Tag Archives: Stacy McAnulty

Eleven Numeracy-related Books

For National Numeracy Day on 19 May, here are some middle-grade books somehow related to numeracy, or with numbers in their titles. I’ve included their Goodreads blurb.

numeracy-books.jpg

The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge

The Jamie Drake EquationThe Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge
Jamie’s dad is an astronaut. This is a good thing – because how cool is that? And a bad thing – because he’s going to be orbiting the Earth for several months and Jamie already misses him badly. Doing his homework at the observation lab one night, Jamie inadvertently picks up a weird signal on his mobile phone. Could it be from an alien civilisation with a message for humankind, a message that Jamie has to get to his father before it’s too late? But how do you rescue an astronaut without heading into space yourself? My review

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation. My review

 

Alice Jones: The Impossible Clue by Sarah Rubin

Alice Jones: The Impossible Clue (Alice Jones, #1)Alice Jones: The Impossible Clue by Sarah Rubin

Maths-whizz Alice has already solved a mystery or two. Persuaded by wannabe sidekick Sammy to investigate a scientist’s disappearance, she’s soon entangled in her trickiest case yet. Dr Learner is reputed to have invented an invisibility suit, but is whacky science really to blame for his vanishing? With the unlikely help of erstwhile nemesis Kevin, Alice solves the puzzle – only to face another. Should she reveal the truth, or protect her most devoted friend?

#1. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters, #1)One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

In a humorous and breakout book by Williams-Garcia, the Penderwicks meet the Black Panthers.

#3. The Clockwork Three by Matthew J Kirby

The Clockwork ThreeThe Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. .  .

Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician who sees no way to escape from his ruthless master, until the day he finds an enchanted violin.

Frederick is an apprentice clockmaker with a past he cannot remember, who secretly works to build the most magnificent clockwork man the world has ever seen.

Hannah is a maid in a grand hotel, whose life is one of endless drudgery, until she encounters a mystifying new guest and learns of a hidden treasure.

As mysterious circumstances bring them together, the lives of these three children soon interlock, and they realize that each one holds the key to the others’ puzzles. Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.

#5. Five Things They Never Told Me by Rebecca Westcott

Five Things They Never Told MeFive Things They Never Told Me by Rebecca Westcott

Five Things They Never Told Me is story to be felt and not forgotten, from Rebecca Westcott, author of Dandelion Clocks and Violet Ink . . .

It’s a glorious summer and Erin and Martha are both stuck at Oak Hill Home for the Elderly. Misunderstood and feeling ignored, they are equally frustrated by the situation. But as Erin learns to listen to Martha, she discovers some very important lessons about making her own voice heard.

#7. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting by 7sCounting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life…until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

#13. 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

13 Treasures (Thirteen Treasures, #1)13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

No one else can see the evil fairies that rouse Tanya from her sleep, torturing her at the slightest mention of their existence, but they are as real to the 13-year-old as anything she’s ever known. She cannot rid herself of them, nor can she ignore them. But it is her insistence on responding to them that has her banished to her grandmother’s secluded countryside manor.

There is much to explore and even more to fear in the woods surrounding the estate. But, the forest isn’t the only source of dark secrets, and Tanya soon finds herself entangled in a mystery that could trap her in the fairy realm forever.

#14. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

The Fourteenth GoldfishThe Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

 

#43. The Boy who Fell Down Exit 43 by Harriet Goodwin

The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43 by Harriet Goodwin

For a millionth of a second the car grazed the drenched moorland. If it had come down on any other patch of ground Finn would simply have been another statistic. Death by dangerous driving. But the car hit the surface of the Earth at Exit 43. It slid through the membrane like a hot knife through butter, plunging into the darkness and catapulting Finn from its shattered windscreen as it fell. Finn Oliver knows he’ll never come to terms with his father’s death, but joy-riding over the moors in his mum’s beat-up old car is a quick fix of freedom and forgetting. Until the accident happens – and Finn finds himself hurtling through the wafer-thin divide between the worlds of the living and the dead. Adventurous, charming and poignant by turns, “The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43” is a quirky debut novel laced with humour and a dollop of magic.

#60. House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert DeJong

The House of Sixty FathersThe House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert DeJong

Tien Pao and piglet he names “Glory-of-the-Republic” after baby sister “Beauty-of-the-Republic” drift free in storm downriver back to Japanese territory. Following tiny mountain trails back to parents, he meets American aviator. Guerillas sneak them free. Based on real story of boy adopted by squadron of sixty flyers in bunkhouse. My review

Do you know any books that will fit into this list? Drop your suggestions below and I’ll check them out.

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    Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

First published 15 May 2019. Updated 2 May 2021

8 Books to Help Settle in the New School Year

If you know of a someone who started a new school or is nervous about the new school year, here are some middle-grade books that might help.

1. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

The Year of Billy MillerGoodreads Blurb

Award-winning, nationally bestselling author Kevin Henkes introduces second-grader Billy Miller in this fast-paced and funny story about friendship, sibling rivalry, and elementary school. The Year of Billy Miller includes black-and-white art by Kevin Henkes and is perfect for fans of the Ramona books; Frindle, by Andrew Clements; and the Clementine series.

The New York Times declared: “Henkes’s delightful story is restrained and vivid . . . forgoing the overdramatic or zany, it shows the substance, warmth and adaptability of beautifully common family love.” When Billy Miller has a mishap at the statue of the Jolly Green Giant at the end of summer vacation, he ends up with a big lump on his head. What a way to start second grade, with a lump on your head! As the year goes by, though, Billy figures out how to navigate elementary school, how to appreciate his little sister, and how to be a more grown up and responsible member of the family and a help to his busy working mom and stay-at-home dad. Newbery Honor author and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes delivers a short, satisfying, laugh-out-loud-funny school and family story that features a diorama homework assignment, a school poetry slam, cancelled sleepovers, and epic sibling temper tantrums. This is a perfect short novel for the early elementary grades. #

My review

2. Vote for Effie by Laura Wood

Vote for EffieGoodreads Blurb

Join Effie Kostas as she fights to become Student Council President in her new school. With a campaign team of loveable misfits, she tackles the truly important subjects: gender imbalance, outdated school conventions…and good-looking boys stealing the last slice of chocolate cake at lunchtime. A laugh out-loud rallying call for switched-on kids everywhere.

My review

3. The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle

Goodreads Blurb

Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she’s lost. Under the grey Glasgow skies, twelve-year-old refugee Reema is struggling to find her place in a new country, with a new language and without her brother. But she isn’t the only one feeling lost. Her Glasgwegian neighbour Caylin is lonely and lashing out. When they discover an injured fox and her cubs hiding on their estate, the girls form a wary friendship. And they are more alike than they could have imagined: they both love to run. As Reema and Caylin learn to believe again, in themselves and in others, they find friendship, freedom and the discovery that home isn’t a place, it’s the people you love. Heartfelt and full of hope, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is an uplifting story about the power of friendship and belonging. Inspired by her work with young asylum seekers, debut novelist Victoria Williamson’s stunning story of displacement and discovery will speak to anyone who has ever asked ‘where do I belong?’

My review

4. The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

The Unforgotten CoatGoodreads Blurb

Carnegie Medallist Frank Cottrell Boyce transports readers from the steppe of Mongolia to the streets of Liverpool in a story that is compelling, miraculous and laugh-out-loud funny.

5. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlGoodreads Blurb

A lightning strike gave her a super power…but even a super genius can’t solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth GoldfishRain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?

My review

6. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #1)Goodreads Blurb

Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I’m not the only kid who lives here. There’s my sister, Natalie, except she doesn’t count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook’s or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don’t want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you’re me. I came here because my mother said I had to.

My review

7. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a TreeGoodreads Blurb

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

My review

8. Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen

Fly Me HomeGoodreads Blurb

Feeling lost and alone in a strange new city, Leelu wishes she could fly away back home – her real home where her dad is, thousands of miles away.

London is cold and grey and the neighbours are noisy and there’s concrete everywhere.

But Leelu is not alone; someone is leaving her gifts outside her house – wonders which give her curious magical powers.

Powers which might help her find her way home . . .

Fly Me Home is an incredibly moving portrait of one family’s struggle to adjust to life in a new country. Full of friendship, family and magic, this stunning novel by Polly Ho-Yen, author of Boy in the Tower (shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award) and Where Monsters Lie, is a must-read for 9-12 readers.

Hopefully these will help the new kid in the class know there are others out there also  in the same situation. Do you know of anyone who’s had to make a fresh start this autumn? Drop a comment below to let me know how they’re getting on.

BookstoHelpSettleintheNewSchoolYear

First published 15 Sep 2019. Updated 15 Aug 2020.

Eight Books with Strong Female Leads

International Women’s Day is on 8 March. To mark this day, here are some children’s books with strong female leads to inspire our female readers. These strong female characters show many traits.  They are creative, courageous and challenge their boundaries.

Middle Grade Books

Serafina and the Black Cloak (Serafina, #1)Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

My review

Blurb

“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity… before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

BrightstormBrightstorm by Vashti Hardy

My review

Blurb

Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died! The twins don’t believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family’s reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?

The Fox Girl and the White GazelleThe Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson

My review

Blurb

Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she’s lost. Under the grey Glasgow skies, twelve-year-old refugee Reema is struggling to find her place in a new country, with a new language and without her brother. But she isn’t the only one feeling lost. Her Glasgwegian neighbour Caylin is lonely and lashing out. When they discover an injured fox and her cubs hiding on their estate, the girls form a wary friendship. And they are more alike than they could have imagined: they both love to run. As Reema and Caylin learn to believe again, in themselves and in others, they find friendship, freedom and the discovery that home isn’t a place, it’s the people you love. Heartfelt and full of hope, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is an uplifting story about the power of friendship and belonging. Inspired by her work with young asylum seekers, debut novelist Victoria Williamson’s stunning story of displacement and discovery will speak to anyone who has ever asked ‘where do I belong?’

The Girl, the Cat and the NavigatorThe Girl, the Cat and the Navigator by Matilda Woods

My review

Blurb (There wasn’t one on Goodreads, so I’ve typed out what was on the book jacket)

Set sail aboard the Plucky Leopard for an adventure of myth and marvel among the ice-caps!

Curious, pin-bright Oona Britt dreams of a life of excitement on the wild waves. She has read stories of a mysterious, magical creature called the nardoo which swims through the starts at night, and decides to stow away on her father’s ship to track on down.

But her time on the storm-tossed sea is fraught with danger – there’s a mutinous crew, a sabotaging ship’s cat called Barnacles and a hungry creature of the deep awoken after a long sleep.

The House with Chicken LegsThe House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

My review

Blurb

All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.
But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.
So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.
With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

My review

Blurb

A lightning strike gave her a super power…but even a super genius can’t solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth GoldfishRain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?

A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty’s smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.

Chapter Books

Spider Stampede (Switch, #1)Spider Stampede by Ali Sparkes

My Quick Thoughts:

Mrs Potts is obviously a very clever and inventive scientist. I wish there were more books like the Switch Series. Children, especially girls need to read about female leads and mentor in STEM roles.

Blurb

All Josh and Danny Phillips want to do is play in the yard with their dog, like regular eight-year-olds. Unfortunately, their crazy neighbor Miss Potts makes sure that they never have any fun. When the boys accidentally stumble on Miss Potts’s secret that she is working on experiments that change people into bugs they find themselves in a whole lot of trouble. (They also find themselves with six more legs than normal.) Can the boys survive in the world as spiders? And more important, will they figure out how to change back into humans in time for dinner?

The Magic Mixer ebook cThe Magic Mixer by Justine Laismith

Blurb

This is a story about Mrs Dabble, who is bringing up three children: Billy, who is a pleasant and polite; Melanie, a toddler who likes to do things for herself; and Ruby, a baby.

On a typical day, Mrs Dabble finds herself going from one crisis to another. She really needs some help, but where can she get it from?

Meet Dr Patsy Gerlaxi and her Magic Mixer. This machine takes unique and useful features from any animal and inserts them into humans!

So begins Mrs Dabble’s adventure to getting more help with the assistance of the Magic Mixer …

 

If you are looking for books to inspire the little girl in your life, I hope these eight books will give you a starting point. If you want more suggestions, drop me a note below and I will gladly recommend more. Or if you know of other books must-read strong female leads do drop your suggestions below.

First published 1 March 2019 for International Women’s Day. Updated on 1 March 2020.

Twelve Books about Women-in-STEM

UNESCO has designated 11 Feb to be the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Here are some fiction and non-fiction books about women and girls in STEM.

Chapter Books/Early Readers

Spider Stampede (Switch, #1)Spider Stampede

by Ali Sparkes

This is a first in the series. Mrs Potts is a very clever and inventive scientist.

My Explosive DiaryMy Explosive Diary

by Emily Gale

This is a book that showcases girls can do anything.

The Magic Mixer ebook cThe Magic Mixer

by Justine Laismith

Mrs Dabble tackles the arduous challenge of parenting with the help of an owl, octopus and a salamander. Invented by two women, a scientist and an engineer, it’s a machine that gives you the special feature of any animal.

Middle Grade Books

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A home-schooled math genius finds her way in middle school and uses her math skills to help an charity house find new homes for animals in their care.

BrightstormBrightstorm

by Vashti Hardy

Captain Scott-like antarctic adventure. Designed, built and led by Harriet, twins set out in her sky-ship to find their missing explorer father.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Calpurnia Tate, #1)The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A girl develops her interest as a naturalist in an era where STEM doors are closed to the females.

The Matilda EffectThe Matilda Effect

by Ellie Irving

A girl sets out to right the wrong done to her grandmother-in-STEM.

 

The Dog Who Saved the WorldThe Dog Who Saved the World

by Ross Welford

A canine-origin pandemic breaks out shortly after a talented programmer convinces Georgie to visit her house.

Beetle Boy (The Battle of the Beetles #1)Beetle Boy

by M.G. Leonard

Beetle version of 101 Dalmations. The woman-in-STEM in this story is the antagonist.

Non-fiction Books

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the WorldWomen in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am partial to this one because of its beautiful illustrations.

Brilliant Ideas From Wonderful WomenBrilliant Ideas From Wonderful Women by Aitziber Lopez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Children’s book review about the everyday items and women who invented them

Hidden FiguresHidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-fiction book review on Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. It follows the lives of black women

There are several non-fiction books highlighting women’s contributions to STEM. However fictions books with women in STEM, especially those as mentors, are few and far between. I want to make this a longer list. If you know of any more books, please leave the book title and if you know it, the author’s name in the comments below. Thank you!

First published 11 Feb 2019. Updated 1 Feb 2020.

Five Great Middle Grade Books published in 2018

My blog is a day early, but we have come to the end of 2018. To say goodbye to this year, I’ve reflected on the 2018 publications. Here are 5 great middle-grade books I want to the world to know about.

BrightstormBrightstorm by Vashti Hardy

My Thoughts after Reading

This is a middle grade adventure. Twins Maudie and Arthur set out in a sky-ship to find their missing explorer father. The setting is probably Victorian time, in a world with a First, Second and Third Continent. The first continent looks like the south of England. The second continent seems to be part-Australia and part-middle East. The third continent is, without a doubt, the Antarctic.
Even at the start, the book promises great things as the twins quote their father’s words of wisdom.
“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
“Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.”
News of his death came at the start. They lost their inheritance and were heartlessly thrown out of their family home. What an injustice. Straightaway, I rooted for the twins. They are sold off to a couple. The setting is reminiscent of Dickens’ stories. In one of those dark days, their pet bird, who went on the expedition with their father, returned. Pets in this story setting are intelligent. They have a special bond with their owner, and understand human speech perfectly, even though humans are incapable of understanding them back. This reminds me to The Golden Compass. The Thought-Wolves are a brilliant creation.
Despite the tragic setting, the author has put in brilliant mentors for the twins. The chef Felicity has a special gift of sixth sense; she gets an uncomfortable tingling in her toes. Any scenes with Felicity give me the warm feeling of being looked after. I love it that they were still able to enjoy honeyed tea and cake despite the harsh conditions.
I have been looking for books with female mentors and I am very pleased to find her here. Harriet is a great role model. She designed and made the sky-ship that does not drain natural resources nor pollute the air. She imparts her engineering and navigation knowledge to Maudie, who shows great interest in all things mechanical. Despite her intelligence, Harriet is thoughtful of her crew members.
I enjoyed the narratives on the ship and their various expeditions. This book is a mixture of several stories I’ve come across: Captain Scott, Lieutenant Hornblower, The Golden Compass, Oliver Twist. The author has taken bits from them and come with something of her own.
An enjoyable read.

The Fox Girl and the White GazelleThe Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson

My Thoughts after Reading

This middle grade book gives a good insight to refugees settling in the UK. Reema’s family has just arrived from war-torn Syria, having had several months of living in a refugee camp overseas. They arrive without knowing English nor the local culture. They need to pick all these up, and leave the past traumas behind. On top of this, they have to cope with prejudice.

Caylin is the school bully who intimidates her schoolmates into giving her money. As always, the bullying is only the tip of the iceberg. We learn the reasons behind her actions.

Externally they are different, but inwardly they have something in common. You can relate to the two things that brings them together: animals and shared talent. The story is written from the POVs of Reema and Caylin, in alternating chapters. They are heart-felt. You will find yourself rooting for them as you see them taking baby steps towards uncharted territories. You cannot help but turn page after page.

A great read.

The Girl, the Cat and the NavigatorThe Girl, the Cat and the Navigator by Matilda Woods

My Thoughts after Reading

First of all, what a great title, so random, and yet so rhythmic. Irresistible.

The story is set in a fictional place Scandinavian-like. On one hand there is folklore, superstition and fortune-telling. On another hand, there are constellations, explorations and naval adventure. The main character addresses today’s call for female leads. The cat, as any animal would in a middle grade book, has great appeal. It’s got swagger, talent, and nine lives. I’ve always been told cats do not like water, yet here cats are mascots for ships. Creative. Furthermore, the childless old couple is a masterstroke. There are many children’s story with a kind old couple who want nothing more than a child. Incorporating this into the story, together with the folklore and animal, is a winning combination to take on middle grade readers.

This is a real treasure. I can see this book being a classic in the future.

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

My Thoughts after Reading

This is a middle grade book about a 12-year-old who became a math genius after she was struck by lightning. She also developed OCD. Her grandmother, who is her carer, had home-schooled her since. But now that she is 12, she has to go to middle school and make friends of her age. Up to this point, her friends were online math geniuses.
The way her mathematical mind works comes across very well in the story. She made a couple of unlikely friends, particularly Levi. He is not mathematical, but he has a gift of empathy. He can tell straightaway how someone is feeling, and captures their expressions in his camera. This obsession is not popular with his peers. My favourite line in the book comes from him. “You’re the first person who has ever felt different. You’re the first freak ever to set foot in East Hamlin Middle School. Congratulations, Lucy Callahan. You’re so special.” Levi is simply spot on in his analyses of people.

This book was recommended to me because of the cool math teacher. I was looking for a STEM mentor in MG books. He wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but I liked him. He is a teacher who has passion for the subject, and attempts to connect the subject to our world at large. Most of all, he spotted the fact that Lightning Girl is not showing her full potential. Teachers like Mr Stoker are a gift to all parents.
The writing is quick paced, rhythmic and page-turning. The characters are compelling. What I love best is our math genius used statistics to help a charity house homeless pets. Cleverly written to incorporate math into fiction.

A really good read.

The Night DiaryThe Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

My thoughts after Reading

This middle-grade historical fiction is about a family caught in the midst of a key historical event. When India gained independence from the British, it separated into two countries, India and Pakistan. The Hindus had to move south to India and the Muslims north to Pakistan. Seen through the eyes of a girl, Nisha, this was not a peaceful transition. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who used to live peacefully now fought and killed one other.

The author cleverly chose a family who broke tradition at the time. Nisha’s father is a Hindu, and her late mother was Muslim. Their Muslim cook is part of their household. Yet the turmoil meant the unit had to separate.

Through her diary entries, Nisha tells us her family’s struggles as they made their way across the border. I’m not a fan of diary-format books. Here each entry ends with ‘love Nisha’. I find this distracting, as if it’s telling me to stop reading now I have reached the end. This diary format took me a while to get into it, ie after many sittings. It was only towards the middle when I settled into the story that I was able to ignore the entry breaks. The historical parts were skilfully dotted in places to keep the story flowing. Middle grade readers will learn about this moment in history through this story.

The author has successfully described the place, culture and the atmosphere. One thing struck me while reading was how much trouble was taken to educate readers of the plethora of food. At every meal/snack time a different type of food eaten or cooked. Whilst I enjoyed reading about how the food was cooked, I did not recognise 80% of their names. It made no difference to me whether a dozen food was on the menu, or if only a couple was mentioned. Perhaps this is more meaningful for a native Indian, but to me it felt like the author was rattling off lists of them just to educate us.

All said and done, I liked the historical nature of it, so do check out this book.

 

These are the five books I would recommend a middle-grade reader. If there any books you can think of, please add to this list in the comments below. Have a Happy New Year.

My Thoughts after Reading: The Miscalculation of Lightning Girl

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts after Reading

This is a middle grade book about a 12-year-old who became a math genius after she was struck by lightning. She also developed OCD. Her grandmother, who is her carer, had home-schooled her since. But now that she is 12, she has to go to middle school and make friends of her age. Up to this point, her friends were online math geniuses.
The way her mathematical mind works comes across very well in the story. She made a couple of unlikely friends, particularly Levi. He is not mathematical, but he has a gift of empathy. He can tell straightaway how someone is feeling, and captures their expressions in his camera. This obsession is not popular with his peers. My favourite line in the book comes from him. “You’re the first person who has ever felt different. You’re the first freak ever to set foot in East Hamlin Middle School. Congratulations, Lucy Callahan. You’re so special.” Levi is simply spot on in his analyses of people.

This book was recommended to me because of the cool math teacher. I was looking for a STEM mentor in MG books. He wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but I liked him. He is a teacher who has passion for the subject, and attempts to connect the subject to our world at large. Most of all, he spotted the fact that Lightning Girl was not showing her full potential. Teachers like Mr Stoker are a gift to all parents.
The writing is quick paced, rhythmic and page-turning. The characters are compelling. What I love best is our math genius used statistics to help a charity house homeless pets. Cleverly written to incorporate math into fiction.

A really good read.

Blurb

A lightning strike gave her a super power…but even a super genius can’t solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth GoldfishRain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?

A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty’s smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different

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