Chapter Books

Book Review: Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid

Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid
Author: 
Emerson, Marcus
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Secrets and Scones: A Secret Recipe Book

Secrets and Scones: A Secret Recipe Book
Author: 
Remington, Laurel
Rating: 
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

Book Review: The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Author: 
Bellairs, John
Rating: 
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

Book Review: The House with a Clock in its Walls

The House with a Clock in its Walls
Author: 
Bellairs, John
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Chihuawolf

Book Review: Chihuawolf
Author: 
Ganny, Charlee
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Author: 
Medina, Meg
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Meet Yasmin!

Meet Yasmin!
Author: 
Faruqi, Saadia
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree
Author: 
Hunt, Lynda
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is a well told story of dealing with a disability and the difference that having positive relationships makes in that ongoing struggle. I loved the short chapters and the peaks into each character's life.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mary

Book Review: The Misadventures of Max Crumbly Middle School Mayhem

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly Middle School Mayhem
Author: 
Russell, Rachel
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

It's about a teenage boy who deals with bullies and he ends up in the ventilation systems of his school on the weekend and he found burglars trying to steal the schools new computers.

Reviewer's Name: 
Delaney

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