The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

“The Miraculous Journthemjofetey of Edward Tulane” is a book by the loved author, Kate Dicamillo. Kate Dicamillo has wrote tons of books through the years. From books about pigs who live in houses to stuffed bunnies who are treated like royalty. You can always count on Kate for an imaginative new story.

“The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” is about a girl named Abilene who has a stuffed bunny named Edward Tulane. One day Abilene and her family go on a cruise and that is where Abilene loses Edward.

Edward goes from owner to owner. From the net of a fishermen to a hobos camp. But the question is will he survive and see Abilene…or will he never see her again?

Read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” to find the answer, you will not be disappointed!

 

 

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Hello!

Hi everyone! My name is Elise.  I will be the new contributor to this blog.  As my cousin mentioned, I love to read a lot.  I read day and night.  Every opportunity I get, I am reading.  One of my favorite authors is Roald Dahl.  I love the way he incorporates poems into his work.  I enjoy a variety of books though and I’m really looking forward to sharing my point of view with all of you.

My favorite kind of genre is mystery.  I love mystery.  My favorite mystery book is Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.  It was suspenseful and unpredictable, you never know what is going to happen next.  I have so many books I’ve enjoyed though and I’m excited to now have a forum to share them with others.  Now, for my first book review (eek!)…

BELLY UP

For my first book review I will review Belly Up.  Belly up is written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Stuart Gibbs.  Stuart Gibbs has three very popular series.

belly-up-9781416987321_hr

Here are the three series:

1.  Moon Base Alpha

2.  Spy School

3.  Funjungle

The book I’m reviewing today is from the series Funjungle.  And the book is called Belly Up and it. is. so. Good!!!

So, Funjungle is a zoo and is owned by a famous billionaire named JJ McKracken.  And in the book, Belly Up, an animal murder mystery takes place.  The main character’s name is Teddy Fitzroy and it’s up to him to solve the mystery when nobody else will. JJ’s daughter, Summer McKracken, is a big help to Teddy and helps investigate.

I give this book 4.5 stars.   It’s a page turner and it’ll make you want to read the other books in the series.

Belly Up is the first book in the Funjungle series.  I know that once you read Belly Up, you’ll be motivated to read the next book in the series, which is Poached.  I’ll be reviewing this entire series, and books in his other series. So stay tuned folks!

Review: Extraordinary by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

extraordinary by miriam spitzer franklin

Last spring, Pansy chickened out on going to spring break camp, even though she’d promised her best friend, Anna, she’d go. It was just like when they went to get their hair cut for Locks of Love; only one of them walked out with a new hairstyle, and it wasn’t Pansy. But Pansy never got the chance to make it up to Anna. While at camp, Anna contracted meningitis and a dangerously high fever, and she hasn’t been the same since. Now all Pansy wants is her best friend back—not the silent girl in the wheelchair who has to go to a special school and who can’t do all the things Pansy used to chicken out of doing. So when Pansy discovers that Anna is getting a surgery that might cure her, Pansy realizes this is her chance—she’ll become the friend she always should have been. She’ll become the best friend Anna’s ever had—even if it means taking risks, trying new things (like those scary roller skates), and running herself ragged in the process.

Pansy’s chasing extraordinary, hoping she reaches it in time for her friend’s triumphant return. But what lies at the end of Pansy’s journey might not be exactly what she had expected—or wanted.

Description taken from Goodreads.


Extraordinary is one of those books that I feel like I could’ve loved in elementary school but is ultimately not for me at this point. My problems with the story weren’t necessarily because there’s anything wrong with the book, but because I came in with two incorrect assumptions:

The first one has to do with target audience and age of the protagonist. I thought this was middle-grade. It’s not middle-grade. The protagonists are in fifth grade, and they read like they’re in third or fourth grade. Because of that, if I was to recommend this, I would recommend it to lower middle-grade readers.

Unfortunately, while I’m on the topic of the characters, the cast lacks the maturity of their age. There are books where the main characters feel like teenagers, feel like middle-graders, but this isn’t one of them. The voice and narration was very unnatural to me, and the events of the plot held no substance. Things happened, were supposed to have some sort of meaning, and then quickly moved on.

However, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the plot and the characters. Extraordinary struck me as the friendship version of Tricia Clasen’s The Haunted House Project, which was one of my Tweens Read August picks. Even though it was cliché in many ways, the friendship between Pansy and Anna was fun to read about. I also loved the coming-of-age nature of the story, which brings me to my second point.

I went in expecting Extraordinary to be a book about friendship. I love reading about friendships, especially broken ones, in middle-grade and YA, but more than anything else, Extraordinary is a coming-of-age type of book. Pansy grows tremendously over the course of the story, becoming her own person and learning how to live with the idea of not always being with Anna. That’s not to say they don’t end up together in the end. They go through their own share of troubles, but they have an incredible bond with each other.

In terms of the supporting cast, I adored the good family relationships in the story. There’s no Disappearing Parent Syndrome for Extraordinary. Anna’s problems tie in her entire family and Pansy’s entire family, and Pansy’s parents play strong roles as her supporters. This was great to see when much of middle-grade lit is moving toward stories where parents play minimal, if any, roles. The teachers within the story weren’t particularly memorable either, but I enjoyed their roles and support while I was in the story.

Also, on a side note, what kind of fifth grade class is still learning the multiplication tables for 2? I know personal experiences aren’t always accurate, so I took a look at IXL and they should be learning decimal/fraction multiplication and division, as well as exponents, probability, and ratios. I’m nit-picking, but it was little details that made this book seem younger than it’s intended for.

Strangely enough, by the end of the story, I realized that when I started this book, I was looking for another book along the lines of Jenny Han’s Shug or Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. Both books are very deep and poignant, talking extensively about friendship, loss, and coming-of-age. Granted, those books are more middle-grade than children’s, but I would probably think of them first if someone wanted a recommendation. Overall, Extraordinary was a decent read, but I would only recommend for younger middle-grade readers and children’s lit readers. 2 stars.

Review: My Seventh Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin

my seventh grade life in tights by brooks benjamin

LIVE IT.

All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

WORK IT.

At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?

BRING IT.

Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor.

Description taken from Goodreads.


My Seventh Grade Life in Tights had everything I wanted, and more. It was sassy and smart and heartfelt, and I was rooting for Dillon every step of the way. The structure was there, from the pacing to the premise to the world-building. From the start, I loved his voice and character, but what really made the story was the friendships.

love great supporting character friendships, so much so that it’s currently my pinned tweet, and My Seventh Grade Life in Tights delivered. I felt Dillon’s struggles with reconcile his dreams with his relationships with his friends, and it was a great representation of the collection of lows and highs that seventh grade is.

Also a plus on that count, there’s plenty of diversity in this story. Brooks smashed clichés and stereotypes throughout the book, and I loved seeing that.

Another thing that this book has going for it is Dillon, whose passion for dance is inspiring. He’s trying to enter into an adult world at a young age, and I respect that. He tries really hard at what he does, he doesn’t give up, and he’s genuine all at the same time. I enjoy seeing kids who are passionate about something represented in stories, and by the end of the book, I was ready to have more of Dillon! In particular, I would love to see who he becomes as a young adult, if that were ever an option :D

All in all, the book was superb. It hit all the right notes, and I’m even happier that I got the chance to work with Brooks during Tweens Read August. I had a ton of fun with the book, and I’ll be recommending it. 4.5 stars.

Review: Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard

beetle boy by m.g. leonard

The glorious start to a middle-grade trilogy about a brilliant boy, his loyal friends, and some amazingly intelligent beetles that brings together adventure, humor, and real science!

Darkus Cuttle’s dad mysteriously goes missing from his job as Director of Science at the Natural History Museum. Vanished without a trace! From a locked room! So Darkus moves in with his eccentric Uncle Max and next door to Humphrey and Pickering, two lunatic cousins with an enormous beetle infestation. Darkus soon discovers that the beetles are anything but ordinary. They’re an amazing, intelligent super species and they’re in danger of being exterminated. It’s up to Darkus and his friends to save the beetles. But they’re up against an even more terrifying villain–the mad scientist of fashion, haute couture villainess Lucretia Cutter. Lucretia has an alarming interest in insects and dastardly plans for the bugs. She won’t let anyone or anything stop her, including Darkus’s dad, who she has locked up in her dungeons! The beetles and kids join forces to rescue Mr. Cuttle and thwart Lucretia.

Description taken from Goodreads.


This book was a Tweens Read August pick. Check out M.G.’s post on the blog here

I’m no huge lover of beetles or insects, but I was initially interested in M.G. Leonard’s debut because I heard it was reminiscent of the kind of writing in another book I loved as a kid but can’t remember now (has snow and a red machine on the front? anyone?) Anyway, I went into Beetle Boy with high expectations, and almost all of them were met.

Starting with what I liked, I loved the factoids on beetles! M.G. clearly loves beetles, and she worked them into the novel without making it seem unnatural. There weren’t any info-dumps, and I came to appreciate beetles over the course of the story. I went it a bit skeptical of how well that element would be handled, but I was pleasantly surprised. I grew up on movies like Antz, The Ant Bully, and A Bug’s Life, and this book brought many great memories back for me.

Along that same vein, the writing and plot were spot-on. The writing captured the feel that I was looking for. Like some of the other books I’ve reviewed lately, it had this feel of older middle-grade fiction, books that aren’t narrated in such a whimsical way. I appreciated that, and I loved getting to know the characters. Each person was nuanced, and characters were distinctive.

What I disliked had to do with writing though, as much as I loved both of the execution of this story. I can’t truly see myself recommending this story to many kids in its target audience. It’s just too out-there, I guess. It’s a fun story, but enthusiasm for reading about bugs (no matter how cool they are) doesn’t transfer easily. I’d still recommend this to lower middle-grade readers.

Overall, not a bad read by any means. I was entertained, and I enjoyed learning about beetles. However, for the most part, I probably won’t be recommending this one. 3 stars.

Review: Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard

lucky strikes by louis bayard

With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, fourteen-year-old Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister, and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father, and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till she comes of age?

Description taken from Goodreads.


Two words that, when put together, are immediate turn-offs for me in any book: rural South.

As soon as I cracked open Lucky Strikes, I wanted to stop reading. The narration style just doesn’t do it for me. I figured I would get into the book and see if I could get past it, but it was an issue for me throughout the entire story.

Sure, it’s sad. It’s sweet. It’s quirky. It’s got a nice cover. Theoretically, it’s got the makings of a mainstream MG novel. But no. I can’t see myself recommending to anyone for two reasons. The first is that it wasn’t for me. I can’t try to sell off books I know that I dislike. And the second is that this doesn’t read like a middle-grade novel.

Lucky Strikes is a perfect representation of books that adults think middle-graders will be drawn to. On top of the setting, Amelia didn’t actually feel like a middle-grader and there was next to nothing going on. And when things were happening, they were weird to the point where I couldn’t take the plot seriously. For this one, I would recommend reading a sample before buying or borrowing. 1 star.

Review: The First Last Day by Dorian Cirrone

the first last day by dorian cirrone

The magic of summer comes to life in this enchanting middle grade debut about an eleven-year-old girl who must save the future by restarting time after she realizes that her wish to relive the last day of summer may not have been such a great thing after all.

What if you could get a do-over—a chance to relive a day in your life over and over again until you got it right? Would you?

After finding a mysterious set of paints in her backpack, eleven-year-old Haleigh Adams paints a picture of her last day at the New Jersey shore. When she wakes up the next morning, Haleigh finds that her wish for an endless summer with her new friend Kevin has come true. At first, she’s thrilled, but Haliegh soon learns that staying in one place—and time—comes with a price.

And when Haleigh realizes her parents have been keeping a secret, she is faced with a choice: do nothing and miss out on all the good things that come with growing up or find the secret of the time loop she’s trapped in and face some of the inevitable realities of moving on.

As she and Kevin set out to find the source of the magic paints, Haleigh worries it might be too late. Will she be able to restart time? Or will it be the biggest mistake of her life?

Description taken from Goodreads.


This concept has been multiple times over, most notably in my mind with the movie Groundhog Day, but I think The First Last Day does a good job of keeping it fresh. After all, Kevin and Haleigh are just kids, and they end up foreseeing a huge tragedy with the option to never face it. The actual plot was much more compelling than the premise gave it credit for, and I think Cirrone did an amazing job of displaying the emotional aspects of this book.

What I was even more impressed by was the magical realism. It’s easy to make average magical worlds and average realistic worlds and bring them together, but it’s difficult to make great magical worlds and great realistic worlds collide. In the story, there’s next to no disappearing parent syndrome. Kevin and Haleigh both depend on their parents a lot, and they both have really supportive adult figures in their lives. In a world where middle-grade grows increasingly unrealistic, The First Last Day was a breath of fresh air.

All in all, this was a great book that I would recommend. The writing wasn’t exceptional and the beginning was weak, but certain elements to it were fun and well thought out. The world-building and the characters were done very well, and I ending up loving the concept way more than I initially thought I would. It tugged on my heartstrings without being overly emotional, and all in all, I thought it was a well-rounded story. Will be recommending. 3 stars.

Review: It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm

it's not me, it's you by stephanie kate strohm

One high school girl’s comedic examination of her dating past as told by the friends, family, and boys who were involved!

Avery Dennis is a high school senior and one of the most popular girls in her class. But a majorly public breakup with the guy she’s been dating causes some disastrous waves. It is right before prom and Avery no longer has the perfect date. She runs the prom committee, how could she not show up with somebody?

Post-breakup, Avery gets to thinking about all of the guys that she has ever dated. How come none of those relationships ever worked out? Could it be her fault? Avery decides to investigate. In history class she’s learning about this method of record-keeping called “oral history” and she has a report due. So Avery decides to go directly to the source. Avery tracks down all of the guys she’s ever dated, and uses that information, along with thoughts from her friends, family, and teachers, to compile a total account of her dating history.

Avery discovers some surprises about herself and the guys she’s spent time with — just in time for prom night!

Description taken from Goodreads.


Even though this is categorized as YA, I can’t take it completely seriously as YA. It had much more a mature MG feel to it, and I loved it for that. Many people have compared this to the movie Clueless, and I definitely see 8th grade girls falling in love with the drama, structure, and plot of it all.

It wasn’t exactly for me. I didn’t realize going in that it’s told interview-style, and that system almost never works for me. I like my stories told straight, and this veered off the path by a lot. Because of that, I struggled to get into the novel, but when I did, I found a really cute story underneath all of this. Avery is a lovable heroine who is just a little, well, clueless, and I loved reading about her throughout the course of the novel.

Overall, I did think it was a little too much. In all honesty, it sounds like the author took a bunch of overly stereotypical teens, interviewed them about a certain girl, and put it into a book. It worked at times, and it didn’t work at times. I’ll be recommending this one, but only to the right people. I can’t see this book branching audiences very well. 2 stars.

Review: Mrs. Ravenbach’s Way by William M. Akers

mrs. ravenbach's way

Being a new student at the McKegway School for Clever and Gifted Children is crummy enough, but when Toby Wilcox is stuck in the fourth grade homeroom of Mrs. Ravenbach, a vainglorious German tyrant who worships “the order and the discipline,” he faces a much bigger challenge—fight back or be ground to goo in the gears of Teutonic efficiency.

Toby upends Mrs. Ravenbach’s perfectly ordered universe and risks everything to strike a blow for free-thinkers everywhere!

Mrs. Ravenbach’s Way is the first book in the series: The Amazing Escapades of Toby Wilcox.

Description taken from Goodreads.


Don’t go into this expecting a Roald Dahl-like read. If you’re looking for the Trunchbull, go read about the Trunchbull, but don’t try to find it here.

I went into this story wanting another horrible teacher the likes of which I’ve only ever found in Matilda, and it didn’t really work out that way. Akers’ writing lacks the signature wit and humor of Dahl’s books, and there was nothing remotely endearing about the teacher, the students, or the plot.

Mrs. Ravenbach’s Way is told from the perspective of the teacher, which was surprising. When I found this out, I hoped that Akers would try to justify why Ravenbach is the way that she is. What ended up happening was completely different. This book reads like an angry student wanted to get back at a teacher in a way that was embarrassing (for both parties) and wholly juvenile.

There was no one to champion in the book. The students were horrible, and the teacher was equally so. I’m not even quite sure what the author was trying to prove by writing this. I had hoped for more, maybe a little emotion, some kind of lesson even. Something. But all in all, there are a lot of students v.s. teacher books out there, and there’s nothing to be gained from this one.

1 star.

Series: The Amazing Escapades of Toby Wilcox #1

ARC Review: The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

the great shelby holmes by elizabeth eulberg

Meet spunky sleuth Shelby and her sports-loving sidekick Watson as they take on a dog-napper in this fresh twist on Sherlock Holmes.

Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen—always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes.

When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. Easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that’ll take both their talents to crack.

Sherlock Holmes gets a fun, sweet twist with two irresistible young heroes and black & white illustrations throughout in this middle grade debut from internationally bestselling YA author Elizabeth Eulberg.

Description taken from Goodreads.


Like I said in my snapshot reviewThe Great Shelby Holmes is adorable. I loved the backdrop of New York City, and Eulberg transferred over her skills in YA to MG remarkably well. The story has a diverse cast of characters, and I loved each and every one of them. Watson in particular was a great side character that I had a lot fun getting to know.

An aside on that: there’s some disappearing parent syndrome in this book, but it’s not too bad. The parents are very much present in their lives, and I enjoyed getting to hear their backstories as well.

The only thing I would say is that this story is a little bland. It almost reminds me of Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, minus the magic and the paranormal elements. I ended up feeling like the pace was off (even though it was fine) because I was bored with the plot, and I was disappointed because I felt like Eulberg could’ve done a lot more. That being said, I don’t think that’ll be an issue, especially for readers who usually read contemporary or realistic lit.

Overall, not a bad story at all. I loved the humor and the mystery of it all, and I fell in love with Shelby as a protagonist. Would recommend. 4 stars.