ALA Notable Children's Book Award

Book Review: Doll Bones

Doll Bones
Author: 
Black, Holly
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"Doll Bones" by Holly Black is about three friends who go on a journey to return a haunted doll to her grave after taking it out of one of their mom's china cabinets. Zach, Poppy, and Alice play a role-play game in which the doll is "the queen'. The doll is made from a young girl's bones and her wishes are to be returned with her family at the grave site so all three of them go on an extensive journey to do so. In the process Zach, Poppy, and Alice meet strange people which leads them to almost give up.

I would recommend this book. "Doll Bones" was really fun to re-read and was just as exciting as the first. Originally, I read the book for Battle of the Books in third grade but I read it again because I liked it. I couldn't relate to the characters however I think other people could. "Doll Bones" is not predictable and was not the best book I have read this year despite it still being a good book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: 
Saenz, Benjamin Alire
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is about a complicated relationship between two boys, in which one finds it difficult to accept himself and his family, which translates into him bring unable to understand or accept love from the other boy. It develops the ideas of self-criticism and self-acceptance, as well as the multiple forms that love can take on. Aristotle and Dante are the two main characters, who begin as friends and slowly fall in love. Aristotle, Ari for short, deals with a father with PTSD and a delinquent brother who is the black sheep of the family. Dante has a peaceful and accepting family, which causes tension between the boys; while Ari has learned to speak with his fists or remain silent, dante has learned to be diplomatic and express himself at all times.
The fact that they are total opposites is very interesting, because the plot then revolves around a complicated process of trying to understand each other. It is a good read if you are looking for something that is about mental health, love, and how relationships require compromise. It is also written in a nice style, in a sort of blocky, thought-like manner. I would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

Book Review: The Giver

The Giver
Author: 
Lowry, Lois
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Jonas knows only his community and the rules; he doesn't know what lies beyond. With the government watching everything and deciding job assignments based on the citizen's personality, little does Jonas know that his job will impact his community and himself for the rest of his life. With sad, happy, and overall crazy interactions with dreams, Jonas increases his knowledge about his communities past. With still secrets unshared, Jonas looks for answers and his method will shock you! This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and will engage you with the characters and plot line.
Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: 
Aiden F

Book Review: Wonder

Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R.J.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Wonder by R. J Palacio tells the story of a young boy, Auggie, that was born differently from others. Born with different facial features than others, he has not been able to be a mainstream and average student. After a series of captivating events, he becomes the most popular and inspiring of heroes once he becomes a fifth grader.

Wonder was an extremely unique story that took the point of view from a young boy different from others. The story was original and interesting to the reader based upon the course of events that took place. After Auggie is faced with demeaning names and suggesting he is mentally deficient, goodness becomes the better of this situation. The story becomes uplifting and inspiring. Taking place in many different viewpoints, the dialogue is well written and is able to describe each character with a unique tone of writing/speaking. In addition to the story itself, the book demonstrated morals that each reader could decipher for themselves. However, most prominently, the moral that I found when reading the book was the inner character of everybody is the determination of their personality.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief
Author: 
Riordan, Rick
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

An excellent introduction to Greek mythology and adventure, Percy Jackson and the Olympians provides an engaging storyline and an interesting set of characters. Perfect for early interest in literature and mythology alike, it was one of my first favorite series of books. I would recommend reading for ages 9 to 12, but it can be enjoyed at any age!

Reviewer's Name: 
Settare

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Author: 
Collins, Suzanne
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Hunger Games is a very descriptive novel that I am really fascinated by. Sometimes I like to think about the odds of a government similar to the Capital forming and what district I would be divided into would be. I think that it is kind of interesting that Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12 because not only is it the last district it isn’t really anything special it’s just the coal district.

The Hunger Games, a dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins, follows a young women named Katniss Everdeen and her fight to survive the tragic Hunger Games. It’s Election Day at the start of the book And Katniss’ sister,Prim, just turned of age when her name is put into the drawing for the Hunger
Games. When it came time for a girl to be elected for the Hunger Games despite the odds Prim’s name was drawn but Katniss wouldn’t let her go to the hunger games where she would meet her death so she volunteered. The Hunger Games is a televised event where two people from each of the twelve
districts are sent into an arena and fight to the death until there is only one person remaining. The last person standing is named the Victor. The Hunger Games acts as a reminder to the districts to never rebel against the Capital.

I think that the Hunger Games is an example of what happens when government takes “control freak” to the next level, they send people into an arena to die just because they want the district to know they can. I wonder why the districts haven’t rebelled, it’s not like their lives could get much worse if they did.

Reviewer's Name: 
Seth

Book Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief
Author: 
Riordan, Rick
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Percy Jackson series is one of my favorite series’ because it combines two topics that I really like, Greek mythology and action/adventure. Greek gods and legends are typically very epic and exaggerated so combining that with a very relatable boy creates an amazing result that I think only Rick Riordan could have come up with and developed.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians; The Lightning Thief, a fictional novel by Rick Riordan, follows the journey of a boy and his relationships and encounters with Greek legends and myths. Percy Jackson is at first what some might call a “loser” and often gets picked on at school and has trouble concentrating on academics. Percy’s whole life changes when he discovers that his dad, which he hadn’t known before, was the all-powerful Poseidon making him a demigod. After Percy finds out who his dad id he is sent to Camp-Half Blood, a cleverly named camp for demigods, because his home is no longer safe for him. In Camp Half-Blood Percy makes himself at home I makes new friends by impressing people with his powers which he didn’t even know he had. The fun and games is quickly over when learns that someone has stolen the lightning rod from Zeus, the king of the gods, and the top suspect is none other than Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon. On Percy’s journey to prove to Zeus that he is not the thief he is accompanied by his two best friends Annabeth and Grover.

I personally think that it was quite a genius idea to have the main character be just an average boy that gets bullied and picked on at school because it makes him relatable. I think that in one way or another everyone has been bullied before and it makes Percy a very relatable character and I also think it kind of acts as inspiration for us.

Reviewer's Name: 
Seth

Book Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing
Author: 
Ward, Jesmyn
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is a mix of old folklore and spirituality, racism, social stereotypes, and empathy. It revolves around a family who face racism from the white grandfather of black children. The main characters are the mother, the son, and the baby daughter, who relies more on her brother than her own mom. Her mother spends more time doing drugs than raising her kids, so the grandparents have generally brought them up. Their father, a white drug dealer, is in prison, and the book follows the family’s road trip to go and pick him up. The novel switches between a modern setting, and the prison but from the 1940s, when the black grandfather was in jail. The story analyzes the reasons behind a broken family, and brings to light the continued racism in the southern USA. However, the spirituality plays a role because another character who joins the road trip is the mother’s dead brother, who appears as a ghost and brings up the idea of family. I enjoyed this book very much because of its complexity. The book can be a slow read, as all the scenery and characters are continually described in precise detail, but the author leaves no point unexplained. The meanings behind the plot are subtle, and the supernatural aspect is a good point of interest to tie together the past and the present. I loved the honesty behind the author’s writing, and I enjoyed the beautiful writing style. I would highly recommend this book, and would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

Book Review: The Giver

The Giver
Author: 
Lowry, Lois
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Giver is a dystopian novel that illustrates the story of a young boy named Jonas. Jonas lives in a futuristic society that has eliminated the concepts fear, pain, and diversity. He is the only different person within his society, to which he has unique capabilities and characteristics than that of other individuals. He is put through many challenges and barriers that he must overcome. This leads to his absolute desire to explore the outskirts and find the ultimate truth of his fate.

The Giver is a dystopian novel, where it brought a unique setting and plot-line for the reader. It was interesting and did not follow a dull story-line that was expected. The whole story concludes to be a 4 star rating, as many parts of the story were surprising and unexpected which maintained the attraction and interest into the story. However, the story lacks a consistency with its line of events, which leads to certain parts being extremely intriguing, and other parts of the story being slow and boring. This loses the reader at some point.

Personally, the book was well written and was very captivating for me. It was surprising with its plot-line of action, and I enjoyed most about the futuristic society and the uniqueness of it. I highly recommend this book.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Nothing But the Truth

Nothing But The Truth
Author: 
Avi
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

"Nothing But the Truth," an documentary novel by Avi, depicts a small student-teacher quarrel that became a national headline. The book starts with one's average teenage boy named Philip Malloy. He runs track and is a fairly good student. His arch nemesis and least favorited teacher, Miss Narwin, thinks poorly of Philip, especially after he is switched to her homeroom. The day is always begun with the playing of the national anthem, but when Phil starts to "sing" along, Miss Narwin starts to lose it. After suspensions, interviews with newspapers, and nation wide fame, Philip must not only figure out how to deal with his newly renowned fame, but also how to deal with being honest about what is really going on. This book was a great, quick read. The way the book was composed made for easy reading and enjoyability. "Nothing But the Truth" was written in 1992, but the topic is still relevant decades later. With the kneeling during the national anthem in the NFL to other highly debated political topics, "Nothing But the Truth" is a great book for a quick but thoughtful read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ella S

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