Monday, August 29, 2016

MMGM- Lost in Hollywood

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.

What do you need today? A happy book, or a sad book? While we know what MY students prefer, here are two choices for today.

Lost in Hollywood
Callaghan, Cindy.Lost in Hollywood
August 30th 2016 by Aladdin
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

When Ginger's Great Aunt Betty Jean seems to be losing touch with reality AND her money, her caregiver, Leo, calls Ginger's mother and requests that the family come and check on her. Since spring break is coming up, Ginger, her brother Grant, her best friend Payton and parents head to Hollywood to assess the situation. Ginger loves ABJ's house, which is decorated in the style of the 1940s and 50s, when ABJ was a big film star. ABJ is a bit... vague, and her money is indeed missing. While Ginger's parents are trying to figure out with the bank where the money has gone, ABJ confides to Ginger that she has hidden the money, but doesn't remember where! She does have a note, and with the help of Leo's niece Margot, the three set out to investigate a lot of fun Hollywood landmarks in hopes of finding the money. With fun details like Leo's burrito taxi and an embarassing visit to a Dior boutique, this is a fun, light middle grade read. 
Strengths: This entire series has been popular, and the addition of a mystery in this book is brilliant. I also appreciate that this isn't a series that has to be read in order, although there is Lost in Rome, Lost in London, and Lost in Paris. I have a waiting list for this already! Fun, intact and supportive family, bacon burritos, adventures in Hollywood-- what more could we want?
Weaknesses: While this is the exact kind of read that adult women seem to favor, teachers sometimes give students a hard time for reading FUN books, especially when they have bright fun covers. I adore these and think they are perfect for middle school readers!
What I really think: I need to read Lost in Ireland RIGHT NOW!!!

28234735Schröder, Monika. Be Light Like a Bird
September 1st 2016 by Capstone Young Readers
Copy provided by the author

When Wren's father perishes in a plane crash, her mother is furious and doesn't deal with the occurrence well. She also disregards all of Wren's needs to remember her father. Instead, her mother decides to get rid of her father's possessions, sell the house, and move away from their Georgia home. Once they are in a new place, her mother immediately starts dating, but when things get rocky in the new relationship, she packs up Wren and moves again. This repeats, but eventually they land in Michigan. At her school this time, Wren manages to get on the good side of the popular Carrie by giving her answers to math homework. Things go well until there is a more appealing new girl, Victoria. By then, Wren has an uneasy relationship with Theo, whom she likes but who frequently is on the receiving end of Carrie's bullying. When Wren and Theo work on a school project together, they run even more afoul of Carrie, whose father wants to expand the land fill he runs, which would wipe out a local pond that both Theo and Wren enjoy for the peace and the bird watching. Theo's mother passed away from cancer, and his father has retreated to the extent that he is neglecting to get Theo new clothes and is not very supportive. The two grieving children are able to help each other and channel their energy into a constructive project. With the help of Randle, the man who buys Wren's father's car, the two manage to save the pond and bring their respective parents around a little bit. 
StrengthsSchröder knows her way around a middle grade novel. I loved Saraswati's Way, The Dog in the Wood, and My Brother's Shadow. This was a good length, had compelling characters, and includes a two current trends-- birding and sadness. I especially liked the friendship between Wren and Theo. It was very realistic and refreshing to see. 
Weaknesses: This had many levels of sadness, and I found it personally difficult to read about the fact that the mother was more concerned with her own grief than Wren. 
What I really think: This is not a book that my students are likely to request, so I will only buy it if I have extra funds left at the end of the year. 

Look! It's the fancy new 2016 logo and the 
2016 Call for Judges!!

Just to make sure you have it, here's the link: 

Also start to think about what books you will nominate in the various categories. Those nominations will open in October!


  1. Neither of these sound like my first choice to read. I'll keep them in mind for a future day or as a recommendation to others.

  2. You've made both sound worth reading, Karen. They are new to me & I'll put them on my list. Thanks!

  3. The Lost In series looks great. Thank goodness for books that bring us nothing but pleasure when we read them!

  4. YES - I love your thoughts on kids getting a hard time for reading the kinds of books that we adults read all the time! I had a librarian colleague who once said if we all read "at our level" all the time, we'd only be reading textbooks and Shakespeare, which wouldn't be very much fun at all!

  5. Thank you for the honest review of Bird - it does sound a bit heavy on the sadness.

  6. The Lost In series looks fun. I agree that sometimes kids just need to read fun books. And I'm not sure if I'm up for tackling Bird. I don't like books that tackle too much sadness and parents dying in kidlit. :)

  7. My goodness. That is certainly a strong recommendation!: "I need to read Lost in Ireland RIGHT NOW!!!"

    Kellee and I will announce the need for Cybils judges next Monday! Thanks for the reminder!

  8. I started reading Be Light, and I had to stop for the same reason you mentioned. It was TOO sad for me, and I like sad books; however, it was just after reading another sad book, so I am going to give it another chance soon because I loved Schroeder's other book.

    Happy reading this week :)

  9. Would Lost in Hollywood be appropriate for fourth and fifth graders as well? Sounds like a great series!

  10. Absolutely, Chris! One of the teacher's daughters has been getting the books from me and really enjoys them.