Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review: Middle Grade Round Up

Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3 stars

This is a cute story told from the perspective of a baby possum. The book opens with the birth of Appleblossom and her siblings and then follows them as they learn about the world and eventually learn how to fend for themselves. Appleblossom has a little adventure of her own in the second half, which is amusing and not entirely expected.

There are a few "morals of the story" thrown in, but they, along with the whole plot, feel wandering, directionless, and tacked on. Objectively, the book feels lacking, but in the moment it was a cozy, pleasant read. This should appeal to younger middle grade readers and would also make a good read-aloud bedtime book for younger readers. 

Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon
Book #1 in the Hamster Princess series
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3 stars

On the surface, this is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but totally turned on its head in a way that was clever and allowed for more princess adventuring. Readers tired of damsels will get a kick out of Harriet, but for me (a reader so totally tired of the anti-damsel trope) the message was pretty heavy-handed.

That aside, the story was entertaining and kept me hooked enough to actually want to find out what would happen next. I guess you'd call this a graphic novel, but with blocks of text interspersed among the images. The illustrations were ok (I'm not a huge fan, especially of the limited color pallet), but I am giving extra points for Harriet's quail (her trusty steed) because he was hilarious and the pictures totally did him justice.

Recommended for fans of the Babymouse series and Shannon Hale's Princess in Black series.

Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville
Received: Finished copy from publisher
Rating: 4 stars

I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. It's middle grade, but I was totally invested. The characters and world were fully realized and I would happily read more books about both. Extra points for the scene with the cat and Angus's lovingly derisive descriptions of his dollhouse home. Amusing, heartwarming, imaginative, and engaging, I would definitely purchase and recommend this book, particularly for fans of books like The Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans


1 comment:

  1. Hamster Princess sounds adorable even though the illustrations may be monochrome. I also like the sound of the new Bruce Coville series. He remains popular for the tween boys crowd.


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