Monday, January 09, 2017

MMGM- Left Out

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.

I'm going to ALA Midwinter for the first time! I would love to meet up with anyone who is going to be there! Comment below if you'd like to get together. I'm also planning to go to New York for Book Expo in May, so it's going to be a BIG year!

Begin Rant: If you are a school librarian and you have never read a football or basketball book except for Kwame Alexander's The Crossover, stop it right now! Think of all the students you have who are avid sports books readers. You must serve them as well. If you still refuse to read the books, at least buy every one you see. Oddly, there are very few blog reviews of most sports books, which is a real shame. Students need these books. They aren't my cup of tea, since I haven't seen a football game since my cousin was a majorette in 1975, but I still read all I can find. End rant!

Green, Tim. Left Out.
September 27th 2016 by HarperCollins
Library copy

Landon Dorch's family moves from Cleveland to Bronxville, New York so that his mother can take another high powered job with a food company. His father is an unpublished novelist who works from home and takes care of the house. Landon is deaf, but was fitted with cochlear implants at the age of four. He is a big seventh grader, and decides that he will use his mother's guilt over the move to get her to agree to him playing football. His sister Genevieve, to whom he is very close, is okay with this plan, since she thinks it will help him to be socially accepted. She also goes to a lot of trouble to befriend the most popular (but meanest!) girl in their grade so that Landon, who has been bullied before, will not run into trouble. Sadly, however, the local bullies are also on the football team, and they are not able to accept Landon's need to look at faces when people are talking to him or his somewhat different speech. There are a few people who treat Landon with respect and not pity-- Genevieve's other friend, Megan, who is pretty, popular, nice, AND good at soccer, and Brett Bell, who is on the football team and always sticks up for Landon. There are good educators, who pay attention to how Landon can learn best, and bad ones, like the principal who refuses to recognize that Landon is being bullied. Through it all, his family is supportive and loving, and Landon eventually secures a tenuous but comfortable place in the middle school hierarchy. 
Strengths: This was a super intriguing read, and one which included so much girl drama that I may recommend it to my girls as well! Green researched a lot about deafness and interviewed students who deal with this issue. The result is a very solid middle grade novel that will be hugely popular. 
Weaknesses: Landon is an emotional wreck a lot of the time. I guess it's good that he is shown as being allowed to cry and comforted by his father; I guess my personal style with the girls was to tell them to suck it up. Which he does, eventually. Okay. I guess an emotionally fragile boy is a good thing. 
What I really think: I'm fine with this level of drama as long as it balances the good with the bad, has a great family and supporting characters, and includes a boy suited up for football on the cover!

29875402Krull, Kathleen. America's First Ladies.
January 3rd 2017 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Need a book that has a good overview of all of the first ladies up through Michelle Obama? This would be the book to buy. It not only covers the wives of the presidents; there are even mentions of the daughters, nieces, etc. who stood in as hostesses if no first lady was available. While both the pre presidency and post presidency lives were covered, I especially appreciated the focus on the accomplishment of each woman while in office. There were also snippets about the progress of women's rights during each term of office, which gives the book a good historical perspective. 

While there's not enough information on each lady to formulate an entire report, it would be a good general knowledge volume or a starting place to pick a first lady on whom to do a report. There are line drawings instead of reproductions of portraits or photographs-- I suppose this has something to do with credits and cost, but it always seems incomplete when a biography lacks photographs of modern people. Mamie Eisenhower had a very interesting hair do to which a line drawing cannot do justice. 

Krull is certainly a go-to author for biographies, and her research is impeccable. However, there were several instances where the grammar was very awkward, and the language seemed too flippant for the general tone of the book. Will young readers notice? No, but it surprised me. 


  1. I'll be at MW! I'd love to meet!


  2. I confess, I don't read or recommend enough sports books. But in my defense, there are two very popular MG sports authors which neither of my boys found very interesting. But I promise to give Tim's books a try. Thanks for the thorough review and soapbox.

  3. Tim Green is a classroom favorite - so this one is now on my to buy list.

  4. I don't like watching sports on TV, but will go to an occasional baseball game because I can sit and knit while the game progresses. I read books about baseball because they are mostly so lovely. I especially loved The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles! I started out reading more kinds of sports books, but they never really circulated in my library. I couldn't keep the nonfiction titles on the shelf, but the fiction remained stagnant. (Except for Zombie Baseball Beatdown which has zombies as well) Kwame's books worked, but I wonder if it is the poetry made them seem less text based.

  5. I need to read more Krull! Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. Tim Green is an author who is new to me. I could have used some of his titles last year since I had a few students who were really interested in sports. I'll have to check this one out.

  7. Argh, I wish ALA was closer this year, it's just too far for me! I went once to midwinter when it was in Seattle, and it was such an awesome experience. In my neck of the woods it has to be hockey or soccer - football or basketball books would just linger sadly on the shelf gathering dust. 😉

  8. Oohlala, I'm loving the look of the new Kathleen Krull middle grade novels - I love everything she writes.

  9. Love Kathleen Krull!

  10. Tis is a good inspiration for 2017--read more sports books.