The Wild Robot Escapes

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown is the sequel to The Wild Robot, a middle school fictional novel for fourth or fifth graders.

After surviving and thriving on a wild island and making friends with the animal inhabitants, Roz the robot was taken by force from the only home she has ever known and wakes up in a robot factory. She is examined for fitness and shipped out to a farm, where she is supposed to work and care for a widower and his two kids.

But Roz isn’t a normal robot. She wants nothing more than to get back to her island and her son, a goose named Brightbill. Can Roz find her way home without getting caught and without hurting those she loves?

I really enjoyed the first book in this duology and the second didn’t disappoint. In this one we picked up right where we left off and we found out what happened to Roz after she was taken from the island.

One of the things I liked most about these books is that Roz doesn’t just go on physical journeys, she also is on a journey of self discovery. She becomes more and more self aware as the story progresses and she becomes more human, almost to the point that you forget she is a robot.

These books are also very realistic. The author doesn’t shy away from hard themes like pain and death. But he approaches them in a very accessible way for this audience. Even though Roz is a robot, you can see yourself in her shoes. Our main characters may be animals and robots but you can still learn something from each of them.

I did find this one a little slower paced then the first one. I also found myself wishing that Roz made more of an impact on society but I guess realistically it is the small steps that matter.

This will be a much requested sequel for those who have already read The Wild Robot and it is definitely one I would recommend to my 4th and 5th graders. This one gets 3.5 high stars from me.

That’s all for now!



La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage is the first book in The Book of Dust series by Phillip Pullman. This series is a companion trilogy to Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and the first book is set 10 years before “The Golden Compass.”

Malcolm Polstead is a very observant boy who doesn’t bring too much attention to himself; this makes him the perfect ally for a spy. Malcom and his daemon often overhear the latest gossip and his curious nature and friendly face tend to lead Malcom to information that many would prefer to be kept secret.

It is one such secret that sets Malcolm on a course that will change him forever. Malcom must save baby Lyra from a religious order, a madman, natural elements and unnatural ones too. Along with a kitchen girl, Malcolm must embark on a dangerous quest to save this child of prophecy and return her to her father.

Can Malcolm brave the dangers and get Lyra through this storm?

Other than watching the movie version of “The Golden Compass,” I am going into this series blind. I’ve never actually gotten around to reading Pullman’s His Dark Materials, but I know a lot of fans of the series, so I figured I’d give this one a go. I also wanted to be able to tell the kids in my library what it is about and where it takes place in regards to the original series, as I see this being a question.

I actually went with the audio book for this one. I recently had a baby and I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books while taking care of her. I really enjoyed the audio but the second half of the book does get just a tad complicated/involved and I found myself a little lost on the details, since I wasn’t always giving it my whole attention. So I think I would recommend reading vs listening to this one.

For this complicated world of daemons, dust and secret societies, the story itself wasn’t overly complicated. The world building was done in such a way that the reader knows there is more to come but we are not overwhelmed with information right off the bat. And for those of you who have read Pullman’s other books, you won’t feel bogged down with information you already know.

Even though I got a little lost–my fault–this one still gets 4 stars from me. I like Pullman’s writing a lot and the story is interesting.

That’s all for now!




Renegades by Marissa Meyer is the first book in a new YA series all about superheroes.

In a world thrown into chaos, rises the Renegades–prodigies, superhumans with amazing abilities. The Renegades work to establish peace and regain order; they are a symbol to the people of a better time–as heroes who fight against the villains who once reigned during the age of anarchy.

Now these villains, the Anarchists, are relegated to the sewers, but a shadow of the power they once were. But one Anarchist has a plan. Nova, aka Nightmare, has a plan to infiltrate the Renegades and destroy them from the inside. As she gets closer to her goal, Nova meets Adrian, a Renegade boy with a secret and suddenly Nova finds herself questioning her motives and aims.

Will Nova accomplish her goals and destroy the Renegades or will the secrets she uncovers change everything?

This is definitely more of a tween novel in my opinion. Totally suitable for our older middle-schoolers. As of yet, there is no real romance, only flirtation. There are a few implied violent scenes but you can that in any superhero movie or comic these days. But this is also a read that would keep your teens and adults interested–Meyer is good at that. This is also an excellent audiobook with a narrator I really like.

Renegades is an interesting take on a superhero origin story. A society that falls apart because of superhuman prodigies and it is those prodigies that rebuild society. I also really like the villains in this series. They, well some of them, truly believe that the world would be a better place without the Renegades and honestly, Nova’s reasoning is really convincing.

Overall, I like where this one is going. There are secrets on both sides that are going to make for a really interesting storyline. I’m looking forward to the next one.

This one gets four stars from me.

That’s all for now!


Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race

Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein is the third book in the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series.

Mr. Lemoncello and his fantabulous library is back for another adventure filled with riddles, fun, facts and of course books. After escaping the library and competing in the Library Olympics what else is there for Kyle Keeley and his friends to do? Race of course!

Mr. Lemoncello is on the verge of revealing his new fabulous fact-finding frenzy game and in Lemoncello fashion, he is asking his friends of the library to compete in a race to see who will tour the libraries of the world and debut his new game. Of course Kyle and his friends can’t wait to compete!

But the race ends up being about more than just a game. Kyle Keeley and his friends find themselves in a race of another kind… a race to the truth.

It is just so much fun uncovering clues and reading/hearing quotes from books you’ve read. It’s like “Hey! I’ve read that book too!” People love that and Grabenstein is constantly referencing popular books and authors. This is definitely a series for book lovers.

The Lemoncello world is a world I want to visit. I’d love to ride around in book mobiles and race across the states to find clues and solve riddles. And the library just gets cooler and cooler with each book. Please take me to this library!!!

My only criticism of this one is that all of the Lemoncello books feel very familiar. Yes, the plots are different but the contests and fact finding games are all very similar. It is still a lot of fun though and I did enjoy that this one focused on doing research and not taking shortcuts.

Overall, this was another entertaining read by Chris Grabenstein. Grabenstein really does write some great children’s books. This one gets a high 3.5-4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!



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.

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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!



Word of Mouse

Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein is a middle school, juvenile fiction novel about a little mouse with a big heart. Isaiah is a very special mouse, not only is he “electric neon blue” but he is super smart, he can read, write and if you listen very carefully he can even talk!

Our story begins when Isaiah and his 96 multi-colored brothers and sisters attempt to break out of the “bad place” but something goes horribly wrong and Isaiah is the only one who makes it out. Now he is on his own in a world he knows nothing about, dodging cats, dogs and trying to make it alone.

But a mouse needs his mischief and Isaiah is determined to get his back. With the help of some very unlikely friends, Isaiah may just do that and find a little courage along the way.

Patterson and Grabenstein make a great team. This was such a fun, inspiring story the kids will love. Isaiah has an upbeat, positive attitude even when all seems lost. He is able to see the positive side of everything and he will do the right thing even if it isn’t easy.

Although there are a ton of lessons in this book, the biggest theme is that being different isn’t just okay, it’s great! Everyone is different and when we look past our differences we can see what’s really special in each and every one of us. Isaiah learns (and teaches us) that when you are told what to do and what to be that you can miss out on opportunities and hidden talents you never knew you had. This is something every parent, teacher and adult wants to (or should want to) teach our children and this book definitely gets that point across.

I listened to the audio book of Word of Mouse and it was fantastic. A really great one to bring with you in the car and probably an even better one to read out loud to your kids. I could also see this being a positive middle school book club pick.

I thought this was a really great read. This one gets a high 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!