#413 – The Middle Sheep By Frances Watt

The Middle Sheep.

The Middle Sheep (Ernie and Maud)

By Frances Watt

Judy Watson, illustrator

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

4 Star

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Back Cover:  The Adventures of Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud continue . . . but what—or who—is making the usually cheerful and dependable Maud so grumpy? And why are she and Ernie arguing all the time? It seems to Ernie that being his sidekick just isn’t important to Maud anymore. Then Valiant Vera says that if the two trainee superheroes can’t work together, they will be thrown out of the superheroes society! Ernie and Maud must learn the value of teamwork (and how to get a sheep out of a tree) before it is too late.

Opening:  Ernie Eggers stood outside the Superheroes Society (Baxter Branch) on Main Street waiting. Maud was late. Because he was a newish superhero—he had only been in training for a few months, after all—it still gave him a thrill to see himself in a costume.

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About the Story:   Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud are back with their next caper. This one involves the superheroes themselves. There is one big difference between Ernie and Maud: Ernie is an only child while Maud is a middle child, a typical middle child. Maud is feeling invisible. A kitten runs up a tree and the superheroes go to work. Once down, Tabby tells Maud she ran up the tree because she was tired of being ignored. This gives Maud an idea. Tabby could be a sidekick, just like Maud, and gain the fame and attention 3ashe needs, just as Maud does. Maud takes this idea so far that she begins holding sidekick tryouts for middle child animals only. Now Ernie is the one feeling ignored and it might just tear the superheroes apart.

What I Thought:  I enjoyed the last edition titled Heroes of the Year (review here) and like this edition just as much. One nice thing about this series is being able to read the editions out of order, if one wishes. The only thing you might miss is the growth of these two heroes as they progress through superhero training. I 5aunderstand Maud. I am a middle child, too. It was easy to relate to her. Ernie, being an only child, does not get it. Maud tries several middle animals, but none worked out, so she holds a tryout. The Sidekick Tryouts—only middle children animals need apply—is a funny idea. Animals of all types and sorts running sprints, wrestling, chasing fake bandits—or maybe real raccoons—is the most hilarious sight I can imagine.

6The writing is perfect for early readers new to chapters, which run four to five pages long, with a plot that is easy to follow. Each chapter also has a full-page illustration and several half-page. I like the illustrations. I like black and whites because my mind can fill in the colors I see rather than what the artist saw. These wonderfully shaded illustrations add depth to the story. Even with black and white, the artist got the eyes of the Maud and her sister to pop. There are small pictures at the top of each chapter page that gives a clue about what happens next. For example, a partial tail hangs down on the chapter page where the kitten ran up the tree.

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Young readers will like this series and this edition in particular, if they are middle children. It would not be fair to limit this good story to just middle children. Everyone should read Maud’s story and begin to understand the plight of middle superhero sheep. I like the humor and Maud’s insecurities despite being a superhero’s sidekick. The Middle Sheep is a fast read. As a bedtime story, its eight chapters could be finished in a week. Any child who loves humor and crazy characters, will love reading about how Ernie and Maud became a real super duo—a real team.

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The Middle Sheep (Ernie and Maud)

By Frances Watt    website    facebook

Judy Watson, illustrator       bio    blog    facebook

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers    website   blog   facebook   twitter

Released September 1, 2013

ISBN:  978-0-8028-5368-4

80 pages

Ages 7-10

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© 2013 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, used with permission

Text copyright © 2013 by Frances Watt

Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Judy Watson

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is an Imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

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#322 – Heroes of the Year by Frances Watt GIVEAWAY!!

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CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK, DAY 3

Giveaway: Heroes of the Year by Frances Watt

Today’s giveaway is from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers and Kid Lit Reviews. The winner will receive the new release, Heroes of the Year by Frances Watt.  Enter using the Rafflecopter link at end of the review.  Entries close Saturday at midnight.  Winner announced on Sunday.  Now for the review of Heroes of the Year.

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Heroes of the Year
by Frances Watt

Judy Watson, illustrator

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

4 Stars

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Back Cover:  Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud, the ten-year-old superhero-in-training and his sidekick sheep have a good chance of winning the Hero of the Year award until—a pencil-wielding fiend starts to wreak havoc in the town of Baxter.  Can Ernie and Maud stop Pencil Pete and win the golden trophy?

First Sentence:  Ernie Eggers strode down Main Street on Monday afternoon, his long green cape swishing behind him and the heels of his tall black boots echoing loudly as they struck the pavement.

HEROES Pg 10-11

Synopsis

I must first apologize.  My computer has been acting strange all night.  This review is a couple hours late because of fighting with the thing and no superhero came to my rescue.        My word processor application is messed up as is my mouse.  Not even a superhero-in-training and his sidekick could fix this villainous problem.

Let me simply say that this is the fourth outing for Ernie and Maude.  Still heroes-in-training, they are up for Heroes of the Year, which their branch superheroes truly believe they will win.  Ernie and his sidekick Maude—a sheep who takes gymnastic lessons to learn the splits—are to concentrate on impressing the judges—who could show up at any time and be anyone.  Then a major crime surfaces in town.  Someone is putting mustaches on pictures and objects around town.  Ernie and Maude decide to capture the villain instead of concentrate on impressing some judge.  From then on mayhem ensures, not also by the villain, who proves to be extremely elusive.

HEROES Pg 14-15

Opinion

I loved this book.  The story is full of humor, pathos, and pure craziness kids will love.  The superheroes all have sidekicks that are a bit odd.  Ernie has Maude, a sheep in red leotards.  Valiant Vera’s sidekick is Housecat Woman.  They won the Hero of the Year trophy when Housecat Woman was just a kitten, and no one from the Baxter Branch has won it since.  There is a lot of pressure and heroes snag 6expectations put on Ernie and Maude.  When Pencil Pete strikes the businesses of Baxter, Ernie decides capturing the villain is most important.  I like that he forgets about his own glory for the good of the town.

Heroes of the Year is a fun story and a fast read.  As a bedtime story, its eight chapters could be finished in a week.  Or, on a sunny afternoon—or rainy, or snowy—it can be read in full.  The humor is light but effective.  The illustrations heroes snag 4add depth to the story.  Kids will love the bad behaving adults.  Heroes of the Year is the type of book I would have devoured as a child.  Any child who loves solving crimes, humor, crazy characters, and misunderstood villains will enjoy Heroes of the Year.

You can own this copy of Heroes of the Year by entering the Rafflecopter contest.  Several entries can be easily earned with two daily entries that can increase your chances of winning this wonderful middle grade read.  Here is the giveaway link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Heroes of the Year

by Frances Watt   website    blog    facebook   twitter
Judy Watson, illustrator    bio    blog    facebook   linkedin
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers  website    blog    facebook   twitter    
Released April 1, 2012
ISBN:  978-0-8028-5412-4
86 Pages
Ages 7 to 10
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 © 2012 Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, used with permission
Text:  Copyright © 2011 by Frances Watt
Illustrations © 2011 by Judy Watson

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