Category: Middle Grade Fiction

Book Review: Roscoe and Muldoon: The Mayor is Mad by Don Mayhew

“Roscoe and Muldoon: The Mayor is Mad” is the delightful first book in a new canine detective series geared toward middle-grade readers. As you may have guessed, Roscoe and Muldoon, as well as their friend Jackson, are dogs. The author brings them to life with color photos on the cover, and plenty of sketches throughout the book. Other animals are also part of the story.

Even though they’re all animals, each character in the story has a distinct personality, and it’s easy to understand the choices they make based on what the reader has learned about them. I particularly enjoyed Jackson the maltipoo puppy and his friend Penny the cat. These two had some great dialog, and it was fun watching them meet, get to know each other, and become friends.

The story is told in alternate POV chapters, with the Jackson/Penny antics interspersed with the Roscoe/Muldoon chapters dedicated to solving the mystery. In this case, it’s the Mystery of the Disappearing Dog Toys/Clothes/Etc. These two are diligent in tracking down clues, and each brings something unique to the crime-solving table. It was fun to follow their investigation to its ultimate conclusion.

Everything in the book is entirely appropriate for the middle-grade readers for which it is intended. There is some positive messaging about how all animal lives matter that could lead to good discussion about the similar issue in real-world society.

Great characters, a fun story, and delightful animal antics…what more could you ask for?*

Five out of five chunks of yummy cheddar.

*Personally, I could ask for a mouse character in an upcoming book! Mouse lives matter!

Book Review: My Skull Possession by Lisa M. Miller

“My Skull Possession” by Lisa M. Miller is the perfect blend of cozy mystery and paranormal thrills! Geared to middle-grade readers, it is creepy, but never too scary.

Main character Brighton is a typical teenager, dealing with school, friends, and parental requirements. On top of this, she finds herself in the middle of a mystery involving a scary book and a series of deaths. Watching Brighton and her friend Kate investigate is delightful, as they come across as realistic teenagers in their thought processes and actions. I especially loved the way the girls worked around the fact that neither was old enough to drive. Both characters were realistic and likeable, and I especially enjoyed learning more about Kate’s backstory.

The plot itself was excellent, as it kept me guessing until very near the end. As I followed Brighton’s investigation, I had two working theories, one natural and one supernatural. Neither turned out to be correct, and the actual solution was both logical and made sense given the clues the girls uncovered along the way.

All in all, I recommend this story to mystery fans, especially those looking for a lower level of horror and danger. I look forward to seeing what sort of mystery the girls tackle next!

Book Review: What We Found in the Corn Maze and How It Saved a Dragon by Henry Clark

“What We Found in the Corn Maze and How It Saved a Dragon” by Henry Clark is an absolutely wonderful book! I’ll admit upfront that I am a good bit older than the target demographic, but I enjoyed it every bit as much as my son. We actually made quite a game of stealing it back and forth from each other to read the next part!

What I Loved:
1. The plot! It was lots of fun, with quirky magic, entertaining characters, and great world-building, both in the regular world and in the parallel magical one.

2. The characters! The main characters were well-drawn and believable. It’s nice to see middle-school-aged kids portrayed as clever, loyal, and caring. In real life, most of them are, and it’s nice to see something other than the complete brats that usually populate books and tv shows. Modesty’s quirky family (who are mostly off-screen) are described well enough to provide plenty of laughter for the reader. A spin-off book along the lines of “Modesty and Her Sisters Shop at the Mall” could be hilarious! Regardless, kudos to the author for getting middle school kids just right!

3. The subtle humor! Yes, there was plenty of not-so-subtle humor, which I also enjoyed. But how can you NOT love a magical world in which people enjoy reading about “Mary Potter, Girl Scientist”?

4. The positive messaging! In a real world full of doom and gloom, it’s nice to see a book that shows kids using their brains, working together, and actually making a difference. I loved how they made the “Magical Minutes” work for them, despite the apparent uselessness of some of the spells. The “take-care-of-the-environment” and “stand-up-to-bullies-even-if-they’re-the-ones-in-charge” messages were also timely and age-appropriate.

Overall, I 100% loved this book. I recommend it to everyone, regardless of age or ability to enjoy stories about magical-doorways-in-refrigerators.

Five out of five extra-large chunks of Monterey Jack!