‘The Last Dragon’ by James Riley is the second book in “The Revenge of Magic” middle grade series

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“The Last Dragon” by James Riley begins shortly after the end of the first book in the series “The Revenge of Magic.” In the first book, Fort Fitzgerald watches helplessly as his father is grabbed by a monster and dragged underground during an attack when they were visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Sure that his father is dead, Fort is determined to get revenge on the creatures who killed him.

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‘The Tyrant’s Tomb’ by Rick Riordan is the 4th book in ‘The Trials of Apollo’ series

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In “The Tyrant’s Tomb,” master of middle grade fantasy Rick Riordan continues “The Trials of Apollo” series, the story of Apollo, brought low to earth by his father for a transgression, and made into a very human figure.

As Lester Papadopoulos, acne-ridden and with a waist that is far less than Apollo’s trim figure, Apollo must deal with injury, lack of magic, and insolence. Not to mention mortality. He has come far since the first book in the series on his journey to save the world from a triad of evil Roman emperors, but there’s still a long, dangerous road to travel on this quest.

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‘Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation’ by Stuart Gibbs is a middle grade book that has ageless appeal

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Be forewarned. Once you pick up “Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation” by bestselling author Stuart Gibbs, you won’t be able to put it down until the last page is over, and you’re reading the acknowledgements.  Really.

You’ll be hooked from the very first page, which is the Prologue in which Albert Einstein is dying, leaving behind not only his theory of relativity, but something called Pandora, an equation which could change the world.

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‘Sauerkraut’ by Kelly Jones is a ghostly middle grade story about making connections and helping family

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In “Sauerkraut,” author Kelly Jones continues to show her expertise in writing clever and touching stories that include a bit of ghostly action. In this story, Hans Dieter Schenk, also known as HD. His dad was Hans Peter Schenk, his grandfather Hans Gerhard Schenk, and before him Hans Franz Schenk. Until HD, all the Hans’ looked pretty much the same with pale skin, hair and blue eyes. But HD is different. While his skin is lighter than his mothers, his dark locs (dreadlocks) are longer than hers. And people sometimes confuse his father with his best friend Eli’s father “Just because they’re both white. It’s … awkward.”

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‘Awesome Dog 5000’ by Justin Dean is a rocketing good middle grade scifi adventure with comic illustrations according to this student review

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“Awesome Dog 5000,” by Justin Dean with its rocket-launcher paws and a mega-atomic cannon will send you soaring to new heights. As soon as readers open the book and start reading, the cliffhangers get you hooked and  it is hard to resist reading until the last page. This geeky, action, and humor-packed book is sure to please readers unless, of course, they get scared by the “book warnings” the author provides warning readers about what is to come. They usually occur before you get to the geeky/action/humor parts. So, if you think you can resist all of the imagination Dean puts into this book, why don’t you read the first ten pages and see if this clever, action-filled book doesn’t hook you immediately!

In this story, Marty had to move from his old town. Now he is stuck in this new place, where he has no friends,  and more importantly, he possibly could be called the dreaded “d” word–dork. Marty and his mom are living in a house where they think a toothbrush inventor lived. Marty is nervous about school, so he makes a simple list of things NOT to do, to make sure he doesn’t make a fool of himself:
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Three wonderful new middle grade novels with main characters who exemplify determination in the face of adversity

Reading can often teach empathy. Reading about diverse characters can often serve to show young readers that we all — no matter our skin color or religion or financial status or family makeup — have more in common than not. Three new middle grade novels serve to exemplify exactly that: “More to the Story” by Hena Khan, “Strike Zone” by Mike Lupica, and “The Fresh New Face of Griselda” by Jennifer Torres. Continue reading

‘Emperor of the Universe: A Fable with Spaceships and Aliens’ by David Lubar

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David Lubar, beloved author of “The Weenie” series of short stories and “Hidden Talents,” hits it out of the park, actually out of the world and out of the galaxy, with “Emperor of the Universe: A Fable with Spaceships and Aliens.”

Nicholas V. Andrew, a seventh grader, only wants to be on his own when his parents are out of the country performing with their band, the Beegles, a take-off of the Beetles wherein his parents wear beagle masks while performing songs like “Yellow Snow Submarine.” He doesn’t want to have wild parties or play video games day and night, he just wants to be on his own. He ends up traveling throughout the universes, unintentionally causing the destruction of entire planets and also unintentionally becoming the Emperor of the Universe.

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‘Storm Blown’ by Nick Courage is a middle grade adventure during a terrible hurricane

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In “Storm Blown,” author Nick Courage writes about a fictional hurricane and two of the children whose lives are affected by that storm. He’s not writing about just any storm, though. This is a once-in-a-lifetime storm, a storm that is fickle and doesn’t behave as storm experts expect. Because the story is told from many perspectives, including that of a storm expert, readers get the benefit of learning about not only storms, but human behavior.

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Four picture books (2 fiction and 2 nonfiction) about animals and compassion — should not be missed

Summer is a wonderful time to spend outdoors with children, showing them the beauty of nature and the beauty of the animals in nature. It’s a wonderful time to play with dogs and visit forest preserves. At night, reading books about nature and about animals is an excellent way to drive home lessons about respecting nature and treating animals — whether pets or wild animals — with love and compassion.

Two of these books are new releases, and two are simply picture books that deserve to be shared and widely read. Two are about domestic animals, dogs, and the two nonfiction picture books are about wild animals and how two brave, resourceful people became determined to help them. All are fabulous choices for every home and school library.

Two nonfiction picture books that should become classics are “Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears” by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff and the semi-autobiographical “A Boy and a Jaguar” by Alan Rabinowitz. Both books are about brave people dedicating their lives to helping animals, and both are fascinating to children of all ages. I’ve read these books with first graders and fourth graders, and each child appreciated each book on a different level.

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‘Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game’ by Chris Grabenstein is another wacky, wild contest filled with unpredictable action

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“Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game” by Chris Grabenstein is the newest entry into the series that kids love to read. Kyle Keeley, the main character, is up against his arch enemy, Charles Chiltington, whose motto is: Chiltingtons never lose. Yet until this book, Charles has lost at all of Lemoncello’s games. When this new “All-Star Breakout” game is announced, he makes sure he won’t lose.

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