Kids Book Reviews

Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Wonder by R. J Palacio tells the story of a young boy, Auggie, that was born differently from others. Born with different facial features than others, he has not been able to be a mainstream and average student. After a series of captivating events, he becomes the most popular and inspiring of heroes once he becomes a fifth grader.

Wonder was an extremely unique story that took the point of view from a young boy different from others. The story was original and interesting to the reader based upon the course of events that took place. After Auggie is faced with demeaning names and suggesting he is mentally deficient, goodness becomes the better of this situation. The story becomes uplifting and inspiring. Taking place in many different viewpoints, the dialogue is well written and is able to describe each character with a unique tone of writing/speaking. In addition to the story itself, the book demonstrated morals that each reader could decipher for themselves. However, most prominently, the moral that I found when reading the book was the inner character of everybody is the determination of their personality.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
The Hound of Rowan
Neff, Henry H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Join Max on a thrilling adventure throughout the school year at Rowan Academy! This book was a really great book with lots of adventure and magic. It is sort of like Harry Potter (don't compare these two series because as similar as they can be, they can be VERY different too) but in my honest opinion, if someone were to ask me Hogwarts or Rowan? I would probably say Hogwarts. However, this book is an amazing adventurous, magical, good vs. evil type of book.

There are a few kisses throughout this book, including one where David captures a photo of Connor and Lucia and keeps the photograph. There is a few sentences on one page where Connor does something questionable, but they do not focus on it or keep bringing it up.

Overall, this book was really good an besides those few parts that I mentioned above, it is a fine book.

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S.
Awards:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I was really excited when Fantastic Beasts came out because Harry Potter was over and I loved the make-believe world of wizards and witches. Before Fantastic Beasts was released I was curious what J.K. Rowling was going to do next, I didn’t think she was done writing books altogether. Fantastic Beasts turned out to be a great read and satisfied my imagination with magic.

Fantastic Beasts, a fictional novel by J.K. Rowling, follows a magical young man named Newt on a journey to find his beasts that escaped. Newt Scamander is a wizard unlike any other, he uses not only his powers but the powers of his magical animals. In Fantastic Beasts Newt has lost some of his creatures and needs to find them before they wreak havoc among the regular people’s lives and more importantly before the truth about wizards being real is revealed to everyone. Newt meets lots of strange people almost as fascinating as his beasts and even befriends a person named Jacob on his journey.

Something I’ve wondered for a long time is why J.K Rowling wanted her book to be designed in the format of a screen play, maybe she thought it would make the characters feel more real and personal. I think that J.K. Rowling really got everything right with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them even down to the art which creates very detailed imagery and gives you a sense of what she is thinking about when she makes these strange beasts.

Reviewer's Name: Seth
Genres:
The Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

An excellent introduction to Greek mythology and adventure, Percy Jackson and the Olympians provides an engaging storyline and an interesting set of characters. Perfect for early interest in literature and mythology alike, it was one of my first favorite series of books. I would recommend reading for ages 9 to 12, but it can be enjoyed at any age!

Reviewer's Name: Settare
The Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Percy Jackson series is one of my favorite series’ because it combines two topics that I really like, Greek mythology and action/adventure. Greek gods and legends are typically very epic and exaggerated so combining that with a very relatable boy creates an amazing result that I think only Rick Riordan could have come up with and developed.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians; The Lightning Thief, a fictional novel by Rick Riordan, follows the journey of a boy and his relationships and encounters with Greek legends and myths. Percy Jackson is at first what some might call a “loser” and often gets picked on at school and has trouble concentrating on academics. Percy’s whole life changes when he discovers that his dad, which he hadn’t known before, was the all-powerful Poseidon making him a demigod. After Percy finds out who his dad id he is sent to Camp-Half Blood, a cleverly named camp for demigods, because his home is no longer safe for him. In Camp Half-Blood Percy makes himself at home I makes new friends by impressing people with his powers which he didn’t even know he had. The fun and games is quickly over when learns that someone has stolen the lightning rod from Zeus, the king of the gods, and the top suspect is none other than Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon. On Percy’s journey to prove to Zeus that he is not the thief he is accompanied by his two best friends Annabeth and Grover.

I personally think that it was quite a genius idea to have the main character be just an average boy that gets bullied and picked on at school because it makes him relatable. I think that in one way or another everyone has been bullied before and it makes Percy a very relatable character and I also think it kind of acts as inspiration for us.

Reviewer's Name: Seth
Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid
Emerson, Marcus
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY***

Once again, I seem to have jumped in on the second book of a series. Fortunately, there was plenty of exposition detailing the events of The Super Life of Ben Braver. Maybe a little too much exposition. This sequel took a little long getting to its own story because of this, along with a bit of heavy-handed foreshadowing as well. Regardless of its slow start, Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid is a pretty standard middle-grade book that calls upon the success of the superhero genre to package a lesson about pride between action set pieces.

While there are some parallels between the X-Men series, I feel the main character’s arc is perhaps a little more similar to early My Hero Academia. Plus, it wouldn’t be a middle-grade story without a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it as well (i.e., a unique main character with a semi-bumbling male friend and an incredibly smart female friend). At the very least, I found the illustrations sprinkled throughout to be well done. They certainly contributed to the comic book hybrid feel of the story, which is probably what draws the X-Men comparisons.

I won’t fault this book too much for its heavy-handed approach toward the main character’s social faux pas since this book is basically for children. That being said, I did find some of the lore and intricacies of the greater story arc to be perhaps a little elaborate. I’m sure if I’d read the first book, this would be less so, but it still seems slightly overcomplicated at times. In the end, I liked some of the unique (if not sometimes gross) superpowers of these kids, and I’d recommend this series for any children who might want to make the jump from comic books to chapter books, and vice versa.

A comic book/chapter book hybrid with a semi-standard take on superheroes, I give Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Secrets and Scones: A Secret Recipe Book
Remington, Laurel
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Scarlett’s mom is writing a blog and Scarlett seems to be the star – or perhaps victim. All of her embarrassing moments are being shared with the readers and it’s uncomfortable to go to school knowing that her classmates know all of her secrets. Scarlett’s answer is to become boring, but boring is – well – boring. When Scarlett discovers a spectacular kitchen in the house next door, she gives in to temptation and tries it out. In the process, she makes a new friend and discovers the secret ingredient in family and friendships. A fun read that encourages reaching out to others, making friends, and cooking.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The Night Sky: A Frozen Discovery Book
Ditcher, Paul
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Learn about the night sky with your friends Anna, Elsa, and Olaf from Disney’s Frozen. Each topic is explored and connected to part of the Frozen story. You can learn about Northern Lights, Seasons, Stars, the planets, Eclipses, and more. If you are a fan of Frozen, this book is a great resource to learn more the science of our night sky.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Easy Origami Woodland Animals
Montroll, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

John Montroll teaches us how to make a forest full of woodland animals witheasy origami. The step-by-step instructions will help you create animals such as squirrels, skunks, bear, and ducks. Have fun creating!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Genres:
What Is Water?
Nelson, Robin
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Are you curious about water and its properties? This book can help. You’ll learn about the different states that water can occupy – solid, liquid, and gas. You’ll learn water facts and about rainbows. A great starter book!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire
August, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Having already read Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon, I decided to go back and read the book that kicked off this series. While I already knew what had happened in Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire—as the sequel frequently referenced it—I still appreciated reading the details myself. I had a few questions and concerns that I hoped this book would address, and only about half of them were answered to my satisfaction. Still, I did enjoy this Harry Potter and Boy Scouts mashup, even if it is literally that.

In the sequel, I definitely got the Harry Potter vibe, but I fully realized the almost 1-for-1 influence of the J.K. Rowling series on this series when I read this book. Unsuspectingly powerful main character with a unique physical trait? Check. Overachieving female friend? Check. Somewhat bumbling male friend? Check. Different groups categorized via character traits? Check. All I’m saying is that it would have been nice to see something that wasn’t so entirely derivative of the Harry Potter formula. As it is, I’d recommend the Arlo Finch series to anyone who loves the Harry Potter series.

While I also really enjoyed the infusion of the Boy Scout-esque “Rangers” to the Harry Potter formula, I’m still not sure I believe this book’s explanation for why most people aren’t aware of these supernatural happenings. Sure, they can’t be photographed, but when the uninitiated families of these kids are brought together for a Court of Honor where they hand out merit badges for “Wards” and other supernatural activities, I
can’t help but think that the parents would get suspicious of what’s really going on in this organization. It’s kind of hard to keep all these magical things a secret when you’re giving out awards for them.

A solid Harry Potter adaptation wrapped in the trappings of the Boy Scouts, I give Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop
Weatherford, Carole Boston
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

So glad this book was added to the PPLD collection! The illustrations are incredible. The glossary is amazing! Must read!!!

Reviewer's Name: Aisha
Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
Kehret, Peg
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio" by Peg Kehret is an interesting autobiography that gives insight to what people with Polio experienced. The main character, Peg, faints one day during school and has a high temperature so she is taken to the hospital. There she is diagnosed with Polio. This news is devastating to Peg and her family but Peg's family decides to stay positive while Peg is sad. Throughout her journey Peg gets better with the support of her parents.

I would recommend this book. "Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio" is sad but also heartwarming at times. I read this book because it is a battle book. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, however the emotions Peg felt could be related to a lot of other people. The book isn't predictable at all. It is not the best book I have read this year but I would still recommend this book as it is still good.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
The Last Holiday Concert
Clements, Andrew
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The Last Holiday Concert is an okay book. It tries to address themes of popularity and leadership, but doesn’t do a good job of it. The characters are all bland, and the conflict is generic. Although it's a children’s book, I felt like the author could have done a way better job in all aspects. Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend this book to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Bellairs, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Do you like mystery stories with a bit of payback! well then this is the book for you. and the best part is this book has ghosts and magic! so please read about this epic quest to find the one clock that was once lost long ago. Magic!

Reviewer's Name: Chess
The House with a Clock in its Walls
Bellairs, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There is evil afoot in this book about a fat young boy whose parents both died in a car accident leaving him to live with his strange uncle who lives in a mansion with secrets. An uncle being driven insane by a clock's incessant ticking countered by a strange neighbor who makes excellent chocolate chip cookies. The adventure is just beginning. Into a cemetery, are the dead rising? A car chase all across the county and an eclipse of the moon. A house that grows defenses? Windows that change on their own? Read this book and find out not just what the evil is, but to determine which is better, the book or the movie?

Reviewer's Name: Rachel
Five Trucks
Floca, Brian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Using simple language, this book shows the jobs that five drivers and their trucks do. It also introduces counting backwards and ordinal numbers. Learn about the different jobs that people have to get an airplane ready for take off. Watch the boy and his suitcase prepare for their trip. A fun book for those who are interesting in airplane travel.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Awards:
Hungry Bunny
Rueda, Claudia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Play along as you read this book. Bunny is hungry. He’s so hungry that you can hear his tummy growl. He’s hoping for a treat and you can help. Help him along on his adventure as see if he’s able to have a treat to fix his hunger problem.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Dirt+Water=Mud
Hannigan, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

What happens when you combine two things like dirt and water? What about
girl + dog? Join this girl and her dog as they have a great time using their
imaginations. What will happen next?

Reviewer's Name: Carol
All the Water in the World
Lyon, George Ella and Tillotson, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Using simple text and colorful illustrations, All the Water in the World explains the water cycle and encourages us to live green.

Reviewer's Name: Carol

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