Monday, December 12, 2016

MMGM- Various

Steele, Philip. The Holocaust: The Origins, Events, and Remarkable Tales of Survival
September 13th 2016 by Scholastic Nonfiction
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

While I was impressed with this book because I see it being very helpful to my students, I can also see the point of the following review:

Even though there have been a large number of books about the Holocaust, I am always looking for more. Young people don't quite understand what happened, and this is often a subject that is studied in school. This book is an excellent example of how to deliver an overview of information in a way that is both sensitive, complete, and easy to understand. 

The chapters are broken down into a general background of issues facing the world at the time, the events of the war and the persecution of Jews, and the end of the war and the fallout from it. This last section is one that is not given enough coverage, so I was glad to see a great deal of information about Israel, its formation, role in the immediate post war era, and its challenges today. 

Each two page spread concentrates on one facet of the general topic-- Germany After World War I is an example. The pages will show a panoramic picture; over top of this is place an overview, and then several other topics, each with a paragraph explaining them, a picture, and a description of the picture in a yellow box. This breakdown makes it very easy to understand the general topic, and the pictures are well chosen and informative.

I really cannot say enough about the format of this book. It is really brilliant. When pictures do not form the background, there are suitable textures behind the information-- brick, wood, leather, etc. Not only is the book a pleasure to read individually, but the pages would be fantastic for showing to a class, especially since this is a larger format book (10.3 x 0.5 x 11.8 inches). This is one of those rare books that makes me want to buy two copies-- one for children to read, and the other to take apart, laminate the pages, and use them for bulletin boards! 

While the Holocaust is not a particularly easy subject to read about, it still intrigues children. The Holocaust: The Origins, Events, and Remarkable Tales of Survival is a great way to introduce this topic to young readers. 

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.

And, once we depress the children with books about serious topics, we can lighten the mood with books like the newest from Matthew Holm! To Holm's credit, I don't think a single moth balls joke was made. Not my favorite, but the 6th grade boys will love it. 

29241330Holm, Matthew and Follett, Jonathan. Marvin and the Moths
September 27th 2016 by Scholastic Press
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Between his new baby brother and his disastrous first day of school that resulted in his underwear being on display, Marvin has it rough. To make matters worse, he gets moved to the attic of his home so that his baby brother can have a room. The house is an older one, and the attics of many of the homes are joined together. This makes for great exploring, but Marvin is very surprised to find three giant moths living close to him! They are sentient and very smart, having spent a lot of time reading the encyclopedia. Marvin manages to secure an unsteady place for himself at school with friends Lee (who has a bad body odor problem) and Fatima (who has head gear and a leg brace, and bedecks herself with all manner of technological devices). The three are working on a science project that aims to discover the cause of Lee's odor, and they quickly discover it is tied to the town's biggest product-- Pork Loaf. Since nearly everyone in town has a vested interest in pork loaf, it's hard to recommend that Lee not eat it. Soon, however, there are bigger problems-- the local celebrity elephant, Big 'Un, is killed by what appears to be a vampire! Marvin, Lee, and Fatima all celebrate, and hope to keep the elephant vampire from marauding during the upcoming harvest dance. The moths help as much as they can, but are they actually the problem?

Like Silberberg's Pond Scum or Lubar's Lawn Weenie books, Marvin and the Moths is silly fun. Holms has honed his middle grade chops illustrating Baby Mouse and Squish books, and there are a few pictures in this, although not nearly as many as there should be!

Marvin's group is a bit stereotypical-- a band of outcasts who can save the world as well as surprise everyone at the dance. The moths are probably the result of a science project, but it's easy to suspend belief and accept their presence in the attic. The "elephant vampire" supplies the needed dramatic tension, and I liked the fact that the moths were somewhat suspect. After all, they did quite a number on Marvin's sweaters! 

While older middle grade readers might find this too be a bit too goofy, younger readers will laugh at Lee's atomic level stink (which is also used to good effect in warding off the vampire!), Marvin's embarassing moments at school, and the epic battle with the monster.  The formatting of the book keeps the reader in mind with larger text and scattered illustrations. Any reader attracted to the moths wielding kitchen implements on the cover will enjoy this epic romp that features lunch meet, sentient insects, and good friends.


  1. Both books you highlighted sound interesting this week. I have been looking for some holocaust books to add to our children's department. We are trying to seriously update our non-fiction and get some good, new stuff. Thanks for sharing these and have a great week!

  2. I can definitely think of some of my MS kids who are going to love Marvin! Thank you for sharing that with me :)
    Happy reading this week!

  3. I'm drawn to read many holocaust books. Read more historical fiction than nonfiction. This looks like an interesting book. Thanks!

  4. The Holocaust book does sound like a good beginning and overview for first-time researchers of this topic. And I can see how the 2nd book would appeal to young middle graders. Thanks, Karen.

  5. It is interesting to compare your review with the Kirkus one. I wonder if the difference isn't more about how the book actually works in real life with kids compared to how a reviewer removed from this situation sees it. Maybe you are both right too. Marvin isn't the kind of book I would read, but I can see it's appeal.

  6. You couldn't have picked two more different books and, yet, they both sound terrific. Thanks for telling me about them.

  7. Oh my goodness, I checked out the Kirkus review - dull and uninspired, wow. Appears like I won't be picking up the book anytime soon.