ALA Notable Children's Book Award

Book Review: The House of the Scorpion

Author
Farmer, Nancy
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The House of Scorpion is a book set in the future in a place called Opium with a boy named Mateo who is a clone of a huge drug lord who goes by "El Patron". This book has always been a favorite of mine since I read in 6th grade for the first time, it stuck out to me because the creativity, plot, setting, it is such a fun book to read and the book also has a sequel, so its great that the book continues. There wasn't really a time I disliked the book, it always had my attention, and I think that truly matters when reading a book. I choose this book not only because its a childhood fave but I feel like others might love to read this book as much as I did.

Reviewer's Name
Makaia

Book Review: Goodbye Stranger

Author
Stead, Rebecca
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Goodbye Stranger is a love letter to the changing points, the shaky areas of childhood that help us figure out who we are in a world that constantly wants us to change. Bridge survived a being hit by a car, currently wears cat ears, and wonders why she's still alive. Sherm writes letters to his grandfather and refuses to answer his calls. Emily and Tabitha made a pact with Bridge to never argue, but are being pulled inextricably apart by text messages and social justice clubs. An unnamed wanderer navigates a world where everything is made of lava, and best friends are replaced by horrid outsiders. As their stories collide and come apart, they'll need to figure out what to do when those they know best become strangers.
I read Rebecca Stead's "When You Reach Me" when I was in middle school, and it blew me away. I read her "Goodbye Stranger", now in high school, and found that the change in years didn't change the impact. The thing that astounded me was, despite me being well outside the age range of her characters, I found the book entrancing for all ages. The characters problems and personalities don't seem juvenile or trite. They seem human, a little heartbreaking, and highly relatable. I think the thing that makes this book are the characters. They're each as unique as a fingerprint, but they maintain their ability to sound strangely like the people you go to school with, or work with, or live with. Each of their motivations are perfectly obvious, each of their flaws on stunning display, fleshing out characters that feel like you'd see them wandering around your school on any given day. The book has a lot of heavy topics and sorrow packed into barely 300 pages, but still feels light enough that you aren't miserable the whole time. There's a lot of heart, a lot of happiness, and a lot of good changes alongside the tragedies of middle-school, or just regular, life. The book has a floating quality that makes it feel strangely detached. I can't tell you if this is a good or bad thing, but its definitely intentional, and it definitely messed with my ahead enough to make me want to keep reading. The only concrete things I can really say about this book is that the prose was excellent, the writing was accessible, the characters were interesting, the topics were thoughtful, and the ending was satisfying.
All in all, this book is really hard to describe. It's happy and sad and very realistic and very detached from reality and simplistic and strangely complex. I don't know what to call this book except a good read for those that like small stories, cat ears, friendships, broken friendships, and the infinite potential of strangers.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Author
Collins, Suzanne
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Hunger Games is a thrilling novel that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I read it. It is a dystopian fiction novel with lots of action aspects as well. I chose this book because I heard many great things about it, and I absolutely loved it!
In the setting of The Hunger Games, there are 12 Districts that the people live in. Many years before the story takes place, there were 13 Districts. However, there was a rebellion against the government, and the Districts lost and the 13th District perished. The government holds annual Hunger Games to remind the citizens what happened during the rebellion. The Hunger Games takes two kids from each District and force them to compete in a fight to the death match in an arena. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as a tribute when her little sister’s name is drawn during the Choosing Ceremony. During the Hunger Games, she makes friends and enemies, and learns some of the schemes behind the government.

This novel was so entertaining and I was hoping that it would never end. I think people who like action and dystopian novels would like this book, and if they don’t mind some violence.

Reviewer Grade: 8.

Reviewer's Name
Beatriz

Book Review: Echo

Author
Ryan, Pam Muñoz
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

"Echo" is a fun fantasy book that follows the journey a harmonica takes. It is about the musical people that interact with the harmonica and their journeys, showing how powerful music can be. We meet so many fun people that are going through hard times. We meet Friedrich, a young German boy living in Germany at the beginning of Hitler's career, Mike an orphan who would do anything for his brother, and Ivy, a girl confused by why social concepts are the way they are. The only thing that connects them is the harmonica. The story of the harmonica starts at the very beginning of the book and ends at the very end, making it an underlying second plot/ backstory.

"Echo" is a very fun fantasy/historical fiction book. The beginning intrigued me and was very good at capturing readers. When it gets to the middle parts when we are following different characters it does sort of feel like it is dragging on, but this is made up for with the ending. The ending was beautiful and made me so happy. Pam Muñzo Ryans writing is always so descriptive and it was great at describing music and how it feels in this book. You get to see major historical events' effects on some of the people that it would affect the most. It is a book that makes you think not only about what has happened in the past but also about the small things in life. I liked the backstory about the harmonica, it made the journey that much more special. There were some moments when we were left in the dark, aka cliffhangers and they were full of suspense. The ending as said before was beautiful, it brought everything together and resolved the suspense from the cliffhanger. Overall, this book is great. It has fantastical parts, historical parts, and musical parts, all with great writing.

Reviewer's Name
Jordan

Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle

Author
Jones, Diana Wynne
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Howl's Moving Castle is a fantasy novel about the infamous wizard Howl, and a cursed hatmaker named Sophie.
Sophie Hatter is a pretty average girl whose been left to maintain her family's hat shop. However, she gets cursed one day by the Witch of the Waste and is turned into an old woman. Sophie, seeking out an end to her curse, finds her way into Howl's mechanical moving castle, and in it, she meets Calcifer, a snarky fire demon, Michael, Howl's kind apprentice, and of course, Howl. Howl, rumored to be an evil wizard who eats the hearts of young women turns out not to be so harmless after all. Sophie quickly decides to appoint herself as Howl's castle cleaner, and we follow Sophie and Howl through their escapades, rooting for Sophie's curse to be broken.
Howl's Moving Castle is truly a very lovely story, and as I read the story, I found that it was very easy and light to read. I enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of the fairytale-like novel, and each of the characters all held a special place in my heart. I enjoyed how eccentric Howl was, and it was very entertaining to read through his and Sophie's bickering. I've also seen the Studio Ghibli film version of the story, and I think that both the film and book versions were equally as charming. All in all, I highly recommend this novel if you're looking for a light, magical read.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Michelle

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Author
Collins, Suzanne
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Catniss Everdeen is the young girl in District 12 who comes from poverty and hunting. When the Annual Hunger Games start their draft picks, Catniss volunteers as tribute to spare her sister. She has always had talent with a bow and arrow for hunting for food to provide dinner for her family. Catniss uses her skill to win the Hunger Games and eventually eliminate President Snow, the background of the merciless games. I loved the intelligence put into the book of the making of the games. Because of the fighting, there is some violence and gore, but it’s still family-friendly and can be read comfortably. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves quick thinking and thought-out mystery. Hunger Games is intriguing, well-planned, and is an all-time favorite for my family.

Reviewer's Name
Rachel L.

Book Review: Out of the Dust

Author
Hesse, Karen
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse is a historical fiction novel set in Oklahoma's Dust Bowl and during the Great Depression. It follows Billie Jo, a young girl as she struggles through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. During the book, Billie must endure heart-wrenching experiences that no one should have to go through. The author does a bewildering job of illustrating the struggles of the Dust Bowl and gives you a new perspective on this historical event. The Dust Bowl is no longer a page in a history textbook but a story that will break your heart. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book with 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name
Lucia

Book Review: The City of Ember

Author
DuPrau, Jeanne
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The city of Ember is story of Lina Mayfleet, who wants to be a messenger in Ember, however she gets a job called the "pipe worker". Pipe workers have to work all they long in the deep sticky underground. However Doon, wants to be a electrician helper or pipe worker because he likes to work with machines, so he wants to see generator that makes electricity. However he gets job called "messenger", who runs all around the city and send messages to other citizens. Doon trade his job with Lina, and they both got job they want. Every thing is running out of the ember, lightbulb, food, energy, etc. Doon and Lina try to find the secret of the Ember, they try to find the way out of the Ember and for there future.

I give this book, the city of Ember 5-star rating. I loved this story because its adventurous and it hooks me in second page, also it makes reader to think about what's going to happen in future, and also makes readers want to read more and make reader interesting and imagine what is going on.

My favorite aspect of this book was when Doon and Lina was picking their jobs to work in the Ember. It was quite interesting to me because they actually don't get to choose there own job. Lina pick pipe worker, and Doon pick messenger. However they both don't like there jobs. Luckily, because they don't like there job, they trade there job and they'd like there new job now. The all familiar question of reader of Ember: Why Doon want to be a pipe worker? What is going to happen next? Why Ember are having blackouts? Where are Ember?

I also tell you that Ember heavily depends on electricity, and its running out of it. There only food is canned food. The city is dying, everyone knows it. When Lina finds a secret box that her great grand father have left with letter in it, and it was secret of the Ember. However, unfortunately, it was chew by her sister, poppy. Doon and Lina try to find what is the secret mean.

I also really liked the setting of the ember, the dark moon, only shining on the top of the Ember, no lights, dark, deep darkness. I can't spoil where it is but, there are blackout. There are only Ember, the light of the world, there are noting beside Ember. At unknown region, there are only infinity of darkness.

Overall, this is an easy read that adventurous, fun and it keep my eyes on the book whole time i read the city of Ember.

Reviewer's Name
Paul

Book Review: Savvy

Author
Law, Ingrid
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Savvy by Ingrid Law is an amazing book stuffed with mischief, fun,
turns and twists! It follows Mississippi "Mibs" Beaumont through her thirteen
birthday. When her father is put into the hospital, Mib's world is turned
upside down. Her perfect "savvy" birthday has been ruined! When she turns
thirteen, she receives a special savvy (a savvy is a particular gift given to
those in her family when they turn thirteen)-but it's not what she's been
hoping for. Mibs and her friends embark on a wild ride, trying to get to her
father's hospital to see him. Nothing on their trip is what they expect, but
Mibs and her friends continue in the midst of laughter and hardship. Will
they ever get to the hospital, and will her father be alright? Savvy is a
crazy, adventurous, funny book that you're sure to enjoy!

Reviewer's Name
Gemma