef Lailu has apprenticed to Master Slipshod and they have opened a restaurant together. However, she didn’t know how her master had gotten the money. Not only has he put Mystic Cooking at risk, but he has promised Mr. Boss he and Lailu will work for him forever if they can’t pay. Hunting the dangerous meat for their menus–kracken, basilisk fish, and more–isn’t nearly as scary as some of their customers or the escalating problems that Lailu confronts. Will she lose her freedom or her life?

There are three books in this series. Book two, A Hint of Hydra, came out in 2018, and book three, A Pinch of Hydra in 2019.

Learn more about this team of authors–they’re sisters–here. This fall the pair has another book coming out. Whispering Pines is an “eerie heart-pounding mystery” according to the publisher. Read more here.

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Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Ogre Enchanted

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

If you’ve read Newbery Honor Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, you’ll know you’re in for a treat with Ogre Enchanted (Harper, 2018). (And if you haven’t read Ella, you should.)

This is a gender reversed Beauty and the Beast inspired story. Read more what the author has to say about that here.

Fifteen-year-old Evie is enchanted when she turns down a marriage proposal from her best friend, Wormy. Now she has 62 days to accept a new marriage proposal or remain an ogre for ever. What will all her patients do?

The book is funny and keeps one guessing. Is that tingle because Evie the ogre loves the guy or that she thinks he’ll taste good? The countdown of days adds to the tension.

Read about Gail Carson Levine here and check out her other books here.

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