Mini Middle Grade Reviews: “A Boy Called Bat” and “Murder is Bad Manners”

A Boy Called Bat” by Elana K. Arnold

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction


For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

Very cute! I loved the real tone of the book. Having just listened to a few of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, it reminded me a bit of that. A kid just being a kid. Not what an adult might “imagine” a kid might feel or think like.

I can’t comment on how accurate the autism representation is. I did like how I felt like I understood Bat’s thinking about things. He’s not trying to be difficult. His brain just works a bit differently.

I really appreciated how the story wasn’t an autism book. It was the story of a little boy who desperately wants to raise a skunk and the boy just happens to be on the autism spectrum. We need more casual representation like this. 

Murder Is Bad Manners” by Robin Stevens

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Mystery


1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find a truly exciting mystery to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t.)

But then Hazel discovers the body of the Science Mistress, Miss Bell – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls have to solve a murder, and prove a murder has happened in the first place before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally),

But will they succeed?

And can their friendship stand the test?

I always love a good mystery. This was a favorite series of a tween library patron so I knew I needed to give it a try! [She also told me that First Class Murder (which takes places on the Orient Express) is her favorite. I’ll need to come back to the series so I can get to that one.]

I didn’t love that it was a bit Americanized. I totally forget that this wasn’t even set in the US at times. I hate that publishers assume readers can’t pick up on things. Yes, I understand there’s language differences between two countries that speak the same language. Just add a glossary to the front or back like you do with a fantasy novel or a few extra words to explain if necessary.

Other than that, the mystery was fun! It felt appropriate for the age of the protagonists & intended age of reader.

I loved that there were little updates as Daisy & Hazel learn more information. They add or remove suspects and other helpful information. It felt like they were actually investigating.

Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest | BookTok | Classics in Bookland | Support the Blog

Book Review: “Between the Water and the Woods”

Between the Water and the Woods” by Simone Snaith

Source: ARC from work

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction Fantasy


Emeline’s quiet village has three important rules:
Don’t look at the shadows.
Don’t cross the river.
And don’t enter the forest.

An illustrated fantasy filled with beauty and power, Between the Water and the Woods sweeps you into a world where forests are hungry; knights fight with whips; the king is dying; and a peasant girl’s magic will decide the future of the realm.

When Emeline’s little brother breaks all three of their village’s rules, she is forced to use her family’s forbidden magic to rescue him from the dark things he awakens, the Ithin. Now that the Ithin are afoot in the land, she must, by law, travel to the royal court and warn the king. But the only way she and her family can make the journey to the capital is with the protection of a sour magister and a handsome, whip-wielding Lash Knight. Will Emeline survive in a city where conspiracies swirl like smoke and her magic is all but outlawed?

Read More »

Books On Disney+

Anyone a fan of seeing books adapted for the screen? Here’s a round up of movies based on books on Disney+.

Consider pairing them with the book to make a great family discussion!

Disney pulls from a lot of fairy tales or other classic lore & novels so we’ll pass on those movies for now. Besides, you probably already know they’re based on books.

Last updated: 9/26/20

Read More »

Graphic Novel Adaptions of Books

I think graphic novels are a great read. They’re quick reads, they help with my Goodreads challenge goal, and I love them as a palate cleanser.

I’ve rounded up a selection for you based on children’s or YA books you may have read already.

Read More »

Book Review: "The Unready Queen"

The Unready Queen” by William Ritter

Source: ARC from Algonquin

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Fantasy,


Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.

But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.

Read More »