Monday, May 18, 2020

MMGM- A Daring Rescue and The Next Great Jane

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 
Unleashing Readers.

Hapka, Catherine. A Daring Rescue (Dolphin Island #1)
May 5th 2020 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Abby Feingold has moved to a small island in the Florida Keys with her father and his new wife, Rachael, to open a resort on family property. They've renovated the buildings and grounds, and are expecting their first guests. Along with a newlywed couple, there is a girl just Abby's age named Bella who has come with her parents, aunt and uncle. The girls get along right away, and soon find a hidden cove on the property where a dolphin pod visits frequently. Abby is glad, because she and Bella will be in the same grade at the same school in Key West in the fall. The girls kayak and hang out on the beach, and eventually swim with the dolphins. Bella doesn't want to tell anyone about them, but Abby is afraid that her the resort isn't doing well, since she has heard the adults talking about the business. She thinks that if people knew there were dolphins, they might be more inclined to visit. When she tells her dad, Bella gets angry with her, but the girls make up after a dangerous incident with the dolphins occurs.
Strengths: This is exactly the sort of book I would have utterly adored in about third grade. A girl just like me, living in an exotic location, doing exciting things, and making a new friend. The illustrations are great, because they help readers envision what the resort and the cove look like. Abby likes her step-mother, is concerned about the challenges her new family is facing, and wants to help. Things with Bella don't always go well, but end on a positive note. There are even good safety protocols in place, and Abby breaks them is a responsible way when she has to. I can see this being available at Scholastic book fairs; recommend them whole heartedly! I'm looking forward to the series.
Weaknesses: This is a little bit young for my students, and is only available in paperback or prebind, but I would definitely buy this for an elementary school.
What I really think: I'd love to see Hapka write some older middle grade books about dolphins. Her writing is solid and engaging. Her Ponies of Chincoteague series was a lot of fun as well.

Going, K.L. The Next Great Jane
May 19th 2020 by Kathy Dawson Books
ARC provided by Follett First Look

Jane lives with her father in Whickett Harbor, a very small fishing community. Her father is a scientist who studies plankton, and her mother left years ago to become a Hollywood actress and director, and hasn't been as involved in her life as Jane might like. Instead, much of her care is in the hands of Ana, who lives nearby, and Granny V, who is raising Jane's best friend Kitty. When a famous author comes to the local library, Jane (who wants to be an author) wants to go, but is not allowed because the event is adults only. Instead, she breaks into the attic of the library, where she meets snooty Devon, whose mother is the famous writer J.E. Fairfax. The two have quite an adventure in a storm, but all ends well. When Jane's mother and her fiance come to visit, Jane and Kitty are concerned that her mother will try to get custody. They think it would be helpful for her father's custody status if he had a girlfriend. Who better than J.E. Fairfax, who seems interested in him?! Of course, Jane and Devon had a rocky start, but his siblings, Matthew and Caroline are nice, and soon the two families are doing a lot together. There is a school project on environmental matters, and Devon and Jane are working on plankton. Kitty has enlisted Matthew to help with a Butterfly Ball that will be held at the Fairfax's large estate (which they renovated before moving in). There is an ill-fated boat ride, local trips with her mom and Erik, and the Butterfly ball, all of which help shape Jane's ideas about her parents are her life with them, and which also reveal some surprising relationships.
Strengths: This had a lot of good details about what it is like to live in a small, coastal community, and I appreciated that the fact that there isn't much cultural diversity in some of these communities was addresses. The descriptions of the school were interesting; I can't imagine having the same teacher for three years, or so few students. Jane's family situation was interesting, even though the stress was palpable. There aren't many middle grade books that address the issues of custody, and there should be! The Fairfax family was delightful, and the book didn't dwell on Jane's interest in writing, which was good because I don't think many of my students even know who Jane Austen is!
Weaknesses: I've read so many books with children getting caught out in storms lately, but Going gets points for starting with this rather than making it the climax of the book!
What I really think: I didn't think I would like this one because of the connection with Jane Austen and Jane's writing (there are so many books with students who want to write!), but both of these things were minimal, and the focus of this book was on the family dynamics and the big school projects, which was fun. Will definitely purchase.

Ms. Yingling


  1. My own reader's still a bit young. I'm going to go look for Dolphin Island! It sounds like she'll probably fly through it in an afternoon, but that'll be one happy afternoon for her!

  2. I can see kids really loving Dolphin Island. Definitely one I'll have to look for.

  3. Thanks for sharing these today Karen.

  4. I have The Next Great Jane on a shelf to read, probably next week, so I appreciated seeing it here. I just read the Strengths, Weaknesses and What I Really Think because I don't really like to read too much about books before I read them. Sounds like a good one to pick up. Thanks for the shares.

  5. Thank you for sharing these two novels with us for MMGM. They both sound like enjoyable summer reads for younger middle-grade readers or as family read-alouds for primary kids.

  6. I'm looking forward to The Next Great Jane. I appreciated what you shared in your strengths/weaknesses section. I hope we get a copy of this one soon! Thanks for sharing, Karen.

  7. Both these titles pair well -- love coastal town settings. And, I would have loved a book like Dolphin Island in my youth. I have a niece who'd love this book, too. Embarassed to admit it, but I love watching the Free Willy DVDs (especially the sequels 2 and 3) because of the beauty of the NW and the theme. Will check both out!

  8. Both of these books sound great! I've heard great things about The Next Great Jane, and I really appreciate your points. Thanks for the great reviews!

  9. Thanks for the enticing reviews of each book on MMGM I know some kids at different grade levels who would enjoy the stories. For myself, I'm going to start with THE NEXT GREAT JANE. Curious to read about having the same teacher for three years. Happened to me once as I taught the same kids in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade, before middle school became 6-8.

  10. These both sound good. It's nice to find those transition books now and then for a quick read. Thanks for the post.