Voices from Worland, WY

See list of student reviewers


Reviews are sorted alphabetically by author’s last name.

Anthony, Joelle. 2010. Restoring harmony. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Putnam Juvenile). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 320pp. $17.99. ISBN 9780399252815.

I read the story, Restoring harmony by Joelle Anthony. I enjoyed this book, but there were a few spots where I was not that thrilled with the story. My favorite part was when Molly, the main character, meets Jane, an old lady that becomes a friend of hers. When she is getting on a train to take her to Portland, Jane is too old and cannot walk as fast and Molly doesn’t want to leave her behind. So, she gives the only money that she has to her name and gives it to an old man that she doesn’t even know for a wheelchair that turns out to not even be his. She runs all the way back to where Jane is and then runs them both back to the train. Molly almost misses the train herself. Then Jane tries to help by gathering money from some of the other passengers and gives it to Molly. However, Molly doesn’t want to take somebody’s money for doing nothing, so she takes out Jewels, her fiddle and prized possession, and plays them song after song until she can tell that they are getting bored. The part that I didn’t like was learning that Brandy and Michael’s uncle is a drunk. It gave a twist to the story, but it’s sad to know that he would leave a 6 year old in charge of her little brother for hours and hours. I know that that is what goes on in the world a lot of the time, but I thought that books were supposed to take readers away from the real world and put them into another one. I still really enjoyed the book and thought that it was a fun read. It only took me about two days to finish, so that means that it is a pretty good book. I will be looking for more books by this author, because she’s a very talented writer. (HJ) 

Ayarbe, Heidi. 2010. Compromised. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 464pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061728495.

I read the book Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe. I’m just going to get straight to the point. This is honestly one of the best books I have ever laid my eyes on. It is so full of suspense and always keeps readers on their toes. When Maya goes into foster care for her father’s horrible actions, she meets a girl names Nicole. When Maya is done being bullied by all of the other kids in the home, she sets out to find her long lost aunt (her mother’s sister). To her surprise she is being followed by Nicole. She is weirded out by this because she always thought that Nicole didn’t like her. So after the initial “what are you doing?” they become friends. Along the way, they meet a young boy named Klondike, or Klon, in an alley that they are sleeping in for the night. He says that he wants to go along with them. Maya isn’t so sure about it, but Nicole says that she can’t leave him all alone by himself. So he goes with them, but he is so sick that by the time they are almost there, he dies. Nicole also tries to kill herself for about the fourth time in her life, but she doesn’t succeed. Maya feels that this is her fault and offers to let Nicole come and stay with her and her aunt, but Nicole won’t. In the end, Maya is happy. Nicole is happy. And Klondike has to be happy because he is not suffering anymore. I highly suggest this book and others by this same author. (HJ)

Bancks, Tristan. 2011. Mac Slater hunts the cool. Simon and Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 224pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-1416985754.

“New, different, and modern!” This is only one of the good reviews this book receives. The book, Mac Slater hunts the cool by Tristan Bancks is full of exciting twists and turns. The plot isn’t very predictable and the ideas in this book are amazing. This book also shows the distinct line between the ‘popular’ crowd of people and those with no friends. It shows bullying in a new perspective and how the underdogs of the story overcome it and rise to the top. However, this book is set for ages 8-12, which makes for an easy read. If I were to rate this book, I would definitely give it a 4.7 out of 5. (CE) 

Byng, Georgia. 2010. Molly Moon & the morphing mystery. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 416pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061661600.

One of the best parts of the book, Molly Moon and the morphing mystery, was when Molly and Micky finally start to realize that Mrs. Hunroe and Miss Oakkton are lying about who they are and what they’re trying to do. It starts when these four, Molly, Micky, Miss O, and Mrs. H, are all rats in the sewer. In the beginning, when Micky asks Mrs. H when she learned to morph, she said just then, when they had turned into the rats. A few minutes later though, following a lie from Micky, Mrs. H slips up and accidentally says that both her and Miss O saw them reading the morphing book as cats, so Micky and Molly find out that they did know how to morph. This lets the kids know that they’re liars and eventually leads them to find out that they were lying the entire time. At the end, the kids find out that the only reason Mrs. Hunroe wanted to find the book was so she could learn how to morph into a human and become someone like the President of the United States and take over to make everyone her slaves. Luckily they find out in time and are able to save the world! This is an ongoing featured part of the book. The reason I thought this was the best was because the twins were sneaky in finding out Mrs. H’s lies and getting her stopped in time, and the author did a good job portraying their adventures. (JM) 

Carter, Scott William. 2010. The last great getaway of the water balloon boys. Simon and Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 202pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1416971566.

I enjoyed The last great getaway of the water balloon boys by Scott William Carter. The plot was full of twists and turns that always kept the reader guessing. This book was hard to put down. The one major con to this book was that it didn’t flow very well. The author would spend whole chapters on things that turned out not to matter. It was very realistic and the author managed to resolve it without one of those phony happy endings where everything just magically falls into place. Overall, this is an easy book to read and I recommend it. 

Connor, Leslie. 2010. Crunch. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061692291.

The story of this book is very interesting. It’s kind of an apocalyptic setting, with the fuel for cars running out and everyone having to learn to walk or bike everywhere. The plot took a little while to develop, but after it started, it went fast. The main characters were five kids who were separated from their parents because of the “crunch.” They had to live on their own and keep their father’s small businesses going. Along with the main story, there were a lot of little things in there too. It was fun reading about their adventures. (KA) 

Davis, Heather. 2010. The clearing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Graphia). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 228pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0547263670.

The novel The clearing by Heather Davis was a charming love story as well as a brief history on the 1940s. While readers were able to see deep into some modern teen problems the main character, Amy, faces, they were also able to see into some of the things Henry faces, which gave a view on how much has changed since the 1940s. The plot moved rather quickly, but it was very plentiful in content which built much anticipation. The aspects and characters in this story were relatable to the reader, while they were unique enough that it was an interestingly different story. 

Dixon, Peter. 2010. Hunting the dragon. Disney Book Group (Disney-Hyperion). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 240pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-4738-1.

Adventure lingers on every page of the novel Hunting the Dragon by Peter Dixon. It is an inspiring book that demonstrates the bravery and dedication of a group trying to save dolphins from being illegally caught and slaughtered. The main character, Billy, has just lost his job when he finds himself caught in an appalling situation. Billy takes a stand when no one else will and shows great dedication to what he believes in. The book is truly motivating and provides a great source of entertainment to anyone who is looking for angst and adventure. (RH) 

Ehrenhaft, Daniel. 2010. Friend is not a verb. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected] , (212-207-7000). 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-113106-6.

Have you ever just been confused about a lot of things, like if you’re in love with your best friend, or if you are still in love with your ex? Well, in this book I think it does a nice job of displaying all of these things, and more, that a normal teenager would go through. I think this book started out really good by filling readers in on everything that’s happening, but also, it makes them want to keep reading to see what’s happened to Sarah, and if Emma and Hen are ever going to make a connection and be together. I was really pleased to see that later on in the book, Hen and Emma actually do end up kissing, though I didn’t think it was any surprise that she gets really freaked out about it. The drama with their band was interesting to keep up with, but I felt like it was dragged on, though maybe that’s because I just liked what was going on with Hen’s love life so much. The book was a very good one, I think, and it is a very fun read for teenagers that don’t always like correct writing as much as they like feeling like the author is actually talking to them. I also think that the dialogue was very relatable to how a teenager would portray their life, instead of it being written by an author, I felt like I was reading their diary. I really enjoyed this book and I think it was something I would read again. 

Fahy, Thomas. 2009. Sleepless. Simon and Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 224pp. $15.99. ISBN 9781416959014.

I read the book Sleepless by author Thomas Fahy. This story was a pleasant surprise. While reading this book, I was greatly intrigued; rarely did I set the book down. One aspect of the book I was drawn to was the ability to relate with the characters. I could relate to a lot of the things the characters were implying. Although I have never experienced brushes with death, the words that the characters were using were quite relatable. This book deserves five stars for the ability to relate and the great writing of author Tomas Fahy. (SR) 

George, Jean Craighead. 2010. The buffalo are back. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dutton Children’s). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780525422150.

The buffalo are back by Jean Craighead George was a decent book. It’s nonfiction, so that doesn’t exactly make teens get excited, and it’s a picture book. For all the things it has going against it, it should have put me to sleep, but it didn’t. It’s detailed enough for the reader to actually learn something, but it’s not so detailed that it’s confusing. The author is very orderly with all the information that she uses. The book is easy to follow. I also like illustrations. All things considered, this was a good book. 

Hand, Elizabeth. 2010. Illyria. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking Children’s). ??. 144pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0670012121.

Illyria had a very interesting and gripping story. I enjoyed the old fashioned and mysterious type of writing it holds. The only real problem that I have with this book is the strong incest. It was a very good story, but as I read, I was very irritated with that. If there was a series of this book, or more to carry out the story, I would read it. The incest does greatly bother me, but the actual story is very mysterious. Even though Illyria is an easy book to read, Elizabeth Hand gave the book much more meaning than it appears. 

Howe, Peter. 2010. Waggit forever. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected]rpercollins.com, (212-207-7000). 272pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061765179.

Waggit forever kept me somewhat entertained, but it felt rather meandering and pointless. It had a few good moments of humor. It was probably a 2.5 out of 5 star book. It was alright. It didn’t seem to have a very solid plot, and I couldn’t make out much of a climax. It also is not exactly a high school book. I would say it’s a reading level from about 3rd grade up to 6th or 7th grade. The characters in Waggit forever were rather flat, and all had very basic personalities, without other “sides” to them, or hidden depths, or other parts of their personality, but just one plain, clear personality. There also was little conflict in the book. There was some on the journey and at the beginning, but there wasn’t much excitement or discord and especially very little inner conflict. I also felt like several parts were very silly, and didn’t feel realistic, compared to most of the rest of the very practical book. It was quite a predictable book, with foreshadowing so painfully obvious that I would hardly even call it foreshadowing. I also felt like it told the reader too much about what was going on, explaining things that might not make perfect sense to us, or even the characters. In my opinion, the beauty is jumping into the adventure, maybe not understanding things that the characters say, because they may have information, or being just as confused as the characters. However, it explained every silly little detail. I also felt like it was too dragged out, and Waggit Forever could have been condensed into a shorter and more enjoyable, fluff novel, in which I wouldn’t have gotten as bored, and it wouldn’t have felt as tedious to read. I also caught at least two typos. Another thing was that I felt like the pictures below the chapters, and the chapter names gave away too much in the events to proceed. One other thing was that it felt like the author’s research was not thorough enough. I liked Waggit forever alright, but it’s definitely for a younger audience and needed a bit more editing than it got. 

Ingold, Jeanette. 2010. Paper daughter. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 224pp. $17.00. ISBN 9780152055073.

I read the story Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold. I found myself bored with the book, especially at the beginning. It seemed as if I had read something similar before. Original is best and I didn’t feel like I got that aspect of the book. I wish that there was more suspense presented. I don’t really feel as though there was any action at all. The best part was at the end where I could really piece things together and enjoy the book. To me this book wasn’t a favorite. (SR) 

Jinks, Catherine. 2010. Living hell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 272pp. $17.00. ISBN 9780152061937.

Living Hell by Catherine Jinks was a very good book. Cheney has spent every one of his 17 years on a spaceship. One day, he knows, Plexus will land on a planet. His life is birthday parties, dinner with his parents and work rotations until the fateful day where they hit a mysterious wave in space. It’s a subatomic radiation wave, or the universal life force. Suddenly the ship comes alive. What used to be floating laundry units, transport shuttles and scientific equipment wants to kill the humans. Altogether, this is a very good book. 

Jones, Diana Wynne. 2010. Enchanted glass. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061866845.

Enchanted Glass was a pretty good book. I liked the way, at first, readers feel like it was all a normal world, but then they’d get little snippets of magic, and soon, the whole world inside the book was magic. It slowly revealed each thing and had some nice foreshadowing. It had an exciting but not over-the-top climax. Overall, this book was probably a good 3.5 stars out of 5, meaning I appreciated it. I liked some of the unique names of the characters mixing with the ordinary ones, and how as it lead readers on, they saw how everything was intertwined and how all the characters had links to one another. It wasn’t an adventurous in-your-face book, in which the reader simply couldn’t stop reading, such as Percy Jackson or The hunger games, where the action barely stopped, but it had a nice story with characters readers could relate with. The audience discovered things along with some of the characters, and they also had to figure out certain things the characters already knew. I also liked some of the ideas of how magic worked with science, rather than breaking some of the laws of it. Enchanted Glass was an intriguing book that was quite enjoyable and well-written. The references to other stories and tales were quite fun and entertaining. Overall, it’s not the best fantasy novel, nor the most difficult, but it was an enjoyable read. Although it’s not a high reading level, I feel that this is a suitable book and story that more than a small range of age levels can enjoy. 

Kuipers, Alice. 2010. Lost for words. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 224pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061429224.

Lost for words by Alice Kuipers is a good book. The main character’s name is Sophie. Sophie’s sister died when she and Sophie go on an outing in town. The book doesn’t tell what happened to Emily, Sophie’s sister, until the middle of the book. It talks about her sister all the time so the curiosity of it keeps people reading. This book has teenage romance in it. This book isn’t as predictable as most books are, which is why I liked this book so much. (TW) 

Lasky, Kathryn. 2010. Wolves of the beyond: Lone wolf. Scholastic, Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 240pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0545093118.

If one is looking for an easy yet intriguing book to read, then Wolves of the beyond: Lone wolf by Kathryn Lasky is a good option. It takes place in a world where the wolves eliminate any flaw of a pack member. When the main character of the book, Faolan, is taken away from his mother to die, he does the unexpected: he survives. The book was very inspiring because the young wolf faces many challenges but retains his values. The book was able to capture the attention of the reader, making it hard to put the book down. (RH) 

Lowry, Lois. 2010. The birthday ball. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 192pp. $16.00. ISBN 9780547238692.

The birthday ball was a good book. When I saw the first picture, I thought it was a little kid book. The part that was the most boring in the story was when Lois Lowry described how the Kings got to the party. The most interesting part was when Princess Patricia Priscilla had to make the choice between the three Kings. The choice was on who she was going to marry. At the beginning of the book Princess Patricia Priscilla sounds really stuck up, but as readers gets further into the book they find out that Princess Patricia Priscilla is kind, loving, and caring. (TW) 

Maldonado, Torrey. 2010. Secret Saturdays. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Puffin). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 208pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780399251580.

Secret Saturdays, by Torrey Maldonado, is an incredible book. The voice is so strong and the emotions are so raw that it is extremely relatable and interesting. It tells the true story, not the happily ever after. It touches on flaws in our culture so vicious we wouldn’t even notice if it wasn’t pointed out to us. I fell in love with book and couldn’t put it down. It shows honest character relationships, friends and family, and teachers and peers. This book shows the world through clear eyes and young perspective, touching the reader’s soul. (BM) 

McKissack, Patricia C., McKissack, Frederick, McKissack, Pat, and McKissack, John Patrick. 2011. The clone codes. Scholastic, Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 192pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0439929844.

The book Clone Codes, by The McKissacks, was a very good story that really grabbed the reader’s attention from the start. Even though the book takes place over 150 years into the future, it is able to explain things in a way that allows the reader to visualize how this future is set up. The authors keep the book at a steady pace and create a relatable character. The ends of most chapters leave the readers guessing. The book was very enjoyable because even until the last page the story keeps readers on the edge. (RH) 

McMullan, Margaret. 2010. Sources of light. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 240pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780547076591.

The book Sources of light by Margaret McMullan was an exciting history lesson wrapped up in a series of controversial thoughts and issues. The reader doesn’t completely realize the historical content that makes up this story while reading, but this is a good thing for young readers because not many are motivated to learn about history, and this book provided an interesting way to learn about the historical times. Also, the fact that a lot of the events in the story were based off real events made the story even more intriguing. As well as a history lesson, this book leads the reader through several perspectives and realizations about life. 

Meyer, Carolyn. 2010. The bad queen: Rules and instructions for Marie-Antoinette. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 432pp. $18.00. ISBN 9780152063764.

I know that I’m not a princess, and I am definitely not the heir to the French throne, but if I was in this book, in her shoes, I would have the same exact views she has in this book. A characteristic about this novel that I liked is the fact that readers actually feel they were part of the character. I was honestly a little disappointed that her husband wasn’t very attractive, just because she had been waiting for that day to come for so long, but in the end her husband tied in very nicely. I enjoyed her rebelliousness because I know that if I was her, I would have done the exact thing. I would like to read more books by Carolyn Meyer because I enjoyed The Bad Queen very much. 

Milford, Kate. 2011. The boneshaker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 384pp. $6.99. ISBN 9780547550046. Illustrated by Andrea Offermann.

The story of this book was very interesting. There were many small stories alongside the big one, and they all tied together in the end. There was a lot of adventure, too. The characters were odd, but they acted like people would in this world. Dr. Limberleg, the evil character, could make automatons move without having to wind them up. The bike that helped the good main character was very interesting. It worked the opposite way a normal bike would. One of the characters that I thought was portrayed very well was the devil. He went around the world searching for souls he could capture. (KA) 

Miller, Kirsten. 2010. The eternal ones. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Razorbill). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 416pp. $17.99. ISBN 9781595143082.

This book, The eternal ones by Kristen Miller, is well-written. It wasn’t as suspenseful or as descriptive as it could have been, but the characters were developed very well and her descriptions were honest. The raw honesty of the emotions and character relationships made this fantasy novel seem more realistic. It touched base with a teenage girl trying to find herself, friends, love, and a home in the big world. The world in which she lives is scarier and weirder than she ever could imagine. The Eternal Ones is an amazing book. (BM) 

Newsome, Richard. 2010. The billionaire’s curse. HarperCollins Publishers (Walden Pond Press). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 352pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061944901. Illustrated by Jonny Duddle.

The billionaire’s curse is a very good book. The billionaire’s curse is a fast-paced, adventurous romp. This is a classic kid’s mystery story with lots of action, plot twists and discoveries sure to engage both boys and girls. Here is a little information to interest readers in the book. Gerald Wilkins never considered himself a particularly exceptional thirteen-year-old. But that was before he inherited twenty billion pounds, a Caribbean island, a yacht, and three estates from a great-aunt he never knew, that was murdered. All in all this was a very good book.

Oliver, Lauren. 2011. Before I fall. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 496pp. $9.99. ISBN 9780061726811.

Lauren Oliver did an amazing job at writing her book, Before I fall. Lauren wrote this book with so much emotion and had such an amazing way with her words and imagery. Throughout the entire book the reader needs to stop and think. It really challenges how readers treat people and how they spend their days. Throughout the book, the reader gets to feel the sense of hope, frustration, sadness, cruelness, honesty, happiness, love, hate and thankfulness. I loved this book and the way Lauren Oliver put words together to create such an amazing story. 

Perkins, Lynne Rae. 2012. As easy as falling off the face of the earth. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 384pp. $9.99. ISBN 9780061870927.

As easy as galling off the face of the earth is a book with so many twists and turns, and it would be appropriate for all sorts of readers. This book is completely unpredictable with the plot constantly changing. I think this book is also very age appropriate; almost any crowd of people could understand it. It’s full of suspense and adventure, making for a great combo. This book shows what can actually happen in real life and has a fantasy touch to it. I enjoyed this book a lot and would most definitely recommend it to anybody. I would have to rate this book 4.9 out of 5. (CE) 

Rinaldi, Ann. 2010. The family Greene. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 256pp. $17.00. ISBN 9780547260679.

The story and the plot are really good, except the book will disappoint readers. The story starts with Caty and her mystery of finding who her aunt really loves. The story suddenly changes to when Caty is a mother and married with no more information to her past. The same thing happens with Caty’s daughter, Cornelia. Cornelia is disturbed by her mother sometimes and wants to know if someone else could possibly be her father. The journey is really exciting and compelling but there isn’t much detail to it. Years go by in just a few chapters so the reader feels like the story is just a summary. Neither Caty or Cornelia find the secrets they are looking for, so readers really get confused about the purpose of the book and the whole story. The story is historical fiction so detail can be very hard to find, but I still think she should have been able to reveal the truth the characters are looking for. 

Rinaldi, Ann. 2010. The letter writer. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Graphia). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 224pp. $7.99. ISBN 9780547327853.

The book, The letter writer, is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story. It is the story of a girl who discovers who she really is and who her family really is after their deaths. She lives on a plantation in the South, and this historical fiction gives us perceptive into a life of a young white girl living during her time. Her emotions and voice throughout the story are extremely strong and give definite character to this book. This book is incredible because of the honest emotion that anyone can relate to. (BM) 

Rorby, Ginny. 2010. The outside of a horse. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 352pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0803734784.

The outside of a horse is a great story about how just like abused animals, humans need healing too. The story is seen through a teenage girl’s eyes whose father just came back from Iraq. They already had broken hearts because of the loss of her mother to breast cancer and the coming of her stepmother into her life. Hannah and her father used to be so close, but the author does such a good job at portraying the emotions that readers can feel the curiosity and hurt that Hannah feels as well as the relief the horses provide her. I loved the strength that Hannah had in taking care of her father and pushing him to get better. This book will make readers smile with joy and cry so much, but it will also make them want to be so much more thankful for those who have served as well as those who have lost a loved one to cancer. If there is anything I have learned from this book it’s that there’s nothing more important than hope and with the right help from the right people, hope can turn into reality. 

Shields, Gillian. 2010. Betrayal. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 368pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061375842.

Betrayal was thriller book. It grabs readers’ attention and leaves them wanting more. Gillian Shields is a powerful author and uses strong language and character development in interesting and new ways. The book took me on an adventure that had me crying and laughing right along with the characters. One of the best fantasies I have read in a long time, this book had me turning the pages. It was a suspenseful book, full of life or death moments, true love, and danger around every corner. Betrayal, by Gillian Shields, is a must read. (BM) 

Sleator, William. 1972, 2009. Blackbriar. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 215pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0761455851.

The book Blackbriar by William Sleator is full of mystery. A house full of secrets greets the main character, Danny, and his legal guardian, Philippa. The book creates an appropriate atmosphere during the time of their purchase, showing that something is not quite right about the house. At times the book contained too much unnecessary detail, which ultimately took away from the storyline. The pace of the book was also slow in some areas, but it did provide interesting characters. Overall, the book was very interesting and will provide a good read for anyone looking for a good mystery. (RH) 

Smith-Ready, Jeri. 2010. Shade. Simon and Schuster (Simon Pulse). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 320pp. $17.99. ISBN 9781416994060.

I really liked the plot of Shade. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is how quickly one of the main characters died. I guess I wanted to get to know his character better. Another thing I really liked about it was the way Jeri Smith-Ready organized the events of the story. She also made the fiction elements very believable and creative. This book was very well done, and I think the author did a good job at getting the reader hooked and wanting to read the rest of the series. 

Verday, Jessica. 2010. The hollow. Simon and Schuster (Simon Pulse). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 528pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1416978947.

The hollow wasn’t my kind of book, but for those who like romance and/or ghost stories, this would be the book to read. It had some good hinting and foreshadowing. For most people, the main character is very relatable. The book seemed too long and lingered too much on some of the mundane stuff, and it became annoying. It focused so much on the romance, and on each little thing in her life, I felt kind of like, this is a really long story for something simple, and something a lot of us experience. I liked it alright, but it did get annoying, boring and silly. Some parts intrigued me, but it could have been condensed down. I was disappointed several times, too. I thought something more exciting and interesting was going to happen, and then it would just lead to another boring little thing. It also focused too much on reality, and then it would suddenly deviate, and it felt unnatural for the story to do so. It would be normal day-to-day life, and then suddenly, there’d be a ghost-like hint, or something that didn’t fit. These examples often happened spontaneously with no obvious reason for why they were important. For me, personally, it was probably only a 2.5 or 3 stars out of 5, meaning it was somewhere between okay and somewhat enjoyable. However, middle school and up, if readers enjoy romance or ghost stories, this may be a book they would enjoy. 

White, Amy Brecount. 2010. Forget-her-nots. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 384pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061672989.

The book Forget-her-nots is about a girl with a special power. Although the book had many good qualities, the best part in my opinion was when Laurel’s grandma unexpectedly visited. Laurel had been trying to contact her grandma after she found out about her “gift” by letters and phone calls. At first, her grandma’s mourning over her daughter’s death greatly overtook her life. She even burned her precious garden. Finally, Laurel’s grandma sent Laurel’s mother’s special flower book and called back, but it seemed like every time they tried to get in contact the other person would be out of the room or just about to leave. It was almost like they were playing phone tag! Then one day, one of Laurel’s teachers and good friends asked Laurel to meet her at the conservatory. When Laurel showed up, she unexpectedly saw her grandma! Sadly, she was very frail and sad looking, which was what to be expected as her only daughter had died very recently. Even so, she vowed with Laurel’s teacher that she would help teach Laurel about her gift while she was on summer vacation. After summer vacation, the epilogue explained that now Laurel’s grandmother was a lot stronger, and she had started re-planting her garden and was helping Laurel control her discovered power. I think that was the best part of the book because it showed that even when something terrible happens, family is forever and nothing can break the bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. (JM) 

Williams, Sarah DeFord. 2010. Palace beautiful. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Putnam Juvenile). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 240pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780399252983.

Palace beautiful is an enchanting tale that will have readers interested from cover to cover. The author did a really good job of making it simple and from a child’s mind. The detail that was put into the story really tied it together and creativity of the colors the main character, Sadie, helps the reader fall into her mindset and way of thinking and seeing things. While reading Palace Beautiful, I noticed that the story is more for a target audience of upper grade school students. It is a good story, but at some parts readers just want it to keep moving because they can infer some of the details that the author shares. The story of Helen intertwined really well the story of each individual character and their wants as well as the self realization that they find throughout the story. The era of Palace beautiful would really help a child understand the major changes that have taken place since the eighties when the story happened. To say in the least, Palace beautiful is a great heartwarming as well as inspiring tale that, I think, anyone would enjoy. 

Willner-Pardo, Gina. 2010. The hard kind of promise. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 208pp. $16.00. ISBN 9780547243955.

The hard kind of promise by Gina Willner-Pardo was a good book for girls going into middle school. The author did a good job of portraying how quickly and unexpectedly friendships can change over time. Sarah and Marjorie thought they would be best friends forever, but they quickly found out how middle school has a way of changing things. This book goes through the everyday struggles of life in middle school, and it is very good about explaining how the girls are beginning to find themselves. Willner-Pardo did a wonderful job of explaining the life of an average middle school student. 

Wittlinger, Ellen. 2010. This means war! Simon and Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 224pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1416971016.

This means war is a classic boy and girl war that every child seems to have at some point in life. Every kid wants to be better than the opposite gender but not every kid goes to the extremes to prove their worth like these kids. This story will keep people wanting to read more because they never know what will happen next. It also helps readers realize the reality of what the Cuban Missile Crisis was like for an American family of that time. The book is easy to read and it is easy to apply oneself to the story. The conflict the children face soon resembles the conflict of America at the time, so it helps the kids see what war is like in a first hand, harmless sort of way. It also helps the kids understand that there are consequences for their actions and just like war, people will get hurt. Overall, the author does a very good job of creating a situation and helping readers see it through a child’s perspective in an enjoyable, fun way. 

Wood, Maryrose. 2010. The incorrigible children of Ashton place: The mysterious howling. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 272pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780061791055.

This book will have readers interested and hooked from the very first page. The strangeness of three children raised by wolves is enough to make a person curious. This book had a Jane Eyre kind of feel to it except a lot more fun and upbeat. The modern style of writing combined with a story that takes place in the eighteen hundreds turns the whole story into a flashback almost with random explanations from the author about back in the day and before modern technology. Those explanations are just a few words of dry humor surrounded by parenthesis though, so when readers hit those spots it’s almost as if the movie playing in their head hits pause to add in a few minor details. The emotions are deeply felt while reading it, and even without noticing, the reader will be smiling along with the characters or in near tears from the tragedy the children and their young governess face. The ending will leave readers in pleasure as well as curiosity as to what happens next. Once people finish this book, they won’t want to wait for the next one.

Student Reviewers

  • Glen Anderson
  • Kayla Anderson (KA)
  • Carmen Elliot (CE)
  • Riley Harman (RH)
  • Josh Hart
  • Jewel Haynes
  • Hannah Johnston (HJ)
  • Emily Keller
  • Callie Klinghagen
  • Mary Linneman
  • Jalynn McClure (JM)
  • Bryanna Mickelson (BM)
  • Alex Mulhall
  • Braedon Page
  • Saydria Russell (SR)
  • Erin Taylor
  • Narisse Trippel
  • Hannah Vigil
  • Taylor Warner (TW)