The world's friendliest doughnut is back and expanding his skinny-armed reach from picture books to chapter books! In this delightfully absurd, charmi...moreThe world's friendliest doughnut is back and expanding his skinny-armed reach from picture books to chapter books! In this delightfully absurd, charmingly offbeat, fully illustrated mystery -- a "Who-Donut" -- Arnie attempts to figure out why Mr. Bing, an accomplished bowler, is rolling gutter balls during the big bowling championship. Kids seeking a straightforward, linear narrative may find this book challenging, as Arnie is a chatty, easily distracted host and the central plotline is almost secondary to his random asides, but that's part of the book's charm. You never quite know where Arnie is taking you, but his company is so good (and his jokes so adorably bad) that you're happy to sit back and enjoy the ride. Fans of silly jokes and witty wordplay and/or fans of quirky illustrated chapter books like Fashion Kitty, Bad Kitty, and Captain Underpants will devour this one. (SORRY, Arnie!! I meant your book! They'll devour your BOOK! Metaphorically!! *whew*)
Another gem from the uber-talented Raina! As someone who spent countless hours onstage and backstage during both middle school and high school I was t...moreAnother gem from the uber-talented Raina! As someone who spent countless hours onstage and backstage during both middle school and high school I was thrilled to see someone capture the world of teen theater with such aplomb, and happier still to see a book in which someone's simply BEING gay (or coming out) isn't treated like a big, world-changing, earth-shattering deal. Would that all school environments were as accepting as Callie's! If more kids read books like this one, they might be.(less)
This is a clever anthology of short stories in comics form with LOTS of kid appeal! The theme (each story features a mysterious box with magical conte...moreThis is a clever anthology of short stories in comics form with LOTS of kid appeal! The theme (each story features a mysterious box with magical contents) would work great as a creative writing prompt, and reading the assorted riffs here would certainly get the creative juices flowing. A nicely varied collection, it features a range of different art styles and tones. It's probably the best fit for grades 4 -6 but will also appeal to many 7th graders, AND make an ideal choice for reluctant readers throughout elementary and middle school.(less)
This was delightfully entertaining and very well done. Teenagers who haven't yet read Jane Austen will find this to be a fun jumping off point to disc...moreThis was delightfully entertaining and very well done. Teenagers who haven't yet read Jane Austen will find this to be a fun jumping off point to discovering her signature flair for romance and wit. Teenagers (and adults!) familiar with the Austen oeuvre will probably also appreciate that it's largely inspired by actual events and people from Jane's life. The best, most romantic bits of the book made me feel slightly giddy, which to my mind means the book passed the Austen test (the test being "Does the romance in this book make me feel giddy?"). Very well done!(less)
Five stars? Yep. I'm giving this book 5 stars. I've loved the books in this series, and with this one I think they've gotten EVEN better. Maybe it's j...moreFive stars? Yep. I'm giving this book 5 stars. I've loved the books in this series, and with this one I think they've gotten EVEN better. Maybe it's just because I've gotten to attached to the goofy characters? I don't know. But my gut says 5 stars for this one, if for no other reason than reading it made me want to go right back and re-read all the others. AND put them in the hands of every 2nd - 4th grader I see! Plus at one point I snorted loudly on the subway while reading this one and am SURE I was grinning ear to ear through all the pages. It definitely brought out the third grader in me!(less)
I read this book MONTHS ago and after all this time... I still feel conflicted about it. I thought the writing was stunning -- so many perfect turns o...moreI read this book MONTHS ago and after all this time... I still feel conflicted about it. I thought the writing was stunning -- so many perfect turns of phrase -- but ultimately the language was so pretty (for lack of a better word) that it held me at a bit of a distance from the story. I never connected as fully with the characters as I'd hoped to, so emotionally the book didn't just didn't quite hit home with me.
I loved the wit and whimsy of the story and the creative mash-up of various fairy tale conventions that appear here. But in spite of those things I found it pretty easy to put this book down between readings.
I ultimately can't help feeling that this book was pitched more to the adult in me than the kid. There are DEFINITELY young readers who will love this story and find it wholly absorbing. I think , though, that a lot of kids will feel that they aren't really connected to the characters, and some will get bogged down by the sheer volume of text in the book plus the intricacy of its language.
Those who are NOT impaired by these things, though, will witness some truly wonderful, wonderful inventiveness with words, spun by an unmistakably talented writer. For that reason I'm giving this book 4 stars, though I am tempted (for "kid-friendliness" and emotional-connectedness reasons) to give it 3.
Regardless of all this numbers-rating stuff, I would very much like to see what other middle grade tricks Cat Valente has up her sleeve.(less)
First, a few negatives: For the first chapter or so I thought that Megan was too irksome a character for me – in the beginning she is selfish and whin...moreFirst, a few negatives: For the first chapter or so I thought that Megan was too irksome a character for me – in the beginning she is selfish and whiny and melodramatic and… a total brat, frankly. I also found it frustrating that she shows (even by the end) relatively little regard for the agony that she has put her parents and countless other people through, as her story has been all over the news and countless people have been searching for her. I was also very aware, while reading it, that the outcomes of this story are very much idealized – Megan’s change of heart and awakening come a bit more quickly than feels real, and it’s hard to believe 1.) she encounters so few hikers on the AT in the middle of summer, and 2.) those she meets don’t pay particular notice to her and/or notify the authorities.
BUT, I’m pushing all of those negatives aside, because I don’t think most kids will be bothered by them. Both the adult and the kid in me enjoyed watching Megan’s transformation over the course of this story. It was gratifying to watch her attitude change from negative to positive and honestly just fun to hike along with her on her adventure. Each time I’d pick up this book, I found myself wanting to know what was happening to Megan and whether or not she was going to make it all the way to Mt. Greylock before adults intervened. I found myself hoping she’d go the distance, and think it’s likely that kids will do the same. Hopefully some of them will also be inspired to go hiking! (less)
I love this book and think it’s certain to be one of the year’s most talked about titles. While technically a companion to 2008’s Newbery Honor-Winnin...moreI love this book and think it’s certain to be one of the year’s most talked about titles. While technically a companion to 2008’s Newbery Honor-Winning The Wednesday Wars (the two have several characters in common), Okay for Now stands alone beautifully and is in my opinion a better-paced and more kid-friendly read than its predecessor. Doug Swieteck’s voice is unique and authentic. His wry responses to the world around him made me literally laugh out loud in places. I love his relationships with his older brothers and the ways all three characters change over the course of the book. I enjoyed the small-town flavor of the story and the quirky cast of characters who become key players in Doug’s life. Doug’s father is a truly awful man – unapologetically so – and I like the realistic way that his nature comes through in every one of his actions. Doug’s increasing interest in Audubon’s artwork adds a wonderful dimension to the story, and makes it a true ode to the arts. This book is funny, moving, inspiring, and just plain wonderful.
Minor complaints: The ending wraps up much too neatly, which I found disappointing. Likewise, there are a few twists in the plot that feel rather unrealistic. I’m not enthusiastic about the book’s title – it’s too vague, it doesn’t really convey Doug’s voice, and it’s pessimistic in ways that the book is not, which bugs me. HOWEVER, I am willing to overlook any flaws in this book because on balance I think it’s so good that they hardly matter!
As far as using this book in schools... I think this is an ideal fit for middle and high school but fine too for most upper elementary classrooms. Less mature 4th and 5th graders may be bothered by the bullying and abuse Doug suffers from his father and (to a lesser degree) a teacher, but that primarily happens “off screen.” There are emotionally intense scenes as his brother struggles to readjust after he returns from Vietnam, but on the whole these just add depth to the story and shouldn’t turn many (if any) readers away. The romance in the book is squeaky clean apart from a few rather innocent kisses. (less)