Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Middle School the Worst Years of My Life Movie

Middle School the Worst Years of My Life Movie
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Christi

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Summary: Rafe, an imaginative teenager, is tired of his school's obsession with rules at the expense of any and all creativity. Desperate to shake things up, he and his best friends have come up with a plan to break every single rule in the school and let the students run wild.

Review: How did this movie not get any notice at the box office? This was one of my favorite kid’s movies I’ve seen this year. Hilarious, laugh out loud hijinks will keep you enjoying this movie the whole way through. Everyone in this movie was so perfectly cast. I can’t even decide on my favorite character (the mom’s boyfriend probably with the principal coming in a close second).  I would say if your child loved the original Wimpy Kid movies - rent this!

The Great AAA-OOO!

The Great AAA-OOO!
Author: Jonny Lambert
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Julie B.

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Summary: The nighttime can be scary and Mouse and Owl hear a horrible sound! Who or what can it be?  As they determine one by one it was not each of their friends, they decide it must be a monster! To save themselves they clamber up a tree and huddle on a branch.  The suspense builds and when the branch breaks, they fall to meet the monster!  Well, actually, they find out it was their friend wolf and all is well!

Review: This picture book is a very well written, entertaining story with rhyming text, nice examples of onomatopoeia and animal sounds.  The author’s humor shows through especially when you see the picture of the moose up the tree.  The amazing, large, textured, cut paper illustrations will be appreciated by all! This book is perfect for storytime, small group or one on one.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sled Dog Dachshund

Sled Dog Dachshund
Author: Laura Atkins
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Denise Z.


Summary: When Jasper the dachshund hears about the world's biggest dog sled race in Alaska, he just knows he can win. And when his family goes to watch the race, he decides to enter. Jasper tries every position, but he's too little and doesn't fit into the sled's harness. That doesn't stop him. Jasper sneaks aboard a team sled and finds a way to become a part of the team. His yappy enthusiasm keeps them moving, and Jasper learns how much energy it takes to pull the sled. In the final stretch of the race, his team is neck-and-neck with another sled. Can Jasper help lead his team to victory? Will they win by a (long, pointy) nose?


Review: I had to read this book because it had dachshunds on the cover and they are my favorite breed. This is a picture book that teaches the lesson of teamwork and being helpful because of who you are despite being different. Jasper the dachshund wants to join a sled dog race so he can feel part of the team and have fun competing. The sled dogs think he won’t cut it, but Jasper ends up being the star of the big race. This book has a great message and cute illustrations. 

Suicide Notes

Suicide Notes
Author: Michael Thomas Ford
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Emily


Summary: Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Never mind the bandages on his wrists, clearly this is all a huge mistake. Jeff is perfectly fine, perfectly normal – not like the other kids in the hospital with him. They’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as Jeff’s forty-five day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy…

Review: This book was surprisingly light, considering the subject matter - so much that I initially found it flippantly so. For a person who had just attempted suicide, the main character, Jeff, didn’t seem to realize the depth of his situation. While I understand that it is realistic for a period of denial to follow an event like this, the way that it was written made it very difficult for me, as a reader, to grasp the true gravity of the situation.

It didn’t help that I found Jeff to be irritatingly sarcastic in a way that I think was meant to be used as comedic relief although I just didn’t find his jokes funny. With that in mind, I had to remind myself that this book is told from the point of view of a 15 year old, and I started to think of him as a little brother. An annoying little brother, yes, but still one that I cared for and wanted a happy ending for.

Near the end, the pieces did begin to fall into place, albeit very suddenly. It almost felt like the answers came out of nowhere; it was something that I really was not suspecting, and I don’t feel that there were many, if any, clues. Still, they brought a decent understanding to the book and some real emotion, which was a relief. This was bittersweet, and also my favorite part, because I felt like it was real.

Another thing that I did enjoy about this book is that it helped to break through the stigmas of mental illness as “the crazies start[ed] to seem less crazy.” I think that it’s very important for people to realize that someone with a mental illness is still a regular person, even if they are labeled as “crazy” and it would be very helpful to someone who may be struggling with any of the issues mentioned.


Although this book wasn’t my cup of tea, I truly believe that it would be well-suited to people closer to the main character’s age, or to people who are looking for something to ease them into such a serious topic as this.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Confessions of a Former Bully





Confessions of a Former Bully
Author: Trudy Ludwig
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Denise Z.
Cover image for Confessions of a former bully
 Summary: Nine-year-old Katie's punishment for bullying classmates includes making up for the hurt she has caused so she decides to write a book about bullying, why it is not okay, and how to start being a better friend.

Review: This book is a useful tool on the subject of bullying for both the parent and the child. Readers can learn what to do if they are being bullied and why not to be a bully themselves in a fun diary written in the voice of a nine-year-old bully. Katie starts off her journal by explaining how she used to be a bully and what it means to be one. I liked how her thoughts on the subject were presented in her journal and how it was pointed out that being a bully hurts everyone, even the one doing the bullying. She explains that bullying isn’t just physical and gives examples and facts on bullying, including the statistic that 9 out of 10 elementary students have been bullied by their peers. The choice to be a bully, why bullies do what they do, what to do if you see someone being bullied, and how to handle being bullied yourself are all covered in this kid-friendly book that offers answers on a difficult topic in a familiar diary way.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hank Has A Dream


        


Hank Has a Dream 
Author: Rebecca Dudley
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Reviewer: Denise Z.
Cover image for Hank has a dream

Summary: Hank relates to a friend a dream in which he flies to the sea, past the trees, and over the clouds.

Review: I enjoyed the unique illustrations in this book more so than the story. Author and Illustrator Rebecca Dudley impressively designs everything that is depicted in each picture for the story, including Hank the bear and the scenery that surrounds him. This is a picture book with few words and unique illustrations that makes it worthwhile to pick up and read at least once.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sun & Moon Sisters

Sun & Moon Sisters
Author: Khoa Le
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Denise Z.

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Summary: The Sun and the Moon are sisters, and they rule and sky together peacefully. One day, however, each begins to wonder: who is more important? This friction leads them to make a powerful decision to switch roles, hoping that it will lead to a greater understanding of their powers. Soon, the Sun begins shining all through the night, and the Moon brings night to the day. In the end, the two sisters will learn an important lesson about the importance of harmony and the balance of their relationship.

Review: The 3D illustration on the cover is what urged me to choose this book. I liked how this book had a lesson of not to envy anyone and to realize that everyone is important and is needed in their own way. I also liked how they used the symbols of sun and moon and siblings to convey this lesson. Author and Illustrator Khoa Le combines a fable with beautiful Asian artwork.