Monday, June 05, 2023

MMGM- Sweet and Bitter Rivals

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 
Burkhart, Jessica. Sweet & Bitter Rivals (Saddlehill Academy #1)
May 30, 2023 by Aladdin
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Rising seventh grader Abby St. Clair has been through a lot of changes in the past year. Her mother has been gone for a while, abandoning the family without explanation when she was seven. Her father is always very busy at work, but has recently married Emery's mother. Emery, who is a year younger and has never had a father, is also going to be attending Saddlehill Academy, a boarding school that is outside Boston and has a lovely campus, strong academics, and an equestrian program that is superb. Abby has her own horse, Beau, (A Dutch Warmblood) on campus, and is excited to train and compete against rival Canterwood Crest. Abby is okay with all of the changes, but a tiny bit apprehensive about how much time her father is spending with Emery. She's also not thrilled that she is in the same house with Selly and Nina, who are both incredibly mean to her ever since Abby made a mistake at a competition that caused Selly to do poorly. When Abby gets a video on her phone from a mysterious source that makes it look like Abby was saying terrible things about Emery, she's devastated. She reaches out to Emery right away to tell her it isn't true, and starts to investigate the sourse with her friend, Vivi. Emery is understanding, especially since she sees the effort that Abby is going to to try to figure out who made the video. Of course, there are also classes to attend, horses to ride, and the occasional cute boy around, so Abby is plenty busy. Selly continues to say mean things to her and tries to undermine her confidence by befriending Emery and telling Abby that Emery is a much better rider. When the true identity of the video poster comes to life, will Abby be able to remain friends with Emery? We'll have to wait until The Showdown comes out on July 25, 2023 to find out!

: There is a lot of appeal to vicariously attending a boarding school while living safely at home. And a boarding school where a decent amount of time is spend riding, and around other kids who ride? Perfect. Saddlehill is a very posh school, and students can have pizza delivered and hang out at the pool, so for my students, this is a great fantasy novel! I absolutely adored that Abby really wanted to be friends with Emery even though she had to fight with her feelings in order to do this, and I can't wait to see how they resolve their issues in the next book. There are plenty of details about riding and caring for horses along with the drama, making this an excellent choice for middle school readers who want the full vicarious boarding school experience!
Weaknesses: The very long Canterwood Crest series is available in paperback, which is why I didn't order it for my library. I would get the first five books if they were available in prebind or hardcover. While I feel like I missed a bit about Abby's background, things are recapped nicely and it's not essential to read that series. 
What I really think: My horse fans were a bit disappointed to find out that this featured English riding but are still SUPER excited for it. I'll have to order the books over the summer so they can be checked out on the very first day back, along with Elliot's excellent Bea and the New Deal Horse. I do have Burkhart's Wild Hearts to keep my readers busy for a little bit!

Barton, Chris and Prabhat, Chaaya. Glitter Everywhere!
June 1, 2023 by Charlesbridge Publishing
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Barton's 2009 Day-Glo Brothers is such a fun title that I knew I would have to pick up this sparkling tome. Learning about objects in daily life is always fascinating, and I'm sure that middle school students will find this book to be very attractive. This is a nice history of glitter (or flitter, as it was called at one time), starting with natural sources like mica and beetles, and continuing on the the development after World War II of plastic glitter. I'm glad that Henry F. Ruschmann of Bernardsville, New Jersey gets a full-name shout out, although I was a little appalled to learn that modern glitter was created perilously close to my childhood. I also loved the discussions about microplastics; I was always leery of plastic craft supplies and bought very little that was glittery for my own children, and could not find a single glittery object to use to stage this book for Instagram. While I definitely find myself in the anti-glitter camp, this is a fascinating book that elementary and middle school libraries will want to purchase. I read somewhere that the cover didn't use plastic glitter because of the environmental concerns!

Ms. Yingling


  1. I typically enjoy boarding schools and one with a riding school sounds like fun. Happy MMGM to you

  2. The Saddlehill Academy series sounds like one a ton of readers will enjoy, and I appreciate your thoughtful reviews of it! And Glitter Everywhere is intriguing—I didn't realize the specific environmental impact of glitter, but in hindsight, that seems like something that should have been obvious. Thanks so much for the wonderful post, Karen!

  3. I have read quite a number of Chris Barton stories - particularly the PBBs such as What do you do with a voice like that? which I adored. Glad to see there's a new picturebook here! :)

  4. Once again thanks for providing me with titles to consider carrying at the bookstore where I work.

  5. Once again thanks for sharing titles that I wasn't familiar with and that may be worth adding to what we carry in the store.