Bite-Sized Reviews of Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, Becoming RBG, Friend or Fiction, and Catwad

November 8, 2019 Reviews 9

 

I’ve got five reviews for you today: a MG sci-fi, a MG contemporary fantasy, and three MG graphic novels. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!


Bite-Sized Reviews of Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, Becoming RBG, Friend or Fiction, and CatwadLexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament by Kim Long
Published by Running Press Kids on October 1, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: NetGalley
Cover Artist: Charles Lehman
My content rating: MG (Nothing objectionable that I can think of)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

For fans of The Amazing Race, Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament is the perfect adventure for middle grade readers who like scavenger hunts and puzzle-solving.

Twelve-year-old physics whiz Lexi Magill won't let anything stop her from winning Wisconsin's Teleportation Tournament--the annual competition where teams teleport around the world to solve science-based puzzles. She needs the prize money if she wants to re-enroll in the science academy her parents can no longer afford. Added bonus: she'll be able to reconnect with her best friend Haley.

But Lexi's two teammates put a wrench in her plans. When one misreads a clue that lands the team in a castle in Germany, and the other loses her teleportation medallion in Poland, Lexi wonders what she's gotten herself into. Struggling to keep her team under control as the race rages on, Lexi not only has to figure out how to get back on course (literally), but she must decide how far she's willing to go to win, and who her real friends are. With riddles to solve and messages to decode, this interactive read won't disappoint!

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This book is absolutely perfect for fans of The Amazing Race!! Of course, you don’t have to be familiar with the show to enjoy the book, but if you are, you’ll get that extra layer of enjoyment. I actually hadn’t read the blurb before reading the book, so I hadn’t expected the comparison—but I immediately found myself thinking, “This is a middle grade Amazing Race with a teleportation twist!” Everything I used to love about that show is in here: the interesting puzzles (which readers can try to solve right along with the characters), the travel to new sites, the race to the finish line, and even the backstabbing competitors. 🙂 (I actually didn’t realize that the show is still on the air, but now I totally want to watch it again!).

Not only does this book put a spotlight on some wonderfully educational material, but many kids will also relate to Lexi’s internal struggles: her changing friendships after a move to a new school and her pride (and tinge of superiority) that threaten to derail her team. Those elements are what make the book more than just a fun jaunt around the world. Oh, and then there’s teleportation. How I wish we could really teleport anywhere we wanted to go!! I highly recommend this middle grade read!

(NOTE: I call this book sci-fi because of the teleportation element, but it reads a lot like a contemporary with a light sci-fi twist.)

***Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, Becoming RBG, Friend or Fiction, and CatwadBecoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy
Illustrator: Whitney Gardner
on November 5, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction
Pages: 208
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: MG (Talks about WWII a bit)
My rating:
5 Stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of I Dissent comes a biographical graphic novel about celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a modern feminist icon—a leader in the fight for equal treatment of girls and women in society and the workplace. She blazed trails to the peaks of the male-centric worlds of education and law, where women had rarely risen before.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often said that true and lasting change in society and law is accomplished slowly, one step at a time. This is how she has evolved, too. Step by step, the shy little girl became a child who questioned unfairness, who became a student who persisted despite obstacles, who became an advocate who resisted injustice, who became a judge who revered the rule of law, who became…RBG.

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Okay, confession: I probably would have never read a regular biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not because I doubt that she’s a fascinating person, but just because biographies don’t really interest me. And, with so many great fiction books on my TBR, I just don’t get around to reading much non-fiction. But put a biography of an interesting person in graphic novel form, and I’m suddenly all excited! And I am so glad that this showed up in my mailbox because it was a fascinating read! 

I knew a little bit about RBG (in the current political climate, I’ve paid a bit more attention to the supreme court than I had in the past), but I didn’t realize just how involved she was in key cases that brought more gender equality to our country. The book also gives us insight into RBG’s early life and her mother’s battle with cancer. I found RBG’s life truly inspiring, and it gives me hope for the future of our world—it’s good to see how far we’ve come and to focus on someone who is fighting for justice and equality in our world. I also thought it was wonderful that the book highlights a friendship with a judge whose views do not match RBG’s—in today’s political climate, it’s become harder and harder to show respect and empathy toward people with opposing views. I loved just about everything about this book!

I should also mention that the artwork is wonderful, with a clean style that works especially well for middle grade. Here’s a sample:

***Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, Becoming RBG, Friend or Fiction, and CatwadFriend or Fiction by Abby Cooper
Published by Charlesbridge on October 8, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary Fantasy
Pages: 272
Source: NetGalley
Cover Artist: Julie McLaughlin
My content rating: MG (Deals with issues of illness and death)
My rating:
4 Stars

One creative middle-schooler schooler discovers that the best friend a girl can have is the one she makes herself in this charming magical realism read.

Jade's life hasn't exactly been normal lately, especially since her dad's cancer diagnosis. Jade wishes her family could leave their no-name town in Colorado already--everybody else does sooner rather than later, including every best friend Jade's ever had. So she makes one up. In the pages of her notebook, she writes all about Zoe--the most amazing best friend anyone could dream of.

But when pretend Zoe appears in real life thanks to a magical experiment gone right, Jade isn't so sure if she likes sharing her imaginary friend with the real world. To keep her best friend (and even make some new ones), Jade learns how to cope with jealousy, that friends should let friends be true to themselves, and that maybe the perfect best friend doesn't exist after all.

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This book is an exploration of what it truly means to be a friend. But it also covers many other relevant topics for kids today, like economic challenges, terminal illness, and loss of friendship due to moving. Jade lives in a sort of “stepping stone” town—people don’t stick around for long there. So, she’s struggled to make meaningful friendships and has resorted to an imaginary friend named Zoe who she writes about daily. When Zoe comes to life, it seems perfect, but Jade struggles when Zoe fails to live up to her expectations of what a best friend should be. She also struggles to deal with her father’s cancer and his inability to be completely present in her life the way she’d like him to be. I’m not going to lie: Jade is sometimes a difficult character to like, even when you do sympathize with her. She often acts selfishly (with both Zoe and a boy named Clue, who she holds a grudge against), and her perspective is skewed by her past experiences of loss. Still, even though I didn’t always love Jade’s attitudes or actions, I was always rooting for her to grow and learn from her mistakes. By the end of the book, Jade realizes that she hasn’t been looking at friendship the right way.

The magical elements of this book are intriguing and mysterious. And I love the way that Jade’s love of writing was woven into the story (and into the magic in an unexpected way). Overall, this was a lovely story!

***Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, Becoming RBG, Friend or Fiction, and CatwadIt's Me. by Jim Benton
Illustrator: Jim Benton
Series: Catwad #1
Published by Graphix on March 26, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Pages: 128
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: MG (With gross-out humor and images)

From New York Times bestselling author Jim Benton, meet Catwad!

He's blue, he's a bit of a grouch, and his best friend is a dim-witted cat named Blurmp who can see the bright side of anything. From pizza and computers, to love and happiness, this crabby tabby has a funny take on just about everything, and he's not afraid to share it. This collection of short comic stories will make even the grumpiest of grouches crack up and is not to be missed!

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Bite-Sized Reviews of Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, Becoming RBG, Friend or Fiction, and CatwadIt's Me, Two by Jim Benton
Illustrator: Jim Benton
Series: Catwad #2
Published by Graphix on September 17, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Pages: 128
Source: The Publisher
My rating:
4 Stars

Catwad, the snarky blue furball with a funny take on just about everything, is BACK in this second graphic novel in an all-new series from New York Times bestselling author Jim Benton!

New York Times bestselling author Jim Benton's latest creation, Catwad, returns!
Catwad and Blurmp are back and ready for more adventures! In this newest collection of hilarious stories, the dynamic feline duo explore fine art, travel to an alternate reality where the world has become extraordinarily dumb, get into gaming, and more! From monsters under Blurmp's bed to all the reasons you should NEVER eat salad, this newest volume of Catwad has something for everyone!

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These wacky middle grade graphic novels are reminiscent of oddball Nickelodeon shows like Ren & Stimpy and SpongeBob SquarePants. Kids who love that type of humor will go gaga for these!! The series centers around a very grumpy cat named Catwad and his happy, naive (and sometimes idiotic) friend Blurmp. Their antics are weird and sometimes gross and often hilarious!

The books are a collection of short comics, each with a single joke behind them. If I’m being honest, some of the gross-out humor is a bit much for me, especially in the first book (the disturbing images of tons of spiders climbing into Blurmp’s eyes, nose and mouth and of Catwad turned inside out will probably never leave my brain). But these graphic novels are aimed very specifically at a demographic that loves this sort of thing (for instance, my son gave the books a vote of approval). And I have to confess that I found myself laughing at the pure inanity of many of the jokes. 

I felt like the second installment relied less on those gross-out images, so I enjoyed that one much more than the first. Interestingly, the second book includes two comics that were also included in the original. (Maybe this is common for this type of book? I’m not sure.) I don’t think these graphic novels will be for everyone, but I definitely recommend them for fans of off-the-wall humor that veers toward disturbing!

It just so happens that the sample panel I found from the first book is my favorite comic overall:

***Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?

9 Responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews of Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, Becoming RBG, Friend or Fiction, and Catwad”

  1. Sam@wlabb

    I felt for Jade. She was lonely and sad, yet I thought she often showed a lot of affection towards her family. I also thought there was just a lot of love in her household, and I liked writing serving as an outlet for Jade.

  2. Olivia Roach

    I read Abby Cooper’s debut novel back when it came out but I actually really want to read more of her books because it was such a fantastic read. Friend of Fiction sounds so good. I love friendship as the main theme, but it also sounds like it covers array of things too.

    Olivia Roach recently posted: A Dream So Dark [Book Review]

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