NetGalley Reads: Clara Humble: Quiz Whiz

NetGalley Reads: Clara Humble: Quiz Whiz

NETFLIX TALK_.pngHello and happy Friday. It is no secret that I’ve been trying to consciously read more middle-grade books and I usually enjoy them quite a lot. What I’ve come to realize is that making the voice of a kid believable is not that easy, and that can either make or break a book. Today I’ll be reviewing Clara Humble: Quiz Whiz by Anna Humphrey, which I got via NetGalley, so I would like to thank them, the author and the publisher.

I read this book between March 9th and March 14th, 2020 and gave it two stars. Sadly, it didn’t do it for me. I had high hopes for it since it features a female main character who writes her own comic book, so I thought it would be empowering, challenging the so-called gender roles. Besides that, Clara is going to compete in a game show, and though I don’t read a lot about games or competitions in books, that can certainly make a plot exciting. It had all the elements to make it a solid read for me, but it didn’t deliver.

One of the first signs to me that probably I wasn’t going to enjoy this book was the fact that the main character, who is also the narrator, uses words that are “too big” for a kid. She uses words and phrases her ideas in ways that an adult could, and that’s a pet peeve of mine: when you can tell that the author is an older person trying to sound younger.

The other big issue I had was related to Clara’s character, again, especially when we consider that this book will be mainly read by children. She came across as petty to me, and I didn’t find her likable or appealing for young readers. Clara criticizes everybody who surrounds her or she thinks mean things about them, even her friends. For example, she compares one of her friends to a mouse because she’s small and quiet. That didn’t sit well with me, especially since Clara thinks that she’s perfect and she doesn’t grow as a character or realize that the way she thinks is wrong.

Clara has a best friend called Bradley and she constantly says that he’s quiet and shy. The first time this was said and the first time the gameshow was mentioned, I thought we would have them both fight because they were both competing. It went sort of like that since at first Bradley’s mom’s boyfriend is the person who makes him compete, but then once they’re both in the gameshow, the contestants (Clara included) start pulling pranks on each other and basically cheating to make the other one lose. This, again, is never addressed and there are no repercussions against anyone.

Do you know of any middle-grade novels that feature a female main character and/or a gameshow or contest of any sort? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

 

NetGalley Reads: The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Dinosaur Hunter

NetGalley Reads: The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Dinosaur Hunter

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Hello and happy Friday. What a mouthful of a title, right? It seems like I’m suddenly obsessed with dinosaurs, but really it’s all part of this month’s theme, have you guessed it? Today I want to share a review of a middle-grade book I found super interesting and easy to read, so much so that I read it all in one day -in one sitting, actually. I’m talking about The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Dinosaur Hunter by Tim Collins. This book was sent to me via NetGalley for reading and reviewing purposes, so I’d like to thank them, the author and the publisher for the opportunity.

I read this book on December 22nd and gave it for stars. One thing I love about this book is that it is illustrated. To me, illustrations add a lot to the reading experience. As a teacher, for example, I could have my kids read this book and I could use the illustrations to deepen the conversation, to ensure understanding if something in the text was not clear, or simply to provide a visual reference to the story.

The book is written in diary format written by Ann, our main character. Ann is based on Mary Anning, a real “dinosaur hunter.” I love that we have a female main character who is based on an actual historical figure because that challenges many stereotypes that live to this day about boys or men being the only ones interested in or capable of working as paleontologists.

The story starts with Ann digging what she calls “lizard fish” bones where she lives. Her dad sells these bones for almost nothing until someone comes and becomes interested in Ann’s findings. This leads to Ann traveling to London with her dad to talk about the bones she’d been digging to a group of paleontologists and then travel to the New World to continue her expedition and research.

Occasionally, we get these sections titled “Get Real,” which provide factual information to support the fiction we just read about. For example, we get clarification about the type of dinosaur Ann found, or we also get historical facts about the different places she and her dad visit. Like I said, this book has great educational value and I really enjoyed reading it.

What topic would you have liked to learn more about as a kid? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

An Unexpected Find

An Unexpected Find

Hello and happy Wednesday. I’ve been trying to up my middle-grade game for some time now, but I’ve discovered that as a reader I’m sort of prejudging books in this age range. I say this because it’s happened to me a few times now that I’m overwhelmed by how much I end up liking a middle-grade novel as if I had originally thought I wouldn’t. I know that’s a “me” thing, and I know that the more I read middle-grade, the less prejudiced I’ll be towards it. Recently, for example, I read The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm and I was seriously amazed, so much so that I read the whole thing in one sitting.

I read this book on December 22nd, 2019 and gave it four stars. Per middle-grade fashion, it is a quick and easy read, and the chapters are really short. I’ve realized that the reason why I like short chapters is the fact that I feel encouraged to keep reading the next one, and then the next, until, before I realize it, I’m done with the book.

The main reason why I really enjoyed this novel is the fact that it subverts stereotypes or tropes that are present even in middle-grade. Our main character is Ellie, and her parents are divorced but they’re friends, like my own parents. There are no hints or suggestions that they’ll get back together, and Ellie lives a happy life with her mom, talking to her dad on the phone when he’s traveling and seeing him in person when he’s not.

Ellie’s mom is a drama teacher, and this causes her to be constantly arguing with Ellie’s grandfather, who is a scientist. At the beginning of the book, we’re told he’s just discovered the “cure” for aging, which makes him look like a thirteen-year-old. Aside from being a very original premise, I think it’s an awesome introduction to “harder” sci-fi or speculative books, especially for people like me, whose reading tastes are completely realistic.

Because Ellie’s grandpa now looks like a teenager, he starts living with her and her mom, going to school, and living like an actual teen -in his own way. They both form an uncommon bond, but one I like reading about: there’s just something about grandparent-grandchild relationships that warms my heart. Both characters start developing unlikely friendships with other people, like Raj, the goth kid.

The science component and the conversation about family relationships and what it means to age makes this, in my opinion, a great book to transition from middle grade to young adult. What are your general views toward middle grade? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

A Very Cute Halloween Read

A Very Cute Halloween Read

 

Hello and happy Friday. Let me tell you a story that makes my blogger heart happy.  I’d been getting these emails from Rabbit Publishers promoting a series titled Harry Moon by Mark Andrew Poe, and  I wasn’t really sure whether I’d requested a book from them via NetGalley or what, so I replied to an email saying “hi, you’ve been sending me publicity about your books, and it’s probably because I’m a book blogger and I somehow ended up in your database. I can read and review one of your books if you have them available digitally.” The guy who replied was so nice, and after emailing back and forth for a while, he sent me the digital copies of Wand Paper Scissors both in English and in Spanish. Of course, I am super grateful to everyone at Rabbit Publishers and the author for these copies. Let’s get started, shall we?

I read this book between June 3rd and June 19th, 2019, but I assure you, you can read this in one sitting if you have the time. I rated it four stars and kept thinking about what a great read it could be for elementary students. I love that it has a preface that gives some context regarding the characters in the series. I believe this is the first book, but still, you sort of get an idea of what the book is about. My teacher brain got really excited with ideas about character analysis that can be applied with just the first couple of pages.

I’m a very visual person, so I was really excited to see the colorful illustrations. These books must be gorgeous in physical format (and also a great gift for young readers who are getting into chapter books). I will say, though, that I think readers might need a bit of guidance because there are some “big” words I’m almost certain a fourth or fifth grader will not understand. Again, this is a great opportunity for teaching and reinforcing vocabulary.

Harry, our main character, is an aspiring magician, but his deal is good magic, and I just love how positive this book is. I also enjoyed reading about the societal differences in middle school, that are sadly determined by who’s got more resources and who hasn’t. And yes, there is bullying, and yes, there are scenes that broke my heart because I couldn’t fathom that someone could be so cruel to a classmate for no reason.

Like the title indicates, this is a Halloween read, which you know I absolutely love. It is set in a town called Sleepy Hollow and everything there is spooky. Basically in that town Halloween is celebrated year-round. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love reading about the town and all the crazy things in it.

Finally, this is a book about being decent human beings. Harry Moon’s motto is “do no evil,” which is a message that gets spread among the characters and that is evident throughout the plot. There is no doubt that this message is key for kids of all ages to learn and apply to their lives.

Have you read any of the Harry Moon books? What did you think about them? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

A Cutesy Summer Read

A Cutesy Summer Read

Hello and happy Wednesday. Since last year my mission has been to find, read and review more middle-grade novels, and I recently read one that I think the tween in your life is going to appreciate. I’m talking about Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy.

This book is told in alternating perspectives, which I believe enriches a story a lot and allows the reader to get to know more than one character in depth. In this case, we have two female main characters. This story centers around a road trip, so I think it is a great summer read. The chapters are short, which is a good thing because you feel like you’re advancing at a good pace. Usually, books with short chapters encourage me to read more, which results in me reading faster.

The two main characters are complete opposites, which I think will make this book even more relatable. On one hand, Lana is really childish and at times naive, while Cassie is very sarcastic and she’s all about her group of friends back home.

I like that this is a story about family and that we get to see a friendship developing. There is more depth to just a road trip, though because we find out that one of the main character’s mom might be sick and we get to experience the daughter’s fear of not knowing what is wrong with her mom.

What are you reading this summer? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

Physical Book Haul

Physical Book Haul

Hello and happy Wednesday. A few months ago I went to the bookstore and got a little carried away, and ended up buying six new books. It happens to the best of us, right? So anyway, let’s get this physical book haul started, shall we?

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Okay, so this is an autobiographic graphic novel? Something like that? I don’t have a clear idea what this book is about, other than it’s supposed to be similar to Freak by Marcella Pixley, and it’s also middle grade, which is a genre I’m currently really into.

 

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

This is one of those books I bought because my Goodreads friends or maybe some booktubers were reading. By that, I can infer it’s YA and it’s going to have some sort of romance in it, and we all know that’s what I live and die for.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo

I first found out about this novel via NetGalley. I requested it, but didn’t get it, so of course I added it to my wishlist. Many things drew me to this book: the title, of course, and the cover design, which resembles the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before books by Jenny Han. It looks like a super cute and fluffy read. I’ll let you know if it actually is.

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan 

Nina LaCour and David Levithan wrote a book together. That was just about my only reasoning when buying this book. I mean, we already know David Levithan is a god when it comes to co-authoring novels, and this time he did it with one of my queens. Needless to say, my expectations are sky-high, and I’m pretty sure this is one of those books I won’t be able to put down until I’m done with it.

Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan 

Like with Sisters, I got this book because I want to read more middle grade novels. I have no idea what it is about, but I’ll let you know my thoughts on it when I’m done reading it.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour 

I’ll say it again so that it’s clear to everyone: Nina LaCour is one of my queens. I literally couldn’t put down Everything Leads to You, and it only made me feel good things. I know We Are Okay is not a fluffy, feel-good novel, but I know it won’t disappoint.

Out of those books, which have you read or would like to read? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

A Middle Grade Read You’ll Love

A Middle Grade Read You’ll Love

Hello and happy Wednesday. Does it ever happen to you that you add a book to your wish list and then totally forget why you added it, but you still get it and then it just sort of sits there waiting for you to pick it up?

This is what sort of happened to me with When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I have absolutely no clue where or when I first read about this book or why I added it to my wish list. I just know I got it at this lovely bookstore in Bogota and left it there for months until a few weeks ago when I picked it up.

I never read what a book is about before I actually open it and begin reading it, so I didn’t catch the fact that it’s middle grade until I had made a considerable advance and by then I was already hooked. And the reason, I think, why this book caught my eye from the moment I opened it was the fact that Miranda, the main character, was absolutely amazing.

You see, she was super smart and curious and loved this book about time travel, and sometimes she behaved in was that as a reader I wasn’t expecting. I guess sometimes we grow used to characters being perfect and always acting the right way, and when they don’t it’s absolutely refreshing, because things like that, details that remind us that characters, although fictional, are still human, are the ones that make a book believable.

When You Reach Me, however, has quite a bit of sci-fi in it and the fact didn’t even make mad. I mean, the author’s style was so nice and natural, that while I read I sort of took in all the sci-fi bits as just that, a part of the story.

What I liked the most about this book, though, is that it got me thinking about stuff I never stop and question. I mean stuff related to time and how it is a construct, and time traveling, whether it can happen or not. While I was reading, mostly in a bus on my way to work, I literally had to put the book down and try to make sense of what I just read. And if that happens to a twenty-three year old teacher, imagine the positive impact it can have in tweens!

Have you, as an adult, read a middle grade book that impacted you? Tell me about it!

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila