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Thought for the day:
"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true." ~ Robert Wilensky
My gift for my writer friends: http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2012/01/hooks-loglines-and-pitches-what-every.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AnneRAllensBlog+%28Anne+R.+Allen%27s+Blog%29 – Great blog for writers – very helpful information for when you are ready to submit.
My apologies for disappearing for a couple of weeks. We had that horror of horror happen at our house last week. Our laptop died. It was sad and frightening. We have Carbonite, so it should have been no worry, but Carbonite didn’t seem to work as promised, and we were not able to accomplish a restore as we should have. Fortunately, we have lots of redundancies in the world of backups and were also able to get our old computer to turn on for short periods of time – long enough to copy some files on to flash drives. We have a new laptop and now have all our files on it. We are unable to send emails out in one of our email programs, but other than that, we are back up and running. Whew!
So back to the matter of my blog. I have a winner to announce. Megan had her name pulled from the hat and will receive the autographed copy of no-name baby by Nancy Bo Flood. Congratulations, Megan!!
Today I will review two middle-grade books and give away my gently-read advanced reader copies of each. Two reviews, two books, two winners! To make up for two weeks between blog posts. If you love middle-grade books as I do, check out other middle-grade reviews at Shannon Messenger's blog by clicking HERE. She lists tons of them each week. Stay tuned and you will find out how to get your name in the hat.
Minty and Paz are best friends. They have been best friends forever. But as Minty and Paz head toward the beginning of middle school, and they seem to grow apart over the long summer. They live in a neighborhood that has some strange things: a Witch House on the other side of the woods, a Man-Bat that wonders the woods, the ghost of Crazy Ike, and a couple of Mean Boys who seem to live simply to do mean things. One day, Minty sees a flash in the woods and chases a small figure. While looking for the small figure, she discovers another strange thing: a secret tree – a tree that holds secret messages about people in the neighborhood.
Minty spends more time on her own, following the small figure until she finally meets Raymond, a boy near her age who, it seems, lives on his own in an abandoned model home. He has secrets, too. Frustrated with Paz’s disloyalty, Minty decides to work with Raymond to discover the truth about the secret messages in the tree and the people in the neighborhood. She finds the good in many people she thought didn’t have much good in them, as well as finding out how many secrets people around her have. She discovers a lot about her family and her best friend. She finds out Raymond’s secrets and how to help him. Of course, along the way, Minty also discovers much about herself.
“I was learning this thing about secrets: Even if they’re not about you, once you know them, they feel like they could be about you. Every secret connects to something inside of you, whether you know it at first or not.”
The Secret Tree by Natalie Standiford is an exciting and fascinating, fast-paced story middle-graders will love. It is a true coming-of-age story, one worth reading. The characters are relatable and the voice of protagonist is clear, strong, and believable.
* * * * *
Jessie and Evan go with their mother to see their grandmother, who is in the hospital after a small kitchen fire and a bad fall. When they arrive at her home, they find the damage is much worse than they expected. To top everything off, they find that Grandmother’s bell has been stolen! Every year the kids can remember, the ringing of the bell has been a New Year’s Eve tradition, with the oldest and the youngest present doing the honors together. Clearly, this holiday season won’t be what they are used to. Jessie meets a neighbor boy, Maxwell, who has strange habits, odd ways of moving, and difficulty communicating. While Evan works side-by-side with the man who has been hired to repair the house, Jessie befriends Maxwell and decides they should become spies and find the bell thief.
When Grandmother comes home, she is not herself. At times she doesn’t know who Evan is, and she makes poor choices that put her in danger.
“She didn’t look like his grandmother. She looked strange, with one arm missing inside her coat and the empty, flopping sleeve hanging like a dead fish. Her knitted cap was crooked on her head, and one strand of gray hair hung down and curled around her neck.”
Jessie and Maxwell run into trouble when they spy on some “mean boys” in the neighborhood while looking for the bell. Maxwell has been treated badly by these boys and is clearly afraid, but Jessie confronts them. Things get pretty sticky.
The Bell Bandit by Jacqueline Davies is the third book in a series – The Lemonade War Series. This book stands clearly on its own. Even though I had not read the previous two books, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. It is a well-structured mystery that will engage young readers with the story while taking on the difficult issues of Alzheimer’s and autism. Sometimes the point of view is a bit confusing, but overall kids will like this book.
If you would like to win one of these books, just leave a comment here on the blog for one chance and post the link to your blog, Facebook, or other social media and let me know for a second chance. As always, one of my incredibly honest grandchildren will pull the winning names from a hat. Also, please indicate which book you would prefer to receive. If your name is drawn first, you will get your choice. If your name is drawn second, you will receive whichever the first winner didn’t choose.
Remember, if you have trouble leaving a comment, click on the title of the post and it will give you just this post with a comments section on the bottom.