Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book reviews

Life As We Knew It
By Susan Pfeffer, 2007, 337 pgs.
Reviewed by Adriana Alonso, Grade 8

Life As We Knew It, is narrated by Miranda, a 16-year-old sophomore in high school, through her diary entries. Miranda is obsessed with Brandon Ehrlich, a hometown ice skater training for the Olympics, and is also having a hard time adjusting to her father marrying Liza, her father’s second wife, so suddenly. It didn’t help that Miranda was pronounced the godmother of Liza and her father’s baby not long after finding out about the pregnancy.

Miranda and her family were genuinely excited about witnessing the spectacular show of a meteor heading on a collision course with the moon. The only downside of this event was all the boring extra homework assignments and essays about the moon, which were all due the same day, Friday. Everything was going great, until the meteor hit the moon, and everyone went into a panic. The impact from the meteor knocked the moon out of orbit, and sent it closer to Earth. Immediately, Miranda’s mother rushed the family and Mrs. Nesbitt, an old neighbor and close friend, to the store with loads of cash to stuff the car with essentials. The moon’s gravitational pull created so much mayhem, it started with the floods, tsunamis, and erupting volcanoes, and it just got worse and worse from there. Each day posed a new threat, and Peter, a family friend, was always up to date. Soon it was no longer safe to step out from shelter, gangs roamed the streets and a dangerous flu savagely took over town. Miranda's life was turned upside down all because of the moon. Would Miranda ever have her old life again; the one that was stolen from her? Would Miranda ever see her father and Liza again? Would Liza have her baby? Would they survive the winter? Or would all the things Mother had been saying just false hope?

This book, Life As We Knew it, had so many plot twists, and it really played with my emotions. Overall, my favorite part of the book was “boring parts” in life for Miranda, because she would put so much thought into what she was writing, and just when you wanted to put the book down, something completely unexpected would happen, and it would suck you in and you wouldn’t be able to put it down. Miranda went through so much change it makes you proud. If you enjoy survival books I would highly recommend this book.

Odette’s Secrets

By Maryann Macdonald, 2013, 240 pgs.

Reviewed by Adriana Alonso, Grade 8

It’s WW2, Nazis have taken over Paris, arresting all Jews, and your father is a

prisoner of war and the dangerous trip to a hotel to meet him from the day before, could be the last time you’ll ever see him. Imagine, you're a child whose beaten by the other children at school and is treated horribly just because you’re Jewish. And with every day brings new threats. This basically is Odette’s life in the beginning of the book Odette’s Secrets. When Odette finds out her mother is part of the Resistance (a Jewish organization where they sabotage Nazi plans), Odette is speechless, after all it was a lot to take in and she was only a 6-year-old little girl at the time, living with her mother and father. Shortly after Odette’s mother’s announcement, some gestapo come banging on the door. Luckily, Odette and her mother were able to quickly slip into a closet while their landlord and close friend, Madame Marie, distracted and directed the gestapo away from them. While in the closet, Odette’s mother decides it’s best to send Odette to hide in the Catholic French countryside where she must keep many secrets to survive, forced to hide in plain sight, without family by her side. She eventually is reunited with her mother and goes to live in a peasant village where they learn how to live. But rumors spread like wildfire that Odette and her mother killed their new landlord’s son because they were Jewish. Suddenly, everyone turns on Odette and her mother. Odette is attacked, beaten, and drowned, but amazingly escapes, and goes running home to Mother. Where will Odette and her mother go now? Will she ever get home? Will she be reunited with her father? Or will her secrets be uncovered by the Nazis?

I. loved. this. book. It was based on a true story and was beautifully written. It was almost written as if it were a poem, making it eye-catching and fun to read. Some may have not like the way it was written, but I don’t think it would have been as fun and consuming if the book was written just like any other book.The author really reels you into little Odette’s head, it was almost like you were actually her, experiencing everything thing she was going through. This book is a tear-jerker, and if you’ve read it I’m sure you can agree. The moral of the story is to never give up, and when you fall down get back up and keep going. Odette is not like most girls; she was brave the whole book, beginning to end, and that’s what I love most about this book.

Full Cicada Moon
by Marilyan HIlton, 2015, 400pgs.
Reviewed by Yana Gaskell, Grade 8

This book is written in free verse. It's based in 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. This girl is half-black, half-Japanese her name is Mimi. She wants to be an astronaut so bad, everyone laughs at her because she is a girl. Mimi faces a lot of racism and sexism. She has hard time fitting in, but  always does what she thinks is right. She fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Eco (which is mandatory for girls).

My favorite part was when she stood up for what she thought was right, which was when she wanted to go to shop which is for boys only. This reminds me of a friend of mine who never backs down, and always does the right thing.

I think anyone who likes a free verse book and historical fiction would really like this book. Also if you like a strong female character then this is your book.
Overall this is one of the best books I have read this year, I would highly recommend this book.  

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book Review: June 2015

by Gordon Korman, Balzer & Bray, 2012, 280 pgs.
reviewed by carlsonpa, Grade 8

Donovan Curtis is a trouble making 6th grade boy who made a big mistake. On one fateful day Donnie rolls a bowling ball straight into Hardcastle Middle School’s globe statue, causing the globe to crash into the glass doors leading into the gym. The principal does not know who broke the doors, and knocked off the globe though.  No less than a day after the incident, he gets a letter saying that he’s been accepted into the school of the gifted. Donovan is confused, and his parents are overjoyed.  Donovan soon finds out that this new school is difficult, he tries his best, and barely gets a C. Things start to look down for Donovan, but then Donovan begins to start communicating with his genius classmates, in robotics in homeroom.

Donovan happens to learn that he is quite superb with the robot Tin Man’s joystick. Noah Youkilis one of Donovan’s classmates, discovers Youtube after Donovan introduces it to him. Noah slowly becomes addicted to Youtube and is constantly trying to decipher every little thing that can be of Youtube. Then a school dance has to be held at the school of the gifted, and everything changes. The school principal of Hardcastle Middle School  will be at the dance, still unknowing that Donovan did the damage to the school. Then Tin Man is brought out to the dance floor, everyone tries to protect Tin Man. Noah even does a WWE wrestling jump into the crowd to protect Tin Man, but  Tin Man is becomes severely damaged. Will the principle find Donovan in the mess of belligerent fighting? Will everyone find out why Donovan is really in the school of the gifted? I find this book to be an exciting adventure of Donovan's sixth grade including a baby, some puppies, Health class, and his loving classmates at the school of the gifted.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Two new book reviews:

Laurie Halse Anderson, Atheneum, 2010, 280 pgs.
Sam Mattson

Curzon Smith was a former slave in colonial America. In Forge, he starts out explaining what he’s doing and why. In Forge, Curzon is frequently fighting for his freedom against his past owners. Through most of the book, he also deals with being a soldier in and after fighting in the second battle of Saratoga. After joining the Army, Curzon is faced with racist comrades despite the fact that he fought alongside them. On top of all these things Curzon must overcome, he has the thought of Isabel, who he hasn’t seen since before Forge picks up on the storyline. Despite twisting his ear whenever he thinks about Isabel, Curzon can’t get her out of his thoughts completely. With all these problems he must face, Curzon does make some friends to help him along the way, but will it be enough to prevent his past from catching up to him and causing a catastrophe?

This was a really good book. I liked how it was easy to follow and very easy to get into. At one point I slammed the book shut and almost threw it across the room because I was so angry with one of the characters. You can tell that you’re reading a good book when you go to sleep angry at a character from the book you’re reading. If I had to choose something that made it a good book, I would choose either the details of the important events in the book, the events themselves, or how the events affected Curzon. Forge not only made me angry, it made me almost laugh out loud at some parts of the book. Overall, Forge is a great historical fiction book.

Harris and Me
Gary Paulsen, Harcourt, 2007, 157 pgs.
Sam Mattson

In the summer of 1950, a boy with alcoholic parents is sent to spend the summer with some distant relatives. He didn’t know they existed until he arrived at their home, so he was shy and nervous. One member of the family, a boy named Harris, is nine years old and has a habit of getting in trouble. In Harris and Me, Harris shows his family’s new guest what to do around the farm, such as the chores, what animals to avoid, and how to pass the time(which is when things get interesting and memorable). During the summer, Harris and his second cousin grow ever closer, along with the rest of the family. Harris and his second cousin also get into trouble waging war against a homicidal rooster, a semi-domesticated lynx, and sometimes each other. At the rate things are happening on the farm, will the summer ever end?

Harris and Me is, in my opinion, a great book for just about everyone. I love how Gary Paulsen described the details without making things in the book slow down to a boring crawl. He made it interesting from start to finish. One thing I wish was in the book that isn’t there, is it never mentions the main character’s name. Many parts of the book are funny and made me laugh out loud, and others gave me great ideas, so I think it’s a pretty good book overall. Harris and Me also reminded me how my brother and I get into trouble very often, like the two boys in the book.