Tag: middle grades

Words on Fire

Words on Fire
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: October 1, 2019

336 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Danger is never far from Audra’s family farm in Lithuania. She always avoids the occupying Russian Cossack soldiers, who insist that everyone must become Russian — they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. But Audra knows her parents are involved in something secret and perilous.

When Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra’s parents insist that she flee, taking with her an important package and instructions for where to deliver it. But escape means abandoning her parents to a terrible fate.

As Audra embarks on a journey to deliver the mysterious package, she faces unimaginable risks, and soon she becomes caught up in a growing resistance movement. Can joining the underground network of book smugglers give Audra a chance to rescue her parents?

Kim’s Review:

I really love Nielsen’s books, especially her historical fiction series. She does such a great job of telling the stories of some of the forgotten heroes of history and she does it with respect and style. Unfortunately, this is not my favorite of that series. It’s not a bad book by any means, I just had some issues with it. I felt a disconnect with Audra that I didn’t want to feel. She wasn’t as likable as Nielsen’s other characters. She strayed into that “idealist” territory, where a lot of preaching happens but not a lot of common sense. Of course books are important and for many people in Lithuania under Russian Imperial rule, they were a lifeline to their language and culture. For some reason, it just felt shallow. In the shadow of big country with a stronger army, the resistance seemed ineffectual. There was no balance between passive and military resistance.

I know that the freedoms we enjoy today, of being able to drive to just about any store and buying any book we want, made book running then look like such a small thing. And that was my own shortcoming while reading this book. I just missed the emotions and feels that I got from her other books. I would still recommend this to history teachers and teens because there are excellent lessons to be learned. I personally felt distant from the story, and that makes me sad.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Dear Justice League

Dear Justice League
Author:  Michael Northrop

Illustrator: Gustavo Duarte
Published: Today, August 6, 2019
176 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: July 31, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

The greatest heroes in the DC Comics universe, the Justice League, answer mail from their biggest fans–kids!–courtesy of Michael Northrop, New York Times bestselling author of TombQuest, and artist Gustavo Duarte.

Does Superman ever make mistakes? What was Wonder Woman’s eleventh birthday like? Does Aquaman smell like fish? In this new middle-grade graphic novel, iconic heroes are asked questions both big and small, and when they are not busy saving the world, the Justice League even finds time to respond. Their honest and humorous answers will surprise and delight readers of any age, as it turns out that being a superhero is not too different from being a kid.

Full of feats, follies, and colorful illustrations, Dear Justice League gives readers the inside scoop into everyday heroics, no matter who wears the cape!

Jessica’s Review:

Dear Justice League is a graphic novel aimed at middle grades kids.  It is a fun continuous story of kids asking questions of their favorite hero/heroine.  And the Justice League even gets to save the day!

There are eight ‘chapters’  featuring a member of the Justice League. Each chapter introduced the character then gets to the important issue of a child’s question in which the superhero answers honestly in their own unique way.  Each chapter builds on the previous and we have appearances by Superman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, and Batman.

Each chapter is unique and showcases the personality of each character.  My personal favorite was The Flash’s chapter.  And I have to say one thing: Poor ‘old fashioned’ Batman! 

The illustrations are very colorful and well done.  They definitely add to the story. I am not familiar with all the DC characters, so this was a good introduction for me.  It would be great for kids as well.  This is an enjoyable graphic novel for kids and adults! 

Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy via NetGalley.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero

The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero
Author: Amalia Hoffman

Illustrator: Chiara Fedele
To Be Published: August 1, 2019
40 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: June 13, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Once a skinny and weak child, Gino Bartali rose to become a Tour de France champion and one of cycling’s greatest stars. But all that seemed unimportant when his country came under the grip of a brutal dictator and entered World War II on the side of Nazi Germany. Bartali might have appeared a mere bystander to the harassment and hatred directed toward Italy’s Jewish people, but secretly he accepted a role in a dangerous plan to help them. Putting his own life at risk, Bartali used his speed and endurance on a bike to deliver documents Jewish people needed to escape harm. His inspiring story reveals how one person could make a difference against violence and prejudice during the time of the Holocaust.

Jessica’s Review:

The Brave Cyclist is not your typical picture book. It tells the true story of Gino Bartali who was a small child who ended up winning the Tour de France twice in his lifetime and also became an important figure in World War II by helping to save the Jewish people of Italy.  I did not know Gino’s story until I read this picture book. It shows how drive and determination really can help one person make a difference in a time of need. Gino would ride his bicycle 110 miles one way and he was even jailed for something he did not do.  He not only risked his life, he also risked his family’s life. 

There is an afterward included that informs us of Gino’s life.  His story is well known in Italy, Gino’s hard work deserves recognition in history books worldwide. This story is aimed for children ages 9-12 and should be included in World War II coursework.  This book needs to be in school libraries! 

The only critique I can offer is that some pages the text takes up most of the page, so it may be a bit much for a picture book, but the well done illustrations definitely compliment the story.

Special thanks to Capstone for granting me an e-arc via NetGalley.

Pre-order links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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