Review: Lemons by Melissa Savage

Lemonade’s mother dies, and she finds herself in Willow Creek, a small Bigfoot-obsessed town, with her grandfather, Charlie. Her new friend, Tobin, owns a Bigfoot detective agency and “hires” Lem to help him sort through and document Bigfoot sightings. Like Lem, Tobin has also lost a parent; his dad went MIA during the war and although brought back alive, has mysteriously disappeared in transit. The two friends struggle together through their losses and grief as they begin to uncover a few surprises. Lem must also reconcile the meaning of home as she decides whether or not to stay with her grandfather or return to her old home via a well-intentioned adoption. A book that questions the boundaries of family, friendship, and heartbreak, Lemons is a beautiful middle grade read for third to seventh graders. Well-written, Savage does not begin the plot heavy with backstory. Instead, she jumps headfirst into Lem…

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Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Suzy and Franny are growing apart as Franny starts hanging out with the popular crowd and caring more about cute boys. Suzy, the more bookish of the two, decides to retaliate against Franny’s cruel actions. Unfortunately, Suzy is never able to explain her disgusting actions and finds herself not only grief stricken but also feeling sickeningly guilty because Franny drowns while on vacation. Suzy refuses to talk to anyone: her parents, brother, therapist, and lab partner. Written with science report-like overtones, Suzy becomes obsessed with finding out the cause of Franny’s death and ultimately decides that a deadly Australian jellyfish has stung and killed her friend. Determined to prove this theory to herself as well as everyone else, Suzy seeks out the advice of experts, one in particular named Jamie. The Thing About Jellyfish is a National Book Award finalist. With themes of grief, growing up, and mental illness, fourth…

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Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book #1)

Greg’s mom buys him a diary—excuse me, I mean a journal—and he decides to write and draw cartoons of his everyday, middle school life. Greg loves his video games, is always getting into mischief, and he has to deal with his mean older brother, Rodrick, who is destined to humiliate him. Greg bullies around his friend Rowley and finds that he feels jealous and left out as Rowley begins to gain popularity in the tough middle school social scene. We watch as the boys scheme up a profit-making haunted house and roll the world’s biggest snowball to keep trespassers off of their neighborhood hills. A series for reluctant and lower-level readers, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is geared for fifth to eighth graders. Greg is a pretty unlikeable little dude who does mean things much like Eric Cartman in South Park. Whereas South Park has satire and highly intricate plots…

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Miss Klute Is A Hoot (My Weirder School #11)

Some members of this Ella Mentry School class are struggling with reading. Their teacher, Mr. Mackay, decides to introduce the school to Miss Klute, a therapy Labradoodle. Miss Klute is the hit of the school, and all of the students want to read to her. A.J. and his classmates like some reading (they have good taste in Dan Yaccarino), but they especially like to make up their own stories when they get bored. The students worry that Miss Klute is also becoming uninterested and sad. A.J. comes up with a solution to take Miss Klute for a walk. Like A.J.’s usual luck, though, a squirrel runs by and the students lose Miss Klute in the chase. Chaos breaks out at the school and when they find Miss Klute, they have more of a mess than they bargained for. Meant for harder to engage readers, the My Weird School series (and its run…

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