Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder is a middle grade read for 4th-6th graders.

Nick and Tesla are extremely smart 11-year-old twins who like inventing and find trouble fairly easily. When they are shipped off to spend the summer with their eccentric Uncle Newt–an inventor and goofball–they expect to be bored out of theirs minds but find they are anything but.

When Nick and Tesla lose their rocket and the pendant their parents gave them, the twins are determined to get it back. Little do they know they are about to embark on a mission that includes dangerous dogs, Christmas light alarm systems, kidnappings and other makeshift contraptions. As the plot thickens will Nick and Tesla be able to use their inventor smarts to save the day?

This is an older middle grade series and one I just happened to overlook. I’ve known about it but I never actually read any of them. After taking a peek, I thought this one would be perfect for my STEM Book Club as a night and easy December read.

Ultimately I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read but still had all that STEM-y goodness I was looking for. The story move quickly and the characters are entertaining. Especially Uncle Newt; you just know there is more going on there then meets the eye.

This one also made choosing a STEM activity to go with my book club really easy, as there were about 4 or 5 different “how to” projects based off of what Nick and Tesla did in the book. And I also enjoyed the mystery of the book and how the rest of the series is setting things up for Nick and Tesla not only to help other people but where they will eventually have to help themselves.

I think this one is going to be perfect for my 4th-6th graders as a light, easy, fun read before the holidays. This one get 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

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The Jamie Drake Equation

The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge is a 4-6th grade science fiction book.

Jamie Drake is your average boy with one big exception, his dad is an astronaut on the international space station and he is part of a big mission to find life in outer space. Jamie is very proud of his dad but he misses him a lot, especially with his birthday coming up and his dad missing it.

When Jamie stumbles upon a rouge scientist at a dilapidated space observatory, he accidentally downloads something to his phone and starts receiving weird signals. Where could this signal be coming from? Could it really be aliens?

With his dad gone, Jamie doesn’t know who to turn to and decides to investigate himself. But when something goes wrong with his dad’s mission, Jamie knows it is up to him to save his dad from space and all of it’s dangers.

The Jamie Drake Equation was one I was considering for my 4-6th grade STEM book club. It was a good read and would have given us a lot to talk about but I just didn’t think we had enough copies in our library system to make it work.

That being said, this book was full of fun STEM-iness. We learn about the Jamie Drake Equation, we learn about the fibonacci sequence and more space science. But there is also the sci-fi element of the alien’s and Jamie’s interactions with them.

This book is very emotional for a middle school read. That’s not a bad thing, but there’s this almost Armageddon feel to the end and I really don’t want to make the kids cry! We also deal with serious themes like divorce and separation, moving, fear and more.

This is a read I would recommend a caregiver reading with their child. But I think any 5th-6th grader could get through it alone. In terms of being full of STEM goodness, this one rocks!

I think this one gets a 3.5 from me. Good but not quite what I was expecting/looking for.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab is a new tween science fiction and fantasy series.

Cassidy Blake has never lead a normal life, what with her parents being super success paranormal writers who call themselves: The Inspectres. But her life took a turn for the even weirder when she died. Well… almost died. Ever since this near death experience, Cassidy has been able to actually see ghosts, including her best friend Jacob.

Now her parents have decided to turn their successful novels into a TV show and they are all off to Edinburgh, Scotland–the city of ghosts. What Cassidy finds in Edinburgh will change everything she knows about who she is and what she can do. But there will be danger and the information she learns may just tear her world apart.

I really enjoyed this one. Totally a book that both kids and adults will enjoy. I didn’t even feel like I was reading a tween book but the content was definitely still appropriate for the kids. It wasn’t too scary but it will also keep a reader at the edge of their seat.

Cassidy and Jacob made a good team and yet there is this hint of what’s to come with their relationship. I really look forward to seeing Cassidy developing her abilities and how Schwab is able to do this while The Inspectres move from city to city. It’ll be interesting to get these haunted histories of different historical sites.

A fun quick read for an adult and a little spooky and an exciting read for 10+. This one gets 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Amina’s Voice

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan is middle grade, realistic fiction chapter book. Amina is a sixth grade, Pakistani-American Muslim who is trying to navigate her way through middle school, while maintaining the traditions of her community.

Amina’s always been shy when it comes to speaking in front of people. She get’s tongue tied and nervous, so she’s always been okay with keeping to the background and hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. But sixth grade feels different. Soojin thinks boys are cute and her best friend is hanging out with someone knew and Amina is afraid she is going to be replaced. At home, Amina’s uncle arrived from Pakistan for a long visit and everyone is on edge, trying to be perfect and impress this very religious and opinionated relative.

When trouble strikes at school and within her Muslim community, Amina is overwhelmed and unsure. Can Amina find her voice and overcome these trying times?

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read that really does take into consideration many of this issues kids face today. Building and losing friendships, religious beliefs, hate crimes, parental/familial pressures and expectations, anxiety, pressure and more. Being a kid is tough and every child is different and deals with these differences differently and I think this book portrays this well.

Amina is an interesting main character. Her troubles and fears and completely relatable and yet she is a sweet-natured, well meaning girl. There were several instances where I would have thought most children would have lied but Amina instead tells the truth and continue to fret about her wrongs. She also asks questions when things get too big, rather then keeping her troubled thoughts inside. I like to think this is a realistic 6th grader buuut, I am not totally convinced that a sixth grader would be as sensitive as Amina. I am sure they are out there, I was just surprised by how good natured Amina is.

Amina’s Voice is a book about diversity, tolerance and the trials of everyday life for a middle schooler. Although I think this book would appeal more to girls, there are a few strong male characters as well. Definitely a book I would recommend for someone looking for realistic fiction with diverse characters.

This book gets a high 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Ghost

Ghost by Jason Reynolds is a fifth-sixth grade, juvenile fiction coming of age novel. Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, has always been good at one thing… running. Ghost always thought he’d play basketball, but he’s never tried out for the team. One day, Ghost impulsively challenges a track member to a sprint and the coach sees his potential and recruits him for the team. But Ghost has never been a part of a team before and the only this he’s ever really run from his past… his past and trouble.

Ghost is full of anger and is conflicted about letting the team in. Can he overcome his past, his emotions and tear down the barriers that keep him from being great?

I always try to read several of the Maryland Black Eyed Susan nominees after they’ve been announced. I like to do this because it’s a great way to read outside of your comfort zone and familiarize yourself with different genres of juvenile literature.

Ghost is the perfect coming of age book for boys and it covers such a wide range of topics kids are dealing with these days. Just some of the themes that are addressed are: bullying, socioeconomic issues, family struggles, issues in right and wrong, building confidence, believing in oneself and so much more. Some of these themes can be sensitive like gun violence and drug abuse, but I think they hard handled very well and I personally would even recommend this book to a well read fourth grader.

This book definitely has a little of everything without feeling over done or overwhelming. One of the things I really liked about it was the relationship that develops between Ghost and Coach. It was very realistic and very real. In fact the whole book was just so believable and just very, very real.

Ghost definitely deserves to be a contender for the 2017-2018 BES award. It’s a great read for boys, especially those reluctant readers. I think everyone can find some aspect of Ghost to relate to.

Great read. This one gets five stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-