Duel by Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
1w ago
Written by Jessixa Bagley and illustrated by Aaron Bagley, Duel is a graphic novel about family relationships as much as it is about fencing. With creative word play and pictures, the pair tell the story of Lucy and Georgia (Gigi) Jones whose passion is fencing, a passion developed by their father and passed on to his two daughters. When Dad unexpectedly dies, the girls and their mother forget how to be a family, and soon, they are in turmoil. Feeling inadequate and unsure of themselves, the two tweens take out their frustrations on one another. Pushed to her limits, Lucy challenges her sister ..read more
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Just Keep Walking by Erin Soderberg Downing
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
2M ago
Set in Minnesota, Just Keep Walking is a middle grade novel written in part to encourage resilience and perseverance in tweens. Erin Soderberg Downing creates twelve-year-old Josephine Conlan, aka Jo, to carry her message about not giving up in the face of adversity and challenge. Jo’s older brother, Jake, is in college now, and her dad side-stepped into a new family despite his promise to take his daughter on the Superior Hiking Trail the summer of her seventh grade year.  With all of her alone time, Jo experiences “too many uncomfortable silences. Too much time to think about the way th ..read more
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Backcountry by Jenny Goebel
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
3M ago
Set in Colorado, Backcountry by Jenny Goebel tells the story of thirteen-year-old Emily Walker. Daughter of a mom with grit and determination who tells her to play it safe and an athletic dad who tells her to go for it, Em is a lead attacker for the Impalers’ volleyball team. Strong, adventurous, and Identifying as an athlete, Em feels like she has to compete with Dad’s real estate clients for attention. Because a bad appraisal or inspection often takes precedence over Emily and her mother, Emily believes that her dad only pays attention to her life when she is winning tournaments and trophies ..read more
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Sparkle by Lakita Wilson
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
7M ago
Living in Maryland, Nova and Sparkle Moore are sisters who both love dancing, modeling, and acting. Thanks to their mother’s backdrops, props, and posing techniques, the duo has social media followers and are on their way to being influencers despite being only fifth and sixth graders. Along with her best friends, Taryn Wood—an advanced level ballet and tap dancer—and Rae Ferrell—a true, creative artist, Sparkle attends the Arts Academy whose motto is “dream big; anything is possible.” As the three friends vow to steer clear of bad energy and to explore their true gifts, they also have to navi ..read more
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Maid for It by Jamie Sumner
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
7M ago
Sixth grader Frances Bishop is prone to worry. She wonders how thoughts can be compartmentalized or put into a box when “worry is like water. It leaks” (41). Furthermore, “no one chooses to worry. Worry just is” (99), and it causes Franny to get herself into a tangle. Because her mother is a former drug addict, Franny has had to be the responsible one, making worry a constant for her. As an escape, Franny has math where the problems have clear steps and a solution. Math is her happy place. Franny also has an ally in her mother’s Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, Mimi, who tells her ..read more
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Sparrow Being Sparrow by Gail Donovan
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
8M ago
Set in Maine, Sparrow Being Sparrow by Gail Donovan and illustrated by Elysia Case is a novel for middle grade readers. It features Sarah Robinson, aka Sparrow, who is a fourth grader at Eastbrook Elementary School. High-spirited and imaginative, Sparrow loves to dance and leap. In one of Sparrow’s rambunctious moments, her neighbor Mrs. LaRose leaps with Sparrow and ends up breaking a hip. As a way to make amends for what she sees as her fault, Sparrow takes care of Mrs. LaRose’s seven cats. Besides being a story about developing responsibility, Sparrow Being Sparrow also addresses other midd ..read more
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Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone by Tae Keller
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
8M ago
Readers will likely relate to the popularity food chain and power plays that transpire in junior high school. This social dynamic is the focus of Tae Keller’s middle grade novel Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone. With this book, Keller takes readers to the seventh grade classroom of Gibbons Academy in Florida and explores themes like identity, anxiety, friendship, bullying, and redemption. She also invites us to wonder whether we are truly alone in the universe and whether other life might exist beyond Earth. Mallory Moss is struggling to define herself—is she a fun, brave, and trustworthy friend or ..read more
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Big Tree by Brian Selznick
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
8M ago
Brian Selznick’s book Big Tree tells a tale of the interconnectedness of the natural world and how even the smallest can have a big impact. This true-to science, richly illustrated tome features Louise, a Sycamore seed who wishes to know the language of stars. While she is curious and adventuresome, her brother Merwin is more of a protective worrier. Together, the two have been charged by their mother to be brave and strong as they fly through the air to find a safe place to put down roots: “A good parent always gives their children roots and wings. Roots to settle down, and wings to bravely g ..read more
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A Bit of Earth by Karuna Riazi
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
8M ago
Prickly, unhappy, and bruised by the tragic deaths of her parents, Maria Latif is bustled off from Pakistan to Long Island, New York. After being bounced from relative to unfortunate relative, she is now going to stay with family friends. Still, the orphaned Maria knows this is just another temporary landing place. When she arrives, Maria is prepared to hate New York, but there is a secret about the Clayborne House on Long Island that she doesn’t understand. Something about the way an unloved, untouched, and unclaimed garden hums and thrums makes Maria think that this bit of earth can be hers ..read more
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Hands by Torrey Maldonado
PBC's Book Reviews » Realistic Fiction
by Donna
8M ago
When Torrey Maldonado conceived of the idea to write Hands, he wished to produce a much needed book for readers—especially those living in rough neighborhoods—who might be wondering whether fighting is an essential component for survival. He knew the book would have to be a fast-paced, thin one so that readers wouldn’t get “weighed down” by heavy content. He hoped not only to inspire readers to feel more positive but to empower them to respond to challenges in productive ways. He succeeds with Hands, a 136-page book thick with complexity and targeted for tweens. At age ten, Trevor follows in h ..read more
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