Review

Summer Reading Round Up Part 2

Today are all the kidlit/middle grade books I read this summer.

Care and FeedingA Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans written by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder

It took me a little while to get into this one, but ultimately I enjoyed it. I love how they go around San Francisco together, but with a magical twist. Actually, the more I think about it the more I like this one because it tackles mourning and death of a close friend from a really different angle. I know kids aren’t necessarily all about sad books, but it made the pain relatable without being maudlin. The dragon’s friend (the girl’s aunt) has died and while she mourns through the book the story isn’t hyper focused on the death. There is certainly excitement and action and magic. Plus the dragon learns to accept the girl as her new companion and comes to understand what lies underneath the girl’s insistent need for a friend.

AkikoAkiko on the Planet Smoo by Mark Crilley

This one reminded me a lot of Cleopatra in Space and even more so of Zita the Space Girl. It’s a more difficult chapter book, but it has some pictures. It was really more the story line of a young girl ending up far from home in outer space and going on adventures. I came across the book while weeding our collection in the library. There are about ten of these books in the series so I thought I would read the first. Lots of action and space pirates and gladiator games. Fun characters, too.

PoppyPoppy by Avi

Another I picked up off the shelf while reading. I haven’t read much Avi and this one sounded the most interesting to me out of all his others. It was okay. I would give it to kids who like more realistic talking animal stories. Poppy was a bit too insipid for my tastes, but I can totally see kids getting into this series. It reminds me of the Mouseguard books and a bit of The Rescuers.

MoonkindMoonkind by Sarah Prineas

DNF. I picked this one up because I realized it’s book three and the only one in the series we own. I wanted to see if we needed the others. It makes enough sense on its own, but I think kids will have an easier time if they’ve read the others. I found it kind of tedious which is why I put it down. I wasn’t sure if it was the writing or if it was because I hadn’t read the other books. Fairy fantasy.

Dark PortalThe Dark Portal by Robin Jarvis

Another mouse story and another DNF. This must be British because one of the characters meets a very untimely and horrific death (off page) in the first chapter or so. That’s so like the British. Dark children’s literature. I would actually have read it all, and maybe the other two in the series, if I wasn’t pressed for time. I picked it up more because I’m trying to get a sense of what we have in the collection so I can hand-sell some of these books and series. I loved the world building and the magical, mystical qualities of the story. A more grown up (and probably better written) Gregor the Overlander which the librarian read to the third grade last year.

Single ShardA Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

Our middle schoolers used to read this, but it’s in our lower school library too. I really enjoyed it, but it seemed like it would make a much better class book. The story moved slowly and was a bit introspective, so I could see most kids getting bored with the story. It might also require a more mature reader.

Thor's Wedding DayThor’s Wedding Day: by Thialfi the Goat Boy as told to and translated by Bruce Coville

This was hilarious and it incorporated a mythology (Viking) you don’t see all that often despite it being European. Thor and Loki cross dress to trick the giant king into giving back Thor’s hammer which he has stolen. The narrator, Thialfi the goat boy, is rather bumbling and also has to cross dress. This leads to a situation with a young giant who wants to make out with him. Kids will love the humor.

Crazy HorseIn the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III, pictures by James Mark Yellowhawk

This was an ARC I got at ALA and I really liked it. It’s history woven into a narrative about growing up and finding your inner strength wrapped into a road trip story with a grandfather. It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. The chapters are short and easy and it’s on the cusp of chapter books and kidlit, so I think it would be great for late third grade and into fourth. It’s written by a native author and it’s about a famous Native American. Well written and engaging, an excellent book to get into kids’ hands.