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Kids Book Reviews

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
Moon Over Manifest
Vanderpool, Clare
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book definitely deserves its Newbery Honor Award. It tells an intricate story about a girl moving to a small town called Manifest in a captivating way. At the end of every chapter, I was left wanting more. The author didn't tell you everything and you had to piece the clues together. I liked that there is a point of view of someone during WWI because usually books are set in WWII. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.
Reviewers Grade:8

Reviewer's Name: Mikayla B.
Genres:
Upside Down in The Middle of Nowhere
Lamana, Julie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

It's late August, 2005, Armani Curtis can think nothing more about her tenth birthday, not even warnings of the storm can shake her, that is until she see's her parents shaken up. Suddenly, the party she has been waiting for, has to be cancelled, and Armani finds herself in the middle of Hurricane Katrina, stuck in the attic, and is floating around the whole city of New Orleans.
And just when it seems nothing could get worse, water and supplies are running out, her brother isn't able to breath, now her brother and father are stuck in the water somewhere, and she is stuck in the middle of nowhere without her mother. Now Armani needs to be responsible more than ever, and make the decision to stay put as her mother had told her or leave her mother behind and get on a bus to somewhere far away with her sisters and brother, without almost half her family.

I read this book because I wanted to understand what it would've felt like to be in Hurricane Katrina, the author also get's through to the reader's emotions, but also revisits a historic event that changed a lot of people's life.
Reviewer Age: 12

Reviewer's Name: Isabella P.
The Silver Crown
O'Brien, Robert
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ellen Carrol, wakes up one morning to find a silver crown on her bed, but as soon as she leaves her home, she finds that her house burns down, along with her family, and she even witnesses a murder by someone with black clothes and green shoes.
Suddenly, she is on a journey to find her Aunt Sarah who is her only family left, but on the way there she escapes a kidnapper (several times), and meets an 8 year old named Otto. She then continues the rest of the journey, along with Otto, while being chased by the kidnapper (who happens to be the man with black clothes and green shoes).
Otto and Ellen then find a strange place, where there Otto is taken, and Ellen is willing to risk herself to find Otto and get out of that place. But if she does, she might never be able to get out of whatever this place is, and if she doesn't she could possibly still be in danger of the kidnapper that searches for her crown, that she still has no idea why, and what it is.

This book, Silver Crown, shows a lot of mystery, and adventure which is mostly why I read this book, but it also comes with things that you think happened for this reason, but it actually was because of this reason. If you like to read adventure or mystery books, this book is the right one for you.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Isabella P.
Neil Flambe and The Crusader's Curse
Sylvester, Kevin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Neil Flambe may be a very annoying person, but at least he's got his nose and his talent for cooking to back it up. But then all the sudden his talent starts to take a turn for the worse. At his restaurant, Chez Flambe, all of his food is being taken back, he get's complaints from his costumers, and all the sudden his restaurant has been forced to close down due to reports of food poisoning. Then to add on to all of his problems, Neil discovers that there is a family curse that has stopped Flambe chef's for centuries. Now he is being forced to go into a chef cook-off and could lose everything if he makes one mistake. Neil suddenly has stepped into a mess that even, he thinks, he can't cook his way out of.

I picked this book because as I first read this book, I couldn't put it down.
The author pulled me into all of the problems of the story making me engaged in the story quickly and slowly showing me how it was going to end.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Isabella P.
Smile
Telgemeier, Raina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is one of my favorite books because it is a true story and it shows that you are not the only one that goes through hard situations. Smile is about a girl and how she needs braces and she is not looking forward to that and on top of that a horrible accident happens making it so that she needs to do more with her mouth than just get braces. She also goes through friend problems, boy problems, and the problems of peer pressure from the people around her. I like it because the problems are not about one person that saves the world it is about one girl going through real life problems.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Paige C.
The Battle for Wondla
DiTerlizzi, Tony
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is the third and last book of the Wondla series. I like this book because it is set in another time in Orbona a planet that was once known as Earth. It tells the story of a young girl named Eva Nine, and how she grew up in an HRP Sanctuary where she is learns how to survive in a long forgotten word. When she finally goes out into the world she learns that all she though about the planet she was on is wrong. The whole series is about this one girl and how she grows and learns on a long trip of self discovery.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Paige C.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Stewart, Trenton
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

After passing a peculiar test found in an ad in the newspaper, four gifted children are given a mission: attend the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened to defeat a malicious organization with hypnotizing abilities.
Judging from the summary, it seems like an overdone cliche novel, but it really isn't.
The characters are all quirky and diverse, but I was still able to relate to them; it was fun reading about all of them. They all had their own gifts and talents that made them unique from each other.
It had a perfect mixture of action, suspense, mystery, and a touch of adventure.
The plot was engaging and all of the events and trials that occurred were compelling and captivating. I was never bored when reading this. The solutions the main characters came up with when faced with a problem was always clever and left me impressed that the author was able to come up with such a smart answer.
All of the plot twists were incredible and had me at the edge of my seat!
The Mysterious Benedict Society is an amazing book, and I couldn't put it down. It seems impossible to hate this book. All of the people I've met that have read this book (granted, I've only met a few people who have) love it.
I'm sure you would too.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
Genres:
The City of Ember
DuPrau, Jeanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In Ember, the only sources of light are lampposts. The whole city depends heavily on electricity, and it just so happens to be running out of it. The city is dying, and everyone knows it. When Linda finds a letter, she's sure it's the secret to saving Ember. Unfortunately, it had been chewed up by her baby sister before she saw it. Linda and her friend, Doon, are determined to find out what the letter means.
In the beginning, the novel doesn't say what, exactly, Ember is, except that it's a city, artificial light is the only light there is, and the only food to eat is canned. Because of that, the readers don't really know what the setting is, and that really makes the book mysterious as well as interesting.
There wasn't really anything special about the characters, but finding out what was really going on was fun. It really felt like I was there with the characters, trying to solve the mystery together; Something about the novel made me very emotionally invested in it.
Reading about the environment so familiar to the characters but so foreign to me was fascinating and enjoyable.
The City of Ember, to me, was one of a kind. The sense of adventure I felt when reading it, even though most of the story was in the same setting, was enchanting. I hope this review compels you to read it because it really is a great book.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
Roller Girl
Jamieson, Victoria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This isn't your typical comic book. It doesn't have fantasy super heroes or talking animals. This novel is about your everyday girl in a real-life situation that falls in love with roller derby. I wasn't expecting to like this book because I'm not much of a comic book person but it surprised me and I loved the message. The only thing I would change is the age of the main character because some of the events in the story were questionable because she is seems young. If you are looking for a really quick read with a good message then this is the book for you.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Mikayla B.
When You Reach Me
Stead, Rebecca
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Sixth grader Miranda Sinclair started receiving strange letters that somehow predict the future. After she got more and more letters, Miranda was determined to solve the mystery behind them.
The novel really conveys the feeling of normalcy; it seems like the every-day life of an ordinary middle schooler, but when the future-predictions letters are added into the mix, it feels surreal- almost dream-like.
It got a little confusing in the middle for me because I couldn't understand why the characters were doing what they were doing, but it all gets brilliantly explained at the end. The way it all tied up was wonderful and worth all of the confusion; the ending really was the best part.
The characters were all like ordinary people I'd see everyday, which gave me the feeling that I was reading realistic fiction rather than science-fiction.
Their personalities weren't typical and they weren't just generic personalities (e.g., a a mean popular girl or a nerdy unpopular kid).
Reading When You Reach Me was a roller-coaster (especially the last part!) and I really recommend it to everyone.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X

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