Archive for the ‘Middle grade’ Category

The Amazing Adventures of Wobblin’ Wobin

Tony Rocca

Meet Robin, or rather, Wobin: a metal garden ornament transported from England to the beautiful French Riviera. He’s lonely and can’t speak French. Neither can he fly, which is a bit unfortunate for a bird. This is his story about learning to fly and being brave.


Interview

with Tony Rocca

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
It’s being able to shut out the real world around me and escape to another place where I can let my imagination fly (literally so in the case of Wobblin’ Wobin).

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
This has to be Wobin. He’s been bashed and beaten, unwanted and put up for sale on eBay, and then discovers he’s only of value to someone as a scarecrow. It’s all very demeaning for a once-proud little bird. He’s already conscious of a disadvantage, being unable to pronounce his “r’s”; but suddenly he is whisked off to a strange land where he can’t even speak the language, has no friends, and most embarrassingly has a fear of flying. When two turtle-doves and a lady blackbird take him under their wing, so to speak, a transformation occurs. He transcends his disadvantages and takes flights of fancy to discover the great destinations of the French Riviera. He is fearlessly cocky when faced with danger, and emerges in his true colours as a beautiful robin. I hope this theme of triumph over adversity will capture the imagination of children wherever they happen to live and they will want to visit for themselves some of the most beautiful places in France featured in the story.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Black coffee in the daytime. Our local aperitif, pastis, in the evening.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Drinking two glasses of pastis in the evening. Or, I admit, three when writer’s block strikes.

How do you research your books?
I have lived on the Riviera, where the book is set, for more than 30 years so I am very familiar with the destinations concerned and have actually written travel pieces about them for The Sunday Times.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Very definitely a pantser. I like the spontaneity it affords and the freedom to go where the story takes me rather than stick to a specific plot. I know this is a dangerous road to take but I have a broad idea of the direction of travel and if I get stuck I can always U-turn and feel my way around the book another way.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
The happy childhood evoked by Swallows and Amazons, the adventures of children sailing, fishing, camping and exploring the Lake District from their little island. For me, growing up in the north of England, it was familiar territory, but Arthur Ransome managed to imbue it with something magical with references to Robinson Crusoe and turning plain old lemonade into ‘grog’ and tinned corned beef into ‘pemmican’. The story has survived remarkably through the generations from first publication in 1930 to the latest iteration, a film version three years ago. I also like the fact that the author used to be a journalist with what was then the Manchester Guardian. With the book’s initial success he gave up the newspaper business and concentrated on writing more in the series.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Eeyore. He’s so depressed, gloomy and pessimistic I’d like to take the old donkey out of the House at Pooh Corner and cheer him up with a good dose of grog and pemmican on a Lakeland holiday. Wouldn’t that be fun!

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 182
Genre: Middle Grade
Age: Chrildren
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Last Leaf

Gwyn Ellis Pritchard
The Last Leaf
“You will have to place a small handful of the maggots under your tongue, and must hold them there for a full two minutes,” Jack instructed Isabella . . . .And boy did they wriggle! She struggled not to wretch!
Two worlds collide when a chance meeting brings together Jack and Isabella. Jack, the son of the Head Gardener of the Oakfield Estate, finds himself a friend in the lovely Isabella, the ‘little lady of Oakfield Hall’.
Set in Victorian times in the Southern Counties of England – with an intermittent welsh presence in the form of the Jones’ travelling gypsy family – much laughter, dance, music and cultural challenges lie before the two friends this summer!
How will the delicate Isabella fair among the unfamiliar countryside with its host of creatures and seasonal demands?
Will the rugged, uneducated Jack rise to the challenge of learning to read and write poetry about his beloved countryside – poaching, skinning rabbits and river fishing?
Every day is an adventure and it seems they are meant to be together, always. Or are they?
Read about their exciting adventures and discover the true meaning of friendship with them as they each discover new worlds and new challenges!


A Wonderfully Moving Story

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew that it was one that I wanted to make sure I got a chance to read – and I am incredibly glad that I did. This book is very unique. It’s a lovely tale that I fell into easily and I cannot express how much I loved the friendship between Isabella and Jack. It was such a heart-warming friendship that blossomed throughout the novel. This book is also one that hit me quite emotionally as well, which is always a good thing – in my opinion!

The writing style is quite different but I liked it. It reads as though someone is telling the story to you – sort of like a bedtime story and so I feel that it would work really well when read aloud. Despite that, you were really able to get a good grasp on the characters and their relationship with each other and those around you. If I had one negative to say it would simply be that I wished the book was a little longer and we got a little bit more background information about the two characters – but that’s only because I really enjoyed reading about them!

Overall, this was a quick read but I definitely think it is one that will be loved by a lot of children. I think it’s a wonderful book for not just highlighting how strong and powerful friendships can be, but also how we’re also different but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends with those who are other from us. I honestly really enjoyed this novel and hope that many others will enjoy it as well!

The Last Leaf Tour Banner

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Genre: MG Historical
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Dino Knights

Jeff Norton
Imagine medieval times where the dinosaurs never went extinct. When dinosaur stable boy Henry Fairchild stops a vicious T-Rex from attacking his master, he is invited to join the most elite group in Brecklan, the brave Knights of Panterra, the Dino Knights. But before he can prove himself, the enemies of Brecklan attack with a flock of pterodactyls and kidnap Lord Harding. Whether he’s ready or not, Henry and the Dino Knights mount a daring rescue mission…but nothing is what it seems.


Dino Knights by Jeff Norton; Cover Reveal

Today we’re sharing the cover to Jeff Norton’s new book, Dino Knights! The book is being released on 6th June 2019 and you can pre-order a copy here: Awesome Reads Pre-Order.

Cover of Dino Knights

We hope you’re as excited about this book as we are!

Publisher: Awesome Reads
Publication Date: June 2019
Format: Paperback
Genre: MG Adventure
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game

Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler

An enigmatic racing driver. A bunch of kids. One hell of a ride …
Sam Wheeler may be the new boy in Bunsfold, but he’s got a feeling that all is not well either in the town or at Bunsfold High – and he’s not just talking about the maths teacher with the unfortunate flatulence. A local boy, Buster Mustang, has recently gone missing, and no one seems to care – they’re all too busy playing the highly addictive video game Xenon or getting the town ready for its very first TT race. Both are the brainchild of mysterious local billionaire PT Cruiser. Besides global domination, PT Cruiser wants nothing more than to destroy his nemesis The Stig once and for all – and his TT race is just what he needs to tempt him on to the big stage again …
Sam sets out with his new friends Minnie Cooper and Ford Harrison to uncover the truth behind all the strange goings-on in Bunsfold – but danger has a habit of showing up wherever they do, and soon all that stands between our heroes and disaster is … a taciturn man in a white suit.
Perfect for fans of ALEX RIDER and CHERUB


About the Authors

Jon Claydon
Jon wrote sell-out shows at Edinburgh while at university before plumping for a career in advertising and technology investment that has seen him become a fixture on the Sunday Times ‘Britain’s 500 Most Influential People’ list. One day, while attending to one of many sidelines – as a columnist for Top Gear magazine – Jon had a moment. Alone in a lift, he met The Stig, who non-verbally communicated that it was high time someone wrote a book for his many younger fans. Jon called Tim, they fired up their flux capacitor and returned, sliding-doors-style, to the career they’d always thought they should have had in the first place.

Tim Lawler
Tim Lawler wrote sell-out Edinburgh shows at university before spending many years in ventures such as building and filling a fringe theatre, performing stand-up poetry, living in various parts of the globe and working as an advertising brand planner.

Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: Adventure
Age: MG
Reviewer: N/A
Source: N/A
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Double Felix

Sally Harris

He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules. Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
My favourite part of being a writer is that I get to make things up and get paid for it! I also love the challenge of trying to be relentlessly entertaining in the way that I tell a story and getting to create characters to take on adventures. The hardest part about being a writer for me is creating characters that I really like and then having to give them problems. In my ideal world, everyone would be happy all of the time, but that would make for some very boring stories!

What is your favourite thing about being a MG author?
My favourite thing about being an author for Middle Grade readers is that they are discerning. As a writer you’ve got to respect them as readers or they won’t go along with the journey you have planned for them. There is no talking down to them or trying to pull the wool over their eyes and this really tests you as a writer. Once you have them hooked, however, you can take Middle Grade readers along for the ride to anywhere and they will come along with you. I also love that MG readers enjoy a good laugh and a rip-roaring adventure, yet they are mature enough to tackle some big issues too.

Why did you choose to write a character with OCD traits?
I think that it is really important for readers to be able to see themselves in the characters of the books they are reading. There are lots of children who struggle with various mental illnesses like OCD and I think that they are unrepresented in stories. I wanted to share Felix’s story as a way of showing readers that they are not alone and as a way of helping other students to empathise with their peers. I’m hoping that once someone has read Double Felix, it will help them to understand people around them who are different to themselves and help them to connect in a really positive, inclusive way.

What is your favourite moment in Double Felix? (Without any spoilers!)
That’s such a hard question to answer! I have lots of favourite moments in Double Felix, so I’ve narrowed it down to my favourite three scenes to write:

1. Chapter Two when we meet Felix ‘improving’ Mrs Lovejoy’s Office – because who wouldn’t enjoy messing up their Principal’s Office!

2. I loved writing the scene where Felix and Charlie visit her ‘home’ as I’ve always wanted to live somewhere like that myself.

3. I really enjoyed writing the scene where Felix wants to get into the Library but the door is locked. The image of his bottom wiggling in the air as he tries to squeeze through the window will never leave me!

Where is your favourite place to write?

If I am writing at home, I love to be cosy. Right now it is winter here in Australia, so I’m under a woolly blanket with my dog at my feet acting like a fluffy hot water bottle and my computer on my lap. I also love to get out of the house and write when I can. Taking my laptop to a local cafe for an hour with a cup of coffee is a great way for me to get some words onto the page. Bonus points if I can avoid connecting to the Internet while I’m there and extra extra bonus points if the cafe is in a bookshop!

About the Author


Sally Harris grew up in rural Australia and after graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Children’s Literature, Sally has been busy writing and working as a primary teacher, in both Australia and the UK. Her first book, Diary of a Penguin-Napper, sold over 10 000 copies and her second book, Ruby Marvelous, has inspired children all over the world to try their hand at cooking exploding finger buns! Sally loves animals, including penguins, and, as she can’t have one of those as a pet, she has found that a dog is definitely the next best thing.

Website. Twitter.

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: MG Contemporary
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Curse of the Nomed

B. B. Taylor

Ancient Gods, a cursed Librarian and a battle to save their souls. How hard could the first day of school really be? Welcome to Nomed Academy! An epic adventure for three unsuspecting year seven students as they embark on their first day of school. One they will never forget. But can they really defeat an ancient Egyptian God with nothing but revenge on his mind? All net profits from the sale of this book go to Partnership for Children, a mental health charity supporting the positive mental health of children.


After hearing about how this book came to be, I could not wait to read it. A group of year eight students came up with the idea and B. B. Taylor brought it to life. Now all the profit from the book will be going to a mental health charity. Add to that an enticing summary and I simply had to give this book a try. Fortunately, it is a decision I am glad I made. It is a short read and just over 100 pages but it definitely packs a punch. It’s full of adventure, excitement and danger. It is the perfect book to keep you entertained for a few hours and I am sure it will be loved by lots of teenagers.

In this book, the three main characters start of not knowing much about each other nor having much strength. By the end of the book, you can tell that they will be friends for life and are the strongest trio in the school. This occurs as they use their own personal knowledge and strength to surpass the challenges that they have to face in the midst of their adventures. Together they have to work as a team to save the school from deadly sources. But do they have it in them to succeed?

I absolutely loved the way this book uses Ancient Egypt at the centre of the story. I loved the Librarian, and I just thought the trio were really interesting to read about as well. This was a very quick but entertaining read that I would happily recommend to others. It’s a fast-paced, adventure filled book that will have your heart racing as you hope that the trio will triumph instead of fail. Plus, it’s all worth it to get to the very end of the book too. After all, what will happen next?

Verdict: An entertaining, interesting, and heart-racing book that will keep you turning the page until you know that everything works out okay… or does it?

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Weird N Wonderful Tales
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 116
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Miriam’s Secret

Debby Waldman
In 1930 nine-year-old Miriam travels by train from Brooklyn to her grandparents’ farm in upstate New York. Her grandparents are kind, generous people, but they aren’t exactly ideal playmates for a lonely girl. When Miriam is not doing homework in the kitchen with Bubby or helping prepare meals for the migrant workers that Zayde hires to help out on the farm, she plays with the barn kittens born just before she arrived. Those kittens are her only friends, until the day Miriam discovers a young girl hiding in the barn. Cissy and her brother, Joe, who’s one of Zayde’s farm hands, are on the run from an abusive uncle back in Mississippi. Miriam and Cissy hit it off immediately. But their friendship is tested when Miriam is forced to choose between keeping a promise and doing the right thing.What were your initial thoughts on the book?
My initial thoughts about the book were that this book was a totally different style and by a totally different author to what I usually read, which means that I may not like it, but I was wrong.

I really did enjoy the book more than I thought, it is one of my very favourites, and despite it having 25 long chapters I finished it in only 2 days. I wish I had cheeked how many chapters there were so I could have savoured each sentence carefully instead of reading for hours and hours like I always do!

Who was your favourite character and why?
I have two favourite characters, Mariam and Cissy, because they are both very easy to like. They are brave, kind and funny but their lives are very different. Mariam has a great life in a warm house with food to eat whenever she is hungry however not all of us have a home, food or water and one of these people in this book is Cissy.

Mariam and Cissy might have opposite lives but that makes them perfect for each other.

Would you recommend this book?
I would recommend this book to older readers around the age 10 or readers that enjoy books set in the past.

Summarize the book in one sentence.
A nice book about unexpected friendships that you will enjoy.

Reviewed by Jimena (11)

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 192
Genre: Hystorical
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: None
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Poppy Pym and the Smugglers Secret

Laura Wood
Poppy is thrilled that they’re spending the summer at Smuggler’s Cove. It might even take her mind off the mystery of her past. But Poppy is about to make some amazing discoveries – and solve more than one mystery…

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

Another great adventure with Poppy and her friends and I think this one is my favourite mystery so far because there are actually 2 different mysteries, could they be linked together? I really enjoyed reading it especially after the cliff-hanger in the second book about Poppy and her birth mother.

Who was your favourite character and why?

My favourite character is still Poppy because she is brave in every possible way. She handles mystery very well, especially the really scary ones, she listens to her friends even if she is the leader of the group, takes their ideas into the adventure, even if she might not agree with them and, most importantly, she stays a loyal friend to them even in the hard times.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys adventures and mysteries from ages 9 up, especially if they aren’t scared easily because this one is a bit scary.

Summarize the book in one sentence.

A great adventure that leads to more mysterious events in every chapter.

Reviewed by Jimena (11)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: May 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena (11)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Chasing Danger: Mystery at the Ice Hotel

Sara Grant
After surviving a pirate attack in the tropics, teens Chase and Mackenzie escape to an exclusive resort in the Arctic Circle. But just after they arrive, suspicious accidents begin to occur. It seems like someone’s trying to scare away the guests. When the accidents turn deadly, it’s up to the girls to figure out whodunit … before they become the next victims.
This holiday’s going to be killer!

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

My initial thoughts about the book were “I am going to love this book like I did with the first”, and I was right. I enjoyed this one even more than the first, because this one has more mystery, and it is longer!

Who was your favourite character and why?

My favourite character or characters in this book are still Chase and Mackenzie because they are both very different, opposite characters one could say, and from time to time they have to do what the other one wants which is the opposite of what they would have done in the first place.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to older readers (10 upwards) who enjoy frightening bits, because it is a little bit scary, especially the murder or murder attempts.

Verdict: A scary adventure that you will enjoy. You won’t be able to wait to see what happens next!

Reviewed by Jimena (10)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Poppy Pym and the Double Jinx

Laura Wood
From the Winner of the Scholastic Montegrappa Prize for New Children’s Writing It’s Halloween at Saint Smithen’s. When the Brimwell town hall burns down, the amateur production of Macbeth is moved to the school and it’s all hands on deck. But when the play is struck by a series of mysterious attacks, it’s up to Poppy, her friends and her circus family to save the play and unmask the culprit.

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

My initial thoughts of the book were, another mystery in Poppy’s first year at Saint Smithen’s School; this must be a busy year for Poppy! Poppy might want to take everything into her own hands but she still lets her friends have their own way from time to time, because she is their best friend, and listens to their ideas, even if they aren’t good ones in the end.

Who was your favourite character and why?

My favourite character is still Poppy Pym because she is adventurous and will carry on with the mystery, even if it leads to a dead end after a nice try- she never gives up. I always seem to like the main character because most authors make the main character very likeable. The main character, in this case Poppy Pym, is always in the story, wherever it goes.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and enjoys it, from ages 9 up, it is a bit scary so don’t read in the dark if you get scared easily (they mention it in the book).

Verdict: It’s Halloween at Saint Smithen’s and the village is putting on a play, but after a terrible fire and terrible incidents everyone believes the play’s jinxed. A wonderful yet mysterious story.

Reviewed by Jimena(10)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle Grage
Reviewer: Jimena (10)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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