Camp – Kayla Miller

42873833Camp by Kayla Miller

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Library
Published: 2019
Publisher: HMH BFYR
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Friendship Dynamics, Summer Camps, Social Isolation


REVIEW:

It was good to spend some time with Olive again. In the first graphic novel, she had trouble expressing her creative side and communicating with her friend groups. In this companion, she and her good friend Willow are away at camp. Everything is going well in the beginning. Olive and Willow are sticking together but Olive wants to branch out a little and try different things, talk to more people, whereas Willow wants to stick with the familiar. Continue reading

Click – Kayla Miller

37570594Click by Kayla Miller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Library
Published: 2019
Publisher: HMH BFYR
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Social Circles, Family Relationships


REVIEW:

This is a sweet graphic novel for middle schoolers. The illustrations are adorable, as is the colouring. It’s a story that deals with an issue that can be disheartening but remains very positive and solution-focused throughout.

There is a talent show at Olive’s school and while she’d love to be part of it, not one of her many friends has asked her to join their group. She doesn’t want to force herself into one so she’s feeling down and unsure of how to proceed. Continue reading

One Year at Ellsmere – Faith Erin Hicks

46223329One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: July 14th, 2020
Publisher: First Second
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle School, Graphic Novel, Friendship, Bullying, Boarding School


REVIEW:

I don’t understand. I don’t understand why some authors decide to include one fantasy element in an otherwise completely contemporary story. I understand magical realism. I think it can be very beautiful, surprising and, well, magical. But this was no magical realism story. Continue reading

Ali Cross – James Patterson

Ali Cross
Ali Cross by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: November 2019
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Mystery, Friendship, Family, Gaming


REVIEW:

This is the story of Ali Cross – Alex Cross’ young son – who wants to become a detective, just like his father, and work towards protecting his community. He thought he would have to wait much longer to follow on his father’s footsteps, but after one of his friends disappears, he decides to investigate the disappearance and won’t stop until he finds his friend. Continue reading

Towers Falling – Jewell Parker Rhodes

24846343. sx318 Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Friendship, School, Family History, American History


REVIEW:

With Jewell Parker Rhodes, you don’t have to wonder. You don’t have to question whether the book is worth buying, reading, holding in your hands. There is no reason to pause and squint your eyes. Because you just know that this author will deliver a meaningful story with memorable protagonists and an affective atmosphere. Continue reading

Lily the Thief – Janne Kukkonen

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Lily the Thief by Janne Kukkonen

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: November 2019
Publisher: First Second
Recommended Age: 9+
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Supernatural


REVIEW:

Lily is a young little thief who is tired of getting easy jobs. She wants to get the respect she thinks she deserve and challenge herself by taking on a hard job and becoming one of the great thieves of her guild.

Alas, her master does not approve of her ambitions, unable to get past the fact that she is a girl (and quite talented in the art of thievery). So she decides to work towards her goal without the blessing of the Guildmaster. Continue reading

Black Brother, Black Brother – Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: March 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Sports, Siblings, Racism, Respect, Family


REVIEW:

This is a book that will capture your heart from the beginning. If you’re familiar with Jewell Parker Rhodes’ writings, get excited because she delivers more emotional content and beautifully poetic prose that is sure to move you and remind you that there is humanity left in this world. Continue reading

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky – Kwame Mbalia

39884337Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: October 2019
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Action, Mythology


REVIEW:

This is a solid story. With solid, memorable characters, and an intriguing concept. The writing, also, is solid. The fact that this is a debut is astounding. I completely understand why Rick Riordan picked it for publishing. I would have done the same thing. This story deserves to be out there, because it is not more of the same. The diversity and unusualness of the types of characters/creatures made it exciting to my eyes, from the beginning. Continue reading

Beverly, Right Here – Kate DiCamillo

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Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: September 2019
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Family, Death, Friendship, Love


REVIEW:

It is so clear, to me, why Kate DiCamillo is such a beloved children’s writer. She writes with such thoughtfulness and elegance. She gives voice to young girls who don’t always realize that they have one and that it most certainly deserves to be heard. She makes you want to listen to children more often and actually consider their words carefully. Continue reading

The Dragon Warrior – Katie Zhao

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The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: October 15th, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Friendship, Family


REVIEW:

Truth be told, I finished this book a few weeks ago, but somehow I find much easier to review books I’ve either adored or hated. Because, usually, those books get me all fired up. This story… did not. It’s a good beginning to an original and diverse middle grade series, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also one of those books that you need to remind yourself to finish because your heart just does not automatically turn their way. Continue reading