Julia’s Review: Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins?

Jessica Jenkins

A third review by Julia this week.  Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler

Three words:  funny, exciting, unique
Favorite part: I really liked when Izzy got a super power.
Favorite character:  Izzy because she was most like me- nerdy and a little geeky.
How I felt:  I got excited in this book, especially when they broke in to the house where Max was imprisoned.

Synopsis from Candlewick “Jessica Jenkins has always been a perfectly ordinary girl—until one day part of her arm vanishes in the middle of geography class! Jessica’s friends Izzy and Tom are determined to help her develop her newfound invisibility, though Jessica is more concerned with discovering where the ability came from. When it becomes apparent that there may be other kids developing strange powers of their own, Jessica marshals them into a slapdash band of “slightly superheroes.” But when an unscrupulous adult discovers the origin of their powers and kidnaps one of the team, the rest must put their heads—and all of their skills—together to avert disaster.”

Julia’s Review: Lucky Strike

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Another review by seventh-grade expert, Julia.  Lucky Strike by Bobbie Pyron

Three words:  touching, charming, comfortable (the town felt comfortable, not like the book itself was soft and cozy)
Favorite person: Chum because he was nice to everybody. I sort of pitied him because he was just looking for a friend, but no one wanted to be his friend until Nate and Gen came along.
Favorite part:  When Ruth and Rebecca found the turtle nest.

Synopsis from Arthur Levine Books “Nate Harlow would love to be lucky, just once!

He’d like to win a prize, get picked first, call a coin toss right, even! But his best friend, Genesis Beam (aka Gen), believes in science and logic, and she doesn’t think for one second that there’s such a thing as luck, good or bad. She doesn’t care what names the other kids call them. She cares about being right, about saving the turtles of Paradise Beach, and she cares about Nate.

Then, on his birthday, at the Goofy Golf mini-golf course, Nate is struck by lightning — and survives! Suddenly baseballs are drawn to his bat-popular kids want HIM on their side. It seems the whole town of Paradise Beach thinks Nate has the magic touch.

But is there room for Gen in Nate’s lucky new world?”

Julia’s Review: Paper Things

Paper Things

 

This spring, I posted about Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson.  Recently, my expert reviewer, Julia wrote the following review.  Julia is a rising seventh grader.

Three words:  heart-wrenching, horribly real, painful (not like it was a bad book, just Ari’s situation was painful)
The book made me feel. . .  sorry for Ari because she had lost so much and was very lost in the world. I was confused by why they had left home.
Favorite character:  Daniel. He was so funny and kind and made Ari feel much better.
Favorite part:  When they organized Crazy Hat Day and got the school traditions back.

Synopsis from Candlewick “When Ari’s mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it’s been two months, and Gage still hasn’t found them an apartment. He and Ari have been “couch surfing,” staying with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage’s girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.”

Julia’s Review: Omega City

Omega City

Omega City by Diana Peterfreund

Three words:  thrilling, well-written, forever interesting

This book made me nervous and worried for the characters. I was on the edge of my seat every minute, because the plot was just real enough to make a reader really scared.
My favorite character was Fiona. I know she’s the villain, but she was so evilly cunning, and had such a perfect balance of clever practitioner and sly trickster that I felt a little sorry for her when she was arrested.  My favorite part was when they were being chased by Fiona and her thugs and the place was flooding. I seriously thought Savannah was going to die.

Synopsis from Harper Collins:

“Gillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War–era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced them to move to the middle of nowhere, but Gillian knows he’s right and plans to prove it.

When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Underberg’s diary in her father’s mess of an office, she thinks she’s found a big piece of the puzzle—a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Dr. Underberg’s greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her skeptical younger brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off on a journey into the ruins of Omega City, a vast doomsday bunker deep inside the earth,.

But they aren’t alone inside its dark and flooded halls. For while Gillian wants to save her dad’s reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg’s secrets to light, there are others who will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried . . . forever.”

Julia’s Review: Murder is Bad Manners

Murder is Bad Manners

Summer reading has started at the library, which  means all the books I’ve been meaning to write about will have to wait.  Thankfully, I have Julia to keep the blog going this summer.

Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

Three words:  captivating, pageturner, complex and surprising

This book had me biting my nails nonstop- it was so interesting that I just couldn’t stop reading! I loved how surprising the ending was; most mysteries just have the detectives follow a hunch and then it turns out they’re right. This was very different in a good way.  My favorite character was Miss Griffin. She managed to fool everyone until Daisy accidentally ran into her!  My favorite part was when Daisy and Hazel found the diary and got chased by Miss Griffin. At first I was like “Uh-oh, she’s after them,” but then I realized that this wasn’t just their teacher, they were literally being chased by a serial killer!

PS- I don’t know why I’m so fond of smart villains, I’m just like that.

Synopsis from Simon and Schuster “Two friends form a detective agency—and must solve their first murder case—in this start to a middle grade mystery series at a 1930s boarding school.

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are best friends at Deepdean School for Girls, and they both have a penchant for solving mysteries. In fact, outspoken Daisy is a self-described Sherlock Holmes, and she appoints wallflower Hazel as her own personal Watson when they form their own (secret!) detective agency. The only problem? They have nothing to investigate.

But that changes once Hazel discovers the body of their science teacher, Miss Bell—and the body subsequently disappears. She and Daisy are certain a murder must have taken place, and they can think of more than one person with a motive.

Determined to get to the bottom of the crime—and to prove that it happened—before the killer strikes again, Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects, and use all the cunning, scheming, and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?”

Julia’s Review: The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold

The Imaginary

Julia is on fire.  I have five reviews ready to go from her.  I’m feeling confident you’ll see recommendations from her once a week this summer.  Check out what she thought about  The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold and illustrated by Emily Gravett.

Three Words:  exciting, funny, interesting

Favorite Character:  Fridge. I loved how loyal he was to Lizzie.

Least Favorite Character:  I was scared by Mr. Bunting and his imaginary.

Favorite Part:  When Amanda got better and said she’d never forget Rudger, and Fridge and Lizzie were reunited.

Book synopsis from Bloomsbury “Rudger is Amanda Shuffleup’s imaginary friend. Nobody else can see Rudger-until the evil Mr. Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr. Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumor has it that he even eats them. And now he’s found Rudger

Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. He needs to find Amanda before Mr. Bunting catches him-and before Amanda forgets him and he fades away to nothing. But how can an unreal boy stand alone in the real world?”

 

Julia’s Review: Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

Blue Birds

Another review by sixth grader, Julia.  This time it’s on Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose; a novel written in verse.

Three Words: touching, deep, heartfelt
Favorite Part:  When Kimi’s mom decided to let Alis stay.
Favorite Character:  Kimi because she was kind and selfless.
How did the book make you feel?  I was upset when George betrayed Alis, and sad when she left her family. I couldn’t believe she did that, especially because she loved baby Samuel so much.

Book synposis from Penguin “It’s 1587 and twelve-year-old Alis has made the long journey with her parents from England to help settle the New World, the land christened Virginia in honor of the Queen. And Alis couldn’t be happier. While the streets of London were crowded and dirty, this new land, with its trees and birds and sky, calls to Alis. Here she feels free. But the land, the island Roanoke, is also inhabited by the Roanoke tribe and tensions between them and the English are running high, soon turning deadly.

Amid the strife, Alis meets and befriends Kimi, a Roanoke girl about her age. Though the two don’t even speak the same language, these girls form a special bond as close as sisters, willing to risk everything for the other. Finally, Alis must make an impossible choice when her family resolves to leave the island and bloodshed behind.”

Julia’s Review: Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Nightbird

I hit the jackpot last week.  Julia, a guest reviewer, sent me reviews on five different books for middle graders.  As a an avid reader and sixth grader, she’s an expert.  I’m hoping she’ll keep sending reviews so I can feature a review by her each week, especially during the summer.  (No pressure, Julia.)

After reading what Julia wrote about Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, I can’t wait to read it.  Trust me.  You are going to want to read it too.

  • Write three words to describe this book.  amazing, beautiful, WOW
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?   I felt sorry for James because he couldn’t leave the house, and Twig’s mom, because she was so reclusive.  He was my favorite character because he was so kind, smart, and heroic.
  • How did the book make you feel?  I was so happy when James rescued Agatha and when Julia met Twig. This book is quite possibly my favorite book ever; it’s so full of feelings and I feel like all the emotions just blend together into a perfect, swirling dance.

Book Synopsis from Random House.  “Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.”

 

Julia’s Review of All The Answers by Kate Messner

All The Answers

Another book review by sixth grader, Julia, All the Answers by Kate Messner.

  • Write three words to describe this book.  moving, interesting, funny
  • What was you favorite part of the book?  I liked when Ava climbed the entire ropes course, because she overcame her fears and felt like she could do anything.
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?  I really liked Emma, her idea of having a doesn’t name each day is really funny. I also liked Mrs. Galvin.
  • How did the book make your feel?  I felt sorry for Ava because her mom had cancer, and her grandpa was sick and he died.
  • Did anything in the book make you happy?  I was happy when Ava made all the people at the nursing home so happy, and when her mom got better.
  • Did anything in the book make you sad?  If so, what? I was sad when her grandpa died.

Book Synopsis from Bloomsbury Publishing –What if your pencil had all the answers? Would you ace every test? Would you know what your teachers were thinking? When Ava Anderson finds a scratched up pencil she doodles like she would with any other pencil. But when she writes a question in the margin of her math quiz, she hears a clear answer in a voice no one else seems to hear.
With the help of her friend Sophie, Ava figures out that the pencil will answer factual questions only – those with definite right or wrong answers – but won’t predict the future. Ava and Sophie discover all kinds of uses for the pencil, and Ava’s confidence grows with each answer. But it’s getting shorter with every sharpening, and when the pencil reveals a scary truth about Ava’s family, she realizes that sometimes the bravest people are the ones who live without all the answers…

Julia’s Review of Fish in a Tree

FishinTree

We heard from Lily.  Now it’s time to hear what Julia, her sixth grade sister, thinks about Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

  • Write three words to describe this book.  memorable, interesting, realistic
  • What was you favorite part of the book?  I liked when Albert and Keisha stood up to the boys that had been bullying Albert.
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?  My favorite character was Keisha because she was brave and easy to befriend. If I were a new student I would really like to have someone like that to help me. I also really liked Travis, because he was so caring.
  • How did the book make your feel?  I felt sorry for Ally, but I also felt like she would make things so much easier for herself if she had told the teachers that she had trouble reading. I think that Mr. Daniels is a lot like my sister’s math teacher. She’s always talking about the funny things he does, and both teachers are very eccentric.
  • Did anything in the book make you happy?  I was happy that Ally learned to like Mr. Daniels and that Jessica stood up to Shay.
  • Did anything in the book make you sad?  If so, what? I was sad when Ally squished the butterfly. She reacted without thinking and the lady at the Butterfly Gardens thought she was stupid.

Book Synopsis from Penguin – “Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.”

Julia’s Review of Waiting For Unicorns

Waiting for Unicorns

I’ve found another avid reader to help me review books for middle grade children.  Lily’s sister, Julia.  She is a sixth grader.  I was reading a book when I learned these sisters were eager to review books for the blog.  I almost didn’t send it because I was enjoying it so much.  As I’m writing this review, I’m trying not to read Julia’s review.  Other than her three words describing the book, which convince me I should read this book.

Waiting For Unicorns by Beth Hautala

  • Write three words to describe this book.  touching, well-written, captivating
  • What was you favorite part of the book?  Why?  My favorite part was when Talia got the necklace from her dad for her birthday.
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?  My favorite character was Simon (aka Guitar Boy).
  • How did the book make your feel?  I felt very sympathetic for Talia because she had lost her mom and then her home, and then her dad got stuck out on the ice.
  • Did anything in the book make you happy?  If so, what? I felt happy that Talia became friends with Simon, Sura and the Birdman.
  • Did anything in the book make you sad?  If so, what?  I was sad that Talia didn’t get to see the narwhals, but also kind of happy because Sura had said, “Unicorns break your heart.”

Book Synopsis from Penguin website – “When twelve-year-old Talia—still reeling from the recent death of her mother—is forced to travel with her emotionally and physically distant whale-researcher father to the Arctic for the summer, she begins to wonder if the broken pieces inside of her will ever begin to heal. Like her jar of wishes, Talia feels bottled up and torn. Everything about life in Churchill feels foreign, including Sura, the traditional Inuit woman whom Talia must live with. But when Sura exposes her to the tradition of storytelling, she unlocks something within Talia that has long since been buried: her ability to hope, to believe again in making wishes come true.”