Monday, March 25, 2013

Double MG Book Review: Maggie Lyons

I normally don't review chapter books, but these two books by Maggie Lyons are well written and worth mentioning on my blog, especially since they are intended for middle grade children. I decided to combine the two reviews into one post because the books are so short.

Both were published by MuseItUp Publishing in 2012. Visit Maggie's website to find out more about her and her novels:

Vin and the Dorky Duet
# of chapters: 10
# of pages: 18,000-word e-book
Genre: Contemporary

Plot summary (from the website): 
The moment he walks through the door and sees the sharky grin on his older sister’s face, Vin suspects Meg’s hatching a plot. He’s right. Worse still, he’s central to the outcome.
Meg tells him that their music teachers, parents—everyone—expect him to play her duet for trumpet and piano at the upcoming student concert. Vin is horrified.

Meg insists that his only escape route is to persuade another trumpet player to take his place. She has the hunky Brad Stewart in mind, and she challenges Vin to introduce her to him.
Vin doesn’t know Brad any better than Meg does, but Meg points out that Vin takes a couple of classes at school with Brad’s nerdy brother. Eyeballs Stewart is the last person Vin wants to make friends with until Meg’s promise of a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey changes the seventh-grader’s mind. He has five days to accomplish his mission—Operation BS—before the concert practice schedule kicks in.

Vin's game plan, thwarted by exploding fish tanks, magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths, and other disasters, doesn’t work out exactly as he expects.

My Review
I love the relationship between Vin and his little sister, Meg. The author captures sibling rivalry/complicity very well. The novel is written in first person POV and has a good voice. It also has original similes that made me laugh. Very well written.

In this story, Vin has to make friends with Binkley, a nerdy guy nicknamed Eyeballs whom I found very likable and funny.

This book has many interesting elements: lies gone wrong, failed plans, forced friendship with a nerd, kids' views of adults and situations, embarrassing moments, a very untypical grandma, things going all wrong but still ending in a success, and a surprise ending. It's definitely set in modern days, with the mention of GPS, video games, and cell phones.

My Rating:

Dewi and the Seeds of Doom
# of chapters: 12
# of pages: 11,000-word e-book
Genre: Fantasy

Plot summary (from the website): 
When Dewi is clobbered by a falling rat, the wise-cracking, young Welsh dragon snoops his way into a challenging predicament. Helped by a toad with a passion for chemistry experiments, Dewi discovers a meglomaniac baron breeding mutant corn at an unfriendly castle. To thwart the baron's sickening plan, Dewi must use his wits, moxie, and firepower in a series of catastrophe-skirting capers.

My Review
This is a good book for younger middle grade and reluctant readers. The plot is simple and easy to read, and yet it has some elements of mystery that keeps the reader interested. It contains a few big words (such as symptom) that are defined in a creative, natural way. Very well done. And I love the cover!

The characters are very diverse: a dragon, a goat, a rat, a vole, a toad, a baron, a kestrel, and a dwarf. Did I forget any? Wow, all that in one short book. Never a boring moment!

The only thing I don't like is the lack of emotion. It has a fairy tale feel to it, and I guess the emphasis on action rather than emotion goes with the style, but I personally like diving deeper into the characters' emotions when I read. But then again, I'm not too familiar with chapter books, as I normally review only MG novels. I'm still giving it four stars.

My Rating:


Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the review. Both books sound good.

DMS said...

Both of these books sound great. I haven't read either of them yet! I am especially curious about Vin and his sister. Thanks for sharing. :)

Post a Comment