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Kids Book Reviews

Book Review: The BFG
Dahl, Roald
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Lovely lovely book. I started off reading this to my 6 year old, but it's kinda scary so we stopped. I just had to finish it on my own. I love how the BFG talks and how whimsical the story is as a whole. It's Roald Dahl, what's not to love?

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Book Review: My Brother Sam is Dead
Collier, James Lincoln
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When I started this book I could not understand why it had been banned. It seemed so innocuous. I only read it because it was in the free pile where I work. I looked it up and it was for violence, language, and an unpatriotic view of the Revolutionary War. Fair enough. It is violent and unpatriotic for sure, which is why I liked it. It's also a very good story and is about as accurate an account of the Revolutionary War era as can be reasonably expected from a work of fiction for young people.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Way of the Samurai
Stilton, Geronimo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I really enjoyed reading this book that is part of the popular series. The pace is fast, which I like. I traveled to Japan in August of last year, so I remember some of the places the book talks about. The Samurai culture is very interesting to me and readers will enjoy it. This story has it all, history, geography, international travel and an interesting ending.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Genres:
Dragonbreath
Vernon, Ursula
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This enjoyable story about Danny Dragonbreath is a good read. Danny has to deal with bullying, but he makes it through. His trusty friend Wendell is a classic. You will enjoy the pirate ship, the amphibians and the deep sea creatures. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Awards:
Hatchet
Paulsen, Gary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was very fun to read, it left you on the edge of your seat. It is a fairly short book. The story line has a fast pace. I would recommend this book to a more advanced reader. It is a riveting survival story centered in the Canadian wilderness.This book is now one of my favorites.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1)
Kinney, Jeff
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a kid friendly and amazing book. I personally loved the series. I read this series a lot it is about a kid trying to survive middle school named Greg there are ten books in the series so far and I have read all of them. This book is great and I would recommend this book for younger readers.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Awards:
Genres:
The Ugly Truth (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5)
Kinney, Jeff
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I really like this book. This is one of my favorites because I can relate to Gregg Heffley. Since I just started 7th grade, much of this book matches what I’m going through now. The reader will enjoy the illustrations throughout the book. You will need to read the book to find out if Gregg and Rowley are able to get their friendship back on track.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Genres:
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Atwater, Richard
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This absurd book was a fun read. I enjoyed the humor and outrageous premise of the book. Mr. Popper makes many sacrifices for his family of penguins, but the sacrifice is worth it. This book has won many awards and is a classic at my school. I especially enjoyed the unique ending to the satisfying story.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Genres:
The Willoughbys
Lowry, Lois
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This humorous page turner was fun to read. I would recommend this book, it is a shorter read but it is very entertaining. This is a children’s book. This book was surprisingly humorous. I enjoyed the pace of the story. It is not a hard book to read and it is geared to the young reader. This book will definitely make you laugh.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Awards:
Genres:
Impyrium
Neff, Henry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

3000 years ago (aka present day), the earth suffered from "the Cataclysm" - an apocalyptic event that changed the literal shape of the earth (because earthquakes) as well as all of its political structures. In this future version of earth, technology has been all but outlawed, and magical folks are treated in a vastly superior way to those without magic. Hob Smythe is a non-magical miner living in the Dusk (outside of present-day Vancouver) who is recruited by a secret society called The Fellowship that wants non-magic folks to have the same rights as magic folks. He is quickly whisked away to the capital (Impyrium) where he is to spy on Hazel Faeregrine - the princess third in line to the throne that the Fellowship suspects is massively powerful. Meanwhile, Hazel is trying to learn how to wield her great magical power, while maneuvering and investigating interesting goings on in the palace.

As you can probably tell from that description, there is a lot of world-building that happens in this book. As a result, the beginning is a little slow, but after a few chapters, I found myself engrossed. Neff creates a dynamic world full of magic, demons, and dragons. The characters themselves are intelligent, likable (if a little gullible), and independent. If you like your heroes with pluck, you'll love Hazel and Hob. The story, once it gets going, is fairly complex, but in a really great way. There's a lot of plotting and conspiracies and it's really fun to try to figure out what is happening along with Hazel and Hob. A lot of little threads are introduced, and many plot points are tied up in the end while still paving the way for the next installment in the story. Additionally, there is fun social commentary in terms of non-magic vs. magic folks and their respective treatments.

I liked this enough that I immediately put the author's companion series, which is called The Tapestry and tells about the events of the Cataclysm, on hold. This is probably my favorite non-sequel middle grade read of the year. Recommended for fantasy readers of all ages. 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Story Thieves
Riley, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Owen, a young book-nerd, desperately wishes he could live inside his favorite series. Bethany, a half-fictional girl, is desperately searching for her missing father within fictional worlds, hopping from story to story. One day, Owen discovers Bethany's secret. He makes a deal - he helps her find her father, she allows him to enter his favorite book. But, as they discover, the worlds of fiction are much more dangerous than they appear on the page...
This book was so much fun! I loved every minute of it! Owen and Bethany are great characters that you root for. I also loved the various references to popular books, such as Harry Potter, Peter Pan, and Percy Jackson. If you enjoy fun and geeky adventure stories, this one is DEFINITELY for you!
Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Peter Pan
Barrie, J. M.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

An amazing classic and phenomenal success, Peter Pan by J.M Barrie follows the story of the children of the Darling family: Wendy, Michael, and John. One night, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, a fairy, slip into the house of the Darling family and convince the three children to come with him to Neverland, a place where the lost boys live and also where magic resides. After flying there, the lost boys and Peter ask Wendy to be their mother and caretaker since they have never had mothers. Wendy accepts, only for a short while, but eventually she must leave and return to her parents, who are worried sick about them. Wendy plans to leave, with the lost boys insisting on coming with her, but Peter refuses because he longs to be a young boy forever and never grow up. Leaving Peter on Neverland, Wendy and the lost boys fly away but are attacked by the pirates and captured, so Peter must rescue them, but can he defeat their leader Captain Hook? This book is considered somewhat childish due to Disney’s production of the piece, but the story holds deep and moral meanings that would appeal and interest almost any reader.
Review Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Dragons Love Tacos
Rubin, Adam
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This story has it all, from tacos, to laugh out loud humor, to dragons, to colorful illustrations, and most importantly you also learn about why NEVER to give dragons totally mild salsa with jalapenos. The results are action packed, disastrous, and hilarious. Luckily, the dragons make everything right in the end.

This book is just plain old fashioned silly, and even a bit absurd, fun! The pictures in this book really capture the tone and elevate and enhance the story rather than get in the way. I'd even argue that they might be the main draw of this already entertaining book. The illustrator, Daniel Salmieri, didn't take the illustrations too seriously and you can tell they had as much fun making the book as you will reading it. Enjoy this lighthearted, humorous romp and feel free to enjoy a few tacos along the way when reading!

Reviewer's Name: Will
Awards:
Serafina and the Black Cloak
Beatty, Robert
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Serafina is the Chief Rat Catcher at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. She and her Pa secretly live in the basement, where he is basically the electrical engineer of the place. Serafina's presence in the house is a secret so she mostly traverses the estate through tunnels and doesn't go outside. One night, she witnesses a man in a black coat magically abducting a child, which changes everything.

I listened to this book, and the narrator didn't really do it any favors. Her Southern accent was pretty terrible, but thankfully, she kept forgetting to use it. Narration aside though, this book had some problems. The author took a cool premise and an even cooler setting and then wrote a really boring book. There were kind of two main things going on that should have been really interesting, but weren't. The first thing was the identity of the man in the black coat, which was painfully obvious from the start. Had Beatty done a kiddo type version of an Agatha Christie novel (these are the people at the Biltmore estate...and one of them is guilty of MURDER MOST FOUL), I'd probably be typing a really different review right now. Alternatively, he could've played up Serafina's secret a bit more, and that might have made things more interesting. As it was, even though there was a lot going on, nothing of importance ever seemed to really happen.

I also found myself getting annoyed by a fictional Vanderbilt named Braedan (weird name for a kid of Dutch origins in 1899, dontcha think?) who is a bit of a love interest. Every part featuring him was pretty painful as Serafina basically becomes a useless quivering mess when he's around. Blegh. Oh, and at one point, a character says something along the lines of "you don't call girls heroes, you call them heroines" which, just, are you trying to say that girls can't be heroes? Because if so, gross. I'm paraphrasing, but that's what I took away from the statement.

But on the other hand... look at that cover! Gorgeous.

If 1.5 stars was an option, that's what we'd be doing here. I liked the beginning, the premise and the setting, but wish the author had done more with the latter two elements.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
The Sword of Summer
Riordan, Rick
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Popular mythology author Rick Riordan strikes again! He has series delving into Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and now NORSE mythology. This series follows Magnus Chase, son of a Norse god. Which god, you ask? Read the book and find out!

Riordan’s writing style is very distinct, playing to his youthful audience. The chapter titles were humorous and made no sense until I reached those parts of the book. (I read through them initially and thought, “What the…?!”)

Magnus Chase was vaguely--well, maybe more like strongly--reminiscent of Percy Jackson for me. Although Magnus has had a much rougher life so far, his voice is very similar to that of Percy. Magnus Chase is barely 16 years old, but he has been living on the streets for the past 2 years since his mother’s death. After an...interesting encounter with a fire giant, he finds himself gracing the halls of Valhalla with other Norse warriors killed in battle. Along with his valkyrie, a dwarf, and an elf, he goes on a quest to retrieve the Sword of Summer and stop the wolf Fenrir from escaping his bindings.

A interesting read for those die-hard Riordan fans or anyone who loves mythology interpretations. I was very entertained by the story, as I always am with Riordan’s mythologies, but despite the gods changing, the stories are starting to run together. The overlap of stories definitely doesn’t help the blurring of the lines. (Oh, hi Annabeth!) Crossing over from the Percy Jackson series, Annabeth, last name Chase--I guess we could have seen this one coming--has a couple nice little cameos in this book, foreshadowing a larger role later in the series. I’ll be interested to see where this goes.

Reviewer's Name: Nicole
Book Review: Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This review contains spoilers.

This is the second time I've read this book. I got more out of it this time. It helped to google Auggie's condition to see what he would have looked like. There were a few chapters about friendship, betrayal, and bullying, that were so powerful I got misty-eyed. I liked that the school ultimately accepted him and loved him. I also liked Via's friend's storyline. Perhaps my favorite part was at the end when he got the award and said that they saw something exceptional, but he just saw himself as a normal kid. But hey, he'd take the award if they wanted to give it to him. :-)

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
The Nameless City
Hicks, Faith Erin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Kaidu is new to the Nameless City. This is a city so frequently conquered that no name, despite thousands, sticks. He's trying to become a warrior, make friends, and know his father but all three tasks seem unlikely for the shy boy. Then he meets Rat, a street-smart girl who has the ability to think on her feet and run quickly. They form a friendship and manage to save their city from an upcoming threat that could change who runs the city. Fans of Avatar the Last Airbender comics or TV show would adore this series. It's new, it's refreshing, and follows an interesting and still developing story arch. I couldn't put it down as I turned page after page of beautiful illustration and compelling story. There are many cultures at war with one another in the still, albeit temporarily, peaceful city. The first in the series, I look forward to watching the story take shape and tackle complex issues about identity, war, friendship, and trust. It was really enjoyable and I highly recommend it!

Reviewer's Name: Meagan H.
Mother-Daughter Book Camp
Frederick, Heather Vogel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love how heather can really bring her books to life, it is also nice how she writes them so that we can share the same emotions, and understand the same things with the characters. I especially love this one because she leaves it so that you can ponder what the girls futures will be like. This book was funny, sad, AWESOME, and more!! I highly advise this to any girls 11+

Reviewer's Name: Natalie Adcox
Genres:
A Wrinkle in Time
L'Engle, Madeleine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A Wrinkle in Time is an interesting story about three children, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin, who go on a perilous journey to rescue Meg's father. He had been missing for a very long time, and Meg was just starting to lose hope. However, in the middle of a dark, stormy night, an old tramp invites herself in and tells the children the truth about his disappearance and the shocking truth about where he had gone. Now Meg and her friends must travel across universes, planets, and even time to rescue her father before it is too late. Will they succeed in saving her father or will they suffer a terrible fate instead? Find out by reading A Wrinkle In Time. It is a very good book.
Review Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Nicole B.
Booked
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Nick Hall has everything going for him: he's doing well in school, he's got a solid flirtation going with his crush (or...limerence as it were), and most importantly, he made the soccer travel team. And so, of course, everything starts to go wrong. His parents separate, he starts to get bullied and his best friend ends up on a soccer team 30 miles away.

Booked is absolutely in no way the type of book I would normally pick up, but despite that, I thought it was fantastic. It's a sports fiction novel written in verse neither of which are my thing, but man, I get why Crossover won that Newbery if it was anything like this. In very few words, Alexander manages to develop complex characters, create humor, and develop and subsequently neatly (a little too neatly, perhaps, but hey, it is a book for kids) tie up several plot lines. Oh! And the words! There is a fun little subplot in which Nick's dad wrote a dictionary, and it leads to some really awesome word play. I also learned a few new fun vocabulary words to throw around.

Anyway, my final thought is really just...wow. I'm impressed. I'll definitely be booktalking this one. And even though, like I said, it's not my thing AT ALL, I'll probably read Crossover, Alexander's other book. 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt

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