ages 9 – 12


5M4B disclosure

Space CaseMy kids and I all read and like Stuart Gibbs’ Belly Up. I know he’s published books since then, but we haven’t gotten to them. However, when I saw this new space-themed mystery, I jumped at it, hoping it would be just as enjoyable.

The entire story in Space Case took place over the course of a couple of days on the moon unit where people are living in the year 2041. Each chapter ends with an excerpt from the “Official Residents’ Guide to Moon Base Alpha” handbook in regards to something that is referenced in that chapter, like meals, safety, exercise, etc. It was an interesting way to share facts and limitations of living in space and give this science fiction a base in reality.

Twelve-year-old Dashiell Gibson is in the bathroom late one night, when he overhears Dr. Holtz talking about an exciting new discovery that he can’t wait to share with the base and the United States. The next morning Dash waits for the announcement, but what he finds out instead is that Dr. Holtz took a solo moonwalk and is dead.

The base manager, Nina, forbids Dash to stir up trouble, but he continues to investigate, with the help of newly arrived resident Kira, also 12.

The mystery was sort of interesting, but what I enjoyed more was getting to know Dash and the other Moon Unit Alpha kids, and pondering what it would be like to live in space. The mystery was resolved at the end of the book, but it does seem to hint at a sequel, which I would definitely want to read.


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Sports Illustrated Kids Books on Football and Wildest Plays in Sports

I live in Colorado, and if you follow sports at all, you’ll know that recently the Denver Broncos replaced the Dallas Cowboys as America’s team. Now, I don’t really know what that means, but I’m guessing it has to do with how many people root for the Broncos. And football is huge here — recently when the Broncos played on the Thursday and the game ended at 10pm, the entire half hour news cast was devoted to the game – replays, interviews with players and coaches, the sportscaster insisting the Broncos are going to win the Super Bowl, as he does every night. As I’ve mentioned before, my two boys, ages 11 and 7, are both sports fanatics. They play a different sport every season, watch
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Behold! The Dinosaurs!

Dinosaurs can be awfully fascinating to some children, and books and toys featuring the ancient creatures range from straightforwardly informational to outright silly. A new (sort-of) book by Dustin Harbin, Behold! The Dinosaurs!, presents over 100 dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures from the Devonian to the Cretaceous periods in eye-popping drawings. Did you catch how I called it a “sort-of” book? Well, I have to admit that I learned something new when I received this publication in the mail and I saw it referred to as both a leporello and concertina, and I was compelled to look up the terms before I opened the book. All I would have had to do was open the cover and see the fold-out pages, which measure more than six
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A Collection of Oxford Children’s Classics

The thing with the classics is that you grow up with them, and you love them, and by the time you’re ready to pass them on to your own kids, they are tattered and dog-eared and too-much-loved, and that’s if you’ve managed to hang on to them and not lost them in one of your many moves. It’s time for new versions, and Oxford University Press is obliging by coming out with new editions of all your old favorites. And they are delightful; they contain the original unabridged stories, of course, but also bonus material such as quizzes, reading recommendations, fun and unusual facts about the author, and more. I chose four to look at, but they’re coming out with many more. With these reviews,
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The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys

At first I thought The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys was a little too cutesy and contrived, but that feeling didn’t last long. I was immediately taken back to 8th grade (or even better, the fun fictitious version of 8th grade), as I got lost in the story of Maya and Finley. Things are changing, like the fact that they aren’t super-close with all the girls they grew up with. Another thing has really changed, and is constantly changing, and that is the boys. Maya and Finley started classifying the boys in Finley’s science notebook, aka The Amphibian Life Cycle. The tadpoles are those boys who still burp and fart and act like 6th graders. Croakers have voices that croak, showing some sort of
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The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine: Friendship Over

Julie Sternberg, author of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and its two sequels (linked to my reviews), writes books for the younger middle grade readers, with shorter chapters and expressive characters who represent the 8-10 year old age extremely well. My own third grade daughter was thrilled when I told her that Sternberg has started a new series. The first book, The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine: Friendship Over introduces another lovable young girl trying to work through a highly-relatable experience. Friendship in childhood can be filled with ups and downs, and ten-year-old Celie is currently low down because her (former) best friend Lula suddenly stopped speaking to her. No explanation, no reason that Celie can think of. Having to see her every day at
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The Scavengers by Michael Perry #Giveaway

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5 Ways My Mom Helped Me Become a Writer {Friday’s Five}

Find out more about Guest Contributor author Mike Perry at his website Sneezing Cow. Stay tuned for Jennifer’s review and giveaway on Monday. If you turn to the very last printed page of my latest book, The Scavengers, you will find the following one-line acknowledgment: Mom, for teaching me to read and filling my world with books. Now then: Of course we thank our moms. I would thank Mom even if she had raised me on gas station beef sticks and poker. There are a million ways to be a good mom. But in my case, Mom’s attention to books and reading altered the course of my life to the very moment of my typing these words. I grew up baling hay and cleaning calf
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The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

My 10-year-old son and I read The Fourteenth Goldfish aloud together. We often read books aloud, but it can be a slow-going process. The more we like them, the faster we finish, because one or both of us will say “Let’s read one more chapter” in spite of other interests and reading our own books. Sometimes it was him suggesting another chapter, other times it was me. We both equally enjoyed this book. Why? Sciencey stuff, in this case facts about scientists and researches (This won’t surprise fans of her Squish graphic novels) heartfelt family issues (which won’t surprise fans of her works such as Turtle in Paradise) such as adult parent/child relationships and a “broken” family (specifically I loved that in the divorced family
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Always, Abigal

Always, Abigail is one of those important stories for that demographic of girls who are entering middle school. That is a time that brings big changes, especially for girls. Some girls slide right into the make-up, boys, popularity mode, while others get left behind (or choose to stay behind). Abigail and her best friends AlliCam –yep, they only need one name– are set on ruling the 6th grade. They know the first step is to make the pom-pom squad. They practice all summer, and they buy just the right clothes. But the first day of 6th grade already turns out to be a bust when Abigail is put in one homeroom — the mean and old-fashioned Hawk-eye Hawkins — and AlliCam are together in another
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Star Wars: Jedi Academy series

I don’t know how I’ve missed Jeffrey Brown’s previous Star Wars books, Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess, but when I saw Jedi Academy in the Scholastic catalog, I knew it was something my 6th grade Star Wars fanatic would like. Roan can’t wait to attend Pilot Academy Middle School and become a pilot like his older brother, father, and grandfather, and is crushed when he doesn’t get in.  Having accepted his fate at Tatooine Agriculture Academy, he’s surprised to receive acceptance to Jedi Academy, especially since he’s a little old to begin Jedi training. But it’s better than Plant School, so off he goes. Roan doesn’t know what to expect but makes friends quickly.  He also deals with bullies, his inability to use the force,
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The Time of the Fireflies #MMGM

Many kids like mysteries. The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little is a perfect middle grade novel that incorporates mystery, friendship, and even a little time travel. Larissa and her family have recently moved back to her mother’s hometown. Larissa was in an accident which left her with a big scar on her face. That hasn’t made it any easier for her to make friends. With her best friend Shelby Jayne out of town for the summer, she’s left to spend long days working in her family’s antique store (which doubles as their house), reading, and imaging. When one of the antique phones rings one day and a young girl tells Larissa that her family needs her help, that she must find the
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