Kids Book Reviews by Genre: Classics

Matilda
Dahl, Roald
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Roald Dahl's Matilda, is a good short read. The concept of a heroine rising to action is decently intriguing. However, the book feels very lackluster with its characters being so one dimensional. While the characters are great for its intended audience, creating some depth to characters can always benefit a novel. Overall, the book is great for younger reader and those looking for a short book that has a lot of fun packed into it.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Awards:
Peter Pan
Barrie, J. M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I didn't grow up with Peter Pan as a child. The fact that I'm reviewing this book when I'm 34 merely highlights this oversight. I didn't even get into this story through the animated Disney version. Again, another oversight. About the only reason I know anything about Peter Pan is through the 1991 movie Hook—which I remember quite fondly. At this point, finally getting around to reading the source material was refreshing even if I already picked up most of the pop culture references this book inspired.

While I didn't grow up with Peter Pan, I can see its merit. I'll probably even read it to my daughter when she's old enough to understand it. What's perhaps the most notable quality of this book is how its randomness almost makes sense. Do you know how kids make stuff up but have a logical sense about their creations? Well, Peter Pan has plenty of elements that seem random but somehow work to build a coherent and cohesive narrative. I'm almost more surprised how close Hook and the Disney adaptation held to the source material. The fact that the ideas presented in Peter Pan are so unique and have yet to be fully replicated in any other story says something about its timeless quality.

That's not to say that Peter Pan is perfect—even if it gets close. Sure, it's charming, but it also hasn't aged too well either (which is also present in the Disney adaptation). 100+ years after this book was written, the world is a different place. These small qualms can be glossed over fairly easily if a parent wants to do a little censorship when reading to their child (they don't necessarily add to the plot).

A unique and creatively random children's story that just works, I give Peter Pan 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Hundred and One Dalmations
Smith, Dodie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book falls into my "all-time favorite" stories, something I will come back to again and again because of its charm. It "could" be a Christmas Story, a crime novella, a dog-lovers "tail", or a unique investigation into 1950s English culture. Truthfully, it is all of these. The book opens with an introduction to the main players, Pongo and Misses, and their pets, the Dearly couple. The family is cared for by the two beloved nannies, Nanny Cook (Mrs. Dearly's nanny) and Nanny Butler (Mr. Dearly's nanny) and let a smart flat off Regent's Park. Mr. Dearly is a wizard of finance and unusually rich due to helping the British government get out debt. Mrs. Dearly is a housewife. Both love their dogs immensely and the dogs love their "pets" just as much. Then comes the glorious news that Misses is expecting puppies, what could be better?! Enter Cruella De Vil, an old schoolmate (but not friend) of Mrs. Dearly who has devoted herself to wealth and furs. The second passion encouraged her to marry a furrier...and to explore avenues for exotic furs, even dog! Pongo and Misses come to realize that they and their puppies are a central element of this sinister plot of dogdom. How will it end? You will have to read it to find out!

Reviewer's Name: Caitlin
Book Review: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Lewis, C.S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I listened to this on CD. The narrator was fantastic. The book was also fantastic. Well written, aimed at younger readers, but still enjoyable by adults. There's a reason why this book is a classic. The story had me thinking about bravery and forgiveness, but the Edmund story line was a bit frustrating. His siblings were kinder than I would've been, although I have to remember that he was just a child. All in all, a must-read, or listen.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Scarry, Richard
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The pig family is going on a picnic. Join them on this interactive journey and learn about all sorts of vehicles – some real and some made up. In addition, you can find that tricky Goldbug on each page. You’ll learn a bit about transportation, hunt for Goldbug, learn new vocabulary, and see some funny things. You’ll see new things each time you read this book. It’s destined to become a family favorite!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Where the Red Fern Grows
Rawls, Wilson
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A boy named Billy lives in the foothills of the Ozarks in southern Missouri. He gets dog fever when he is ten. He begs his parents for a pair of hunting dogs. This goes on for about six months. Then his parents give him three steel traps. This entertains him for a while but then his hunger for dogs is stronger than ever. He works his tail off saving money to buy dogs himself. Let Billy take on a wild adventure of coons, dogs, and love. I read this book because I loved how close Little Ann, Old Dan, and Billy were. I liked it because it slows down the story and really explains it. If you are going to read this book I would recommend that you have the Internet handy. The talk that they use is slightly difficult to understand, but immerses you into that time period.

Major Themes

Adventure
Love

If you love the outdoors and are a dog person I would recommend this book for you.

Reviewer's Name: James
Awards:
Genres:
Where the Red Fern Grows
Rawls, Wilson
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I loved Where The Red Fern Grows. It is a great book and it is a story about a boy and his two dogs. After you read this book, I think you will be reading it again soon after! It just shows that his dogs will do anything for their owner through kindness and loyalty.

Reviewer's Name: Olivia D.
Awards:
Genres:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Lewis, C.S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When 4 british school children are sent away during World War II to a old professers home the have no idea what adventures are there. The children find a wardrobe in a room of the house and enter it where they find themselves in a magic land called Narnia. This book is full of adventure and is a good read for people of all ages.

Reviewer's Name: Kaci
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Lewis, C.S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, is a wonderful read. The classic can be read by any ages and provides a fulfilling story in a fantastical world. The straightforward plot and character development also add nicely to the book's universe. The book also provides illustrations adding to the imagery of Narnia, the world in which the book is in. Overall, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is a phenomenal book that can give any reader a great experience.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Heidi
Spyri, Johanna
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It was very engaging. With young energetic Heidi and her best friend Klara, it pulls you in and engages with life lessons and memorable quotes. With grandmother and Heidi up on the mountainside, they share poetry, hymns, stories, and love. With Heidi's loveable attitude and glow of Christ everywhere, she tries to turn grandfather's grumpy attitude to a loving, caring grandpa. This book is worth reading and engaging for ALL ages.
Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
King of the Wind
Henry, Marguerite McCallum
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The book, King of the Wind, is a lovely story about a horse and his master. The connection between Sham, the horse, and Agba, a boy, is focused upon during the book, and the author certainly created something special.

The characters are decently developed, but the connections between characters are much better. The setting of the book is also quite unique and fits well with the story. It's more than just a classic horse story. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, as it's a pretty quick read and a great book.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Sounder
Armstrong, William H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book, Sounder, is a great read. While it is a short read, it packs a powerful punch. The only reason I could really no like the book was that it does get to a be a cliche "dog story" at times. The characters are pretty well developed, and the story does get very dark. The multiple ongoing conflicts also captivate the reader. While its sort-of a children's book, the book also does have some cool underlying themes that the reader can pick out.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone, as its quick and phenomenal read.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Peter Pan
Barrie, J. M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I LOVED this book! Although it was written a long time ago by an unsuccessful playwright, J. M. Barrie perfectly captured the imagination and creativity of young children. The reason he was disliked in his time was because he never really grew out of his kid-self. Which, I think, I think is where the inspiration for Peter Pan came, “the boy who never grew up”.
But anyways, Wendy and her younger brothers are born into a family that struggles financially but are obsessed with appearing rich to their wealthy neighbors… a common trend, even today. But Wendy and her brothers are whisked into a world where imagination runs wild-- the land that is hidden in all children’s minds, the one that is different for every child, Neverland.
What I love about this book is the constant thread of hidden and discreet themes about humanity, ones that continue today. It also taps into a child’s world of freedom, imagination, and oppression from adults. One of the most heartbreaking chapters is at the very end, when Wendy grows up, forgets about Peter, and gets lost in the adult world. But she has a daughter, Jane, and Jane is a kid, so she can imagine and believe in Peter Pan. Naturally, Peter Pan never really hit it off in it’s time, because of the controversial thoughts, and the point of view from kids.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
The Call of the Wild
London, Jack
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I chose to read this book because it was cheap at the bookstore, and I am so glad that I read it. I have not read many realistic adventure books, but it is my new favorite genre. The Call of the Wild centers around a hard-working, strong dog named Buck who is tragically sold into hard labor. This book evokes sentiments from utter despair to immense joy, and Jack London’s writing style is simple yet eloquent. I strongly recommend this book to everyone.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
Awards:
The BFG
Dahl, Roald
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is so awesome it's probably my favorite book. It has so much detail that you can imagine exactly what this BFG is going through. Over all i love this book.

Reviewer's Name: Delaney
Awards:
A Wrinkle in Time
L'Engle, Madeleine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Meg Murry is an outcast. She feels that she doesn't belong anywhere -- not at school, and especially not among her family of accomplished scientists and visionaries. But, when three strange women appear and offer to help her find her missing father, she is whisked away to another world. With the help of her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin, she works to find her father and save Earth from impeding evil. I originally read "A Wrinkle in Time" back in middle school, but decided to reread it before seeing the film, and found that I loved the book just as much as I did the first time around. The writing is charming and clever. The worlds are vast and imaginative. Meg and her brother Charles Wallace undergo compelling character arcs and discover their true purpose along the journey. I have nothing negative to say about this amazing story. To anyone who loves fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, rich characters, and interesting plots, go read this book!

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Charlotte's Web
White, E.B.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While it may be considered a children's book, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White lives up to its name as a classic. The simple story provides for a light and easy read, while still providing an elegantly woven story. The characters, while not super developed, are jocular and entertaining, and still preserve the sort-of dramatic side of the book. The friendly relationship between Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig soon turns into a matter of life and death, allowing for many twists and turns throughout the book. Though simple, the book also has several deeper meanings (I won’t spoil them), allowing for speculation among its audience. The fun in discovering what E.B. White could have meant in just one of the book's lines may very well be the entire hook of the story. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, no matter what their age is. There’s always fun to be had in a book, whether it be hidden or minuscule.

Reviewer Grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Genres:
Stuart Little
White, E.B.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Stuart Little, by E. B. White, is quite the fascinating tale of an adventurous mouse on a quest to find his beloved, lost friend. The book is endlessly entertaining, and Stuart the mouse hooks the reader with his various shenanigans. Rather than developing the side characters, E. B. White strives and succeeds at focusing on peculiar Stuart and amusing the reader. The side plots also fit very nicely into the main story. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, as it is a quick, easy, and wondrous read.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:
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
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Carroll, Lewis
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is a rather peculiar adventure tale filled with all sorts of oddities and misfits. The story begins with the main protagonist, Alice, as she follows the White Rabbit into the infamous rabbit hole. In Wonderland, or so it seems, she meets several creatures all with the strangest backstories and personalities. The story is carefully crafted so that much of the book confuses the casual reader. A great concern for detail is needed to understand the novel and its full meaning. The book shares the complexities and hardships of growing up, in which the Lewis Carroll absolutely nailed. He also shares his negative opinions about the British government through the main antagonist, the Queen of Hearts, who is meant to be a high and powerful monarch, but never does anything. Overall, the book is a great read and it is certainly entertaining to spend some time to pick out the many small details hidden in the book. 8th Grade.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L

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