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Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

IMG_3631Three months off for summer vacation meant I got a lot of reading done. Here are some quick looks at books I read for younger readers. I’m excited to head back to the elementary school library  and share many of these titles with the students and see what everyone read and enjoyed over the summer!

Post-it Note reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers.

All summaries here are from the publishers. Transcription of Post-it note review under the summary.

 

 

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Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat in this big-hearted middle grade novel. Not to be missed by fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Drama and Tim Federle’s Better Nate Than Ever!

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Now she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings a lot of big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. To top it all off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

 

(POST-IT SAYS: Melly’s a shy girl, but she finds friendship and confidence at music camp. She learns how to rely less on her best friend and experiences her first crush on a girl. Really sweet. Ages 10-14)

 

 

 

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Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.

 

(POST-IT SAYS: A powerful look at working class poverty. Unique take on an imaginary friend story. We don’t often see families in situations like this in middle grade. Serious but ultimately hopeful. Ages 9-13)

 

 

 

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The Terrible Two (Terrible Two Series #1) by Mac Barnett and Jory John, Jory John, Kevin Cornell

Miles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that’s famous for one thing and one thing only: cows. In his old school, everyone knew him as the town’s best prankster, but Miles quickly discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, and a great one. If Miles is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to raise his game.

It’s prankster against prankster in an epic war of trickery, until the two finally decide to join forces and pull off the biggest prank ever seen: a prank so huge that it would make the members of the International Order of Disorder proud.

In The Terrible Two, bestselling authors Mac Barnett and Jory John have created a series that has its roots in classic middle-grade literature yet feels fresh and new at the same time.

 

(POST-IT SAYS: Wide appeal. The illustrations and high-interest plot help make for a quick read. Fun, silly, and full of mischief. First in a series. Ages 8-12)

 

 

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The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend by Sharon Robinson

Stephen Satlow is an eight-year-old boy living in Brooklyn, New York, which means he only cares about one thing-the Dodgers. Steve and his father spend hours reading the sports pages and listening to games on the radio. Aside from an occasional run-in with his teacher, life is pretty simple for Steve.

But then Steve hears a rumor that an African American family is moving to his all-Jewish neighborhood. It’s 1948 and some of his neighbors are against it. Steve knows this is wrong. His hero, Jackie Robinson, broke the color barrier in baseball the year before.

Then it happens—Steve’s new neighbor is none other than Jackie Robinson! Steve is beyond excited about living two doors down from the Robinson family. He can’t wait to meet Jackie. This is going to be the best baseball season yet! How many kids ever get to become friends with their hero?

 

(POST-IT SAYS: Uplifting story of understanding prejudice and encouraging tolerance/acceptance. A quiet story, the strong characters and thoughtful, unexpected friendship and its lessons make up for the lack of real plot. Ages 8-12)

 

 

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Cursed (Enchanted Files Series #1) by Bruce Coville

Previously published as Diary of a Mad Brownie. Introducing The Enchanted Files—a new magical, modern-day comedy series by the master of funny fantasy and bestselling author of My Teacher is an Alien: Bruce Coville!
 
In the first hilarious Enchanted Files, Angus is a brownie. No, not the kind you eat! He’s a tiny magical creature that loves to do chores. Angus has just “inherited” a new human girl, Alex. To say that Alex is messy would be an understatement. She’s a total hurricane-like disaster—and she likes it that way, thankyouverymuch! Living with each other isn’t easy but Angus and Alex soon learn there is a curse that binds them. What’s worse, it threatens Alex’s family! Working together, Angus and Alex will set out to break the curse . . . without killing each other first . . . hopefully.

This laugh-out-loud adventure, full of humor and heart, is ideal for fans of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library or Chris Grabenstein.

 

(POST-IT SAYS: Whimsical story, fun illustrations and “documents” help flesh out the story. Humorous, but the story does drag a bit and mixed format/places we learn information a bit confusing. Fans of magic will enjoy this brownie’s story. Ages 8-12)

 

 

 

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Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.

 

(POST-IT SAYS: A feel-good story about embracing differences and seeing beyond labels and impressions. Characters are interesting and complicated. Great story about friendship, too. Ages 9-12)

 

 

 

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Webster: Tale of an Outlaw by Ellen Emerson White

A cynical shelter dog learns to let down his guard and form a new animal family in this heartwarming and humorous friendship story from the author of Santa Paws.

Webster is too cool to be scared. Or alarmed. Or even a tiny bit nervous. So what if no one will adopt him? He’s had it with people anyway. He’s going to be a loner. Not going to get too comfortable in this new shelter, even if the home-baked treats are good. Not going to get used to the nice soft bed. Not going to make friends, no matter how much he kind of likes Jack the Terrier and even Florence the bossy cat. Nope, he doesn’t need friends. Acquaintances are just fine. And the first chance he gets, he’s hitting the road and living life on the range, just like one of the stoic cowboys he’s decided to model himself after.

But sometimes the best-laid plans (even those of a dog’s) have a way of backfiring. Will a tough pup like Webster find a home and family after all?

 

(POST-IT SAYS: Webster thinks he’s a bad hat, but he’s a very good dog. A sweet and emotional look at animal neglect/abuse and rescue. Humorous and full of adventure and rescues. Ages 9-13)

 

 

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Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre

Sheila Turnage meets Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie in this debut about a small town and a young girl who discovers some old family secrets.

Lou might be only twelve, but she’s never been one to take things sitting down. So when her Civil War-era house is about to be condemned, she’s determined to save it—either by getting it deemed a historic landmark or by finding the stash of gold rumored to be hidden nearby during the war. As Lou digs into the past, her eyes are opened when she finds that her ancestors ran the gamut of slave owners, renegades, thieves and abolitionists. Meanwhile, some incidents in her town show her that many Civil War era prejudices still survive and that the past can keep repeating itself if we let it. Digging into her past shows Lou that it’s never too late to fight injustice, and she starts to see the real value of understanding and exploring her roots.

(POST-IT SAYS: Strong characters carry this rather slow story of Lou and friends working to save her house and solve a Civil War mystery. Themes of racism, atonement, and changing values. Limited appeal due to slow pace. Ages 9-12)

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