Book Review: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

outsiders“Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

This book is about a fourteen-year-old Ponyboy Curtis and his life since he “stepped out of the movie theater with two things on his minds, Paul Newman and a ride home.” He lives on the east side of the town Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the Greasers live, with his two brothers Darry (Darrel) and Sodapop Curtis. On the west side of town was where the Socs (pronounced so-shiz) lived.

Greasers are like street punks. They wear t-shirts, jeans, leather jackets, and boots or Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. They listen to Rock n’ Roll singers like Elvis Presley. They love hot rod cars and put grease in their hair to look cool. Each Greaser is in a gang. Ponyboy is in a gang with his brothers, Dally (Dallas) Winston, Two-Bit (Keith) Matthews, Johnny Cade, and Steve Randle.

Socs, short for Socials, are the rich kids in town. They wear Madras shirts and have Mustangs for cars. They like to yell “GREASER!” when they drive by a Greaser and also jump (attack) Greasers. The main Socs in this book are Cherry (Sherri) Valence, Marcia, Bob (Robert) Sheldon, Randy Adderson, and David.

I feel like this book is more for 8th grade in my opinion because of the violence. This book is also a movie and a old TV show!

-Kate B., 7th grade

Series Review: “Dear America” by Scholastic

dear_americaAs we have many history-making moments in our time, you get to see big historical moments through a girl perspective in the series “Dear America” from Scholastic. The “Dear America” books are stories about big moments in history, like Hitler, in a form of a girl’s diary. The original series published by Scholastic in 1996, had hard covers, ribbon bookmarks attached inside (to hold your place), and 36 books.

The books out of the series I have read, and are my favorites, are Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell, 1847 by Kristiana Gregory (1997), Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady, RMS Titanic, 1912 by Ellen Emerson White (1998), The Great Railroad Race: The Diary of Libby West, Utah Territory, 1868 by Kristiana Gregory (1999), One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping: The Diary of Julie Weiss, Vienna, Austria to New York, 1938 by Barry Denenberg (2000), and many more.

The series was cancelled in 2004 with its final release, Hear My Sorrow. However, it was relaunched in the fall of 2010. The 2010 re-launch series came out with new covers and had no ribbon bookmarks were attached. The re-launch series has 19 books, from the original series like A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl, Belmont Plantation, Virginia, 1859 by Patricia McKissack (January 2011), Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine, 1918 by Lois Lowry (January 2011), as well as new “Dear America” stories like Behind the Masks: The Diary of Angeline Reddy, Bodie, California, 1880 by Susan Patron (January 2012).

As I am reading Color Me Dark by Patricia McKissack, I think the reading level is a bit low for middle school and high school, it is a great way on getting a learning on historical moments in a creative, non-boring way. The reading level I chose was from 3rd grade up to 7th grade.

-Kate B., 7th grade

Series Review: The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

little_house_prairieLaura Ingalls Wilder, who was born Febuary 7, 1867,  lived in the pioneer days in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. She had a older sister named Mary, younger sister named Carrie and her Mother Caroline, and her father Charles. Her family moved to different parts of the United States when she was young and always enjoyed the new land they lived on. In this series about her life as an American pioneer, Laura wrote nine books:

  • Little House in the Big Woods
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Farmer Boy
  • On The Banks of Plum Creek
  • By The Shores of Silver Lake
  • The Long Winter
  • Little Town on the Prairie
  • These Happy Golden Years
  • The First Four Years

I love this series. The books will have scary moments, interesting moments, and a history experience that doesn’t seem like history. Farmer Boy is not about Laura but it is about her husband, Almanzo, when he was a young working at a farm. All the other books that I know of in the series is about Laura except Farmer Boy. Some of the books are a bit long but they are good to read if you like short and long mixed books. The age level I would recommend is 8-12 years old and the grade level would be 3rd-7th.

-Kate B., 7th grade

Short Story Review: The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell

most_dangerous_gameNow, don’t get confused by the title. “The Most Dangerous Game” is about a man named Sanger Rainsford, a hunter, landing on a island  called Ship-Trap Island. As Rainsford travels around the island, he finds a huge door. He bangs on the door and a giant man named Ivan, lets Rainsford in. Then, Rainsford meets General Zaroff. Weird names, right? It gets even weirder. Zaroff says that he is a hunter, but a different kind of hunter. He tells that animal hunting bored him. The animals have instinct but no strategy. He says he has hunted every animal. He needed a new animal. How can you do that, you ask? He made a way…

Now, I won’t give it away– but it is shocking. You can consider him crazy, and I mean CRAZY! Now, since Zaroff and Rainsford are both hunters, they go on a hunt. But not a normal hunt but like a hide-and-seek hunt. Confused? Then you should read the story to figure it out, huh?

I would recommend this book to 7th graders with their English teacher or a dictionary because some words are hard to read. But 8th grade and up to 12th grade is the best level of reading. The ages would be 12 years old to 18 years old.

-Kate B., 7th grade

Book Review: Monster High, by Lisi Harrison

monster_high_coverFrankie Stein is not a average teenager. Aside from the fact that she’s only 15 days old and that she has bolts in her neck and a green tinge to her skin. Life does not seem hard for her,does it?
While she tries to be herself, Frankie’s parents send her off to `normie’ school (for regular, normal teenagers) to be like a normal human being. But Salem, Oregon is a monster-free zone, and Frankie soon finds other monster classmates, or RADs (Regular Attribute Disorder). There’s Lagoona Blue, Draculaura, Deuce Gorgon, D.J./Jackson Hyde, Cleo(patra) and Claudine (CLAWdeen, get it?).

Lisi Harrison’s book series is definitely aimed at the younger end of the teen market. `Monster High’ is a bit of unabashed pop-culture fun for tweens.

The monster kids rock out to Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. They have freaky fabulous wardrobes and say things like `that’s VOLTAGE!’ But if you read beyond the cool, unique stuff that they have, they have to face the fear of there group getting shown.

I really liked the character of Frankie Stein. She looks different, she loves to be her self and wants to show her greenness and she desperately wants to fit in. But she never sacrifices who she is for how other’s will see her. It’s a hard lesson she has to learn, but Frankie has a great sense of self, bolts, green skin and all! I recommend this book to about twelve and up because it is a little bit on the mature side but it is a fun book to read!

-Kate B., 7th grade

Book Review: Just Ella, By Margaret Peterson Haddix

just_ella_coverIn the book, Just Ella, Ella (also called “Cinder”) finds her own way to the ball (there was no fairy godmother, despite the rumors) and wins the heart of the prince. But now she is finding that life at the palace as Prince Charming’s betrothed is not as great as she thought it was going to be.

If you’ve heard a fairytale like this: A Glass Slipper, Prince Charming, Happily Ever After… we welcome you to reality: Royal Genealogy Lessons, Needlepoint, acting like “a Proper Lady,” and, worst of all, a Prince who is not the least bit interesting, and certainly not charming.

Well, as soon-to-be Princess Ella deals with her newfound status, she comes to realize she is not princess material. But breaking off a royal engagement is not easy, especially when you’re crushing on another boy in the palace. For Ella to escape, it will take intelligence, determination, and spunk, and no ladylike behavior allowed. Does she escape without getting caught?

When I read the book, the writer, Margaret Peterson Haddix, made you keep reading because it got very interesting! I would let the age 10 and older read it because it would be hard with the words that are hard to pronounce and complicated ones, too. The companion book to Just Ella by the same author is Palace of Mirrors. 

-Kate B., 7th grade

Book Review: Middle School: My Brother is a Big Fat Liar!, by James Patterson

my_brother_coverMiddle School: My Brother is a Big Fat Liar! is about a 6th grade girl named Georgia Khatchadorian, who enters Hill Village Middle School that her brother, Rafe Khatchadorian, also attended, and gets a bad personality reputation.

They thought she was like her brother, who was the trouble maker of the school before he got kicked out, so nobody liked or went near her. Even the teachers didn’t like her. She wanted to prove them wrong but that will be hard for her. She goes through this crazy roller-coaster at school and ends perfectly.

This book is the sister version of Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life and Middle School: Get Me out of Here!, which are the books that feature Georgia’s brother. In this book, the chapters are short but there is a lot of them! I would recommend this book to 6th graders through 9th graders because for 6th graders, this book will be funny and will give you an idea of what middle school is really (not) like. It’s also a great book for real middle school kids that would like a humor-filled book about a time like theirs. I hope you will enjoy the book!

-Kate B., 7th grade

Book Review: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

narnia_coverI read The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with my class this year and I liked it.

The story is about four kids, Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan, who go into a wardrobe at the Professor’s House. Lucy goes into the wardrobe before the others, during a game of Hide-n-Seek on a rainy day. She meets a faun (a creature in Narnia), Mr. Tummus, in a forest where the wardrobe entered. He takes her to his cave where he lives, and serves tea.

Two hours pass and Lucy runs back through the wardrobe to her siblings and says,
“I’m here! I’m here! I’m not lost!” But it turns out it’s only been two minutes since the game started– according to the rest of them. Lucy talks about Narnia and none of them believe her. Days later, they all go in the wardrobe and go to Narnia and discover that she was telling the truth. And that starts the Adventure in Narnia.

There is also a movie but it is somewhat different. I recommend this book for age 9 and up because it is challenging in some parts and it is a good fantasy book.

-Kate B., 6th grade

Book Review: The Dork Diaries series, by Rachel Renee Russell

dork_diaries_coverThe Dork Diaries series is about a fourteen year old, eighth-grade girl, Nikki Maxwell, who moves to a private school because she got a scholarship with her dad’s help and has trouble in the beginning and thoughout the books.

She writes in a diary to tell you about her life at her new school. She does have friends, a crush, a mean school girl, and a lot of trouble ahead of her. The books are illustrated with black-and-white images, and are funny and relatable.

There are five books out right now, plus a “do it yourself” book (How to Dork Your Diary). The sixth book comes out this June. Each book is about 288 pages to 368 pages. I have read the Dork Diaries books and LOVED them! I like every one of them because it’s the same story line but each book is more interesting than the one before.

The reading level of this series is ages 9 and up. I would recommend it to girls that love stories that are funny and not too long, not too short. It is a girl virsion of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid. If you’re a fan of those books, then you will like this!

– Kate B., 6th grade