Thursday, December 11, 2014

Game Over, Pete Watson

Game Over, Pete Watson
By Joe Schreiber, Illustrated by Andy Rash 
Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2014, Ages 10-13

The book was creative and had a fresh take on video games. The young boy lived his life like a video game. He would play video games over and over, even when he wasn't supposed to be playing. The whole book hilariously includes pictures of video games. The book was interesting to see what life as a video game looks like. The book was fun to read and interesting.
 The author wrote in a fun and fresh way. He made the book relate to the audience. The book was well written and the theme was fun. The author wrote in language that could be easily understood by the readers. The book had a good theme throughout the entire book.

The pictures were fun to look at. The pictures really showed what a video game looks like. The illustrations helped to keep the book interesting. All of the pictures tied together well with the words. The pictures and words were a good combination to make this book fun to read.  

I really enjoyed the book and thought it was interesting. The book was fun and silly, which made me want to read more. I would recommend this book to anyone. Middle school students would probably like this book the most. The book was fun and the theme was a good idea.  

Review by Brooke Bennett

Heaven is Paved with Oreos

 Heaven is Paved with Oreos 
Catherine Gilbert Murdock  
Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2013, Ages 10-15

The young girl in the book had a best friend at school. She went and traveled a lot and wrote about it in her journal. She wrote a lot in her journal and enjoyed writing. She was an eight grader and seemed to be the typical eight grade girl. She enjoyed traveling and writing down what she saw. 

The author wrote in a format like most books, but also wrote in a journal style. She wrote how the girl would write in her journal. The journal writing format was interesting to read since it was different. The book was well written and had fitting language for the readers. The book had a good theme and was fun to read. 

 The illustrations were mostly in the journals. She would write about what she saw, but sometimes there would be pictures. The pictures tied in the story and the reader was able to see what she as talking about. The book was well put together and was interesting to read. The book had good pictures to demonstrate where she traveled.

I thought the book was interesting and it was nice to see pictures of other places in the world. It was interesting to see what the girl saw when she was traveling. I liked the theme of the book and wanted to know more about the places. I would recommend the book to anyone who likes to read. I would mostly recommend this book to middle school girls.

Reviewed by Brooke Bennett  

History's Greatest Disasters: Hurricane Katrina

History's Greatest Disasters:  Hurricane Katrina
Peggy Caravantes
Minneapolis:  ABDO, 2014, Ages 8-13

This book is about the tragic U.S. natural disaster that occurred in 2005 within New Orleans, Louisana, which is known as Hurricane Katrina. The author, Peggy Caravantes, wrote the book to inform the audience of the history of Hurricane Katrina, as well as the efforts taken after the event to rebuild the city of New Orleans. By breaking up the book into five chapters, One: A Storm Is Born, Two: Landfall, Three: Suffering In New Orleans, Four: Facing the Aftermath, and Five: Moving Forward, the audience is shown how the event of Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath progressed from start to finish. To visually show this progression Caravantes uses a lot of charts, and photographs to show how Katrina started as a small scale storm, and eventually became a Category 5 hurricane.

I personally love the writing style Caravantes uses within the book because it is concise, as well as easy to read. The book is very factual so rather than making the book wordy, Caravantes rather just states facts. For example, the first sentence of Chapter Four states, "Eighty percent of New Orleans was underwater after Hurricane Katrina" (29). Making the text very clear and concise allows young adolescents to get the necessary information they need, which is an upside to the book. 

The primary medium being used as visual aids are photographs. Since Hurricane Katrina was a more recent event in our nation's history many photos can be found about the event and therefore many photographs are used within the book. Each photograph is placed appropriately and effectively to get the message across of what each page was trying to convey. The most effective photo that I believe develops the story as a whole is the aerial shot of the seating in the Superdome on page 14. I believe this is a very effective photo because it shows how many people were displaced due to Hurricane Katrina and therefore forced into shelters, such as the Superdome. 

 In my opinion, this book is fantastic! It is full of very detailed and factual information that is relevant to the topic of the book. I would definitely recommend the book to young adolescents interested in Earth Science or a child that is interested in History. I would recommend the book to young adolescents because the book is of shorter length with a basic level of text. Overall, I think History's Greatest Disasters: Hurricane Katrina is a very informative book that places emphasis on a very important event in our nation's history.

Reviewed by J. Gilbride

The Meanest Birthday Girl

The Meanest Birthday Girl
Josh Schneider
Boston: Clarion Books, 2013, Ages 9-11

This story is about a mean girl, Dana, who got everything she ever wanted for her birthday. Dana was very mean to this boy Anthony, so he decided to give her a white elephant for her birthday. This elephant took a lot of hard work to take care of and then this girl, Gertrude, started to be mean to her like she was to Anthony. When it was Gertrude's birthday, Dana decided to give the elephant to her as a present like Anthony did. 

The author used some dialogue with each character throughout the book. The book was separated into 5 chapters and each had its on little story for each chapter. The title for each described what that chapter was going to be about. 

The illustrations were very nice and colorful. Every picture on each page told the story and let you visualize what it actually looked like. The pictures really made the story come to life. The pictures showed great detail with the exact emotions and what the elephant looked like. 

I really enjoyed this book. I liked how the author used an elephant to stop bullying. The elephant represented hard work and the time it took to take care of it. I think the elephant made Dana realize that she needs stop being mean to others because she didn't want to be treated that way either. I would recommend this book to upper elementary lower middle school around 9 to 11 year olds. This would be a great book to show kids that being mean to others is not the right thing. Also, it shows that if someone is being mean to you that you don't do the exact thing back. Being the bigger person is the right way to go. 

Reviewed by Josh Schneider

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest - and Most Surprising - Animals on Earth

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest - and Most Surprising - Animals on Earth
By Steve Jenkins
Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Books For Children, 2013, Ages 6-12

Steven Jenkins brings animals both living and extinct to life in this book of facts. Jenkins starts the book with a general definition of what an animal is, continues through the different animal's lives and deaths, and ends with the beginning of it all. The lucky individual that picks up this book will enjoy reading every page of it.

Jenkins writes this story full of enthusiasm and information. Reading about the different animals in this book, it's clear that Jenkins has a love for science. 

The images throughout this book give any young reader an appropriate and fun visual of what each named animal looks or looked like. With a section full of actual sized animals, any reader can find themselves looking into the face of a Siberian Tiger or comparing their hand to that of a gorilla's. Filled with a variety of diagrams, timelines, and general pictures, anyone reading this book of animals will find it difficult to tire from turning the pages.

Reading this book I found myself glued to the pages. Learning about animals I had never heard of had me searching for more information. The actual sized animals and their features section had me comparing my own eyes and hands to these monstrous beings. I would recommend this book to any child between the ages of 8 and 12. Though a younger reader might enjoy it as well, I think the older children will take away more. The facts listed throughout this book are interesting enough to make any child want to read more.

Reviewed by Kelsey Hadding

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig
By Chris Kurtz, Illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, Ages 10-13

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz is about a adventurous pig named Flora. Flora tells the story from her point of view and while she is not like the other pigs she seeks a voyage out of the pig pen. Flora lives with her mother and siblings and one day gets the adventure she wants when she volunteers herself to be captured by a man wanting a piglet. She sees this as the start of an adventure but it is really a dangerous journey. She envisions herself finally getting to be a sled pig. Flora assumes she will be part of the sled dogs she is traveling with, but as the readers find out she is planned to be made into an entree. Flora meets many other friends, gets in dangerous situations and conquers many tasks along her journey on the ship.

Chris Kurtz writing style in this book was definitely a narrative style. He writes this novel to entertain and tell the story of Flora and her adventures. He writes in 38 fairly short chapters with much dialogue and some description. The characters are well-developed. 

The cover is Flora surrounded by her three friends and some of the other characters. There is white space and snow flakes where there is not illustrations or words. The criss-crossed font for the title and names of the author is a adventurous and will grab children's attention. The illustrations within the novel are in black and white and help to understand what is going on. While some take up half a page, others only take up a quarter of the page. The illustrations are placed randomly throughout the novel, but they enhance the children's understand of the book, as they did for me. 

I thought this novel was throughly entertaining and I enjoyed it. Although not realistic and I was not informed much on the South Pole or the type of pig that Flora was I enjoyed the story that this novel had to tell. I would recommend this book to any teacher trying to read aloud to their students in the classroom for entertainment purposes. The story demonstrates bravery, friendship and many other great qualities. It makes me think twice about eating pig meat. I do not usually enjoy hearing stories from an animal's point of view, but I thought this was a really good novel. 

Reviewed by Olivia Webb 

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality
Elizabeth Eulberg
New York: Scholastic Books, 2013, Ages 14-18

Lexi, a junior in high school, works hard at her job to help support her younger sister, Mackenzie, and single mother, though she is frustrated with their expensive beauty pageant habit. Longing for the visibility enjoyed by the more popular girls at school, Lexi takes some hints from her younger sister's personal beautician and learns some lessons about what beauty means- and doesn't- along the way.

The novel is written in the first person, so readers know what Lexi is thinking. It is also entirely in the present tense, which is fairly unusual and gives a sense of being in the story as it happens. I like the realism of this book as a whole. The tension in Lexi's dysfunctional little family comes out loud and clear, particularly between Lexi and her mother. Lexi's character manages to sound put-upon without coming across as cloying or overly pessimistic, and the compassion she has for her younger sister shines through beautifully. Their love/hate sibling relationship rings true to me, even though I have never been in Lexi's particular situation, and I appreciate the author's ability to forge connections with readers.

There are no illustrations except for the cover. The title is written in dark red lipstick against a white background. The lipstick tube lies at the bottom, and symbolizes the extent to which appearance is emphasized in the book, whether it is in Mackenzie's beauty pageants, her mother's insistence on appearing like she has everything together, or with Lexi herself.

Since the protagonist of the book is halfway through high school, I would recommend this book to upper junior high students and high school students. Those who are interested in beauty pageants (positively or negatively) will probably enjoy this character's "outsider" take on them. One of her friends, Benny, is gay, but to be honest, the character feels token and out of the blue, as though he is only in the book because Ms. Eulberg's editor strongly recommended that a gay character be added in order to emphasize awareness. That said, the author manages to devote too much time to Benny's subplot to the point of taking away from the main storyline, and those who are uncomfortable may shy away from that part of the story. Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was heartfelt and funny and sad, sometimes all at once.

Reviewed by Abigail Kruse

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pink: Pop Singer & Songwriter

Rebecca Rowell
Minneapolis:  ABDO, 2014, Ages 10-16

This story is about a troubled teen named Alecia Moore and how she matured and became the pop star Pink. Pink was not always the pop star that she is known as today, but this book gives her fans some insights into the sort of person Pink really is. This book tells of the defining and life changing moments in Alecia Moore /Pinks career. There are a lot of things that could have changed Pinks career for the good or bad, but since Pink always stayed true to who she was and gave it her all she has always made it out on top and has been successful. 

The writing style is very easy to read and pulls the readers in with nice details. It reads similar to a captivating magazine article.

There were no illustrations in this book but there were many pictures that were excellent quality that helped tell Pink’s story. 

I really enjoyed this book it was very informational and had great pictures. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that has interests in music or likes learning about people. This book is a great read and it could capture the attention of non-readers too with its great graphics, interesting facts, and great writing style. I feel that this book is best for ages 10 and up, it would not be appropriate for anyone younger than the age 9 because it does talk about pinks troubled past. 

Reviewed by Rebecca Rowell

Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival

Eight Dolphins of Katrina:  A True Tale of Survival 
By Janet Wyman Coleman, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, Ages 11-15

This story is about eight dolphins who survived the disasters of Hurricane Katrina. These eight dolphins lived and were raised at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Mississippi. Before the storm hit the trainers moved some of the dolphins to safer locations but the last eight dolphins had no other place to go and had to be left. When Katrina hit it destroyed the Oceanarium and those eight dolphins were washed back into the Gulf. The trainers were worried they would not be able to survive on their own but insisted on searching the Gulf for them. Miraculously, all eight of them turned up and were healthy and unharmed because they stayed together.

This is a nonfiction book and written as an expository. This means that the book was written to share an event that happened and it was not written in first person but has a lot of details. Coleman did not experience this situation first-hand but she interviewed the doctor and trainers and got the information first-hand. Along with gathering a lot of first-hand information, the author does a great job at capturing emotion and keeping the readers interest. It is an easy read but because of the knowledge the reader must have about what Hurricane Katrina was, I think it was meant for a 4th or 5th grade student. 

While the book had a great story line, I think what I liked best was the pictures. The book's cover shows a real picture of two dolphins in the water smiling up at you. This picture is what pulled my attention to the book in the first place before I even read the title. The book starts off as illustrated drawings and they are perfectly portraying what is happening in the story. They are vibrant, detailed, and really grab the reader’s attention. The pictures even do a good job at capturing the emotion that the trainers and readers must be feeling about these missing dolphins. At the end it also includes real pictures of the dolphins, trainers, rescue helicopter and the Oceanarium to give the readers an exact picture.

In my opinion, this book deserves 5 stars. I think that it shares a lot of content about what really did happen during Hurricane Katrina, gives a good story line and provides a lot of detailed pictures. The book for me was easy to read and kept my interest the entire time, which is why I think it would appeal to lower middle level students. The only reason that the book may not appeal to some readers is if they did not know what Hurricane Katrina was, how big of an impact it had, and how incredible it was that the dolphins were actually rescued.

Reviewed by Amanda Monschein