Monday, January 30, 2017

MMGM-Yours Truly

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.

30227919Frederick, Heather Vogel. Yours Truly (Pumpkin Falls Mystery #2)
January 31st 2017 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young 
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Truly is excited because spring is on its way, and with it both the Maple Madness in her town and the arrival of her cousin Mackenzie for a spring break visit. On top of a knitting class, boys, swim practice, a local bake off, and helping out a local farm with their sugaring rush, Truly finds a journal from 1861, and she and Mackenzie spend a lot of time reading it. There is also a mystery to solve-- who is cutting the plastic tubing used for collecting sap from the maple trees? In the end, Truly and her large, supportive family get through all of their activities and solve several of the town's mysteries as well. 

Strengths: I enjoy this series, as well as Frederick's The Mother-Daughter Book Club, because they paint such an enjoyable picture of the active, small town New England lives of ordinary girls. The father's war injury is treated realistically. The family is great, and the supporting characters (such as the aunt, grandparents, and classmates) are well developed and integral to the story. I've been a sucker for books about making maple products ever since The Miracle on Maple Hill, and the descriptions of this was marvelous-- you could feel the damp chill of the March wind tempered by the sun on your face. Of course, now I just want to spend the afternoon in the family bookstore, eating maple Blondies and petting the cat!
Weaknesses: There is a LOT going on in this book, which makes it a little confusing. I'm not sure what I would have taken out, but combined with the slow pace of life in Pumpkin Falls, this is not a quick pick for reluctant readers. 
What I really think: This will see slow but steady circulation, and I'm okay with that because I love the covers of this series!

Hague, Bradley. Rise of the Lioness:Restoring a Habitat and its Pride on the Liuwa Plains
September 13th 2016 by National Geographic Children's Books
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

From the point of view of one lioness, whom researchers called Lady, the devastation of an African habitat and its eventual restoration is painstakingly covered. The Liuwa Plain National Park is perfect for a variety of animals, but have been damaged due to war, poaching and other human interventions. 

Both history and science are well-represented in this title. We learn how social upheaval in Africa over an extended period of time has affected this preserve, and the damages to the ecosystem are explained quite well. Scientists went in to study the environment and to assess how it might be repaired, and then set out to put measures in place to return the area to a sustainable level. Since the damage took place over a period of time, positive changes also took a while. 

There are some nice human interest moments as well-- there is an explanation of how lonely Lady was when she was first photographed in 2004. The lioness followed the crew back to camp, flopping down and purring in order to find companions!

Like most National Geographic titles, this is well formatted. There are many high quality pictures that support each facet of the story. New terms are printed in bold font, and pictures are captioned. There is a glossary at the end of the book, as well as a nice pictorial table of indigenous animals and a very complete index. This book is not only an interesting pleasure read, but would make an excellent resource for researching endangered animals or the environmental impact of humans. 


  1. Yours Truly sounds like a good read, but maybe a bit slow. That's fun that it included about making maple products that you love.

  2. It's always interesting to see how books actually circulate, isn't it? So often I read a book and absolutely love it, but know in my heart that it's probably not going to be a hit with the kids. Still, you never know, and if it connects with just a few kids, then that's a win!

  3. I love the cover of Yours Truly. The art looks familiar but I can't figure out from where. I enjoy reading these kinds of books that capture the life of a community. It sounds like there is a bit of mystery as well!

  4. Both books look worth a look, Karen. I'm unfamiliar with the Frederick books, so thanks for sharing.

  5. I'm not familiar with the Frederick books. But, I am intrigued by YOURS TRULY, and the tapping for maple syrup -- big in my state. Both books look like excellent reads. Thank you for the recommendations!

  6. Anonymous10:03 PM EST

    I'm definitely going to look into both of these. I'm with you and Jane on watching how the books circulate with kids. There are most definitely books I've read recently that I enjoyed and kids look at and go "meh". It's really hard to grab their attention on some things. I know our children's librarian has a hard time "selling" some books even in the public library. You provide a really great resource here!

  7. Anonymous11:11 PM EST

    I own a copy of Yours Truly from one of our book club book exchanges - and I do look forward to finally reading it soon, thanks to your review. - Myra from GatheringBooks

  8. Awe, I hadn't heard about Yours Truly yet! I loved the feel of the first one, so I'm sure I would love this one. Admittedly, Absolutely Truly doesn't move much in my room either. You are right about those covers though ;)

  9. National Geographic has been on point recently! I just wish more of my middle schoolers like to read nonfiction...

    Happy reading this week :)