Staff Book Reviews by Genre: Chapter Books

Book Review: Chihuawolf
Ganny, Charlee
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This is a cute book about a chihuahua that wants to become a werewolf to impress the dog he loves. Paco is brave but diminutive, with the heart of a lion. His small stature keeps him from being a proper suitor for his love, an Afghan hound. Determined to win her love, he goes on an adventure, looking for a werewolf. But when his love gets dognapped, Paco and his friends spring into action to save her. Along the way, Paco learns that it's not size that matters, but what is in his heart.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Medina, Meg
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Merci Suárez Changes Gears just won the esteemed Newbery Award last month. Merci is a new sixth grader attending a private school. Her Cuban family lives in three small houses that sit in a row. Grandparents, aunt, twin nephews, mom, dad and brother are part of Merci's daily life for better or for worse. Merci's schoolmates, however, are mostly mean to her, maybe because Merci does not come from the same affluent neighborhoods with pools and parks galore. Merci Suárez Changes Gears is a gentle story of how Merci's sweet family and school intersect, all while Merci is growing and changing. In fact, Merci's household is changing quickly and somehow Merci has to learn to change gears to keep up.

Reviewer's Name: Betty
Meet Yasmin!
Faruqi, Saadia
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi and Hatem Aly, is an innovative pick for readers age 5 - 8. It is chock-full of colorful illustrations that support the simple but intriguing text. This early chapter book tells the tale of spunky, creative Yasmin and her family as they move through everyday situations. The familiar settings will help young readers decipher new or difficult words as they read. The back matter of the book contains a page of discussion questions, a glossary of Urdu words, information on Pakistan, crafts to explore and a recipe for a yummy drink.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Awards:
Nothing But Trouble
Davies, Jacqueline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the small town of Odawahaka, nothing ever happens. Maggie, however, likes to make things happen. Read along as Maggie, and town newcomer, Lena, make mischief all over town. A great book for girls who like cleverness and determination.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Ms. Bixby's Last Day
Anderson, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ms. Bixby is a special teacher. She makes a difference in the lives of her students including Topher, Steve, and Brand. As each boy narrates the story, we realize what she means to each of them and we understand the lengths they go to to tell her this.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Squirrel in the House
Vande Velde, Vivian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Twitch, the school-yard squirrel and Cuddles, the dog next door, don’t get along. Twitch narrates the book and explains why squirrels have such a better life – they have no rules. During the holiday celebrations, Twitch heads inside Cuddles’ house and mayhem ensues. The day turns serious when a young human gets into trouble. Can Twitch & Cuddles work together to save the boy? Read & find out.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Raymie Nightingale
DiCamillo, Kate
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Taking place in Florida in 1972, Raymie Clarke is trying to win the Little Miss Florida Tire competition in hopes of getting her father, who has left town with another woman, to see her picture in the paper and return home. Along the way, she meets two girls who are also entering the contest, and falls into an unlikely friendship.
I loved this book. It was superbly written and Raymie's voice was so believable as to think she was a real girl. It's a bittersweet book, so beautiful and filled with longing, determination, and a bit of magic. I've read other books by Kate DiCamillo but this one is my favorite. I'd love to see this as a movie. 5 stars!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Train of Lost Things
Paquette, Ammi-Joan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Where to start? This book was poignant, beautiful, lovely and dealt with the subject of loss, through a child’s eyes, in a way that pulled at my heart strings, big time. This beautiful tale follows a young kid named Marty as he deals with the pain and loss that comes when someone close is dying and there is nothing you feel you can do about it. When Marty’s precious possession is lost, his jean jacket scattered with buttons that represent his fondest memories with this person, at first he is devastated, but then he hears the tale of the train of lost things and he goes on a quest to find it and retrieve the precious thing he lost. Along the way he comes across two others, both on similar journeys, and discovers that what matters is not the objects themselves but the memories they represent and the love that he shares with his loved ones.

Paquette’s character Marty, approaches the subject of loss and death with a childlike curiosity. Yet throughout the story, Marty also displays the strong denial that comes with facing loss and death, questioning whether or not what is happening is really true. Marty’s love for his loved one and his need that, retrieving this jacket would make things all better, is what kept his character going. Yet in the end he realizes that life and death are not always that simple. But memories and love have a stronger power over death and loss and sometimes to overcome them you just need to escape reality to really understand that.

I don't usually pick up kids books but I picked up and read this book in one day! That is how good it was! I love this book in every way and I highly recommend it! Even though this book is for kids, I also recommend it for older people, or anyone dealing with loss, as the lessons learned can be applicable for anyone.

Thank you to the publisher Philomel Books for a ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book doesn't come out till March 20 but you can put it on your hold list today!

Reviewer's Name: Anonymous
Book Review: The Higher Power of Lucky
Patron, Susan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was a very good book. I listened to it on audio and the narrator was fantastic. The climax of the book takes place during a dust storm, which is a classic case of the natural elements reflecting the story line. A bit contrived, yes, but good for young readers. The conclusion was textbook, but also okay for younger readers. If you'd like to read a good story with no surprises, this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Sounder
Armstrong, William H.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I've been on a children's book about dogs kick lately. I started with Shiloh, went to Where the Red Fern Grows, and ended with Sounder (I may read Old Yeller too). Sounder is the winner of the Newbery Medal, but it was the least powerful book out of the three. I almost feel like I may have read an abridged version of the book. The characters weren't well developed and there wasn't really a sense of desperation and overt class stratification that the book's summary promised. Overall, it was underwhelming. I'm being nice and giving it 3 stars instead of 2.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Book of Lost Things
Voigt, Cynthia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Max's parents have dashed off on an unexpected adventure and left their 12 year old son Max behind, alone...well, his grandmother is around to watch over him, but she is busy being a librarian. Max has to fend for himself and picks up a part time job as a solutioneer (sounds like engineer, but much more mysterious). His first task is to find a lost pet and this snowballs into many intricately involved adventures that will keep readers turning pages with anticipation to find out what this determined young man will do next. The Book of Lost Things, by Cynthia Voigt, is sure to please children 9 - 13 who enjoy a good mystery.

Reviewer's Name: Barb
Book Review: Where the Red Fern Grows
Rawls, Wilson
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is so well written that it didn't matter that I had nothing in common with the narrator and no interest in hunting. In fact, I felt sorry for the coons. This is a story of love and devotion that had me enthralled, especially in the second half. The ending, while a bit contrived, was still beautiful.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Book Review: Shiloh
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shiloh is a sweet story about a boy's love for his dog. Well, Shiloh isn't actually his but is owned by an abusive neighbor. Marty's devotion and determination to save Shiloh is touching. The narration is spot on. Well done!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Claude in the City
Smith, Alex T.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Claude is an adorable dog that wears a beret, a red sweater, and loves adventure. When his owners go to work the fun begins. Claude and Sir Bobblysock, his best friend, visit the city for the very first time. They have an exciting time going shopping for more berets, and having tea, but the most fun happens when they visit a museum. This charming adventure continues and more antics ensue. Claude in the City is a joy to read and sure to entertain. (Grades 3-5)

Reviewer's Name: Alicia
Crenshaw
Applegate, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Anyone who’s loved the movie, Harvey, will be instantly hooked by Crenshaw. Crenshaw is a giant cat who shows up in Jackson’s life just when he can use a good friend. Jackson doesn’t always appreciate Crenshaw’s presence and tries to grapple with Crenshaw’s appearance with logic. But with the writer’s eye for detail and empathy, Katherine Applegate creates a believable world where the unbelievable happens and where magic dovetails into reality.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin
Three Pennies
Crowder, Melanie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Marin was abandoned at 4 years of age by her mother. On her journey through the foster care system she keeps her ambition to find her biological mother alive as she encounters disappointment, loneliness, turmoil about her abandonment, and finally the perplexing new feelings of real family love. Three Pennies, by Melanie Crowder, is a lovingly written and thoughtful book for ages 9 - 14.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
The Song From Somewhere Else
Harrold, A.F.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

He was bigger than anyone else in Francesca's class. He was funny looking and he smelled weird. Why, oh why did he have to be nice to her and get her bag for her that the bullies had thrown into the stinging nettles? When the bullies chased them both to Nick's house, why hadn't she run somewhere else? Ugh, she would never live this down at school. A.F. Harrold's novel, The Song From Somewhere Else, will enchant readers age 9 - 12 with a story of another world, just waiting to be discovered.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Book Review: Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Cleary, Beverly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a sweet book. It's not so mind-blowing as to warrant an in-depth review, so I'll just leave it at that.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey
Roland, Timothy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Clyde is always in motion and tries to listen, but doesn’t always succeed. When he eats a banana that’s been blasted by a special ray, he feels even more like being in motion – because he keeps turning into a monkey! This is a fun, humorous book for a beginning reader ready to move into chapter books.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin Brown
Save Me a Seat
Weeks, Sarah
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Even though Save Me A Seat is a Children's book, I ABSOLUTELY loved it. A really wonderful story told by Joe and Ravi. Both boys are "different". Joe has a sensitivity to noise (auditory processing disorder), while Ravi is the new kid in school as his family has moved from India. Both Joe and Ravi have challenges in the classroom, with their classmates, and even at home. But they both work at facing their challenges and in the end become friends. A really great story and read, no matter what age you are!

Reviewer's Name: Melissa Mitchell
Awards:

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