This is a fun, quick read with a diverse cast of characters who come together through a series of schemes to save their middle school from the threat of a rigged student election. Jackson Greene is a classic charismatic con artist with a heart of gold, but readers will also find many other characters to relate to in this book, including Gaby the straight-laced studentbody presidential candidate (and Jackson’s ex-best friend), Hashemi the techie kid with hacks and inventions continually in “beta” (i.e. not actually working), and Megan the head cheerleader who speaks Klingon. The narrative point of view is constantly shifting between all these players in the con, which keeps things fresh and allows for continuing surprises and reveals up to the end. The characters are all very likeable and the capers and plot twists make for a fun ride. I’d recommend this book to any young reader....more
Ellie is just starting 6th grade and is floating and lost now that her best friend has moved on to new interests and people. One night her mom returns home with a strangely familiar teenage boy dressed like an old man who is bossing her mom around. Ellie’s scientist grandfather discovered a way to reverse aging and tested it on himself, then was thrown out of his own lab by security as a teen intruder. Now he must live and go to middle school with Ellie, posing as her long-lost cousin while covertly trying to continue his research to win a Nobel Prize.
This is a humorous and relatable story of a girl trying to figure out her interests and relationships as childhood begins to wane, and finding an unlikely friend in her grandfather. It is also a tempered celebration of science, and a just-barely science fiction novel firmly planted in the contemporary world. The writing style is concise and accessible, and so would be inviting for even some reluctant readers. The strong science connections and the discussable explorations of topics such as youth and age, life and death, and the promises and risks of scientific discovery could also make this an excellent book for the classroom....more
Molly and Kip are two Irish kids newly orphaned and alone in England. Molly manages to secure work as maid at a manor, but when they arrive after a long journey what they find is a dilapidated mansion with a large, leafless tree growing up through the middle of it, inhabited by a sickly, troubled family. They have every reason to be wary of the situation, but with no other options they ignore their instincts and stay, becoming entwined in the spell of this mysterious house.
This is an expertly crafted and wonderfully creepy ghost tale that one could easily trick a reader into thinking was written 100-plus years ago rather than today, because of its 19th century setting and accomplished writing. The atmosphere is reminiscent of The Secret Garden (only much more scary.) Besides a good yarn it’s also a great exploration of family relationships and a study in storytelling that exposes the thin lines between storytelling and lying, truth and fiction, reality and fantasy, and similar themes. Highly recommended....more
“Rising sixth graders” Mo LoBeau and Dale Earnhardt Johnson, III are back in this follow up to the Newbery Honor-winning Three Times Lucky. When Miss“Rising sixth graders” Mo LoBeau and Dale Earnhardt Johnson, III are back in this follow up to the Newbery Honor-winning Three Times Lucky. When Miss Lana (Mo’s adoptive mom) impulsively buys the decrepit Tupelo Inn at an auction, she doesn’t realize the place is haunted. Mo and Dale, now seasoned detectives since they solved a murder and helped find a couple of pets, of course open an investigation to discover the identity of the ghost and reveal the secrets of the abandoned inn, which turn out to be the secrets of the entire town. Mo is as spitfire as ever and still full of clever one liners, and all the other quirky characters are in fine form. It is great to revisit Tupelo Landing, especially with a genuine ghost story. This book was a pleasant surprise, but it seems clear now that we could be getting more mystery tales from Mo in the future, and they will always be welcome.
This was an action-packed page-turner and a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It did’t feel quite as notable to me as the prior books, and I thinkThis was an action-packed page-turner and a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It did’t feel quite as notable to me as the prior books, and I think this is mainly because now that I know this character and how his story tends to go I am anticipating and prefiguring the types of plot twists that had been genuinely surprising to me in the first two books (The False Prince and The Runaway King.) I can’t say any more about it without spoilers, but if you read it like I did your own brain will be spoiling it for you as you read. I’m not sure what could have been done about this issue, because the author has to give you enough hints to make the twists believable and acceptable when they are revealed. Also, it would have been really out of character and a departure into another type of story if there had not been the same kinds of surprise twists and selectively withheld details in this book.
It’s still fun to follow Jaron along, and it’s especially satisfying how the “immature” antics and audacious plans he comes up with to save his friends end up working in his favor. While his obnoxiousness and ego remain intact, his love and loyalty to his friends only increases, and since he now counts the entire kingdom as his friends and his responsibility, it all works out in everyone’s favor.
Okay, I’m tired of being critical and particular about this book. It was a fun conclusion to a great middle grade trilogy. I’m glad I read it and I still think about it from time to time, and it’s been at least a week or two. It makes me want to read more classic fantasy type stories, which I haven’t read much of since I was myself in the middle grade age group. So ignore my earlier comments, it’s a win.