Sunday, May 15, 2016

Speed Dating with Middle Grade: Part 12

Title: Fuzzy Mud
Author: Louis Sachar
Genre: Adventure, Sci-fi
Read If You Like...: Varied text features, realistic stories with unrealistic components, The Secret World of Alex Mack
Three-Sentence Thoughts: Marshall and Tamaya follow the same route every day to and from school, but when a bully forces them off path on a long route of avoidance, they make a startling scientific discovery. There's a weird kind of "fuzzy" mud in the woods that causes a super scary rash that spreads quickly, has no known cure, and quickly gets authorities and scientists drawn into this eco-horror story. I found the narrative pretty disjointed and the characters lacking any amount of depth to draw in a reader, but maybe a reader who doesn't want a long reading commitment will enjoy it.

Title: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Read If You Like...: Epic adventures with heroes and villains, graphic novels (MSers aren't too discerning on genre with these)
Three-Sentence Thoughts: Nimona is a high-energy young shape-shifter who worms her way into a position as villainous Lord Blackheart's sidekick. Blackheart's nemesis in the kingdom is an old friend, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, and Blackheart is determined to prove the hero isn't so heroic after all. My graphic novel fans really like this one, but, though I love the art, I just never really connected with its scattered story and irreverent sense of humor.

Title: The Jumbies
Author: Tracey Baptiste
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
Read If You Like...: Folk tales, fairy tales, stories with a unique setting
Three-Sentence Thoughts: Jumbies are the dark creatures of the forest feared by all, but Corinne, unafraid of anything, doesn't believe they actually exist. When a beautiful stranger suddenly shows up in town and bewitches Corinne's father, she must face the magic she's always doubted and figure out how to save her island home. Based on Caribbean folklore, this fills a great gap in children's literature by sharing the fairy tales from underrepresented cultures. [In her author's note at the end, Baptiste adds, “I grew up reading European fairy tales that were nothing like the Caribbean jumbie stories I listened to on my island of Trinidad. There were no jumbie fairy-tale books, though I wished there were. This story is my attempt at filling that gap in fairy-tale lore."]

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