Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, by Jeff Kinney

cabin_fever_coverLet me start off by saying I absolutely love how Jeff Kinney writes his stories! He is funny and always makes me want to read his book again and again. Cabin Fever, another of Jeff’s novels, is riveting and hilarious.

Greg Heffley is a boy who goes to Westmore Middle School. Greg is always looking for shortcuts in his life. Whether it’s money or school, he is always looking for the easy way out. Greg is always looking for ways to earn money and one day while it snows he strikes an idea. But the problem is, can he strike the customers?

He opens up a snow shoveling business. Greg goes around his neighborhood looking for jobs. He finally gets one when a guy agrees with is job. He starts to shovel the driveway doing his best job but it just seems that more and more snow is coming down. After a “short” break he finds an idea that will make him a millionaire- the only thing left is to test it out. A snow mower! He goes to his grandma’s and quickly uses her mower to find out it works great… until it freezes out! Will he ever get rid of the snow and get paid?

I would recommend this book to anyone who is 9 and up. It is really, really, really funny!

-Satej B., 7th grade

Book Review: Hokey Pokey, by Jerry Spinelli

hokey_pokey_coverA land where grownups do not exist, kids run free, riding on bikes and tricycles of all different shapes and sizes, while visiting the Hippodrome and Snuggles… where the Hokey Pokey man comes every day to serve cube shaped snow cones in every flavor from chocolate to jalapeño.

Welcome to Hokey Pokey, by Jerry Spinelli, a recently written book for teens about a fantasy land where boys rule day and night, and girls are not liked.

In the land of Hokey Pokey, Jack, an older boy is the leader of everyone, and spends his time cruising Gorilla Hill on his bike and always fooling around with his two amigos, Dusty and LaJo. Jack, the main character, has his prize bike stolen from by a popular girl, and he tries to get it back with the help of his two amigos.  But Jack also has another problem on his hands.  He is getting too old for Hokey Pokey, and his tattoo that all children in Hokey Pokey are issued as soon as they arrive is disappearing fast. Jack loves Hokey Pokey, but knows that it is getting ready for him to leave Hokey Pokey, where ever that may take him.

This book is a magical and humorous read, and even though girls are not accepted in the book, I feel this is for all genders, yet it is mostly geared towards boys. Hokey Pokey has nonstop action, and is always on the go, always amusing and entertaining.

Another thing I liked about the book is that every chapter switches perspectives, whether it is Jack’s, Dusty’s, LaJo’s, or Jubilee’s (the girls who stole Jack’s bike).  Hokey Pokey is a heartfelt story with a surprise ending that will definitely satisfy the reader.

Overall, I would say that Hokey Pokey was one of the better books that I have ever read, and I would recommend it to any teen who likes to read.

-Will R., 9th grade

Book Review: Almost Home, by Joan Bauer

almosthome_coverAlmost Home by Joan Bauer is about a girl named Sugar. Sugar and her mom, Reba, are in debt because Reba’s ex-husband took all their money and left them. When Sugar’s mom makes a quick trip to the grocery store, a little girl gives Sugar a puppy named Shush under very odd circumstances. Later, Sugar and her mom are forced to evacuate their house that holds so many memories. They are homeless, moving from homeless shelters to park benches to a caring home that takes in homeless kids.

With lots of adventures and twists, Joan Bauer has amazed me again. I read Close to Famous last year and loved it. So when I saw Almost Home on the bookshelf (and with a dog on it), I HAD to get it! I wasn’t disappointed. If I had to rate it 1 – 10, I’d give it a 9.5. There’s no way to improve it. It’s just they talk Southern, and for me the dialect is a bit harder to read. But once I got into it, it became easier.

My favorite part in the book was when Sugar got the puppy. A little girl and her father were arguing in a grocery store parking lot while Sugar was waiting for her mom to come out. The little girl plopped Shush the puppy in Sugar’s hands, explaining some things. Then the girl hurried off, leaving Sugar there holding the puppy.

I recommend this book for girls (or maybe boys) who are interested in learning about life and enjoy nail-biting stories. People who appreciate little things and possibly would like to see what being homeless is like would probably also like this book too.

-Danielle L., 6th grade

Book Review: The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis

mightymissmalone_coverThe Mighty Miss Malone is a historical fiction novel by Newbery Medal winning author Christopher Paul Curtis. This story is about twelve-year-old Deza Malone and her family.

Deza has a loving and caring mother and a brother who has a gifted voice. The Great Depression has caused tremendous trouble for black men like Deza’s father, so he leaves their home in Gary, Indiana in search of a job. One month later they still have had no word from him, so Mrs. Malone decides to leave Gary in search for her husband along with her children.

On the search, they find shelter in a camp in Flint, Michigan. Deza starts to attend school, although she encounters racial prejudice. A few weeks later a man at camp hears her brother Jimmie’s singing voice and convinces him to leave the camp so they can find work in Chicago or New York. That same night, Mrs. Malone and Deza leave camp to find a more permanent home.

At last, Deza finally receives a letter from her father. What does the letter say? What
happens to Jimmie? Will she and her mother finally find Deza’s father? Will
they live happily together as a family? Read the book to find out.

I think Deza is called “Mighty Miss Malone” because she is strong and stays positive through hard times. I loved the fact that she is caring and compassionate for her family. I think girls her age can relate to her. I highly recommend this beautifully-crafted book.

-Anmol K., 6th grade

Book Review: The Merchant of Death, by D.J. MacHale

pendragon1_coverBobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal teenage boy living in Stony Brook, Connecticut. He has everything going for him: the girl of his dreams, good grades, and a position on the basketball team. But his life is about to be thrown upside down.

When Bobby’s Uncle Press shows up at his door and whisks him off to a flume, or a portal to different worlds, his life takes a huge turn for the worst. The next thing Bobby knows, he’s thrown into a parallel universe, fighting for his life. He comes face-to-face with monsters and despicable villains, and he also learns the true meanings of courage and sacrifice.

D.J. MacHale’s novel Pendragon: The Merchant of Death is a good example of a coming-of-age book. Bobby and his friends must learn the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, maturity, and sacrifice for the greater good. The tight bond they share is shown to be stronger than the obstacles they face. MacHale’s book delivers many messages to adolescents to help them through a difficult time in their lives and does it in a way that captures the minds of the readers and keeps their interest.

This series has many fantasy aspects to it, similar to books like Harry Potter. However, these books are shorter and written to appeal more to the teenage mind. McHale gives the readers a story where a normal teenager goes from being nothing more than an average student and star basketball player to being an important figure who has to help save not just the world, but the universe.

The reader is shown the doubt and fear Bobby faces throughout the book, and how he must grapple with the new responsibility and experiences. This shows adolescent readers that it is all right to be scared, but that doing the right thing is a part of growing up and transitioning into adulthood. This book is a must-read for any pre-teen or teenage reader who loves adventure and fantasy.

-Julia D.

Book Review: The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald

great_brain_coverI remember when I read this book in the sixth grade. It was one of my teacher’s favorites and at the end of the year he gave everyone in the class a copy.

Written in the late 1960s, The Great Brain is a classic novel. The story is set in Utah in the 1890s and based on the author’s real-life experiences as a child.

In the book, John and his brother Tom have many adventures together. Tom is tricky, clever, and a con man. He is known as the “Great Brain” and is always finding different ways to get money. Tom once charged the neighbor kids a penny each to see the hole that was being dug for the water closet, or outhouse. Tom manages to get their teacher fired as well. With Tom always causing trouble he seems like the bad guy, but he later grows from that. His plan to rescue the two boys lost in Skeleton Cave makes him a hometown hero. He then sees what can happen for someone if you do the right thing. Tom and John (known as J.D.) become closer as brothers as well as their whole family.

And that’s just the beginning. With the other seven books in the series, there are a lot more adventures to be had and lessons to learn. The titles in the series are:

  • More Adventures of the Great Brain
  • Me and My Little Brain
  • The Great Brain at the Academy
  • The Great Brain Reforms
  • The Return of the Great Brain
  • The Great Brain Does it Again
  • The Great Brain is Back

It is a great series filled with excitement, drama, and humor.

-Lauren B., 12th 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