Monday, September 7, 2015

New (and old) middle grade fiction August 2015

I've been reading some middle grade fiction in my after school hours this week.  I found a couple of terrific new ones and an old that I missed when it came out.

The one I missed is called "Tesla's Attic" by Neil Shusterman and Eric Elfman.  This is the most fun science fiction I've read in quite some time.  It's about a boy named Nick who's had a big traumatic loss and so his family has moved across country.  He didn't want to move but he's putting on a brave game face for his dad and his little brother.  They are moving into an elderly relative's house (she died before the story starts and that's not the big loss) and so they have a bit of cleaning up and cleaning out to do.  Nick claims the attic as his space and wow, is there a lot of junk in the attic.  Nick decides to have a garage sale to clean things out and make a little extra money and that's when the weird stuff starts.  Nick finds a lamp and when he turns it on, people seem to be drawn to the garage sale.  Once there, the people feel compelled to buy things and pay the most ridiculously large amounts of money the things.  Once people buy the things, they find that the items don't work the way you might expect.  This book was funny, suspenseful, and had interesting characters that I liked a lot.  If you haven't read this one yet, look for it, because it was awesome!  Here's a book trailer for it.


The second one is a new one and this one is called "The Last in a Long Line of Rebels" by Lisa Lewis Tyre.  This one is about a girl named Louise who lives in a small town in Tennessee where her family has lived for generations.  Her dad runs a junk yard and they are struggling a bit financially.  Some of the leaders of the town seem to want to take their house and Louise is upset at the thought of moving.  She and her friends uncover a mystery as to why people believe this house is worth more than it might seem.  In addition, there is a very nice little subplot about racism and some lovely little journal entries from Louise's great grandmother, during the Civil War.  I liked the characters in this one and the mystery was just great.  A nice fresh voice...


The last one I read is called "The Sign of the Cat" by Lynne Jonell.  I heard about this one from a webinar the Junior Library Guild and they had it at my local library.  I was surprised to see that I had already read books by Lynne Jonell... she wrote a really funny one called "Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat" which I read back when I was a classroom teacher and really enjoyed.  So I was not shocked that this one is terrific and funny and mysterious all rolled into one.  Duncan is a boy growing up on an island called Dulle in a kingdom of Arvidia.  His mother is a music teacher and his dad died some time back.  He is often left to his own devices and he has learned to speak Cat.  His mother has some fairly odd requests for him.  He's always supposed to wear his cap, he's never to draw attention to himself by getting good grades or winning at anything and most importantly, he's to stay away from the docks.  He is quite obedient, but Duncan is finding that he'd really like to be noticed and when he gets a really great score on the test to get into the Academy, he and his mother have a confrontation that set a big change into motion.  I loved this story that has themes of treachery and loyalty, misunderstandings and moments of clarity and I especially love the cats in this book.  Look for this one, RIGHT AWAY.  



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