New Book Reviews
Reading Level: PreK-1
Ralph isn't a normal raccoon - he doesn't like being messy, or rude. So his parents ship him off to Bandit School, where Ralph is the worst student of all. He's just awful at everything, and when the term ends, his teacher assigns a competition - whoever has the largest sack of loot after vacation wins the Best Bandit prize. Ralph isn't interested, not one bit. He stays in his room reading over the break, not wanting to get in anyone's way. But then something happens on his way back to school, and Ralph becomes the best!
Reading Level: Grades 7+
Amber Appleton is the most optimistic, hopeful, cheerful girl you could meet. She divides her time between Father Chee and the Korean Divas for Christ (a group of Koren women learning to speak English through R&B music and Amber), the elderly at the local retirement home (where Amber engages in a cheerfulness-pessimism battle every Wednesday with Joan of Old),with the Franks Freak Force Federation (her four best friends brought together through group therapy and favorite teacher), with Private Jackson and Ms. Jenny (a Vietnam veteran/haiku poet and his dog), and with her own dog, Bobby Big Boy. Amber lives a full, vibrant life, enriching the lives of everyone she meets. And yet, Amber Appleton lives on a school bus with her alcoholic mother.
Despite her home and family situation, Amber's hopefulness and willingness to give her all to others never wavers, until the unthinkable happens, sending Amber into a deep, spiraling depression. Her faith, previously so strong and infallible, fractures, and Amber Appleton, previously a town rock star, loses herself.
The first half of this novel flies past quickly, Amber's cheerfully whirlwind lifestyle a welcome respite from some of the depressing (yet good!) YA books I've been reading lately. Amber's depressive state is expertly, sparsely written, her discussions with Father Chee about religion a welcome addition to current young adult literature, and the ultimate banding together of the town a heartwarming conclusion.
Reading Level: Grades 7+
"If I ever ask you to get me a gun, don't. Whatever I say, don't." Looking right into my eyes. "Listen to me, Evan. If I ever ask for that, go get help. If I ever ask for that, you're going to have to save me."
Evan, struggling with the disappearance of his crush (and best friend's girlfriend) Ariel, is thrust into even more emotional turmoil when he begins to receive a series of mysterious photographs.
Parts poem, deleted thought, photograph, and all haunting prose, Every You, Every Me explores the different personalities within us all at breakneck speed, unfolding into deeper and deeper ripples of friendship with each turn of the page.
If you liked this book, you might also like:
Looking for Alaska by John Green (for older readers)
I Will Save You by Matt De La Pena
Th1rt3en Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Reading Level: Grades K-2
When an Evil Page Monster begins ripping, tearing, and shredding page in innocent books, Nate the Great (and Sludge) take the case. But soon they have more than one case on their hands (paws) and not many clues. Will Nate be able to pull this mystery off?
Reading Level: Grades K-3
Though Snake and Lizard have their differences, friendship prevails and the two are best of friends, going on short adventures from story to story.
Snake and Lizard is a charming and hilarious episodic entry into the chapter book world not to be missed by animal and humor lovers of all ages. A step up (in every way) from classics like Frog and Toad, this short chapter book is great for independent readers or as a bedtime serial. This book is not to be missed.
Reading Level:Grades 8-11
When Perry's parents decided to invite an exchange student into their home Perry was ecstatic. He couldn't wait to meet the hot girl who would be sharing their home. Gobi, their Lithuanian exchange student, is anything but hot. Her thick glasses, thicker accent and old lady clothes say it all...Gobi is a clueless nerd.
Perry's life spins out of control when his father orders him to take Gobi to the prom. Perry's hopes to get through prom unnoticed are dashed when he sees Gobi's prom attire...a sack of a dress AND a kerchief.
He's not surprised when he and Gobi are harassed and have to leave the prom early. He is surprised when Gobi insists they drive to a certain bar in New York City. Once inside, Gobi abandons him at a table. He doesn't recognize the sexy woman in the slinky black dress until she walks up to him and tells him to go get the car...it is Gobi.
He is even less prepared for the bloody body that comes flying through the bar's front window. Or the gun that Gobi presses to his head when she orders him to drive away.
Perry began the evening hoping Gobi wouldn't embarrass him. Now he's just hoping to survive the night.
Other tales of dangerous girls include:
Reading Level: Grades 7+
25 year-old Innocent is the big brother but 15-year-old Deo has always been expected to take care of him because Innocent is "different".
When the president's soldiers come to their Zimbabwe village bent on finding all who voted for the opposition, Innocent talks back to the soldiers and is dragged away. While the soldiers are distracted, Deo slips away and finds his brother staked out to die. As Deo cuts his badly beaten brother loose, shots ring out. Everyone in the village is killed except Deo and Innocent.
Deo knows they must get to safety, but how can one boy and one injured, disabled man survive in a land of heartless soldiers, dangerous refugees and wild animals?
Other tales of the struggle for survival in a war-torn land include:
Reading Level: Grades 2-8 (and even adults on a silly day)
They're soft. They're cute. They're fluffy. They'll rip you face off!! They are killer koalas from outer space. And they are only one of the hilarious hazards you'll encounter in this book full of terrible jokes, blood-sucking grannies and poo...lots and lots and lots of poo.
If totally gross, stupid (and funny) books are for you, try:
Reading Level: Grades PreK-2
Gilbert Goldfish would really like to have a pet of his own, despite all the wonderful things he has in his fishbowl - a magnificent castle, yummy flakes that fall from the sky, and even a treasure chest! Gilbert often thinks about what his pet might be like - would it be big, or small? Would it be loud, or quiet? Then one morning, Gilbert wakes up to find a dog outside his fishbowl! Finally - a pet for him to love and care about. But it turns out that a dog isn't really the perfect pet for Gilbert... and the mouse figures out that Gilbert is not cheese, so Mouse is not a good pet either (nor is Fly). Will Gilbert ever find a pet of his very own?
Reading Level: Ages 3 - 9
Prudence really, really wants a pet, but her parents say no, so she is forced to find pets wherever she can, such as her pet Branch and Twig and Formal Footwear in this silly story of a very persistent little girl.