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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Graphic Novel Pick: Nat Enough

Nat Enough
By Maria Scrivan
Illustrated by the author
240 pages
ISBN: 9781338538212

Available April 7, 2020

Charming illustrations by the author and believable middle school drama and angst will delight graphic novel readers. Natalie (Nat) has never believed she is enough: not smart enough, not pretty enough, not talented enough. This theme will resonate with every middle school reader! Even though she's nervous about going to a new school, Nat has high hopes since she'll be joining her BFF Lily, and they can face middle school obstacles together.

The first day and days following don't go as planned. Suddenly, Nat is not cool enough to be Lily's BFF. In fact, Lily is downright mean to Natalie. First by ignoring her, and then by leaving Nat toxic and hurtful notes. Worse yet, Lily is hanging with cool girl Alex who is good at everything she does.

Nat is going to have to "find" her voice and be who she is, not who Lily wants her to be. She takes a chance and enters a book contest, winning first prize and a trip to the state capitol! Even cute boy Derek takes notice. Through her art, Natalie finds her voice and wins the praise of her peers.

Recommended for graphic fans and anyone else in middle school! Grade 5 and up. This title will be on Scholastic Book Fairs next year.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Fantastic Middle Grade Pick: Operation Frog Effect

Operation Frog Effect
By Sarah Scheerger
Interior illustrations by Gina Perry
Random House 
306 pages
ISBN: 9780525644125

Operation Frog Effect is written as journal entries from eight diverse students in Ms. Graham’s fifth grade class at White Oak Elementary School. Each student has her own way of journaling. Blake draws his entry as graphic novel panels. Sharon writes her entries as poetry. Cecilia misses her grandmother in Mexico, so she begins each entry “Dear Abuelita” (as a letter to her grandmother) and includes English words for her grandmother to practice. Henry, a budding playwright, does his journaling as scenes from a play.

When an injured frog appears on the first day in the classroom, the class votes on what to do with him. It is decided to keep the frog and name him Kermit. Mrs. Graham allows a class vote on nearly everything. She does not appoint class duties, the students choose their role in the classroom with the caveat, choose wisely as this will be their job all year. 

The class learns many lessons about frogs and science, but more importantly, they learn about themselves and making a difference. Mrs. Graham teaches them that one small act can create a ripple effect. Later, that lesson is tested, and the students come together and work as a team to speak to the school board. 

Operation Frog Effect is a winning read that is a great choice for class reads and for the entire school to read. Like Wonder and Counting By Sevens, Operation Frog Effect teaches lessons without becoming preachy. Reluctant readers will find it entertaining and easy to read.

Fabulous, eye catching cover will make this book fly off the shelf. Illustrations help tell the story and keep visual learners entertained.

Recommended for younger middle grade readers age eight and up.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Arrivederci, Crocodile
Begun by Fred Marcellino
completed by Eric Puybaret
A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
40 pages
ISBN: 9871534404014

Arriverderci, Crocodile was begun by famous children's author and illustrator Fred Marcellino, but finished by Eric Puybaret after Marcellino's death.

A whimsical story of a wayward but humorous crocodile who is brought to France by Napoleon. Crocodile escapes and lives in the sewer until he realizes Napoleon is traveling to Italy.

Crocodile loves Italy and dances the night away with the royal crowd. The guests at the lavish gala think his "costume" is fabulous and don't realize he's a reptile! He travels to favorite tourist attractions and eats Italian cuisine until Napoleon recognizes his escaped "pet."

Crocodile escapes the ruler's grasp again in the most hilarious way!

Winsome illustrations and eye-catching cover will entice young readers. Comic illustrations of the hoi polloi versus the nobility are sure to bring on the giggles. The end papers miss an opportunity for fun crocodile facts and illustrations, and in fact, look like murky lagoon water color or pond scum. This is my only gripe about the book.

Recommended for historical content and kids who love crocodiles.

Pre-school to first grade.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen

Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen
by Nancy Viau
Schiffer Kids
184 pages
ISBN: 9780764357763

Delightful for younger middle grade readers and those girls (and boys) who enjoy science and BUGS!

Ten year old Samantha Hansen is all about rocks since her vacation to the Grand Canyon, but soon she discovers a new love: insects! (Well, insects, and her almost boyfriend Todd. Someday he could be her boyfriend once she's old enough, of course). Samantha gets mad when her best friend Kelli invites Todd over to her house. They've been friends forever and Samantha says, "Best friend. I've only gotten mad at her ten or fifty times since we met."

Samantha is excited when her class gets to visit an apiary, but worries "That Kid Richard" might like her. He's been nothing but a pest, teasing her all the time. Fourth grade is hard, and kids have to juggle terrible things like: learning fractions, liking a boy or not, wondering if the boy you like likes you back, worrying your best friend likes the boy you like, wondering why That Kid Richard is suddenly seeming a little bit cuter?

Samantha is a spunky, cute main character readers will love. Everyone will want to be her friend. Beautiful cover design and clever, colorful illustrations on end papers inside the cover will delight visual learners. Samantha shares her knowledge as she learns about bugs, and readers will learn new things with her.

Recommended grade 3 and up. Easy enough for age eight and could be enjoyed ages 8-10.