Monday, January 04, 2021


Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Korman, Gordon. Unplugged
January 5th 2021 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

The Oasis meditation retreat, run by Magnus Fellini and his assistant Ivory, attracts all sorts of people who want to unplug, destress, and learn healthy habits. There's Grace, who is very invested in the healthy living and comes with her family every year. Brooklyn really wants to have the level of enthusiasm that Grace has, but isn't that into it. Brandon's former football player father likes the family to come so they can watch their weight, and Tyrell is so beset by allergies that he'll try anything, even the boiling hot springs. The most disruptive guest, however, is Jett Baranov, the son of the founder of Fuego industries, who invented all manner of technology upon which people have become dependent. Jett is a jerk, and after a series of unpleasant actions on his part, his father sends him to Oasis with a handler, Matt. Jett isn't happy about giving up all of his technology and eating a vegetarian diet, and he makes his displeasure known by being difficult during meditation, stealing his phone back and ordering a vast amount of merchandise, and generally proving his father's point in sending him away. When Grace finds a tiny, helpless lizard, she enlists his aid, along with that of Brooklyn and Tyrell. The four break out of camp and go to nearby Hedge Apple to get meat for their new pet, and pick up some candy bars and other goodies along the way. Grace isn't happy about that, but they are useful when they are blackmailed by Brandon, and Jett finds a side line making money selling the candy at a profit, During repeated trips to the town, Jett is intrigued by a mansion, and the owner, Snapper, who seems out of place in Arkansas. He and Brandon also notice that the parents, who do "deeper" meditation with Ivory, are acting strangely. While dealing with the lizard, Needles, Jett becomes a little less problematic, and does start to work better with others. Will the group be able to solve the mysteries that have arisen, fueled only by veggie burgers and the occasional candy bar?
Strengths: Korman works are the hoodies of middle grade literature. When you don't know what else to wear, you can count on a hoodie to always keep you happy, cozy and comfortable. The characters are amusing, the plots easy to follow, the twists surprising, and the funny instances perfectly amusing. I love how his characters always manage to work together, and evolve in surprising ways. I loved Matt's path! This had a bit of a Swindle vibe that I didn't expect. Some reviewers say that the book was a bit cliche, but I look at it this way. I'm not going to wear hoodies to school every day; I'm an adult. It would be right. But like hoodies, Gordon Korman's books always fit middle school students just right.
Weaknesses: Jett referred to Magnus as "Nimbus" as a derogatory term, and for some reason this just grated on me! 
What I really think: I STILL think librarians and teachers should crowd fund a personal chef and personal trainer for Mr. Korman so that he lives to a healthy, productive old age!

I am horrible about the record keeping needed for challenges, but I was intrigued by the #BitAboutBooks Winter Reading Challenge! I actually made a lit AND a graphic AND posted it on Twitter. Maybe 2021 is off to a good start after all!

5 points: Read any book of your choice – Confessions of a Class Clown by @ariannecostner

10 points: Read a book with 100-200 pages – Escape at 10,000 ft. (104) by @ThomasGSullivan

10 points: Read a book with one word in the title – Flight by @VanessaHarbour

10 points: Read an author’s debut book – An Occasionally Happy Family by
Cliff Burk

15 points: Read a book with an animal main character – Delphine and the Silver Needle by Alyssa Moon. 

15 points: Read a book that has a direction in the title- Taking up Space by @AlysonGerber

15 points: Read a book published in 2021 – Winterborne Home for Mayhem and Mystery by @OfficiallyAlly

20 points: Read a book set in a country that is not where you currently live – The Peril at Owl Park, set in England, Marthe Jocelyn, @scissorhouse

20 points: Read a book that’s won an award – Dawn Raid by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

20 points: Read a book with a person’s first or last name in the title – Stella by @McCallHoyle

30 points: Read two books by the same author – Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame and That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar@supriyakelkar_


  1. Ooh, looking forward to reading this new book by Gordon Korman!

  2. I did the audiobook ARC of Unplugged, but couldn't make it through because it was one of those synthetic/non-human voices. I found it difficult to keep up with each person. So I'll be waiting for the book release to finish this one. And I totally agree on Gordon Korman's chef and personal trainer. Lemme know when the crowd fund gets started... ;) I wish I was organized enough to join several of the fun challenges this spring, but I'm already feeling overwhelm just getting holiday stuff packed away and starting a fresh year. Hopefully I'll get a #mustread list put together, at the very least. Have a great week, Karen!

  3. Gordon Korman is really an excellent author—I've only read his book Ungifted and the Swindle series, but I can definitely imagine from those that he has an enormous appeal to middle schoolers! Unplugged sounds like a great addition to his lengthy list of books. Also, congrats on working through a reading challenge! Thanks for the great post!

  4. Boy, you are ambitious to read 854 books this year! How do you do it, as I imagine they are all MG. Do you remember everything you read??? I stopped the challenge because I couldn't keep up with entering a review. But I was reading PB, MG, YA and adult. I'm impressed. And, I like the challenge you entered. That looks like fun.

    I can not believe I haven't read a Korman book, since they are so popular with young people. I'd enjoy this book, because I'd enjoy the Spa aspect, healthy living and a good mystery. Will need to take a leap into his books. Thanks for sharing today!

  5. That looks like a great list of the challenge. Definitely some book titles there that I need to check out.

  6. Congrats on your successful reading challenge. I need to do one of those in the future. I'm glad to see another Korman book as these fly off the shelf. He has a winning formula every time.

  7. Everything I read by Gordon Korman is a pleasure, and every time I turn around, it seems, he has a new book out. Awesome. I will look for this one. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. I sometimes wonder if Korman is even human, given how prolific he is - a very convincing robot, perhaps? :)

  9. Wow! What an impressive reading achievement!

  10. Korman is one those authors like the energizer bunny. He is astoundingly prolific. My son was a hardcore fan of his Macdonald High school way back in the day. It never took off in my library, but his Framed series was always popular. Congratulations on this challenge!

  11. Macdonald Hall and I want to go home will always be my favorites... when you remember that he started writing in 7th grade, his output starts making sense!

  12. Ha, love the hoodies analogy! My library still does not have this one, hoping they order it soon!

  13. thanks for introducing me to this author... based on the comments, i should have known about him already..
    and i am pretty bad about record keeping for challenges as well, yet i cannot seem to withstand the lure of them each year :)