Everything, Everything (hardcover)
by Nicola Yoon
AR Level 4.4, 7 points
Young Adult… not for kids!
Madeline lives with the illness that keeps her in a bubble with air-tight doors and windows, filtered air, and no visitors. She is cut off from the outside world, with only her nurse and mother as her companions. Then Olly and his family move in next door, and she’s instantly in love. They start emailing and IMing each other, until one day, they get to meet in person behind her mom’s back. Madeline needs to decide whether it is better to live a lonely, sheltered life, cut off from the world, but in HEALTH, or risk illness or death, but enjoy traveling and being in love. She makes her decision, and there is an unexpected twist.
What I liked about this book was that Madeline was able to fall in love and experience that, so I was also able to experience that as a reader. I also enjoyed the twist, although I won’t spoil it for you. I love stories with something unexpected. That keeps the story in my mind.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I was angry with her mother, and I wanted her mother to face consequences for her actions. I would also have liked for the love story to be a bit more believable. Why did Olly like Madeline so much when he didn’t even know her? She seemed a little boring to me. It was a good story, though, and I look forward to reading The Sun is Also a Star, which won an award.
Book 39 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
The Nest (ebook)
by Kenneth Oppel
AR Level 4.3, 5 points
The Nest intrigued me, because I am a big fan of the illustrator, Jon Klassen. This is about a boy whose baby brother has a heart condition, and his parents are upset about having a sick child. Steve and his little sister spend time outside, when Steve is stung by a wasp. Shortly after, he starts dreaming about what he believes are angels, but it turns out they are wasps who promise to make Steve’s baby brother well. There is also a knife sharpener who comes around and leaves a scythe-like knife for Steve (which comes in handy later). That’s when things get weird.
What I liked about the book was I thought it was going to be about a boy and his sick brother. I thought it was a story about compassion, or a boy who had troubles in his life, but overcame. I did NOT expect it to be about wasps who wanted to create a new baby and remove the sick baby. I fully expected a realistic fiction novel, and this one took a strange turn! It will definitely stick with me for awhile!
What I didn’t like about the book was that it was really odd! I don’t want to spoil the end, but it was kind of stressful for me, having a new baby. I can see this stressing out a kid, too! Steve felt responsible for his baby brother potentially being replaced and eaten by wasps. That kind of bothered me. I don’t want bad things happening to kids, and I don’t like that a kid had that much stress on him.
Book 38 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Paper Hearts (paperback)
by Meg Wiviott
AR Level 4.3, 3 points
Paper Hearts is told from multiple perspectives, but both girls are similar, being Jewish, multi-lingual, and alone in a concentration camp. Both came from good families and lost their families to the Germans. They become friends and help each other through their time in Auschwitz.
What I liked about this book is it is another perspective of the Holocaust. If this is a time period we don’t want to be forgotten (lest we repeat history), books such as Paper Hearts will teach our children the horrors and hopelessness (or hopefulness) of the Holocaust. I also liked that it was written in prose.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it was kind of slow. I also felt like the 2 main characters whose perspectives the story was told from weren’t different enough to sound like individuals. In fact, the girls blended together, and I often didn’t know which girl I was reading about. Most of the time, in fact.
Book 37 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Anya’s Ghost (paperback)
by Vera Brosgol
AR Level 2.3, 1 point
Anya’s Ghost is about a girl named Anya who is uncomfortable with herself. She does not look like everyone else (tall, thin, pretty) and she has an embarrassing Russian mother who doesn’t understand Anya. Anya has been smoking and skipping class, and she falls into a hole where she meets a ghost. The ghost follows her home when Anya accidentally picks up one of the bones, and it seems like the ghost helps Anya, until Anya realizes she has to help herself.
What I liked about this book was the message- to like yourself for who you are. This is a good message for my tweens, and although they may not hear it from a book, I think as many ways we can expose them to that message, the better. My students can all articulate it, but they don’t always FEEL it.
What I didn’t like was that there was some language that could be inappropriate for 11 and 12 year olds, including the word whore. There was also smoking and drinking. I am not taking it out of my library, so I hope parents are okay with taking the bad with the good!
Book 36 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Snow White (hardcover)
by Matt Phelan
no AR quiz yet
In this fractured fairy tale told in a graphic novel format, Snow White takes place during the 1920’s and 30’s. Her father is in the stock market and her step mother is an actress who insists Snow go to boarding school. When her father dies, Snow’s step mother says she has to stay in the guest room, and then sends a man to kill her. Snow escapes and meets a group of 7 boys, who take her to a department store window when her step mother gives her a poison apple. Detective Prince kisses her and she awakens. I really liked this book.
What I liked most was the illustrations. This has to be one of the prettiest books I’ve seen in awhile. The illustrations are beautiful, and I would hang them on my wall if I could frame them. I want to study the drawings so I can find something new each time I look at them. The book truly is a work of art.
What I didn’t like about the book was that it ended. I really enjoyed it!
Book 35 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
We Were Liars (ebook)
by E. Lockhart
AR level 4.4, 7 points
We Were Liars is a book I saw while perusing the young adult books on Goodreads, my new Facebook. Cadence (Cady) comes from a sterotypical wealthy family from the east coast. She summers on her family’s private island near Martha’s Vineyard, doesn’t know the names of the kitchen staff or gardeners, and her mom and aunts fight over their inheritance. She spends each summer with her cousins Mirren and Johnny, as well as Johnny’s friend Gat, whom she is in love with. During summer fifteen, something tragic happens, and she has no memory of it, other than ending up with migraine headaches and the desire to give all of her possessions to others. During summer seventeen, she returns to the island, and starts to remember what really happened.
What I liked about this book is learning the story of what really happened. It was kind of shocking to me when I first learned, which was actually a spoiler, because I googled the reviews and learned about it. Don’t do that. I wish I let myself read it in the book instead of a review. It would’ve been worth the wait, but I also really liked to see how it played out in the book. I would definitely recommend you read it.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it could have used a bit more character development. While Cady described each person using 3 words, I feel like I understood her aunts better, and they weren’t as important to the story as Gat, Mirren, and Johnny. They could’ve used some more explanation.
Book 34 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story (ebook)
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
AR Level 4.8, 5 points
I heard about this book when I was looking for books about September 11th. I realized my students weren’t alive and know very little. I was shocked last year when several of them had no idea what the day meant. While this isn’t a book that teaches about what happened, it does show snapshots of what it was like for different people. It follows 4 students: one Muslim girl, one boy in Brooklyn, one girl in California whose mom was headed to the Twin Towers, and one boy in Pennsylvania where a plane crashed into the ground. This book shows what it was like for a seventh grader on this day.
What I liked about this book was that it recounted this day that I experienced as an adult, but from a child’s perspective. We also learned about their background, the problems they were facing, and how those problems were put on hold. I also appreciated that a Muslim was a character, because we could see how the millions of Islamic Americans were targeted and mistreated. I think this would be a good reminder for students.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I felt there could have been more to it. It is a good snapshot, but it doesn’t really teach about 9/11. It is more about these 4 kids who happen to all experience 9/11 in this book. Perhaps what I was wanting from this book is different from the author’s intention or purpose for writing it.
Book 33 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)