Fall 2003-04 Authors and Titles
My Thirteenth Winter, by Samantha Abeel, is an autobiographical account of what it is like to grow up with a learning disability, and how that learning disability affects relationships with family and friends. This memoir is an in-depth look at Sam's life from the time she begins kindergarten until the time she graduates from college. Ever since she can remember, Samantha has had trouble completing tasks that come easily to her friends. Around fourth grade she also begins to suffer from severe anxiety attacks among other physical and mental problems. After many tests and doctor's visits, Sam is diagnosed with a learning disability called dyscalculia. Soon after, she writes a book of poems and begins a book tour. During college, Sam realizes not only has she had a learning disability, but she has also been depressed the majority of her life. She is soon treated, and afterwards her life really begins to look up and she experiences true happiness.
While I believe the message of the novel extremely powerful, I think its meaning was lost in the repetition found in the beginning. I felt the storyline did not truly pick up until Samantha began college, and while I understand some background information was necessary to truly grasp what was going on in Sam's life, the beginning was slow and included what I found to be lots of unnecessary information. Some people may find the flashbacks a little confusing, although I felt they added to the story. Don't get me wrong, this book is very powerful and contains a very important message. I could not believe Samantha had to deal with so much at such a young age. She overcame so much and her words truly inspired me. It is amazing that she dealt with so many problems - most of the time by herself. I would recommend this book to any high school student, as well as teachers and educators. Everyone can gain so much from reading Samantha's story.
~ Jennifer Pisansky, 9th Grade, Springfield High School, Springfield, Ohio
Samantha Madison isn't quite like her other sisters. Lucy, her older sister, is a popular girl with everything going for her, and Rebecca, her younger sister, is very smart and attends a special school. Samantha is more of an easy going person who gets all her sister's hand-me-downs. She doesn't like her sister's hand-me-downs and refuses to wear the bras even though in the end she winds up wearing them anyway. Her best friend Catherine is a church girl whose parents force her to go. Samantha, a.k.a. Sam, likes her sister's boyfriend Jack. Samantha understands him, while Lucy sometimes doesn't. Coming out of art class one day, she notices a guy attempting to assasinate the President. She saves him and now suddenly everyone wants to be her friend, including David, the president's son, whom she already knows from art classes. To wrap it all up, the President names her Teen Ambassador to the U.N., and David the President's son, is in love with her.
This book, I feel, is very far fetched in detail, but is a very good book which will keep you on the edge of your seat. I can relate to some of the characters in this book, as will many others. I would recommend this book to middle school/early high school aged teens, although girls might relate to the story line better than boys. If you like other books by Meg Cabot, you will definitely like this one.
~Darla Conti, 8th Grade, Lowellville High School, Lowellville, Ohio
A 15-year-old bondgirl, Rose Chandler lives on Greengarden Orchard and is afraid of everything. She's scared of the moon, darkness, other people, the Dalriadas, and most of all, the Thing that lives in the Bighouse attic. Mr. Brae, Master of Greengarden, asks Rose to work for him in the Bighouse. After much persuasion from her parents, she finally agrees, but she'll only work on the first floor, the floor furthest away from the six inch bolted door of the attic. Wanting an heir to the Brae family line, Mr.Brae asks Rose's parents for her hand in marrige to... the Thing!
As Rose begins to walk up the Bighouse steps in her wedding dress, the most handsome young man in all Greengarden, Joff Will, steps in front of her, with all the crowd watching, and asks her to marry him instead. Rose wouldmuch rather run off with Joff, but her parents always said family comes first. If Rose married the Thing, not only would she be free, her parents and brother would be, too. Weeks pass, and she is about two months pregnant, with the Thing's baby. She is now faced with a dilemma: the barbarians, Dalriadas, are getting closer and closer to her precious Greengarden. Does she have to risk her own and the baby's life to save Greengarden? Or, will she have to leave forever, never to return? Her answer lies with the first time she brings a light into the attic, the first time she sees the Thing.
I really enjoyed this book by Dia Calhoun. I really honored Rose's love for Greengarden and her risks to save it, the first, by marrying the Thing. Marrying the Thing wasn't the end though, she had to figure out a way to save Greengarden and end the war against the Dalriadas. I liked Mr. Brae's request for an heir before his death. Unfortunately, he never gets to see his great-grandchild. I thought this was an excellent book and I recommend it for ages 13 to 18.I also recommend it for people who have a few fears because in this book, Rose learns how to cope with and overcome her fears. I also recommend it for anyone who wants to cuddle up with a good book for hours at a time.
~Kayla Aldan, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Frozen Rodeo is a novel about 16 year old Peggy Fleming Farrell's summer. After crashing the family car twice, she is forced to get a job so she can repay her parents for the cost of car repairs. She ends up working at the local Gas 'n Git, but only after being fired from numerous other jobs. As if this is not enough to deal with, she is also faced with becoming a full time babysitter for her parents, her mother's pregnancy, and obsession over a waiter at the IHOP, and a French class with no real teacher. As the Rodeo Roundup Days fast approach, Peggy is forced to make a decision that could make or break her father's ice skating career. In the midst of rushing to the hospital to help deliver her mother's baby, Peggy ends up becoming an unlikely hero and solving a mystery that has plagued her all summer.
Frozen Rodeo is without a doubt, one of the best novels I have ever read! I could not put it down! The storyline is extremely fast paced, and very exciting! I never knew what was going to happen next, because Catherine Clark put so many unexpected twists in her writing. The entire storyline was mostly believable, and most of the things that Peggy experienced happen to girls her age everyday. I really felt like I could relate to what was going on in her life. Although I felt the ending was a little far fetched, it added to the excitement and surprise of the plot! Each and every character was very well developed, and it seemed like they could actually be real people. I could not believe how much I related to each of them, and I became very involved in their struggles, and their triumphs as well. This was a terrific novel, by an extremely gifted writer, and I would recommend it to ANY high school girl. I really think any high school girl would enjoy this novel, because they will be able to sympathize with everything that is going on in Peggy's life.
~ Jennifer Pisansky, 9th Grade, Springfield High School, Springfield, Ohio
book by Priscilla Cummings was about a girl named Grace growing up in a poor
family during the great depression. Her
mother does laundry for a living and her father secretly makes moonshine.
The family is so poor they cannot afford to pay their rent, so they get
thrown out of their apartment. They
have no place to go and no source of money, so Grace’s parents take her and
two of her brothers, Iggy and Owen, to a mission for children.
Her older brother Pete is taken to a hospital because he has
long after Grace gets to the mission, two women come and ask if they can take
her to their home for the Christmas holiday.
She goes with them and ends up staying for quite some time.
Her family gets an apartment, but it is dark and dirty, and she does not
want to live there, so she stays with the Hammond family.
Later she receives word that her brother Pete has died.
Ultimately, Grace has to decide between going with her family to Ohio and
staying and being adopted by the Hammonds.
This is the hardest choice she will ever make.
~ Abi Dawson, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Theodora Oglethorpe, know as Dodo to her father and Mikko, her nanny, believes she's going to have the absolute worst summer ever. Both of her best friends are on vacation for almost the entire summer and her father is leaving for Laos and leaving her home with Mikko. Theodora's mother had died a few years before and her father had put an ad in the paper to hire a nanny. Once Mr. Oglethorpe leaves, Mikko and Theodora decide to drive around. While Theodora's worried about her summer, Gideon, the head wizard to the king of England in the thirteenth century, is worried about his wyvern, Wycca. Gideon knew Wycca was getting ready to lay an egg, for she was a type of dragon, so he left her alone for a while. When Wycca hadn't returned for dinner, he began to get worried. It's only then that he discovered Wycca had jumped through a bolt-hole. He jumped through after her and found himself in twentieth-century America. He meets a professor, Iain Merlin O'Shea, also a wizard, who helps Gideon try and find Wycca and her egg before Kobold and his demon find her. Kobold is Gideon's half-brother and is extremely jealous of his position. If Kobold finds Wycca before Gideon, he can turn Wycca against her own master and destroy him. Little does Kobold know, a young girl by the name of Theodora happens to find Wycca's baby before Kobold does. She helps Gideon and Merlin in the fight against Gideon's half-brother. This turns out to be Theodora's best summer ever...
I really enjoyed Ann Downer' s novel, Hatching Magic. She made Theodora Oglethorpe into a normal, everyday girl. As Theodora helps Gideon and Merlin search for Wycca and her wyvernling, she enters a world of magic and suspense as she and the wizards embark on a trek through Massachusetts. I really enjoyed this tale which I'm sure will become a classic along with the Harry Potter books. I loved this book because I love reading tales about dragons and wizards and such. It's so exciting when a person becomes engulfed in a book they really like. I couldn't put it down. Although the book says it's recommended for ages ten to fourteen or grades seven and up, I would highly recommend this novel about sibling versus sibling to ages ten to sixteen because I believe it's appropriate for those age groups. I also recommend this book for anyone who, like myself, enjoys reading about dragons, wizards, and magic.
~ Kayla Aldan, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Nita Callahan is constantly being bullied by Joanne and her gang because she won’t fight back. On one certain day, she takes refuge in the Public Library on Long Island. While the librarian, Mrs. Lesser, persuades Joanne to leave, Nita takes Mrs. Lesser's advice and goes down into the children's area. There she finds the So You Want to be a.... series. So You Want to be a Doctor, So You Want to be a Pilot, So You Want to be a Wizard... When Nita sees this book, she is almost positive it is a joke. A wizard? There's no such thing as magic, she is sure, but she starts reading it anyway. Mrs. Lesser checks out the book and lets Nita on her way. As she gets farther into the book, she realizes it's no joke, it's all a fact! What she didn't realize was that she would soon begin to embark on the most exciting adventure ever! On Nita's adventure, she meets a young boy named Kit. He, too, is a wizard. Together, they master spells and befriend a white hole. The white hole, Fred, helps them on a quest to get The Book of Night with Moon out of the world of blackness and back into the safety of the elderly wizards. This is a classic tale of good versus evil and in this case good defeats evil again. Every time the page is turned, you embark farther on the adventure with Kit, Nita, and Fred.
I loved this novel by Diane Duane. I really liked how the author wrote it like it was a maze, with all kinds of dead ends, problems right in the center, and mystical creatures –- dragons, perytons, etc. The characters are great and have interesting hobbies, similar to ourselves. Although they're just beginners with wizardry, Kit and Nita figure a way out of everything -- even if it means losing someone you learned to love. I would highly recommend this novel to grades 5-10, or anyone who loves the world of fantasy and all it has to offer.
~Kayla Aldan, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, OH
Mayfleet is a 12-year-old girl who, like other 12-year-olds, is about to receive
her job assignment. The job she wants most is messenger because she loves to run
through her beloved city. Although Ember is running low on supplies, she wants
to help the decaying city. Doon Harrow is helper, but instead he gets the job of
messenger. Lina gets the job of Pipeworks Laborer, the worst job someone could
possibly get! You have to go underground and fix the pipes that run under the
city. This was considered one of important jobs in Ember. After their last day
of school, forever, lets out, Doon goes up to Lina and asks to trade. He thinks
he can save the city because the generator is in the Pipeworks and if he can get
to the generator, he may be able to save the city from desctruction. Lina
willingly trades and runs home because she got the job she wanted through a
her first day as messenger, she gets several messages to deliver, one of which
must be delivered to the mayor. While she's waiting for the mayor, her curiosity
gets the best of her. She decides to see what's behind the door in the room
she's waiting in. Once inside, she finds a flight of steps. Then behind the door
at the top of that flight, there are more steps, which end up leading to the
roof. On the roof, the citizens see her and wonder what she's doing up there.
She waves, until the chief guard comes up to take her down to give her message
to the mayor. Even though her first day on the job was exciting, it was nothing
first day is completely different from Lina's. He is given a slicker and boots
so he doesn't get too wet from the river that runs down there. Then one of the
workers takes him down this one tunnel to fix a pipe. After the pipe was fixed,
you basically had the rest of the day to do whatever. He chose to roam the
tunnels. In one of them, he found a roped-off entrance with a sign that read,
"Under construction due to a cave-in." Doon decided to investigate it
anyway. He went under the rope and continued for about 20 paces until he came to
a door. Unfortunately, it was locked, so he went back. His luck was about to
change a few weeks later when Lina shows him a piece of paper with instructions
that lead to a place out of the city, where they would be safe. And so begins
their journey through the only city they ever knew, to the life that lay ahead
I thought this was an excellent book about hope and never giving up. Lina always believed there was another city beyond Ember, even though they were told no such place existed. Doon believed he could save the city if he just saw the generator. Together, their beliefs created hope for the city in its struggle for survival. I really enjoyed how much these two characters tried to get their thoughts known, but no one wanted to listen. I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who likes to solve a mystery. I don't give a specific age group because I think everyone should read it because it gives a person a sense that, even though others don't believe you, you can still achieve something if you believe it enough. This was an excellent book and I want others to read it and learn the meaning of hope.
Aldan, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Many Americans are accustomed to the perfect Christmas. Eggnog, candles, presents by the tree, but for Ralph Mountfield's family, that's just not the case. Ralph is a young boy who is not sure where he belongs in his family. He has an older brother who is said to be mom's favorite, and when all of his aunts, uncles and cousins come into his house to stay with him for Christmas, anything is possible. This story tells about the struggles families go through to get along and how no family is perfect. Ralph's family is able to stand each other for a few days, but then the truth is revealed: Ralph Mountfield's family cannot stand each other!
I took pleasure in reading this book because it was realistic, and easy to understand, which is my style. The characters were very realistic and they made the story so unique because each character had traits that made them, them. I feel that it is a good book for people in grades 5 and up because it is very easy to understand, and the vocabulary is very low-key. This book is very believable because it is not giving you ideal faultless family situations, instead it is more reality based. This book's chapters were very short and there was no exact pattern as to how long each section was and that made the book seem very broken up which is not my style. This book did not contain a lot of suspense, nor was everything very detailed so whether or not you will enjoy this book would depend on your taste. Overall, this book contained some humor and not much suspense and I would recommend it most to people age 10 and up who enjoy reading books based on reality.
~Ariana Caraballo, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
This depressing yet uplifting novel is centered on seven
characters and their inner thoughts and troubles. Stephie, Jason, Carmen, Dontay,
Harris, Katie, and Keesha all try to survive and find their own way.
~Ashley Commings, 12th Grade, Lowellville High School, Lowellville, OH
Pure Dead Brilliant by Debi Gliori was a story about a boy named Titus and his sister, Pandora. As Titus nears his fourteenth birthday, he finds out he is to inherit his grandfather's fortune. We follow the siblings through their uncle's plot to steal this money, along with other problems. These include having a baby magus for a sister, taking care of the comical Ffup and her son, Nestor, and protecting the precious chronostone. This stone has been in their house, StregaSchloss, for many generations undetected, but Astoroth, a demon disguised as a witch, comes after it. This compelling yet fun mystery was pushed forward by high-tech clues such as emails and time travel. The well developed characters added to the reality of the plot, making the story an escape from our own world. This book encouraged the importance of family and trust. Some readers will be captivated by the characters, and others by the beasts and creatures woven in. Others still will be held fast by the gruesome details Gliori throws in.
I think that this book would be most appreciated by lower middle school students. The lower vocabulary level and fairly simple plot line will encourage these students while higher level students may find it boring.
While the plot of this story was fairly easy to follow, there were some details I found unrelated to the rest. For example, the transformation of Multitudina into a human had no relation to the rest of the story. There were other details I found confusing as well.
I liked this book and would recommend it to some of my younger friends. As light reading, it was very enjoyable and held my interest.
~ Abi Dawson, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
In this book, Prairie River: A Journey of Faith, the main character is Vanessa Clemens, who is most commonly referred to as Nessa. Vanessa is 13 and 14 throughout the span of the book, so it is easy for 7th and 8th grade girls to relate to her. Vanessa lives in a orphanage and loves taking care of children. When she turns 14 Mr. Carey, who runs the orphanage, finds her a new life. She is to marry Reverend McDuff, who is much older then her and who doesn’t want children. Vanessa does not want this to happen so with the help of her teacher, Miss Eva, she escapes to Prairie River where she finds challenges and hardships. The book is focused on how she stays strong and gets over the obstacles.
~ Dana Infante, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
The two main characters, Samantha and Mona, meet each other on the first day of summer-school after their senior year of high school. Quickly they developed a deep friendship and filled a void inside of them that hungered for companionship. Sixth months prior to when the girls were acquainted, Samantha lost her lifelong best friend to leukemia. She immediately accepted Mona as her new best friend because she was still in the denial stage of the grieving process. Mona was never before able to make close friends due to a life revolving around her mother’s bipolar disorder. Both girls, frustrated with their home lives, decide to move in to apartment in downtown San Francisco. Together they struggle to survive on their own while facing their individual personal challenges. When their friendship to each other is tested, both girls discover on their own that it is impossible to run away from their problems. They also find out that facing life’s inevitable conflicts is the only way to reach self- fulfillment.
is a book that
reflects on how to heal, how to gain self- respect, and how to acquire true
inner happiness. It accomplishes an understanding of these lessons by telling a
very believable story about very believable people and their situations. The
characters are likeable and interesting because they contain honest human flaws
and qualities. This book would especially be a good read for graduating seniors
who are about to pursue a more independent lifestyle. However, high school
students through young adults in their early twenties can easily use this book
as a source of guidance in their own lives.
~Angela Kleese, 11th Grade, Niles McKinley High School, Niles, Ohio
On a most expected excursion to Costa Rica with his loving parents, Felix, a boy with an unfortunate heart condition, finds his way to the Divide, where the waters running down to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans separate. Magically, he is thrown into another world, another dimension. Without knowing it, he will soon experience a meeting of one world with another, when magic and science finally work together. With help from an adventurous tangle-child Betony, together they embark on an incredible journey to save Betony's world from the treacherous Snakeweed, in command of a guild called Global Panaceas, and discover a cure for Felix's illness. As they encounter new friends and foes, they are quick to realize that everything is not always as it seems. Repeatedly they will face unexpected occurrences and deceptions to keep them from reaching their goal, which can only be vanquished by overcoming their strongest fears.
The Divide is best suited for readers ranging from age nine to twelve and is even appealing to older readers. The uniquely designed book cover brings out the title significance, whereas the comic mischief and exquisite array of characters makes the novel delightful. The author's inventive world full of mystic creatures provides the perfect setting to slowly, but carefully build up suspense until the plot reaches a grand conclusion. In addition, each character does his or her own part to save the magical world from evil deceptions. Multiple events full of innovative and memorable experiences also occur simultaneously to keep the novel exciting, while actions become more problematic and complex. From the famous quote, "Good always wins over evil," I can infer that the author uses this theme to develop her novel. Good evades the enemy continuously to make the novel more interesting, bringing more characters and methods into perspective, despite Snakeweed's cunning plans. From an emotional binding of characters in newly found friendships to an intriguing ending, The Divide is all a reader can ever dream of and more.
~Rebecca Theophanous, 9th Grade, Boardman High School, Boardman, OH
Loamhedge is about a young hare named Martha, who was born paralyzed from the knees down. When two old warriors, Bragoon and Sara (an otter and a squirrel) return to Redwall, they decide to go find a cure for Martha. The cure is hidden in the ancient abbey Loamhedge. Martha’s brother Horty, and his friends Springfield and Fenna decide that they are going too, even though they were already told not to. Meanwhile, the giant badger Lonna Bowstripe seeks revenge on evil sea rat Raga Bol. Little do Sara, Springfield and the rest realize that while they are gone, exciting things happen at home.
To understand the nature of Loamhedge, it helps to have read Mattimeo and Mossflower. Personally, I think that this book is most closely tied with Mattimeo because Mathias had taken the same route hundreds of years ago to rescue his son.
In conclusion, Loamhedge was a very good book, and I would read it again.
~Matthew Benton, 6th Grade, Bennett Elementary School, Youngstown, Ohio
High up in a tree, in the Forest Kingdom of Tyto, a third owlet is born to a wonderful family. Kludd, the oldest owlet to Noctus and Marilla, is about to see yet again another sibling. Soren, born only two weeks before, watches in awe as his little sister, Eglantine, hatches. Mrs. Plithiver, an old blind snake, is the nest-maid for the family. Only a few days later, Soren is looking out into the night sky, awaiting his parents' return from hunting. Just then, he is plunging down toward the ground (considering he cannot fly yet) at a great speed. Luckily, he lands softly on the moss-covered soil. Deathly afraid, he calls for Kludd, who has already learned how to fly a little. Mrs. Plithiver, hearing Soren call for help, gets Kludd. Kludd makes an excuse to having to fly down there to pick up his little brother. He says that he isn't that good at flying yet and probably wouldn't be able to rescue his little brother. Just then, an owl snatches Soren and flies westward along with other owls from St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. At the academy, Soren meets an Elf Owl called Gylfie. Together, they're smart enough to escape this horrid place where it is illegal to ask a question. With some help from Grimble, a Boreal Owl, they learn to fly. Hours later, they find a tree that would be perfect to spend the day (owls sleep at this time). In this tree they meet an orphaned Great Gray Owl named Twilight. Together, they travel to the Desert of Kuneer. There they meet a little Burrowing Owl whose name is Digger. He had lost his entire family to St. Aggie's. As a band, they decide to go to the Island of Ga'Hoole, where Soren and Gylfie may find their parents.
I loved this book by Kathryn Lasky! Most of the time, when you pick up a book, the main characters are people. In this book, there are no people whatsoever. It talks about four owls, who being on their own, who never give up on each other. Soren is the type of owl who doesn't want to believe that something has happened. Gylfie always believed that Soren and herself would escape the terrible St. Aggie's. Twilight is that type of owl that had to learn everything the hard way, completely on his own. He had never known his parents; he was an orphaned owl since soon after he hatched. Digger is the type who worries a lot about almost everything, but with the help of his friends, he overcomes his worries. Even though this is a fantasy, these owls are just like us in a variety of ways. I highly recommend this book for grades 4-6 or anyone who finds owls fascinating creatures!
~Kayla Aldan, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Soren and his friends Gylfie, Twilight, and Digger, along with Mrs. Plithiver, embark on a journey to the Island of Ga'Hoole. There, they will find a way to completly get rid of St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. Along the way, they manage to get stuck in the Ice Narrows, where they meet a family of puffins. They stay with this family for a while because of the blizzard that goes on day and night, day and night. There is about a day's break where the blizzard dies down for a while. This is the day that the band will set out once more on their journey to the Great Ga'Hoole Tree. After about a night's worth of flying, the king and queen meet them a little ways away from the tree. Once the king and queen get them inside the tree, another owl takes them to their hollow. There they will sleep until darkness comes and then they will begin learning what all the owls there learn. They have classes that will get them ready for one of many chaws, which are groups that perform certain tasks. A few weeks later, they are chosen for their chaws. Gylfie and Twilight are in the search-and-rescue chaw, Digger got in the tracking chaw, and Soren got in the two most important chaws- the colliering and weather chaw. Those were the only chaws that worked together because since the colliering involves gets coals from forest fires, you need to be in the weather chaw to be able to fly in such conditions. To find out what what happens next to the young owls, I suggest you pick up this book now and start reading!
I loved this book, too! Each novel by Kathryn Lasky seems to have even more excitement and adventure than the last one! All of the owls work together and help each other when it's needed. In this story, Soren also makes a shocking discovery about Eglantine, whom he hasn't heard about for a very long time. I recommend this book for grades 4-6 or anyone who happens to have nothing to do. This story of friendship will keep you reading until the very end!
~Kayla Aldan, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
This Side of Paradise was a great book for middle school and early high school students, mainly because of its interesting characters, and its lighter aspects of science fiction. This book is a real rollercoaster of a novel, and it leaves very pleased after you are finished reading it. It tells like a story that should be read aloud, which makes it very easy to get hooked. With an amazing blend of science fiction and mystery, and even some drama, you really feel you have lived this tale.
High school junior, Jake, has it tough. Not financially tough, but "family tough." His father is an over-demanding corporate puppet who has to live a "perfect life." His mother is a major alcoholic, his brother is a freshman wrestler who is the handsomest of the family, and his very energetic and adventurous grandma keeps Jake stable. But when Jake's father wants to move to Paradise, a town built by Jake's father's company that is perfect, Jake and his brother get mad, and fights break out. The worst of it all is that Chip, Jake's dad, wants to send his grandmother to a nursing home. When they finally move to Paradise everything is strange. Everyone in Paradise is cold and dull. While in Paradise mysteries arise that don't make any sense like: Who lays out the kids’ school uniforms before they go out to school? How does Jake's grandma have a power drill in her bag when she needs it? Everything changes when Jake finds the secret of Paradise: everyone is a cyborg – made to be perfect, and only perfect. But why is Jake not a cyborg, and what happens to the originals?
This book is an awesomely written, and deserves to be on the giant list of classic young adult novels.
~ Jimmy Frohman, 9th Grade, Lowellville High School, Lowellville, Ohio
Wizards of The Game by David Lubar is a very interesting novel. The story tells about a junior high student, Mercer Dickensen, who is obsessed with a role-playing game, Wizards of The Warrior World, which is based on Dungeons and Dragons. He is really obsessed. His room is done totally in Wizards of The Warrior World memorabilia. He and his friends play the game during free-periods, after school, and on weekends. Then one day his eighth grade class needs to organize a fund raiser. Mercer comes up with the idea of a Wizards of The Warrior World tournament. The fund-raiser turns into an all out bazaar with medieval shops, games, and, of course, Wizards of The Warrior World tournaments. Mercer then starts having weird things happen to him. Homeless people are trying to stab him, people are throwing rocks at him, and he is being criticized in the Cryer, a local newspaper. He later finds out that these homeless people are lost wizards, stuck on Earth with no way to get home. This takes a lot of proving to Mercer. They believe that Mercer is a magus, a powerful wizard, and that he can help them. If things couldn't get worse his tournament is shut down because a local church believes the game is worshipping the devil. So now Mercer has to clear his name of devil worshipping, get a fund-raiser, and deal with crazy wizards. How much worse can things get?
This story is definitely for 6th-8th graders, because of its simple writing and entertaining story-line. This story contains one of the most diverse plots ever, with love, good vs. evil, saving the world, and family troubles. It is a total free-for-all. I think that the story is a bit much. It would be better if the story was just based on the fund-raiser and the game instead of wizards and magical realms. Believe me I love fantasy and science fiction just as much as anyone, but the wizards are more of a distraction and irritating than a pleasure and entertaining.
~ Jimmy Frohman, 10th Grade, Lowellville High School, Lowellville, Ohio
Abraham Lincoln had a tough life growing up. His mother died when Lincoln was just a boy. His sister died shortly after. When Abraham was a teenager, around 16, he started to become very good at writing. Later on in life, he became a successful lawyer. He was always very involved with politics. He was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives. Many people disliked Lincoln because he was against slavery. That was why he was turned down a few times as running for President. He finally won as we know and acted on slavery. The Civil War broke out. It was the Union against the Confederate Soldiers. The Union won and the 13 states were united again. The slaves were freed and Abraham had won.
I really admired this story because of Abraham Lincoln's bravery and perseverance. He never gave up and that is a good lesson to teach others. This book is more for sixth to tenth graders because in my opinion, it tends to teach on a lower level. Any one who is interested in the Civil War should consider this book as one of the best.
~ Darla Conti, 8th Grade, Lowellville High School, Lowellville, Ohio
In the book Alia Waking the main character Alia wants to join the Keentens, the sisterhood warriors of her village. Her village is at war, and her two brothers have already died because of it. Alia and her best friend Kay want nothing more than to join the sisterhood. Suddenly something happens to Kay and Alia which changes their chances in becoming Keentens. Yet, to make things more crazy Alia alone is faced with something that hasn’t been heard of for many generations and makes her change the way she thinks about many of the things that she thought she was sure of.
I really enjoyed reading this novel. It is very different from any other book I have read. The village that the main character lives in is very different then most of our lives today but the author does an excellent job of making everything believable. By the end of the book I felt like I had felt every emotion that the main character did, so I related to the character well. The conflicts the character faces really touch the reader. I felt so sad for the character when she was sad and so happy when she was happy. Again, the author did a wonderful job of making the main characters likable and able to be related to. I think that because this is a very different and original book that I would recommend it to most of my friends. It’s just something different that really touches close to the heart and ties in so many different lessons, that you can learn a lot about life from it. I would probably recommend it to seventh and eighth grade students. Overall I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to almost anyone.
~ Dana Infante, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Cedar B. Hartley is a young girl who is confused about life but knows one thing for sure; when she gets older she plans on becoming potentially infamous. Throughout this story, Cedar is faced with many challenges that she has to overcome. Some of these include finding her dog, raising money for her neighbor's dog by performing in a circus, and overcoming a broken rib. She is also faced with many unsolved mysteries such as where her brother Barnaby is, how her father really died, and what some of the secrets are that her mother is keeping away from her. This story deals with the struggles of Cedar in an orderly sequence and takes the reader along her journey of finding and meeting new friends. One new friend that plays an important role in the story is Kite. He is a talented boy who has amazing acrobatic skill, and soon Cedar finds herself becoming close to Kite and spending a lot more time with him. And through their friendship they soon discover that they can conquer many of life's obstacles.
I found that this story was in some ways believable but in other ways it was unrealistic. The author, Martine Murray, uses a plethora of slang terms that are sometimes hard to follow and make the story confusing. She also uses a lot of personification, metaphors, and similes in her writing that make the story hard to follow and comprehend. In the beginning I generally didn't like the story because so many events were taking place, but as it progressed I found it to be more and more entertaining and by the end, I had grown to like it. If I had to suggest what age group would most likely benefit from reading this story, I would say anyone from grades 6-8 would find this amusing. It has some great morals and shows how kids can really be when they are younger, and I feel many kids in grades 6-8 could benefit from reading it. In conclusion, this story was overall pretty good, but some parts were confusing.
~ Kari Thompson, 9th Grade, Poland Seminary High School, Poland, Ohio
This book is six stories of love from the Old Testament. There are six different types of love shown: love between a woman and a man, between a mother and a daughter, between a brother and a brother, between best friends, between a father and a daughter, and between a father and a son. These stories show how love can appear in many forms and how God interacts with the love.
The book Half and Half by Lensey Namioka is a very cute story about a girl who is half and half. The main character is a girl named Fiona Cheng. Fiona is very excited about a folk festival that comes to her town. But when she has to decide between her two backgrounds, Scottish and Chinese, she gets very confused about what she should do. When both grandparents from both sides of the family stay at her house, her Scottish grandparents feel her brother Ron should dance with the Scottish dancers since he looks the part and her Chinese grandma wants her to dress as a character from one of her father’s books.
This book is very believable and I liked it a lot. I found it likable and interesting because I feel many other people feel the same way as the character Fiona did. Fiona felt like she didn’t fit in with her Scottish background, and she thought she looked more like her Chinese father. This was true but in the end she realizes it doesn’t matter if she looks a certain way, she is still half Scottish and half Chinese and she was proud of who she was as a person. I would probably recommend this book to a 4th or 5th grader, maybe a 3rd grader if they could read well. The quality of this book was very good and it was written very well also. I really enjoyed reading this book , and I would probably read it again in the future. I just loved the ending of the story.
~Julia Pisansky, 7th Grade, Springfield Intermediate School, Springfield, Ohio
Max Cadwell lived in an ordinary town with an ordinary family and attended an ordinary high school. This over-achiever was just like any other high school student trying to find out who they really are. Throughout the novel, Max experiences the typical problems any teenager would endure: breaking up with the perfect girlfriend (his one true high school love), constant pressure at school, fights with close friends, and even dealing with his virginity.
While reading the novel and learning about Max, it seems as if the reader gets to know him on a personal level. The reader can share his thoughts, pain, and happiness. Not only is it easy to relate to Max, but also to other characters such as Kirk and Cindy. Every high school has different cliques, such as the popular ones and the punk people. This book really expresses that. Everything from how the characters speak to what they do in school and on the weekends has some truth to how any average teenager goes about living their lives. Going through high school can be a terrifying concept to deal with; however, The New Rules of High School by Blake Nelson gives students the comfort that they are not alone. I believe that most students attending a high school or even attending a middle school would enjoy this novel. The story is easy to follow and captures the readers' attention quickly since the events and the people are so realistic. The writing style is very simple yet very descriptive. Placing yourself in the story and imagining the setting is almost instinctive. Reading an outside novel is not usually one of my passions, but The New Rules of High School was one book that I did not want to set down. I could read the novel over and over, fascinated by the connection between the fictional story and real life. Blake Nelson's novel is an excellent book to pick up in order to obtain some "new rules" about high school life.
~Amanda Nestor, 11th Grade, Niles McKinley High School, Niles, Ohio
is a nightmare...a horrible nightmare that has haunted Emily Wood ever since she
was eight years old. Even though she is fifteen, her nightmare still haunts her,
and she does not know why. The nightmare is always the same, and it begins with
shadows making a mist all around her, and the smell of dead leaves. She knows
even in her sleep what lies ahead: a dead body of a woman. She tries to break
free of the bramble of leaves, but she is never able to accomplish the chore. A
few minutes later her mother wakes her, and she is in the real world. Her father
is driving the car to Camp Excel, a place for underachievers. When Emily is
finally at her destination, she and her parents get out of the car to explore
the camp and go to dinner. Her parents tell her good bye and leave her there,
stuck for five weeks. While there, Emily meets her roommate named Haley, and
because of her curiosity of Haley's Norse stones, she finds there is great
danger that lies ahead. From meeting new friends and teachers around every
corner, Haley helps Emily find what evil is lurking, she must divulge her
nightmare, even if someone almost dies.
The book was very well written. I think all of the characters are believable because there are a lot of details that are used to describe them. This book would be excellent reading for middle school or high school students that are underachievers because it can give them a sense of identity and show them that they can improve. Also, this age group would enjoy the suspense.
~ Joy Mistovich, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
In this incredibly smart, and awesomely fantastic novel we meet a 15-year-old teen named Eragon. In the enchanted world of Alagaesia, Eragon is born of an unknown bloodline. His mother gave him to her brother, Garrow, to take care of him. They lived peacefully in a village called Carvahall. These two, along with Garrow's son Roran, lived on a very simple farm, right outside of the city. Eragon went hunting in the treacherous mountain range, The Spine, only to find a perfect blue sapphire-like stone. Eragon quickly tried to sell it, but no one wanted it because no one knew what it was. Eragon took it to the old bard Brom. Brom just told him stories. Then one day the stone broke, and inside it was a little newborn dragon. From this point on Eragon goes on the adventure of his life with Brom. Eragon finds out about an extinct class of dragon riders. Finding out that he is destined to be a rider, his path unfolds revealing a whole new reality of elves, dwarves, dragons, and corruption, and leading to a major war over this enchanted land.
Eragon is the reason why people read books. This novel is the most fantastic story I have ever read. Christopher Paolini will be up in the ranks with Tolkien, Rowling, and LeGuin. I am most definitely looking forward to the rest of this trilogy. I recommend this book for everyone because of its extravagant story-line and rock solid characters. Paolini uses the most magnificent descriptions to descibe his intriguing characters, and his realistic landscapes. Look forward for this new king of fantasy to delight us for years to come.
~Jimmy Frohman, 10th grade, Lowellville High School, Lowellville, Ohio
The River Between Us starts out in present time and gradually goes into the past. One steamboat whistle in the air changes 15 year old Tilly Pruitt and her family's life. The Pruitt family lives in a muddy Mississippi River town in Illinois and fears the approach of the Civil War. Tilly's twin brother Noah has been marching and drilling with the other boys in town, preparing for the war. When the steamboat whistle blows and the Rob Royfrom New Orleans docks at the landing, two remarkable figures come ashore. The two remarkable figures are Delphine Duval and Calinda also known as CoinCoin. They are mixed with African, Spanish and French blood. Both of them can easily pass for two wealthy white women, though. Delphine is a commanding and glamorous young lady in hoop skirts and jewels that almost everyone in the city of Grand Tower dreams of owning. Throughout the story the reader would think that Calinda was Delphine's slave but there is a twist that you have to read to the end to find out. The Duvals live with the Pruitts during the war and while living there they give the Pruitts a life that other people envy. The two become part of the family and help them through many hard and challenging times. The story reverts back to the present time for an unexpected ending.
In my opinion this is one of the best books I have ever read. When you finish one chapter you always end up wanting to read the next because they always leave you hanging. In most situations the author led the reader to believe one thing and the unexpected happened. There were times of joy and times of sadness. It shows the reader what it was like to live back in Civil War times and how hard it was sometimes to survive. One's heart ached for the characters in some situations. By the end of the book I felt like I had gone through the events with the characters. The author described everything so well I could picture the events in my mind with no gaps. It is a story that gives facts to enhance knowledge in an interesting and humorous way. It is a story that I hope has more stories to follow.
~ Kristine Beauchamp, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Aljan, known to others as Jan, is no ordinary unicorn. He's the prince's son, which means his father is not yet king, but still prince. This leaves Jan to be the prince's son. Jan and his best friend, Dagg, run up the side of the one mountain to watch the upcoming storm. They run into a problem as they near the top. Tek, the healer's daughter, is on guard duty, but Jan being the clever colt that he is, schemes up a plan. He has Dagg sound like a wyrverngling calling for its mother. Tek, hearing this, runs after Dagg, not knowing it's him. While she's gone, Jan watches the storm clouds draw nearer. As he's watching, he sees two hunting eagles swoop down into the forest trees below. Then a distraction enters his mind- Dagg's been caught. He can hear Dagg laughing saying it wasn't him and that it was Jan, son-of-Korr. The next day, after the storm has past, there's a major rock slide that almost would have killed his father. That's when they see two gryphons- a male and female. They had made the rock slide. The warriors go over and fight them, killing the male. The female then flies off with her mate and goes down in the forest, unable to carry him any longer. Jan then runs off into the woods because his anger gets the better of him. That's where he meets the female gryphon, alive. The other unicorns thought she had died because without being able to carry her mate and not being able to get him off, plummeted to her death. And so begins the journey Jan will never forget...
I absolutely loved this book! There's so much action and hope for Jan to win his father's trust. I thought this was an excellent novel that shows if you truly believe, anything can happen. I recommend this book for anyone who likes a good fantasy filled with action, but the main age group I recommend this book for is grades 4-10. Once you get this book, you can't put it down so if you decide to get it, get ready to join the unicorns on their journey like I did!
~Kayla Aldan, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Being a boy in Hawaii, that’s what life’s about. This book has eleven short stories. Some include “Island Boyz,” “The Ravine,” “Forty Bucks” and many more. The first short story is very short. The first story is not really a story, but more of a poem. I did not like this story at all. This first story is connected to the second one because it is more of an introduction to the second story, “The Ravine”. I really enjoyed the story called “Forty Bucks”. This story is about two high-school aged kids who work at a Taco Bell. Just as they are closing up, an old guy goes in and starts speaking in Spanish, which they don’t understand. A few minutes later, a fat kid and a tall kid come into the shop and start bullying the workers about a meal. They start trying to steal food after that. What happens next is all in the book.
This book is somewhat believable since the setting is Hawaii. Some of the stories have people doing things that are just not what most people would do in those certain situations. There are many different characters so it is hard to say whether I like them. I think that this book averages as an okay book overall because some stories are phenomenal and some are horrendous. The book says ten and up, but I recommend this book for middle school students and high school juniors. Overall, this is an excellent book because it has many short stories.
~Stelios Theophanous, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
Donuthead is a book about a boy who comes across many problems. It’s the beginning of a new school year and Donuthead’s class is going on a fieldtrip. There is a new girl at school and on the bus the teacher makes them sit together. Donuthead is scared of her because he thinks she is a bully and he gets picked on a lot. Marvin Howerton, one of the boys who picks on Donuthead, started making fun of him for having to sit with the new girl, Sarah Kervick. So Sarah punches Marvin. After that Donuthead’s mom starts spending a lot of time with Sarah. Donuthead’s mom also notices Sarah’s old raggedy clothing so she takes her shopping. When baseball season starts Donuthead’s mom offers Sarah a job, to help coach. Sarah’s dad almost doesn’t let her help, but he gives in. At school Sarah needs help reading, so Donuthead offers to help. Near the end of the book Donuthead and his mom find out Sarah’s dream, to be a figure skater. But will it ever come true?
This book is very likable and interesting. It is believable too. I couldn’t put it down. I think Donuthead is a good book because you can relate to him. I would recommend this book to middle school students because Donuthead is in middle school too. I think Donuthead is a wonderful book.
~ David Pisansky, 5th Grade, Springfield Intermediate School, Springfield, Ohio
The other boys always picked on Forrest; he just wanted to fit in. He is the son of the Ravenmaster in the Tower of London. Well, when a new prisoner is taken to the Tower of London, he thinks he has a chance to make them stop picking on him. What he doesn’t know is that the prisoner is the daughter of a Jacobite rebel. How humiliating! At least that is what he thinks about his newfound prisoner. As he gets to know her, he has second thoughts about her. When he hears that she will be put to death, will he go against the Crown and commit the highest kind of treason there is, or will he follow the law and let her perish?
The Ravenmaster’s Secret is a very enjoyable book for grades four and above. There is also a glossary in the back of the book for those who might misunderstand a few words. This book was written excellently and leaves the reader wanting more. There are a few subplots; one that was especially interesting involved a rat catcher and his master. Anyone that likes the medieval era will find this book a keepsake. The characters in this book are very likable, especially Ned (Rat). This book was terrific and an enjoyable read.
~Stelios Theophanous, 8th Grade, Boardman Center Middle School, Boardman, Ohio
This book is about a girl named Bridget who until recently has never thought about her life without that certain someone. That someone is her best friend and love of her life, Benji, who just recently died. This traumatizes her and causes her to put her life on hold while she goes in to a depressing stage she calls the hole. Every Monday she goes to see Dr. Margie, her therapist, because Fitzi, her step dad, told her it would help. One of her other friends, Ellie, tries and tries to get her out of the house until one day she does. That is where Jasper comes along and helps her get through this stage of her life and find out who she really is.
Bridget loved Benji with the kind of love that most people live for. Ever since she was little she loved Benji, but Benji never loved her. No matter what she did he could not really ever love her. If it weren't for Benji, Bridget would not have a life, or be where she is today, because her life is Benji. It seems as if she eats, breathes, thinks everything about Benji, and even has dreams of him, too. So, she stays in her little apartment without any family looking at the collage of Benji on her wall, which just makes her even more depressed. That is until Ellie one day decides to make Bridget go with her to a party. But at the party she is left by her lonesome. So she decides to find Ellie, and as she is doing this, she meets Jasper, who she asks for a cigarette, and then walks away. Jasper begins to talk to her, and soon he ends up taking her home, but not before something happens. After that night, Bridget feels ashamed of herself because she loves Benji, who is no longer alive. As the book moves on, you meet Bridget's mother, who loves Bridge, but Bridge does not show love for her. Fitzi seems to always make things right in everybody's life, and so far has been helping Bridget through a lot. But it seems that only making mistakes and working through the hard things can help Bridge get past this.
To me this is a good book, and I would not mind reading it again because it is a reality book about a girl whose life is not going her way. I would recommend this book for high school students who like to read books that are down to earth, but also books that are complicated yet able to understand and follow at the same time.
~ Nicole Cappelli, 10th Grade, Lowellville High School, Lowellville, Ohio