Kid Fic Roundup, 1 month

I have a child. You probably know this, as my brand is basically “poor nerds trying to raise a child with minimal psychological damage.” I read a lot, as does my husband. Proving that children learn by example, our child reads a lot as well.

What does this mean? It means that the median grade level of my reading materials has dropped significantly. That while sorting my Kindle alphabetically I end up with a hardcore menage erotica sandwiched in between a book about Abraham Lincoln and penguins… (Pun totally intended.)

But that’s okay. Actually, that’s better than okay. Because truth is, there is some awesome fiction out there for kids and middle graders. So once every other month (the odd months, this time) I’ll be reviewing picture books, children’s chapter books, and middle-grade fiction. I’ll let you know how I felt about them not only as art that my child consumes but as a title I might have to read aloud.

Or that she might read aloud to me…

(In case you were wondering… this can be painful. I’m looking at you Go Dog, Go.)

So without further adieu…

Kid Fic Roundup, 1 month


Diary of Anna the Girl Witch 1: Foundling Witch by Max Candee

Synopsis: Set in the Swiss countryside, “Diary of Anna the Girl Witch” blends ancient folklore with a classic coming of age tale about a young witch on the brink of womanhood.

Anna Sophia has always known she was different. She just didn’t know how different until now.

On the eve of her 13th birthday — in the orphanage where she’s spent most of her childhood — Anna wonders about her past. She never knew her parents, doesn’t even know where she came from.

All she has to go by is an unbelievable fairy tale her uncle used to tell: that she was found as a baby, tucked among a pack of bear cubs in the wilds of Russia.

To make matters even more complicated, Anna has discovered that she can see and do things that no one else can. So far, she’s kept her powers a secret, and they remain strange and frightening even to her.

It’s only when Anna receives a letter from her mother — a mother she will never meet — that she discovers some of the truths about her past, and begins to uncover the possibilities in her future.

As Anna continues to learn more about her secret abilities, she finds out that her neighbors are hiding something of their own: a plot to harm Anna and her friends.

Can Anna Sophia use her newfound supernatural powers to stop them? Can she fight back, without endangering her own soul? And maybe, just maybe, is her own secret tied up with theirs?

Through a story of otherworldly magic, Anna Sophia finds a sense of real-world belonging. With its cast of strong characters, inventive setting, and engaging storyline, this fantasy adventure is a relevant novel for middle grade children or young adults.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 155 pages
Publication Date: January 01, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Content Level: Middle-grade
Rating: DNF

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I had to DNF this one. The prose was stuttering, which makes me feel how my cat looks when she’s pet backwards. Startled, uncomfortable, and one hundred percent done with your shit.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast by Jerry Mahoney

Synopsis: AGAIN, Holden?! First you broke Cinderella, now Beauty and the Beast? Your stepsister is ready to strangle you. Pointing out that the Beast kidnapped Beauty and only fell for her looks has somehow put the real Beast in jail! Now there’ll never be a happy ending. You need to go into the fairy tale world of rural France and– what do you mean you don’t speak French?!

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 160 pages
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Content Level: Middle-grade
Rating: Ugh…

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I’m serious, no more fairytale reboots for a while.

The prose was clunky, Maddie (who you’re supposed to side with?) is vapid. Holden is a little shit, yes, but more in touch with reality than Holden. They’re both wretched children, though, and I’d much rather read “my rotten stepbrother ruined Hansel and Gretel” and have them both be eaten.

A feeling that lasted right up until you met the fairy who keeps cursing everyone… then I knew a new level of hatred.

I know it was supposed to be cute, but it did not work for me.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Boston Monsters: A Search-And-Find Book by Carine Laforest (Text), Lucile Danis Drouot (Illustrations)

Synopsis: Do you know Boston? The New England city attracts people from all over the world–even little monsters! Did you know that? Monsters are masters of camouflage who can easily hide in plain sight. They walk the Freedom Trail undetected, lie low among the Boston Public Garden’s Swan Boats and never fail to make a special pilgrimage to Fenway Park’s famed Green Monster! Have fun spotting them all as you explore some of Beantown’s most iconic landmarks and sights.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 28 pages
Publication Date: August 28, 2017
Genre: search and find
Content Level: board book
Rating: Adorbs and engaging

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: Think Where’s Waldo but without the racist stereotypes and with historic landmarks for your favorite city, and you’ve got this book.

We live about 90 minutes north of Boston (and if you’re from New England you know distance is told in travel time, not miles). We love living in New England, and we love Boston. So seeing this search book with adorable monsters hiding in Boston’s historic locations was awesome. While flipping through, I could hear a parent reading to their child (my friend Amber, actually…) and instilling this kind of pride of place in their child.

For families outside New England and with no particular ties to the region, I can see it being used as a way to generate curiosity about other locations around the country. Fostering in children the idea of travel and seeing historic sights.

Plus I had trouble finding all the monsters easily… so it’s at the least challenging enough to keep a child occupied for a bit…

And if it doesn’t, do my ego a favor and don’t tell me.

(my kid found them all in the time it took me to read each page)

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Washington D.C. Monsters: A Search-And-Find Book by Anne Paradis (Text), Lucile Danis Drouot (Illustrations)

Synopsis: Do you know Washington D.C.? The nation’s capital attracts people from all over the world–even little monsters! Did you know that? Monsters are masters of camouflage who can easily hide in plain sight. They get lost among the Cherry Blossoms at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, go undercover at the International Spy Museum and even stow away at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum! Have fun spotting them all as you explore some of The District’s most iconic landmarks and sights.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 28 pages
Publication Date: August 28, 2017
Genre: search and find
Content Level: board book
Rating: Adorbs and engaging

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: When we finished Boston, she asked for another book where you find monsters. Or… um… some other book where you find something. And she did it in her soft, adorable, remember how sweet I can be voice…

And so I got every book in the series on Netgalley.

This one was her favorite. With art in the same style as the Boston version, I’m now even more inspired to take a trip to our nation’s capital. At least to see the cherry blossoms and all the monsters… (that’s a politician joke… subtle, I know.)

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Texas Monsters by Anne Paradis

Synopsis: Do you know Texas? The Lone Star State attracts people from all over the world–even little monsters! Did you know that? Monsters are masters of camouflage who can easily hide in plain sight. They tip their hat to the State Capitol in Austin, blend in with the crowds visiting the Alamo and even patrol the canyons of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Have fun spotting them all as you explore some of Texas’ most iconic landmarks and sights.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 28 pages
Publication Date: August 28, 2017
Genre: search and find
Content Level: board book
Rating: Adorbs and engaging

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: This was my favorite. Its artistic style was different from the other two, and I far preferred it. At first, I didn’t think it was fair to give the whole state one book… but by the end, I was trying to figure out just how long a vacation we’d need to hit all the sights shown in the book and then some.

And for someone who’d previously never desired to go to Texas (I’ve read about your summer heat…) that is the highest praise imaginable.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Synopsis: “Do you like green eggs and ham?” asks Sam-I-am in this Beginner Book by Dr. Seuss. In a house or with a mouse? In a boat or with a goat? On a train or in a tree? Sam keeps asking persistently. With unmistakable characters and signature rhymes, Dr. Seuss’s beloved favorite has cemented its place as a children’s classic. In this most famous of cumulative tales, the list of places to enjoy green eggs and ham, and friends to enjoy them with, gets longer and longer. Follow Sam-I-am as he insists that this unusual treat is indeed a delectable snack to be savored everywhere and in every way.

Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Purchase
Format: Hardcover
Length: 62 pages
Publication Date: 1988
Genre: Picture book
Content Level: Picture book
Rating: Must read

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I was not intending on reviewing Green Eggs and Ham… but here we are. With my child insisting that we find and then read this book. Because she’d done a book report on it.

Who assigns first graders book reports?

Sadists who hate parents, that’s who…

This is the ultimate Dr. Seuss title. The greatest, bar none. It’s relatively short, in comparison, so it doesn’t take six months to read. Even once your child starts insisting they can read it themselves, most of the words are easy enough that it won’t trip them up.

And, bonus, the book allows for a dramatic retelling, with all that glorious punctuation and caps.

A+.

Would recommend.


Is a Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff, Harriet May Savitz, Marie Letourneau (Goodreads Author) (Illustrations)

Synopsis: This book addresses children’s worries with humor and imagination, as hilarious scenarios teach kids the use of perspective and the art of creative problem—solving.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 32 pages
Publication Date: April 15, 2015
Genre: Picture book
Content Level: Picture Book
Rating: Must read

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: You’re not allowed to laugh at me, because we’re friends. Remember that.

As someone with anxiety, who has a family history of anxiety, who has a spouse with anxiety, and who’s child will most likely have anxiety… this book is incredible. And I want to say that I’m purchasing a copy for my child. To remind her that worries don’t control her life and strategies to combat them.

I want to say that’s why… but it’s not.

I’m getting the book for me.

It’s cute and sweet and what better way to battle worries than with adorable? I certainly don’t know…

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


The House of Months and Years by Emma Trevayne

Synopsis: A girl must stop the Boogeyman living in her home from stealing her family’s warmest memories in this haunting, atmospheric novel from the author of Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times and The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden.

When her distant aunt and uncle die, Amelia Howling is forced to move into their home when they leave her parents in charge of their children. Her parents assure her that it will be like having a grand adventure with three new siblings, but Amelia is not convinced. Luckily, the house is large, filled with nooks and crannies perfect for hiding from her cousins.

But even with all the nooks and crannies, the rumbling and crumbling rooms are more sinister than they seem. The house was built years ago by a creature named Horatio, and he’s been waiting for the perfect human inhabitant: Amelia. Horatio has the power to travel through time and memories, and lures Amelia into his world. The memories of children, he told her, were the best, and Amelia agreed—her cousins were full of good memories. Until she noticed that once she and Horatio visited a memory, it was gone forever. And she had been stealing the good memories of her cousins and their parents without even noticing!

Horrified and scared, Amelia lets her cousins in on her secret, and asks them for help. Together, they must race through time to recover their minds and break the perfect clockwork of the evil Calendar House.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 384 pages
Publication Date: February 7th, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Content Level: Middle grade
Trigger Warnings: Evil man in evil house preying on kids. Death of parents.
Featuring: Ebil man. Ebil house. Cranky girl you want to slap who has to overcome the allure of ebil.
Rating: Must read

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: So the whole reason I started on this endeavor was my love of two titles. (Well that and the fact that there were queer middle-grade books coming out, but not the point right now…) The first was The Westing Game, which is the first novel I remember reading that captured me. The second is The Thief of Always, recommended to me by my husband when we first started dating.

Boiled down to it’s most simplistic elements, The House of Months and Years is very similar to The Thief of Always. Evil house preys on kids. In other ways, though, they’re totally different. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. The House of Month and years barely mentions February at all, for example…

I could probably write a whole essay comparing the two, and maybe someday (probably in February) I will, but for now just know that was my long winded way of saying “I love kids books about evil houses.”

This story was utterly horrifying in ways that only a children’s story can be. I’m sure it’s empowering as fuck to read as a child, but when you’re an adult with a small child reading it… I will have nightmares forever. The child is left in this utterly unbelievable situation, and because they are a child and children are prone to exaggeration, they’re left without the support of the adults in their life.

The adults that are consistently letting them down. The child craves being special, and when someone supernatural (and probably evil) tells you that you are special. That you’re the one who can change everything. You know I hate the special!girl trope in just about every medium, but I adore it in children’s horror… God help me, but I do.

I think what will stick with me for a good long time -and I’m crying about right now- is that I would’ve been Amelia… but I’m not sure I would’ve found my out. That I would have made the right decision. I’m breathless, my chest is tight, my cheeks are wet from tears and my mouth is hanging open. Fuck this was an amazing book.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis

Synopsis: A colony of honeybees mistakes seventh-grader Zinnia’s hair for a hive ― and that’s the least of her problems.

While Zinnia’s classmates are celebrating the last day of seventh grade, she’s in the vice principal’s office, serving detention. Her offense? Harmlessly yarn-bombing a statue of the school mascot. When Zinnia rushes home to commiserate with her older brother and best friend, Adam, she’s devastated to discover that he’s gone ― with no explanation. Zinnia’s day surely can’t get any worse . . . until a colony of honeybees inhabits her hive-like hair!

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 240 pages
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Coming of age
Content Level: Middle-grade
Trigger Warnings: family drama
Featuring: BEES!
Rating: Must read

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: This is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It’s definitely the most uplifting. Also, it was the best at dealing with complex family issues. I already know it’s something I will be rereading in the future. I look forward to sharing it with my daughter.

And it’s written for kids ages 9-12.

Just think about that for a second. I’ve read nearly 100 books this year, and this book is hands down one of the best. It blows away adult prose written by best sellers. Remember that the next time you snub a middle grade pick.

Zinnia and the Bees tackles tough issues, and does it with ease and grace. Zinnia faces tough family issues, abandonment, feeling alone in a world that doesn’t understand her, falling out with friends, resentment towards adopted dogs, and bees. She uses knitting to calm her mind, the clicking of the needles pushing away all other thoughts. While I cannot knit (CANNOT KNIT) I do recognize falling into something to silence bad thoughts. To the point where it becomes an unnatural addiction.

All of the characters manage to be complex and manage to be relatable even if they’re not likeable. Including her mother. Hell, when Zinnia and her mother have their breakthrough I cried and I’m not even ashamed to admit it.

But all this heavy shit is tempered not only with funny moments with Zinnia, but also with hilarious commentary from the bees. Because the bees get a POV of their own in this book.

And it. Is. Glorious.

So please, I implore you to give this and other middle grade books a chance. It might be just the thing to get you through these dark times.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.