Book reviews: Young Adult and Adult Fiction Books reviewed by NHS Students

Young Adult and Adult Fiction Books reviewed by NHS Students, December 2018.

 

Carter, T.E. I Stop Somewhere.  Feiwel & Friends, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1250124647.  320 p. Gr.10-adult. P7 Q6

This book was really disturbing, but not because it was some warped horror tale, but because it’s all too true: it’s about rape culture in our society and how acceptable it is.   I really had a hard time reading this because I felt like I was the main character, experiencing all the same raw emotions she was.  I wish the book had a more positive ending, but that’s life.  I don’t know that I could recommend this to others, because it really is pretty disturbing.  Genre: Realistic fiction.

 

Popoola, Olumide. When We Speak of Nothing. Cassava Republic Press, 2018. $15.95. ISBN 978-1911115458. 256p. Gr. 11-adult. P5Q8    

This novel is tough to read because the dialog and political settings (London and Nigeria) may be so unfamiliar to most high school kids.  However, the topics: police brutality, prejudice, gender bias, pollution, and sexual questioning are universal and current.  It deals with harsh reality (a murder and subsequent riot) as well as myths and is very interesting.  It actually reminded me of Ellen Hopkins’ works, in how direct the prose is, but it is far broader and more interesting.  Genre: Realistic fiction.

 

Ribay, Randy.  After the Shot Drops. $17.99. ISBN 978-1328702272.  336 p.  Gr. 9-12.  P8Q6

This book is about basketball and friendship.  That sounds pretty basic, but this is one complicated story, with betrayal, hard luck, violence, and love all playing major roles.  It’s told from the alternating perspective of 2 boys, which sounds weird, but it works and the book’s fast pace really keeps the reader interested.  Genre: Realistic fiction (sports.)

 

Hutton, Keely. Soldier Boy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. $10.50. ISBN 9780374305635. 336p.  Gr.9-12. P7Q7

Every other chapter in this book is the true story of a child soldier in Uganda in 1989, Ricky Anywar.  He was kidnapped, then trained, armed, and forced to kill for Kony’s army.  Through interviews, Ricky actually helped the author write the other chapters in this book, which covers the life of a fictional (but typical) boy named Samuel, who faces the same violence that Ricky did.   It’s hard to read at times, since it is so brutal, but it’s an important message that all high school students should hear. Genre: Historical fiction.

Lawson, Richard. All We Can Do Is Wait. Razorbill, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780448494111. 288p. Gr 7-10. P7Q

This book is about grief, disaster, and love and how reality can change so quickly.  There’s enough romance thrown in to make it appealing, even when it’s depressing as heck.  Even though the reading level is pretty young, the plot is really complex and the character development is strong.  The only thing I didn’t like was the ending, it felt rushed and incomplete.  Genre: Realistic fiction.

 

Hurwitz, Gregg. The Rains. Tor Teen, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 978-0765382689. 368p. Gr. 10+. P6Q7

A very violent, intense zombie novel, The Rains is good because the characters are so real.  The whole thing is fast-paced and you feel like you are reading a movie script. Genre: Horror/Paranormal.

 

Choi, Mary H.K.  Emergency Contact. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 978-1534408968. 400p. Gr.9-12. P6Q6

The writing in this book reminds me of a buffet in a really good restaurant, but right before it closes and there’s only a tiny bit of deliciousness left in each bowl.  There’s a few cute phrases, adorable characters, angsty young adults, a rape, eating disorder musings, and cultural dysphoria – but it’s not really “filling” and the book falls a bit short of being anything more than a touchy-feely romance novel.  Not saying it isn’t good, but it could’ve been GREAT.  Maybe there will be a sequel? Genre: Romance.

 

Broadway, Alice. Ink (Skin, book 1.) Scholastic Press, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1338196993. 336p. Gr. 9-12. P7Q7

Starting with an amazing cover, this book (written during NaNoWriMo, which is so cool, as I am writing now, too) kicks off a promising trilogy.  The story is about a young girl who learns her late father’s history is tainted with a serious crime. Since all personal history is revealed via tattoos on their skin, there’s no hiding secrets and she has to deal with the consequences.  It sounds predictable, but there are so many twists to the story that it really makes it interesting.  Can’t wait to read the next installment!  Genre: Dystopian.

 

Rutledge, A.B. Miles Away from You. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1328852335. 272p. Gr.10+. P5Q7

Miles is a pansexual son of lesbian mothers who falls for a transsexual girl, and both of them run an online LGBQT advocacy group.  If that isn’t complicated enough, the girl tries to commit suicide, falls into a coma, and her intolerant religious parents put her on life support. Miles must come to grips with who he is and what he can do to be true to himself.  Not sure many high school kids would understand the situations or complexity of this dark story, but it’s well-written.  Genre: Realistic Fiction/LBGTQ

 

Nijkamp, Marieke (ed.) Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens. Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 9780374306502. 310p. Gr. 9-12. P5Q8

This is a selection of many different genres of stories, ranging from romance to science-fiction, by 12 different authors.  The settings and perspectives of each character in the stories are very different, but the common thread is that all of them are disabled.  I found it to be positive and affirming and I think other teens will, too.

 

Day, Anna. The Fandom. Chicken House, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1338232707. 416p. Gr.11+ P7Q7

I really liked this book; I got pulled into the characters right away.  It is so easy to relate to their joy and their pain, and I found myself crying a lot while I was reading this.  It has a lot of violence, and there’s a scene where they infiltrate a brothel.  Probably for mature readers only!

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Book reviews: Picture Books reviewed by ECEL (Special Needs) Students

Thanks to the Newport High students in the Education for Community Employment and Life group and library staff for these reviews.

December 2018 Picture Book reviews by ECEL (Special Needs) Students:

 

Kheiriyeh, Rashin. Saffron Ice Cream. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018. $17.60. ISBN 978-1338150520. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL popularity: 8.

Rashin had to move from Iran to Brooklyn. She had to leave behind friends and everything she knew, including her favorite ice cream. Her family and friends went on a picnic at the beach on Coney Island. She tried a new ice cream and made a new friend.  There was no curtain on the beach in America, so she could swim with her whole family.  I liked this book; it was interesting and believable.  The book talked about different places and the beach/ocean, and had colorful illustrations.  It made us laugh out loud at times.

Taylor, Sean. I Am Actually a Penguin. Illustrated by Kasia Matyjaszek. Templar, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1536202786. Unpaged. PK-1 ECEL Popularity: 9. 

A little girl liked to dress up. She got a penguin costume and wore it everywhere.  She believed she was a penguin and when her parents made her take the costume off to go to school she found an alligator costume to wear, instead. This was a very fun book that was easy to read.

 

Foster, Travis. Take a Hike, Miles and Spike!  Illustrated by Ethan Long. Chronicle Books, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1452164717. Unpaged. K-3. ECEL popularity: 9.

This book is about 2 friends who are heading somewhere and saying goodbye to all their friends. I really liked this book, it makes fun use of words and has very cute illustrations.

Shories, Pat. Squeak the Mouse Likes his House. Holiday House, 2018 $15.99. ISBN 978-0823439447. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL popularity: 9. 

Squeak the mouse tells us he likes his house and the toys, fresh water, books, and free snacks that are in his house.  The book is very cute, I liked how the book was written from the mouse’s perspective.

 

Murray, Dianna. One Snowy Day. Illustrated by Diana Toledano. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 978-1492645863. Unpaged. PK-1. ECEL Popularity: 8.

Puppy wakes up and goes through his day, including playing outside with all the kids.  The book counts to 10 and back, so it helps really young kids learn how to count. It’s a cute book that rhymes and is fun to read.

Fergus, Maureen. The Reptile Club. Illustrated by Elina Ellis. Kids Can Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1771386555. Unpaged. PK-2. ECEL Popularity: 10.

Rory started a new school and there were lots of clubs to join. None of the clubs interested Rory, so he decided to start one of his own, called the Reptile Club.  None of the kids wanted to join right away, but 3 reptiles (an alligator, anaconda, and a gecko) came to the meeting.  Once the kids saw the reptiles at the meeting, they all wanted to join them.  This book was really funny and really easy to read, the pictures made us all laugh out loud.

 

Boldt, Mike. Attack of the 50-Foot Fluffy.  Margaret K. McElderry, 2018. $17.99. ISBN. 978-1481448871. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL Popularity: 6

This is the story of how different emotions run through us.  Claire’s “bad day” started with not having the “right” breakfast cereal.  Her best friend, Fluffy is a big stuffed rabbit and when Claire is in a bad mood, so is Fluffy.  As the day gets worse, Fluffy starts having a fit, and they both have a hard time getting control of their anger.  Somehow, they do and it all turns out ok.  It’s a little preachy at times, but maybe younger kids will get the message, because it is easy to read and the pictures are great.

Book review: The Search for TK, by Bobbi J.G. Weiss

Weiss, Bobbi J. G. The Search for TK. (Ride series, #3) Candlewick Entertainment, 2018. $7.99. ISBN 9780763698577. 263 pages. Ages 12+. P7 Q6

Kit’s horse, TK has been taken away because he is dangerous. For Kit, who had to overcome obstacles to ride her horse, it is devastating. The main plot revolves around finding a way to get TK back. As Kit is doing research for a project, she realizes some information she knew about her mother (who passed away before book 1) is not true, which leads to some loose ends and a mystery that might be resolved in the next sequel. The first few chapters summarize what has happened in book one and two. Without reading the first two books the reader doesn’t fully grasp the relationships between the various characters. The book does not have a lot of substance; however, it will appeal to youth who like horses. Though the book is the third book in the series, it can stand alone. The book sets up for another sequel.

Verdict: Since the book is made from a Nickelodeon movie, it may be popular with teens. I found the book shallow and not of much substance.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Snowflake Mistake, by Lou Treleaven and Maddie Frost (illustrator)

Treleaven, Lou. The Snowflake Mistake. Illustrator, Maddie Frost. UK version.  Maverick Arts Publishing, 2016. $19.07. ISBN 9781848862180. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

The Snow Queen puts snowflakes through a machine, squish and crunch, to make perfect identical snowflakes. Young Princess Ellie would much rather play. The Snow Queen has business to do so she has Princess Ellie man the machine. The machine is broken! What can Princess Ellie do bring back the snow? With the help of her bird friends, Princess Ellie finds a solution. In the end, Princess Ellie realizes that when things do not go as planned, one can rely on their own creativity to improve the situation.  Whimsical winter scenes with blues purples and green create a cozy, warm feeling.  The text includes onomatopoeia in bold words adding a sense of action to the story. Includes a pattern on how to make snowflakes.

Verdict: It is okay to make mistakes, in fact, sometimes mistakes can make things better. Embracing creativity and support for thinking outside the box. The story leaves you feeling warm and inspired.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: I Like My Car, by Michael Robertson

Robertson, Michael. I Like My Car. Holiday House Publishing, 2018. $15.99. ISBN 9780823439515. Unpaged. Ages 4-6. P6 Q7

Full of colorful, large illustrations, and repetitious text, “I like my __ car.” Each page shows a whimsical animal in an oversized car. There is a large amount of space around the text so it stands out. Readers can look at the color of the car to help them decode the text if needed. Arrows on signs show the directions the cars are traveling. On the last page, all the cars and animal drivers are included. Glossy pages with many different colors makes reading fun. In the I like to read series.  Guided B reading level, which is K-1. End pages have colorful, cartoon type car related illustrations.

Vedict: For children who are learning to read and who like cars, this book is fun. Since the book is repetitious, adult readers may tire of the book quickly. It is meant for children as they are learning to read.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Mad, Mad Bear!, by Kimberly Gee

Gee, Kimberly. Mad, Mad Bear! Beach Lane Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781481449717. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7 Q7

Bear gets mad because he has to leave the park first, then he gets an owie on the way home and has to leave his boots and favorite stick outside. He doesn’t feel it is fair and he gets mad! After he throws a tantrum, he takes a deep breath, has a snack and takes a nap. When Bear wakes up, he feels better. Simple text and large illustrations follow Bear as he goes through the process of getting mad and calming down. Some words are red and large, emphasizing them. Illustrations show Bear’s facial expressions, giving the listener clues to how Bear is feeling. The book is designed to be read to small children.

Verdict: If you have child who gets mad often, this book will provide some simple strategies and show that they can recover from their mad feelings. I recommend this book for small children and public libraries.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Rocks, by Claudia Martin

Martin, Claudia. Rocks (Discover our World series). Quarto Publishing, 2018. $26.65. ISBN 9781682973974. 24 pages. Ages 7-10. P7 Q7

Have you ever wondered how rocks are formed? The reader will learn about rocks, sand, caves, minerals, metals, gems and fossils. Text boxes with facts are set in photographs showing a visual of the facts, engaging the reader and enlightening them further. The reader can move from chapter to chapter based on their interest, the book does not need to be read straight through. This format makes the book easier for children to read. In the Discover our World series, this book includes an index, table of contents and glossary.

Verdict: For children who are interested in rocks, this book provides many facts and photographs that will broaden their knowledge. I recommend this book for elementary school and public libraries. Teachers and homeschool families will find this book valuable.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.