Monday, January 27, 2020

MMGM- A Galaxy of Sea Stars and To Fly Among the Stars

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.

Ferruolo, Jeanne Zulick. A Galaxy of Sea Stars
February 4th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Izzy loves livign in Seaside, Rhode Island, but there are challenges. Her father has returned from military duty in Afghanistan with some injuries as well as PTSD, and the family has had to leave their home and are now trying to run the local marina. Her mother is living on a nearby island, helping her family run a diner. Izzy is angry that her mother is not at home, and it doesn't help that her two best friends, Zelda and Piper, are acting strangely. They've all managed to get into the same homeroom, since they are all doing the school video announcements, but something is off. Izzy starts to spend more time with Sitara, whose father was a doctor and an interpreter in Afghanistan and had to leave because of threats to the family. Sitara wears a hijab to school and is forthright about it, even mentioning on the school announcements that if anyone has questions, she would rather be asked them to her face. This doesn't stop some of the jerky students from giving her a hard time about it. When this includes Zelda, Izzy is distraught that her best friend is so mean. Combined with her father's difficulties and the absence of her mother, she becomes overwrought, but eventually learns to take to heart the idea that her courage should be bigger than her fear.
Strengths: Friend drama is one of the most requested type of books in my library, and I love that while this is central to Izzy's story, there are a lot of other things as well. Sitara is a great character who has a realistic reaction to the ill treatment she receives (she asks to study at home for a while), but eventually goes back to stand up to the bullies. Izzy's interactions with her parents are realistic and handled well. The small, seaside town is a great setting.
Weaknesses: This was hard to get into; I felt like I had missed something and wondered if it were the second book in a series. Once I got a couple of chapters in, it moved right along.
What I really think: I'll purchase this, since Warga's Other Words For Home, Yang's Front Desk, and other titles with immigrant children are circulating very well in my library.

Siegal, Rebecca. To Fly Among the Stars
March 3rd 2020 by Scholastic Focus
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Mauerer's Destination Moon: The Remarkable and Improbable Voyage of Apollo 11 or Sheinkin's Born to Fly, this is a fantastic, well researched overview of the various people involved in the early space program. It is perfect for students who want to do a National History Day project on a slightly different aspect of the space program, since there are so many people mentioned. While it was a fascinating read, it is also somewhat difficult to synopsize, since there is so much information. I'm definitely purchasing this one, but we'll let the publisher describe this for you. (And Scholastic Focus has been coming out with a lot of interesting nonfiction lately. Definitely keeping my eye on this imprint.)
"In the 1960s, locked in a heated race to launch the first human into space, the United States selected seven superstar test pilots and former military air fighters to NASA's astronaut class--the Mercury 7. The men endured grueling training and constant media attention for the honor of becoming America's first space heroes. But a group of 13 women--accomplished air racers, test pilots, and flight instructors--were enduring those same astronaut tests in secret, hoping to defy social norms and earn a spot among the stars.

With thrilling stories of aviation feats, frustrating tales of the fight against sexism, and historical photos, To Fly Among the Stars recounts an incredible era of US innovation, and the audacious hope of the women who took their fight for spaceflight all the way to Washington, DC.
Ms. Yingling


  1. A Galaxy of Sea Stars looks like a good one to check out. And the small Rohde Island town setting sounds intriguing. I will have to see if my library has this one.

  2. Always enjoy your reviews -- especially your strengths and weaknesses. I like some of the themes in A Galaxy of Sea Stars and will probably check it out! It's realistic.

  3. I am going to check out A Galaxy... it looks like one I will enjoy.. enjoyed your review

  4. I'm definitely adding A Galaxy of Sea Stars to my list. I hope we can get a copy just as soon as it's published! And To Fly Among the Stars looks very important and timely -- seems there's a lot of interest in the history of our space endeavors. Thanks for sharing these two new-to-me titles, Karen!

  5. I love the stars-theme you have going on here. A Galaxy of Sea Stars sounds like a must-read for me. :) Have a great reading week.