ALA Notable Children's Book Award

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book jacket
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K. Rowling
Rating: 4 stars = Really Good
Review:
The third installment of the Harry Potter series, the Prisoner of Azkaban, continues his story at Hogwarts and the expected trouble with various fantasies and legends that are brought to life. Being his third year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter experiences the mystery of a known Azkaban prison and is curious to find out more of this particular myth. As Harry dives deeper into this myth, he will ultimately find out a surprising truth.

With more character involvement for the protagonists and antagonists, the Prisoner of Azkaban truly envelopes the feeling of mystery within the fantasy world. Bringing out a deep universe and lore to the series, it encapsulates the attention of both casual and avid readers.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book jacket
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The second book to the Harry Potter series, the Chamber of Secrets continues on with the adventures of Harry Potter at Hogwarts. Although still relatively new to Hogwarts, Potter will expect nothing more than trouble and new enemies along the way. Including spiders, lively trees, and flying cars, he will be unprepared for what is coming ahead.

The Chamber of Secrets is a successful follow up to its predecessor, Sorcerer's Stone. Bringing more character development, it introduces a variety of themes and messages found throughout that keeps the story interesting. It is highly recommended for those that have started to read to continue on to this book.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone book jacket
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone uncovers the first book of the Harry Potter series. Here, Harry learns that he is a child of two of powerful wizards. On his birthday, he is summoned to the Wizard world, to which he will begin his new life at the school Hogwarts. Harry encounters a variety of magical fights that will ultimately lead him to becoming a powerful wizard himself.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was an enjoyable book. Interfacing with an original setting and story line, the Sorcerer's Stone is highly recommended to be read by either casual or advanced readers. It brings out a new story arc that induces those who are interested in fantasy to continue on with the story.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines
Author: 
Reeve, Philip
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In yet another case of watching a movie first before reading the books, I finally got around to reading Mortal Engines after absolutely loving the 2018 movie. While I understand middle-grade or Young Adult readers are the intended audiences, it left me wanting in its presentation. Sure, most of the elements that made it into the film were there (with some less-than-necessary parts being cut from the screenplay for obvious reasons), but the way it was written felt a bit too flowery for my tastes. In fact, the engineer in me would have loved a lot more world-building than I got in this short volume. I did still appreciate the post apocalyptic steampunk world of Mortal Engines—if for no other reason than its ridiculous premise. The idea that whole cities would transform into moving monstrosities that devour lesser towns in a “predator and prey” relationship is such an intriguing notion that I had to give it a chance. Even if I don’t expect there to be movies to finish out the adaptation of the quartet of books, I can definitely look forward to exploring the rest of this series to have my world-building needs satiated in the next volume.

While the young protagonists were flat and singularly minded, some of the adults had enough meat on them to make their actions reasonable and realistic. Sure, there are always going to be clichés in stories meant for younger audiences. However, I don’t usually tolerate character-based clichés as much as I do plot-based ones. And while the writing certainly had a creative bent to its vocabulary, it became tiresome having to sit through it for a whole book. Purple prose is good in short bursts, but too much of a good thing can ruin the immersion of the reader.

A fantastic idea with semi-flat characters and far too flowery language, I give Mortal Engines 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air
Author: 
Krakauer, Jon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Into Thin Air is a narrative story of the author and climber, Jon Krakauer.
He establishes that ever since he was a kid, climbing Mt. Everest was his dream. He later accomplishes his ambition down the line, but with more consequences than anything rewarding.

Into Thin Air uses a consistent tone of language to identify whether the situation represents relief or tension. This gathers more intensity for those who are interested in thrillers and adventurous stories. The narrative offers a variety of twists and turns throughout the plot in order to continue the use of curiosity and unpredictability of the end. The story is very interesting, and builds upon every single detail, from the start until the end of the book.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again
Author: 
Lai, Thanhha
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Inside Out and Back Again is a historical drama all told in poems. A Vietnamese family is forced to flee their home in Saigon, Vietnam due to the outbreak of the Vietnam war. Luckily, they escape and flee to Alabama, however, Ha, the daughter in the family has trouble adjusting to the different lifestyle in the U.S. In, this book, you get a view into the life of Vietnamese refugees and their struggle to adjust to a new life, all in the form of poems. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great story filled to the brim with poems.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book was a really good start to the Harry Potter series. I had been recommended to it a few times before reading it, and it was totally worth it. This book starts the series comprising of Harry Potter's adventures at Hogwarts, a school for witches and wizards. I liked how this book never really let me down with many exciting elements and details leading up to a huge climax. Although, it did seem to drag at the beginning. I didn't really like that, but once you get past Harry's life with his aunt and uncle, you will not be disappointed. This is a book to read if you are into fantasy, and action.

Reviewer's Name: 
Katie

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Author: 
Collins, Suzanne
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

16 year old Katniss Everdeen has had to fend for her mom and sister, Primrose Everdeen ever since her father died in a mining accident when she was 12. She has had to learn to hunt to keep her family alive with the bow and arrows that her father made before he died. It is the Reaping, and Katniss knows she is in danger of being reaped because of her extra names in the Reaping. After her father died she was forced to sign up for more food so that she and her family could live and she will pay the price now. It is Primrose's first reaping now that she is 12, and against all odds she is reaped. But Katniss volunteers so she won't have to go the the Hunger Games were a male and female tribute for each of the 12 districts are forced into an arena to kill each other in tell one lone victor remains. But when it is time for a boy to be reaped, he has a connection to Katniss' life. His name is Peeta Mellark a boy who worked in the bakery in District 12. As they get to know each other and prepare for the games they start working together so maybe one of them can survive the games.

Reviewer's Name: 
Natalie M.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a fun and entertaining book to read. Harry is at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry with a new defense against the arts teacher, Alastor Moody. Finding out that Hogwarts is hosting the triwizard tournament everyone is excited. Having to be a certain age to compete in the tournament Harry is not aloud to participate.Two other schools come to compete in the games. One person from each school will contend in the games. When the night when students names get chosen out of the goblet of fire it spits out three different names and then Harry Potter. Harry is shocked. After Dumbledore agreed that Harry could play, they begin the triwizard tournament. the first challenge is for each person to take a golden egg from a dragon. the second task was to figure out a way to breathe under water and save someone. The third and most difficult task was to go through a maze and reach the triwizard cup first. Harry and Cedric the other Gryffindor contestant decide to touch the triwizard cup at the same time. The cup was bewitched and brought Harry and Cedric to a graveyard. And Voldemort comes back.

Reviewer's Name: 
Grace B.

Book Review: Wonder

Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R. J.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Have you ever felt out of place? Like all you want is to fit in with the crowd, but it seems impossible? If so, you'd get along well with August Pullman. Ten-year-old August (Auggie) Pulllman is about to go into fifth grade at Beecher Prep, ready to face the world with his Padawan braid and astronaut helmet. But there are two things that get in the way: 1. He's been home-schooled all his life. 2. Auggie has Treacher Collins Syndrome, (TCS) a rare condition that occurs in one in fifty-thousand births. Because of his TCS, Auggie has downward-slanting eyes, a small jaw and chin, and the development of his facial bones and tissues are altered, causing him to have had twenty-seven surgeries -- and also causing some kids in his school to be scarred with night terrors. Everyday, Auggie is constantly challenged with overcoming whispers, side-glances, and even public humiliation from his peers that could get him killed one day. Auggie's world isn't all that bad though: he has two loving parents, a dog named Daisy, his older sister Olivia (Via), Via's friends Miranda and Justin, and his two new best friends, Summer and Jack, all of which are willing to do anything for Auggie, embarking on every incredible adventure he has so he doesn't have to face life alone.
Wonder is a magnificent book, filled with the challenges that every child and adult alike have to go through, whether or not they have a facial deformity. It is incredibly touching, and finds ways to connect with the reader and captivate its audience so much so that you won't be able to put the book down once you pick it up! Although many people would be disturbed by the imagery used to describe characters like Auggie Pullman, R.J. Palacio is able to create such a lovable and relate-able character that you just can't help but throw appearances aside and route for Auggie throughout the novel. You'll really wish that you could give him a hug the more you read the book, especially with the multiple POVs R.J. Palacio writes with, allowing you to observe Auggie's wonder of a story from every possible angle.

Reviewer's Name: 
Aimee W.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - ALA Notable Children's Book Award