Monday, September 23, 2019

MMGM- It's the End of the World as I Know It

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.

Landis, Matthew.  It's the End of the World as I Know It
September 24th 2019 by Dial Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Derrick is convinced that there will be massive destruction in September, and he keeps a close eye on the upcoming apocalypse and his preparations for it. He has a reinforced shed full of MREs, water, and gas masks; now, he just needs his father to believe him. His sister Claudia is more concerned with her high school classes and cooking and cleaning around the house, and Derrick's father doesn't seem to care about anything but meeting women through on line dating. This makes Derrick angry, since he is having a lot of trouble coming to terms with his military mother's death. Instead, he channels his energy into working on his shelter, even ignoring his friend Tommy's requests to come to his soccer games with their friend Brock. He starts to spend time with a neighbor girl, Misty, who helps him with the shelter and is recovering from an unknown medical trauma during the past year. She seems to think that she and Derrick used to hang out together, but he doesn't remember. As Derrick's obsession with doomsday grows worse, Misty is the one to humor him when he feels a need to buy an expensive composting toilet or install a rolling steel door. Eventually, his sister Claudia steps in and makes him confront his feelings and come to terms with his father and the new reality his family faces.

Sorry if that's vague; I don't want to spoil the slow reveal of things, even if the official blurb does!

Strengths: Landis is a great writer who clearly understands middle school students and how their minds work. Tommy and his overprotective mother were a hoot! Misty's medical issues were interesting as well, and her bucket list because of them fascinating. This story moved along quickly even though a lot of different things were going on. The doomsday preparation is an interesting topic, and this is the second book I've read about a child using prepping as a distraction from anxiety! (McAnulty's The World Ends in April was the other.)
Weaknesses: I am never a fan of showing grieving people as losing it. I thought the father's way of dealing with things wasn't so bad (he should have spent more time with the children, but not dating doesn't make his wife any less deas); if Claudia wanted to discuss her mother, she could have found someone besides Derrick. If he wanted to not mention her, he should be allowed to deal with his grief that way.
What I really think: Kids will love Derrick's exploits in building his shelter, his relationship with Misty, and the funny things that Tommy and Brock do; teachers will love the deep exploration of grief, so there is something for everyone.

Susan Romberg, Laura Dershewitz, Meghann Rader (Illustrations) The House That Cleaned Itself: The True Story of Frances Gabe's (Mostly) Marvelous Invention 
September 24th 2019 by Innovation Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this wonderfully illustrated picture book, we learn the story of Frances Gabe, who so detested cleaning that she worked for over thirty years to design and engineer a house that cleaned itself. From a shower like kitchen that could be washed with a sprinkler and drain through the floor to a "clothes freshener" that would wash and dry clothing while it was hanging, Gabe worked through every problem, including putting waterproof covers on books. She never became a household name, more's the pity, but Erma Bombeck thought that she should have a place on Mount Rushmore!

Gabe is certainly a fun inventor to learn about, and this is an attractive book with enough information to send young inventors off on a mission.

Personally, I don't like the idea of that much water. I worry about mold. But I do think that Gabe's story is an interesting one, and I love her reason why cleaning a house takes so much time: basically, men designed them!


  1. Both of these books sound good, but the idea of a house that cleaned itself - I could also get on board with that except for the amount of water. I am afraid we are going to see water shortages increase in the near future.

  2. Ugh -- I want to know more about the first book. It sounds like a winner among teens. I love the friendship between Derrick and Misty. And, building a shelter would be fun. Like the theme of loss. Love the picture book about invention. Kids will have fun with the story and illustrations.

  3. The end of the world is a new theme for MG books. I do hope to read this one soon, but hope we don't get an onslaught of doomsday stories. Thanks for featuring both titles on MMGM.

  4. You couldn't have chosen two books that were more different from each other, but they both sound really interesting. I need a house that cleans itself. Thanks for telling me about them. I will try to check them out.