Aru lives in a museum dedicated to Indian history and culture. She’s grown up hearing the stories of Hindu gods and heroes. In Aru Shah and the End of Time (Bk1), she releases a demon & learns she’s the reincarnation of a folk hero. A fascinating dip into Indian culture. Fast paced, imaginative, and promising several tangles as the rest of the quartet unfolds. In The Not-So-Jolly Roger, Joe, Sam, and Fred use the book again and are transported to a tropical island, where they meet the infamous Blackbeard. Another fun, mildly educational adventure through time. Illustrated and appropriate for lower middle grade readers. In Death and Douglas, Douglas Mortimer understands death better than most kids his age. And no wonder. He lives in a funeral home, right over the morgue, because his parents are the town’s morticians. To Douglas, death is a natural part of life. But everything he’s always believe is overturned when someone in town is murdered. This is a murder mystery that gives readers a peek into the behind-the-scenes business surrounding death.
Knights of the Kitchen Table is the first book in the Time Warp Trio series. For his birthday, Joe receives a book from his uncle. It transports him and his two best friends into the distant past, to the era of knights and dragons, giants and magicians. Short, funny, and a teensy bit educational. I had mixed feelings about Swing It, Sunny, the second volume in a graphic novel series. Vignettes centered more around fads and pop culture from the 1970s. (Remember this? Remember when?) I wanted to know more about the characters. Hoping for more in Bk3. In Mascot, we meet Noah, who lost his father in the same accident that put him in a wheelchair. A little about family, a little about friendship, a little about neighbors. I liked Noah’s sharp wit (and sympathetic streak) and Dee-Dub’s unassuming genius (and trove of information). My favorite part may have been Noah’s several turn-abouts, when his opinions (and assumptions) about people underwent a radical shift.
Charlie can’t understand why nobody can remember his little brother Liam, not even their parents. But he’s determined to figure out what happened. And to get him back. The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly is a difficult book to pigeonhole. Not too scary, but tension-inducing. Not historical, but Charlie dreams of the past as if he were a different person, so several scenes take place there. Perhaps a psychological thriller for the middle grade set? Next up: Logan probably shouldn’t have been messing around in the library. Regret sets in when he learns he’s been Punished. Every time he opens his mouth, he speaks in puns. The cure proves to be a threefold challenge that will warm the hearts of word nerds everywhere. And Danger! Tiger Crossing is the first in the Fantastic Frame series. It’s an interesting series concept. There’s a magical picture frame, and at a certain time each day, it’s possible to step through it into the painting currently on display. The paintings are always classics, so there’s a solid dose of art history at the end of the adventure.
Up Next. With an eye toward my February BINGO board, I’ve settled on my next handful of titles. All of them are from my list of 100 Middle Grade Books that I want to read in 2021.
In Choke, Beck may be older, but he’s no wiser than he was in Pillage. Still groaning over Beck’s life choices, but rooting for him nonetheless. In Hattie on Her Way, Hattie Belle has grown up pretty wild, so when her Pa takes her into town and leaves her with her maternal grandmother to get a proper education, it’s a drastic change. Her blunt manner and short temper get her into all kinds of trouble. All she wants to do is fly home. In Yang the Third and the Impossible Family, Yingmei Yang (American name, Mary) is often embarrassed by her parents and siblings, who don’t act or sound American enough. She wants to fit in, to make friends, to belong. So it seems like a great idea to volunteer to take one of her school friend’s kittens, even though the Yangs home is filled with sheet music and valuable instruments. Keeping the cat a secret becomes increasingly difficult.
It’s time for a new BINGO board, courtesy of Middle Grade Carousel. I enjoy all sorts of challenges, including reading ones. This month, I think I’ve plotted a do-able course that’ll give me five in a row. How about you? Ready to join in?
The Adventurer’s Guild is perfect for fans of DnD. Best friends Zed and Brock are looking forward to being chosen by one of the guilds in Freestone. A half-elf, Zed would love to be taken by the Mage’s Guild. And Brock, the son of a wealthy merchant, is a lock for the Merchant’s Guild. But Zed’s hopes are ripped to shreds when he’s snatched up by the Adventurer’s Guild, and Brock won’t let him face its dangers alone. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a classic-feeling orphan tale in a Gothic sort of setting, where terrible things happen to good children because of bad people who will get their due. And I adored This is Not a Werewolf Story. Raul has always sort of looked out for the littler kids at the boarding school where he spends his weeks, but he doesn’t exactly have friends. On the weekends, when everyone else’s parents pick them up and take them home, Raul heads into the woods. Because he has a secret.
In Spy School (the first in a lengthy series), Ben is recruited by the CIA and shipped off to spy school in order to learn how to be an agent. Which may have been the worst decision of his life. Fun and often funny, this is essentially a mystery, and the stakes are higher than your average kid ever has to face. Al Capone Shines My Shoes is the second book set among the families of the guards who live and work on Alcatraz, Moose needs to “get square” with Al Capone. A slice-of-life, small-town kind of story about a tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Loved seeing Natalie again (Moose’s sister, who would have been properly diagnosed if autism had been understood back then). She’s a brave girl and someone who shouldn’t be underestimated. The Maze of Bones is a series starter that will pass round-robin style through a bunch of different authors. When a wealthy aunt dies, relatives gather from all over the world in order to hear the reading of her will. Some take their money and run, but some accept her posthumous challenge.
Island of Ogres is an interesting addition to the Zenta and Matsuzo series, especially since much of the story does not take place from their point of view. The outsider perspective from another quick-witted ronin allowed us deeper into the mystery. I needed a “Q” for the A-Z Reading Challenge, so I reached for Queen Clarion’s Secret. On an exceptionally windy day, a fairy named Prilla sees Queen Clarion do something unusual and tries to follow. Losing track of her, she shares her concern with a few friends, who help her try to track down the missing royal. I’ve started picking up books in this series as well. Ambush wraps up the Pillage trilogy. Wherever Beck goes, trouble follows. And sometimes, it’s not even his fault. Obert Skye is now on my favorite authors list.