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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

January Middle-Grade Books To Look Out For

I'm so excited to share my first book list of 2019! Today I have reviews of some great middle-grade books arriving in January...

Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of Friendship: Stories from India 
By Chitra Soundar 
Illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy 
January 2019 
Candlewick Press 

Can Prince Veera and his best friend outsmart the king's trickiest subjects? Inspired by traditional Indian folktales, these stories are sure to delight. 

Being a wise and just ruler is no easy task. That's what Prince Veera discovers when he and his best friend, Suku, are given the opportunity to preside over the court of his father, King Bheema. Some of the subjects' complaints are easily addressed, but others are much more challenging. How should they handle the case of the greedy merchant who wishes to charge people for enjoying the smells of his sweets? And can they prove that an innocent man cannot possibly spread bad luck? Will Prince Veera and Suku be able to settle the dispute between a man and his neighbor to whom he sells a well -- but not the water in it? Or solve the mystery of the jewels that have turned into pickles? Illustrated throughout by Uma Krishnaswamy, these eight original tales by Chitra Soundar task Veera and Suku with outwitting the kingdom's greediest, wiliest subjects. Are the two clever boys up to the challenge?  

This book contains a collection of eight original stories inspired by traditional Indian folktales that offer young readers amusing tales chock full of engaging characters, valuable life lessons, and neat settings. Soundar does a great job of infusing traditional Indian folktales into fresh, relatable tales for today’s young readers, who will find Prince Veera and Suka’s adventures humorous and exciting. 

Max and the Midknights 
By Lincoln Peirce 
January 8, 2019 
Crown Books for YR 

Join Max's quest to become a knight in this laugh-filled adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of the Big Nate series! 

Max wants to be a knight! Too bad that dream is about as likely as finding a friendly dragon. But when Max's uncle Budrick is kidnapped by the cruel King Gastley, Max has to act...and fast! Joined by a band of brave adventurers--the Midknights--Max sets out on a thrilling quest: to save Uncle Budrick and restore the realm of Byjovia to its former high spirits! 

Magic and (mis)adventures abound in this hilarious illustrated novel from the New York Times bestselling creator of the Big Nate series, Lincoln Peirce. 

I really love Max and the Midknights! Part traditional prose, part graphic novel, and 100% laugh-out-loud fun, this wildly captivating and engaging book will have readers excitedly turning pages and snorting with every page. Lincoln Peirce crafts an epic tale full of adventure, clever twists, whimsical humor, and surprising heart. I cannot wait to Join Mak and the Midknights on their next adventure! 

Fairy in Waiting 
(Fairy Mom and Me #2) 
By Sophie Kinsella 
January 29, 2019 
Delacorte Press 

Fans of Sophie Kinsella's sparkling humor and the first book in the illustrated duology will love these next adventures featuring their favorite mother-daughter fairy team. 

Ella Brook is used to being a fairy in waiting. It means that one day she will become a fairy with her own sparkly wings and Computawand, just like her mom. 

But sometimes Ella doesn't want to have to wait any longer. After all, she helps her mom remember magic codes all the time! If only there were a spell for growing up faster. 

Will Ella prove that she's ready to become a fairy? Or will she learn that she doesn't need real magic to save the day? 

Sophie Kinsella returns to her charming Fairy Mom and Me series with book two, Fairy In Waiting, which is just as delightful and sweet as the first one! Young readers will love diving into four more short but fun stories about Ella and her fairy mom. Kinsella cast a whimsical and fresh fairy spell with her captivating storytelling, silly humor, and dazzling fairy magic. I look forward to more books in this series! 

The Friendship War 
By Andrew Clements 
January 8, 2019 
Random House 

Stickers, Silly Bandz, Rainbow Looms, fidget spinners . . . buttons?! A brand-new school story about friendship and fads from the bestselling author of Frindle. 

This is war. Okay--that's too dramatic.  
But no matter what this is called, so far I'm winning. 
And it feels wonderful. 

Grace and Ellie have been best friends since second grade. Ellie's always right in the center of everything--and Grace is usually happy to be Ellie's sidekick. But what happens when everything changes? This time it's Grace who suddenly has everyone's attention when she accidentally starts a new fad at school. It's a fad that has first her class, then her grade, and then the entire school collecting and trading and even fighting over . . . buttons?! A fad that might also get her in major trouble and could even be the end of Grace and Ellie's friendship. Because Ellie's not used to being one-upped by anybody. There's only one thing for Grace to do. With the help of Hank--the biggest button collector in the sixth grade--she will have to figure out a way to end the fad once and for all. But once a fad starts, can it be stopped? 

Andrew Clements, the beloved author of Frindlereturns with a deliciously entertaining and deeply satisfying story that will resonate with anyone who's ever been in a classroom . . . or been a kid. A fad is a tough thing to kill, but then again, so is a friendship. 

Fads come and go, but do friendships? Sixth grader Grace is about to explore that very question when she accidently starts a button fad and suddenly takes the spotlight away from her always-the-center-of-attention-BFF, Ellie. Andrew Clements’ The Friendship War is an amusing and heartfelt look at friendship, growing up, and the culture of fads. Younger middle-grade readers will find Grace and her predicament relatable and comforting. Clements’ button fad creation is clever and surprisingly fascinating (I never knew buttons were so cool!).  However, I did find the lack of diversity (just look at the cover) very disappointing.

I Spy The Illuminati Eye: What’s the Big Secret? 
By Sheila Keenan 
December 2019 
Penguin Workshop 

Enlighten yourself with this fun guide to the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing secret society.  

This irreverent, illustrated guide takes a look with an all-seeing, skeptical eye at the history and mystery of the cultural phenomenon that's got middle-school kids flashing finger triangles and scrutinizing dollar bills for signs of the Illuminati. It's the first pop culture companion to the shadowy group behind everything from the French Revolution to Jay-Z's fabulous rise. How did an eighteenth-century philosophical society infiltrate governments, banks, the media, the military, Hollywood, and hip-hop? . . . Or did they?  

Kids everywhere want to know who's in, who's not, and what all those signs, symbols, and secret rituals are really about. 

Is it all really real? Find out in this fun guide to all things illuminati.  

We’ve all heard about the Illumianti, but just what is this secret society? I Spy The Illumianti Eye: What’s the Big Secret? takes readers on a fascinating and witty journey down the rabbit hole to explore all things Illuminati, secret societies, and conspiracies.  Y’all, I had such a blast reading this tiny, yet totally captivating and effective book. Keenan does an excellent job of explaining the history of and mystery surrounding the Illuminati, effectively separating fact from fiction, in accessible and easily understood ways. Readers will enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humor, genuinely interesting information, and engaging questions, discussion, and pictures.  

Don’t Mess With Me: The Stange Lives of Venomous Sea Creatures 
(How Nature Works Series) 
By Paul Erickson 
Photography by Andrew Martinez 
January 2019 
Tilbury House 

Scorpions and brown recluse spiders are fine as far as they go, but if you want daily contact with venomous creatures, the ocean is the place to be. Blue-ringed octopi, stony corals, sea jellies, stonefish, lionfish, poison-fanged blennies, stingrays, cone snails, blind remipedes, fire urchins—you can choose your poison in the ocean. Venoms are often but not always defensive weapons. The banded sea krait, an aquatic snake, wriggles into undersea caves to prey on vicious moray eels, killing them with one of the world’s most deadly neurotoxins, which it injects through fangs that resemble hypodermic needles. 

One Iguana Two Iguanas: A Story of Accident, Natural Selection, and Evolution 
By Sneed B. Collard III 
(How Nature Works Series) 
January 2019 
Tilbury House 

Natural selection and speciation are all but ignored in children’s nonfiction. To help address this glaring deficiency, award-winning children’s science writer Sneed Collard traveled to the Galapagos Islands to see for himself, where Charles Darwin saw, how new species form. The result is this fascinating story of two species of iguana, one land-based and one marine, both of which developed from a single ancestor that reached the islands millions of years ago. The animals evolved in different directions while living within sight of one another. How is that possible?   

Collard uses the iguanas to explore Charles Darwin’s great discovery.  

These two books from the How Nature Works Series offer young readers a fascinating and educational look into the world of venomous sea creatures and the complex study of evolution. With accessible text, factual information, and engaging photographs, these two books will educate, entertain, and encourage scientific exploration.  

**Disclaimer: I received copies of the books above for review/feature purposes. All thoughts, opinions, and reviews are my own.

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