Where the Watermelons Grow

by Cindy Baldwin

 

Where the Watermelons Grow deals with a tough subject that isn’t really out there much for middle grade and upper elementary grade readers mental illness. This book is heavy and can be too much for some readers, so you might want to read it before you hand it to your reader if you think it might a trigger. I really think readers ages middle grade through adult will enjoy this heart breaking book that really touched and has stayed with me. I just wanted to go into the book and give Della a huge hug. She is such a sweet strong girl who is facing so much in her life. I think this is one of those books that could help kids that are dealing with tough situations at home. They could see that they are not the only one’s that are dealing with these issues or similar ones. I know some are saying it could be for as young at 3rd grade but I really think for me at least this is an upper elementary and above. The story is well written, the characters are fully developed and the story is one that will touch every reader. I couldn’t believe this was a debut novel from the author. I can’t wait to see what Cindy Baldwin writes next.  Grab this book from your local library or book store and read a wonderful book this summer!

About the book: When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.

But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

Thank you HarperCollins and Cindy Baldwin for allowing me to read Where the Watermelons Grow. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

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Evangeline of the Bayou

by Jan Eldredge

illustrations by Joseph Kuefler

 

 

I know it says illustrations by, but don’t let that stop you this is a middle grade chapter book with some wonderful illustrations sprinkled throughout. I really gives the book a great feel. I was told that Evangeline of the Bayou was a supernatural hunter book for middle grade with a southern gothic feel. I was sold but was a bit skeptical, I hadn’t really read a book like that for middle grade, YA sure lots but middle grade not so much. Evangeline is a spunky, sassy, girl who also strong, brave and smart. She must have gotten those qualities from her grandma who even is her aging years is still all those things. They are a family of supernatural hunters. You read that right they fight the supernatural from ghost to monsters. She needs to find her animal familiar and fast to prove she has a heart to the council and  can be a haunt huntress aka: swamp witch just like her grandma. Evangeline is learning to hunt, she sometimes even goes out on her own while grandma sleeps. That never goes well and the reader gets to experience some pretty humorous mistakes being made. Just when Evangeline thinks she can’t take the swamp anymore her grandma informs her they are packing their bags and heading to New Orleans to take care of a possession. Evangeline couldn’t be happier since the canine omen of death that has her worried that grandma’s days are coming to an end. Once the reader travels to New Orleans with the crew the story takes on a new twist. This book is such a fun, charming, book that I seriously could reread it again and again. I loved all the New Orleans and Louisiana references. From the swampy cypress trees to the  beignets at Cafe Du Monde she really transported me back to this rich vibrant city. If your kid is reluctant to read a book this summer grab a copy of Evangeline of the Bayou from your library or bookstore and hand it to them. They will fall for this rich vibrant story about monsters, banshees (which I have to say I’m a bit intrigued by them), southern folklore, and gothic charm. Might want to grab 2 copies so you can read this amazing story that my middle grader reader and I really hope becomes a series!

About the book: Twelve-year-old haunt huntress apprentice Evangeline Clement spends her days and nights studying the ways of folk magic, honing her monster-hunting skills while pursuing local bayou banshees and Johnny revenants.

With her animal familiar sure to make itself known any day now, the only thing left to do is prove to the council she has heart. Then she will finally be declared a true haunt huntress, worthy of following in the footsteps of her long line of female ancestors.

But when Evangeline and her grandmother are called to New Orleans to resolve an unusual case, she uncovers a secret that will shake her to the soles of her silver-tipped alligator-skin boots.

Set in the evocative Louisiana bayou and the vibrant streets of New Orleans, Evangeline’s is a tale of loyalty and determination, the powerful bonds of friendship and family, and the courage to trust your gut no matter how terrifying that might be.

Thank you so much Balzer+Bray for sending me a copy of Evangeline of the Bayou. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Fruit Bowl

written and illustrated by Mark Hoffman

 

Fruit Bowl is informative and does a good job at explaining what makes a fruit and fruit. At one point in the book I was surprised at one of the fruits that I always thought was a veggie. This book really shows the reader and listener just how many “veggies” are not really veggies but as the book says: Fruits in disguise. Fruit Bowl  is a great book to read during the summer before heading out to the farmers market or before planting your own fruit and vegetable plants. I could see teachers using this in a seasonal unit – healthy eating unit – or fruits and vegetable unit. The dialogue is fast and witty many of the puns will go over a younger reader/listener but will not take away from the book. They will think they are funny while the reader (parent or teacher) will really think they are funny. I thought the fruit and vegetable heated debate between all of the fruit bowl being done in bubble text form was a great idea. Not only does it make the dialogue seem more like a conversation among the fruits and veggies but also introduces the reader/listener to graphic novel text and other ways to present a story line and dialogue. The colorful simple illustrations are spot on and make your eyes really take it all in. Grab a copy of Fruit Bowl this summer and have some fun reading and maybe even trying a new fruit to add to your fruit bowl at home.

About the book: Who belongs in the fruit bowl? Apples, check. Blueberries, check. Tomato, che— Wait, what?! Tomato wants to join the other fruits, but does he belong? The perfect mix of botany and a bunch of bananas!   

All the fruit are in the bowl. There’s Apple and Orange. Strawberry and Peach. Plum and Pear. And, of course, Tomato.
Now wait just a minute! Tomatoes aren’t fruit! Or are they?  Using sly science (and some wisdom from a wise old raisin), Tomato proves all the fruit wrong and shows that he belongs in the bowl just as much as the next blueberry! And he’s bringing some unexpected friends too!

Thank you Knopf Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of Fruit Bowl. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Annie’s Life in List

by Kristen Mahoney

 

 

I have never read a middle grade book or any book really done up in this format. As the title says it is all about Annie’s Life in Lists. The whole book is done up as individual list, instead of chapters. Maybe it’s because the idea is such a new one of a kind concept or maybe it’s because I’m a daily list maker but I really enjoyed this book so much. I really felt like I got to know Annie even though I was reading everything in all these different list and some paragraphs thrown in for good measure and further detail. I saw a little bit of myself in Annie as a kid and even now. I  was extremely shy (not  so much anymore ) , I have a photographic memory (which drives people batty sometimes at the things I remember). She is starting a new school in a new town and she is nervous. I remember that feeling all to well. I think this is one we all feel even if we are still in same town. You have to start new schools eventually when you go to middle and high school. This book is a great book for any 6th grader that is getting ready to start a new chapter in their life and are a bit nervous. Annie, her family and friends will become new friends. The characters and story line are fun, engaging  and fully developed.  Annie’s Life in List is a must read this summer, I know my soon to be 7th grader really liked it and gifted the copy to her 6th grade center librarian. If you are looking for a book to get your middle grade reader  and they loved Judy Moody and Ramona than Kristen Mahoney’s book is perfect for them. Grab Annie’s Life in List and make it a reading day!

About the book: Annie’s a shy fifth grader with an incredible memory and a love of making lists. It helps her keep track of things when they can seem a little out of control, like her family, her friends, and her life in a new place.

Annie has:
1. An incredible memory (really, it’s almost photographic) that can get her in trouble
2. A desire to overcome her shyness
3. A brother who is mad at her because he thinks she is the reason they had to move to Clover Gap, population 8,432.
4. A best friend who she is (almost) certain will always be her best friend.
5. New classmates, some of whom are nicer than others.
6. A rocky start finding her place in her new home.

Annie’s Life in Lists introduces a sweet new voice that finds that even amid the chaos of everyday life, it’s important to put things in order.

Thank you Alfred A Knopf and Penguin Random House for sending us a copy of Annie’s Life in List. All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.

Run Wild

by David Covell

 

This book is such a beautiful picture book! I love the watercolor illustrations, they are soft but colorful and perfect for summer. Run Wild touches on all the fun summer activities you can do from running around barefoot outside. I  know you can do that most seasons but for some reason summer seems to be the time more people do it. Playing outside from sun up to sun down. The hot sand beaches that make you do the little hop skip dance so your feet don’t get to hot. Run Wild also touches on the intense summer storms that can pop up unannounced and dump rain on you. Everyone knows that summer rain brings fun puddles for splashing as well as frogs, snails and slugs. This picture book was like reliving my girls summer’s when they were little. This sweet picture book is perfect for a seasonal book unit, shelf, or story time.  The first day of summer is coming up in just a few weeks (June 21), this would be a great book to read and you can create your own Run Wild summer fun list.

About the book: Get back to nature in this gorgeous sunlit filled book that celebrates the joy of being outdoors.“Hey, you! Sky’s blue!” a girl shouts as she runs by the window of a boy bent over his digital device. Intrigued, the boy runs out after her, leaving his shoes (and phone) behind, and into a world of sunshine, dewey grass, and warm sand. Filled with the pleasures of being alive in the natural world, Run Wild is an exquisite and kid-friendly reminder of how wonderful life can be beyond doors and screens.

 Thank you Viking Books for Young Readers and Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of Run Wild. I can’t wait for school to start back up so I can read this to the new kindergarten students, they are going to love it. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

I Walk with Vanessa

by Kerascoet

 

I love wordless books because you can decide what each illustration is saying. Many times I used wordless picture books in my PreK (5-year-old) room when I was a teacher. They would write what they thought the story was about and it was already illustrated. They always had so much fun we would change the book up bi-weekly. I wish I Walk with Vanessa was around when I did this. This story is so sweet and touching. Vanessa is  having a hard time making she  is being bullied and is sad and mad and frustrated all at once. She doesn’t know how to make the situation better she is little and she shouldn’t have to experience this. Just when she thinks there is no hope of things getting better a simple act of kindness happens. A classmate ask Vanessa to walk to school with her. Throughout the book you see how this 1 simple act blossomed into more acts of kindness. This book is about acceptance, kindness and standing up for those who are being bullied! This is a MUST have picture book for homes and classrooms. Gift a teacher with a copy as an end of year gift or new school year gift. Grab a copy for your own bookworms at your local library or bookstore and open up the discussion of being kind and accepting.

This sweet picture book was inspired by a true story: Inspired by a Baylor University student who was escorted to class by 300 of her classmates after she was bullied the day before, this timeless, profound, feel-good story addresses themes of kindness and acceptance, acting as a call to action to even the youngest of children to stand up for what they know is right.

About the Book: This simple yet powerful picture book tells the story of an elementary school girl named Vanessa who is bullied and a fellow student who witnesses the act and is at first unsure of how to help. I Walk with Vanessa explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly, and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help. With themes of acceptance, kindness, and strength in numbers, this timeless and profound feel-good story will resonate with readers young and old.

Thank you Schwartz and Wade and Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of I Walk with Vanessa. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime

by Cate Berry

illustrations by Charles Santoso

 

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime  is a take on the traditional bedtime story. This one is all done through word bubbles like in comics and graphic novels. Penguin and Tiny Shrimp are like all little ones in the fact that they don’t want to go to bed. They think that they are going to miss out on all the fun if they go to sleep.  This one goes a little off the bedtime picture book path in the fact that includes all the fun – loud – active activities that do not go with quiet bedtime. From fireworks to singing out loud to jokes they try it all. Eventually like all little ones Penguin and Tiny Shrimp get tired and they can’t fight sleep any longer. They end the book with climbing into bed and going to sleep so they will be rested up for a another day of fun and another dreaded bedtime routine battle to end the new day. Kids will love this and laugh at Penguin and Shrimps antics. This is a really cute bedtime book that I know my girls would have loved when they were that age. The story is short and fast paced, the word bubbles make it more fun since it is all (mostly) dialogue lead. The illustrations are bold and colorful and not cluttered. This picture book is a must read for bedtime with little ones!

Cute joke from the book: ” What do you call a fish with two knee’s?” A Tunee Fish! 🙂 

About the book: Penguin and Tiny Shrimp DO NOT have a bedtime story to share with you.

There are no soft beds or cozy covers here. There are fireworks! And shark-infested waters!!

This book will never make you sleepy. Not at all. Not even a little. . .

Thank you Balzer & Bray and HarperCollins for sending me a copy of Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.