Roll with It by Jamie Sumner

roll

Pages: 256

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: In the tradition of Wonder and Out of My Mind, this big-hearted middle-grade debut tells the story of an irrepressible girl with cerebral palsy whose life takes an unexpected turn when she moves to a new town.

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother.

But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!

My Review: A beautiful read. If you like Wonder than you will love Roll with It.

Ellie is an inspiration that will stick with you. I couldn’t put this book down and I was hooked from page one. Yes, at times Ellie could be a tad whiny and smart-mouthed but what pre-teen isn’t and sometimes she had a right to be whiny. It made her character seem believable.

I definitely will be buying a copy or five for some local elementary schools in my area. I want to share Ellie’s story with as many as I can.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

beverly kate.png

Pages: 256

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Revisiting once again the world of Raymie Nightingale, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo turns her focus to the tough-talking, inescapably tenderhearted Beverly.

Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.

Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. In a touching, funny, and fearless conclusion to her sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros, #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and put it back together again.

My Review:

I had never read Kate DiCamillo until a year and a half ago when several of my students had to read Because of Winn-Dixie for their third-grade class. I have been hooked since.

I’m a huge fan of coming of age literature. DiCamillo does an outstanding job in showing us how sometimes we have to choose our family whether that includes a favorite pet or an elderly woman who is fighting to live on her own. It is ok for family to be those friends you pick up on the way during your life’s journey. Love comes in many different forms and sometimes when we least expect it.

Beverly, Right Here is another perfect read-aloud book to promote discussion with the middle-graders in your life. I enjoy how DiCamillo left the story open-ended as we have the hope to visit the Three Rancheros again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Candlewick Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young

pumpkin

Pages: 184

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults, and kids across the island grow giant, thousand-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town.

Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first-prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race when his pumpkin crashed into her as she was about to cross the finish line and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin and beating Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins since weather, bugs, and critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long-lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

My Review: A beautifully written book showing young readers how the world around them isn’t always about them. Billie is very self-absorbed but I don’t think any more so than other children her age. This her summer of growing and learning for the next stage of her life.

I was very impressed with how the author weaved science and math into the story without the reader feeling like they just received a lesson.

I would definitely recommend this book to any on my middle-grade readers with confidence.

I received a complimentary copy from Random House Children’s through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

louisiana

Pages: 240 (eBook)

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: October 2, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written. The ending will bring you all the feels from sadness to happiness to love. Twenty four hours after finishing I am still moved to tears thinking about this book.

Louisiana Elefante is awakened in the middle of the night by her Granny and told they are leaving for good right then. As they cross the FL/GA state line Louisiana realizes she will never see her friends again and starts plotting in her head how to get back to Lister, FL. When Granny starts having dental problems and finding a dentist is the number one goal, Louisiana finds more than she bargained for in a new friend and the family she has always dreamed of being apart of.

If the cover with a little blond girl and a cute bunny barrette does not pull you in immediately you will be pulled in by the second page and falling in love with Louisiana. Her spunkiness and pure childlike look into the word will grip your heart and not let it go. You will admire her determination and strength as she navigates the hand that is dealt to her.

Louisiana’s Way Home is a book I will be re-reading for years to come and will be sharing with my students every year. A wonderful example of how you can overcome a rough start in life and with grit and determination you can decide on who you will become.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Candlewick Press through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

sadie

Pages: 320 (eBook)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Whoa what a tumultuous read.

In a small town that America has forgot, is a young girl trying to raise her little sister Mattie wit little help from those around them. Sadie’s life is shattered when Mattie is found in a local orchard violently murdered. Sadie takes it upon herself to find the murderer and bring vigilante justice to him. As Sadie works her way across the miles she finds herself closer to the murderer but does she also find herself closer to her own death as well?

National radio personality, West McCray, hears Sadie’s story and finds himself unable to not get involved. The investigation he launches starts taking over his life and his hope is he finds Sadie before it’s too late.

I had no idea while reading Sadie that it was labeled as a YA read. Any fan of thrillers and mysteries will enjoy this book no matter their age. WARNING: there is plenty of violence, foul language and sensitive subjects (child abuse, child sexual abuse, drug use) throughout the book but all that is what makes this book unable to put down. I almost expected to look up from the book and her my West on the radio talking about a true case.

The book is written in two forms: a narrative when reading Sadie’s thoughts and actions and a podcast transcript when reading West’s thoughts and actions. The podcast transcript reading was different but fit this book.

You will be thinking about this book long after you have finished. It will keep you up at night even if you aren’t up reading.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed above are completely my own.

Ella: An Amish Retelling of Cinderella by Sarah Price

ella

Pages: 368 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: March 29, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ella has not had it easy since her father died unexpectedly and left her alone with her stepmother and two stepsisters. She has had to do whatever her stepsisters did not want to do which is everything from cooking, cleaning and working in the family store. Her stepmother lets the girls get away with everything while making Ella look and feel as if she is worthless. An unfortunate event has plagued the family and something must be done to save the family store. When a young man starts visiting Echo Creek for his father another store owner life gets interesting for all. Will this be Ella’s chance to shine?

Sarah Price has done a wonderful job in the retelling of Cinderella through an Amish perspective. It makes it very fun and interesting. My favorite line in the story is Ella’s mother’s final words, “Be kind and have faith.” What a powerful line. I have found myself repeating that many times since I have finished the book.

This book is great for teenage readers (and adults) who want to read a clean romance without the crude sex scenes and unneeded obscene language that is finding its way into young adult books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet

orphan

Pages: 448 (eBook)

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: April 17, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

As World War II blazes through Europe and Hitler becomes a menace, Augusta “Gusta” Neubronner is sent to live with her grandma she barely knows in Springdale, Maine. Her father was escorting her but in Providence they became separated so she trudges on until she finds her grandmother’s doorstep. She brings very few possessions but her treasured French horn as made the journey with her. As she learns her way in life and the new town will the French horn be able to save her and her family as family secrets start leaking out at the seams?

What a treasured read. The book is loosely based on the author’s own mother’s life as a child during wartime in Maine. You can see the trueness of the story shine through the words on the page. I was enthralled with this different aspect of a children’s book during World War Two. As a reader you learn about Alienation registration and how children treated other children who seemed un-American based on their name or look. At times it reminded me of what is going on the America today with the immigration disputes among people.

This may be a children’s fiction book but anyone who loves a good story, no matter the age, will find themselves cheering gutsy Gusta as she learns her way in life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Candlewick Press through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

the sound of rain

Pages: 326

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Published: November 7, 2017

The Sound of Rain is thought-provoking and comforting all at the same time. Judd Markley finds himself in South Carolina after recovering from a mining accident that took Joe, his baby brother’s, life. Joe always wanted to move to SC and Judd is trying to live the life Joe wanted. Judd starts working at the local timber company and starts spending time with the owner’s daughter, Larkin. Larkin has a mind of her own which she is just starting to show to those around her. Her dream is to move to Appalachia and help those in need. She sees the ticket to Appalachia through Joe not realizing he does not want to go back. Through many ups and downs including Hurricane Hazel Judd and Larkin find themselves falling for one another. Is Judd just a pawn for Larkin’s father and Larkin herself or can love overcome the economic difference in their lives?

I took my time reading this book as it made me think. I thought about the time period (1950s) it took place and wondered how I would have chosen to live my life. Would I have wanted to be unselfish and volunteer my time helping others or would I have lived in the moment and had fun hanging out with friends dancing and finding the right husband? Maybe having been into money the choice was easy for Larkin?

I admired Judd in basically starting a new life with barely a duffel bag full of clothing in a city and state he had never been too and working at a job that he had no experience working. I would have been terrified.

Judd talks about how he was not real religious but he knew God was there for him always. Even though he was not a church-going man he never lost his faith in God when things got trying. I found that refreshing in that a character could have faith without it being thrown at the reader every other page.

Whether you are a Christian fiction reader or not I suggest you grab a copy of this book. Sarah Loudin Thomas has outdone herself with her newest novel. This novel was clean with no sex, foul language or violence. It would make a great Christmas gift for the older teenage girl, grandma or best friend in your life.

Thank you to the author and Bethany House Publishers for a copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

, Published: November

A Pain Less Ordinary by L.V. Pires

a pain less ordinary

Pages: 239

Publisher: Pangram YA

Published: September 12,2017

A heartbreaking read. That is the only way I can describe this book. I am so glad to have read it. I started reading this book at 4am and rarely put it down until I was finished. Being a substitute teacher it made me think about some of the students I see on a regular basis and how you truly never know what is going on at home.

Becca is a high school student trying to pass her classes while raising her baby sister and trying to keep her family together. During a moment of anger she tells her mom about her step-father’s cheating and things spiral out of control quickly. Follow Becca as she tries to put her family back together again and learns how strong she really is.

You will cry, scream at the injustice of the CPS system and the cruelty kids can inflict on one another. I would definitely use this book in my high school classroom in hopes it would teach kids to have compassion and to build each other up instead of tearing each other down out of spite and meanness.

Thank you to the author for a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review based on my words.