Mini Review Day (Middle Grade Reads)

Glassheart

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GoodReads:

An enchanting magical adventure set in the wild moors of Dartmoor – the second middle-grade novel from the bestselling Katharine Orton.

Through the glass, the magic is waiting… Nona and her uncle travel everywhere together, replacing stained-glass windows in war-torn buildings. When a mysterious commission takes them to the lonely moors of Dartmoor, Nona discovers a wild and powerful magic which threatens everything. Can Nona protect those she loves – even if it means fighting darkness itself? A beautifully imaginative and rich adventure about determination, courage and the power of love, set in the aftermath of World War Two. Perfect for fans of Abi Elphinstone, Sophie Anderson and Catherine Doyle.

My Review

This was a really fun middle grade read, the story was just a tad bit spooky and that made it all the more fun to read.

The MC Nona was a delight, strong, loyal, kindhearted and determined. She has so much happened to her and even with this adventure she’s taking it all in stride.

The pacing is well done, nothing drags and it kept me engaged the whole way. The villain was appropriately evil enough and I think it was set up just fine for an MG book but I. did find his motivation very slightly lacking.

The magic is fantastical and the final battle was set up well.

Fun read and definitely worth a read for any MG fantasy fan.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Good Bear

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GoodReads:

It’s the Christmas holidays and Thea is looking forward to spending them with her father. She can tell him all about her plans to become a writer, and maybe he’ll buy her the typewriter she’s been dreaming of.

But when Thea arrives in Norway, everything feels … wrong. Her father is as distant as ever and now she has to share him with his new family: his girlfriend Inge and her children.Then Thea makes a surprise discovery. Deep in the snowy woods by the house, is a bear. He’s scared and hungry and he desperately needs Thea’s help.

When the town hears about a bear living in the woods, Bear’s life is in even greater danger. Thea needs to show everyone that he’s not dangerous – he’s a Good Bear – if she’s to save him.

My Review

This was such a lovely story, one that shows the spirit of Christmas doesn’t always mean a lot of decorations and buying gifts. It also was a tale of how a family can come in various shapes and sizes and that sometimes effort is needed to make those families, well, families.

I loved how raw and emotional our MC Thea is, not to mention she was in a situation that a lot of children are in with parents being separated and I really appreciated Lean writing a story for children like that. 

It was also so whimsical not just in its wintry setting but the story of Thea and the bear as well. Fantastically told and set up to be a perfect winter’s tale, whether one celebrates Christmas or not, it’s about family and adventure and the unexpected things that bring us together.

Thank you so much to the Publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Puffin Keeper

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GoodReads:

It was Benjamin Postlethwaite’s job all his long life to make sure the light shone brightly high up in the lighthouse on Puffin Island. Not once in all his years as the lighthouse keeper had he ever let his light go out. But sometimes even the brightest light on a lighthouse cannot save a ship.

This is a story of a life-changing friendship, a lost puffin, and a lonely artist. It’s the story of an entire lifetime, and how one event can change a life forever. From masterful storyteller, Michael Morpurgo, and world-class illustrator, Benji Davies, comes a magical new story. This truly beautiful tale will enchant readers of all ages.

My Review

What an endearing and gorgeously illustrated tale. It was so heartwarming and with so much detail put into it in so few pages without being overwhelming. The Puffin Keeper himself was my favorite character, a silent type but absolutely a hero in his own right, saving people and puffins alike!

Benjamin also has a lot of growth in finding what makes him happy and learning who he is and in many ways it’s a coming of age tale as much as a coming home tale. I loved that Benjamin didn’t need to be connected to a place through ‘blood’ to make it his, to make it home.

I will gush more about the art, it is absolutely beautiful, and not only enhanced the tale but gave you the story itself, you could in some ways read this separately, with just the words, or just the art, but putting them together is pretty much perfection!

I really enjoyed this, 5/5 cups of coffee from me!

Aquicorn Cove

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GoodReads:

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

My Review

This was so sweet and adorable! I adored the art as I always do in O’Neill’s graphic novels. And I’m always happy because not only do I get enjoyment out of these, so does the spawn. We share the books (they’re mine though!!!) and enjoy the stories together. Aquicorn Cove deals not only with trying to take better care of our oceans but also deals with grief. Lana and her Father have lost her mom, an important person to them both and to Lana’s Aunt, the mom’s sister.

I loved that Lana learned to take her own initiative to help the environment, and that she did it without it being a grand gesture, even the smallest ones can make a difference. And well, we all have to start somewhere when it comes to taking care of our planet.

The aquicorns were utterly delightful and I was so glad to enjoy the art of the underwater world that O’Neill built, just wish there had been more of it!

4.5/5 Cups of Coffee!

The Magic Fish

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GoodReads:

Tiến loves his family and his friends…but Tiến has a secret he’s been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together. 

Real life isn’t a fairytale.

But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through?

Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?

A beautifully illustrated story by Trung Le Nguyen that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected. The Magic Fish tackles tough subjects in a way that accessible with readers of all ages, and teaches us that no matter what–we can all have our own happy endings.

My Review

Such gorgeous artwork and the weaving of fairytales with the modern one was just stunning, not just visually but with the words as well.

Tiến has no idea where to start on coming out, he’s 13, there’s a dance coming up, and he’s helping his mom and dad on their English, using fairytales, and of course, there are dances in those too. The art is purely whimsical and once more beautiful.

It’s a lovely story and the connection Tiến has with his friends and family is great. Perfect read, I’ll be getting a copy for my daughter.

The diversity and art in this is gorgeous to match a sweet and beautiful story, woven within other stories.

Thank you so much to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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