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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen by Lauren Kate
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Fallen
by Lauren Kate
The Fallen Series

Delacorte Press
ISBN-10: 0-385-73893-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73893-4
Publication Date: December, 2009
List Price: $17.99

Review: Imagine a world where everything is new, bewildering, and terrifying, but deep inside, everything is eerily familiar. This is the world of Lucinda Price, the heroine in Lauren Kate’s Fallen – the first book in a four part series. In a time when vampires are flooding the market, Lauren Kate takes her new series in a refreshing direction – fallen angels. Lucinda, a 17 year old girl who is haunted by shadows and the uncertainty surrounding her involvement in the death of her boyfriend, is sent to Sword & Cross Reform School where she is to make amends with her life and somehow find a way to be a “normal” girl. But, instead of reform, Luce is thrust into a world in which she questions her sanity even more strongly! Only one person is able to make sense of Luce’s life, but that person is Luce’s greatest mystery.

Fallen begins in 1854 England with a young artist and an irresistible maiden. When the artist finally succumbs to his love for the young girl, he embraces her knowing that his affection will lead to her being swept from the earth by shadows. 150 years later, Lucinda Price begins her schooling at Sword & Cross in Georgia. When she must give up every privilege, including her privacy, upon entrance to the school, Luce realizes how different her life will be compared to her New England private school prior to “the accident.” Luce is greeted by some of the most colorful and unfriendly characters, but slowly begins to assimilate to reform school life. It doesn’t take long for her to meet HIM – Daniel Gregori. Daniel’s first greeting to her is an unsightly hand gesture, but nonetheless, Luce is completely taken in by Daniel. She can think of nothing else, that is until Cam enters the scene. Soon, Luce finds herself in a love triangle of epic proportions. But, what draws her so strongly to a boy that does everything to ignore her, and how can she explain this to Cam, a boy with more charm in his little finger than anyone Luce has ever met before? And, what makes everything so much more unsettling is the feeling that she’s done this all before.

Fallen is a fast-paced suspense novel packed with just the right kind of romance to keep readers coming back for more. Lucinda Price is a perfect heroine. She’s beautiful, intelligent, and daring with just enough innocence for her to connect with readers. Daniel’s handsome features, aloofness, and hint of mystery make him irresistible. Time and time again, writers have proven success with lovers that can never be together, and Luce and Daniel are no different. “’You mean there are things more important than this?’ she challenged, taking his hands and drawing them to her heart. Oh to be her and not know what was coming! Or at least to be stronger than he was and be able to stop her. If he didn’t stop her, she would never learn, and the past would only repeat itself, torturing them both again and again.” Lauren Kate wisely leaves many unanswered questions in Fallen which will certainly be answered as the series progresses. Fallen, as a first book, is well-written and engaging leaving the reader waiting for more. It might need a little more “bite” in the next installment to hope to rival books like the Twilight series, but with characters as well-developed as Luce and Daniel, and an antagonist who readers love to hate; Lauren Kate is on the right track. As the series continues, the epic battle between heaven and hell will undoubtedly leave readers questioning their very existence. Move over vampires – angels are here to stay!

Lauren Kate’s second book in the series, Torment, is expected to be released in October 2010.

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

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

Have you read Fallen? How would you rate it?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Review: Grk Smells a Rat by Joshua Doder

Grk Smells a Rat by Joshua Doder
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Grk Smells a Rat
by Joshua Doder
Grk

Delacorte Press for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73722-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73722-7
Publication Date: November, 2009
List Price: $15.99

Review: Suspense, action, and information can all be found in the book Grk Smells a Rat by Joshua Doder. At first glance Grk Smells a Rat seems a bit childish, but after beginning to read this book I didn’t think of the word childish or boring; those two words never once popped into my mind. Grk has it all - not just suspense, action, and information, but this book doesn’t reach far out there to an extent that the words the author wrote don’t make sense or seem real. So this book also has reality in it. Your whole family could read this book and still be interested. Overall Grk is an exciting book that anyone can read. Grk Smells a Rat is the second book in the Grk series but you don’t need to read the first book in order to read this book.

The tale of Grk is the story of the Malt family’s vacation to India that takes an unexpected turn that could have them meeting their deaths. Since the Malts are from England, they know nothing about India. But they meet a young boy named Krishnan who is not living the life he’d like to be living…with his parents in his own village. Instead he is living a life where he must deceive tourists in order to make money for his leader. Will Krishnan disobey his leader in order to save his sister and himself? Will the Malts wind up dead? You can find all this out in Grk Smells a Rat.

I enjoyed Grk so much; it has everything a good book needs. I never wanted to put Grk down. As I stated before, Grk has information in it, and what I mean by this is it’s not a text book. But every once and awhile the author adds in a fact about India, or a myth that Indians still believe to this day. My favorite character in this book is Grk, the cute dog in the story. I like him the most because he is like the detective in the case. He is like Scooby-doo with Shaggy, the assistant detective, the clue finder. His animal instincts help Tim find what he is looking for, whether it is a blue rat, criminals, a bomb, or simply a good place to “take a pee”. Grk adds so much more to this story. He is the one who adds comedy and suspense. If not for Grk, Tim and the Malt’s could have died along with many other people in India. If I had to rate Grk Smells a Rat on a scale from one to ten, I’d rate it a ten because as I stated before Grk Smells a Rat has suspense, action, and information that made me want to never put it down. I wanted to follow the characters everywhere they went in India. Sometimes little white dogs could know more than you’d ever want to know, so always listen.

Review written by Gabrielle (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Grk Smells a Rat for this review.

Have you read Grk Smells a Rat? How would you rate it?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: Raven Summer by David Almond

Raven Summer by David Almond
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Raven Summer
by David Almond
Non-series

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73806-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73806-4
Publication Date: November, 2009
List Price: $21.00

Review: Excitement, drama, orphans and a murderer? These are all very important things in the book, Raven Summer, by David Almond. After an orphaned baby is found outside on a hill the story begins to tell of Liam’s epic life and adventure.

This story takes place during World War II. 14 year old Liam and his friend are following a peculiar raven and stumble upon a child. They take her home and eventually she is fostered. While visiting the baby (named Allison by the foster family) Liam meets two other 14 year old foster children: Crystal and Oliver, who claims to be a refugee of war from Liberia. As Liam gets to know Oliver, he realizes how much a child can do to someone in the war and how much they can hurt other people. Later, Liam helps Oliver and Crystal run away because they are scared of Oliver being shipped back to Liberia. While they are on the run, Oliver reveals his true identity.

Raven Summer always gives good detail and describes things so that there would be mental pictures in the readers mind. For example, “The night’s warm and still and the tent doors open. Bats are flickering against the sky.” The book also has a realistic plot that readers are able to relate to. Raven Summer also is an unpredictable book in a way that surprises you with the outcome very different than what you would expect. By doing that, the author makes the book much more exciting. I think the author wanted the reader to ponder how much the war affects children negatively.

The book has unfamiliar English terms that makes it a little confusing and should be recommended for kids twelve and up due to mild violence and mild swearing. All in all, this book was sensational! If I were to rate this book I would give it 4 stars out of 5 stars. The author has done a very nice job with this book. I cannot wait for a new book by this author! I am sure, anyone who reads this book will like it as much as I did.

Review written by Sarah (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Raven Summer for this review.

Have you read Raven Summer? How would you rate it?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Review: The Giant-Slayer by Iain Lawrence

The Giant-Slayer by Iain Lawrence
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The Giant-Slayer
by Iain Lawrence
Non-series

Delacorte Press
ISBN-10: 0-385-73376-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73376-2
Publication Date: November, 2009
List Price: $16.99

Review: Have you ever faced a giant who is 1,200 feet tall, while you are only 32 inches in height? This amazing adventure is being told by Laurie Valentine, to her new friends in the polio ward at the hospital. In The Giant-Slayer, (written by Iain Lawrence) Laurie’s one and only friend, Dickie, contracts polio, and she sneaks behind her father’s back to visit him while he is in an iron lung, a machine that helps his lungs breathe. She meets the other 2 children in iron lungs, Carolyn and Chip, and begins telling an amazing story about a giant-slayer named Jimmy.

In the spring of 1955, Laurie meets and becomes friends with a boy named Dickie. They spend almost every day together, and one day they were playing in a creek. A few days later Dickie collapses with the disease Polio, and ends up in the hospital in an iron lung. There, Laurie meets two kids, also in iron lungs, and begins to tell a story to amuse all the children in the polio ward. As the story progresses, the kids seem to realize that each of the characters represent each one of them. This is a total coincidence, if not fate, and Laurie takes part as a character in the story as well. There is Jimmy the giant-slayer (aka James), Khan the unicorn hunter (aka Dickie), Finnegan Flanders the wagon man (aka Chip), the Woman (aka Laurie), the Swamp Witch (aka Carolyn) and Collosso the giant. But when Laurie falls victim to the unsuspecting polio and is in a coma, the polio kids fear that if they end the story themselves but in the wrong way, Laurie will die. How will Jimmy the Giant-Slayer’s tale end? Will Laurie survive her battle against the dreaded polio?

The Giant-Slayer is a wonderful book, told with heart. There is evidence of great detail, and impressive imagination. The way Laurie’s story clashes with the children’s real lives is breath-taking - something very unexpected, but valued. I feel it is an important message to make the reader feel as if they are part of the story, to get a better understanding of it, and I think the author did a phenomenal job! Out of a 5 star rating, to be honest, I’d give this book a solid 5. It has become one of my favorite books, a treasure upon my shelf, and I’m sure, as the earth is round, that it will be one on yours too. This book is great for readers 10+, and is a great family read. I can guarantee you that everyone will enjoy the tale of The Giant-Slayer.

Review written by Lynnea (6th grade student).

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

Have you read The Giant-Slayer? How would you rate it?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
by Jeff Kinney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Amulet Books
ISBN-10: 0-8109839-1-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8109839-1-5
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $13.95

Review: Funny, cool, and fun, these are all words that describe Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days, by Jeff Kinney. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days is the fourth book in the series.

The Wimpy Kid (Gregory), Roderick, and Manny are all of the main characters. Gregory is weird, funny, and cool. The second is weird, mean, and cool. The third is funny, weird, and crazy. Greg is sad when he finds out that he can’t go on a vacation with his family. Therefore Greg is forced to stay home and do the same old hanging out. Greg is sad, mad, and very, very angry at his family. At first Greg thinks that his dog ran away, but soon finds out the truth: that his dog died. Eventually Greg talks his parents into getting a new dog. There are a few problems in this book. One thing is they give their dog to the grandma because it barked at the TV until a commercial about gophers came on

In all I loved this book; it was funny, interesting, enjoyable, and crazy! I liked it because it was funny. I also liked the fact that it was realistic, and it could happen to anyone. I liked that it was never totally unbelievable. Also, when Greg gets scared of the furniture at a sleep over. It was funny because his pants fell down at school. It was also funny when he is scared when he watches a horror movie, and he can’t sleep! Also, I found the book to be a fun to read. I would take away the pictures because it does not have words. I would like it to have more words because I like words! I would recommend this for grades second and anywhere up! I would rate this 4 of five stars.

The other books in the series are: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw.

Review written by JP (2th grade student).

We would like to thank JP for providing a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days for this review.

Have you read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days? How would you rate it?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Book Review: POWERLESS by Matthew Cody

POWERLESS by Matthew Cody
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POWERLESS
by Matthew Cody
Non-series

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-85595-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85595-5
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $15.99

Review: Have you ever wished you had superpowers? You probably won’t unless you were born in the small town of Noble’s Green. The book Powerless by Matthew Cody is his first novel and hopefully the beginning of a long series!

In the small town of Noble’s Green everything is safe and perfect, but why? Daniel Corrigan is about to find out. Daniel moves to Nobel’s Green to live by his sick grandmother. As the new kid in town, he finds it hard to make friends. But after an accident at the observatory he makes five new ones. These aren’t regular friends. They are super heroes that protect the small town. As his friends’ powers begin to disappear with no memory of ever having them, Daniel must find out why before it is too late for his closest friends. Daniel encounters the mysterious Shroud, Bud and Clay, two town bullies who enjoy making others feel pain.

I thought Powerless had an amazing plot! The story gripped me as tightly as a superhero would. The character development throughout the story corresponds very well with the novel’s plot. With each event you learn more about the characters such as Mollie Lee. In the beginning she has an angry outlook, and Daniel has no idea why. We find out that she isn’t really angry with Daniel, but about turning 13 and losing her powers.

Matthew Cody’s characters made me care about what happens to them. His descriptions of the characters show that they are more than one-dimensional - that they are more then they appear to be.

Matthew Cody’s book is now high on my list of favorite books. Not only did the plot make me want to keep reading with its twists and turns, it made me want to want more after the book was over! This novel made me feel that not only did the characters have powers, but I did too! Powerless? No, powerful!

Review written by Jonathan (6th grade student).

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

Have you read POWERLESS? How would you rate it?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Book Review: Roland Wright: Future Knight by Tony Davis

Roland Wright:  Future Knight by Tony Davis
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Roland Wright: Future Knight
by Tony Davis
Non-series

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73800-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73800-2
Publication Date: September, 2009
List Price: $15.99

Review: Do you like books that are funny? Silly with some suspense? This book Roland Wright Future Knight is a debut book, first in the series. Young Roland has dreamed of going to Page School, but since he is but a poor armor forger’s son, he may never get in. Even his brother, Shelby knows that he and Roland will never get a chance to become even a weak swordsman. Although, one day Sir Gallawood, a famous knight known for his bravery and smarts, comes in search of Oliver Wright, Roland’s father. Sir Gallawood had gotten himself in a predicament, and when Roland’s father helps him get out of it, he offers the boys that only one of them can go to page school. Oliver offers the boys a deal. They have a competition. They must make a sword and shield, and then they will exchange and battle. Who will win? Read on to find out.

Roland Wright Future Knight is a beautifully done book for ages 6-10, although I think that all ages would enjoy this book. Tony Davis is a remarkable author, with a unique style of writing. Out of 5 stars, I would give it all 5. Tony does an excellent job of illustrating a picture in your mind, because he gives details that make you feel as though you’re actually in the book. I am eagerly awaiting the next book right now, Roland Wright Brand New Page. With his pet Nudge, Roland is on top of the world. I greatly encourage all of you readers to get a head start, whether you be 9 or 99.

Review written by Willow (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Roland Wright: Future Knight for this review.

Have you read Roland Wright: Future Knight? How would you rate it?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: The Blue Shoe: A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes by Roderick Townley

The Blue Shoe: A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes by Roderick Townley
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The Blue Shoe: A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes
by Roderick Townley
Non-series

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-85600-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85600-6
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $21.00

Review: Would you endeavor to read a story full of thievery, villainy, and shoes? If you’re brave enough, The Blue Shoe would be a perfect fit for you. The Blue Shoe is a non-series book written by Roderick Townley and illustrated by the famous Mary GrandPr√©. The Main Characters are father and son, Hap and Silas Barlo, Sophia Hartpence, the daughter of the forever bickering owners of a store, Grel, a poor shoemaker, and the arrogant mayor.

One day a tall, mysterious figure pays Grel to make a blue shoe covered in a ton of precious, semi-precious, and just beautiful blue stones. These stones are of all different shades, hues, and tints of different kinds of blue. The stranger then leaves and does not come back. Hap Barlo is an intelligent young boy who is a dreamer, a doer, and sadly a thief. He often steals to stop his father, Silas from begging. There are no beggars in Alpnap and begging is illegal. In fact, the mayor sends whoever gets caught begging to Mt. Xenax. There are tales about that mountain; no one is certain what happens to people on that mountain. Some people even believe that Xenax, the goddess herself turns the banished into soup in her cauldron which is the volcanic top of the mountain. The only thing they know for sure about Mt. Xenax is that no one ever comes back. Eventually Silas Barlo is caught begging and gets sent to Mt. Xenax. Hap is then apprenticed to Grel because he was caught stealing from the mayor’s wife. Soon a beggar girl is arrested and kind Hap tries to pay her fine by taking a large sapphire from his master’s Blue Shoe. Hap is once again arrested for stealing and gets sentenced to banishment on top of Mt. Xenax. Most people would be sad and afraid but Hap isn’t. Hap feels that this is an opportunity to rescue his father. Sophia, Hap’s best friend repeatedly tries rescuing but is refused by him and ends up going to Mt. Xenax with him. Soon they are on an adventure that changes everyone’s lives.

I like the action at the end of the book because it is very well described and, I also like the part, when Grel gets a feast. I like it because the book ends with an extremely joy filled end. I don’t like the part, when Baen dies because Hap tries extremely hard to keep him alive and his hard work goes in vain, this part was one of the meager amounts of sadness in the story. The time when Silas sings his song was hilarious and witty. I think that anyone of age 7 and up should read this book anyone younger than 7 might not comprehend The Blue Shoe. Overall I loved The Blue Shoe because it is a phenomenal book with a wonderful plot, it glued my eyes to each page, and I couldn’t stop reading until the book was done. I rate this book a 4 out of 5.

Review written by Ohm (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of The Blue Shoe: A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes for this review.

Have you read The Blue Shoe: A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes? How would you rate it?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Review: Eragon's Guide to Algaesia by Christopher Paolini

Eragon's Guide to Algaesia by Christopher Paolini
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Eragon's Guide to Algaesia
by Christopher Paolini
Inheritance Cycle

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-85823-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85823-9
Publication Date: November, 2009
List Price: $24.99

Review: Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr are all tales of a far, unknown land called Alagaesia, the famed Dragon Riders, and the evil menace (every book has one!) named Galbatorix. Eragon’s (the main character) Guide to Alagaesia reveals secrets that aren’t in the three Inheritance books. It tells you about all the different races in this amazing land. Eragon’s Guide also talks about the landscape, Alagaesia’s natural history, and its history. Some of the amazing wildlife are Shrrgs, Fanghur, Feldunost, Werecats, and Urzhadn, or (larger than a house) cave bears. This fascinating book also includes information about dragons, the mystical Dragon Riders, humans, elves, dwarves, and Urgals (also Kull; their larger relatives). Lastly, this guide tells you about places that are sacred to other races, like Tronjheim, Ellesmera, Vroengard, and Ilirea.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot. I liked reading the Inheritance series, but I also had some unanswered questions about the books. This guide helped me understand the differences between races, and land location and other information about the landscape. Throughout the guide, there were little flaps of information, or they had something inside them or something to look at. There was star sapphire dust (glitter) from the dwarves’ Isidar Mithrim, dragon wing texture, dragon knucklebones (for fortune-telling), elven cloth, and even notes from Eragon at the beginning and the end! I thought this was interesting because I wondered why the star sapphire was red, and what dragon wing and elf cloth felt like. It also showed you what a dragon egg looked like, and what the gedwey ignasia looked like (the mark that a Rider gets when they first touch a dragon). I did not expect it to be a plain oval! One more interesting thing was you got to see what Eragon and Murtagh (Morzan’s) swords looked like, and you could compare them. Eragon’s sword is blue and named Brisingr (fire) and Murtagh (Eragon’s half-brother)’s sword is red and named Zar’roc (misery). In a nutshell, I really enjoyed this book and the background information it gave you. Christopher Paolini is a great author, and I can’t wait until the fourth Eragon book comes out!

Review written by Emily (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Eragon's Guide to Algaesia for this review.

Have you read Eragon's Guide to Algaesia? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Review: Brisinger Deluxe Edition by Christopher Paolinia

Brisinger Deluxe Edition by Christopher Paolinia
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Brisinger Deluxe Edition
by Christopher Paolinia
Inheritance Cycle

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-85481-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85481-1
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $29.99

Review: I didn’t think Brisingr could get any better… I was dead wrong. Brisingr and the two other books in Eragon’s saga, Eragon and Eldest, were written by Christopher Paolini. Brisingr was amazing but now it’s even better. The Deluxe Edition includes deleted scenes, a guide to the dwarfish ruins, illustrations drawn by the author himself and a marvelous fold out poster with astounding pictures on both sides. If you haven’t read Eragon’s saga stop reading this review so I don’t spoil it for you. If you have read all the Eragon saga books then finish this review and go out and buy yourself a deluxe edition Brisingr book!

The deleted scenes include a healing scene and an urgal scene. The healing scene is a scene where Eragon must heal a girl named Signa. Her husband Gull had come to Eragon, the only free dragon rider left, to heal his wife who had a horrible tumor. So Eragon must go to heal her and not kill her doing it. He must find a way to solve this hard puzzle. Later in the urgal scene Eragon is asking Garzhvog to tell him anther story. Garzhvog tells him the story of an urgal who changed himself into a deer for many years. I shall not tell you any more about it, for I don’t want to spoil it for you and I want you to read the book for yourself. The dwarfish ruins were interesting to study and learn. I wish I could write “good book” in the ruins for you. Alas, the computer will not allow it. And the fold-out poster - it makes you wonder which side to put up!

The deleted scenes were dramatic and funny while the ruins and poster were a wonder for the eyes. I think this book can’t get any better and I can’t wait for the forth book to come out! I am completely OVERJOYED that I get to keep this book! Now I have every single Eragon book there is to have! Such a wonderful couple Gull and Signa are! Gull and Signa are both very good characters in this already too good to be true book. Gull is a strongly devoted husband and Signa is a very sweet girl. Garzhvog, the urgal, is a very inspiring urgal who is different from the rest of them because he is okay with humans. More than the other urgals would be able to say. Eragon is tied for best character with Saphira. Eragon is an amazing dragon rider and deserves his hard to get love, Arya. Saphira is a beautiful dragon with a peaceful mind. Just… don’t meet her in battle. This book has gotten 5 well deserved awards. They are: The #1 New York Times Bestseller, The #1 USA Today Bestseller award, The #1 Publishers Weekly Bestseller award, The Wall Street Bestseller award and The IndieBound Bestseller award. I gladly give this book 25 golden stars. Unfortunately I can only show 5 stars. So I must give this book a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars.

Review written by Amanda (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Brisinger Deluxe Edition for this review.

Have you read Brisinger Deluxe Edition? How would you rate it?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review: Book 6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson

Book 6:  In Too Deep by Jude Watson
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Book 6: In Too Deep
by Jude Watson
The 39 Clues

Scholastic
ISBN-10: 0-545-06046-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-545-06046-2
Publication Date: November, 2009
List Price: $12.99

Review: Waves, poisonous animals, and an au pair that can fly a jet over an ocean. That is a couple days in the life of siblings Amy and Dan Cahill. The 39 Clues series is written by numerous authors such as Jude Watson, Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis, and Patrick Carman. In the 6th book in the series, In Too Deep by Jude Watson, 14 year old Amy Cahill and her 11 year old brother Dan are in a kind of extreme scavenger hunt for 39 clues to become the most powerful people in the world. This series has bombs, secret bases, and traitors at every turn.

In In too Deep Amy and Dan are going to Australia because they found their parents’ passports with the most recent location being Australia. There they hook up with their surfer-dude cousin Shep. He takes them to the beach where they get ambushed by the Holts, Amy and Dan’s ripped cousins. Later on Amy gets tricked onto the Kabra’s boat. The Kabras are like perfect little English children, but their mom threatens Amy to either give her all the clues she has, or get thrown into shark water. Amy escapes and she gets Shep to fly everyone to a place in the outback. There they explore tunnels, and then the Kabra’s mom drops lots and lots of poisonous animals. They escape by busting a hole in the wall. Then they go to investigate a supposed lab on Krakatau’s island where they find their uncle Alistar and a base/condo. Amy and Dan wake up in the middle of the night to a fire. Irina Spasky, Amy and Dan’s evil assassin relative, saves them but dies in the fire.

Overall I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Positives would be the suspense, surprises, and action. Amy slowly regaining memory of the fire that killed their parents really added to the suspense. I was really surprised when Amy and Dan found out their au pair Nellie could fly a jet. There really weren’t many negatives except one of the main rivals dies. I would recommend this book to people who like paradise with a hint of action.

Review written by Zach (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Scholastic for providing a copy of Book 6: In Too Deep for this review.

Have you read Book 6: In Too Deep? How would you rate it?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Book Review: Nate the Great and the Hungry Book Club by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Mitchell Sharmat

Nate the Great and the Hungry Book Club by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Mitchell Sharmat
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Nate the Great and the Hungry Book Club
by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Mitchell Sharmat
Nate the Great

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73695-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73695-4
Publication Date: November, 2009
List Price: $12.99

Review: Nate the Great and the Hungry Book Club by: Marjorie Weinman, and Mitchell Sharmat, is a great children mystery. There is Nate the Great; he is a detective, a very clumsy detective to be exact. He is working hard to state HIS case correctly to his friend Rosamond, who thinks her conclusion is correct. Rosamond is one of Nates close friends. Not only are they friends, but she is the president of the book club that she created. When Rosamond goes into the kitchen to get something, she notices that something isn’t right with the cook book she had recently purchased. She read it through before she bought it, and everything was in quite fine condition. But now something has happened to her book. The following day the same thing happens to another one of her books. She is now FURIOUS; she wonders what people could possibly want with her books? Will they ever find out what happened? Or will this mystery stay un-solved?

First thing in the morning Rosamond goes to the book store and buys some books so she can read them to all of the members of her club, and then share their feelings about the book with one another. After checking out all of the books, and closely reading all of them, she walks over to Nate’s house, with all of the books on her head. When she walks in she tumbles and the books she is carrying on her head fall ker plop onto the floor. She picks them up, and tells Nate the exciting news about her book club. Rosamond has some bad news also for Nate; someone is ripping pages out of her books. So that day Nate goes to the meeting with her to collect clues. Nate investigates, determined to make this mystery history.

I have two younger sisters both at the age of four, and I decided to read this story to them. Now they keep asking for me to read it again, and again! This book is a very good book, and is very consistent. It does not go off topic, which makes it much easier for my sisters to understand. With a rating of five, I will give this book a five. I did so because of how much detail is in the book, which makes you feel like you are there, trying to find out what happens. An example is: “I sat down in my favorite chair. I opened my Harvard Hedgehog book. I turned to page fifteen. There was a picture of Harvard getting his photo taken in front of a big clock.” When I was reading that part, I felt like there was a movie in my head, remaking from a book, to the big screen. I would recommend this book to any young reader who is interested in sleuthing, or loves to read. This is only one book from the series of Nate the Great, so if you read the book and you like it, you should check out the rest of the series. I think Marjorie Weinman, and Mitchell Sharmat should keep writing young children’s books, because I see how happy my sisters get when I read it to them, I can’t imagine how many other children get happy when they also read it. So I think they should keep writing, and keep putting smiles on children’s faces!

Review written by Briana (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Nate the Great and the Hungry Book Club for this review.

Have you read Nate the Great and the Hungry Book Club? How would you rate it?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Book Review: I Learned a New Word Today . . . Genocide by Elizabeth Hankins

I Learned a New Word Today . . . Genocide by Elizabeth Hankins
Buy I Learned a New Word Today . . . Genocide by Elizabeth Hankins

I Learned a New Word Today . . . Genocide
by Elizabeth Hankins
Non-series

The Key Publishing House Incorporated
ISBN-10: 0-981-16060-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-981-16060-3
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $14.99

Review: Genocide - a topic typically reserved for 8th grade history (at the earliest) is opened up to younger audiences in Elizabeth Hankins novel, I Learned a New Word Today . . . GENOCIDE. Hankins tackles a very difficult task - making a painful mature topic appropriate for children, and she has success. Javier is a 5th grade student who is studying genocide in school, and the novel is his journal that is kept as a class assignment.

At the start of the novel, Javier is introduced to the concept of genocide, and as a preliminary activity he visits the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. He is horrified at what he finds. Throughout the novel, Javier shares his learning about not merely the Holocaust, but also about five other major genocides, one of which is still very much in the present. Through his lessons at school, Javier is taught not only to learn about genocide, but also that it is critical to become active in taking a stand against genocide. He brainstorms several ways to help, and ultimately develops an excellent plan. But, the novel is much more than just a history lesson taught through a different modality. The reader gains a glimpse into Javier's life. Dark secrets unfold as Javier learns more about the people around him and about the tragedies in the world. I Learned a New Word Today . . . GENOCIDE combines history, mystery, and humor in a priceless novel that teaches an invaluable message.

Hankins does a nice job trying to take a history lesson and not only make it appropriate for younger readers, but also make it seem like it's not really a history lesson. Although at times, the reader does feel as if it reads a little like an elementary textbook, the charming antics of Javier keep the pages turning. It is a little difficult at times to buy into the fact that a 5th grade child would be writing this much detail in a journal, and in an effort to make the writing seem like a child, Hankins includes many choppy sentences - definitely a sign of a younger writer. However, the higher-level vocabulary Javier uses, along with the thoughts that go on in his head and the fact that he wins a writing contest, would lead the reader to believe he wouldn't really be writing in such choppy sentences. Nonetheless, that's a small concern. What Hankins did in writing this book is nothing less than commendable. She uses imagery to create such an important message. For example, when writing about the genocide ghosts in Javier's head she writes, "The ghosts are all different just like the people who died in these genocides were. But the thing that they all have in common is this: All of them look like people. And all of them twist and turn in this ugly dance before they just fade away to nothing."

This novel is not a novel for a child to sit and read alone. It should be read with guidance from an adult. There is so much in this book that requires processing with an adult. Actually, I would recommend that any teacher of middle school who is teaching about genocide should obtain a copy of this book. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I Learned a New Word Today . . . GENOCIDE should be a companion book for every child studying genocide. The class discussions would be enriched so much after reading a book such as this. Thank you Ms. Hankins for finding a way to present the atrocities of life to a younger audience. After all, the inner desire to be an activist is planted at a young age.

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Planned Television Arts for providing a copy of I Learned a New Word Today . . . Genocide for this review.

Have you read I Learned a New Word Today . . . Genocide? How would you rate it?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book Review: MUCHACHO: A Novel by LouAnne Johnson

MUCHACHO: A Novel by LouAnne Johnson
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MUCHACHO: A Novel
by LouAnne Johnson
Non-series

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-86117-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-86117-8
Publication Date: September, 2009
List Price: $15.99

Review: Luane Johnson created a startling book for young adults when she wrote MUCHACHO. Eddie Corazon is a Mexican teenager trying to find his place in New Mexico. Although given the gift of intelligence, he, like so many others, throws is aside in order to "fit in" in a society that is riddled with underachievement, substance abuse, crime and violence. MUCHACHO gets at the heart of adolescence as the reader follows Eddie's thoughts and movements at an alternative school for behaviorally challenged students.

Eddie is a troubled teen who is more concerned about the next fight instead of the future he could be able to create - that is until he meets Lupe. Lupe, a young woman who has transferred from another school in order to get away from bullying, is smart and beautiful - and she quickly sees that Eddie is much more than what he seems to be on the outside. She and Eddie begin dating and gradually Eddie starts to see himself in a very different light. He no longer is the hopeless teen that is just figuring out how to prolong the inevitable jail time, but rather a worthwhile contribution to society. But, Eddie's path to success isn't an easy one, and certainly there are bullies and troubled family members to make life difficult along the way. But, with Lupe's confidence and Eddie's mother's wish for him to be the first Corazon to go to college, Eddie slowly begins to appreciate life and more importantly he begins to appreciate himself. MUCHACHO takes a hard look at the callousness of life and shows that hope lies just below the surface.

Johnson used an intriguing style of writing in MUCHACHO, as the reader is quickly implanted into Eddie's brain. It is written from Eddie's point of view and uses the typical language of a troubled teen. With this in mind, MUCHACHO should be reserved for high school students. Aside from the language, there are also mature themes throughout the novel. This being said, it is a fantastic book for the right audience. Throughout the novel there are hidden messages that the author subtly gets across to the readers. For example, Eddie criticizes the way teachers typically correct pronunciation of a word when a child is reading out loud. In an effort to explain why his teacher, Mrs. Beecher, is better than others, Eddie says, "The other teachers would jump on that wrong word and pronounce it the right way the second you said it wrong because even though they went to college and we didn't, they always have to show how smart they are. But, Beecher was too busy trying to show us how smart we were instead of how smart she was, so by the time we wised up to how smart she was, she was already gone." What a wonderful message! Also, the prose is so enlightening to a life not everyone understands. Take for example being a Mexican trying to be accepted in America. Eddie demonstrates how frustrating that can be when he says, "In Spanish, you say the letters in all the words just like they look. 'A' is always 'ah', and 'E' is always 'ay', and 'I' is always 'eee'. We don't have six different ways to say the same letters, like dough and thought an through and tough which all have 'o-u' but different pronunciations, so that when you're trying to learn English you look stupid no matter how smart you are." Johnson opens the readers to a world many of us have never experienced and makes it so real you hate for the last page to arrive. Eddie's character develops so thoroughly throughout the 197 pages. He goes from a misguided, lost soul to someone with a purpose and goal in life. MUCHACHO is a gem - and one that would be recommended for not only teens, but also for adults - particularly in education. Because for educators, the messages in the novel are priceless.

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of MUCHACHO: A Novel for this review.

Have you read MUCHACHO: A Novel? How would you rate it?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett
Buy The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity
by Mac Barnett
Brixton Brothers

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
ISBN-10: 1-416-97815-1
ISBN-13: 978-1-416-97815-2
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $14.99

Review: Steve Brixton is a big fan of the Bailey Brothers, a series where two brothers solve crime. When he goes to the library for a boring school report he finds out that he, Steve Brixton, is a real detective and when he thinks things are strange enough, things get a whole lot stranger – especially when he finds out about a secret detective agency called the “Librarians”. So he is trying to solve a case with his friend, Dana and things get out of control. Mac Barnett starts off the Brixton Brothers series with The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity - this fun, exciting book.

When Steve Brixton is assigned to American needlework as a school project, he knows it will be a boring assignment. But when he checks out a book called The History of American Needlework strange men break in to the building and try to catch him. He soon finds out about a secret force called the “Librarians”, and is questioned why he checked out the book on needlework. He quickly realizes that they think he is a spy for Mr. E trying to steal the book and give it to him. When he goes to the police they don’t even attempt to help him. Steve figures out this is his very own case and is off finding out why Mr. E and the Librarians want his book so badly, and also to figure out the mysterious identity of Mr. E.

This book is one of the best I have read this school year. There is not any bad language and is appropriate for school. I would not recommend it for anyone below the fourth grade though. There are some scary descriptions and scary things happening throughout the book. It pains me to say that because I love the book so much. Mr. Barnett did a great job on all of the descriptions, words and everything else in the book. Another thing I really liked was that it had articles of Steve’s favorite book series that say what to do in a bad situation. One example of what to do in a bad situation is “If you are being chased and you can’t find a place to hide, get anywhere above eye level. It will be harder for the enemy to find you because they won’t really think about looking up.” Those entries taught me a lot about what to do if you are in a bad situation. Out of a 5 star rating, I would give it 5 stars because it is a great mystery for children and I loved everything about the book. I hope there are more books coming out for the Brixton Brothers series soon!!!!!

Review written by Sheila (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Simon & Schuster for providing a copy of The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity for this review.

Have you read The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity? How would you rate it?

Enter to Win a Copy of The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

Enter to Win a copy of The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac BarnettThe Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

Here's some exciting news! You can enter to win one of three copies of Mac Barnett's first book in the Brixton Brothers mystery/adventure series, The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity, courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Buy The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner
Maze Runner Trilogy

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73794-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73794-4
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $16.99

Review: “He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale dusty air. Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air. His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room. Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up tight against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness. With another jolt, the room jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft.” This young boy Thomas, is just at the beginning of his problems. Soon he will be facing challenges and tests that he never thought were possible. All of this suspense and action takes place in James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, a book that will keep you running until its end! What challenges will young Thomas encounter? Why is he starting his “new life”? What kind of room is this “shank” in anyway? All of these questions will unravel a mystery that will take you by storm!

As he exits the cold, dark room, Thomas remembers one thing and one thing only about his life. This is that his name is Thomas. Everything else is a complete blur. About fifty other teenagers, who also do not know anything else about themselves besides their first names, crowd around him all at once. These teens call themselves the Gladers and call the land around them the Glade. The Glade looks just like a settlement, but has four huge doors that close every night. Beyond the doors is a maze that is full of Grievers, strange creatures that can make you go through a horrible thing called the changing. This is very painful and will last for days. It was here on his first day of the Glade that he finds his one of very few friends, a boy named Chuck. Day two is even stranger for Thomas. At one point, he discovers that the Gladers have picked up a kind of slang language during their two years of being at the Glade. Shank (as used earlier) is a name that they would use in substitute of your name. Shuck face is a name that is used to insult. Klunk is the sound that they hear when they use the restrooms. I myself was starting to use the Glader’s slang on occasions. The second day is the strangest of all. A girl, the very first, comes out of the dark room with one message before going into a comma. A note in her hand explains that she is the last of the teenagers to come. Everyone now thinks that Thomas has something to do with this although he has no memory of her. Even later in time, the doors stop closing at night and Grievers are taking one Glader a night every night. Will Thomas and this girl be able to help the Gladers escape the Glade once and for all, or will they all die there, in that maze, one by one?

The Maze Runner is an outstanding piece of work that will blow your mind to the very end! James Dashner is a truly talented writer that has the ability to write a book for teens which can hook them on to the very end. Besides his amazing Maze Runner, James Dashner has written The Hunt for Dark Infinity, The Journal of Curious Letters, and The 13th Reality series. I noticed while reading that he has set the book up for the start of a series. From reading this one, I can guarantee to be the first in line for the next book in the series! I would recommend The Maze Runner to children of the sixth grade through high school because of bloody deaths and their detail. While reading The Maze Runner, I did not find these parts as defects, but very emotional parts of the story that made me continue reading to discover what would happen next. This book was so well written that I would not be surprised if it won many awards in the time to come. I would rate this book five stars on a rating of one to five because of its high quality and emotional parts such as the many unexpected deaths. The Maze Runner is on its way to becoming a world-wide best seller. There are absolutely no flaws in The Maze Runner. When the book came to its end, I wanted more. I kept rereading the last paragraph hoping that there would be more. James Dashner, you have impressed me in book one by astonishing levels. I could not expect more from a book. I am completely positive that The Maze Runner, and its eventual sequels will keep me fascinated for many years to come!

Review written by Brandon (6th grade student).

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

Have you read The Maze Runner? How would you rate it?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review: Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix by Graham Salisbury

Calvin Coconut:  The Zippy Fix by Graham Salisbury
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Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix
by Graham Salisbury
Calvin Coconut

Wendy Lamb Books
ISBN-10: 0-385-73702-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73702-9
Publication Date: September, 2009
List Price: $12.99

Review: Mischievous, fun, funny, and Zippy, these are all words that describe Calvin Coconut-The Zippy Fix. Calvin Coconut is a nine-year-old boy who has a problem. A teenage girl lives with he and hates her. Be prepared for everyday adventure with Calvin and his friends, Julio, Maya, and Willy. Author Graham Salisbury and illustrator Jacquline Rogers did a great job in writing this book. It is a first in the Calvin Coconut series.

When Calvin Coconut’s mom says yes to letting a teenage girl stay at their house, Calvin is mad at her. Too make things worse Stella (the teenage girl) has something against him- He said she looked like a watermelon in a pretty, green dress. She calls him Stump, because when he walks down in his brown PJ’s that is what she says he looks like. Calvin gets so mad that he brings a cat into Stella’s room to make her sneeze (she’s allergic to cats), but something goes terribly wrong. Stella walks out of her room with a puffed face: hives. What gets her really worked up is she has a date with her boyfriend that night. Calvin feels guilty, so guilty that he even considers confessing. At the dinner table Calvin’s mom asks Calvin if there was any way that a cat might have gotten into the house. He says no, but the “crummy feeling” won’t go away. When Calvin finds out that Stella’s birthday is on Monday (it’s Saturday) he want to get her, her idols’ CD, but it’s 18 dollars. What will he do? Will Calvin get Stella the perfect present, or will he fail?

Overall I thought that Calvin Coconut-The Zippy Fix was a good book. I will start with the good points. First of all, the story line is fun, and realistic. The author does a good job of making Calvin’s voice come out. For example, in the story it says: “The Crummy feeling still wouldn’t go away.” Also, if a teacher could easily use this as a read aloud, first because it is appropriate, and second of all her students could use strategies while their reading. For example at the end of chapter 17 it shows that a teacher could use this for practicing predicting. While Calvin Coconut-The Zippy Fix was appropriate, some of it was questionable for a younger age group. For example, the author makes Stella a very vicious character in the beginning, and one of Tito’s (Calvin’s arch enemy) friends is named Bozo, which could be offensive. Overall I thought that Calvin Coconut-The Zippy Fix was a decent book, and I rate this book 3 of 5 stars.

Review written by Kayley (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix for this review.

Have you read Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
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Going Bovine
by Libba Bray
Non-series

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73397-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73397-7
Publication Date: September, 2009
List Price: $23.00

Review: Do you like off-kilter humor and ridiculous (but great) plots? If you do, Going Bovine is for you. Going Bovine is the fifth book by Libba Bray, but has nothing to do with her previous four books, and a sequel is unlikely.

I found Going Bovine to be a great book. It tells the story of a 16 year old Cameron (Cam for short.) He is very apathetic about life in general and very disconnected from family. Early into the book he has a series of hallucinations that he considers bad drug experiences. But after an unrelated hospital visit, it turns out he has a human form of mad-cow disease, and that he is going to die. After learning from an angel/possible hallucination that his only chance to live is to find a missing scientist, he goes out on a road trip with a close friend.

The great thing about this book is the humor. While humor may be rather cynical and dark for some, those who appreciate it will find the book a classic. The greater part of the story is wonderful, with the majority being a road trip/ buddy comedy. Some of the plot points do seem a little contrived, but do not take away from the book as a whole. The book is excellently paced quickly going from page-turner to easy reading. The plot is broken up with a few welcome (and well done) interludes. Lastly, the characters feel really relatable and human.

The book does have a few flaws. The ending feels very rushed and fails to clarify a few things. This would not be much of a problem if the rest of the plot was not so intricate and well done. Also, many of the minor characters start to feel one dimensional. Many more concrete readers may not be able to wrap their head around some of the book’s concepts. However, these flaws feel small compared to the greatness of the book as a whole.

Review written by Colin (8th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Going Bovine for this review.

Have you read Going Bovine? How would you rate it?

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Buy The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner
Maze Runner Trilogy

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73794-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73794-4
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $16.99

Review: The Maze Runner - A stunning masterpiece by James Dashner. An amazing confluence of suspense, drama, action, and fear that instantly snags in the reader. This being the first in the series, I expect many great things from this author! This is his eighth book, so greatness is pretty much a standard at this point in one’s writing career.

Thomas finds himself in a strange place with no memory of how he arrived there. While his memory remains in place about basic life functions, he has lost all personal memory about who he is, or who his parents are. He finds himself in a sort of prison surrounded by a maze with only boys inhabiting the place. All supplies are provided through the same hole Thomas arrived through. The maze, however, is filled with monsters that come out at night and keep the boys from escaping.

But Thomas's arrival sets off a chain of events that begin to lead to change. He feels determined to discover the answer to the maze and puts himself at great risk to find out how they can get out from where they are.

I was sucked into the book from page one, and just like the main character, I was dying to learn the secrets of the place where they were. The book took turns I wasn't expecting and kept me in plenty of suspense!

The pacing is quick and the world Dashner has created is very interesting and different. There's plenty of mystery beyond the maze and this, the first book in the series, gives us just a beginning glimpse into the state of the world. Sometimes, the reader might think that something is expected, thanks to the clues given by the author. However, the book is too full of surprises to think that anything is expected! The book does end on a sudden note, but it is book one of the series, so more surprises are yet to come!

It's possible that the emotional landscape of the characters could have been more fully developed, but overall this is the perfect book to lose yourself in!

Rating: 4.5/5

Things You Might Want to Know: Moderate violence, but nothing drastic.

Review written by Milosz (8th grade student).

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

Have you read The Maze Runner? How would you rate it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review: DWEEB: Burgers, Beasts, and Brainwashed Bullies by Aaron Starmer

DWEEB:  Burgers, Beasts, and Brainwashed Bullies  by Aaron Starmer
Buy DWEEB:  Burgers, Beasts, and Brainwashed Bullies  by Aaron Starmer

DWEEB: Burgers, Beasts, and Brainwashed Bullies
by Aaron Starmer
Non-series

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73705-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73705-0
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $15.99

Review: Eddie is a troubled teen who is more concerned about the next fight instead of the future he could be able to create - that is until he meets Lupe. Lupe, a young woman who has transferred from another school in order to get away from bullying, is smart and beautiful - and she quickly sees that Eddie is much more than what he seems to be on the outside. She and Eddie begin dating and gradually Eddie starts to see himself in a very different light. He no longer is the hopeless teen that is just figuring out how to prolong the inevitable jail time, but rather a worthwhile contribution to society. But, Eddie's path to success isn't an easy one, and certainly there are bullies and troubled family members to make life difficult along the way. But, with Lupe's confidence and Eddie's mother's wish for him to be the first Corazon to go to college, Eddie slowly begins to appreciate life and more importantly himself. MUCHACHO takes a hard look at the callousness of life and shows that hope lies just below the surface.

Review written by Jennifer (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of DWEEB: Burgers, Beasts, and Brainwashed Bullies for this review.

Have you read DWEEB: Burgers, Beasts, and Brainwashed Bullies ? How would you rate it?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Review: The Fatal Child by John Dickinson

The Fatal Child by John Dickinson
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The Fatal Child
by John Dickinson
Cup of the World

David Fickling Books
ISBN-10: 0-385-75110-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-75110-0
Publication Date: September, 2009
List Price: $22.00

Review: By at least 2015 I see John Dickson’s books being made into movies. That’s right I said “books” and “movies” because this book, The Fatal Child, is the third book in the series with two other books entitled The Cup of the World and The Widow and the King. The Fatal Child is about two main characters, Padry and Melissa. Padry is in the army and in high position working for the king. Melissa is a young five year old girl living at home with her Mam and Dadda. Tragedy strikes for both of them.

For Thomas Padry his friend and practically daughter, Atti, wakes up one morning from a dream about Ambrose, otherwise known as the “Prince of the Sky.” So she sets off on an adventure, without telling anyone were she is going, to find him while she is only 14 and her only companion is a sickly maid. So Thomas must go on an adventure to rescue her with only 1 friend to accompany him. They must use witchcraft to find her, even though it is strictly forbidden throughout the kingdom. Meanwhile in Melissa’s life things aren’t doing to good for her either. Melissa is at home with her Mam and Dadda when they get two visitors late at night. Melissa finds out that the visitors are Ambrose and his servant and befriends Ambrose. But Ambrose and his servant must leave so Melissa keeps waiting for them to show up again. They never did come again. Later Melissa is around the age of 10 or 13 and ten knights in red clothing come to their house. Mam and Dadda are against them so the knights attack. They took Dadda, tied a rope around his neck and hung him, kicking and screaming. While they killed Mam and left her lying dead, stripped of clothes next to the river. Melissa barely escapes with the knights laughing and shooting arrows at her as she runs through the trees. She ends up passed out upon the dirt road and is carried to a house. She ends up staying there with Atti and her maid. Now Melissa, Padry and Atti end up at Ambrose’s trial. You want to know what happens next? Then read the book!

When I read The Fatal Child, I personally thought it was a bit to...gruesome. Here is an extract from the story, “They had seen a babe still mewing bloodily on the point of a pike.” I would say they don’t need to go in to so much gruesome detail, but that’s just me. I mean it’s rated for teens (appropriately rated) and I’m only 11 so I’m a bit young to read it. Thomas Padry was a good character and his humor always brightens up the most dreary of moods. Though he’s a bit sarcastic and feisty. He is a great character in the story. Melissa is a great character too. She may have her moods, though but that’s the way I like it. She has an unforgiving hungry for revenge on the knight for killing her parents and in The Fatal Child it states that she was thinking “- squeeze his eyes out” because she thinks it would be a right punishment for him. She is my favorite character and adds spice to The Fatal Child. The Fatal Child goes back to before technology and is fictional with princes and princesses and they all live in a place called Tuscolo. I would say The Fatal Child is a book to never leave until the very end of it. So I would say if you are an adventurer, action and witchcraft lover The Fatal Child and its series would be paradise to you. This is a new release book so it didn’t get any awards yet, but I’m sure it will soon. I’m sure I liked it. They used some language back from the older days that I didn’t really understand but thought was cool at the same time. I would give The Fatal Child four out of five stars.

Review written by Amanda (6th grade student).

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

Have you read The Fatal Child? How would you rate it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Review: FAT CAT by Robin Brande

FAT CAT by Robin Brande
Buy FAT CAT by Robin Brande

FAT CAT
by Robin Brande
Non-series

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-84449-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-84449-2
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $21.00

Review: When Catherine Locke (a.k.a. Cat) dreams up a science project for the science fair, her life begins to change. She faces popularity issues, hunger pangs, old friends, competition and life as a prehistoric woman. She cannot use technology like phones and ipods. She cannot eat food prehistoric people did not eat, except during emergencies. Will Cat be able to accomplish this extreme project? Find out the answers to these questions in the book Fat Cat by Robin Brande.

In the book Fat Cat, The main character Cat, has a problem. When Cat is assigned to do a project on Homo erectus, (early hominins from 1.8 million years ago) she decides to make the subject of the project herself. Her project is to see what would happen if she took away everything Homo erectus don’t have, because she thinks it could make her skinnier. Cat thinks she’s fat. This incredible task includes food Homo erectus didn’t have, plus, phones, ipods, and TV! Her friends, (Amanda, Cat’s best friend) and Jordan (Amanda’s boyfriend) are all there to support her. Oh, and don’t forget Cat’s arch enemy Matt. He’s her enemy because she is convinced that he took first place from her in a previous science fair and he said something pretty nasty about her behind her back. When she starts going from fat to normal and not cool to popular, her life begins to unfold page by page.

Fat Cat is a pretty good book. In my opinion, this book should be recommended for older middle school students since they will most likely enjoy the book. If I were an eighth grader when I read Fat Cat I would probably have said that the book was interesting because it mixed daily life and science together. From this book I learned that you can’t give up something important just because you think it’s too hard and you should look at things from a positive view. The book shows what happens when you do certain things such as getting off junk food when you have practically been living on it the whole summer. It also shows that maybe trying to cook with only the food that the Homo erectus had is trickier than Cat thinks. In the book it says “Even if my cave woman had grain, it’s a separate thing to say she figured out how to mill it into flour.” I chose this sentence because it shows the problems of trying to cook with only the food that Homo erectus had. I would probably give these book 4 stars. This book was exciting funny and made me laugh. The author did an excellent job with Fat Cat. I hope everyone else will enjoy Fat Cat like I did.

Review written by Sarah (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of FAT CAT for this review.

Have you read FAT CAT? How would you rate it?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Review: KIT FEENY: The Ugly Necklace by Michael Townsend

KIT FEENY:  The Ugly Necklace by Michael Townsend
Buy KIT FEENY:  The Ugly Necklace by Michael Townsend

KIT FEENY: The Ugly Necklace
by Michael Townsend
Kit Feeney

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-85615-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85615-0
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $6.99

Review: Kit Feeny: The Ugly Necklace, the second comic book in the series, is written by Michael Townsend. The main characters of the story are Kit, his two friends Hoff and Devon, and of course his family, Mr. and Mrs. Feeny, and his two bizarre sisters, April and Bonnie Feeny.

Talking about his family, it is Mrs. Feeny’s birthday and Kit is determined to win the contest of “who gets their mother the better gift”. He also wants to get her something way, way better than his sisters, something completely “stupid awesome!” Would she like a cool silver metal detector? Where might he buy a baby dragon, or maybe a spiffy pair of hip purple hi-tops? What if he loses to his sisters, then what will happen? He knows what will happen, but just doesn’t want to think about it. Does he beat his sisters, or does he lose? Read the rest of the comic book to find out what happens to him, his two sisters and also his mother.

This book has lot of interesting and bold undertakings and the one I love most is the idea of Kit and Hoff pretending to be treasure hunters and giving that treasure to someone to get the ultimate present. I also like when Hoff and Devon are being chased by Mr. Garthe, who sells ice cream at the park. My most favorite part though, was when Kit and Hoff made the plan for getting the best gift ever for Kit’s mom. It was hard to read the part when their plan for getting a best gift ever didn’t work. Kit must have felt like he was a total loser. Anyway, if I graded this book on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst, and 10 being the best, I would grade it a 9.

I look forward to reading the next book after this in the series. It will be interesting to see what stupid and awesome adventure Kit goes through next. I can just feel it, I can feel that there is going to be a next book and that it is going to be dynamite and daring!

Review written by Karan (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of KIT FEENY: The Ugly Necklace for this review.

Have you read KIT FEENY: The Ugly Necklace? How would you rate it?

Book Review: KIT FEENY: On the Move by Michael Townsend

KIT FEENY:  On the Move by Michael Townsend
Buy KIT FEENY:  On the Move by Michael Townsend

KIT FEENY: On the Move
by Michael Townsend
Kit Feeney

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-85614-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85614-3
Publication Date: October, 2009
List Price: $6.99

Review: Kit Feeny: On the Move is the first comic book in the series and it is written by Michael Townsend; it is a humorous and entertaining, comic book. The main characters in this book is, Kit Feeny a normal boy, his two crazy sisters April and Bonnie Feeny and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Feeny and last but not the least, Kit’s best friend, Arnold.

Kit Fenny is a boy who is moving, and isn’t very happy about it. He tries to smuggle his best friend, Arnold along with his family. Obviously it doesn’t work and Arnold is sent back to his own family and house. Now Kit doesn’t know what to do and has to make new friends and has to go to a new school. What will Kit Feeny do and how will he survive without his best friend? Read the rest of the comic book to find out what happens.

I loved the vivid and bold colors on each box of the comic book. I also liked the thrilling cover with all these different illustrations on it, looks like Michael made Kit a “stupid awesome” artist (stupid awesome is Kit’s favorite quote). My favorite part is when Kit is reading the comic that Arnold and he made together, “The Great Gummy Fish Disaster: A True Story”, it is very hilarious and amusing. My least favorite part or the saddest part was when Devon, the bully in his new school is making Kit look like a fool and making bad jokes about him on his first bus ride to his new school. I thought that it was very vile.

I look forward to reading Kit Feeny: The Ugly Necklace, the second book in the series. People have told me that it is totally “stupid awesome, and I can’t wait to read yet another of Kit’s fully action and energy packed story!

Review written by Karan (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of KIT FEENY: On the Move for this review.

Have you read KIT FEENY: On the Move? How would you rate it?