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Book Reviews

Here you can find the latest book reviews by Mr. Pané and others at WES.

 

Book Reviews

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Reviewed by Mr. Pané

Adjusting to middle school is tough enough but when your grandfather is your classmate it gets even tougher. Eleven year old Ellie is trying to deal with the troubles of a new school when she suddenly has to take her grandfather to school with her. Her grandfather, Melvin, is a world famous scientist trying to discover the secret to reversing aging and it looks like he has succeeded. He may look thirteen but he still acts and dresses like a senior citizen, which can cause problems in school. Melvin recruits Ellie and her new friend Raj to help him reproduce his experiment but getting the materials can be tough for a teenager. What happens when a senior citizen attends middle school? Is Ellie able to help her grandfather? Jennifer L. Holm blends science with a great story in a book that you can’t put down.

 Crow by Barbara Wright

Crow by Barbara Wright

Graded 5 & up

Reviewed by Mr. Pané

Life for African-Americans improved dramatically in the 40 years after the end of the Civil War. Throughout the South, ex-slaves helped build a prosperous and educated middle class and nowhere was this more evident than in Wilmington, North Carolina. Wilmington possessed an educated African-American elite that helped run the city. The city elected African-Americans to the city council and hired African-American police officers and fire fighters. All of this was possible before the advent of Jim Crow. Moses is the son of a reporter for the largest African-American daily newspaper in North Carolina. He lives with his father, mother and grandmother. The first two-thirds of this well written novel center on Moses’ daily life. Moses spends his days playing with his friends and going to school. He wants a bicycle but the family cannot afford to buy him one. He and his friends encounter whites but don’t spend much time with them until Moses befriends a white boy, Tommy. Tommy shows Moses tunnels that were used in the Civil War and when Tommy falls and hurts himself it is Moses who saves him. Wright is a wonderful writer and she does a masterful job of portraying life in Wilmington in 1898 but the first two-thirds of the book move slowly. It is only in the final third when white supremacists rear their ugly heads that the pace of the book picks up. The final third of the book was impossible to put down. In the final third Moses lives through the Wilmington Riots of 1898 when white supremacists seized control of city government and forced the leaders of the African-American community to leave town. Crow by Barbara Wright is an impressively written historical fiction novel but it didn’t pull me in until the final third of the book. I would recommend this book if you like historical fiction and are interested in learning more about the lives of African-Americans in the post-Civil War South.

 

Hound Dog True by Linda Urban

Reviewed by Mr. Pané

The author of Crooked Kind of Perfect, Linda Urban, returns with another book that hits all the right notes. Ten-year-old Mattie doesn't have any friends and moving to a new school every year doesn't help. Her mother doesn't understand what Mattie is going through and the only place she can find any solace is in her notebook until they move into her mother's old house with her Uncle Potluck. Here Mattie discovers that she can make friends and that to be brave you first have to be scared. Hound Dog True is a fantastic read and you'll love it. I promise, hound dog true.

 

 

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Reviewed by Mr. Pané

Simply put, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick left me wonderstruck. Selznick uses his trademark combination of words and pictures to tell two stories set fifty years apart. Ben's story is told in words and Rose's is told using pictures. The stories barrel ahead only to end up meeting in the end. The story will move and you won't want to put the book down until you finish. Enjoy another masterpiece from Brian Selznick.
 

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Poems by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse

Reviewed by Mr. Pané

Every once in a while you read a book that makes you go, wow, well this is one of those books. Mirror Mirror is a collection of poems based on well-known fairy tales and folk tales. That doesn't sound so impressive but the way Marilyn Singer handles the poems blows you away. The poems are reverso, which means that the poem can be read down and then it can be read up. Reading the poem down gives you one perspective on the story but reading it from the bottom up gives you a different perspective. It is hard to explain but here is an example from the book that tries to explain what a reverso is:

A cat                   Incomplete:

without                A chair

a chair:               without

Incomplete.         a cat.

Mirror Mirror is a joy to read and to look at. The poems and illustrations complement each other beautifully and you will have fun reading these unique takes on famous stories.                                  

 

 

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Reviewed by Mrs. Nickel

Experiencing the devastation and futility of WWI through the eyes of a farm horse sold into the war makes a powerful story. This is a story about courage, friendship, and hope, a book you will want to finish. A must read before the movie comes out in December!
 

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

Reviewed by Mr. Pané

Eva 9 has spent her whole life underground with Muthr (multi-utility-task-help-robot) until the day her whole word is destroyed by a creature collecting specimens for the Queen's museum. She has been training her whole life to survive on earth but when she emerges into her world she finds it to be nothing like the earth she knows. She is befriended by Rovender, a blue bird-like creature and a giant water-bear. Together, they set off to try and find other humans in this new world. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as Eva 9 and her friends encounter creatures large and small, friendly and dangerous. In this thrilling new fantasy Tony DiTerlizzi creates a stunning new world with words and images for readers to explore.

 


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