Tag Archives: Middle Grade

Never After by Melissa De La Cruz- A Review

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This was a book for 10-14 year olds but it looked cute when I was at the bookstore so I bought it.  Melissa De La Cruz has a lovely imagination. I loved all the twists on the fairy tales we all know and love.  The heroine of the story was likable and intelligent. She was sassy and a strong character.

The two friends she makes are also interesting characters. Jack was smart and clever. Alistair was witty and irreverent. The three friends all played off each other well and worked as a team to solve problems.

The author put in some lessons for middle school children to learn in a way that was fun and creative. She touched on bullying as well as other subjects children are faced with in school these days.  She also didn’t “dumb it down” for the readers. There were words I’m sure aren’t in the normal vocabulary of most middle-schoolers, but exposing them to those is smart. She may be making some life-long readers with this book and the ones that will be coming after it. Adventure is a great way to keep a child interested and engaged.

The story had a great premise and even though I am way past middle school age, I thoroughly enjoyed the tale. I will definitely be buying the next in the series as I truly think these characters are fun and interesting. I will share this book with some of my younger friends and relatives. I think they will enjoy it.

The Blitz Bus by Glen Blackwell

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

This middle grade book is a good one for children to learn about the London Blitz and WWII days of 1940. The main characters, Jack and Emmie are in modern day London and Jack is assigned to write an essay about the London Blitz and how a lot of children were evacuated to the countryside during that time. Meanwhile, in Emmie’s drama class, they are acting out the children leaving their parents.

Jack has a hard time envisioning the city at that time and is kept back at school that afternoon to finish his paper,, making him almost late to meet his friend Emmie. 

When they are finally on the bus headed home, they look out and see a shop they haven’t seen before.  In the window is a mannequin who has a gas mask.

Exiting the bus, there is a large unexplained bang. It’s raining and they take shelter at a tube station. Everyone is dressed differently than Emmie and Jack. There are cots set up in the station. The two children think they’ve stumbled onto a film set. Until very real bombs start falling and they find themselves in the middle of an air raid.

They make friends with a boy in the shelter, but don’t tell him they have somehow come from another time period.

The adventure really begins here. Jack and Emmie discover food lines, cratered buildings, rationing, bombs, anti-aircraft balloons, air raid shelters in yards, and, as well, have to hide from authorities. They fear spies are around and being taken for spies themselves with their modern items like Jack’s calculator. They find some help from their new friend, Jan, a boy from Poland.  

Even though I am nowhere near the age for middle grade stories, I enjoy them and this one was particularly good. The fact that the children were studying this era in school and couldn’t imagine how people were living and then were transported there is very educational—yet done in a fun way—A lot of interesting historical facts came through in a way that entertains and would have a younger reader on the edge of their seat worried about the two protagonists and how they would solve their problems as well as how they would be able to get back to their own time period.

The only thing I would have liked to be added to the story would be an epilogue of the children finding the friends they made in the 21st century when the friends were elderly. That would have been a fun ending. Overall, I was happy with the story and would recommend it to the middle grade age group as a history lesson full of interesting reading that will hold their interest.