Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Shark in the Dark

The Shark in the Dark
Author: Peter Bently
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Christi


Summary: A shark that has been frightening all the other fish gets its comeuppance when the other sea creatures band together to teach it a lesson.

Review: I picked this book to read at storytime. I really think the kids will enjoy the illustrations, and it being a shark book should score it some points too. Since I am reading this aloud, I appreciate the rhyming text because it just flows better. The story itself is a lesson in working together to accomplish a goal – which in this case was scaring away the hungry shark. Overall, this is a great book with a good message.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Journey (PS3 Game)

Developers: Thatgamecompany
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Todd


Summary: A journey through an alien land of sand, the past and future set on a path of beauty. A path you not need to cross alone.

Review: Journey is a beautiful, breathtaking game. It’s entirely possible to leave the review as that line, because at the core that’s all I can say. The graphics of the game are stunning, combining with emotional music to become an example how the medium is for a form of art when done right. While it is possible to play the game alone there is unique feature of the game, when you are connected to the internet your “journey” will join with another random player in the world. The bonus of playing with another person is a sense of comrade with your silent companion and the ability to help generate the ability to fly.

Now I have to beg you, if you plan on going into this game to be surprised read no further. It will not take very long; the game’s length is only about two to three hours. But please, DO NOT read below anymore if that’s your choice

When I played the game I didn’t know what to expect other than the visuals were supposed to be beautiful and that I’d likely end up playing with some random stranger. What I got were scenery that caught my breath, and a stranger who for a short time was a friend. The story is that you are a member of an alien race on the path to a mountain in the distance while exploring the ruins of your civilization; lost so long ago the sands have consumed it. Along the way you, and the person your journey with, learn the history from ancient glyphs and ancestors that red cloth powered everything. It’s what allows the player to fly for short times, but the supply of it is limited. And desiring it all led to a war and the creation of guardians, giant living stone creatures that are first met in and dark underwater-like level. The cry from one of those creatures and atmosphere giving me the chill of dread that I haven’t had in a game in so long, but I thankfully had a partner on the journey. But soon after that dark area the journey leads base of the frigid mountain, where the wind roars and pushing you and your partner back. And the guardians roam the skies and the only safety from their blasts is inside others of their kind broken to pieces. But at the end of that area is where my heart felt the most emotion, because after getting past all that danger and beauty on the journey the bit of red cloth you have to fly is ripped away by a blizzard’s wind along with your partner’s. And you keep going up, the movements of both getting slower and slower till finally one of you falls. And for me the first to go was my partner, I was so caught up in the game I actually let out a small “no” of horror and disbelief. It was then that I realized that the game ended in death, or so it appeared. The screen went white and the six ancestors empowered me, shooting past the guardians and directly to the mountaintop alone. After the dim blizzard of death I’d just left the sight of sun shining on the mountain peaks was just beautiful. For the first time the snow wasn’t something to fear, but enjoy as the sights were taken in. And at the end of the path, the true end of the game, was again a slow walk into white. But instead of the choking death of a dark blizzard, it was a walk into the light streaming through a crevice in the mountain. At which point you become a slow stream of light, slowly retracing your path through the land while listening to music that made me want to cry at least one tear. The game ends with you back at the opening screen, asking if you wish to start a new journey. The game has no dialogue and the ending is really left up for interpretation. Did the game end in death to be reborn, the fact that game ends back in the beginning being symbolic of the cycle life leading to death and back? Or did the character survive and went on changed by the knowledge and experiences of the journey? I honestly can’t say, but now that I’ve told you about it I hope you get to experience it soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Meeting Cezanne

Meeting Cezanne
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Helen

Summary: This is the story of Yannick, a young Parisian boy, who is sent to Provence to live with his aunt and uncle when his mother becomes ill. He wanders the beautiful countryside finding Cezanne in all its beauty. Provence is the country of Cezanne--whom Yannick thinks is the world's greatest painter. When a mysterious artist visits his uncle's inn, Yannick is convinced the mystery man is Cezanne. He decides to introduce himself to "Cezanne" and win a sketch from this person he thinks is his idol.

Review: This is a sweet story and all the illustrations are exquisite. There is also a sweet relationship between Yannick and his cousin Amandine. This book offers young readers an early introduction to good literature. I would recommend this book for grades 4 to 6.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Diary of Charlotte Forten: A Free Black Girl Before the Civil War

Diary of Charlotte Forten: A Free Black Girl Before the Civil War
Author: Charlotte Forten
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Denise

Summary: Presents excerpts from the diary of Charlotte Forten, a free African American teenager who lived in Massachusetts before the Civil War.
Review: Charlotte Forten, a freed African American girl before the Civil War, tells her story by sharing the journal entries she wrote about her life. This would be an excellent book for any student who needs to complete a biography assignment because information is presented in an interesting and easy way, with vocabulary and sidebar information. I thought that it was the right idea to leave Forten’s entries as is without tampering with her thoughts. A helpful timeline of her life is given towards the end of the book that highlights the key points of her life and there are also other reading suggestions at the end of the book, as well as some critical thinking questions to answer that supports Common Core curriculum. Anyone who enjoys reading the Dear America series would appreciate this shortened version of the same concept. Part of the Fact Finders series.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Author: Andrew Clements
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Reviewer: Aleece


Summary: When he decides to turn his fifth grade teacher's love of the dictionary around on her, clever Nick Allen invents a new word and begins a chain of events that quickly moves beyond his control.

Review: Nick Allen decides that he is going to turn Mrs. Granger's love for the dictionary back on her.  In order to spark this battle, Nick had to come up with a word that doesn't exist, something like "frindle," the new word for pen.  Nick has the new word spread around the class, then the grade and then the whole school and even in town people are beginning to say it. What once was an idea to anger Mrs. Granger; turned out to be so much more in the end.

This book is very clever and this fast paced book made it a quick read. Overall, it is enjoyable but for some reason I wanted something else out of it.  I'm not sure what exactly, but something that made me think yes that's it.  I really liked Mrs. Granger's character, but I thought Nick was just okay.  While he is clever, I thought he could have been a little more interesting, especially since he is so smart when pushing the boundaries. Overall, I would recommend this to kids looking for a light read with some information that they may have never thought of before.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Author: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Leslie


Summary: Three farmers, each one meaner than the other, try all-out warfare to get rid of the fox and his family.

Review: I loved Roald Dahl as a child so I knew I would enjoy this quick read. It is a very cute story about persistence and the will to survive and provide for one’s family. It is a funny book and a good lesson for kids to never give up and think outside the box!