Thursday, July 13, 2017

New must-have middle grade releases from Scholastic - 7.13.17

Last month I was able to read some Scholastic advanced reader copies.  They are both available now and I highly recommend both for middle grade libraries!

Stealing Our Way Home
Stealing Our Way Home
by Cecilia Galante

Oh my heart strings, Cecilia really knows how to pull on them!  Last summer I read The World From Up Here.  I had picked up the ARC at NCTE without knowing anything about it. I loved the story and the imprint it made on my heart.  Now this summer we have Stealing Our Way Home.  

Jack and Pippa are still reeling from their mother's death from cancer.  Jack is in the 7th grade and doesn't know how to deal with his emotions.  Jack doesn't want to talk about what has happened and when his best friend words his concern wrong making Jack feel like everyone is watching/worried about him, he pushes his friend away.  The new girl next door is someone who Jack might possibly have feelings for, but neither of them can find the words to say what is really on their mind.  Pippa, who is going into fourth grade, has lost her voice with her mother's passing.  Lucky for the reader, the book is told in alternating chapters so we can hear the thoughts that are in Pippa's head and understand how conflicted she is to move forward.  Unfortunately for Jack and Pippa, their dad is also facing his own grief and unbeknownst to them, has lost his job and all of their money.  The dad makes a bad decision and brings Jack into it.  In order to save the family's home, he decides to rob a bank.

This story is definitely a sad, but pull on your heart strings story.  There are many ways of dealing with grief.  Within the pages of this book, you'll see how many of the characters deal with it, each differently.  What Cecilia does so well is makes you see many sides of a character's feeling, their grief, and their thoughts around a decision.  None of these things are black or white, and the reader can understand ideas and thoughts that may be unknown to them.  

Fans of The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop, Georgia Rules by Nanci Turner Steveson, and The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish will enjoy this book.

This Is Just a Test
This Is Just a Test
by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang

What a fantastic book about friendship, family and culture.  David is trying hard to figure out how he fits in - with all 3 of these things.  This is a really great coming of age story, but what I love is that it takes place in the 1980s - when I grew up!  There were little subtle things added in that I had completely forgotten about.  Like the buttons we used to pin to our jean jackets.   There were sayings on some, others featured bands and music artists that were popular at the time, or different slogans.  And the little nod to wearing 2 polo shorts... with both collars turned up!

David's identity and figuring out who he is is tested by friends and family.  His Chinese heritage side seems to always be clashing with his Jewish side.  At school, he is trying to figure out where he fits in.  Here, his heritage doesn't quite matter other than he's got to figure out who he's inviting to his upcoming bat mitzvah.  David has always been best friends with Hector, who doesn't always conform to seventh grade "rules".  And now that David and Hector are on the same trivia team as Scott, one of the "cool" kids, maybe David should start hanging out with Scott more.  Especially to construct a fallout shelter that might be needed if the USSR decides to push the nuclear war "button".

Then there is David's home life.  His grandmothers can't seem to ever get along and always want David to side with them.  His Jewish grandmother, Shafta, and Chinese grandmother, Wai Po, always have differing points of view based on their culture and background.  How can David get them to see their similarities, not differences?

I think readers will enjoy meeting David and seeing how he starts to figure out the person he wants to be while learning to look for the similarities between all of us.

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