Monday, October 08, 2018

MMGM- In Your Shoes and Trapped!

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Gephart, Donna. In Your Shoes
October 30th 2018 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley

Amy has just moved to town to live with an uncle after her mother's death. Her father will come eventually, but he is getting training to work in her uncle's funeral parlor and only visits on some weekends. She is leery of starting school, especially since she thinks people notice that one of her legs is longer than the other. When she is head in the head with a rogue bowling shoe on her way into the building on the first day, she takes this as a bad omen and starts writing a fairy tale involving the incident. The wearer of the shoe, Miles, is mortified, even though it's his friend Randall's fault. Miles is an anxious young man who feels most at home at the family bowling alley, although even there is a sadder place since the death of his grandmother. He's trying to bowl a perfect game, would sort of like to ask a girl to the school dance, and is saving up for a special present for his grandfather's 75th birthday. Amy doesn't have that hard a time at school, and even meets a like-minded friend, Tate, who is into weight lifting and knitting. The girls are library helpers during their lunch for [real life] librarian John Schu. Randall has a crush on Tate and is trying to figure out a fun way to ask her to the dance, and Amy often wanders off to the bowling alley to have a hot chocolate and escape the funeral home. She enjoys bowling with Miles, although the regular shoes make her hip hurt. As the grandfather's birthday party and the school dance approach, the four children learn more about each other and develop even closer relationships, which help them cope when things don't always go well.
Strengths: I liked seeing the development of the relationships between the children, and the light romance is always welcome. Amy is generally upbeat, and even though she doesn't really want to move, she does a good job at settling in and making friends. Miles' relationship with his grandfather is sweet, and the bowling alley setting is fabulous (Anyone remember Ed?).
Weaknesses: There was a LOT going on in this book, and I think it would have been stronger if it had concentrated on just a couple of difficulties instead of introducing so many. For example, Amy should have been in grief counseling, and I would have been interested to see her practice some coping strategies. I also would have found more in-depth information about leg length discrepancy, anxiety, or severe asthma (which were all just touched on) helpful and informative.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and the cover will make sure this never gets back to the shelves. Our high school has a really good bowling team, and I was in a league in middle school, so I am glad to see another book with bowling beside Crystal Allen's 2011 How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy.

Ponti, James. Trapped (Framed #3)
September 25th 2018 by Aladdin
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Florian and Margaret have their most important mission yet-- Marcus has been accused of stealing valuable library books and of having ties to organized crime, and only they can prove him innocent. We start with the two of them brilliantly crashing a fund raiser to get information, the flashback to the case that gets Marcus in trouble. His first case was never solved to his satisfaction, and when someone intercepts a dead drop key in a library book and finds a pile of classified documents in a post office box, he feels the cases may be related. The trio go back and investigate the four most likely suspects, who all have ties to books or libraries, and some of whom have very personal ties to Marcus himself. As always, adults underestimate the detective abilities of the children, who in turn completely underestimate the spying skills of Florian's mother! Eventually, Florian works out the code, and has to ask Nic the Knife for help in bringing the federal agents in to corner a Russian spy.
Strengths: Like Stuart Gibbs' various mysteries, Ponti's work is always just a pleasant relief to read. I push through a lot of books that are either poorly written or don't interest me, so just letting Ponti's clever, deft prose wash over me and his characters amuse me is wonderful. There are so many interesting details about D.C., libraries, and various things that I kept turning the pages to see where the story would take me next. Good stuff. The affection the children have for Marcus is great to see, and Margaret and Florian's friendship is fantastic. If I recall correctly, there are supposed to be five books in this series.
Weaknesses: This is a tiny bit on the long side.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. I think the covers may be working against this series. It doesn't check out as often as Gibbs' work, but then Gibbs' books have really appealing covers.

BLATHER: Cross Country season is finally over, and I a hoping to get caught up on... life pretty soon! It's a good thing I'm not involved in the Cybils' awards this year, because I have only managed to nominate two books-- I can't imagine the wreck things would be if I were category organizer! 

It's a bummer when life gets in the way of reading, but that's the way it is sometimes! 


  1. I enjoyed both authors previous books and will have to give these a go, too. Life is a balancing game and reading suffers the consequences at times. Keep up the great work.

  2. I really like Donna Gephart's work, so I'm sure I will eventually get to this one, though it does sound like there is A LOT going on. I wasn't familiar with James Ponti at all, but this sounds like just the kind of series my son likes, so I've requested the first one from the library. Thanks!

  3. I don't think I've read any of Ponti's books. Will have to remedy that! Thanks for your reviews, informative as usual!

  4. In Your Shoes sounds interesting, even if a bit busy. We don't have a lot of bowling in our areas, but an old alley was just opened up and so that kids are clamoring to get in at every chance. This might be a fun read for the youth of my community. Thanks for the new-to-me titles!

  5. I really enjoyed In Your Shoes. It tugged at my heartstrings, and pretty much snapped them with that epilogue.

  6. Thank you for sharing your reviews of these two books for MMGM today. I really like the cover on 'In Your Shoes'. Hope you have more time for reading soon! :0}

  7. I am so excited to read the third book in Ponti's series! I loved the first two so much (although they have vanished from my classroom, so I have to get two more to be able to share the third....).

    Happy reading this week :)

  8. In your shoes looks like my kind of read. Really appreciate your detailing each book's strengths and weaknesses. Very helpful. :)