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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: freakonomics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 45
1. A Splash of Red - Picture Book Review


A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin
by Jen Bryan, illustrated Melissa Sweet
Publication date: 08 Jan 2013 by Knopf Book for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13: 0375867120 |  9780375867125
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Children's Non-Fiction Picture Book
Keywords: Children's, picture book, non-fiction, art, biography
Format: Hardcover; ebook
Source: Library


Synopsis:

As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and making it come alive again in front of him.He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during W.W.I, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches . . . until he was shot. Upon his return home, Horace couldn't lift his right arm, and couldn't make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint--and paint, and paint! Soon, people—including the famous painter N. C. Wyeth—started noticing Horace's art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries and museums across the country.

Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet team up once again to share this inspiring story of a self-taught painter from humble beginnings who despite many obstacles, was ultimately able to do what he loved, and be recognized for who he was: an artist.

Thuy's Review:

A really wonderful and beautifully written picture book about the life of American artist Horace pippin. I had I idea the story was based on a real person when I started reading it and found myself totally engrossed by the story of Pippin's life. I was completely charmed by the story and finding out that it's about a real person just gives it more resonance.

The artwork is fantastic and is a mix of painting, drawing and collage. I especially loved the early drawings by Horace. The art also includes quotes by Pippin, which he used in his artwork. The words are simple but strong and bring another facet of Pippin to life.

I was unfamiliar with Pippin's work before and A Splash or Red presented his story in a really accessible way. I think both children and adults will be able to enjoy this book and I definitely think it will inspire interest in Pippin's work. I also liked that there was an index in the back with places where one could go see Pippin's work along with sources for more information on Pippin. I am not usually a big fan of non-fiction picture books but A Splash of Red was a delight to read and one that I highly recommend.
 


Visit the Jen Bryant online at www.jenbryant.com and visit the official site for the book at http://asplashofredbook.com.


Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

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2. Sever - Review


Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) 
by Lauren DeStefano
Publication date: 12 Feb 2013 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10/13: 1442409096 | 9781442409095
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Young Adult Dystopia
Keywords: Dystopia, End of series, Revolution
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Source: Purchased


Synopsis:

With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.
Kimberly's Review:

This is a hard book for me to review because I loved Wither, the first book in The Chemical Garden trilogy, so much. 

Without giving too much away, Rhine has escaped the mansion only to find herself at Reed's house, Vaughn's long estranged brother.

Searching for her twin brother, and trying to come to terms with her feelings for both Linden and Gabriel, Rhine embarks on a quest that will answer her questions once and for all. But not all the answers are what she wants them to be. And some of them she wishes she never knew.

I had a lot of problems with Rhine in this book. I loved her in the first two books- independent, strong willed and wanting nothing more than to survive and go home. And while this Rhine isn't that far from the old, she is slightly different. She's been through so much and she's very damaged by the events of the previous two books. But instead of making her more sympathetic, I felt more distant to her character. Her urgent need to find her brother, and then once she does eventually find him, she doesn't scream at him all of the evil she's encountered. (This will make sense once you read the book) I was so frustrated with her! She's also super confused about her feelings for Gabriel and Linden, which just became grating on me. I'll explain.

I am probably in the minority, but I have to say that I am probably on team Linden. Yes, he's pretty dense and should have been paying more attention to the evil that was his own father. But Linden's character grows exponentially during this final book and so by the end, I was hoping that she would end up with him. He was always my favorite of the two, between him and Gabriel and though the sister wife thing does creep me out, I still think Linden is the better choice.  However, this of course proves problematic because he also has Cecily, his youngest wife still on his arm. 

Cecily has also grown. In Fever, book two, the story took Rhine away from both of them and when she returns, they've both matured. While I can't say I like Cecily, I don't mind her and in fact, I may actually have respected her by the end.

What is strange is that Gabriel is mostly absent in book three. This is supposed to be her big love interest! It really hurt my feelings towards Gabriel because he was MIA for so long. I re-attached myself onto Linden. Sorry Gabriel, but even when you were the main character in Fever, I still wasn't a fan. I don't think you had a strong enough personality, and I never really understood what Rhine saw in you.

Now let's talk about Rowan. Rowan, the brother who Rhine is after. Rowan, who is barely a character at all in book three. I'm really sorry but I don't get it. There is nothing special about Rowan and as for their deep, twin relationship, I didn't feel it. He seemed like a secondary character that just appeared for plot sake. I wasn't emotionally invested in Rowan. She searched the country, confronted dangers and evil, for this guy?

I read books two and three right after the other and they move very fast. I love how the story flows so quickly you can get lost for hours in the world. Their world is scary, mean and unforgiving. There's a lot to like about The Chemical Garden trilogy.  I love the freshness of the story and felt like the characters were always in real danger, just escaping by their skin. I love the big reveals during the end, including Rhine's revelation and Madame's secrets.

Overall, I enjoyed Sever and the entire series. While I didn't have a great sense of the characters or motivation behind them, the plot was fast and I wanted to know what happened next. I would recommend it for older YAs as well as adults looking for a dark dystopian.
 


Visit the author online at www.laurendestefano.comFacebook and follow her on Twitter @LaurenDeStefano


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3. Crafty Chloe: Dress-Up Mess-Up - Picture Book Review


Crafty Chloe: Dress-Up Mess-Up (Crafty Chloe #2) 
by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Heather Ross
Publication date: 13 August 2013 by Simon and Schuster
ISBN 13: 9781442421240
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Category: Children's Picture Book
Keywords: Picture book, crafting, art
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library


Synopsis:

The Parade of Books has arrived, and it’s Chloe’s chance to showcase her crafty costume talents. Leo wants Chloe to be the Frankenstein to his Dracula, and Chloe can’t wait to dress like a monster. But when Emma wants to wear Fairy Club costumes instead, Chloe is torn like a scrap of fabric. She doesn’t want to disappoint her friends—but how can she possibly please them both? Luckily, a little glitter and a lot of imagination just might give Chloe the answer!

Thuy's Review:

The annual book parade is around the corner and Chloe and her friends must prepare costumes based on their favorite book characters. But trouble arises when Chloe promises to be a monster with her friend Leo and then promises to be a fairy with her friend Emma. Chloe doesn't want to disappoint either friend, so what is she going to do?

First of all, what a great premise. We never had anything like a book costume parade when I was Chloe's age but I think I would have loved it. This is a really cute book and I loved that Chloe was so crafty and creative when it came to her costumes. I like that the book encourages kids to use their imaginations and make things. The story itself wasn't super original or exciting but it was cute and I think kids will like it. It was a bit predictable but I think that kids will like it.

As a crafty person myself, I think Crafty Chloe: Dress-Up Mess-Up is an adorable book to read to kids and get them in the crafting spirit. It would be fun to read this with a child and do some crafts to go with it. Definitely worth a read if you have children in your life.
 


Visit the author online at www.kellydipucchio.com, Twitter and follow her on Twitter Facebook


Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

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4. Review: Beneath the Glitter by Elle and Blair Fowler

Release Date: Sept. 4th 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Pages: 288
Flirt Factor: Chaste
Overall: 3/5 stars

From internet stars Elle and Blair Fowler comes a scintillating new novel that takes readers Beneath the Glitter of the glitzy L.A. social scene.

Welcome to a place where dreams are made.  And where nothing—and no one—is ever what it seems.

After their make-up and fashion videos went viral on YouTube, sisters Sophia and Ava London are thrust into the exclusive life of the Los Angeles elite.  Here fabulous parties, air kisses, paparazzi and hot guys all come with the scene. Sophia finds herself torn between a gorgeous bartender and a millionaire playboy, and Ava starts dating an A-list actor.  But as they’re about to discover, the life they’ve always dreamed of comes with a cost.

Beneath the glitter of the Hollywood social scene lies a world of ruthless ambition, vicious gossip…and betrayal.  Someone close to them, someone they trust, is working in the shadows to bring the London sisters falling down. And once the betrayal is complete, Sophia and Ava find themselves knee-deep in a scandal that could take away everything they care about, including the one thing that matters most—each other. (Blurb taken from Goodreads)

I'm going to be blunt with you and just say I did not have high hopes for this book. While I have a secret obsession with Youtube beauty gurus, I didn't necessarily think a novel written by two of them would have a whole lot of literary merit. I mean, their gig is beauty stuff, right? However, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by the Fowler sisters' first novel.

 It took me a couple of chapters to warm up to Beneath the Glitter. At first, Sophia and Ava London - the two main characters - seemed a little fake. They're easy going, fun girls who, for the most part, are enjoyable characters. However, during the first few chapters, it felt like the Fowler sisters were trying a bit too hard to give the Londons more serious sides. The first chapter opens up with Sophia being overly broody about a breakup and it just seems kind of forced. As the book progressed though, you get to see the more fun and bubbly side of the sisters. It was really fun to follow the London sisters around as they hung out with their quirky L.A. friends and experienced the outlandish things you could only see in Hollywood. The Fowler sisters really included a good mix of characters, from the eccentric best friend Lily to the adorable animal shelter volunteer, Dalton. These fun characters combined with the always interesting plot line - which included mingling with movie stars, rescuing animals, 46 courses of champagne tasting, and even sabotage - made for a quick, fun read that I finished in under a day.

As far as the writing was concerned, I had a love hate relationship with this book. The Fowler sisters wrote this book with the help of a writing partner and there were times when you definitely noticed. As a whole, the book seemed to be written very similarly to The Clique Series by Lisi Harrison. It was very fun and fluffy with a decent amount of drama mixed in. The end of the chapters even featured a LonDOs and LonDON'Ts list that reminded me a lot of  Massie's State of the Union lists that appear in Harrison's series. However, while I did enjoy this style of writing, like I said before, you could definitely tell that the Fowlers used a writing partner. Every once in a while you would come across a part of the novel that was over-embellished and used too many similes and too much imagery. You could tell that this was where the writing partner came in and kind of 'made stuff pretty.' The writing partner's style really clashed with the rest of the book and was easily distracting. I think there was one scene in the book where it literally said "the room was pregnant with emotion", which, after reading only a couple of pages of the book, you could tell didn't really fit with the overall style and tone of the book. What bugged me the most about this over-embellishing was the fact that there were parts of the book that weren't embellished that really needed to be! I mean, you get a paragraph long description of a look in a character's eyes when it's not even important, yet when the London sisters have their first kisses in the book (or any of the other kisses for that matter), you basically get one line that just says "They kissed."! Talk about frustrating. However, clashing writing styles aside, the writing was still decent enough that I finished the book relatively quickly and actually did enjoy it.

Overall, this was a quick, easy and fun read. The London sisters made interesting main characters, the plot was really entertaining, and I absolutely loved the cast of characters. If you want something deep and thought provoking, this isn't the book for you. However, if you would like a light read and enjoy books like The Clique Series by Lisi Harrison, Beneath the Glitter by Elle and Blair Fowler is perfect for you. Also, bonus! The book has a good sort-of cliffhanger ending that sets up for the next book in the series! Which, just FYI, I am definitely picking up when it comes out in Summer 2013.


Writing: 3.5/5 stars
Characters: 4/5 stars
Plot/Setting: 3.5/5 stars
Ending: 5/5 Stars
Cover: 3/5 stars

Love always,
 Amanda

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5. Review: Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors


Release Date: Jan. 22nd 2008
Publisher: Walker & Company
Age Group: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Pages: 256
Flirt Factor: Chaste
Overall: 3/5 stars

Two Juliets,both alike in desperation. . . Seventeen-year-old Mimi Wallingford, of the Broadway Wallingfords, has a life most girls can only dream of—complete with the starring role in her family’s production of Romeo and Juliet.  But acting is not her dream, and she’s fighting for the right to trade her script for a scalpel and become a doctor.Fourteen-year-old Juliet Capulet, of the Verona Capulets, has lived a lonely life—imprisoned by the feud that consumes her family and by her iron-fisted mother’s forcing her into an unwanted marriage.  She will do anything to avoid her betrothed, even if it requires faking a boil on her bottom—or something more dangerous. During the play’s final performance, Mimi’s wish to get away actually comes true when she and her heartthrob costar, Troy Summer, are magically transported into Shakespeare’s Verona. Now that she knows the real Juliet, Mimi doesn’t want to stand by and allow the play to reach its tragic end.  But if saving her new friend means changing the ending of the greatest love story of all time, will she and Troy ever make it back to Broadway? (blurb taken from Suzanne Selfors Website)

I picked up this book during my last trip to the library in the mood for a good romance book. I figured since it was based on Romeo and Juliet, the most famous love story of all time, I wouldn't be disappointed. While I did enjoy the story, it did disappoint in the whole romance department. There was maybe two actual romantic scenes. Enough with me ranting though, let's get to what I actually thought about the book.

While the book was hard to get into, once I got to the part where they enter Shakespeare's world I was hooked. I loved that Selfors took shakespeare's story and provided her own spin on things and made it more relatable to the modern teenager. She did a great job at not making the twists too predictable either, and while this is definitely no tragedy, there were a few surprises along the way. One of those suprises was when you met Juliet she was a spunky and adventurous girl who the nurse referred to as Beastie. In contrast when you meet Romeo he is completely love sick over Rosealine and mopes around for most of the book.

Selfors also did a good job at keeping the setting accurate to what you would find during the time period Romeo and Juliet was written. I think the constant setting helped keep some similarities to the original Romeo and Juliet.

All in all the book had a great idea for a story line, but the events that happened only needed 100 pages, not 256. I actually enjoyed it more then I thought I would after reading the first 20 pages and would recommend for anyone in the mood for a twist on a classic to read it.

Writing: 3/5 stars
Characters: 3/5 stars
Plot/Setting: 4/5 stars
Ending: 5/5 Stars
Cover: 3/5 stars

XOXO,
Jenni

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6. Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Dystopian/Survival

Release Date: 3/7/2013

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About the Book: After a string of hurricanes destroys the Gulf Coast and a sickness known as Delta Fever breaks out, a wall is built and the Gulf is quarantined. Separated by blood types tribes form in Orleans and Fen is living with the O-Positives when a fight starts to break out. Fen is left with the baby of her tribe leader and she begins to run in hopes of getting the baby over the wall before her blood becomes tainted with the fever. Fen meets Daniel, who is trying to find a cure for the fever, and together they must help each other survive.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Orleans is a dystopian that has a unique premise. It's set in a future where part of the US has been cut off and people have been broken up into blood type. That premise alone makes the book stand out in the crowded field of dystopian lit.

Even though it has dystopian elements, I would call Orleans more of a survival story than anything else. The story is about Fen and Daniel and their quest to survive in a dangerous world and society. The novel is told in two points of view-Fen's first person and Daniel's third person. Fen's voice is great and she has a bit of a dialect that makes her character memorable and real. The story is brutal and haunting and the memory of Fen getting scars on her arms is one that will stick with readers long after they finish.

Perfect for readers who like books about survival with a touch of the future.

Book Pairings: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (for the setting), Blood Red Road by Moira Young (for the dystopian/survival)

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by publicist

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7. Blog Tour: Escape Theory by Margaux Froley

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

Release Date: 3/12/2013

About the Book: (From Goodreads) Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide. 
 
 Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but she’s haunted by her own attachment to him. The two shared an extraordinary night during their first week freshman year; it was the only time at Keaton when she felt like someone else really understood her.  As the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn't have taken his own life. Bound by her oath of confidentialityand tortured by her unrequited love—Devon embarks on a solitary mission to get to the bottom of Hutch's death, and the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Escape Theory is a boarding school mystery with an interesting setting and premise. Devon is grieving over the death of Hutch, who she has had a long unrequited crush on throughout high  school after their night together freshman year. This makes her become very obsessive in figuring out what happened to Hutch and at times her obsession is a bit grating. Devon can be a bit annoying as she tries to solve the mystery and pushes constantly to figure out what is going on. She's also a bit bland at times and there were many times I wanted to yell at her for not being so stupid.

The mystery of what happened to Hutch kept me interested, even if some of the plot twists were a bit predictable. The thing that I struggled with the most was the fact that Devon was a peer counselor who had bee assigned people who were directly involved with Hutch and grieving his death. I would think that after a suicide a school would have professional help for students, especially a rich boarding school like Keaton, instead of relying on and allowing a student to counsel other students. That aspect of the plot required the biggest suspension of disbelief from me. 

There is a large cast of characters and at times I found it hard to remember who all the side characters were, but the main characters are fairly engaging. The mystery was enough to keep me reading and mystery has a nice twist ending that I'm sure will surprise many readers and teens will love it.

Despite having to suspend disbelief and at times disliking Devon, it was an interesting and engaging read. Readers who enjoy boarding school stories with a touch of mystery are sure to love this one. 

Book Pairings: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (for the suicide 
and mystery elements), The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney (for the peer  counseling) 

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from egalley received from publisher

1 Comments on Blog Tour: Escape Theory by Margaux Froley, last added: 3/14/2013
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8. Tween Tuesday: Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

Release Date: 6/21/2011

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About the Book: The three Barker have just moved to Arizona. Everyone has told them not to go up Superstition Mountain, but when their cat goes missing, the boys have to find her-even if it means hiking up the mountain. When the reach the mountain, they discover three human skulls. With their pesky neighbor Delilah, they decide they are the perfect detectives to find out exactly what is happening on Superstition Mountain.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Missing on Superstition Mountain is nominated for our state book award next year, so I picked up the audiobook. It's a pretty quick read (or listen) only four discs long. The story was cute and engaging and the narrator did a good job with the boys voices, although he did make the youngest brother sound really young and whiny.

I have to say that the boys in this book made me laugh. If I found human skulls while hiking a mountain, I would freak out. But instead, the boys all say "oh cool! Let's solve the mystery!" It's an adventure I think lots of tweens will wish they could go on and solve a cool old mystery of a strange mountain.

Some of the characters were a bit under-developed, but I think that's because this is the start of the series and we were left with some loose ends to uncover in book two. I didn't understand why the librarian was so rude and nosy or why the former historical society guy (can't remember his name) was bit mysterious. Hopefully we find out more in later volumes.

Overall Missing on Superstition Mountain was a fun adventure filled book that had lots of action, mystery, humor and friendship. I think it will be a popular pick on the state list and a great book talk over summer reading.

Book Pairings: On Etruscan Time by Tracy Barrett Middleworld by J & P Voelkel (both for the mystery elements)

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook CD I checked out from my library

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9. Hidden by Helen Frost

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary/Novel in Verse

Release Date: 5/10/2011

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About the Book: When Wren and Darra are eight years old, Darra's father steals a car, not knowing Wren is in the back. While police are on the lookout for a kidnapper, Darra knows that Wren has to be hiding out in her garage. Wren manages to escape and their lives are forever changed. Now, years later, they are both arriving at the same summer camp. Neither has seen each other since those fateful days and neither is sure how to approach the other and talk about what happened to them and the events that followed.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Helen Frost is a master of writing beautiful poetry. Wren and Darra's stories are told in alternating points of view with alternating poetry formats. I didn't realize until I read the author's note at the end of the book that all of Wren's poems are written so that readers can also read the last word in the longest sentences to read a new sentence which I thought was a cool little detail.

The story is engaging as both girls are dealing with the consequences of what happened to them years before and learning how their actions affected the other girl involved. Their stories intertwine in an interesting way and it's really nice how it all unfolds. I did think that their time at camp was a bit forced and I wanted them to talk to each a bit more, but I did appreciate what was there and it felt true to the characters and their ages.

Hidden would make a great book to read for a poetry unit as the book is a great example of using forms of poetry to tell a story and creating in depth characters and details. This one is on our state book award list for next year and I'm curious to see how our fourth-sixth graders respond to it. I think our readers who enjoy contemporary novels will love it.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy I checked out from my local library

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10. And Tango Makes Three - Banned Book Review



And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell & Henry Cole (illustrator)
Publication date: 26 April 2005 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10/13: 0689878451 | 9780689878459

Category: Children's Fiction
Format: Hardcover, paperback
Keywords: Diversity, animals, love, family, adoption


From Goodreads:

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango's family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children's book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who became partners and raised a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo.

Thuy’s review:

I had never heard of this book until I started looking up books to read for Banned Book Week. When I saw that a children’s picture book was one of the most challenged books on the list, I was intrigued.

And Tango Makes Three is the true and incredibly sweet story of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who live in New York’s Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo are always together, neither of them having taken a female mate. Roy and Silo try to imitate the other penguins by sitting on a rock, hoping that it will hatch into a baby penguin. One day, a zoo worker gives them an egg that needs to be taken care of. Roy and Silo love it and nurture it and then Tango is born.

This is a lovely little read for people of all ages. I found this true story to be incredibly touching and the penguins are adorable. The illustrations are well done and compliment the story. It’s a quick read that kids will find cute and entertaining.

This book has been banned for having themes of homosexuality. Well yes, the story is about two male penguins raising a child but it’s also about love and family. It shows that a family can be many things, be it two fathers, a single mother, a grandparent, or adoptive parents. For children who do not have a “traditional” family structure, Tango allows them to be represented in literature and shows that there is a more than one way to define family.

Will reading the book prompt children to ask their parents about homosexuality? Maybe--maybe not. The book is subtle and I think young children will see it as a cute animal story more than anything else. But what if they do ask questions? That isn’t a bad thing. Speaking openly with our children and exposing them to diversity early on will help them grow into more open minded, well rounded, and accepting individuals.

I really enjoyed this book and its message that love comes in all shapes in sizes. I would not hesitate to recommend it to my friends and their children.


Find out more about Ju

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11. Crank - Banned Book Review


Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Publication Date: 5 Oct 2004 by Simon Pulse
ISBN 10/13: 0689865198 | 9780689865190

Category: Young Adult Realistic Novel in Verse
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, eBook/Kindle
Keywords: Based on a True Story, Addiction, Drugs, Sex, Banned




Alethea's review:

Ellen Hopkins's debut YA novel is a cautionary tale first and foremost. This collection of poetry tells the story of her daughter Kristina--a bright, pretty, but damaged girl who makes some painful and disastrous decisions in her young life. Underlying it all is tragedy--the author's family drama made public. The scandalous subject matter coupled with adults' perception of how a tale like this might affect its intended audience--teenagers and other young people made to witness mature topics "before their time", has led to its being challenged and banned in various communities.

Kristina seems to go from zero to sixty into a drugged-out, sexed-up downward spiral--this abruptness is what I liked least about the book, though I can see both that a) it's very possible it really happened this way and b) for storytelling purposes, it still works better than a gradual decline. The language is cutting, crystalline, harsh--the alignment (disalignment? malignment?) of the printed words emphasize the disorder and compulsions that drive Bree, nee Kristina, to waste and wither even as a new life develops within her body. The overt lessons in Crank are quite direct--don't do drugs, don't be careless with sex, seek help when you need it, but miss that last hit of credibility. The voices of the character and the author both seem unreliable somehow. However, while Crank is not my favorite of Ellen's books, it's a must-read to set the stage for the rest of her stories. 

I have met Ellen Hopkins and I trust her writing. I have listened to her read from some of her later books (Fallout, Perfect) and her words have moved me to tears. I believe that, dark as it is, her narratives are important and even necessary to touch topics no parent wants to have to talk about with their kids. It's hard enough to do it as a preventative--what do you say when your child is, or--heaven forbid--you are the one with the addiction? Hopkins will touch the topics no one else will touch. She wrestles with the monster in the hopes that other Kristinas (and maybe even Adams) will be saved; not just to prevent teens from using drugs, committing crimes, or being sexually abused, but also for those teens who have been there and done that, and who no longer believe

1 Comments on Crank - Banned Book Review, last added: 10/2/2011
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12. Tween Tuesday: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great books for tweens. Join the fun and add your link below!

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy/Dystopian

Release Date: 8/30/2011

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About the Book: In the world of Quill, when you turn 13 you are either kept or sent to the Death Farm. Alex has always known that he was an Unwanted and that his twin brother, Aaron, was Wanted. When Alex arrives at the death farm expecting his end, he discovers a place called Artime. The leader, Mr. Today, explains that the Unwanteds are all creative children and will learn magic using music and art. But twins are dangerous to be seperated and Alex still feels a pull to his brother in Quill. A battle between Artime and Quill is brewing and both sides must learn to protect themselves, including brother fighting against brother.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I have seen many reviews and blurbs for this book describing it as The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.  The book is very much a dystopian Harry Potter and there are many similarities that made it seem like the story was borrowing a bit too much from Harry Potter's world. (A mysterious school, one friends who is very smart and excels in all her classes, a grumpy enemy, a "white wizard" type leader/mentor, mysterious creatures) I know these are all tropes of middle grade fantasy, so maybe I shouldn't be too hard on these plot devices.

What I really loved was the premise that  A group of creative kids are purged from a society because creativity is "unwanted" only to discover a whole new world where creativity equals magic. Not only are they wanted here but they are needed because they have power. As a kid who was interested in the arts than anything else, I felt that this was especially empowering to young readers.

I didn't really connect with any of the characters, which made the book a bit let interesting to me. This might have been due to the audiobook narrator, who was good, but also read in a bit of a deep, monotone at times. (I really liked him as a narrator, but his voice was very soothing and easy to listen to, I just would have liked more distinct character voices.) Alex was the most annoying to me. From the beginning, I got the impression that Aaron could care less about his twin, yet Alex is always wondering about Aaron and wanting to help him. I kept wanting to tell him to get over it already-his brother was mean and didn't care that Alex was being sent away to begin with so he should stop trying to risk things to contact him! I do think tween readers will connect with Alex though and maybe find him less frustrating than I did. I also felt that none of the other characters were fleshed out that well-I never really cared about any of them.

The story gets a bit dark, but it's no darker than other middle grade dystopian like Among the Hidden or Gregor the Overlander. Even though it wasn't really for me, I think tweens will eat it up. A good book if you have fantasy or dystopian fans who are looking for a new series.

5 Comments on Tween Tuesday: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, last added: 11/16/2011
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13. Shatter Me - Review


Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Publication date: 15 November 2011 by HarperTeen
ISBN 10/13: 0062085484 | 9780062085481

Category: Young Adult Futuristic Dystopian
Keywords: Super powers, war, romance
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, audiobook


From goodreads:

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.



Alethea's review:

I was very excited to meet Tahereh Mafi and pick up a copy of Shatter Me at the SCIBA 2011 Author Feast. Even more excited to read it, except for all the interference to my reading time caused by school. When I finally had a chance to curl up on a cloudy day and read it, my excitement waned a little, I have to confess.

The book starts out really well with a strong writing style and inventive strikethroughs. Unfortunately, as the story of Juliette starts rolling and more information came to light, I began to feel like I was stuck in an extended one-off episode of Heroes. And I am definitely not a Heroes fan. One of the characters says it best: everything is "awfully convenient." Big air-quotes.

I'm not saying you shouldn't pick this up. If you're a romance fan, you may literally need a fan for whenever the sparks really start to fly between Juliette and Adam. I know I had to shed a layer from my snuggie cocoon, even though it was like, 60 degrees in the apartment. The revelations closer to the end of the book do make me want to come back for more.

The book also earns a whole star just for the cover! I've been drooling over it for months, so even though it didn't deliver quite the punch I was expecting, I will definitely keep it on my shelf. Here's hoping the sequel will be a little more electrifying.





Visit the author online at www.taherehmafi.com and follow @taharehmafi on Twitter
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14. Tween Tuesday: Bake Sale by Sara Varon

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens! Join the fun and add your link below.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Graphic Novel

Release Date: 8/20/2011

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About the Book:  Cupcake has a pretty great life-his bakery is doing well, he's in a band, and he has a great friend in Eggplant. But lately he's been struggling to bake. When Eggplant suggests that Cupcake join him on his trip to Turkey. It turns out Eggplant is old family friends with Cupcake's hero, Turkish Delight and Cupcake is sure that Turkish Delight has the answer to his baking woes.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I really enjoy Sara Varon's books and her art style (even if Robot Dreams made me a bit sad!) I love her artwork because she really knows how to put emotion into her characters and it makes the story come to life. Sure, talking food isn't real, but I believe it with Sara Varon's art.

Bake Sale is an adorably funny book about friendship. Cupcake discovers that he didn't need to travel far to find the answers he was searching for. The artwork is adorably cute and the story of friendship is a nice one. The ending comes a bit quickly and didn't wrap the story up in the way I thought it would. It felt a bit rushed and out of place to the rest of the story. I also think it will leave young readers wanting more.

Bake Sale still had moments that made me laugh and I couldn't help but love Cupcake (it's that emotional artwork again!)  I think it was the artwork that sold me on this book more than the story. Readers who enjoyed Robot Dreams should give Bake Sale a try.

Side note: Yes, it is a little odd that a cupcake who talks and is alive makes baked goods to sell, so you have to get over that aspect a little bit. But it's still a charming book.

4 Comments on Tween Tuesday: Bake Sale by Sara Varon, last added: 12/15/2011
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15. Along a Long Road - Review


Publication date: 28 June 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13: 0316129259 | 9780316129251

Category: Children’s Picture Book
Keywords: Picture book, children’s, bicycling, travel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from the library


I picked up Along A Long Road at the library because of its eye-catching cover. Along A Long Road is unlike any picture book I’ve read recently. The illustrations are very graphic and stylized, with clean, fluid lines and only 5 colors (black, blue, red, white, and yellow). It doesn’t have much of a narrative. A bicyclist rides his bike up, down and all around - through town, by the sea, into a tunnel, by a carnival--following a yellow road throughout the book.

I really liked Viva’s illustrations and the fact that the road was shiny while the rest of the book was matte. It really gives the book a unique look and feel. I personally found the story to be a little boring and might have preferred it without words. That way I could have just lost myself in the imagery. However I can see how a simple story like this would appeal to very young children.

I think it would be really fun to have them follow the road and point out all of the people and things that are along the road. The standout here is definitely the art. I also just read on Viva’s website the following: “This celebration of cycling was created as a single, continuous 35-five-foot-long piece of art.” This actually makes me more impressed with the artwork than I already was and I would love to see this in its original 35 foot format.

I picked this book up for the illustrations and I can say that I wasn’t disappointed. While the story itself wasn’t a personal favorite, it’s a really easy read and I can see this appealing to very young children.

tweet @fishgirl182

2 Comments on Along a Long Road - Review, last added: 5/18/2012
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16. Spotty, Stripy, Swirly - Review


Publication date: 1 January 2012 by Millbrook Press
ISBN: 0761346139 | 9780761346135

Category: Children’s Non-Fiction Picture Book
Keywords: Children’s, non-fiction, picture book, patterns
Format: Hardcover
Source: Netgalley



Spotty, Stripey, Swirly is one of the newest additions to author Jane Brocket’s Clever Concepts line of non-fiction picture books. Like her other books, this one is not traditionally illustrated but is filled with photos that Brocket has taken herself. As you can tell from the title Spotty, Stripey, Swirly is about finding and recognizing patterns all around us.

Stripes, dots, zig zags, and circles abound, punctuated by Brocket’s signature style of bright, colorful photographs. Using eye catching photos, Brocket teaches children what a pattern is and how to recognize them. She urges them to find patterns in everyday objects. From simple to complex, patterns are everywhere if you just know where to look. This would be a nice addition to a very young child’s library.

say "twee"!

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17. Tween Tuesday: Hide and Seek by Katy Grant

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great middle grade reads for tweens! Join the fun, add your post below and discover a new read!

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Release Date: 8/1/2012

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About the Book: While out biking and hunting for a geocache, Chase comes across a cache with a message inside: WE NE. He's not sure what it means or if it's a joke. So he returns the next day and the message has more: WE NEED FOOD. Chase wants to help and he begins to worry that maybe someone is lost in the desert. When Chase finds two boys that need his help, he's not sure if he should believe all their stories or not. Something about what they're telling him just seems off. Can Chase help the boys? And what exactly is the truth?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I picked up Hide and Seek because it's on our state book award list for next year. And if your award reading lists are anything like ours, there are always lots of mysteries or sad, depressing books. Yes, the kids like those, but where are the exciting adventure books? I was so glad to see that Hide and Seek fills the need for an exciting adventure story that's a bit mystery, lots of survival and suspense and a great read. I also really liked that the book uses geocaching. My librarian self got excited because this could tie in together with a really nice geocaching program for all ages.

Sure, some of Chase's actions might be goofy. I wanted to tell him to talk to an adult. (He learns at least!) But kids will love the adventure to it all and overlook anything that seems a bit too convenient. I will be recommending this one to tweens looking for a book that has survival themes and I think they'll easily get caught up in Chase's story.

Book Pairings: Kidnapped Series by Gordon Korman, Escape Under the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy I checked out from my local library

2 Comments on Tween Tuesday: Hide and Seek by Katy Grant, last added: 5/22/2012
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18. Unbreak My Heart - Review

Publication date:  22 May 2012 by Bloomsbury USA
ISBN 10/13: 1599905280 | 9781599905280

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keywords: Sailing, Friendship, Boyfriends, Summer
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Source:  e-ARC received from Netgalley


Jacket copy:

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now.

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

Kimberly's Review:

Clementine's summer is not going as she planned. She lost her best friend, by doing something that wasn't so nice, and is now on a summer sailing trip with her family. Isolated from everyone and everything she knew, Clementine tries to learn from her mistakes, open her heart to the future and start the road to forgiveness, including herself.

The story jumps back and forth between the present day when Clem is on the boat with her family during the summer, and her memories of her life back home. She recounts how her and her best friend Amanda were insepera

2 Comments on Unbreak My Heart - Review, last added: 6/11/2012
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19. The Immortal Rules - Review


The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa
Publication date: 24 April 2012 by Harlequin Teen
ISBN 10/13: 0373210515 | 9780373210510

Category: Young Adult Dystopian Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, ebook
Keywords: Series, Dystopian, Vampires, Zombies
Source: Netgalley


From the jacket copy:

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of "them." The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked--and given the ultimate choice. Die...or become one of the monsters.

Alethea's Review:

I can't tell if it's partially that I'm burned out on vampires, but I did not enjoy reading The Immortal Rules as much as I did the Iron Fey series. Part of me really wanted to like it. I'm a sucker for dystopians after all--few of my friends shed as many tears as I did over Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I love the sting of tears as I read about puny humans forced to be brave, driven by a desire to protect whatever humanity they have left to them. Sadly, Allison Sekemoto, while at times admirable for her determination and strength in the face of disappointments and setbacks that ring all too real, doesn't quite grab me as other heroines have. It was almost as if she was the plot device in her own story--she's just there, and I am just turning the pages. 

Is it inventive? Sure. Kagawa cooks up some mythology about vampires and zombies that isn't too transparent; she answers just enough questions as the story progresses to keep you just short of the point where you get so frustrated that you put this book down, and go re-read one of her other, better-paced books. I kept trying to discern thematic meaning from the various rules that Allison has to then choose to obey or disobey according to her fast-fading conscience, the least of which is her lust for human

3 Comments on The Immortal Rules - Review, last added: 7/2/2012
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20. Tween Tuesday: Masters of Diasaster by Gary Paulsen

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme (or somewhat weekly, since my committee work has taken over!) to highlight great reads for tweens. Join the fun, add your link below and discover a new tween read.

Rating: 3/5

Stars Genre: Contemporary/Humor

Release Date: 8/10/2010

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About the Book: When Henry decides that he and his friends Riley and Reed are too boring, he comes up with an endless supply of activities that will make them interesting and hopefully break some world records. Henry is the mastermind of the adventures, Reed the recorder, and Riley somehow always ends up being roped into actually participating in the stunts. From biking off a roof, bull riding and trying to solve an old possibly murder mystery, Henry, Riley and Reed are in for some of the craziest adventures they've ever had.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I originally downloaded this audiobook from my library for two reasons: 1) It was narrated by Nick Podehl and 2) It was short. Both were total wins for me. I'm glad I decided to listen to, because while I'm sure it's a fun read, it's hilarious as an audiobook!

Nick Podehl creates various voices for every character which makes listening to this one very fun. I especially loved Riley's voice-somewhat whiny and squeaky and perfectly prepubescent. Every time Riley cried out "Call 911!!!" I couldn't help but laugh out loud.

Give this one (book or audio) to tweens wanting a funny book. Henry's ideas get more outrageous and creative as they go on and tweens are sure to be laughing along at each adventure-especially since Riley always somehow ends up in something extremely smelly! A humorous, quick read that is sure to please.

Book Pairings: Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, Alvin Ho Series by Lenore Look

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audibook I downloaded from my local library

4 Comments on Tween Tuesday: Masters of Diasaster by Gary Paulsen, last added: 7/10/2012
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21. Cinder and Ella - Review


Publication date: 1 Nov 2011 by Bonneville Books
ISBN 10/13: 1599559064 | 9781599559063

Keywords: Fairy Tale Retelling, Family, Sisters
Category: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Format: ebook, Hardcover
Source: Netgalley


Kimberly's review:

I love retellings of my favorite fairy tales, so I've been wanting to read Cinder and Ella for a while. Cinder and Ella are so close and dependent on each other, that their own family can't tell them apart. When Cinder begins working in the castle, Ella becomes unrecognizable to her family without her other half. Heartbroken, Ella wanders away, searching for a new home and people who will appreciate her. But the castle has dark forces at work and the sisters become the unfortunate target of the handsome, but not so nice prince.

I really like Ella. She's clever, smart and thoughtful. Even in dangerous situations, the girl is a fighter, and I love how strong she is. On the other hand, Cinder is wholesome, good and trusting. Which, honestly, annoyed me to no end. I know, I know. Maybe I'm just cynical. But Cinder is so sweet and pure, she can't even see the evil Prince is, well, evil. I mean really, Cinder? This is me virtually slapping some sense into you. There.

The writing is sweet, and the style is light and I breezed through this book. I kept wanting to know what happened. The story read like a fairy tale. It is so easy to get swept up in the adventure. Coming in below 300 pages, this super sweet and short tale is perfect for a light read. I especially love the mythology about the trees and how each person has a tree, and it's tied to them. When Cinder and Ella's father runs away, they have a feeling he is still alive because his tree is still alive. Looking worse every year, but alive. And this gives them hope.

But why only three stars you ask? I have a couple of problems with the plot and conclusion of the book. While the ending is tied up rather nicely, Cinder and Ella's family is so selfish and mean, the ending doesn't bring any closure for me. Also, and I won't give it away, the motivations behind some of the characters, especially in the royal family, feel hollow and flimsy.

Overall, Cinder and Ella is a fast, clever retelling of the classic Cinderella story. I think a lot of readers will enjoy Ella and Cinder's adventures.


*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book. 



Find the author online at www.authormelissalemon.com and on Facebook.

You can find more reviews by Kimberly at www.thewindypages.com and tweet her @TheWindyPages.

3 Comments on Cinder and Ella - Review, last added: 9/3/2012
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22. Tween Tuesday: The Star Maker by Laurence Yep

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens! Join the fun and add your link below.



Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Historical (1950's)

Release Date: 1/1/11

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About the Book: Artie is the youngest and smallest cousin, which means he is always getting picked on. At one family gathering Artie can't take the bullying from his cousin Petey, so he bragged that he would get everyone firecrackers at the Chinese New Year's celebration. Now Artie has to come up with the money, but he knows he can count of his Uncle Chester to help him out. That is until Uncle Chester has a string of bad luck.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: The Star Maker is a short, simple book that would be great for a classroom read alound for young tweens. The setting is very vivid and the descriptions of San Francisco and Chinatown come to life in the story. I really enjoyed the authors notes at the end about traditional Chinese New Year's celebrations and I think this would make a great read for students learning about Chinese New Year.

The story itself is a bit simple and the characters could have been developed more. I liked the relationship between Artie and Uncle Chester and it was nice to see a positive adult in Artie's life who was helping him with his cousins and encouraging him. Since Uncle Chester was the youngest of his generation, he understood Artie and watched out for him.

The book is short-just 100 pages, so it could be read quickly. I think it would also be a great early chapter book for younger readers who are moving up into chapter books. A nice story of tradition and family.

Book Pairings: Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han (both books have strong family stories and I think they would pair nicely for young tweens)

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by publisher

2 Comments on Tween Tuesday: The Star Maker by Laurence Yep, last added: 8/2/2011
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23. Bird in a Box - Review


Bird in a Box by Andrea Pinkney
Publication date: 12 April 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13: 0316074039 | 9780316074032

Category: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Keywords: Historical Fiction, African American stories, Orphans, Great Depression
Format: eBook, Hardcover, audiobook

Kimberly's review:

The year is 1937 and the Great Depression has hit everyone hard, especially African-Americans. Three orphans, all alone for different reasons, live at Mercy Home. These three orphans, all with different stories, backgrounds, families, and histories have one thing in common. They are going to root and hope and pray for Joe Louis, the first African-American boxer to become heavyweight champion of the world.

I'm not going to lie. If not for the Diversity in YA challenge, I probably wouldn't have known about this book. I had to seek it out, ordering it from the library. I'm glad I did.

The story is filled with hope, even in dark and desperate times, these three children give each other something more to hope for. The writing is solid, and I felt Otis's story was particularly strong and heartbreaking. While Willie's story is strong, it's Hibernia's voice which caught me. Her attitude, her strength is clear on the pages, especially when dealing with her Reverend father, whose secret longing for her lost mother is finally revealed after too many years.

Well-written with three distinct voices and a strong story! Go on! Root for Joe Louis and Hibernia, Ottis and Willie too!


Find out more about the author at the http://birdinaboxbook.com.
Join the Diversity in YA challenge here and check out Kimberly's progress here.

0 Comments on Bird in a Box - Review as of 8/7/2011 12:58:00 AM
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24. Guantanamo Boy - Review


Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
Publication date: 5 February 2009 by Puffin
ISBN 10/13: 0141326077   |   9780141326078

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keywords: Kidnapping, 9-11, fear, paranoia, torture, Diversity Reading Challenge
Format: Hardcover



Kimberly's Review: 

Khalid was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is a Muslim boy from England who is kidnapped and dragged to Guantanamo Bay. With no one to help him, and his family not knowing where he is, Khalid faces torture, mental and physical as images of his life flash before his eyes. And he holds onto the one thing they cannot take away from him. Hope.

Khalid is a great character. He's a teenage boy who thinks about soccer and girls. Having grown up in England, he is Westernized and cannot comprehend why he is being dragged away from his family, or why no one believes him when he tells them who he is--a 15 year old boy who was visiting family.

Perera uses a lot of strong imagery; you can't help but feel Khalid's confusion and misery. Who betrayed him? A stranger? A family member? Khalid has plenty of time to think about these things while he suffers in prison for days that go on and on...

This was a very hard book for me to read. While I think the story is interesting and the ideas are sound, the book was a bit too long and drawn out. (Khalid didn't arrive at Guantanamo until half way through the book.) Plenty of bad things happen before Guantanamo, but by the time he reaches the prison, Khalid has already been through really horrible stuff, so Guantanamo didn't seem to be as jarring or offensive as I'm sure it was meant to be. 

The darker days were offset by the beautiful memories of Khalid's life before the kidnapping. His memories are strong and they give him hope to keep going. But he's only 15, and there's only so much he can handle. Teetering on the brink of madness, Khalid loses all sense of childhood and security so quickly I forgot I was reading about a 15-year-old boy. The only thing that reminded me was his persistent screams of his age towards his captors.

I think it was important to read it, but I can't admit to liking the book. It's a very powerful story and the graphic images of torture, including water boarding are very real. The most horrific and sad part was in the author's note which states Khalid's journey was not uncommon occurrence--teens were brought to Guantanamo Bay. And that the prison still houses a little less than 200 prisoners today, two years after President Obama announced its closure.



Visit the author online at

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25. Breadcrumbs - Review


Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Publication date: 27 September, 2011 by Walden Pond Press
ISBN 10/13: 0062015052 | 9780062015051

Category: Middle Grade Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, also to be released in eBook/Kindle format (received ARC for review)
Keywords: Fantasy, Bookworm, Literary Allusions, Friendship, Diversity, Bullying

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. 



Alethea's review:


I had really high hopes for this book, and that may be why I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. There were many very entertaining passages in this novel, and of course my heart did a little tap-dance whenever I got a literary reference to something else. Ursu refers to kid lit favorites like the Harry Potter series and The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as sports and Star Wars. The main character, Hazel, is the odd girl out at school and looks to books and her best friend, Jack, for a sense of belonging.

When Jack is summarily excised from her life, she loses her way--the behavioral and social problems she is already having at school escalate and she gets in even deeper trouble. This is where the story started to fall apart for me. I couldn't quite feel the bits of "real world" issues that were falling into Hazel's magical Minnesota. The pervasive sadness and frustration Hazel experiences trying to get Jack back became a bit overwhelming towards the end, and I began to wonder if I was supposed to be enjoying this book at all!
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2 Comments on Breadcrumbs - Review, last added: 9/23/2011
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