Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Two On Tuesday: Middle Grade Reads

I love summer for the simple fact that I can read and read and read.  However, that doesn't translate into getting reviews written which I seem a bit slower about.

And this time of year is perfect for beach reads but it is also perfect for me to catch up on children and young adult books I've stacked up for a long time.  

Erin Entrada Kelly's Blackbird Fly came out earlier this year, a title that seems to have fallen through the cracks a bit, but shouldn't.

Apple and her mother moved to the United States when Apple was little.  Although they live in America, Apple's mother still wants to retain some of her Filipino heritage. This is embarrassing to Apple who wants to fit in with her friends.  Things are rough when she finds that she has been added to the Dog Log, the unofficial list of unattractive girls in her grade.  Apple dreams of buying her own guitar and taking music lessons, which just might happen if she can convince her  mother.  

The other bright spot in Apple's middle school year is the friendship she has with the new boy, Evan, who isn't concerned with what other people think - especially Apple's snobby friends.

Blackbird Fly is a perfect book for tween readers who will identify with the twists and turns of friendships and the need to fit in.

In the past week the other tween book I have managed to fly through is The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow, set during World War II.  This is a companion novel to Shadows on the Sea, but worked just fine as a stand alone novel (I've already added Shadows on the Sea to my TBR list).

Wendy has been taken back home by her biological mother, leaving the people behind who she believed were her parents, in the United States.  Now in Germany, Wendy must learn a new language and try to make friends.

Her Aunt Adrie (who is really her mother) is quite secretive about a few things and Wendy can't help but be curious, especially in wanting to know more about her biological father.

Adrie works for the Nazi regime and believes in all Hitler stands for.  As Wendy finds out more about Hitler, she questions her aunt, giving young readers a good introduction to what life in Germany was like for Jews and how they were treated.  

When Wendy feels that people are watching her, she isn't wrong.  In fact, there are two people that are keeping track of Wendy and are trying to keep her safe- a difficult task in a country at war.

There's a bit of suspense in this novel as Wendy uncovers secrets about her past. Harlow's written this book in a way that readers will be curious to know more about World War II and the Holocaust, but hasn't given them too much information to overwhelm them.

Both of these books were entertaining and will be in my K-5 library this fall.  I'm excited to hand these off to my students and see what they think.

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