Title: Rick

Author: Alex Gino

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Scholastic

The Blurb

From the award-winning author of George, the story of a boy named Rick who needs to explore his own identity apart from his jerk of a best friend.

Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that … understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

As they did in their groundbreaking novel George, in Rick, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world … and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be. 

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

Set a few years after George, Rick focuses on a different character – our eponymous character, Rick.

In George, Rick comes across a little boy. He follows the crowd and hasn’t quite figured out who he is yet. He makes poor decisions but we see a kindness in him. Therefore, he is the perfect tertiary character to focus the follow on story about.

In the sequel, we see just how much he has grown. We see him start to question his actions, the actions of others and what (and who) is important in life. More than that we see him realise how his actions impact others.

Rick is a beautiful story which, unlike George, is more about relationships with others rather than acceptance of oneself. It is the relationships that he cultivates in this novel that make his life better.

Alex Gino is brilliant at creating LGBTQIA+ stories and a community of middle grade readers will be the richer for reading Rick and George.

Rick by Alex Gino is available now.

For more information regarding Alex Gino (@lxgino) please visit www.alexgino.com.

For more information regarding Scholastic (@scholasticuk) please visit www.scholastic.co.uk.

Title: George

Author: Alex Gino

Pages: 213 Pages

Publisher: Scholastic

The Blurb

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. 

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. 

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

Poor George. George is struggling. George knows what the world expects – an interest in sport, getting messy, boisterousness. However, George likes fashion, femininity and the colour pink. You see George knows she is a girl. George is Melissa.

Alex Gino has written an absolutely gorgeous novel bit being transgender. What is brilliant is that Gino has targetted this story at middle grade readers. It is a beautiful story of being unwilling to compromise on who you are and it shows what with the right support just ow much easier life can be for transgendered people.

I devoured George. It was a one-sitting read and one that I wish was on the curriculum.

George by Alex Gino is available now.

For more information regarding Alex Gino (@lxgino) please visit www.alexgino.com.

For more information regarding Scholastic (@scholasticuk) please visit www.scholastic.co.uk.

Title: Ella on the Outside

Author: Cath Howe

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Nosy Crow

The Blurb

Ella is the new girl at school. She doesn’t know anyone and she doesn’t have any friends. And she has a terrible secret.

Ella can’t believe her luck when Lydia, the most popular girl in school, decides to be her new best friend – but what does Lydia really want? And what does it all have to do with Molly, the quiet, shy girl who won’t talk to anyone?

A gripping story of lies, friendship, and blackmail…

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

Ella has a secret. She can’t tell anybody. No one can know. But Ella has just started a new school and she is struggling to make friends. So telling just one person can’t be that bad, can it?

Ella on the Outside is a lovely story about what it means to truly be friends with somebody. You instantly fall fo Ella even more so when you know what she has gone through and how difficult her young life is. And even when she makes some questionable choices you still want Ella to do well. 

Ella on the Outside is only a short novel but it is on that packs a punch and really does put the reader in someone else’s shoes. The narrative style is very reader friendly – it is told in short chapters and letter form and it really allows the audience to empathise with Ella.

A great book to start a discussion about lifestyles with younger readers.

Ella on the Outside by Cath Howe is available now.

For more information regarding Cath Howe (@cath_howe) please visit www.cathhowe.com.

For more information regarding Nosy Crow (@NosyCrow) please visit www.nosycrow.com.

Title: Carnival of Monsters

Author: Andrew Beasley

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Usbourne

The Blurb

Roll up, roll up, if you dare, to Doctor Vindicta’s Carnival! Gasp at the dancing ghosts! Grimace at the creepy clowns! It’s all harmless fun and frights…until a young boy disappears and his sister swears he was snatched by a monster. Only the bravest detectives can detain a demon: send for supernatural investigators Billy Flint and Charley Steel!

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Carnival of Monsters by Andrew Beasley is the second book I have read about the adventures of Charlotte Steel and Billy Flint – two crime fighters for a small department in Scotland Yard. They deal with the crimes that have a supernatural quality, the crimes that the regular police force cannot solve. One thing you can say about Charley and Billy is that they take their job very seriously…but it also looks seriously fun.

In Carnival of Monsters, the crime fighting due are called to Hobb’s End to help Bunny Smallbone find her brother who was ripped from his bed in the dead of night after attending a travelling fair. It is a race against the clock for S.C.R.E.A.M. to solve the mystery.

I really love these middle grade books. Not just because they deal with crimes, mysteries and the supernatural but because Beasley manages to get all sorts into the plot – science fact, history, representations of class and disability. They are fantastic books for starting a conversation with younger readers. I have read this series with reluctant readers and it has really got my students thinking and questioning and looking at the world with a different perspective.

I genuinely cannot wait for the next book in the series.

Carnival of Monsters by Andrew Beasley is available now.

For more information regarding Andrew Beasley (@ABeasley_author) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Usbourne (@Usbourne) please visit www.usbourne.com.

Title: Coraline

Author: Neil Gaiman

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Absolute Press

The Blurb

There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Coraline has moved into a new home, she is bored…and she is lonely. When she goes through a mystery door in the new house everything appears to be exactly the same except it is totally different. For one thing, her mum and dad seem to have buttons for eyes which is weird. It is up to Coraline to solve the mystery of this alternative world.

The story of Coraline is quintessentially Gaiman. It is a modern day fairy tale with a fantasy twist and it was an absolute joy to read. I think I may need to watch the movie now.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is available now.

For more information regarding Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) please visit www.neilgaiman.com.