One Amazing Elephant "Beautiful, poignant middle grade novel about Queenie Grace and the people she loves"

I love all kinds of books and stories, but every now and then I read a book that I can't put down. I spend hours-sometimes into the wee ones of the night-reading and reading until I finish the book. One Amazing Elephant is one of those books. So well written, so charming. I loved it. I'm adding it to my list of favorites and believe it is an absolute 2018 Newbery contender. 

Queenie Grace, a circus elephant, has always loved Lily, but Lily has been afraid of her over a misunderstanding back when she was just a toddler. Queenie Grace laid next to Lily to comfort her, but Lily thought she was trying to roll onto her. Lily spent her whole life believing Queenie Grace hated her until a tragic event happened that made her realize she was wrong about Queenie Grace all along.

I found very subtle comparisons to The One and Only Ivan, none of which make this wonderful story less admirable. The elephant likes to paint pictures. Ivan likes to paint pictures. Alternating chapters speak from Queenie Grace's point of view...and Ivan is written from Ivan's point of view. I found it unique and well written and it completely stands on it's own. I think kids are going to love it. It's a beautiful story about an extraordinary animal who loves humans. If you like heartwarming books with happy endings you will enjoy this one very much.

If you love this story, you're probably going to enjoy The One and Only Ivan and Moo.

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Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart, "Suspenseful, Gritty, and Comsumingly Entertaining"


Scar Island is full of suspense and like great authors are capable of doing, Dan Gemeinhart pulled me into the story within the first few pages. I started this story as an audiobook on my commute to and from work, but in the meantime I requested the hard copy through my county library. Even though I'm enjoying the audiobook I still like to see the actual book and look at some pages, maybe read a few chapters. It's especially fun to look at the character names if they are unusual, just to see if I would've pronounced them the same had I not heard someone speak them before...this works well with last names and sometimes town names. Last night I picked up the copy of Scar Island and I am so glad I did because part of the enjoyment of reading this book is actually READING this book due to the creative elements on the pages. Every chapter begins with a black page written in white text...it's a nice touch and gives the book some character.

books with character

And throughout the story, the main character (the protagonist), Jonathan and the other boys have to write letters home while staying on Scar Island...while I listened to the audiobook it was just a letter, but seeing it in print gives the story so much more substance. Sometimes part of the enjoyment of a book is how the book is put together, the texture of the pages, its deckled edge, the shape a weight of a book. Sometimes we connect with more than just the story.

Jonathan's Third Letter Home


Jonathan is sent to Slabhenge Reformatory for Trouble Boys for doing some terrible crime that isn't disclosed until very late in the story. Dan Gemeinhart does a fantastic job painting the chilling, dismal setting of the island and reformatory...which, by the way, used to be an asylum and is now presumably haunted by former patients. An unfortunate incident happens leaving the boys completely alone on the island with no adult supervision. Kids are really going to love this book: It has suspense, mystery, underdogs, misfits, outcasts, independent kids taking charge, conflict, resolve, some defiance, vulnerabilities. It was very entertaining and I found myself consumed by the plot and the characters and I couldn't wait to hear more and more and more. 

If you enjoy Scar Island, I mean I really can't imagine you won't, then you will most likely also enjoy Some Kind of Courage and The Big Dark.

Amazon affiliate links help keep the lights on here at The Good Librarian, so if you're interested in purchasing this book for you or your local school library, please know that buying it through this link helps me buy more books to review!

Summerlost by Ally Condie

(272 Pages AR: MG 4.1 Points: 6.0)

Summerlost is the touching debut middle grade novel from the YA author, Allie Condie.

It's the first summer since a devastating accident killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. Cedar and her mom are moving back to the town of Iron Creek (where her mom grew up) for the summer. Soon after moving into their new house a boy dressed in a costume rides past Cedar on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to Summerlost (a renowned summer renaissance theatre festival) It's not long before she becomes friends with Leo and he helps her get a job working concessions at the festival. She's excited about making a new friend and keeping busy, but quickly finds herself surrounded by an unfortunate mystery: the tragic, too-short life of a Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost.

I really enjoyed this charming, well written story.

If you enjoy Summerlost, you'll probably like Maybe a Fox and Hour of the Bees too!

Amazon affiliate links help keep the lights on here at The Good Librarian, so if you're interested in purchasing this book for you or your local school library, please know that buying it through this link helps me buy more books to review!