Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School

KidLit in Translation: My Life as Lotta – A House Full of Rabbits

My Life as Lotta: A House Full of Rabbits, by Alice Pantermüller/Illustrated by Daniela Kohl, (Oct. 2019, Sterling Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 9781454936244

Ages 7-10

Lotta is a fifth grader who has younger twin brothers, a mother with a shopping problem, a father who doesn’t seem to like much, and who desperately wants a dog (or a small sheep), but will settle for one of her best friend’s many, many rabbits. Originally published in Germany, My Life as Lotta is similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the book is written as Lotta’s diary entries, is loaded with scribbles and notes, and stars a protagonist who finds herself in the wackiest situations.

Maybe I’ve got Wimpy Kid burnout, but My Life as Lotta didn’t do much for me. Lotta’s parents seem pretty awful – maybe they get funnier with subsequent books? Her best friend, twin brothers, and teacher are all pretty run-of-the-mill supporting characters, with Lotta taking center stage for all the wackiness. That said, I’m definitely not the intended audience for this book, and can see my intermediate-level readers enjoying it. If you have the extra dollars in your book budget and Wimpy Kid/Dork Diaries/Timmy Failure books do well for you, give My Life as Lotta a shot.

Posted in Fiction, Horror, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads

Thornhill is good haunted house creepiness

Thornhill, by Pam Smy, (Aug. 2017, Roaring Brook Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781626726543

Recommended for readers 10-14

Two girls, two decades, one story: Thornhill is a story told in prose and pictures, switching back and forth to tell each character’s story. In 1982, Mary is a lonely orphan living in the Thornhill Institute for Children, relegated to her room where she makes puppets, for fear of the merciless bullying she suffers. The Institute is on the verge of closing, and the girls are being re-homed – except for Mary and her tormentor, who continues unabated by the social worker who prefers to victim blame. Mary’s story unfolds through journal entries, where we see the bullying turn her, desperately, to a plan for revenge that will echo for decades.

In 2016, Ella is the new girl in town, living in a home with a perfect view of the abandoned Thornhill Institute. As she looks out the window, she sees someone in the lonely attic window at Thornhill. Determined to discover who she is, Ella wanders onto the Thornhill property and unravels Mary’s – and Thornhill’s – story. Ella’s story is told through stark black and white artwork, leaving much for readers to discover. The narratives follow one another; Mary’s narrative enriches Ella’s story. The chilling ending will leave readers breathless.

Thornhill is captivating, urging readers to its conclusion. Mary and Ella are kindred spirits on their own journeys; while Ella’s story is relegated to what we see on the pages, there is a wealth of material there for sharp-eyed observers. It’s a great choice for suspense and thriller fans.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School

Spotlight on: Pippa Morgan’s Diary!

cover64902-mediumPippa Morgan’s Diary, by Annie Kelsey (December 1, 2015; Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)

Hardcover ISBN 9781492623281

Price: $12.99

Pippa is beside herself when her BFF moves to Scotland. TO SCOTLAND! In a move of self-preservation, she tries to make a new friend when Catie Brown, one of the most popular girls in school, sits next to her in class. Catie Brown has a rotating list of people who get to sit next to her at lunch every day! Pippa discovers that she and Catie both love the talent reality show, The Voice Factor, and in a desperate bid for something to get Catie’s attention, Pippa tells her she auditioned for the show. AND blew the judges away. She and Catie become BFFs, but Catie’s dying to hear Pippa sing – so much that she signed her up for the school talent show. And Pippa couldn’t catch a tune if she was carrying a barrel.

Pippa Morgan’s Diary is perfect for readers who love Jim Benton’s My Dumb Diary, Rachael Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries, and Marissa Moss’ Amelia’s Notebook series. Pippa gets herself into hilarious trouble with her overactive imagination, but you have to appreciate her creativity – and her honesty. This is a fun start to a new series, and the kids in my library LOVE this diary/journal fiction trend.

Praise for Pippa Morgan’s Dairy

“With its approachable style and friendly language, this is sure to please both older fans of Rebecca Elliott’s “Owl Diaries” (Scholastic) and reluctant readers alike.” –School Library Journal

“Likable characters in humorous situations make for a promising series opener.” –Kirkus

“A charming story about the lengths you can go to win someone over, this is a great addition to the perennially popular illustrated-journal trend in middle-grade fiction. Although the character-created sketches can draw Wimpy Kid comparisons, the tone more closely matches Marissa Moss’ Amelia’s Notebook (1995)… the perfect quick read for any student with starry-eyed aspirations and a big imagination.”- Booklist

Summary:

Sometimes a little white lie can land you in a whole lot of trouble…

Pippa’s new BFF Catie Brown is perfect. So perfect, that Pippa tells her a teeny tiny lie—that she once auditioned for Voice Factor—to impress her. And it works. It works so well, in fact, that Catie enters Pippa into the school talent show.

The only problem? Pippa can’t sing. Not at all. In fact, her singing is so bad it scares the neighbors. But if she doesn’t participate in the talent show, Catie will know she lied. But if she does participate, the whole school will find out what a horrible singer she is…including Catie!

It’s up to Pippa to put an end to this pesky problem!

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26457243-pippa-morgan-s-diary

Buy Links:

Amazon- http://ow.ly/UZb5z

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/UZcJF

Books A Million- http://ow.ly/UZcQi

!ndigo- http://ow.ly/UZd4f

Indiebound- http://ow.ly/UZd9D

About the Author:

Annie Kelsey is a pseudonym for a well-known children’s book author.

Excerpt from Pippa Morgan’s Diary

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Sunday

I can still smell the stink of the moving van. Rachel and I just hugged and cried as they loaded her stuff on. Then I watched like a big-eyed kid who’d just lost her puppy while Rachel waved out of the window of her parents’ car.

I will NEVER forgive Rachel’s parents—I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE THEY DECIDED THAT RACHEL SHOULD LIVE IN SCOTLAND INSTEAD OF THREE DOORS AWAY FROM ME!

Scotland is, like, a gazillion miles away.

Rachel said Nothing Would Change Really. *rolls eyes* She said, We’ll still be best friends even though I’m so far away. I love Rachel but sometimes she can be one fry short of a Happy Meal.

Of course we’ll be best friends. But it’s not the same. I can only talk to her on the phone. I don’t get to see her every day.

We can NEVER AGAIN dress up in my dad’s extra-high-visibility cycling gear and go and stand under the fluorescent lights in the supermarket and see how many shoppers we can dazzle. The frozen-food section was best because the freezers had this cold blue glow that turned us practically luminous. We’d offer to help shoppers reach for fish sticks or ice cream and try not to giggle when they’d half-close their eyes like they were staring into the sun.

We loved dressing up. Last summer, we pretended we were characters from The Lady of Morpeth Abbey—which was our favorite TV show EVER. It was soooo romantic and all the characters wore beautiful old-fashioned clothes. Rachel and I raided every thrift store in town until we’d made the BEST costumes. Rachel dressed as Mr. Hunderbentleman (buckle-y shoes and a frilly shirt and a big hat and everything) and I wore ten big skirts on top of each other and put my hair in a bun so I looked like Lady Monteith, and we spent the whole day talking like our characters.

RACHEL: Lady Monteith, may I bring you something from my morning stroll as a token of my admiration?

ME: I would be eternally grateful if you brought me a dozen roses, Mr. Hunderbentleman, for my pretty nose needs something delicate to smell.

RACHEL: (giggling) My dear lady! Why don’t you stroll with me and we may smell the roses together?

ME: Oh, Mr. Hunderbentleman! I am so lucky to know such a kind gentleman as you.

And we did it ALL day. Mom and Dad thought it was really funny (Mom and Dad were still married then) and it was the best day ever. Then Mom told us to go and get changed because my big skirts kept sweeping things off her knickknack shelf and Rachel had to go home for dinner.

I wonder what Rachel’s having for dinner tonight? I could have the same thing and it’d be like we were having dinner together like we used to when Rachel’s mom went to yoga.

But I can’t even text her to ask because she’s living on the side of a mountain in the middle of NOWHERE.

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