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Shorter Musings MG

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG reads.

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
I expected to like this one more than I did because of how much I enjoyed Kelly's previous two novels. I just found it really hard to get into the rhythm of. The book is told from the perspective of three different characters: two in third person limited, one in first person. That drove me kind of nuts. Even getting past that, I found the story hard to get into. It is slow moving and the pacing could be better. That being said, it is still a good book from recommending to those who are looking for books on friendships, family issues, and dealing with bullies. Kelly is a talented writer so even when I don't love love one of her books, it is still worth reading.


Stef Soto, Taco Queen  by Jennifer Torres
This is a short, quick MG read that any middle schooler experiencing the utter embarrassment of having parents will be able to relate with and understand. (So all of them.) Stef is starting to find many of the things her parents do humiliating to the point of not wanting them around when her friends are present anymore. Added to that is the frustration that they don't seem to understand her. This is a good add to libraries because it is a story of friendship, family, and school woes with a diverse cast. I love how there was so much Spanish included in it as well.

The Sweetest Sound by Sherri Winston
This is a great MG read about a girl who is both introverted and shy and needs to learn to find her own voice and shine in her own way. Though not shy, I am an introvert and I laughed out loud several times at Cadence's commentary on the need for the extraverts around her to talk all the time and their desire to "help" her by making her do more with people. The book has the obligatory MG missing parent. Cadence's mother left the day after her 7th birthday to pursue a singing career. It is handled better here than it often is and with it as a part of Cadence's bigger journey. I loved the resolution to the book too. Cadence's voice is perfectly wonderful. This a great pick for any reader who likes realistic fiction focusing on family, friendship, and personal journeys.

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
This books strikes a balance that authors of recent historical fiction often have a hard time with. Kids who were not alive for 9/11 do not have the same emotional response to it that adults do and Rhodes fully understands that. Deja's class's reactions to studying it run the gamut from "we don't talk about that" to "who cares it happened before I was born". This is balanced by the story of Deja's father who was a security guard in the building and has suffered from PTSD ever since. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters in this, particularly Deja and how fierce and protective she was. It is very much a lesson book, but I think I only noticed that because I am an adult. For kids I think it will work as just a good story about family and friendship that is tied to recent history.

The Wrong Side of Magic by Janette Rallison
I have always enjoyed Rallison's YA fairy tale mash-ups, but I was genuinely surprised by how much I loved this MG fantasy by her. Her writing shines in this type story. The character are fabulous. Hudson and Charlotte are equally important, a great team, and work really well together. The story is full of adventure, magic, fantastical creatures, and a good old fashioned fight to save a princess and a kingdom from an evil ruler. A lot of elements harken back to old favorites which may be why I enjoyed this so much. It is full of humor and heart and is just FUN. I really loved the resolution too. 

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