Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Hamilton, Sue. Blackbeard. Illustrated by Don Maitz. Abdo: 2007. ISBN: 9781599287584. Ages 10 and up.

This book is informational and teaches about Blackbeard's life and his history. It is factual and is a good book for getting information about Blackbeard. This book is non-fiction and has interesting and unusual facts about Blackbeard. Sue Hamilton makes the book interesting with vivid details and pictures of pirates and Blackbeard. The style of the headings grabs your attention. The words look old and handwritten. The pictures are both photographs and drawings. Many are of Blackbeard and they explain how terrifying Blackbeard was. The book is informational and not for younger children.

Reviewed by E. H., 6th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Science Frontiers Micro Machines: Ultra Small World of Nanotechnology

Jefferis, David. Science Frontiers Micro Machines: Ultra-Small World of Nanotechnology. Crabtree: 2006. ISBN: 0778728595.

In the non-fiction book Science Frontiers Micro-Machines: Ultra-Small World of Nanotechnology tells about present and future nanotechnology. It explains what nanotechnology is, how it it's used, and many types of it. The author uses good examples of how nanotechnology is used. He provides many pictures and captions to help as well. The book is informative, interesting, and good at providing visual information. It's like a science textbook with all the photos, captions, and bold words. This book would be good to inform you on nanotechnology, and it would be good to help you on reports. This book would be better suited for older kids, like junior high. It does have some confusing words but uses photos that help you understand the words and their meanings.

Reviewed by Z.K., 6th grader, Van Buren Middle School

Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue

Celenza, Anna Harwell. Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Illustrated by JoAnn E. Kitchel. Charlesbridge: 2006. ISBN: 9781570915567. Ages 12 and up.

Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is about when Gershwin finds out that he has to write a jazz concerto in a newspaper for his friend Paul. Paul doesn't have any ideas on what the concerto should be about until he discovers all the sounds around him and uses them in his concerto. The crowd loves the concerto when it is played. Anna Harwell Celenza uses exclamation marks and capital letters to express what the characters are saying. She uses strong adjectives so you can imagine it without the pictures. The illustrations are done in watercolor and ink. JoAnn E. Kitchel really focused on the illustrations and details in them. She made the characters and surroundings look real. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves music or is interested in music.

Reviewed by B. H., 6th grader, Van Buren Middle School

Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses

Coren, Stanley. Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? Kids Can Press: 2006. ISBN: 1553376579. Ages 8 and up.

Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? is a non-fiction book about dogs. The author wrote this book to inform the reader about many things to know about dogs. Stanley Coren, the author, made this book interesting by telling a lot of facts that are surprising and also funny, like the largest dog in the world is 343 pounds. Coren uses a lot of adjectives in Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses ? like colors, sizes, feelings, taste, smell, and visual-like words. Stanley Coren didn't draw the pictures in this book, he just used photographs. I thought Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? was a good informational book about dogs. I would recommend this book for ages 8 and up.

Reviewed by A. E., 6th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Extreme Structures: Mega-Constructions of the 21st Century

Jefferis, David. Extreme Structures: Mega-Constructions of the 21st Century. Crabtree: 2006. ISBN: 0778728587. Ages 8- 14.

David Jefferis uses intriguing photographs to illustrate some of the largest structures in the world. He uses captions with every picture to keep the reader interested. The photos keep the readers hooked as they learn about the largest structures known to mankind. It also keeps the readers interested by describing how things operate or how they benefit us in great detail. The pictures can relate greatly to whatever topic David Jefferis is referring to. It actually makes the reader want to find out more on that topic so they keep reading on. I personally liked the book because the author did a great job describing the structures and even gave a hint on what may be coming next. I would recommend this book to anyone between the ages 8 to 14 to read this if they would like to learn about huge structures and how they have been influenced in the modern world.

Reviewed by A. C., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Peary and Henson: The Race to the North Pole

Bedesky, Baron. Peary and Henson: The Race to the North Pole. Crabtree Publishing Company: 2006. ISBN: 0778724263. Ages 9-14.

Peary and Henson: The Race to the North Pole tells the tale of how Robert Peary and Matthew Henson were American explorers who gained fame for their many quests to the North Pole. The book is not humorous, but it neatly presents information making it easier to read. There are a few words that are bolded and explained in the glossary. Pictures and photographs are continuously used to represent information and they help readers understand the difficult concepts, such as where the people in the Arctic lived. I would recommend this book for children ages 9-14 because the information is well presented and understandable.

Reviewed by S.S., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School


Oxlade, Chris. Skyscrapers. Firefly Books: 2006. ISBN 1554071364. Ages 9-15.

This book is about skyscrapers through the years and different skyscrapers today. Chris Oxlade uses a number of pictures and some overlays to keep the reader's attention and to show what he is talking about. He uses a lot of description and a fairly simple vocabulary. He doesn't use very many things to keep your attention except for the pictures and overlays. He uses real and illustrated pictures of the buildings along with overlays. I would recommend this book for people that want to either learn about skyscrapers or people who really like skyscrapers.

Reviewed by D.R., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Clever Ali

Farmer, Nancy. Clever Ali. Illustrated by Gail De Marcken. Orchard Books: 2006. ISBN:0439370140. Ages 8-11.

When Ali, a seven year old boy, is given a responsibility everything goes wrong: his father's life is almost lost, his greedy pigeon tries to cheat his majesty, and Ali's life is put in jeopardy. Farmer keeps the reader on the edge of his seat by having events go horribly wrong. The author makes it easy to understand and it feels like you are right there with the story. The illustrations are very bright and catch your attention, which helps you get into the story. I enjoyed this story a lot, but would have enjoyed it more in my younger years. I would recommend this to elementary students.

Reviewed by A.B., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School


Lee, Milly. Landed. Illustrated by Yangsook Choi. Frances Foster Books: 2006. ISBN: 0374343144. Ages 7-11.

Sun is a twelve year old boy from Southeastern China who is moving to America. Before arriving, he has to study and is held and interrogated on Angel Island. Milly Lee has a lot of valuable information in the book that makes it easier to understand. She is descriptive and serious about everything that is required to go through a move to another country. Yangsook Choi has created beautiful pictures that look like they are made with pastels, colored pencils, and ink. Choi didn't use extremely bright colors, which makes you think of what the events were really like. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys different cultures and to anyone within the ages of 7-11.

Reviewed by K.E., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Thursday, May 10, 2007

James Cook: The Pacific Coast and Beyond

Beales, R. A. James Cook: The Pacific Coast and Beyond. Crabtree: 2006. ISBN: 0-7787-2415-8. Ages 9-13.

Beales created this book to teach children about James Cook who made three voyages throughout the Pacific and charted the Pacific. Beales makes this book more interesting and entertaining by using pictures and photographs to help explain the setting or help kids look and follow the journeys by showing maps. Beales writing style is informative and did not get into much depth as in vivid action words and such. He did have his work very organized and well planned out, though. The pictures really help the reader get a feel for the setting and gives examples to help the reader understand what is being read. I would only recommend this book to someone if they were doing a report or liked history a lot. It was just mainly boring unless you got really interested in it.

Reviewed by M.M., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

Thimmesh, Catherine. Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 On The Moon. Houghton Mifflin: 2006. ISBN: 978-0618-50757-3. Ages 10-14.

Team Moon is the story about all the people who didn't get credit for landing astronauts on the moon. These 400,000 people worked tirelessly behind computers at NASA. Every situation the astronauts encountered, it was the men and women behind the computers guiding them safely out of situations. Thimmesh attracts readers' attention by using actual quotes from the workers and the way she creates suspense by telling how each worker reacted to a certain situation. She also made me want to turn the page when I read "Bam!" as they were trying to land the lunar module. Thimmesh also provided great pictures. She describes each picture in full detail and makes sure it matches what is one the page. Not only did she provide great pictures, she also provides information about where she got the pictures and other information. I would recommend this book to many people, but only ones that are older than me and are doing a report on it. Some of the vocabulary is hard to understand and Thimmesh didn't explain all the quotes. It was like reading a different language at times; I didn't know what it meant. I prefer reading fiction most of the time, but for a non-fiction book it wasn't that bad.

Reviewed by T. F., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Cowries, Coins, Credit: The History of Money

Bailey, Gerry and Felicia Law. Cowries, Coins, Credit: The History of Money. Illustrated by Mike Phillips and Rosie Brooks. Compass Point Books: 2006. ISBN: 0-7565-1676-5. Ages 11 to 15.

The book Cowries, Coins, Credit: The History of Money is a book about money and it's origination. It tells about the first form of money and how other coins and payment evolved. This book doesn't have very many words or phrases that are entertaining. Although the book doesn't have great words that grab your attention, it does have great facts and reference. The illustrations have some cartoons and some actual pictures. The illustrations are brightly colored and go along with the text. Some of the illustrations seem to be painted. I would recommend this book to people writing a paper or just interested in the origin of money.

Reviewed by J. E., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School

The World of Flight

Graham, Ian. The World of Flight. Kingfisher: 2006. ISBN:0-7534-6008-4. Ages 9-12.

The world of flight is a nonfiction book about how planes and helicopters changed through many stages. This book could probably be used to teach people about flight. Illustrations easily grab attention with explanations. There are good descriptions of the planes and detail on how everything is made. The pictures easily grab the reader's attention. The historical photos really allow the reader to see what it was like. The drawings made for the book also helped. The diagrams on pages 54 and 55 are confusing. I recommend this book for ages 9-12.

Reviewed by B. D., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Ferdinand Magellan: Circumnavigating the World

Bailey, Katharine. Ferdinand Magellan: Circumnavigating the World. Crabtree: 2006. ISBN: 0-7787-2416-6. Ages 9-14.

In this nonfiction book, Katharine Bailey explains the life of Ferdinand Magellan and the voyage he takes to try to find a strait through South America in the Spice Islands. Fact after fact is given in the reading along with many pictures and illustrations. Throughout the pages bold words appear and can be defined in the glossary on the last page. Each section is titled to let you keep track of the topic being discussed. Almost every page has illustrations meant to look old-fashioned. Some pages even have extraordinary photographs. All pages have captions for the pictures. I recommend this book for people who enjoy history or need a book for research. It's harder reading, so ages 9 through 14 will best be suited for this book.

Reviewed by E. K., 7th grade, Van Buren Middle School

Epidemics and Plagues

Walker, Richard. Epidemics and Plagues. Kingfisher Publications: 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0-7534-6035-1. Ages 10 and up.

Epidemics and Plagues tells about epidemics, diseases, plagues, and death causing sicknesses that have happened or are happening right now. It goes into detail on these things, such as describing the Black Death and how it affected Europe between 1347-1351. The author uses a very fluent and informative writing style to express to the reader about these medical problems. He includes many illustrations, such as maps, real-life photographs, and paintings to better help the reader understand the subject. I think this book was very informative, without going into too much detail, which is good for the age group in which it is directed toward. It had interesting pictures that helped give a visual of the information. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book.

Reviewed by S.T., 8th grade, Van Buren Middle School