May 1915, John Condon receives a disturbing telegram: He is missing in action and presumed dead. In truth, John knows that this missing solider is ac...more May 1915, John Condon receives a disturbing telegram: He is missing in action and presumed dead. In truth, John knows that this missing solider is actually his younger brother Patrick, who used John’s name and birth date to sneak into the military. Patrick’s story begins with the end of his school career. Just ten years old, Patrick spends his days in menial labor to provide income for his family. Patrick secretly saves his pocket change and finally leaves his hometown at age 12 to join the militia. Thanks to his large stature, he manages to pass for 17 and start training. Patrick maintains an idealized vision of warfare, even when he arrives at the front lines in France. However, his harrowing experiences with snipers and chlorine gas make him appreciate the severity of war. Unfortunately, this revelation comes too late to prevent his untimely death. Blending fact and fiction, Spillebeen creates a grim depiction of European life during the World War I era. Even before Patrick encounters the violence of the battlefield, excerpts from his life are generally depressing. Posing as an older boy also forces Patrick to encounter other mature issues such as alcoholism and sexuality. The early glimpses of Patrick’s troubled family life do allow the reader to see why the military would hold such appeal to him and other young boys. As a translated text, the language occasionally feels awkward and--in addition to the third-person narration--may generate a disconnect between the reader and Patrick’s story. (less)
Friendship and dating hold top priority for many middle school girls. During this age of physical change and emotional turmoil, adolescents could use...moreFriendship and dating hold top priority for many middle school girls. During this age of physical change and emotional turmoil, adolescents could use some friendly guidance. Cliques, Crushes, & True Friends is part of a series for young women entitled Strong, Beautiful Girls. It aims to help girls develop the interpersonal skills to successfully navigate through peer relationships by thinking critically about real-world situations. Included are chapters about different roles one might play in a friendship and a variety of scenarios to consider.
While the majority of the book is written by Harris or “Ashley” as she would like to be known to readers, it also features insights from psychologist Dr. Vicki, founder of the Better Parenting Institute. The end of each chapter contains an analysis from Dr. Vicki, “Get Healthy” tips to learn from the chapter, and a final word from Harris. The book deals with subjects, such as drug use and sexuality, that some parents might not feel comfortable sharing with their young daughters. On the other hand, these are issues that teens will likely face in their peer groups, and the book deals with inoculation techniques such as recognizing when to say no and how to stand up for oneself. Older readers might find the writing style too heavy-handed, but for interested middle school readers this could be a useful book to foster high-order thinking and social introspection.(less)
John Brown may have been a heroic champion for freedom, or he may have been a homicidal lunatic. Hendrix takes the former stance, portraying Brown as...moreJohn Brown may have been a heroic champion for freedom, or he may have been a homicidal lunatic. Hendrix takes the former stance, portraying Brown as a virtuous leader who had to make tough decisions. He introduces Brown as a polite, genteel fellow who goes out of his way to show respect to his black neighbors. In fact, Brown--a white man--is even more passionate about racial equality than many former slaves at the time, including the legendary Frederick Douglass. Inspired by scripture, Brown designs a plan to take the south by storm, freeing slaves along the way to join his renegade army. In the end, Brown's plan goes horribly wrong and the first man killed in his raid is a free black man. Brown is put to death, but never backs down from his cause.
Hendrix's illustrations, pen and ink with acrylic washes, add character to the story. The drawings create a tall-tale ambiance, helping cast Brown as a larger-than-life figure. Hendrix emphasizes biblical passages and memorable quotes from Brown by incorporating them into the pictures. The drawback of this work as an informational book is the contradiction created by Hendrix's continual assertions that Brown "did not believe bloodshed was the answer." This is troubling because the book then relates several incidents which clearly show that violence was indeed Brown's method of choice for bringing about change in the country. This can be a good introduction to a lesser-known historical figure, as long as young readers understand that it may contain some biased interpretations.(less)
Sometimes fact is even stranger than fiction. Many elements from Dahl's stories are scattered through his own childhood: creative candies and sweet sh...moreSometimes fact is even stranger than fiction. Many elements from Dahl's stories are scattered through his own childhood: creative candies and sweet shops, dead mice and practical jokes, and—of course—cruel headmasters. Dahl begins with an overview of his family life. His father died when he was only a boy, leaving his young mother to raise five children on her own with another on the way. Dahl's childhood was split between lonely terms at boarding school and blissful summers near the lake in his mother's native Norway. This book carries the reader through all of Dahl's adventures and misadventures until the time that he joins the Royal Air Force at the outset of World War II. Interested readers can find this story in a later book, Going Solo.
More About Boy contains the full text of the previously published Boy, but it is updated with photos, stories, and letters from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre's archives. The additions do much to add realism to the story and help the reader get an up-close look at Dahl's life. However, the best part of this story is still Dahl's charming wit, which shines through each reflection. Dahl has a few serious moments, such as when he speaks about his admiration for his mother. He also writes about the trial of his faith when he learned that a cruel, callous headmaster from his youth had risen to become the Archbishop of Canterbury. Readers young and old can relate to the experiences of this beloved author.(less)
**spoiler alert** Literary Merit: D+ Entertainment value: ranges from B to C- in different parts Content rating: PG-13 (T.M.I. sex discussions, disturbi...more**spoiler alert** Literary Merit: D+ Entertainment value: ranges from B to C- in different parts Content rating: PG-13 (T.M.I. sex discussions, disturbing/bloody scenes)
This book took me about 6 months to finish because it was so boring and drawn out in parts I couldn't get through it. However, I was interested to finish it because I heard a lot of weird stuff happens and I was curious to find out what it all was. Well... I definitely wasn't disappointed on the weird-o-meter. I predicted the Jacob imprinting on Bella's baby thing, but it was still pretty creepy. Also, I thought it was a pretty lame cop-out to tie up the Jacob story. On the other hand, the post-marriage relationship between Bella and Jacob was also creepy, so I'm not sure which is worse. There were some cool parts, like when Bella just became a vampire and she is describing how she sees the world in a new way. I finally liked Edward and Bella as a couple, and the thing where she lets him read her mind at the end was pretty cute. The whole thing about how vampires spend their nights was too much for me, even coming from a married perspective. Overall, I have very mixed feelings about this book. (less)
Literary Merit: A- Entertainment value: B Content rating: very mild PG-13 (abuse, alcoholism)
When Young Ju's family boards the plane to America she thin...moreLiterary Merit: A- Entertainment value: B Content rating: very mild PG-13 (abuse, alcoholism)
When Young Ju's family boards the plane to America she thinks they are going to heaven, but she soon finds out that isn't quite true. She has to deal with problems in her parents' marriage, unfair treatment between her and her younger brother, and becoming "too American."
The beginning of this book is disorienting because of all the Korean words, but it is still interesting. I liked how the writing grew with the narrator. An interesting perspective on immigration.(less)
Colin just broke up with his nineteenth Katherine (amazingly every gi...moreLiterary Merit: B- Entertainment value: B+/A- Content rating: PG-13 (language, sex)
Colin just broke up with his nineteenth Katherine (amazingly every girl he has ever dated has been named Katherine) and so he and his best friend Hassan decide to take a road trip and find some adventure. They end up in a small southern town, recording oral histories from the locals.
This book was a ton of fun to read. I loved the footnotes and the incorporation of the theorem/formula (Colin tries to create a function that will make a graph to show the course of any relationship). It made me want to be a genius. (less)
I love these books! They are filled with laugh-out-loud moments. They bring back a lot of my own middle school memories in a hilarious way. They are g...moreI love these books! They are filled with laugh-out-loud moments. They bring back a lot of my own middle school memories in a hilarious way. They are great for anyone with a sense of humor, especially young boys (my brothers and my husband are big fans).(less)
Daniel's parents can only afford one trip away from Nazi Germany to safety, and they send him. Rejected at the United States and Canada, Cuba is the l...moreDaniel's parents can only afford one trip away from Nazi Germany to safety, and they send him. Rejected at the United States and Canada, Cuba is the last hope for the passengers of Daniel's ship. "El Gordo," a Cuban official, allows them to enter, but only after charging exorbitant fees. His daughter, Paloma, is secretly doing her best to help the refugees feel at home while her father profits off of them. David, an adult who fled from Russia several years ago, offers his wisdom as the two young people, Daniel and Paloma, slowly begin to form a friendship. The three of them unite to help a Christian man stay with his Jewish wife in the midst of religious intolerance. Daniel doesn't want to forget his heritage, but gradually he becomes more open to the Cuban way of life, and takes another young refugee under his wing.
This novel is written in verse, alternating between the voices of the main characters to tell the full story. The poetic style makes for a quick, yet meaningful, read. There are two blended themes, one of preserving identity, and the other of putting selfishness aside to serve others. At first, they can seem to be oppositional; but, as Daniel learns throughout his experiences, they can become one in the same. Throughout the work, Engle emphasizes the importance and symbolism of names. For instance, Paloma is the Spanish word for dove, which represents peace. When Daniel chooses a new refugee to help, he finds a boy who carries his same name. All of these elements combine to create a pleasant, informative, and uplifting historical tale.(less)