Monday, May 04, 2020

MMGM- One Last Shot, Any Day with You

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 
Anderson, John DavidOne Last Shot
May 5th 2020 by Walden Pond Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Malcolm's father was an up and coming baseball player who never made it as far as he wanted to, so he has put his hopes on Malcolm. Malcolm does not enjoy baseball. He feels inept, doesn't get along with his teammates, and feels that he will never be good enough to make his father happy. His mother and father fight a lot, and Malcolm feels like this might be his fault as well. When his father finally lets him quit baseball, they spend the afternoon playing miniature golf. Malcolm does pretty well, so his father changes his focus, and before long Malcolm is practicing all the time and getting lessons from Frank Sanderson, a one time friend of his father's who had a sketchy career in pro golf. Frank is slovenly and talkative, but does a good job improving Malcolm's skills at Fritz's time worn mini gold course. While there, Malcolm meets Lex, who is playing while her mother has a hair appointment across the street, and the two click. This is unusual, because Malcolm has always found it hard to make friends, as has Lex. They both share a love of trivia, and meet several times. Malcolm's parents are glad, but continue to bicker about everything. When his father arranges for Malcolm to play in a tournament, Malcolm has his doubts about his success, but he gives it his best try, even though it looks like his father won't make it. Will Malcolm be able to handle his friendship with Lex, his parents' troubled marriage, and the expectations of his father?
Strengths: It is far, far more likely that students will be dealing with bickering parents than it is that they will have a parent pass away, yet the majority of middle grade novels kill off the parents. If authors really want to help children process life difficulties, they would write more about parents fighting! This book was a great mixture of family drama, a light romance, an older mentor (need more of those stories, too) and sports. The cover is fantastic, and the tone light enough that I can sell this as humorous fiction. Another excellent title from Mr. Anderson!
Weaknesses: The beginning of the book made it a bit hard to get into, and ending most chapters with what was going on in the tournament took me a while to get used to. That might just be me-- I have trouble with flashbacks.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. I love Anderson's work and have fond memories of playing miniature golf with friends when I was growing up. There need to be a few more golfing books; the only other one I can think of is Feinstein's excellent The Prodigy.

Respicio, Mae. Any Day With You
May 5th 2020 by Wendy Lamb Books
E ARC provided by

Kaia lives in Santa Monica with her supportive family, which includes college professor mom, movie artist dad, older sister Lainey, and great-grandfather, Tatang. She is looking forward to a fun summer, even though she will miss Lainey, who is off to medical school in the fall and is spending the summer in the Philippines, where Tatang was born and raised. The plan is that Tatang, who is 90, will visit with friends and family while Lainey is there, then return with her to the US. When he tells Kaia that he is actually going to remain in the Philippines for the rest of his days, Kaia is devastated. She is in a summer program, Camp ArtAttack, with her good friends Trey and Abby, Kaia comes up with a great idea-- they will base their video project on the traditional tales Tatang told her and win the prize in a local competition. Surely that will be enough to persuade Tatang to stay with her family. When that plan looks like it won't be as effective, Kaia applies for a military honor for Tatang, who served in WWII and suffered through the Bataan Death March. She has some issues to work through with the rest of her family, particularly since she feels her interest in doing make up for movies isn't treated as a serious career path in the way that Lainey's medical aspirations are. Will Kaia be successful in keeping her beloved great-grandfather close to her?
Strengths: I adore stories with supportive and involved grandparents, since mine were older and/or not involved (when I was Kaia's age, my grandmother was 84! and the rest were deceased). Tatang is a great character, with his fun shirts and boundless energy, and the bits of his personal history that we learn only add to his appeal. Kaia's involvement in making a video will appeal to students, many of whom share this interest. Changing family dynamics are hard on tweens, even when they are natural and unavoidable, like a sibling heading to college. This was a short, quick read that can be handed to a variety of readers in the same way that this author's The House That Lou Built can.
Weaknesses: It seemed off that Kaia's grandparents from this side of the story were deceased, and I wanted a few more details about them.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. It's a bittersweet tale that is ultimately upbeat, and is a great example of how to come to terms with difficult circumstances that many tweens face. I'm always a fan of kids who have interests in passion, although as a bitter, disappointed former Latin teacher, I will always wish that those passions were less liberal arts focused and more concerned with tech, math, and science fields!

Ms. Yingling


  1. I've enjoyed pretty much everything I've read by John David Anderson, so I'm looking forward to reading One Last Shot. And Any Day With You is new to me, so I'll have to go look it up and see if we'll be getting a copy. Thanks for the shares, Karen!

  2. Both of these sound like reads my kids would enjoy. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for sharing these interesting books for MMGM! I love baseball and golf, so this book sounds like it would be one I would enjoy.

  4. Yay, both of these books are in my pile to read this month. I enjoy both of these authors!

  5. I really think you are right about authors needing to write about parents who argue -- much more realistic -- to help children process life difficulties, they would write more about parents fighting! Want to read Anderson's book!

  6. Both of these books sound excellent! I'm especially glad that I'm not the only person who thinks there are way too many MG books with deceased parents—although it's definitely something that should be written about, it shouldn't be the only thing that gets written about. Thanks for the great post!

  7. Both sound like great choices, thanks for the post!

  8. These both sound good. I have only read one other book by John David Anderson, but I have another on order. It sounds like I should get this one as well. Thanks for the post.

  9. I was going to write a blog post about ONE LAST SHOT, but I couldn't decide what to say. The format was confusing with the back and forth between present and past scenes without clear transitions. I agree that many plot points were relatable and Anderson is usually an authentic a writer, but I had a difficult time getting started with this novel. Thanks for your review. MRS. BIXBY'S LAST DAY is my fav Anderson novel.