Saturday, June 14, 2014

Younger Middle Grade Titles

18319644 Harley, Bill. Charlie Bumpers vs. The Really Nice Gnome
April 1st 2014 by Peachtree Publishers
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Charlie is back, and this time his class is putting on a play. He is all set to be the evil main character, but his teacher assigns him a big part-- but that of a nice gnome. He doesn't want to disrespect his teacher, but clearly, he is not pleased. He tries rewriting the part, pretending he has forgotten his lines, and finally resigns himself to the part and manages to do a good job and save the play on the day of the performance. A sub plot involves his reluctance to take his dog out for walks because they interfere with his favorite television show.

Strengths: Charlie has a great family: an older brother who gives him a hard time but is ultimately helpful, a younger sister who is annoying but ultimately fun, and parents who don't put up with his nonsense. The concerns depicted are typical of elementary age students. I can remember vividly being very disappointed because in my second grade performance of The Wizard of Oz I was assigned the role of Toto and the dead witch's feet. Not a good use of my talents at all. Charlie's reactions are not mean spirited, just ill-advised, and readers will enjoy his antics.
Weaknesses: A bit young for my students, although I did end up putting the copy I got at a book look in my library, and its been a steady circulator among my 6th graders.

Quinny & HopperSchanen, Adriana Brad. Quinny and Hopper.
June 10th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
E ARC from

Like Charlie Bumpers, this was a good, realistic fiction story for first through fourth graders. It dealt with many of the concerns students this age face-- moving, dealing with younger siblings, being friends with children of the opposite gender, and classroom issues. I liked the illustrations, and this was another story that reminded me of Beverly Cleary or Carolyn Haywood. Just too young for my middle school students. 

"Quinny and Hopper couldn't be more different. They are an unstoppable team.

But when summer ends, things suddenly aren't the same. Can Quinny and Hopper stick together in the face of stylish bullies, a killer chicken, and the brand-new Third Grade Rules-especially the one that says they aren't allowed to be friends anymore?"



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