I read this book because it was assigned as a novel study for a 6th grade language arts class for which I am a weekly volunteer tutor. I have to say,I read this book because it was assigned as a novel study for a 6th grade language arts class for which I am a weekly volunteer tutor. I have to say, it really disappointed me. Author Rob Buyea, a former middle school teacher, has created a book full of very superficially developed, stereotypical middle school student characters and one heroic super-teacher who somehow transforms all of his students' lives and mysteriously solves all of the kids' problems -- indeed, solves all of their parents' and extended families' problems -- just by being cool and all-knowing. Isn't that the fantasy of every new teacher? Blech! I can see why this book is popular with teachers, but I'm sad to see such mediocre writing taking up so much precious time in a language arts class in which many of the students have never been exposed to really good writing. Moreover, I think that Because of Mr. Terupt is insulting to middle-schoolers with its flat, one-dimensional child characters: There's the stuck up mean girl, the quiet fat girl, the nerd boy, the class clown, the special needs girl... You get the idea. What makes novels as a genre so much richer and more compelling than television or movies is that a novel gives the opportunity to develop rich, multilayered characters who are made up of a mass of contradictions and complex motivations, just like real people, and that's an opportunity that Buyea missed with this book. I would much rather see sixth grade students reading a novel like Bridge to Terabithia or even the newer Harry Potter series. The bar for authors who write for a juvenile audience needs to be set much, much higher. After all, as an adult, I have read enough great books that one or two bad ones don't put me off reading entirely. For eleven-year-old readers who may have more televisions at home than books, many of whom are struggling readers who need encouragement to keep trying, it is crucial that teachers select really good books that are worth reading rather than books that stroke their own egos. That's the only way to inspire those eager (and not-so-eager) little faces in your classroom, and that's the only way that teachers can hope to truly make a difference in their students' lives. ...more
Cute idea, but the plot drags and the characters are flat and unlovable. We decided we didn't really care whether Princess the Unicorn destroyed Max oCute idea, but the plot drags and the characters are flat and unlovable. We decided we didn't really care whether Princess the Unicorn destroyed Max or not, and went on to better reads....more
**spoiler alert** I agree with other reviewers who loved the series, but hated the ending. I felt there were too many loose ends and the ending seemed**spoiler alert** I agree with other reviewers who loved the series, but hated the ending. I felt there were too many loose ends and the ending seemed just slapped on and ill-conceived. What happened to Dr. Piretti? How do we know the anti-gravity machine won't be rebuilt and that Kate or someone else won't stumble upon it again? Most annoyingly, how were those journal entries from Gideon written in Book One if none of this ever happened, after all? I should also mention that my 10 year old son was upset by the violent deaths of sympathetic characters in books 2 and 3, since this series is intended for that audience. Despite these shortcomings, my son and I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and their relationships with one another, and the vivid detail with which the author brought 18th century England and France to life for us. Vicariously "witnessing" Washington's Christmas Eve crossing of the Delaware River was my favorite part of this third book in the series (although again, my son freaked out when the bad guy assassinated George Washington)....more
I was delighted to stumble across this book as I was reshelving books in our school library yesterday! I read the first two Anastasia Krupnik books maI was delighted to stumble across this book as I was reshelving books in our school library yesterday! I read the first two Anastasia Krupnik books many years ago, and I had no idea that Lois Lowry wrote additional books featuring this heroine. It was like running into an old friend on Facebook after many years and discovering that she's STILL A SEVENTH GRADER all these years later -- and what's more, I got to be a seventh grader again, too, while I read the book in the carpool line.
Nostalgia aside, the world is a bit different in 2014 than it was in 1991, when this book was published. Today, instead of sending a snail-mail letter to her SWM, Anastasia would likely be chatting with him via an online dating service, and anyone who watches Dateline NBC knows how dangerous it can be when 13-year-old girls start looking for romance online. As a parent, I was uncomfortable with the way Anastasia was deliberately deceiving her parents about her "pen pal" -- and VERY uncomfortable with the way it all turned out fine in the end. For that reason, I can't recommend this particular Anastasia novel for young girls, who are the book's intended audience. However, I really love the characters and the way this author writes fiction for young readers. The other Anastasia books are fantastic....more
My son loves this series, and it just keeps getting better and better. This particular book has some great themes about betrayal, forgiveness, and itMy son loves this series, and it just keeps getting better and better. This particular book has some great themes about betrayal, forgiveness, and it never being too late to turn your life around and be a better person. We will be sad to say goodbye to Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III when this series wraps up....more
This book was REALLY good -- the best children's fiction I've read since the Harry Potter series (and I read a LOT of children's fiction). Sanderson hThis book was REALLY good -- the best children's fiction I've read since the Harry Potter series (and I read a LOT of children's fiction). Sanderson has created a very complex, unique world in which magic takes the form of art and geometry against a steam punk, vaguely Edwardian background. The characters were fully fleshed out and believable, the plot twists unpredictable, and the climactic ending took us totally by surprise. My 13-year-old son was fascinated by the various geometric defenses of the fictitious science of Rithmatics, and we're both looking forward to the sequel. Highly recommended read!...more
When I saw that John Grisham had started writing children's fiction, I couldn't resist! My 5th grade son really enjoyed the Encyclopedia Brown seriesWhen I saw that John Grisham had started writing children's fiction, I couldn't resist! My 5th grade son really enjoyed the Encyclopedia Brown series when he was younger, and the Theodore Boone series seemed like it might tap into that kid-friendly crime mystery genre at a higher reading level. Plus, I needed a change from the dragons and trolls who have been populating our bedtime stories for the last few years.
The first thing I noticed as we began reading this book is that the writing is of a much better quality than most of what is published for this age group (older elementary through middle school). The characters are more fully fleshed and interesting rather than flat, recycled stereotypes, and not just the main characters, but ALL of the characters. The descriptions of time and place are much more vivid, and there's a real building of suspense. The only thing that bugged me were a few loose ends in the book that weren't wrapped up at its conclusion, but I suspect that's because it's the first in a series and these threads will be taken up and developed more fully in subsequent novels.
However, this is a children's book, and I'm not a child. How did my son like it? Well, he wasn't as thrilled with it as he was with the fantasy monster stuff he most prefers, but he was okay with it. I do think that it's unfortunate (although entirely understandable, given the real-life issues of the plot) that adults had to play such a large role in resolving the central problem in the book instead of Theo solving it on his own. I know that kids prefer to read books where children save the day themselves, like in the enormously popular Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, or even the Percy Jackson series, Chronicles of Narnia, etc. We'll give Grisham one more shot and read the second book in this series, but if Theo's uncle, parents, and Judge Hardy step in to solve everything at the end again, my son is going to lose interest and we'll be digging out those old Hardy Boys novels instead....more
This one was really dragged out for us, mostly because my son had already read the book and was only half paying attention for most of it, and becauseThis one was really dragged out for us, mostly because my son had already read the book and was only half paying attention for most of it, and because we were both reading other books simultaneously. This made it difficult at times for me to remember who was who and what was going on in The Hobbit -- it would have been better to read straight through the whole book rather than a chapter here and there over a three month period.
I can understand why the book has had such a longstanding appeal, though, and can envision it as a good film (that's why my son was rereading the book with me, insisting that we couldn't see the movie until Mom reads the book or it would "spoil it" for me). By the way, there's a lot of great vocabulary in this book, too, so if I were buying it again I would go for the Kindle version to encourage looking up and learning the unfamiliar words, like "feint" and "gloaming," just to name a few from the final chapters....more
The first 2/3 of the book drags horribly, but once the action picks up the violence and terror are unbelievably horrific and disturbing. We picked thiThe first 2/3 of the book drags horribly, but once the action picks up the violence and terror are unbelievably horrific and disturbing. We picked this one up at the last school book fair, and I must say, I don't think it's appropriate for middle school readers. Plus, it just wasn't well written. If your child aspires to become a depraved sadistic killer, this book will give him or her some great ideas to get started. All the other kids should skip this one and save themselves the nightmares!...more
My son and I really enjoyed this one. Although the sequels to Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society were not as good as the first book (IMMy son and I really enjoyed this one. Although the sequels to Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society were not as good as the first book (IMO), this "prequel" was very well done and can stand on its own -- you don't have to have already read the other books in order to understand what is going on in this one. ...more
King Arthur meets Monty Python meets the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Not as good as any of these on its own, but it was an enjoyable quick readKing Arthur meets Monty Python meets the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Not as good as any of these on its own, but it was an enjoyable quick read with my fourth grader....more