Category: Children’s Fiction

Nest Review

I grabbed this book from the shelves because it was newer and I liked the cover art. I didn’t expect to be drawn in to the quiet life of eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein and the difficulties she faced in 1972 when her mother developed multiple sclerosis.

The writing in the book is wonderful; Chirp’s perspective on life she faces throughout the book seemed so innocent and real compared to the harshness of the situations she faces. The angry boy who lives next door lives in fear of his father’s wrath, and doesn’t like to go home. Chirp’s mom is dying from her disease and progressively becomes more depressed throughout the book. This book has more than it’s fair share of heartbreaking moments, and I would be hesitant to recommend this book to a child for casual reading. This book would make a great window for children who are dealing with similarly tough situations in their own lives.

The Field Guide – Spiderwick Chronicles

DIT - Spiderwick ChroniclesThe Spiderwick Chronicles have been on shelves since 2003, and here I am picking up the first book thirteen years later! I’ve always been curious about this series, but never had the opportunity to check them out until now.

The story starts off with the Grace family moving into the Spiderwick manor. We have Mom, Mallory, Jared, and Simon. Jared was nearly kicked out from their previous school for causing fights, but avoided expulsion due to the fact his family was moving anyways. Weird things happen in the Spiderwick manor, and due to his unruly behavior Jared is blamed for them. After stumbling upon an old, musty book titled Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You Jared believes the missing items and pranks are the cause of fairies, and is determined to make them stop.

My biggest problem with this book was that it was too short! The authors left off on a cliffhanger so children would quickly pick up the next book, but I’m still not sure why the authors chose to make this a five book series when two books of this length could have easy been put together.

Flora and Ulysses Review

Continuing with the Ds brings us to Dicamillo, and I have selected Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures!DIC Flora and Ulysses

The concept of this novel is hilarious; self-proclaimed cynic Flora Buckman rescues a squirrel from an out-of-control vacuum cleaner. The squirrel, named Ulysses, gains self-awareness, super-strength, the ability to fly and… can write poetry? Together these two find beauty in the world around them and friends in this cast of unique characters.

Dicamillo is not afraid to bring large vocabulary words into her writing, and this could be either a good or bad thing depending on the level of your reader. Children (and adults like me) will be drawn to the pages filled with comic strips depicting Ulysses’s adventures.

Matilda Review

Ah, Matilda. One of several children’s classics written by Roald Dahl. Overall, I thought this book was far from perfect, especially when I’m reading it for the first time in 2016. But this book has lots of charm, even though some of the wording would be considered outdated and have to be explained for students, I think this book would make a great read-aloud for elementary students.DAH Matilda

I was drawn by this book specifically because Matilda is a young reader. She has a passion for learning at her age (since she was 2!)that is rare. Her parents abhor education, and shudder at the thought of reading for fun! Regardless, Matilda deals with her home situation by playing pranks on her awful parents. When she enters Kindergarten she befriends her teacher, Miss Honey, and learns to be wary of the school’s principal, Mrs. Trunchbull. Matilda wants to deal with Mrs. Trunchbull the same way she deals with her parents; by pranking them, and discovers that she has telekinetic abilities.

Unfortunately, this is where the book lost it’s ability to be believable. Telekinetic powers are interesting and all, but I felt as though Matilda would have been more than capable of getting Mrs. Trunchbull to quit and leave without having those powers.

Walk Two Moons Review

I’m back! We’re starting right back where we left off at the end of the C’s with Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. I selected this book because it was awarded a Newbery medal in 1995, and a friend suggested it.

CRE - Walk Two Moons Cover

I thought this book was okay. Creech weaves the story of all her characters together in a way that is well done, and tells an excellent story that mixes missing mothers, depression, romance, and metaphors for the unexpected adventures of life together in this book. I do not normally read realistic fiction, and I feel that that is why this book fell flat for me. I felt it took forever to start moving the plot along, the romance between Sal and Ben felt forced, and Sal, a thirteen-year-old, drives four hours down a dangerous road on her own just after her grandmother was admitted to the hospital. I don’t know about you, but if my grandmother was admitted to the hospital and I was worried about her health I do not think my thirteen-year-old self would be able to think straight enough to make that kind of trip.

Lunch Lady Review

COM - Lunch Lady Cover

Our next column of shelves features most of our graphic novel collection, so for today I selected Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians. Because anything featuring evil librarians has to be awesome!

The Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka is a unique comic series that is black, white, and oddly enough, yellow! Our hero seems to be an ordinary school lunch lady, but is actually the hero, Lunch Lady! Lunch Lady serves up justice against those who would cause crime, including the school librarians who are bent on world domination! Starting by… Destroying video games? (Because video games rot your mind and stuff.)

While I enjoying picking on the librarian stereotype as much as the next person, some of the jokes/details I loved in this book while others fell totally flat for me. Maybe it’s because I started with the second installment of this series instead of the first, but I did not understand what purpose the main characters, aside from our Lunch Lady, served. Regardless, Lunch Lady will save the day and win the hearts of children from grades 2-3 in a pinch.

The Comeback Challenge Review

When I glanced at this next column of shelves, my options were split between three authors. Matt Christopher, Beverly Cleary, and Andrew Clements. Each of these authors has an entire shelf dedicated to their contributions to children’s literature, and I was torn between Cleary or Clements. In the end, I decided to choose the author I was most unfamiliar with, and whose subject matter is most unfamiliar to me. Matt Christopher seems to have found his niche writing fictional sports stories. These sports range from basketball to dirt bike racing. Knowing my knowledge in sports is limited, I grabbed one that had a focus on soccer.

In The Comeback Challenge, Mark Conway is struggling to deal with his parents’ divorce. He has been moved around many times in the past year, and until his parents work out the divorce in court, Mark has been ordered to live with his grandparents back in his hometown. He joins the soccer team, and despite being a really good player, the team captain Vince dislikes him for being a know-it-all who played soccer in England. Mark must learn to open up and talk to both Vince and his parents about why their behavior towards him makes him feel upset.

I liked this book well enough and I think Matt Christopher’s books would be good choices for reluctant readers. I expected that this book would solely be about playing soccer and the difficulties of getting along with the other teammates, so I enjoyed the fact that this book included a strong focus on Mark’s parents’ divorce. This makes the story a good mirror for children dealing with these problems in their own lives!