A few quick reviews of some books that deserve attention. Hopefully these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Published by Entangled Teen on 4/5/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Dan Garrett has become exactly what he hates—popular. Until recently, he was just another live-action role-playing (LARP) geek on the lowest run of the social ladder. Cue a massive growth spurt and an uncanny skill at taking three-point shots in basketball and voila…Mr. Popular. It’s definitely weird.
And the biggest drawback? Going from high school zero to basketball hero cost Dan the secret girl-of-his-dorky dreams.
A tuba-playing nerd with an eclectic fashion sense, Zelda Potts’s “Coolness” stat is about minus forty-two. Dan turning his back on her and the rest of nerd-dom was brutal enough, but when he humiliates her at school, Zelda decides it’s time for a little revenge—dork style. Nevermind that she used to have a crush on him. Nevermind that her plan could backfire big time.
It’s time to roll the dice…and hope like freakin’ hell she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.
This was a super cute read, very similar to the first book in the series (they can be read as standalones), but it didn’t quite capture my attention quite as well as The Summer I Became a Nerd (click on the link to see my review of the first book). This book follows Logan’s friend Dan, who has now become begrudgingly popular due to his basketball prowess and the fact that he’s grown into his looks. Dan does not like the idea of being popular – he always avoided most of the kids who now seem to want to be friends with him. I have to admit that I had a little bit of a hard time feeling sorry for Dan when it came to the popularity thing. Because, of course, all the popular kids were mean and unworthy of him? I did feel sorry for him when it came to the pressures he was living under trying to please his dad, though. And I thought that fed into a lot of his issues with popularity – even more than popularity itself – and it helped me just let go of the fact that I didn’t quite buy into Dan’s angst. Zelda was cute and fun, though I sometimes wished she’d give Dan a bit of a break (but I guess then there would have been no story) and I did think that she and Dan were pretty perfect together. Overall, I enjoyed this one and would definitely read more in this series if Rae decides to write more. They’re just kind of light, refreshing reads!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Published by Square Fish in 2007 (first published in 1975)
Genres: Middle Grade, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, Classics
Doomed to—or blessed with—eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.
I remember reading this book as a child and loving it, so when I needed to pick a book to use in my homeschool co-op writing class, this one was an obvious choice for me. Even all these years later, I wasn’t disappointed. I love the sense of mystery that Babbitt engenders with the Man in the Yellow Suit (he’s never given a name) and the many layers of foreshadowing. I also just plain adore Babbitt’s writing – I highlighted so many passages that were beautifully written. This book was great fun to use in a classroom setting because we had so much to talk about!
If you’d like to see what my students thought about the book, you can check out the review I posted on my other blog, Best Kids’ Reads. I found their comments to be endearing, funny, and sometimes darn insightful!
Published by Yearling Books in 1987 (first published in 1960)
Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Classics
In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind. — This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
This is the second book I chose to read with my homeschool writing class. A little warning for those planning to read this with middle graders – the story is very sad because members of Karana’s family die before she’s left on the island alone. It was a bit sad for my daughter, but she’s sensitive about these sorts of things. I think that O’Dell did a beautiful job with this story of solitude, but I have to confess that it was a little slow for me. After all, most of the book is just about Karana surviving on the island alone. There’s a lot of description of what she does to keep herself alive (and sane), which was fantastic for a class setting, but if I’d been reading this for pleasure, I probably would have gotten slightly bored, if I’m being honest. However, some of the kids in my class enjoyed this book more than Tuck Everlasting because they enjoyed the survivalist aspects and the animals more than the magical elements of the first book (I’m always more drawn to fantasy elements in books), so it all depends on what you like.