Sunday, December 15, 2013

Middle Grade Monday-- Earthfall

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. I'm still working through posting on the site-- new technology can be so hard for a digital immigrant!

17334202Walden, Mark. Earthfall
August 27th 2013, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Copy recieved from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there. 

Sam is trying his best to survive. He is living underground and trying to stay away from the alien drones who are after him. It's been a long time since the aliens came and turned everyone, including his family, into mindless Walkers who are constructing odd alien buildings. When Sam is above ground trying to find food, he is stung by one of the drones and meets Rachel, who helps him and takes him back to meet Dr. Iain Stirling and other teens whose brains were not addled by the aliens. It turns out that the alien invasion has been planned for a long time. At first, Stirling was working with Sam's father for the Foundation, which paid them well and provided them with advanced technology. Only later did they find out that the organization represented the aliens, the Voidborn, who were bent on taking over the earth. Sam was immune to the mid altering transmissions because his father implanted alien technology in his brain; the same is true of the other teens. The group finds a way that they can incapacitate the aliens, but the implementation is risky. Same seems to be the key to everything, but is he strong enough to do the job?
Strengths: I really liked this one! It had a lot of survival and action, and the plot moved along quickly. Sam's longing for human contact was realistic, and the ensemble cast of teens was fun. The evil scientist working for the aliens was convincing, and there was also a nice question of Sam's real parents and his identity. This seems likely to be a series, and I'm okay with that. I'm curious to see how this continues.
Weaknesses: This is a British book, and the British have no compunction about killing characters off. Some are mentioned briefly, but there is at least one death of a major and sympathetic character. We just aren't as used to that in the US, and younger readers might be upset.

17199270 Greenburg, Jan and Jordan, Sandra. The Mad Potter: George Ohr, Eccentric Genius.
October 29th 2013 by Roaring Brook Press

This short, picture book biography of George Ohr, who lived in Missippi in the late 1800s and early 1900s, is nicely illustrated with period photos of the man and his family, as well as with color photos of his pottery. It gives an overview of how he attempted to support himself with his work, and how he created the persona of the "mad potter" in order to become a tourist attraction and sell more pottery. It also discusses how his pottery was "discovered" in the late 1960s and became an expensive and highly sought collectible. I love biographies, and this one could be used as a nonfiction piece with Holly Black's Doll Bones

multicultural childrens book day Mark your calendars for 27 January 2014! Pragmatic Mom and Jump Into a Book are working on a day to celebrate "books with cultural context" (thanks to Uma Krishnaswami for that term.)

Last year, I attempted to do "World Wednesday", and didn't gain much steam, although I do think it helped to increase the number of diverse books I reviewed. I should have followed through more with the weekly synopsis, like Charlotte does with fantasy books. 


  1. Do we Brits really have no compunction about killing off major characters? And is it a purely British thing? The death I have bawled most loudly about in MG is that of Leslie in Bridge to Terabithia.

  2. Admittedly, the two Birtish fictional deaths that stick with me most are the policeman on Ballykissangel, and the patriarch on Monarch of the Glen. Both tv, but both real shockers. Then there's Downtown Abbey, where I am surprised if a character lives! I guess what I meant is that there are more incidental deaths among somewhat main characters. In US literature, the deaths are a major plot turning point, hence Terebithia.

  3. I am really going to have to find The Mad Potter. Sound fascinating. Thanks for telling me about it.

  4. I'm looking forward to Earthfall; I'd hoped it would be nominated for the Cybils so I'd get to it sooner rather than later, but it was still a rather young book this side of the pond back in October....

  5. Karen--so right about Downton Abbey. After the last dreadful death I vowed I'd never watch again--but I'm sure my resolution with crumble once January rolls around.

    I like your point about incidental deaths of main characters versus major plot turning points (vis a vis A Bridge to Terabithia. Definitely food for thought.

  6. Both books sound good, Karen. I've never heard of the mad potter & I love those biographies of interesting, but less known people. Thanks for your ideas about both!

  7. Hi Ms Yingling, the term "books with cultural context" made me smile. I know about the entire arguments for and against the use of the term 'multicultural.' I would be teaching a 'multicultural children's lit' course in the university next semester and the body of literature about this is so compelling and diverse. The mad potter book is one I would look for when I'm at the library this weekend. Thanks for sharing all these.

  8. Thanks so much for joining us in celebrating diversity in children's books!! We are really looking forward to the book you choose!! Thanks Ms. YingLing!!!