Monday, September 26, 2016

MG Fantasy/Paranormal Review: The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

23922381The Creeping Shadow  by Jonathan Stroud
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Number of Pages: 464
Published:  September 13th, 2016 

Source:  Purchased

Genre:  Fantasy, Paranormal

First lines:  "I knew at once, when I slipped into the moonlit office and eased the door shut behind me, that I was in the presence of the dead."

**There may be spoilers, so be forewarned**

Jonathan Stroud has been my go-to author when I want something atmospheric and spooky with just a dash of suspense. I absolutely love the way he writes his snarky characters, like Bartimaeus from his other series and the ghost skull in the jar (I'm still hoping for a name for this guy someday).   I'm always eagerly awaiting the release of the next book, and they are my favorite books to read, especially with Halloween approaching. The Hollow Boy was the most recent book in the series and found the crew of Lockwood & Co. fracturing. Lockwood had hired a new agent, Holly Munro and things were changing. New secrets were being revealed by our mysterious skull and Lockwood began opening up about his past, and let Lucy and George into the room that he normally kept locked up tight. We learned about the circumstance behind Lockwood's sister's death.  Lucy began to understand her abilities better, starting to connect with the ghosts and speak with them. Which leads us to Lucy getting a glimpse of how she might be the cause of someone's death, so at the end of the book she decides to leave the agency.

The Creeping Shadow begins as Lucy is seeking jobs as a freelance, for hire operative. Which introduces a whole bunch of new characters, mostly fellow operatives from the rival ghost hunting team of Fittes and the Rotwell agency.  There are also some interesting power struggles going on between these two agencies.  Lucy is still reaching out to ghosts to speak to them, risky because they are ghosts which can be unpredictable, but at least her heart is in the right place. The disembodied talking head in a jar is still present and the bantering between the two is just adorable. Yeah, I said it, adorable.   In the Creeping Shadow, we see this bond that Lucy and the skull have formed strengthening. 

"Its nostrils dilated; I heard a dismissive sniff.  Like you care a bean what I think."  I looked around the moonlit kitchen, silent, seemingly innocuous, but drenched in evil. "Dear old skull.  I do care, and I'm asking you as a ...as a..."  "I detect hesitation, " the skull said.  "As a friend?"  I scowled.  "Well, no. Obviously not."  "As a respected colleague, then?"  "Even that would be stretching it.  No, I'm asking you as someone who genuinely values your opinion, despite your wicked nature, your vicious temperament, and my better judgment." The face regarded  me.  "Ooh, okay...I see you're going for the virtues of simple honesty here, rather than the honeyed words of flattery.  Correct?"  "Yes."  "Well, go boil your backside in a bucket.  It's not good enough.  You're not getting a word of wisdom out of me."  

 Despite being successful as an independent contractor, Lucy began to realize how lonely she is, how much she missed being at Lockwood & CO.  How much she misses Lockwood.  Skull does fill her day with their bantering and the two seem to depend on each other, but it isn't enough.  I've grown fond of Skull's character, his snide comments, bantering and it amuses me that even he shreaks at the presence of a phantom.  I also enjoyed that skull was taking a more active role in assisting Lucy during her cases and they kinda work well as a team,  he even proposes that they form their own agency, Skull and Caryle.  Now wouldn't that be something?   Then Lockwood shows up at Lucy's door wanting to hire her for a case for the Fittes Agency, they need someone with her adept listening skills, which she hesitantly agrees to just this one case.  The team successfully find and remove a source at Solomon Guppy's house, but Lucy also uncovers that DARPC might not  be cremating the remains of the sources they receive, but instead releasing them.   When Lockwood and Lucy start spending time together,  skull also shows his jealousy of Lockwood and his contempt for Holly, you kinda wonder what he would do to Lockwood if he ever made it out of that jar. Skull's affection toward Lucy would be really sweet if he wasn't a ghost skull in a jar. There was this one moment where I also started to get an eerie feeling, especially since Stroud seemed to be setting up these awkward, butterfly-inducing moments between Lucy and Lockwood and I couldn't help thinking that one of them was going to get hurt, darn that ghost glimpse of a possible future.  Happily, everyone kept all their fingers and toes at the end of the book.  Once back to her freelance work, Lucy finds her apartment is broken into and skull is stolen, she returns to Lockwood for his help and protection.  Lucy and Lockwood make an attempt to rescue skull, but end up finding themselves in the middle of a black market dealing in dangerous sources and uncover possible shady workings at the Rotwell Institute.   There were so many developments and surprises in this book and I'm trying really hard to minimize the spoilers, but that Spirit Cape and glasses add a whole new dynamic to the story and might just be the answer to what will happen as operatives move into adulthood and they lose their psychic abilities.  I'm so hooked on this series if you couldn't already tell, and really can't wait for the next one.  Why isn't this being made into a movie already?  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Cybils are coming: Judges announced today



Cybils 2016
Today's the day, judges for the Cybils were announced and  I'm very pleased to have been selected  for the first round of Elementary/Middle-Gradee Speculative Fiction.  Here's a link to all the  Cybils judges for all categories  Fall for means, warm sweaters, hot coffee, a library card with no hold limits, book's and reading, reading, reading.   I hope everyone is getting their nominations ready for the opening on October 1st!   Rules for nominating are here.

                                           2016 ElementaryMiddle-Gradee Speculative Fiction Judges: 

First Round

Sherry Early

Kristen Harvey
The Book Monsters thebookmonsters.com

Brandy Painter
Random Musings of a Bibliophile http://randommusingsofabibliophile.blogspot.com/

Charlotte Taylor

Brenda Tjaden

Second Round

Mark Buxton

Monica Edinger

Heidi Grange

Rosemary Kiladitis

Tasha Saecker
Waking Brain Cells wakingbraincells.com


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

MG Realistic Fiction Review: Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley


23208632Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley,  Illustrations by Jillian Tamaki 
Format:  E-ARC  
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giorux Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 130
Expected Date of Publication:  October 4th, 2016 

Source:  Edelweiss Above the Treeline


I first heard about Gertie's Leap to Greatness from Entertainment Weekly, who referred to her as "the new Ramona Quimby."  I knew that this was a book that I would defiantly need to read, it just sounded like it was going to be really sweet and funny.   

Opening Line:  "The bullfrog was only half dead, which was perfect."

When Gertie was still little her mother moved out of their house, but she didn't go very far.   She still lives in the same town, just up the street, and right along Gertie's bus route to school.  Gertie rides past her mom,  Rachel Collins house on the way to school every day, sometimes even catching a glimpse of her.  On this day, though, there is a for sale sign outside Rachel's house and  Gertie knows it is time to start her next mission.  She plans to prove to her mother that she is "the best fifth grader in the whole world."  The first step is the speeches given at the beginning of the year in each of the elementary classes on  the most extraordinary thing that happened to them on their summer vacation.  Gertie has the perfect story all planned out, one that will ensure her success.   Who can top resuscitating a frog?  Unfortunately, new girl, Mary Sue Spivey comes along stealing the spotlight, so Gertie will have to work even harder to show her mom just how special she is.  

Gertie's Leap to Greatness reads like a classic story with a memorable main character, strong messages, and has the same appeal of a Ramona Quimby book.  I can see this as a class read along.  One of my favorite scenes was Gertie's reaction to her Aunt serving peas for dinner, the very same reaction I would have had at her age.     What makes it most fun are the black and white illustrations by Jillian Tamaki.  While reading, I really couldn't help feeling for poor Gertie, she struck me as a very lonely girl.   Like Gertie, I was trying to understand why her mother left in the first place, and those feelings that Gertie had of not feeling like she wasn't important enough for her mother, really made me want to give her a really big hug.  The sad thing is there are kids out there now who probably desperately want that love and affection and can relate to much of what Gertie felt too.  This passage of  Gertie trying to process what it felt like for her mother living with them before she moved out really touched me " being with them was like wearing a pair of shoes that were too tight.  You could limp along for a while, but your feet would just hurt more and more until you were sure that if you walked one step further in those shoes, they'd squeeze your toes off."   The loneliness that Gertie must have felt being in the same town as her mother, seeing her house, even running into each other once in awhile.  And now her mother was getting ready to get remarried and move away.   I really came to dislike Gertie's mother.  At least Gertie had her Aunt Rae at home, who always seemed to look out for her.  Gertie is such a smart, lovely little girl and her optimistic personality really seems to shine through.  She's the first to point out when her father tries to explain that her mother left because she wasn't happy , that "although sometimes she isn't happy about going to school, she still has to go and  she's never happy about going to church, but Aunt Rae makes her go." A character that I won't soon forget.   Ultimately the story is less about the reasons why Gertie's mom left and more about Gertie's realization that she doesn't need to prove anything to her mother.  That she is good enough just the way she is, and she is "gleaming with greatness."  Overall, a very lovely story and I look forward to seeing what Kate Beasley writes next.   You can read an excerpt of chapter one  from Macmillan Press here  or better yet buy a copy when it releases on October 4th.  

*Disclaimer:  All quotes are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to possible change*

Thursday, September 15, 2016

MG Fantasy: Gears of Revolution (Mysteries of Cove #2) by J. Scott Savage

29502645
Gears of Revolution: Mysteries of Cove#2 by J. Scott Savage
Hardcover  352 pages
Publishing:  September 20th, 2016 
by Shadow Mountain 
Genres: MG Fantasy 
Source:  In exchange for an honest review, an  EARC was received from the publisher for free via Netgalley

To really do this review justice, I need to back track and give a bit of information from the first book. Trenton is this kid who lives in Cove, a city that for about 150 years was essentially hiding inside of a mountain. Every part of life at Cove was controlled and the creating or making of new things was strictly forbidden. Now for Trenton this was near to impossible, he was just wired to ask “what if?”   By the end of the book, Trenton had teamed up with Kallista, who's the daughter of famous inventor Leo Babbage, the man who was the main reason the city abandoned inventions and creativity in the first place. Together, Trenton and Kallista followed clues to locate parts Leo Babbage left scattered across the city, assembled a massive mechanical dragon (Landon), and prevented the destruction of Cove.  At the end of the story, Kallista found a cryptic message and compass, so Trenton and Kallista make plans to try and find her father.  

Which leads us into book two, Gears of Revolution. Trenton and Kallista begin their journey to try to find Kallista's father.  What they encounter instead are a lot of dragons and also  end up getting shot out of the air by a group calling themselves the “Whipjacks,” being lead by someone who calls himself the “Dimber Damber” (Cochrane). The duo find the city of “Seattle,” a place that is very different from their home.  The Whipjacks are the group keeping Seattle running, they are in charge of operating everything mechanical. They also are developing new machines, my favorite being the horsecycle, part motorcycle/jousting machine.   In Seattle,  there is another group wearing red robes called The Order of the Beast, who don't see dragons as monsters, but rather as things to be revered. The Order has been working with the dragons to keep the city secure, in exchange for offering them food. Seeing as the Order think so highly of the dragons, Trenton and Kallista hide the fact that they've killed one back in Cove. Seeing potential in the duo, Cochrane convinces the Order that rather than killing Trenton and Kallista, they should take advantage of their mechanical skills and the two begin working for him.  But, Trenton and Kallista also find out that Cochrane has much more planned for them and that Seattle may be gearing itself up for a war.

I really liked how Cove, which is actually Discovery, is very different from Seattle.  Discovery kept itself hidden and safe from the dragons for a very long time.  It had an established system built on cooperation that allowed them to use existing technology to make their own food, to have crops, and essentially life was fairly good.  Whereas, Seattle made packs with the dragons and the people had to scavenge for food,  everyone had to fend for themselves.   Trenton seemed to really understand the differences between the two cities and tried to get both cities to come together against the dragons. He foresaw the dangers approaching.  It's a really interesting plot with lots of different dynamics at work at the same time, I think it's why the pacing slowed down a bit, lots of things to keep straight.   There was also  still the mystery of where the dragons came from lingering in the background too.  In Gears of Revolution, the relationship between Trenton and Kallista also changes.    At first, they were working hard together just to keep Landon in the air, but once they are in Seattle, Kallista begins to become more evasive and is hiding out in the library researching her father's messages.  I missed seeing the two of them building together, but the new city and  addition of Plucky (a Whipjack girl) kept things interesting.  Like in the first book, Gears has all of these really cool steampunk elements with this book delving into chemistry, electricity, the making of gunpowder, hydrogen and aerodynamics of flying.  Plus in the end, there is this really cool sounding airship.  So yeah, dragons, steampunk, whole new city and still leaves me with wanting to see where things will go next.    

Favorite passage:  "He said to give yourself permission to fail."  "That's real encouraging."  "It actually is, she said, ignoring his sarcasm."  "Because if you only try the things you believe you can do, you'll only accomplish the things you already knew you could do.  But if you give yourself permission to fail, you're free to try the things that seem completely beyond your reach.  And that's when magic happens."  


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review & Excerpt: The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles

28129039The Kingdom of Oceana
Author: Mitchell Charles
Publisher: Butterhorse Media
Format: ebook
Number of Pages: 233
Published:  December 8th,  2015

Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.

As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt--just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape-shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? Two brothers, but only one can rule.

“While the book is fiction, it is heavily influenced by the rich and beautiful Hawaiian myths, legends, locales, and culture.  Many locations in the story are inspired by real places in Hawaii,” says Mitchell.


The Kingdom of Oceana takes readers on a fun and exciting adventure, with big wave surfing, fire walking, and shark taming, while also being educational and bringing to light many environmental and social issues, like ocean conservation. 


                                      Excerpt from The  Kingdom of Oceana
                                                    Ch. 1:  Waimoku Falls : 

We climbed the backside of the canyon, still winding through the singing forest. A sudden gust blew through the treetops, causing the tall hollow stalks to cry a warning and my heart to beat faster. What danger was Nahoa getting me into this time?

By midday we reached the tree line, and the terrain became near vertical, with slabs of volcanic rock stacked in a series of small ledges and caves.

I turned around, looking out over the green bamboo treetops. To my right, the towering snow-capped summit of Mauna Kea dominated the sky. It was the tallest and most sacred spot on the Great Island, and on rare occasions smoke and ash billowed from its peak, rising above the icy white snowdrifts. Fortunately, there had not been a major eruption or lava flow in many generations.

“I’ll race you to the top,” Nahoa challenged. “I’ll even give you a head start.”

We had always enjoyed a spirited rivalry, feeding off each other’s competitive nature. I surveyed the cliff, picking my route.

“You’re on,” I said as I hoisted myself up and grabbed onto a small lava finger hold. Just above me was a long fissure in the rock, sloping upward to my right and then back to the left. While this path would take me on a longer course, it was less demanding, and my best chance to beat Nahoa to the crest.

He saw my plan. “Good, little brother. That path is safer.”

I carefully moved forward, while Nahoa soon got stuck above me on the sheer vertical wall of lava, his legs dangling and his feet probing the cliffside.

“Fingers getting tired?” I asked him as I moved closer to the top. I was going to beat him, for once.

“I won’t be here long,” he said.

As I followed the crevice back to the left, Nahoa whipped his body to the right and leapt off the cliff, his foot landing on my shoulder. He pushed off my neck and hoisted himself onto the ledge above me, just below the crest.

“Thanks, omo,” he said with a wicked laugh.

As I pulled myself onto the ridgetop I saw Nahoa ahead, following a fast-moving river that disappeared in the distance.
“Move it!” he yelled above the sound of the rushing water.

I hurried to catch up and we crossed the river along a jagged path of partially submerged boulders smoothed over by the rapids.

Before us, the river gained strength where it merged with a smaller tributary and formed a swirling vortex that plummeted off the cliff as Waimoku Falls.
“That’s it,” said Nahoa, pointing at a small hill piled with rubble just in front of where the two rivers joined.

There we found the remains of a crescent-shaped fortress made from stacked lava rocks. The curved wall was crumbling, with crusty orange lichen growing in the crevices and bright green geckos sunning themselves on top. The ground was littered with shark teeth, razor sharp and bleached by the scorching tropical sun.

I was disappointed. I’d hoped to find a great temple with cryptic markings or intricate carvings. What lay before us was nothing more than a pile of weather-beaten rocks.

“Well, this is a waste of time,” said Nahoa. He picked up a stone and hurled it at the remains of the fortress. From beneath the broken wall, a gathering of centipedes scrambled to escape the sunlight.

An icy wind went through me. It wasn’t like a tropical breeze that cools your sweaty cheek. No, it pierced my flesh like I was no more solid than a palm frond. Disturbing the centipedes was a bad omen—they were minions of the shadows.

“Did you feel that?” I asked.

Nahoa stood frozen, the hair on his arms standing on end.

He swallowed. “Feel what?”

“I don’t think we should be here,” I said, motioning for us to leave. For once, I hoped he’d agree with me.

“Do you want me to hold your hand, little brother? We’ll just have a look around, that’s all.”

                                                            My Thoughts: 

My initial reason for wanting to read The Kingdom of Oceana, was that cover and the setting.  I've never visited Hawaii, nor do I know much about its traditions or mythology for that matter.  Most of what I know comes from movies and television shows, unfortunately.  One of the first things that I did notice is that Mitchell really brought the setting of Hawaii and world of Oceana alive for me with his vivid and detailed descriptions.  That excerpt is just a small sample of his writing, but there are many more examples where he is describing the animal life, coral reefs, ocean, surfing, even the canoes that the people used. Some of my favorites were the descriptions of the food found on the island.  

"The fruit was arranged to resemble an oversized flower.  In the center was a mound of small orange and green citrus.  The petals of the fruit arrangement were fashioned from bananas, mangoes, and sliced pineapple spears.  The border was a circle of lychee fruit with pink thorny shells."  

Mitchell also uses Hawaiian words with a definition at the bottom of the page and glossary at the back of the book.  I appreciate those kinds of details. 

The main gist of the story centers on an ancient tiki statue holding the "mana of a king" and how history seems to be repeating itself through Prince Ailani and Prince Nahoa.  There are some similar themes found in other middle-grade books of light magic and dark/shadow magic,  as well as the struggles between siblings, but there are also things like spirit animals and Kahuna's who can use telepathy as well as heal. I was most intrigued with the idea of how technology or "mikini"  was  changing the island and might be leading to the demise of magic.  Lots of things to ponder, with some fun twists thrown in too.  The author's website includes two study guides, which can be adapted for either language arts or a science class,  photographs for the inspirations of many of the places discussed, and study questions. Overall, a very enjoyable read and nice introduction to Hawaii and its culture.   

*Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Mitchell Charles’ love of the ocean and its miraculous creatures began at the age of 12 when his father taught him to SCUBA dive. From his first adventure 50 feet (15 meters) beneath the Caribbean Sea he was hooked. He has been involved in the Oceanic Society, America’s first non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, established in 1969.

Mitchell’s inspiration for The Kingdom of Oceana was born of exploring the spectacular coastline, lush valleys, and vibrant coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands. On these excursions, he imagined what Hawaii was like hundreds of years ago. Before Captain Cook arrived from England. Before the golf courses and hotels. Before the ukulele and the Mai Tai became icons of Hawaiian culture. He dreamed of a time when the islands were an undiscovered magical paradise.

These days, Mitchell divides his time between Southern California and Hawaii. He has two teenage children and a dog named Magic.

Mitchell is currently working on the second book in the Kingdom of Oceana series, The Legend of the Nine Sacred Pearls. For more information, visit http://kingdomofoceana.com/

Readers can connect with Mitchell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Six of my ALL TIME Favorite MG Realistic Fiction Books


Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten Tuesday is going to be my Top Six ALL TIME Favorite Realistic MG Fiction Books

I know, you're probably surprised that I went with realistic fiction instead of fantasy.  I do like my fantasy, a lot.  This week, I went with something different.  

2706434813598351        17270319

1.  Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
This is one of my favorite books so far this year.  I love the way the stories alternates between each of the boys, Ms. Bixby, how they try to give her the best last day party.  The way that Ms. Bixby 
touches each of these boys lives, and the friendship that these boys share.  I'm holding out hope for another story with Topher, Brand and Steve!


2.  All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
I've always loved Gladys passion for cooking and will never forget reading the" creme brulee incident" for the first time.   This whole series has such wonderful references to foods and is one of the first books to make me really hungry while reading it. 


3.    The 14 Fibs of Gregory K by Greg Pincus
Greg desperately wants to go to Author Camp, but is failing math.  In a family of math geniuses, this just won't do.  I really fun story that centers around the Fibonacci Sequence and the importance of math in our daily lives.   

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4.  Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

An uplifting story about Ally's struggles with dyslexia. Favorite line: "Everyone is smart in different ways.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it's stupid."

5.  Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson A riveting survival story of two kids who get lost in the backcountry of Alaska during a horrible storm.  They must find a way to get back to safety before hypothermia sets in.  


6.  Hope Is A Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera 
I loved this mostly because Star reminded me of one of my relatives. Wonderful story that includes an Emily Dickinson club and poems and metaphors and writing vocabulary words.  Such fun.   

Have you read any of these?  Any other MG Realistic Fiction to suggest.  Feel free to leave me your TTT links in the comments.  



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blog Tour: Hundred Percent by Karen Romano Young

Today, I’m thrilled to have Karen Romano Young here to discuss the 10 things that may or may not have happened in her newest book Hundred Percent.  

Hundred Percent
Author: Karen Romano Young
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 256
Published:  August 9th,  2016

The last year of elementary school is big for every kid. In this utterly honest, equal parts funny and crushing, novel perfect for boys and girls alike, Christine Gouda faces change at every turn, starting with her own nickname—Tink—which just doesn’t fit anymore. Readers will relate to this strong female protagonist whose voice rings with profound authenticity and absolute novelty, and her year’s cringingly painful trials in normalcy—uncomfortable Halloween costumes, premature sleepover parties, crushed crushes, and changing friendships. Throughout all this, Tink learns, what you call yourself, and how you do it, has a lot to do with who you are. 


Excerpt from Hundred Percent: 

 In late August, Tink got a new name. Her best friend Jackie renamed her. This was after Tink realized that none of her school clothes fit and her mother took her on a hellish shopping trip involving two sizes up, three bras-for-the-very-first-time, and four arguments about style that had both Mom and Tink in tears. On the way home, Tink convinced her mother to drop her at Jackie's with all six shopping bags, so they could have a fashion show.  
    Jackie had already been shopping-not because she had grown, but because she had insisted, and her mother said yes because Jackie was an only child.  That was what Tink's mother said.  She couldn't do as much when she had three girls between grades three and six to outfit, plus a first grade boy, all growing like weeds.  Tink was just grateful that her mother had found two hours to take her shopping alone, without the whole circus.  You could thank the bras for that.  

10 Things That Really Did Happen to Me in Sixth Grade
 (But May or May Not Have Happened in Hundred Percent) 



1. We had a bus driver who told us his name was Roman Gabriel (actually the name of an NFL football player, he was on the Rams) and who drove the school bus down the hill at 50 mph, not braking around the 75ยบ turn. My friend Barbara told her mother, who got him fired.

2. I had to go to dancing school with boys who were mostly shorter than me, and one time when two of the shortest boys had to sit with two of the tallest (Stacy and me) they tipped their chairs over backward out some French doors and ran away.

3. I got hit in the face with a snowball by some boys who were pegging kids as they came out of school for recess. My glasses were broken and I had to walk around blind for a week until they were fixed.

4. A boy I had a crush on bought me a little lion ornament for no occasion whatsoever, but it was snowing out.

5. I grew 5 1/2 inches in 9 months and had fainting spells because I was growing so quickly.
I got in trouble for trying to ride a pony because I was too tall.

6. I was allowed to go to a movie that had two people in a bed who seemed to be naked. It was a very big deal and involved a lot of phone calls among mothers making sure they were all on the same page. (I didn’t understand why anyone would be naked in bed.)

7. I slept on $500 sheets. It sure as heck wasn’t at home.

8. I went out for Halloween as a soldier while my best friend Barbara went as a pregnant lady, and we failed to put two and two together.

9. My teacher Mr. Bergman let us bring in music in return for listening to his: Mott the Hoople, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Rolling Stones.

10. We did a lip synch performance to Honky Tonk Women, read Brave New World and To Kill a Mockingbird, and went out of school boundaries to hang out at a pond.

Here’s a picture of me reflecting something I wish had happened: I wish I HAD rescued a lobster in sixth grade!






My Thoughts: 

Romano Young really taps into that middle-grade voice in our main character, Tink.   Tink's dialogue really jumps around in just a few sentences, she is talking about everything from her love of Peter Pan, to kids barking like dogs to wanting to know if she's pretty or cute.  There is a focus on boys, wanting to be seen as cute, liked, thinking you are overweight which did take me back to listening to kids this age talking and in some cases to my own middle school feelings. I liked how Young expressed that feeling of having a circle of friends and then one of your friends is suddenly more popular leaving you feeling like you're looking in on the circle instead of being a part of it.  Or sometimes seeing the popular kids in their own circle and wishing you could belong.  Overall, my favorite moments were when Tink began to get comfortable in her "own skin" and stopped worrying about what others might think about her and looked at what was outside the circle. There is some content (a boy commenting to Tink that she would look good naked and some swearing) to be aware of, but overall it's a story about trying to find your place while navigating middle school.   

 Praise for Hundred Percent:

“A lovely, lovely tale full of warmth, humor, and intelligence.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Romano’s characters jump off the page in a thoughtful and realistic look at what it means to be on the precipice of adolescence.”—Publishers Weekly

“A brilliant and irresistible book about the sharp pains and joys of real life. Karen Romano Young is a writer like no other.—Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award–winning author of When You Reach Me

“Karen Romano Young must be twelve. There’s no other way she can possibly know what she knows about sixth grade in all its weirdness and glory.”—Annie Barrows, New York Times bestselling author of the Ivy & Bean series

“Karen Romano Young has an unerring feel for the shifting alliances and uncomfortable intrigues of sixth graders.” —Ellen Wittlinger, Printz Honor–winning author of Hard Love







Blog Tour Stops for Hundred Percent: 
9/7/2016 Jumpintoabooks
9/8/2016 Melissa Walker 
9/11/2016 Readerkidz
About the Author:

Karen Romano Young has written nearly two dozen books for children, and has illustrated several, including the groundbreaking graphic novel, Doodleb and its sequel, Stuck in the Middle (of Middle School). She lives in Connecticut. 












Discussion Guide also available at Chronicle Books