Throwback Thursday: Judy Moody Declares Independence

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Life, liberty, and the pursuit of moodiness.

In honor of Labor Day in the United States coming up on Monday, I decided to review a patriotic-themed read. The sixth installment of Megan McDonald’s infamous Judy Moody series follows the Moody family travels to Boston for a family vacation. In Boston, Judy is inspired to declare her own rights to her own phone and an increased allowance. Judy quickly learns that independence doesn’t come without a price–more chores!

I’ve read quite a few Judy Moody books recently and they have been hit or miss. Judy Moody Declares Independence is definitely a hit and my favorite Judy Moody book so far. This book was a quick read that had many enjoyable aspects.

I think the best part of this book was the growth of the main character. Sometimes Judy Moody’s moods come across as very annoying and immature. While her moodiness is a major aspect of her personality, it sometimes difficult to sympathize with her actions when they are extremely mean and cruel. I really liked how in this book, Judy Moody took on a lot of responsibility and looked out for her brother Stink. In Judy Moody’s words, this was a double rare moment within this series.

I think this book also carried other great messages. In this book, Judy Moody’s teacher introduces her to Sybil Ludington who is known as the female Paul Revere. I loved how the book emphasized that Sybil’s actions were just as important and heroic as Paul Revere’s. I liked how it also addressed that more women should be included in history textbooks and celebrated throughout the country.

Like with Sybil Ludington, a lot of United States history is embedded throughout the book. This really brought out the teacher in me! I loved how the facts were incorporated in fun and creative ways like the characters portraits in the front of the book. I think children can learn some fun history from this book without feeling like they are reading from a textbook.

I actually read this book while I waited for the Fourth of July parade in my town. Reading this book really helped the time fly before the parade. If you’re taking children to a parade this Labor Day, I suggest bringing this book along to occupy them before the parade starts!

Since I loved the character growth, message, and history within this book, I rate Judy Moody Declares Independence as five out of five stars.

ARC Review: Judy Moody and the Bucket List

bucket list.

Release Date: August 2, 2016

Judy Moody’s infamous moods will never kick the bucket.

In the thirteenth book in the popular series by Megan McDonald, Judy Moody gets a double rare idea from her Grandma Lou. She creates a bucket list of everything that she hopes to accomplish before starting fourth grade. From doing a cartwheel to visiting Antarctica (even though she only has a little over $30), Judy sets off on another moody adventure.

Just last week I read my favorite book in the entire Judy Moody series, Judy Moody Declares Independence. I loved that addition to the series because although Judy kept true to her personality, she also grew as a character and became more responsible. I actually rated that book five out of five stars. Unfortunately, this book received a lower rating from me for several reasons.

First off, I was disappointed to see that all the maturity Judy gained seemed non-existent until the very end of this book. Earlier in the series, Judy committed herself to always brushing her hair, completing her household chores, and even being nice to her younger brother. In The Bucket List, Judy demanded even more allowance even though she invented a hairbrush that didn’t actually brush her hair, neglected her daily chores, and was unnecessarily mean to her younger brother.

I also felt that the plot was very disjointed. It reminded me a lot of The NOT Bummer Summer book where Judy is checking off a list to compete with her friends. Everything Judy did related to her list, but none of the things she did every came off as very exciting like it they did in The NOT Bummer Summer. Yes, Judy Moody is meant to have moods, but she whined about everything in this book which ruined all of her experiences and the reader’s experience as well.

Another disappointment with this book were the side characters. I was fine with old favorites just having cameos since they really didn’t have any significance in this particular story. However, it seemed characters like the future dog owner and her father’s back story were just thrown in and loosely moved the story along.

Even though I did have a few negatives, I also enjoyed a couple aspects of this story. Even though I wish we saw Grandma Lou more in the story, I really liked seeing Judy’s relationship with someone else in her family. I think a lot of children would relate to how Judy felt about her grandmother. Also, we get to see a more sympathetic side of Judy with her grandmother. In the end, Judy makes a selfless decision, which is double rare for her, to help her grandmother achieve a dream.

While I thought this book was okay, it is definitely not my favorite in the Judy Moody series. Since I liked Judy’s relationship with her grandmother, but felt the character growth, plot, and side characters were lacking, I give this book three out of five stars.

I received Judy Moody and the Bucket List from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

#ThrowbackThursday: Stink the Incredible Shrinking Kid Review

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Unfortunately for me, as I continued reading Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald, my stars given kept shrinking as well.

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, follows James a.k.a. Stink Moody, the brother of the infamous Judy Moody. In this book, Shrink struggles with being the shortest kid in his class. He becomes further frustrated when his sister measures him shorter one day! With a class pet disaster and biography on his favorite American president, Stink comes to terms with his height.

I was really excited when I stumbled onto this series at my local library. I loved the Judy Moody series was younger, so I thought it was exciting to find a series on another character from those books. My hopes were so high for this book that I even considered checking more out, but since I already had a stack of books in my arms, I decided I would check more of the books out if I enjoyed the first one. My arms are thanking me for not picking up any more because I never became invested in this book.

I actually really liked Stink. I think many children could relate to him and his problems. Compared to how annoying he was portrayed in the Judy Moody books, he wasn’t annoying at all in this book, but really likable. However, other characters from the Judy Moody series really put a damper on this book. Obviously, being moody is Judy Moody’s personality, but it was just a little too much in this book. All of her actions towards Stink came across just plain mean, rude, and annoying.

Like with the Judy Moody series, this book really relies on a series event rather than the characters’ actions. I didn’t have a problem with this in Megan McDonald’s other books because the situations carried the story along. However, most of the events in this book–the class pet, the book report, etc.–seemed to only loosely tie into the book, if at all. Sometimes, the book felt like it was all over the place.

On a positive note, I really liked Stink’s cartoons throughout the book. I think they added to his personality and really set the series apart from the Judy Moody series. I may end up reading the next book in this series to see if my feelings change. However, it is not on the top of my TBR list.

I rate this book two out of five stars.

#ThrowbackThursday: Middle Grade Mini-Reviews

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Three mini reviews of three middle grade books!

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream follows Clara Lee, a third grader who hopes to become her town’s Little Miss Apple Pie. With good luck on her side, Clara believes there is no way she can lose. When another girl in her class, whose ancestors founded the town, runs for Little Miss Apple Pie, Clara Lee questions if she is as American as apple pie since she is Korean American.

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream was a cute fall book that was surprisingly deep. Going into this book, I didn’t expect to uncover a really deep message, but I think Jenny Han did a great job of tackling an interesting theme for younger readers. I loved how Jenny Han used Clara Lee to show that anyone, no matter their background, is a true American and can reach their dreams. I give this book five out of five stars.

Jessica Darling’s It List by Megan McCafferty

Jessica Darling goes to middle school in the It List series by Megan McCafferty. Jessica wasn’t worried about middle school until her older sister gives her a list that guarantees popularity. Soon, Jessica finds herself with a colorful group of friends, stuck in wood shop with all boys, and feuding with her BFF. Will the list make Jessica popular or will she be doomed to dorkdom?

I haven’t read any of the books from the Jessica Darling series, but I definitely want to after reading this book! Megan McCafferty did the perfect job of capturing the middle school voice and creating characters and situations that are extremely relatable. I think this book is hilarious, but also provides meaningful advice to the book’s target audience. I give this book five out of five stars.

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer by Megan McDonald

Judy Moody decides to make summer fun by competing with her best friends to see who accumulates the most thrill points. With thrilling roller coasters, scary movies, and hunting Bigfoot, Judy Moody thinks she’s in for the best summer for her life. Summer takes a turn for the worse, however, when Judy’s parents go to California and leaver her with Aunt Opal.

Even though this book was my least favorite out of the three books in this post, I think this a perfect summer book for younger readers. Everyone wants to have the best summer ever and Judy Moody finds herself in situations that will make younger readers laugh out loud. Since the book does not really pick up until the middle to end of the book, I give this book four out of five stars.