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: The Isle of the Lost- A Descendants Novel

Be prepared to slam head first into a Disney character set where all of the villains, heroes, and their new children run around on either the Isle of the Lost (for banished villains) or the Kingdom of Auradon (for those goody goodies). The plot focuses on 16-year-old Mal who is seeking revenge on Evie—daughter of the Evil Queen—for not inviting her to a childhood birthday party. Four unlikely characters come together in search of an evil, magical scepter, each representing their personal family histories. A parallel story follows Prince Ben who is trying to address very adult grievances in preparation for taking over his father’s kingdom. There are some cheesy adult-geared lines and jokes about how villains get their kicks in writing the wrong names on Starbuck cups and where in the much happier United States of Auradon (USA), the Department of Formerly Magical Vehicles (DFMV) has 5-minute wait times.…

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