Monday, June 05, 2017

MMGM- Roll

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

28234631Miller, Darcy. Roll
May 25th 2017 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Ren is not having a great summer. His family has moved from town out to his grandparents' house, and since his parents are always at work (his mother is a vet, and his father has to be on site to oversee building projects), he's not able to get into town to hang out with his friend Aiden or visit the comic book store. Not only that, but he's told his father that he will try out for cross country in middle school, so he has to run at 6:00 a.m. every morning. His father was a great athlete in school and coached cross country for years, so Ren is hoping to connect with his father through the sport, even though he hates running. While he is on a run one day, he sees birds falling from the sky. They turn out to be a special kind of pigeon, Birmingham Rollers, and are being trained by Sutton, who has just moved into a neighboring house. Sutton's summer isn't great, either-- she's used to being in DC and not in the country, and her father has been critically injured in an accident. He was supposed to be helping her train the birds for a competition. Ren and Sutton start to hang out and work with the birds, and they both seem to enjoy this. At the same time, Aiden and Ren are growing apart. Ren tries too hard to introduce Sutton to the kids who will attend their school, which strains not only his relationship with her, but also with Aiden. As the summer turns to fall, how will Ren gain some balance in his life?
Strengths: The two biggest issues that middle grade readers have to deal with are friends and personal identity. This book handled both of those brilliantly. Ren and Aiden are growing apart because Aiden is hanging out with physically more mature boys who are interested in sports; Ren likes comic books. Sutton is on the weird side, which makes Ren want to avoid her, but they have fun together, so he's confused. Ren wants to be an athlete like his father, and he does try, but it's just not who he is. He doesn't think about this a lot; he tries stuff, and it doesn't work. I liked that Sutton had an unusual interest, and also that her father's situation was managed in as positive a manner as it could be. Moving, deaths of grandparents, parents who are busy-- this had a lot of very important issues and was done in an upbeat way.
Weaknesses: I wish that Ren had liked running! It's true, though-- it's not for every child, and bonus points for actually running before the season and seeing if it worked for him. I could also have done without Sutton's father's accident, although something had to happen to get him out of the picture.
What I really think: This seemed odd to me at first, but I ended up really liking it. While I like the cover (it reminds me of my grandparents' farm), it's a bit bland. Roll will take some hand selling, but is worth it.

Toht, Patty and Usher, Sam. All Aboard the London Bus
May 4th 2017 by Frances Lincoln Children's Bks
Copy kindly provided by the publisher

This rhyming picture book is a great introduction to different attractions in London! It was less than a year ago that my daughter and I traveled there as a high school graduation present, and we spent one of our last days on a sightseeing bus, getting an overview of things we had seen, and making sure we hadn't missed anything! Various Well known sights, such as Buckingham Palace, Westmister Abbey, and Trafalgar Square are briefly described in verse, and each gets a very detailed pictorial treatment of what the site looks like. In the back, there are further descriptions of the sights, which will give just enough information for children who want to find out even more about this fascinating city.

The illustrations struck a good balance for me-- the landmarks were depicted in a fairly photographic way, but the more cartoon like people in the pictures added an air of fun. The color scheme was quite attractive, with the grays and tans of London buildings being prevalent, but enlivened by pops of primary colors for the people, bus, and other details.

I usually donate all of the books I receive from publisher to my school library, but this one brought back such great memories that All Aboard the London Bus is going right on my book shelf next to my Let's Go! London and London A to Z!
Ms. Yingling


  1. Roll sounds very interesting. I hadn't heard about that one before. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I liked all to the elements you laid out in ROLL. I'll be sure to add this one to my list. It has many contemporary issues that could hook young readers.

  3. Roll sounds like a really interesting book and a great summer read. Sutton's bird interest is unusual, but I'm finding more books in which kids are interested in birds, generally bird watching and I've often wondered how many kids actually do that. Regardless, I am going to look for Roll in the library next time I go.

    All Aboard the London Bus sounds like fun and perfect for would-be visitors, but it might just be the way people experience London this summer, given what has been happening in England this summer.

  4. I visited London years and years ago, I look forward to reliving the experience through All Aboard the London Bus! :)

  5. I like realistic stories. ROLL grabs my attention because I have been reviewing more books with kids who like birding. This is a good think, I hope. Future nature lovers. The London picture book sounds like a fun book for kids. Love both book covers. Excellent reviews.

  6. I went straight away to see if Roll was available yet from my library. Sigh... Not yet.

  7. You have sold me on Roll - I'll have to be on the lookout for it.

  8. Roll sounds like a really interesting read. I will look for it. I do love good rhyming picture books, so I will be checking out All Aboard the London Bus. Thanks for the reviews.

  9. Thank you for introducing me to a new and upcoming realistic novel--I am always looking for new realistic fiction novels for my kids.

    Happy reading this week :)