The Thing About Jellyfish


The Thing About Jellyfish (ebook)

by Ali Benjamin

AR Level 5.0, 7 points


The Thing About Jellyfish is a story of heartache, mourning, science, and growth.  Suzy’s best friend drowns before the story begins, and Suzy has flashbacks to their happy times.  She also shows us when they started to drift apart, and finally when they were no longer friends.  Suzy has also decided to stop talking, despite her family’s efforts and support of her.  She has the idea that her friend was actually stung by a deadly jellyfish instead of drowning, and Suzy begins researching jellyfish and decides to travel to Australia to meet the scientist she believes can help her prove her theory.

What I liked about this book is that it includes so much scientific background, and the chapters are based around the scientific method.  Any science enthusiast will appreciate this aspect.  I personally learned a lot about jellyfish.  The author did a lot of research and based the scientists and several events and locations on real people.  It isn’t just a compelling story, but it will also teach its readers a thing or two about science.

What I didn’t like about this book is that it was frustrating that the other girls at Suzy’s school were so mean.  I wanted to stop reading at certain parts, because some of the kids were inhumane (murdering a frog?).  It was also really sad, and I’m sure if someone has lost a friend or family member suddently, it would be even more upsetting.

Book 32 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)


Binge Reading the Wimpy Kid series


I decided since nearly every review would be nearly the same, I’d save us all some time and just write about the last 6 books in one post.  Instead of writing about each book individually, I’ll just write the 5 things I enjoyed most about this series as a whole.

  1. They are FUNNY!  There were several parts of each book where I was actually laughing out loud at Greg’s antics.  I found myself taking pictures of the pages and sending them to my friend to convince her to read the series.  I appreciate any book written for children that can entertain me the way this series did.
  2. The illustrations add to the humor, story, and readability of this book.  Some of the illustrations go along with what is happening in the story, while others provide a little extra humor.  I also like the way Kinney is consistent with his illustrations of characters.
  3. Greg, despite being egocentric (typical middle schooler), is likable (or even lovable).  You want him to come out on top, even though he is clearly the sand in a teacher’s or parent’s bathing suit.  He manipulates people and situations to get his own way, but that makes him believable and relatable as a character.  I remember doing the same things when I was his age.
  4. They are fast reads.  I’d say each book took me no more than 2 hours tops, although I never got to sit down and read one beginning to end.  Some books took several days due to the holidays and my own children.  If my students are looking for a fast read, these are great recommendations, because they are also very engaging.
  5. The AR level is in the fifth grade range.  I’m not HUGE on reading level, because I think students should read for enjoyment, and book level often limits their choices.  However, it is a bonus that there are inferences to be made and higher level vocabulary in these books.  There are also moral dilemmas that students would have to think about in order to relate to the story.

I think it goes without saying that I enjoyed the series, and I do take back my snobbery.  I didn’t think this series had as much to offer, but I am now eating my words!  I recommend it to students, but I also think any adult who can relate to children would also enjoy it.


Cabin Fever Book 26 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

The Third Wheel Book 27 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Hard Luck Book 28 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

The Long Haul Book 29 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Old School Book 30 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Double Down Book 31 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)




BABYMOUSE: Beach Babe (hardcover)

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

AR Level 2, 0.5 points


Beach Babe is my favorite of the 3 Babymouse books I’ve read so far.  Babymouse goes on a trip to the beach with her family once school is out for the summer.  She experiences the beach- she surfs, scuba dives, makes a sand castle, visits the boardwalk, etc.  In most books, her arch enemy is the cat, but in this one, it is herself.  She hurts her little brother’s feelings and she has to make it up to him.

What I liked about this book was that it had a lesson at the end that would be relatable to kids, especially younger kids like the ones this series is geared to.  I also like that it is very structured.  It wouldn’t be difficult to make a storyboard for it.  Finally, I like Babymouse’s interaction with the narrator of the story, which I didn’t notice before.

What I didn’t like about this book was… nothing.  🙂  I enjoyed it for what it is- a great graphic novel for newish readers!

Book 24 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (paperback)

by Jeff Kinney

AR Level 5.2, 3 points


Since this is the fourth book in the series, I won’t bother with “what I liked” and “what I didn’t like” other than it wasn’t my favorite, but I did appreciate the semi-lesson at the end.  Greg realized he and his dad have a decent relationship and they don’t have to agree on everything.  I also like the way he reflected on his mom’s photo album: “the person who takes the pictures is the one who gets to tell the story.”  This is a great example for my young writers during Writers Workshop and their personal narratives, or even the autobiographies I make them write each year.

Book 23 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)



BABYMOUSE: Our Hero! (hardcover)

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

AR Level 2, 0.5 points


I enjoy anything by Jennifer L. Holm, and Babymouse doesn’t disappoint.  It is a lower reading level, and geared towards much younger students.  Our Hero! follows Babymouse on her quest to not die at dodgeball.

What I liked about this book was that my first grader is reading it!  She has just started reading the series, and I read the books along with her so I can ask questions when she’s done with the book.  I want her to love reading, and the Babymouse series is a great way to start.

What I didn’t like about this book was that it can be hard to follow, because Babymouse is a dreamer with a vivid imagination, and she was often daydreaming, which can be tough for a new reader.

Book 22 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (hardcover)

by Jeff Kinney

AR Level 5.4, 3 points


Of the 3 Wimpy Kid books I’ve read, The Last Straw may be my favorite so far.  Greg decides to help others with their New Year’s resolutions since he is already near perfect and sees nothing to work on himself.  I’m sure you can see how that goes.  He also makes a decision about Holly Hills, gets  himself into some more shenanigans involving soccer, his brothers, Rowley, and even military school.  Again, it doesn’t have the problem-solution plot line that most books I read have, but it is entertaining and made me literally laugh out loud several times.  I will say it again- I was wrong about this series.  While it may not have higher level vocabulary nor a complex plot, it is great for looking at voice and point of view, analyzing character (Greg), and author’s style.

What I liked about this book was the way Greg, while not someone I would want to be friends with or have in my class due to his ignorant self-seeking behavior (I say that in the most loving way), is intelligent and creative enough to get himself in and out of pickles, and keeps me laughing.  I’m regretting not reading with post-its (as I lecture my own students to do), because there were certain pages I actually wanted to quote, but now I can’t remember which ones.  I appreciate Greg’s creativity and I think my students could take a lesson from him.

What I didn’t like about this book… it wasn’t my favorite book in the world, but it was my favorite in the series so far, so I have no complaints.  🙂

Book 21 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)