Short & Sweet: I felt the same way my students did on this one. I thought it would be dull, but it was very exciting and touching throughout the w Short & Sweet: I felt the same way my students did on this one. I thought it would be dull, but it was very exciting and touching throughout the whole book. Brendan doesn't understand a lot of things in the world and has a notebook of questions, the top of which is why his mother doesn't ever talk about his grandfather. Especially when he lives so close to their family. Brendan goes out of his way to spend time with his grandfather which leads him into a lot of trouble.
Final Verdict: A great story that really touched me and kept me reading. ...more
Short & Sweet: Tess’s small island off the coast of Maine may have to shut down her small school because they do not have enough students attendi Short & Sweet: Tess’s small island off the coast of Maine may have to shut down her small school because they do not have enough students attending. Her mother is the only teacher who works there, which means if it does shut down, they would have to move so her mother could work on the mainland. So the island decides that a couple of families will take in foster children to get the numbers back up, and Tess’s family is taking in a boy named Aaron, who is 13, red-haired, plays the trumpet and isn’t as easy to get along with as she had hoped. Touch Blue is beautifully written story about welcoming someone new into a family and finding out what family really means. The author’s writing shows Tess’s dilemma between not wanting to move to the mainland and doing what is right for Aaron’s happiness and sense of belonging.
Final Verdict: Cynthia Lord does a fantastic job of spinning a story with real life elements and struggles that really move the reader. ...more
Short & Sweet: Who knew that a mysterious box of vials could send two kids on a dangerous trail to reveal a secret that has been kept too long? CaShort & Sweet: Who knew that a mysterious box of vials could send two kids on a dangerous trail to reveal a secret that has been kept too long? Cass and Max-Ernest find themselves involved with villains and mysteries that will put them in grave danger. The narrator consistently warns the reader about the horrible secrets within, but you cannot help but read on to find out what will happen next. I love the pace of this novel and for a chunky book it reads quickly, the action pulling you forward and the mysterious nature of all that is happening keeps you wondering what the truth is.
Final Verdict: The first in a series, I'm looking forward to discovering more of Cass and Max-Ernest's adventures in the next volumes.
The Short of It: A fantastical new story that takes us into a creepy old house where the paintings are more than they seem. Olive finds herself in theThe Short of It: A fantastical new story that takes us into a creepy old house where the paintings are more than they seem. Olive finds herself in the middle of a mystery that she can't help but try to solve. Why do things move in these paintings, what is everyone so afraid of, and what exactly are those cats guarding? A slightly creepy, and definitely adventurous tale of a girl who isn't afraid to believe in the unbelievable....more
Why I read this: I thought The Familiars looked like a fun, middle grade fantasy and it's also a debut novel.
Plot: A Typical fantasy plot - three humaWhy I read this: I thought The Familiars looked like a fun, middle grade fantasy and it's also a debut novel.
Plot: A Typical fantasy plot - three human wizard apprentices are captured and the familiars must save them. Definitely full of twists, as Aldwyn has to hide his secret of having no magical abilities. Action-packed with time to build relationships, The Familiars is a great middle grade fantasy that many kids and teens will get a kick out of.
Characters: I really loved Aldwyn. He's an alley cat and his story is sort of the old rags-to-riches type scenario. Aldywyn is at the right place at the right time and finds himself becoming a familiar. He no longer need to con a meal daily and finds himself attached to his human counterpart. The other familiars provide a great trio of budding friends: Skyla - a bluejay who is interested in human magic, and Gregory - a tree frog who is mostly concerned with catching flies. Both have their own abilities to bring to the table.
Relatability: I think that anyone can see the rag-to-riches and rescue plot lines and compare it to other age-old stories they have read growing up. Also, the humor used in the novel also helps the reader relate to the characters. Definitely was a great read and one I would highly recommend to my students.
Cover Commentary: Very cute. Definitely looks magical. I especially love the title lettering.