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George Washington's Birthday: A Mostly True Tale

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Illustrated in watercolor pastels, this picture book tells a fictional story about George Washington's seventh birthday. In part what makes this book so delightful is that there are sidebars that tell the reader if that part of the story is a truth or a myth about George Washington. The text is large but the book is clearly geared more towards storytime than as a book that a child just learning to read would work through on their own. There is also an included Afterword that is done in first person where George Washington is setting the record straight in regards to what he actually did or did not do. Still, children who are interested in history or have a birthday nearby will enjoy the book, especially the sidebars. Recommended.
Remarkable

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Jane is the only average girl in a town where everyone is remarkable. She is soon befriended by the Grimlet Twins and the three of the adventure as they try to help others and save the town lake serpent named Lucky. The story clearly has an ulterior motive in telling us that everyone is special, even if they might not recognize that it is so. Jane might be average but her adventures with the troublemaking Grimlet Twins depict a girl who is resourceful, kind, and smart in ways that others aren't. Written with great details that don't overwhelm, children will enjoy discovering who Jane really is just as Jane discovers it herself. Written for middle school aged children, those who are looking for adventure stories or who might be a little distanced from their peers will enjoy this book. Recommended.
Tall Story

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The day short 13 year old Andi makes the basketball team as a point guard is the day she has to move to a new house and a new school. Her brother 16 year old Bernardo, who lives in the Philippines, has been waiting to come to London, England his entire life but he and his aunt and uncle have been keeping a terrible secret from his mother. Bernardo is eight feet tall. At times funny, especially if you have traveled to Asia or are close to families who have immigrated from Asia, this book hits so many idiosyncrasies of immigration and cultural difference right on the head. The story is told in alternating points of view between Andi and Bernardo as their worlds collide in sometimes scary ways. Chapters are short which gives one a sense of accomplishment. The story takes place in London so there are references to a different style of schooling that may leave some American readers a bit confused. Children who are in split families, for whatever reason, will like this book, as will sports fans and children who are physically different from others. Highly Recommended.
World War Z

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The narrator starts out with telling the reader that the story we are about to read is one that is not in the official record books, but is instead, the story of the emotions and mix-ups that occurred in the fight against the zombies. Told in an interview type of style that encompasses the entire war against the zombies, this book paints a picture of horror and hope. Readers familiar with any of Studs Terkel's work will recognize the interview narrative style and how the interviews are stitched together as episodes to create a greater narrative of the war. At times graphic, this book is aimed at older young adults or adults. There are references to primary source documents that are footnoted to give juxtaposition for a story being told in a world that is similar, but not quite like our own. Older young adults who are interested in zombies, war, or the military will be interested in this book. Highly Recommended.
Captain Awesome and the New Kid

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Reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, Captain Awesome and Nacho Cheese Man explore their world and fight evil in the forms of Dr. Spinach (cafeteria worker who doles out vegetables) and Mr. Drools (a large drooling dog). In this book in the series, there is a new kid in town named Sally. Our intrepid heroes aren't too sure about her, but they come around. As a transitional chapter book, this work is a bit complex, but children will like reading about the adventures of Captain Awesome because they can relate to him, especially if said children have wild imaginations. Chapter titles are illustrated as if a kid had drawn them, but there are professional pen and ink cartoon style illustrations throughout the rest of the book. Funny, relateable material, and full of discovery, this book is highly recommended for precocious readers. Highly Recommended.
The Inquisitor's Apprentice

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Sacha is the son of Jewish Russian immigrants and one day while getting pastries with his mother, he sees magic appear over the baker's head. It's not that magic is uncommon, it's just illegal in New York. His ability lands him an apprenticeship in the Inquisitor's Department of the NYPD. Written with a strong sense of voice and place, readers will have a real sense of New York, albeit a slightly alternate version of it, at the turn of the century. Readers will definitely want to consult a dictionary for some Yiddish words, though there is often enough context to figure them out. There are a few illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, done in a pen and ink style. Aimed at Middle School aged children, they will be delighted by the details. Highly Recommended.
Heidi Heckelbeck Casts a Spell

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Heidi Hecklebeck is a young witch and she is being bullied by Melanie at school so Heidi wants to cast a spell to get even. The book captures the fun spirit of the Practical Magic film (before it gets serious) with a wise aunt, fun spell ingredients, and a fearless heroine. The story is clearly geared towards teaching a lesson about responsibility and even though bullying is talked about in the book, it is never actually addressed. Illustrations are done in black and white watercolor. This book is certainly for aimed at children more towards third grade than Kindergarten. Vocabulary is somewhat complex and there is a lot of it. The pictures will help young readers with words and ideas that they might be struggling with. Children, especially girls, who like magic or who are having trouble in school with bullies will probably like this book. Also, there is a glitter on the cover! This book is part of a series, but it can easily standalone. Recommended.
Bumped

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Melody and Harmony are twins separated at birth. Harmony has grown up in a religious enclave and has strict views of sex and pregnancy. Melody has grown up the child of economist parents who foresaw the trend in hiring teen girls to carry babies to term because of an infertility virus sweeping the world. They can't be any further apart but when a mix up occurs and the wrong one gets pregnant, they will have to work together to discover what they really want and why. Told in alternating points of view between each sister, the story revolves between their two very distinct ideologies (one very conservative, the other very liberal). In terms of language use and world building, the book is fairly similar to Scott Westerfeld's Uglies quadrillogy. Overall, the main theme of the book is teen pregnancy and while the book's narrative world view endorses teen pregnancy as a way to continue humanity, there is a lot of discussion as to when and why and where sex and pregnancy are appropriate. This book will spark a lot of discussion and definitely offer plenty of food for thought on this controversial issue. Teens who are struggling with peer pressure to have sex (or not) or get pregnant (or not), as well as teens who are interested in dystopian worlds, will enjoy this book. There is a sequel called Thumped. Highly Recommended.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

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Jacob Portman grew up idolizing his grandfather's stories of the the fantastic where there were girls who flew and invisible boys, but when he is murdered before Jacob's eyes, Jacob can't help but want to solve not only the murder but the question of who his grandfather really was. The inclusion of vintage photographs that were clearly an inspiration for many of the characters in the narrative add a certain element of creepy and charming, somewhat reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project film. Teenagers who enjoy quirky mysteries and/or fantasy works will enjoy this book as will teens who like the bizarre. The content is at times violent but showcases bravery, friendship, and coming of age. Highly Recommended.
Return to Titanic: Overboard

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This particular book is number four in a series so if you haven't been reading from the beginning, the author does no reminding of the story so far. The story resumes apparently right where the previous book left off. Tucker and Maya have been helping to build a Titanic exhibit at a museum and certain items from the collection have allowed them to time travel to the actual Titanic. In terms of historical fiction, the novel gives plenty of details about the sinking of the Titanic and there is a section at the end that is a person profile and an artifact profile. Language and text is appropriate for Middle School aged children. The illustrations are blue toned and done in a pen and ink type of style. Children interested in disasters, life at sea, and/or history will enjoy the series, but they should be read in order. Recommended.
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