Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Review #1295
Gooney Bird on the Map by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Middy Thomas
Rating: one star (out of four)

I wasn’t a big fan. I haven’t read other books with Gooney Bird in them, but I didn’t really care for her personality. I may be missing something from previous books, but I didn’t like how much attention Gooney Bird got from her teacher, principal, and classmates. I wasn’t sure why they put up with her crazy styles and antics. I felt like everybody catered to her somewhat outrageous demands and ideas. I didn’t think she was completely bossy and domineering, but I just got frustrated with some of her ideas and the way she seemed to “know” what was best for everyone else. I wouldn’t recommend, but other people might like this book if they enjoyed previous books with this character.

Book Review #1294
Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe by Scott Gustafson
Rating: one star (out of four)

I read part of this book, but then gave up because I wasn’t liking how flippantly they portrayed Edgar Allan Poe and their imagination of his childhood. I know it’s a fiction version with liberties taken to make people interested in his life, but I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t care for the characters and I found myself disinterested several times while reading. The illustrations didn’t really hold my attention either. I wouldn’t recommend.

Book Review #1293
Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes
Rating: two stars (out of four)

A quick and fairly engaging read. I thought the author did a good job of portraying a young narrator who was conflicted by growing up and all of the awkward changes that take place. It was told in verse and I liked having the story develop through poetry. It was an interesting story and I felt that all of the characters were realistically portrayed, but I wasn't super engrossed. I might recommend.

Book Review #1292
Waiting for Magic by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Amy June Bates
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. It was really sweet and had a poignant message. Even though I'm not a big fan of dogs, I enjoyed the dogs in this story and felt like they gave great insight in the life of the disrupted family. The message was simple and I thought Patricia MacLachlan did an excellent job of keeping the quality of the story while making it something a juvenile reader could understand and enjoy. It's a book that has a wide audience and the characters and illustrations are very much alive and accurately show their personalities. I would recommend this story.

Book Review #1291
Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I picked up the book because of the illustrations. I had read a couple of other books with Kadir Nelson's drawings and enjoyed them. The story was nice and I did like all of the pictures, but I wasn't in love with it. People who are fans of ballerina books might enjoy it more.

Book Review #1290
Wildefire by Karsten Knight
Rating: one star (out of four)

I'm not going to finish this. The violence is disturbing and I'm over 80 pages in and I have no feelings whatsoever for any of the characters. Plus I don't approve of 16-year-olds drinking/breaking the rules and thinking it's not a big deal. Not my kind of book at all. The beginning was really dark and disturbing. I tried reading more to see how it would fare after that and I wanted to give it a chance to turn into something more interesting, or at least explain why those things happened. But it didn’t. I was not at all impressed with how the teenagers acted and especially their reckless view of life. I was annoyed with how easily they broke rules and ignored authority figures. I didn’t like any of the characters and felt they were mean, underdeveloped, and disturbing. I didn’t care what happened to them and that's why I quit reading. I wouldn’t recommend.

Book Review #1289
The Predicteds by Christine Seifert
Rating: one star (out of four)

I wanted to like this book, but there were just so many factors that made that impossible. The premise was really intriguing and I thought the cover and the first couple of chapters were good. I was hooked and I wanted to know what was going to happen. But after those initial few pages of excitement, the story really started to lag and the character development was completely off-base. I was not impressed with any of the characters and thought they needed major revision. The plot took a turn for the worse and there were a lot of things that just didn’t add up in the book. The plot had some awkward gaps that didn’t make sense and some things were left unexplained. I was so annoyed with the lack of character depth and felt like a lot of the people weren't portrayed realistically. I wouldn't recommend, it was a disappointment.

Book Review #1288
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of Vivian Vande Velde’s earlier novels. Even though the plot was pretty simplistic and the story took place over a seemingly short span of time, I was fairly engrossed the whole time I read. I liked the characters and thought they were portrayed realistically. The story was interesting and I wanted to know how things would end up. It was a short read, but I liked the story progression. It was a one of the better fantasy books I had read in a while. It was a seemingly simplistic fantasy novel, but because of that element, it felt like a breathe of fresh air compared to all of the other fantasy novels I had been reading lately. I would recommend!

Book Review #1287
Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Rating: one star (out of four)

When I read the premise, it sounded pretty good. Unfortunately, the story did not live up to its potential. The main character was really immature. I wanted her lines and actions to be less predictable and annoying. I kept waiting for her to do something interesting, but I was continually disappointed by her choices. I almost stopped reading in the middle because I didn't really care about the major plot or characters. Near the end of the book there was a change in character personalities that didn't add up at all. I was disgruntled with how the people acted and the way things were resolved. The ending was a letdown and I was largely disappointed with the plot, characters, and action sequences. I wouldn’t recommend.

Book Review #1286
My Favorite Band does not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek
Rating: one star (out of four)

I didn’t get this book. At all. The whole time I was reading it, I kept wondering when things would start to make sense. You’d think that things would be explained, but I was so frustrated with the lack of details that I almost gave up reading because it was so bizarre. I wish I had given up reading it because the ending was a huge disappointment. I only finished for the sake of having some sort of conclusion to explain the hours I had spent reading the book. But the ending didn’t offer anything satisfying enough to justify reading the book. Also, I have no clue what genre to categorize this book as - it was all over the place. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review #1285
Just Like Heaven: A Mutts Children's Book by Patrick McDonnell
Rating: two stars (out of four)

While this book had a sweet message and cute illustrations, it was a letdown. I was browsing the bookstore and I saw a stack sitting on the shelf and picked it up out of curiosity. The story just didn't have enough poignancy for me to like it and I thought it was a little dumbed-down. Other people might like it, but I just didn't care for it.

Book Review #1284
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Absolutely loved the illustrations. They were imaginative and suited the story perfectly. I really liked the story and felt like it would entertain almost anyone. I would love to see this garden in real life. The little boy was really sweet and I couldn't help but love his personality. Although I adored this book, but it didn't quite make it to my favorites shelf or top rating. It had nice footnotes in the back. I'd definitely recommend.

Book Review #1283
Me, Frida by Amy Novesky, illustrated by David Diaz
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I love the illustrations for this picture book. They were colorful and engaging. The story was nice as well, but I mostly enjoyed the illustrations. I liked that it was historical, but still felt like a fictional story. I'd recommend.

Book Review #1282
How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a nice book, but a little lackluster for me. I thought the friendship between the two animals was interesting and the illustrations were good, but I wasn't absorbed by the story. I was a little bored sometimes. I think that other people might like it though, it just didn't do anything for me.

Book Review #1281
The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Marcellus Hall
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I picked up this book based on the cover and I wasn't disappointed. It was a charming book about barnyard animals and their quirks. The illustrations were funny and cute. I also enjoyed the author's use of rhyme and repetition. I really liked the ending, it was humorous and perfectly suited the book. I'd recommend.

Book Review #1280
Lili at Ballet by Rachel Isadora
Rating: two stars (out of four)

People who enjoy books about ballet might like this story more than I did. The pictures were nice and the text was okay, but I was a little bored while reading. I'd steer clear unless you were a fan of ballet picture books.

Book Review #1279
Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was fairly amusing but had a lot of bum humor, which wasn't surprising, based on the cover art and title. The illustrations were interesting to look at and added humor to the story, but I wasn't a huge fan. The rhyme was wordy throughout, but I feel like other people might enjoy this book more.

Book Review #1278
Who Wants to be a Poodle, I Don't by Lauren Child
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked the humor in this story. The poodle’s aspirations and thoughts were funny and I appreciated how the story was told. The illustrations were amusing, though there were a couple of pages that I thought the collage pieces were too close in color and they blended together. But overall, I enjoyed the artwork. I liked the alliteration throughout and the ending was sweet. I would recommend.

Book Review #1277
Skippyjon Jones Shapes Up by Judy Schachner
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This was cute. I liked the antics of Skippyjon as he posed throughout the board book. Even though this book was really simplistic in nature, the funny little pictures of Skippyjon as he incorporated shapes with keeping IN shape accurately portrayed Skippyjon’s hilarious personality and made the book enjoyable.

Book Review #1276
Skippyjon Jones Up and Down by Judy Schachner
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I love how Judy Schachner took simplistic elements and made them into a cute board book that little children and adults could read and enjoy. While it wasn’t a full-blown story, it still had enough Skippyjon aspects that made the book endearing.

Book Review #1275
The Secret War by Matt Myklusch
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I thought this was more mature (writing-wise) and thrilling than the first book. I had contemplated whether or not I would read the second book...not because the first book was bad or anything like that, but because I was a little apathetic about the story's continuation. But this book definitely pulled me in and I (mostly) liked the development of the characters and plot.

Sure, there were parts that I found a little unrealistic, especially how Jack treated his friends and mentors. I didn't understand why Jack chose to conceal some secrets. There were other parts I wished had been developed better and I was unsure how everything was going to wrap up at the end. I didn't like the changes in Jack and thought some of his actions were misguided. I didn't see the progression of maturity or how he was able to handle certain tasks. I'm being vague because I don't want to give away any spoilers, but there was a major element of the plot that I felt was off. I didn't think it was trivial, but I felt like it was a little unrealistic for a 13 year old be be handling. Maybe that's just me though. I still thought it was a thrilling and engaging read. I would recommend if you had enjoyed the first book, but otherwise, I wouldn't seek out this series.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review #1274
Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This would probably delight young children who are big fans of ballerinas and fairy tales, but I wasn't overtly impressed. It was colorfully pink and girlish, which some children might love. The pictures were pretty nice, but I wasn't enthralled or anything like that. I probably wouldn't recommend because I was a little bored when reading it.

Book Review #1273
The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked the twist that this story offered and while the story was more interesting then some, I didn’t think it was the most phenomenal thing I had read. It was fairly humorous and the pictures were pretty entertaining, but I wasn’t captivated or anything like that. I probably wouldn’t recommend.

Book Review #1272
Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This story is told in such a sweet way, you can’t help but smile at the warm illustrations. It has a playful atmosphere and the rabbit is fun to watch as he scampers through the pages. It's an endearing story with cute pictures and a lovely ending.

Book Review #1271
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This was a really sweet book. The message was endearing and I loved seeing the square’s realization as the story progressed. The ending was perfect and it made me smile. I also loved how creative the square was throughout the pages. This was a simplistic, yet uplifting book. I would recommend.

Book Review #1270
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, illustrated by Susan L. Roth
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I really liked the story. The illustrations were good too and matched the story well. Another thing that I appreciated was the footnotes, they were informative. I’d recommend.

Book Review #1269
Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean
Rating: two stars (out of four stars)

This book was really, really weird. I’m not sure if I could truly enjoy it because I couldn’t get over how bizarre it was. The ending was kind of random and I’m not sure I could say that I liked this book. I would only recommend if you were a big fan of Neil Gaiman…because this book isn’t for everyone. 

Book Reviews #1268
Skippyjon Jones: Class Action by Judy Schachner
Rating: three stars (out of four)

How can you not love the antics of the silly Siamese kitty who goes on all sorts of crazy adventures in his closet? Needless to say, this book was definitely entertaining and I listened to the audio CD that came with the book and it was a great companion to the story! Judy Schachner read the book out loud and created different voices for all of the characters in the book. The singing was hilarious as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it.

Book Review #1267
I'm Not. by Pam Smallcomb, illustrated by Robert Weinstock
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The cover for the book intrigued me. It was an interesting book, had a fairly interesting story, but I wasn’t a huge fan. It had weird illustrations, but I could see children liking them and thinking they were entertaining. I might recommend. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review #1266
Melvin and the Boy by Lauren Castillo
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I picked up this book because of the sweet and soft feel of the cover. Also, I love reptiles and seeing the little turtle and boy made the book seem even more promising. And it was a cute story, I liked the illustrations and felt that they added to the story’s sweet countenance. The list of facts at the end was also informative. I would recommend. 

Book Review #1265
A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was pretty cute. It had fun pictures and an engaging story that kept me interested. I did feel like some of the dialogue was a little presumptuous for younger readers, but I don’t think that will detract too much from the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending. I’d recommend.