Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: The Boy Who Saved Baseball

The Boy Who Saved Baseball The Boy Who Saved Baseball by John H. Ritter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, I really loved this book! First, you must know, I love baseball, and I love stories of teams who are not quite the best. (I am a die-hard Mets fan, and have been for a long time.) And when you have a book that has characters named Cruz de la Cruz, and Dante Del Gato, you can not go wrong. This is the story of Tom, not a great player himself, but with a lot of heart. Tom lives in a town way out in California, and his team is going to play the game of their young lives. There town will change forever if they can not win this big game. This is a great, beautiful, baseball story.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: Gym Candy

Gym Candy Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a different kind of high school football story, though there is plenty of action on the field. This is the story of Mick, who has played football all his life. His father was a star player in college, and expects Mick to follow in his footsteps. Mick loves football, but it seems as if his father is pressuring him to make first string as a freshman in high school. When his father takes him to a gym so that he can really get a good weightlifting workout, he meets his new trainer. And then, things change for Mick. He decides he needs to be bigger, stronger and faster, and his trainer knows just what to prescribe for him. A very timely story. Football plays are described in detail.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Review: Ghost

Ghost Ghost by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book! Castle Crenshaw, who goes by the nickname "Ghost", is always running. It all started when his father went kind of nuts, and began shooting at him and his mother. Now, his dad is in jail, his mom is working hard to take care of them, and Ghost has inadvertently joined a real track team. He had never, ever thought of running as a real sport. Coach tries to teach Ghost the finer points of being a runner, but with troubles in school, and making a really bad choice in a store, Ghost is fighting an uphill battle.
This book is well written, with real characters and situations that any middle school kid can relate to. I loved Coach, and totally loved Ghost.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Review: The War that Saved My Life

The War that Saved My Life The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! I could not put it down! This is the remarkable story of nine year-old Ada, and her little brother, Jamie. They are extremely poor, and live in a one room apartment with their Mam. Ada was born with a club foot, and her Mam treats her horribly. She is not allowed to leave the apartment, she can only crawl around on the floor, and her mother really abuses her, both verbally and physically. When England goes to war with Germany in 1940, the children in London are sent to the country in order to be safe from the bombing of London. Ada's mother refuses to let her children leave, and that's when Ada comes up with a plan to escape. Ada and Jamie are taken in by a lady named Susan, and in the country, all their lives are changed forever. Great story.

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Monday, January 09, 2017

Review: The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century

The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is really a 3 1/2 star review. I have always been fascinated with Lizzie Borden and her story, ever since I was a kid and learned the lurid rhyme: "Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one." I have read tons of articles, and have even watched a ghost hunter show that takes place in her house, the scene of this awful crime. This book is takes us through the crime scene, and the author lets her readers know what life was like back in Fall River, Massachusetts 1892, with lots of sidebars and actual photographs. Some of the descriptions of the crime scene are totally gross. There were parts of the book I did skim over, because it got a little technical. That being said, this book is not that easy to read, so I would recommend it for 8th grade and up. As an aside, the author actually slept in Lizzie's bedroom, as the house is now a Bed and breakfast!

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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Review: Nightbird

Nightbird Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Twig is a young teen who has moved from New York City to a quaint little town in Vermont. She lives with her mom and older brother, James. Her brother, because of an old family curse, stays hidden. He has huge black wings, and can fly! His mom is worried that the government will discover his "strangeness" and take him away. Because of all of this, Twig can never have close friends, and this gets to be difficult when a new family moves in to her neighborhood. She makes friends with Julia, a girl her own age, and they discover that this curse involved Julia's family, too. Things get even more complicated when Julia's older sister sees James, and they fall in love. Witches curses, spells, and monsters.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review: No Ordinary Day

No Ordinary Day No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a very slim novel, but tells a story that may be surprising to some middle school students. The setting is India, and we learn of the plight of Valli, who doesn't go to school because she picks (or steals) coal for her family. When she finds out that she is adopted, she runs away to Kolkata. She makes her way as a homeless girl, but then runs into some difficulty. She meets Dr. Indra, who tries to help Valli. Dr. Indra has discovered that Valli has leprosy. This is a very different kind of story, but a great way to learn how children survive in different cultures around the world.

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