Sunday, May 19, 2013
Told entirely in full-color illustrations, this cross between a scrapbook and a graphic novel uses notes, class assignments, shopping lists, bills, instant messages, and many other items to show the highlights of Ginny Davsis' eighth grade year. She begins with a new house and a new list of things to do, including trying out for cheer, saving money, and teaching her grandfather how to use e-mail. But she could never have anticipated the difficulties she had ahead of her, from her stepfather losing his job to her mother having a new baby.
This is a surprisingly touching and fun insight into one girls' middle school life. The colorful, collage-like pictures contain many details, and the plot takes a fair number of twists and turns. The format does make it difficult to become fully invested in Ginny and the other characters, but Holm does an admirable job, and the unique presentation should be appealing to many students. This is a follow-up to Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf, but stands alone fairly well.
MS -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn
Larsen, Andrew and Illustrated by Petricic, Dusan In the Tree House 32 pgs. Kids Can Press, Ltd, 2013. $13.15. Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ; Violence: G.
This is a story about 2 brothers, the tree house they build with their dad, and how even though things are changing, they can still spend time together.
This was kind of an odd story. I felt like all fun of the tree house was over with quickly, then moving right into the depressing part where the older brother has moved away from the friendship with his younger brother. Some of the illustrations are really dated looking, while others are spectacular.
EL –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.
Milway, Alex Operation Robot Storm (The Mythical 9th Division Book #1) 224 pgs. Walker Children’s Paperbacks, 2010. $6.99. Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ; Violence: G.
The Country of Wales has a new glacier! That’s a problem, because there shouldn't be a glacier there, ever. So the Mythical 9th Division is called into action; Albrecht, Saar, Timonen. These 3 special agents are not just good at what they do, but they are Yetis. In this first book of a series they must face Balaclava and his army of Greebo robots. Will they be able to stop the bad guy from freezing the entire world?
This was a super fun book to read! It was really well written, super stuffed with secret agent talk and gadgets, and fast paced. I think students will really enjoy this, picking it up for its appealing cover, and sticking with it for its great characters and action. A series worth following.
Elementary- ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Told in a series of poems, this is the story of Addie, a smart, outspoken, often obnoxious, "plain" girl who is suffering through seventh grade. The only girl in her group of boys, she doesn't hesitate to take on worldwide social issues, such as bullying, arranged marriages, or gay rights, but when it comes to local issues such as friendships, her on-again/off-again boyfriend, and dealing with mean girls, she's at a loss.
The poems are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes just plain thoughtful, but at their heart they all tell the truth about being a misfit middle-school girl trying to make her way in the world. A good one for the library shelves, as many girls should be able to identify with Addie's ups and downs. While some of the messages are a little heavy-handed, it's hard to argue with the ideas that people should learn to be true to themselves and bullying is not okay. Although it is listed as a companion to two of Howe's previous books, The Misfits and Totally Joe, it stands alone quite well.
MS -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by: Caryn
Smith, Jennifer E. This is What Happy Looks Like, 404 pgs. Little, Brown and Company, 2013. $17.99 Content: Language: PG (4 swears; 4 God); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.
Ellie receives an e-mail in error from a boy who lives across the country. All she knows is his e-mail address and his initials: G.L. They spark up an online conversation for three months, were both Ellie and G.L. become great friends. Come summer, Ellie’s hometown becomes invaded by a filming crew because they are filming a movie starring the teen heartthrob Graham Larkin. Little does Ellie know, but G.L. is the famous actor, Graham Larkin and he has convinced the movie producers to shoot the new film in Ellie’s town because he wants to get to know the girl he’s fallen in love with from the e-mails. Ellie is in for a surprise and can both of them learn to care for each other now that they know each other in real life.
This is a sweet teen romance with good characters and great dialogue. I read the whole book in one day because I wanted to know what would happen. This book is PG through and through which makes it great for middle school, but the age of the characters makes it work for a high school too. Fun, light summer read.
MS, HS-ADVISABLE. Reviewer, C. Peterson.
Maas, Sarah J. Throne of Glass, 404 pgs. Bloomsbury, 2012. $17.99 Content: Language: PG-13 (36 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.
Celaena Sardothien is a notorious assassin, a job which landed her in the salt mines as a slave. She is taken from the mines by the Captain of the Guard, Chaol, to the Crown Prince, Dorian. Dorian wants to enter Celaena as his champion into a contest to earn the title of King’s Champion. Celaena has assassin skills and a sharp tongue, and with training from the Captain of the Guard, Dorian hopes that she will win the champion contest. What Celaena finds in the glass castle of the king is dark magic that is opening a portal for evil to come into her land. Between fighting in challenges put on by the king, uncovering who is brutally murdering the champions, and figuring out the magic working in the castle, Celaena also finds herself caring deeply for both Chaol and Dorian.
This is a great read, with exciting actions scenes and a strong main character. The broken world that these characters live in creates a great setting for Celanea’s story. I cannot wait to read more in this series. It’s well written and fast paced. Great read!
MS, HS-ESSENTIAL. Reviewer, C. Peterson.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Tells the story of two princesses from two very different countries. While one country embraces an earthy magic usually embodied by women, the other favors the violent, war-like power generally found in men. When the two princesses come together in one court, the fates of both countries may never be the same. Some people will fall in love. Some will be betrayed. Some will reveal unexpected power. And many will die.
While I was excited to read this book, since it sounded like an enthralling fantasy, it was very difficult to become immersed in it, both because of the frequent telling instead of showing, and because of the very slow pacing. The characters rarely acted -- often standing around instead, thinking about how helpless they were and how there wasn't anything they could do to prevent all the awful things that were happening. The lack of action made this one a bit of a slog, and the princesses' self-pity and hand-wringing in the face of some truly awful events made it hard for me to sympathize with them. There is little resolution at the end, as if it is the first of a series, but no other books have been announced as of yet. Perhaps fans of the author's other books, or those who can never get enough fantasy, may find this one to their taste.
HS -- OPTIONAL Reviewed by: Caryn