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April 30, 2010

Inventing Things


The Invention Of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Reviewed by Emma

Yes, this is an amazingly huge book. No, it's not as big as it appears to be, but that's only size-wise. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a book for readers of either gender and probably almost any age that can read. Also, the number of pages of pictures is far greater then the number of pages of words.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is an amazing story about a young boy whose life was pretty much setting the clocks at a train station and stealing food to survive. That is, until one day he got caught trying to steal a toy to add to an automaton that his father died for. The vendor that caught Hugo turned out to be the great magician Georges Melies who was thought to be dead. Then Hugo met Isabelle, the vendor's step-granddaughter and they form an alliance to get back Hugo's father's journal, which the vendor had taken away as payment for the toys Hugo had stolen. When Isabelle and Hugo root around in an old armoire they found a hidden shelf and a box that has some very big surprises in it.

The characters in this story are very realistic and I recommend this book for anyone who wants a good time without having to leave their seat.

Posted by at 02:52 PM

Tiger Pie


Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Reviewed by Shanta

Have you ever been a situation where you were alone on a boat, in the Pacific Ocean, with only a tiger for company? Life of Pi by Yann Martel explains how Pi Patel struggles for survival as he overcomes the storms headed their way, finds his own food, and makes a proper shelter. He also learns how to make some peace between himself and the tiger, both trying to survive such a seemingly impossible journey. This book let the setting and characters seem real as it illustrated in detail what Pi thought and felt throughout the terrifying experience. However, in some parts of the book the story did not flow well, making me feel slightly bored while reading it. Yet this book is an inspirational book, recommended for anyone who enjoys reading books about survival.

Posted by at 02:32 PM

April 28, 2010

7 by Mimi

Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Reviewed by Mimi

The book Deadline, written by Chris Crutcher is a story of premature death and all the decisions that come with it. Ben Wolf, the main character, discovers on the first page he is suffering from a terminal ilness. But Ben doesnít let that get him down. He refuses to tell anyone about the disease and lives life to the fullest by making the football team even those heís barely 127 pounds, arguing for a cause he believes in, and meeting the girl of his dreaams. But things get confusing when the town drunk comes into the picture and changes the way that Ben sees life? Will he ever understand or it is already too late? I really enjoyed this story for its realism and the dialog between the characters. The author does a good job of getting you to know each character and to become really be attached to the book. Iíd recommend this book to anyone, male or female looking for a goood read. Caution though. Thereís a bit of cursing and many scenes in the book may draw tears.


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reviewed by Mimi


If youíre looking for a book that will change your life and keep you engrossed every minute, The Kite Runner is the book for you. The story revolves around the life of Amir, an Afghan and the son of a wealthy and successful businessman. Amir is also a best friend to Hassan, the son of Amirís servant who is very poor. Together the boys grow, but in the end betrayal occurs and life for the both of them changes eternally. This book meant so much to me that at times I imagined personally knowing the boys. Sometimes their actions would make me mad at them and sometimes I would laugh with them as if they were friends of my own. I really took pleasure in how vivid all of the descriptions of the author were, which made the story all the better. Iíd suggest this book to anyone looking for a book that will move you to tears of both anger and sorrow, and alter the way you look at the world. The Kite Runner, truly, transformed me.

Someone Like Summer by M.E. Kerr
Reviewed by Mimi

If youíre looking for a great book to read and really enjoy, Someone Like Summer by M.E. Kerr, is not for you. Iíd love to say that I whizzed through the account loving every bit, but I didnít. Iíd have to say this was one of the worst books Iíve read all summer. The story starts out bland as Annabel Brown, the daughter of a racist construction worker, meets Esteban, a man from Columbia working in the U.S. illegally. Itís a classic love story that could have been taken from any fairy tale, but at the end it leaves you disappointed and wondering why you ever read the book in the first place. Iíd have to say the worst thing about the book is the racism. The plot doesnít take place in somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where you would expect such ignorance, but in New York. The father calls everyone "Jose", and yet he sincerely believes that he is progressive. The author also does no good by having the relationship of Anna and Esteban go nowhere, as well as by throwing random tidbits no one needs to know into the story. Donít waste your time.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
Reviewed by Mimi

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie is laugh out loud funny and a true coming of age story. Scott, the protagonist of the story, starts off high school perfectly. He has 3 best friends, a girl who might like him and he's doing well in school. But slowly things begin to change. One by one his friends move on and he finds himself swimming in piles of schoolwork. Meanwhile his mom gets pregnant and now Scott finds himself drowning in the work. In the end its only the scary girl with the piercings and dyed hair that honestly understands him. Will he leave his one new friendship in search of popularity or will he live out his high school career as a reject? What I really enjoyed about this book were the journal entries Scott makes for his soon to be baby brother. The author softens the character and brings more down to earth qualities to him through the conversations he has. I enjoyed the relationships that Scott builds and loses. The author keeps you interested by his constantly moving circle of friends. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a relatively quick book that'll keep you entertained and keep you laughing the whole way through.

What Mr. Mattero Did by Priscilla Cummings
Reviewed by Mimi

This is a story of accustions of abuse and the effects that they have on a community. The story starts with the revelation made by three best friends, Suzanne, Claire and Jenna, that Mr. Mattero had touched them inappropriately. The story is told from the viewpoints of Claire and Mr. Mattero's own daughter, Melody. While Claire basks in the attention that is given to her after the accusation, Melody deals with public humiliation and begins to see some of the downfalls of the father she always loved. Who's telling the truth in this story? What did Mr. Mattero really do? This story will answer those questions and more. I'd be lying if I said that this story didn't upset me greatly. I felt an emotional connection with each and every one of the characters, and the surprise twist at the end only made my feelings greater. Although I couldn't personally relate to most of the individuals, I found myself questioning their motives and placing myself in their shoes. The author shows you the pain thats hidden behind her characters and the pasts that made them who they are. I'd suggest this book to someone who's not faint of heart and is willing to delve further into the mysterious things that make people do what they do. Be prepared to come out asking yourself why, and looking for answers to questions left unsaid.

Off-Color by Janet McDonald
Reviewed by Mimi

Off-Color, a story of finding yourself, brings up your own questions of personal identity and where you fit the world. Cameron is your typical teenager growing up in New York city and living the average life. That is until her mother, a nail technician, loses her job and they are forced to move to the projects. Cameron is outraged and is more than anything scared. On top of that Cameron discovers that she is also half African-American. Her friends who love her, but also are a bit racially insensitive, struggle to embrace her new identity and the projects make life hard for the family. Will Cameron learn to accept both sides of herself or will she forever pretend to live her life in one color? I thoroughly enjoyed this story from start to finish. The author, whose other books I have read as well, shows the protagonist's changes perfectly. I liked that she didn't have Cameron automatically accept her role as a member of two societies, but slowly transitioned her state of mind to accepting who she is. I also appreciated that the author did not use too much profanity and unnecessary language in portraying the so called "ghetto" girls of the projects. This takes true talent and I was very happy with the ending as well. Anyone who enjoys books about racial differences and who is looking for a fast read, at only 176 pages, this book is just right for you.


The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri
Reviewed by Mimi


This book is 304 pages of words that will, at times, leave you wanting to read more but at others make you shed tears of boredom. Gogol Ganguli is a first generation Indian American, and the first of his family to be born in the U.S. This makes a difficult life for him, struggling to fit in with old world parents and new world friends. Not only is growing up hard, but his name follows him everywhere, a name neither Indian nor American. As Gogol grows older he fights to find his place in the world that's always changing. Will Gogol find where he belongs or will he always be searching? The reason that this book only merited 3 out of 5 stars from me was its constant change of pace which made me struggle to keep interest. There were times reading this book where I couldn't put it down and others where I wanted to quit reading for lack of interest. In the end I found that it was all worth it but I would only recommend this to readers ready for a sit down that may put them to sleep at times. Give the book a chance. Hopefully you'll end up liking it as much as I did.


Posted by library at 01:06 PM

April 27, 2010

Nancy Drew

Eighty years ago, a plucky detective named Nancy Drew made her debut on the kids' literary scene. Wildly popular with girls looking for adventure stories, the Nancy Drew books were banned from most libraries because librarians considered them substandard reading for kids. Times, fortunately, have changed and the Nancy Drew books now are available in libraries everywhere. Here's a look at Nancy's anniversary in today's USA Today (Takoma Park Maryland Library Children's Librarian Karen MacPherson is quoted in it!): Nancy Drew still draws readers after 80 years - USATODAY.com

Posted by at 05:07 PM

April 23, 2010

Poor Architectual Inspiration


The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Reviewed by Saleiha

Jeannette Walls' memoir, The Glass Castle, is a beautifully written, true story about her life with her strange, heretic parents. Throughout the memoir, Jeannette Walls and her family journey from town to town as they try to survive and still enjoy the simple things in life. Although the father is a terrible alcoholic and the children get the majority of their meals from trash cans, Jeannette Walls' tone during the book makes the plot feel less upsetting than it actually is. Although the story is filled with parts that made my stomach clench, I would encourage everyone to read this book because it teaches you that no matter what situation you are born in, it is still possible to achieve your dreams.

Posted by at 01:13 PM

White Wall of Adventure


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Reviewed by Shanta


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a humorous book portraying the maturing of a mischievous boy. Initially, Tom is a dishonest, carefree child who almost never obeys his Aunt Polly. However, he learns to become a truthful, compassionate child as he is influenced by his care for others. This novel is full of entertainment and is recommended for both boys and girls, ages eleven and up. In some places, the book is hard to understand as it uses many slang words. Still, this is a must-read story, full of humor for anyone to enjoy.

Posted by at 01:03 PM

April 09, 2010

The Werewolves of Minnesota


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Reviewed by Bronte


Shiver Ė good title and supposed to be a Twilightish book, same genre and stuff but with better writing. After reading this book, I agree, the writing is much better than Stephanie Meyer has managed in her Twilight books but the story is so similar in some aspects to Twilight that it seems repetitive. The girls Bella and Grace are very similar, what they like and how they act, the boys are also very similar but the people in Shiver are more realistic in that they have flaws.

This is the story of Grace and Sam with separate chapters told from their personal views. I can't really tell the different personalities from the chapters. They like different things, but the writing is the same for both which doesn't allow them to have separate personalities.

The best thing about this book is the take on werewolves, I really like it when authors come up with their own superpowers or myths related to well known mystic beasts, like vampires or werewolves. The worst thing about this book is the similarity to Twilight, in the whole normal girl meets magical boy in high school romance storyline.

The setting is interesting, maybe just to me because I had a friend who moved to Minnesota and since I hadn't read a book before this that took place in Minnesota. The story is a little boring but understandable until the end when it detours from explaining things and makes a miracle happen without any background information about how or why this miracle happened. I liked this book's storyline but maybe the writing was a little past tense, which didn't lead to staying up late to finish the book. Since this book is a high school romance, a genre the boys who read avoid like the plague, this book would be most appreciated by young teenagers (14-15).

Posted by at 03:13 PM

The Real Dog

Secrets of the Natural Dog Owner: Be the Dog by Steve Duno
Reviewed by Joie
Quite the revolutionary thought. After all, we already have dog spas, dog hair cuts, and even clothes for little Fifi. Now the new notion is to become the dog? No, it's not. It's an old notion, to have a dog be a dog. More often than not, dogs are now suddenly humans in dog body form. They suddenly can think like humans. That is the common conception today. Only it's wrong. And it's hurting everyone. Dogs have doggie minds. They do not understand democracy, nor controlled spoiling. Steve Duno knows why. And instead of turning your dog into a human and keep it miserable, turn yourself into a dog. Canine empathy is what will salvage the world of dogs. That's how they fit in.

Going to a new school is scary. Going anywhere new is scary. There's a good reason for that. People don't know where they belong. There is no sense of securities. When a dog is forced to become a human, he can't. He's a dog, with a dog mind, and a dog's sense of leadership. Becoming a proxy human is forcing your dog into situations with no securities. Steve has the answers to this. He explains this, and more. The ancient rules of dogdom, once forgotten, are now in print, in the amazing guide to everything dog minded, Be the Dog.

I loved this book. Dogs are not simply furry little humans. They have wolf lineage, and some people don't respect that. It's heartbreaking to see an overweight, scared, and overly dominant dog, not because it'll jump me, but because he's backed into a situation he can't deal with that his owner forced upon him. Dogs have a different set of life styles and ways of life that deal with dog issues. Steve Duno is a dog expert to have made this kind of guide which is a must to any dog owner.

Posted by at 03:06 PM

Chubby Conundrum

Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught
Reviewed by Mimi
Big Fat Manifesto is about the life of Jamie, an overweight teen who is well liked by her peers but has something to say about the discrimination she faces everyday by the world because of her weight problem. But Jamie doesn't see her weight as a problem at all, and instead she sees it as an asset. With the help of quirky friends, her obese boyfriend and her newspaper editor, Jamie writes a column about the everyday struggles of being big. She has plans to exploit the discrimination of big people by clothing stores and labels.

Everything is going along fine until her boyfriend decides he wants bypass surgery. Jamie can't understand if he is embarrassed of their weight, or if he'll still want to be with her even when he's skinny and she's still overweight. Is being chubby worth it, or will Jamie decide to have take the plunge and have the surgery herself?

The book was a blend of both the good and the bad for me. On the one hand, I can understand Jamie's outrage with the discrimination and I completely agree that everyone should have equal opportunities in life; But on the other hand Jamie doesn't seem to understand the risks of being obese. What about the damage to her body that the extra pounds are doing? She should be happy for her boyfriend and should be motivated to lose weight herself so that she can live healthily for the rest of her life. I would only suggest this book for someone willing to look at the story through both sides and ready to struggle with issues not usually explored in teenage books. Try it. You might like it.


Posted by at 02:58 PM

April 02, 2010

Fake School, Real Problems

The Truth About Truman School by Dori Helestad Butler
Reviewed by Liela

The Truth About Truman School is a marvelous book. It is about a girl named Zebby and her need for the truth to be told about the school, which she attends. She knows the school newspaper doesn't have all the facts about the school and starts a website, with her friend Amr, talking about the school so anyone can post anything they would like to. Then it gets a little out of control when the website turns against a classmate. The main characters are Zebby, Amr, Lily, Hayley, Brianna, and Trevor. Will Zebby and Amr put a stop to this madness or will they play along?

One thing I liked about the book was that it showed what the outcome of cyberbullying is and how it hurts people. The story had some cliffhangers and was so suspenseful at times you couldn't stop reading. On the other hand, at other times, you couldn't wait until the book was finished. People that have gone through, or have had a friend go through, cyberbullying would definitely like this book and so will people that just want a nice book to read.

The Truth About Truman School isn't the only book Butler has written. She is the author of many books including Do You Know the Monkey Man, Sliding into Home, and girls will like Tank Talbott's Guide to Girls. Hope you read the book. You'll never regret it.

Posted by at 02:31 PM

Three Simultaneous Years

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger
reviewed by Ruya

My Most Excellent Year is a sweet little fairy tale-type story written for high-schoolers. It's told in the form of three essays written simultaneously by two best friends and a girl who became their friend: Augie, T.C., and Alejandra. Their assignment is to describe their most excellent year, which is the same for all of them. It's their freshman year, the year when Augie and TC meet Alejandra, the year of their first loves, the year they meet Hucky, the year of the memorial baseball field, and the year all three teenagers remember how to believe in magic.

The best way to describe this novel is that it's what one wishes one's life to be like. Nearly everyone has wished at some point that their best friend could become their sibling the way T.C and Augie have. Struggles with sexual orientation would be so much easier if all your friends and your family knew before you even told them, the way Augie's did. And who wouldn't love to be best friends with Augie, the vivacious theater boy, or T.C., the outgoing athlete, or especially Alejandra, the outspoken, artsy, ambassador's daughter? And, of course, any Julie Andrews fan can appreciate the Mary Poppins theme that goes along with Hucky, the adorably stubborn deaf boy that they all adopt into their lives. Although not the most realistic story, My Most Excellent Year is one you'll remember for quite some time.

Posted by at 02:15 PM

Don't Judge a Book by ...

Indie Girl by Kativa Daswani
Reviewed by Segen

Indie Girl is a really boring book. I didn't like it all all and every minute of it was boring. Some people might enjoy it, but I think it was horrible, although the cover was nice.

Indie Girl is about a girl named Indie. All she wants in life is to get a internship working for Celebrity Style magazine (real-life magazine!) as a fashion reporter. One day she finds out that Celebrity Style magazine is in trouble and worries that she won't achieve her dream. But then things for Indie start to look good when she finds out that a famous star is having her wedding dress made in India! Indie knows for sure that with this information, she will be able to land an internship with the magazine. But then Indie's plans take a downfall...

This novel was not good at all. The book was really obvious, so you knew everything that was going to happen next. The book gets boring very quickly and the end was no surprise. I don't recommend this book for anyone.


Posted by at 02:00 PM

Blue Skin, Blue Attitude

Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal
Reviewed by Saleiha

Rakesh Satyal's book Blue Boy is a hilarious book about a young boy's social problems due to his ethnicity and his sexuality. Kiran is an young Indian child who loves to play with dolls, do ballet, and wear magenta make-up. Although he is a social outcast at his school and his temple, he embraces his differences and has a revelation that he is a reincarnation of the Hindu god Krishna. His journey to become the god he was born to be is both hilarious and captivating. Although this book does contain some sexual content and explicit words, Blue Boy is one of the best books I read last summer. Seeing the world through the eyes of the young narrator Kiran, makes you fall in love with a very strange boy whose differences set him apart from the normalcy of the rest of the world.

Posted by at 01:32 PM