Sunday, October 30, 2016

MMGM (10/31/2016): Coraline by Neil Gaiman

P.S. I have blog news, including the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Post Navigator (link below the blog title)! For information, as well as my Poetry Sunday post, click here.

As a special Halloween-themed recommendation, I am recommending Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Here's the publisher's description:

The day after they moved in,
Coraline went exploring....

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.
The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it's different.
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

This book is not Halloween-themed, but it is a very spooky read. There are many creepy details, such as when the other mother is eating live beetles. However, this is a really good book! There are many interesting characters, some of whom are different in the world of the other flat, such as a snarky black cat who can talk in the other world. Coraline is an easily relatable character, since she is somewhat disgruntled about life but not mean. One of my favorite parts of the book is at the end, and, about it, I will say this: it is easily the scariest part of the entire book. Despite being scary, Coraline is not horrifying or overly upsetting, since otherwise I wouldn't have enjoyed it so much. All in all, this is a great read!

Various News (plus Poetry Sunday)!

Edit (12/25/2016): A typo has been fixed.

Blog news! First, since Thursday is extremely inconvenient for me to write blog posts, Poetry Thursday is now Poetry Sunday! The first official Poetry Sunday post is for "Come into Animal Presence" by Denise Levertov. Here is the link.

In other news, I have started trying to make my blog easier to navigate. Firstly, I have labeled all of my posts, and you can view just one label by clicking on it in the far-right sidebar. Secondly, just below the blog title, there is now a link to the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Post Navigator, which shows all of my MMGM posts with covers and links. Clicking on anything that has to do with the book (cover, title, or date) will send you to the review. I hope you like these new blog changes!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Poetry Sunday (10/23/2016): "Variations On The Word Sleep" by Margaret Atwood

For my belated Poetry Thursday post (I skipped the one before this entirely), I am recommending "Variations On The Word Sleep" by Margaret Atwood. Here is the link. I hope you like it!

MMGM (10/23/2016): When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

For MMGM, I'm recommending When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin.

Here's the publisher's description:

Pinmei's gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei's grandmother--before it's too late.

A fast-paced adventure that is extraordinarily written and beautifully illustrated, When the Sea Turned to Silver is a masterpiece companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.

I loved this book! This book is similar to its previous two companions in many ways. It features folktales from the story's universe interspersed with the rest of the book. These are interesting in that they're one of the few times when a book temporarily changes off-subject, and I don't think, Get back to the story already! They're as enjoyable as the rest of the story. The book also features many similarities to the past books, such as an abundance of characters, which have many different personalities. They change throughout the book, such as when Pinmei becomes progressively less shy. The language is very poetic and features interesting similes that you wouldn't normally think of. (I started to notice how struck I was by these.) This is one of those rare books that transports you!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

MMGM (10/17/2016): The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

For MMGM, I'm recommending The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.

Here's the publisher's description:

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.
Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a 2010 Newbery Honor Book and the winner of the 2010 Bank Street - Josette Frank Award. This title has Common Core connections.

I really enjoyed this book! It is one of the few historical novels that manages to still be exciting and not boring. The book also tackles topics of women's roles, since Calpurnia is expected to grow up and become a debutante, while she would rather be a scientist. Calpurnia's relationship with her grandfather is special in that they have bonded strongly, and the relationship is written in a way that would make one wish that they had had such a relationship. The story is composed of many different subplots, which are interesting and vary the plot. The book was also a Newbery Honor, and for good reason. This is a great read for kids and adults alike!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

MMGM (10/10/2016): Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle

P.S. I have changed the color palette of my blog slightly. I hope you like it!

For MMGM, I'm recommending Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle.

Here's the publisher's description:

From beloved and bestselling author Lauren Myracle comes the first book in an enchanting trilogy about three sisters, the magic of traditions, and the extraordinary power of hope. This heartwarming, timeless story is perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Ingrid Law.
On the third night of the third month after a girl’s thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes.
The first wish is an impossible wish.
The second is a wish she can make come true herself.
And the third is the deepest wish of her secret heart.
Natasha is the oldest child in a family steeped in magic, though she’s not sure she believes in it. She’s full to bursting with wishes, however. She misses her mother, who disappeared nearly eight long years ago. She has a crush on one of the cutest boys in her class, and she thinks maybe it would be nice if her very first kiss came from him. And amid the chaos of a house full of sisters, aunts, and a father lost in grief, she aches to simply be . . . noticed.
So Natasha goes to the willow tree at the top of the hill on her Wishing Day, and she makes three wishes. What unfolds is beyond anything she could have imagined. 

At the bookstore, I always look for books with nice covers, and then I read the flap description. If the description is interesting, then I buy it. This book has a fabulous cover, and I'm glad I purchased it. It's great! Firstly, something not mentioned in the summary is that, in the story, Natasha receives mysterious notes, which, in the beginning, compliment her. The mystery of who these notes are from is interspersed throughout the book, and is just one of the many elements in the book. Natasha and her 2 sisters have very different personalities. Natasha is quiet and, despite having a best friend, mainly introverted. Her younger sister, Darya, is popular and somewhat mean, while the youngest sister, Ava, is somewhat naive but very nice. At the end of the book, an interesting twist changes the ending of the book from what is expected to a great surprise, unlike many other books. All in all, Wishing Day is a fabulous read like no other!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Poetry Thursday/Texas Teen Book Festival! (October 6, 2016)

Firstly, today's Poetry Thursday recommendation is for an extremely old poem: "'Hope' is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson. Here is the link.


On October 1, I attended the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin, Texas (I was conveniently returning back from San Antonio that day), so, without further ado, images!

I'm here!

Is Mindy Kaling actually here?

Sitting in the auditorium!

Laini Taylor is waving to the crowd!

Slightly fuzzy, but nonetheless: Mindy Kaling!

So, if you were wondering if it was awesome, it was! I wasn't there for the entire festival, but I still enjoyed it!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (October 3, 2016): Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Edit (October 6, 2016): A formatting error has been fixed.

For MMGM, I'm recommending Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.

Here's the publisher's description:

For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.

In this graphic novel debut that earned a Newbery Honor and five starred reviews, real-life derby girl Victoria Jamieson has created an inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverance, and girl power!

As shown above, this is a graphic novel and the recipient of a Newbery Honor. But rest assured, there's no death! This book is actually very humorous (I love the drawing on page 159 depicting Astrid's hatred of clothes shopping), although it's not all fun and games (hence the Newbery Honor). Astrid and Nicole split apart in the book, due to both differences and character flaws, and the process of how Astrid is sad, makes a new friendship, and struggles are very realistic (and saddening). Astrid's relationship with her mom is also interesting, with Astrid often being mildly upset with her mom but also loving her. I love how the art is both pretty and contributes to the humor and plot. The sport of roller derby (which the author plays) is also interesting to learn about. All in all, Roller Girl is a great book that can be added to the ever-growing list of fabulous graphic novels.