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Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: The League by Thatcher Heldring

The League by Thatcher Heldring.

The League by Thatcher Heldring

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 2013
List Price: $15.99
ISBN-13: 9780385741811

Review: Suspense, action, inspiring characters. These are the things I look for in a book, but never found in the book The League by Thatcher Heldring. I found the book to be boring, never got engaged in the characters, and couldn't wait for it to end.

With the school year almost over, and summer just around the corner, every one in Pilchuk is excited and ready for summer. Everyone except Wyatt Parker. Wyatt Parker is in 8th and has always followed the rules. Even if it means getting picked on by bullies, and disregarded by girls. Does he want it this way? Would you? It has finally gone too far when Spencer Randell, the school bully, takes his lunch money for the last time. Wyatt is sick of it and decides to toughen up during the summer by playing football. The only problem is that his parents have signed him up for golf camp. Golf camp is the last place Wyatt wants to be. Without football, Wyatt would continue his life of being bullied and being ignored. But when Wyatt fails to plead his case to his parents about football, his brother informs him about concealed league The League of Pain. Can Wyatt keep the league a secret and lie, stop getting bullied and neglected, or better yet, survive in The League of Pain?

While reading The League I found myself wondering where the climax was. To me the book repeated the same cycle. I think this because the book repeated fake going to golf, play football, go home. There was no suspense or foreshadowing in between chapters. For example ÒI wondered if Brian Braun's parents entered him in the tournament without askingÓ and ÒI set the phone down and spent the next 20 minutes trying to spin football on my finger. I would recommend this book for younger children from 4th to 5th grade. I think this because there were no sophisticated words, or hard plot. Also, there were no inspiring characters in the book. I think this because in the story, Wyatt starts to steal from stores. He also lies to his parents, friends, and the people of Pilchuk. Even if he is trying to do what he wants to, I think lying and stealing is the wrong message. Overall, after reading The League I think the story is dull, with little suspense and action, and should be read by 4th and 5th graders.

Review written by Sam (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of The League for this review.

Have you read The League? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: The Art of Secrets by James Klise

The Art of Secrets by James Klise.

The Art of Secrets by James Klise

Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: April 2014
List Price: $17.95
ISBN-13: 9781616201951

Review: James Klise's novel, The Art of Secrets, involves the main character, Saba Kahn, an ordinary sophomore in high school. James Klise summarizes his book with, "A fire destroysÉ A treasure appearsÉ A crime unfoldsÉ" Saba Kahn's life turns upside down when her apartment is burned to pieces in a mysterious hate crime. Suddenly, she's the most well known person ever. That's where the crime unfolds, although it is hidden. Everything changes from that point.

Saba Kahn experiences some big changes in her life, some better than others. The Kahn family comes home one day from a nice day at a local park only to find that their apartment building was burned into a huge pile of soot. Most people believe it was a hate crime. Saba suddenly becomes one of the most popular sophomores in school. She is dating the hottest senior ever, her teachers finally notice her, and her tennis team is more triumphant than they have ever been. During this time, she has to battle her protecting father. Her closest friend, Kendra Spoon, and her brother discover a Henry Darger piece of artwork in a dirty alley while wandering the streets of Chicago. This painting is worth an immeasurable amount of money. Unfortunately, about 4 days before setting up the decorations for the event, the priceless painting is stolen and the detectives find no trace of anything or anyone. In this story, everyone's guilty until proven innocent, but who is guilty and who is innocent?

James Klise's writing style was expressive and intriguing, making me feel like my hands were glued to the suspense in the storyline. In the beginning of the book, I thought it was very suspenseful and exhilarating yet grounded. I think this book would be meant for an older age group (preferably the high school crowd) because of some of the mature content that might be inappropriate for younger kids. Most of the mature content involved cursing and profanity. I believe the author was mainly trying to express the characters' feelings, but it did make me feel slightly uncomfortable. As I headed towards the middle of the story, it was fast-paced and riveting. The author managed to fit in the development of each of the characters indirectly. I think that the way Klise formatted the book, where each chapter is one person's perspective of the crime, prevented me from losing interest. I thought that learning about each character's perspective would help me to connect the clues at the end of the novel. I also thought that I would find out who was proven guilty. When I reached the last 40 pages, I couldn't put it down. I kept reading, though I found myself very disappointed that all of the hints and clues that were given did not connect at all. Some people might enjoy cliffhangers, but I like a solid ending where everything is resolved. I learned to not trust everyone you know and regrettably, no one gets everything they want, nor will you always you figure everything out the first time. To conclude, at the beginning of the book, I was clueless; unfortunately, at the end, I was still clueless!

Review written by Anneliese (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of The Art of Secrets for this review.

Have you read The Art of Secrets? How would you rate it?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel

Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel. Book 2 in The American Fairy Trilogy.

Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel

Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 2013
List Price: $17.90
ISBN-13: 9780375869396

Review: Callie has a secret and only Jack knows about it. In the beginning Golden Girl by Sara Zettle, Callie and Jack are caught in a fight with a small amount of people who want to capture Callie. They have to learn to survive in the golden age of Hollywood. Callie soon discovers where her missing parents are and lands a job with Ivy Bright a kid's actor. Callie, Jack, and Ivy go off on some adventures and a battle happens between Callie and Ivy. Will Callie find her missing parents? Who will win the war?

Golden Girl is fascinating because there are so many surprises. It is a good book for girls ages 10-13. It has some higher-level words so that is why it would appeal more to older girls. Golden Girl would probably not be as enjoyed by boys because the main character is a girl, and the story is about what girls like. It is a little confusing in the beginning, but all is explained throughout the story. Golden Girl even has some action in the end. The plotline is good and can be a little confusing, but once you get past those parts, it is a great book. This is a fantasy book so if you are a girl and like fantasy this is a great choice for you. Overall, Golden Girl is a great addition to the Fairies Trilogy.

Review written by Elizabeth (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Golden Girl for this review.

Have you read Golden Girl? How would you rate it?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: Foul Trouble by John Feinstein

Foul Trouble by John Feinstein.

Foul Trouble by John Feinstein

Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 2013
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780375869648

Review: Have you ever been put in a place when you had to make a decision that would affect your whole future and career? Well, two eminent high school basketball players named Terrell Jamerson and Danny Wilcox find themselves in such a situation. In Foul Trouble by John Feinstein, two extremely talented high school basketball players face the quandary of picking which NCAA college to go to. The overflow of coaches from varying colleges after a very tiring basketball game doesn't sound terribly enjoyable for Terrell and Danny. The two best friends go through tough challenges but they go together in unity and conquer those obstacles.

Terrell Jamerson is the total star of the team. His extraordinary dribbling, his almost unerring shots, and his personality are what everyone likes about him, especially the coaches. Danny Wilcox is the team's point guard. He is the one who gets the ball to the net. Basically, he runs the offensive line. Terrell is the one everyone is talking about and Danny just keeps getting asked questions about Terrell in their interviews. Through challenges with jealousy, distrustful friends, and the stress of making a life-changing decision, the two very close companions plow through all the challenges no matter what lies ahead.

Foul Trouble is fantastic for people who love basketball! My favorites parts of the story are when they are playing the their intense games. Feinstein's writing makes you imagine that you are watching the games on the bench. John Feinstein does a terrific job illustrating the exciting games through descriptive words that hook you into the story. I enjoyed it so much that I would definitely read a sequel of what happens to them in college. Another trait I like about John Feinstein is his ability to take a "basketball" book and make it so much more. I really enjoy when a story is not just about one thing, and Feinstein does an excellent job incorporating side stories that do not take away from the primary plot. In my opinion, I get entertained when there is a side plot. Or in this case, the life outside of basketball. This is an outstanding book for middle school and high school readers! Foul Trouble would be fantastic for boys and girls who love basketball. I suggest all basketball lovers to read this astonishing, well-written novel written by John Feinstein.

Review written by Kenneth (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Foul Trouble for this review.

Have you read Foul Trouble? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland

The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland. A Wings of Fire Novel.

The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland

Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 2013
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780545349208

Review: Do you love danger, suspense, and mystery? Well then The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland is your book. It is the third book in the Wings of Fire series so you should probably read the first two first, just to get to know Sunny, Clay, Starflight, Tsunami, and Glory. The Hidden Kingdom is a great book with action and suspense, and almost every other feeling you could imagine.

The plot of this story has all kinds of twist and turns. Readers are taken through rainforests, villages in the trees, the Kingdom of Sand, Icewing, and the Kingdom of Night. Throughout these enticing settings, the Dragonets of Destiny make their way to the rainforest where a major secret comes into play setting the stage for the rest of the tale. The Hidden Kingdom follows the adventures in the first two books of the series, so it is important to read them both first.

This book is fantastic. To start off, it has a lot of action-packed moments that don't always end the way you'd expect. It has a lot of mystery too. Moments were major events happen from the smallest events. The Hidden Kingdom also has suspense. One moment you think the main characters are perfectly safe, and the next they are gone. There are moments when someone is hurt and they might die and for some readers, that can be very scary. In fact, it does have one very graphic and violent scene. Readers have to be mature enough to handle this. Plus the plot can seem scattered making it hard to follow at times. One event leads to another and then another and another. It can be very confusing. Speaking of confusing, I found that this book is hard to read without rereading. It will most definitely confuse some readers. Overall, however, this story is very good, and I'll be anxiously awaiting the next book.

Review written by Sean (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Scholastic for providing a copy of The Hidden Kingdom for this review.

Have you read The Hidden Kingdom? How would you rate it?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner.

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: March 2014
List Price: $17.95
ISBN-13: 9781616202569

Review: Not even the ocean can drown our souls. That's the truth, I think. Not even. A depressed girl named Francesca has lost her younger brother and she believes that it's all her fault. In The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner, Francesca takes you on a crazy ride of her gloomy, isolated, but possibly rescued life.

It's been four years since Francesca's brother, Simon, drowned. Francesca believes that it is all her fault. Her mother is very depressed and her father has been strangely disappearing at times. Lisette, Francesca's best friend, tries to help Francesca by taking her to places to help her forget. There is a boy named Bradley, Lisette's boyfriend that Francesca adores. But, Francesca loves him so much that she wonders if anyone, even Bradley, would like her for what she has done. One day, Francesca meets a boy named Frankie Sky. As Francesca gets to know Frankie, she wonders if he may be Simon's reincarnation. Could Frankie Sky be Simon's reincarnation, if that's even possible? Read this outstanding book to find out!

The Summer of Letting Go is a wonderful, romantic story. The setting of the beach and the salty water, the rain and the isolation, and the warm beating sun makes the setting give full feelings. I can somehow relate to Francesca because at times I would feel the same way she does about life. Francesca is a very unique character in many ways. She is someone who has lost a dear family member and she has gone through what many people never experience. The Summer of Letting Go is a great book that is filled with suspense. For example, this quote shows that Gae Polisner's writing style is beyond comparison to any other writer. I take it and reach out to touch his arm, only to thank him, I think, and the next thing I know-I really don't know howÉ This is something that's suspenseful! What will happen? Read this romantic book to find out! This book would be great for children in 6th grade or older. The Summer of Letting Go begins slowly with sadness and loneliness. But then, the story gets exciting with action, romance, and suspense. The Summer of Letting Go is written in Francesca's point of view, and it can teach anyone that anything can happen. Things such as romance can show up at any time. Also, believe in yourself and never blame yourself for the big stuff.

Review written by Ada (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of The Summer of Letting Go for this review.

Have you read The Summer of Letting Go? How would you rate it?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: The Ugly One by Leanne Stratland Ellis

The Ugly One by Leanne Stratland Ellis.

The Ugly One by Leanne Stratland Ellis

Clarion Books
Publication Date: June 2013
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780547640235

Review: I am Millay, the ugly one. I have a deep scar that runs like a river from my right eye down my cheek to my lip and it lowers my mouth in a permanent half frown. In The Ugly One, Micay is a girl that has a deep scar. She believes that she will always be ugly, but she stays strong and brave. Leanne Statland Ellis wrote this amazing book.

Her village rejects her and she has a deep scar that runs down her face. She is Micay, Smooth Round Face; thought people call her Millay, The Ugly One. She wants to get rid of this scar. A stranger comes to the village one day, and he talks to Micay and saves an innocent bird from a group of insolent boys. The stranger hands this bird to Micay. This bird is named Sumac Huanacauri, meaning handsome rainbow. Micay and Sumac become best friends. Sumac flies one day into the shaman's wasi, house, which terrifies Micay. What will happen? How will she get out of the mess she has made? Read and you will find out.

The setting of avocado-green forests and a great attractive and captivating capitol city, make the story more interesting. The setting gives the story beauty. I am nothing like Micay. She is very intelligent, but at times she doesn't stick up for herself. She is strong in different ways. Micay is very unique and she is fascinating. The way she thinks of herself is sad, but the way she tries to deal with it is astonishing. I would mostly recommend The Ugly One for girls between the ages of 10-12. But, anyone within these ages would enjoy this book. This story begins slowly with understanding, but it soon gets very interesting as suspense fills the pages. This story is told in Micay's point of view. This does make the story more interesting because it describes the sorrowful pain and the joyful happiness that Micay goes through. There is a moral to this story too. The Ugly One teaches you that the way you look on the outside is different from the inside. Remember to NEVER judge a book by its cover.

Review written by Ada (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Houghton Mifflin for providing a copy of The Ugly One for this review.

Have you read The Ugly One? How would you rate it?