Monday, August 25, 2014

MMGM-- Pet Fish on the Covers!

Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards Remember, the Cybils Awards committee are LOOKING FOR JUDGES! Click here to get information and apply. Remember also that the Middle Grade Fiction organizer is a lovely person to work with. (Ahem, that would be yours truly!) If you are a book blogger with a middle grade focus, a writer of middle grade, or a teacher, librarian or parent who spends a lot of time delving into this area and blogging about it, please consider applying.

19156898Holm, Jennifer. The Fourteenth Goldfish.
August 26th 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers 
E ARC from Netgalley.com

Ellie is having a hard time. Her divorced parents are both into acting, but she doesn't have any interest in it. Her best friend has taken up volleyball in a big way. She has found, much to her chagrin, that her goldfish did NOT outlive all the other goldfish that children in her class got in elementary school-- her mother just kept replacing them. When her mother shows up with a teenage boy in tow, and he claims to be her grandfather Melvin, Ellie is tossed into an unbelievable world where her grandfather has isolated the compound needed to reverse the human aging process... from a jellyfish. It's believable, since the young version of Melvin has many of her grandfather's quirks, and he is intent on breaking into the lab where he worked and getting the jellyfish and research back. With the help of Raj, who looks threatening but is actually quite helpful, the group set off to get the things out of the lab, and along the way, Melvin and Ellie come to terms with many facets of their lives.
Strengths: Okay, maybe I have gone over to the dark side because this was one of those books that language arts teachers love because it has Valuable Life Lessons, but this was FANTASTIC. It's short, has a lot of action, will appeal to all readers, has some cool science, throws us right into the situation with the grandfather so we don't even blink about suspending disbelief, and brings us my favorite thing to read about... a close grandparent, and one which the main character gets to hang out with when he is her own age. Awesome. I've liked Holm's other books like Boston Jane and The Creek, and this was just charming.
Weaknesses: The day is coming very quickly where we won't be able to tell grandparents from children. Melvin comes back and wears polyester pants, cardigans, and other "old man" clothes. However, my parents are even older than Melvin and regularly wear jeans. They'd probably come back hipper than my daughters!

18782850 Gephart, Donna. Death by Toilet Paper
August 5th 2014 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Benjamin's family is really struggling. His father died of cancer, and his mother is working as a waitress while trying to finish up her school work and tests to become an accountant. Their rent is due, and the landlord has been sympathetic, but if they don't pay soon, they will be evicted. To top it all off, Benjamin's grandfather, Zayde Jake, has moved in with the family and his senile dementia is becoming worse. His friend Toothpick, who likes to mess around with film makeup and produce his own horror movies, is supportive of Benjamin, as is Toothpick's father, and their neighbor Mrs. Schneckle helps out, too. Benjamin comes up with several plans to earn money, including selling candy bars at school, even though it against school rules to sell anything that isn't officially sanctioned. He also enters a lot of contests and manages to win a few things like a grill or a year's supply of oatmeal, but he and his mother need something a little bigger to tide them over.
Strengths: Extra points for the fun facts on toilets at the beginning of each chapter! While this was essentially a sad book, it really drew me in and kept me reading, in the same way that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn did. How bad will it get? What will Zayde Jake do next? Will the family really be evicted? There are lots of funny moments, too. In general, a great middle grade book, and the bits of Jewish culture are something that is a bit rare these days. (Although that's one subgroup I really see very little of in my library.) I especially liked that Benjamin and his mother were still struggling with the death of the father but were continuing on with their lives in a productive fashion. Realistic, but hopeful in a way that many books are not.
Weaknesses:  I would have given this five stars if it weren't for a stereotypical bullying scene. Yes, it was pivotal to the plot, but we've all been there and gotten the swirly. The ending is a bit deus ex machina as well, but the target demographic won't necessarily see these weaknesses.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog.

20 comments:

  1. Two new books by authors I already love? What a great way to start my morning! I would have loved hanging out with my grandmother when she was my age. And toilets? Oh my!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the covers and story lines for both of these. They have a quirky type of pull that will hook many readers. I'll look forward to finding out for myself. Thanks for featuring.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm looking forward to 14th Goldfish, and I had to order Death by Toilet Paper after reading your review--what an awesome cover! Looking forward to sharing that one with my son's 6th-grade reading teacher. Looks like a can't lose middle-grade title. (Anything toilet-related is simply hilarious to my sons!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the premise of the Fourteenth Goldfish, it sounds like a lot of fun. You're right about the grandfather- grandchild relationship being underused, and this seems like a really interesting and original way of doing it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 14th Goldish sounds unique! Thanks for the review. The cover of Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper, http://www.amazon.com/Out-My-Mind-Sharon-Draper/dp/1416971718/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408995250&sr=8-1&keywords=out+of+my+mind would fit in with the goldfish theme nicely, however I have a feeling the fish is not a pet but a metaphor. (Haven't read it yet.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have been eagerly awaiting the 14th Goldfish after hearing so much about it. I love the title Death by Toilet Paper. It sounds like something my students would love.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Really looking forward the 14th Goldfish and Death by Toilet Paper will definitely get a kids' attention!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just got Toilet Paper at the library today! Lots of books to fit in, limited time to read!! I adored The 14th Goldfish. Can't wait to own my own copy to pass around!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I adored the Fourteenth Goldfish, and Melvin was the best. Have to check on Death by Toilet paper now.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jennifer Holm is quite prolific! I will be on the lookout for 14th goldfish as it sounds like a title that would fit our upcoming reading theme quite nicely. Thanks Miss Yingling!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am looking forward to reading The Fourteenth Goldfish. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous11:32 AM EDT

    Fantastic items from you, man. I've understand your stuff previous to and you are just too magnificent.
    I really like what you've received here, certainly like what you're saying and the way wherein you say it.

    You're making it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep it sensible.
    I can't wait to read far more from you. This is actually
    a great web site.

    Here is my web site go!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous6:52 AM EDT

    This is really interesting, You're a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post.

    Also, I've shared your site in my social networks!

    Also visit my site website ranking tool

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous10:13 AM EDT

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to
    say that I've really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very
    soon!

    My weblog; best social media sites

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous4:09 PM EDT

    Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to this blog
    before but after checking through some of the post I
    realized it's new to me. Anyhow, I'm definitely
    happy I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back often!

    Here is my homepage ... social media agency

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous4:57 PM EDT

    Every weekend i used to pay a visit this website, for the reason that i wish for enjoyment,
    since this this web site conations in fact nice funny data too.


    my page: we buy houses uk

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous9:36 AM EDT

    It's an awesome article in support of all the web viewers;
    they will get benefit from it I am sure.


    Here is my web-site: no win no fee hospital negligence

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous6:40 AM EDT

    I just like the helpful info you provide for your articles.
    I'll bookmark your weblog and take a look at again right here regularly.
    I am rather certain I will learn many new stuff proper right here!
    Good luck for the next!

    My website ... car transport rates

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous11:45 PM EDT

    you're in reality a just right webmaster. The web
    site loading speed is amazing. It kind of feels that you're doing
    any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterwork.
    you have performed a magnificent process in this subject!


    Also visit my web-site; social media platform

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous7:20 AM EDT

    It's truly very difficult in this busy life
    to listen news on Television, thus I simply use world wide web
    for that purpose, and get the hottest information.

    My homepage; authority site

    ReplyDelete