Turn Left at the Cow – Review by Savannah Jarrett

df4fdecbbdf732946fe4acd0ffcb5604--school-uniforms-school-uniform-skirtsSavannah is adorable, fashionable, and bright. She rushes through the halls with great purpose, but offers a smile as she passes. At times, her face lights up with realization when she hits on a great idea, while at other times her features curl with thought as she puzzles over new information about history or a challenging passage of a book. She shares her ideas with enthusiasm, demonstrated by going above and beyond by writing a review for this blog!

 

Thirteen-year-old Trav has always wondered about his dead-before-he-was-born dad. But when he heads from California to his grandmother’s house in rural Minnesota, hoping to learn about his past, he gets more than he bargained for.  It turns out his dad was involved in a bank robbery right before he mysteriously disappeared, and the loot from the take is 17165955still missing. Along with Kenny and Iz, the kids next door, Trav embarks on a search for the cash. But the trio’s adventure quickly turns dangerous when it becomes clear that someone else is looking for the money—someone who won’t give up without a fight! – Amazon

 

Review — Turn Left at the Cow is a hilarious and exciting book with excellent characters. Although the non-white/female representation could use some work (most/all characters being white, doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, blue eyes romanticized), you should definitely read it! Trav and his friends are funny and honest, and even though Gram’s small Minnesota town takes some getting used to for Trav, his awesome adventures there are very exciting! Recommend for ages 8 and up.

 

 

“Family secrets, an unsolved bank robbery, summer on a lake, a treasure island and a first romance are the ingredients for this inviting middle-grade mystery. . . . A promising fiction debut.” Kirkus
“Bullard has a good sense of family and community dynamic and articulates complex conflict and resolution with honesty and humor. . . . With a warm narrative, careful plotting, actual danger, and the beginnings of romance, this adventure has something for everyone.”
Booklist
“Through strong character development, Bullard is able to explore family dynamics in a way that is both relatable and informative. Fans of books like Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky are sure to enjoy this suspenseful and heartwarming novel.”
School Library Journal
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Keeper of the Lost Cities – Review by Lily Scheckner

pasted image 0Lily is the first reviewer from my new crew of 6th graders. She is sharp, funny, and seems fascinated by everything, which makes introducing new ideas and topics to her extra fun. Her enthusiasm is abundant, as you might be able to tell from her review. Thanks for taking the time to write this, Lily!

 

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks… But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known. The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.     http://simonandschusterpublishing.com/keeper-of-the-lost-cities

 

WARNING: This book series is severely addictive!91feMZ4LegL

This series is not only a beautiful blend of fantasy, magic, and mystery, it includes funny little bits of regular teenage life: crushes, awkwardness, school and even overprotective parents. This makes the characters all the more relatable, and really helps bring the books to life.

Sophie Foster, the amazing protagonist, is the only elf (and no, they don’t work for Santa) with brown eyes and incredible powers. She is ripped away from the world as she knows it and must live in society where everything is perfect… At least that’s how it seems. Even as she begins to settle into life as an elf, making friends and even getting some adoptive parents, a nefarious plot stirs under the surface. Glittering jewels and dazzling riches conceal a secret, so deep and horrible that the elves have kept it hidden for generations. And when Sophie discovers it, her enemies are not happy.

Not only is Sophie an intricate and beautiful character, so are her friends and family. One of the things that makes this story so amazing is the complexity of every single character. All of them have their own unique quirks and their own unique faults, and that’s what makes them perfect.

I strongly recommend this series to people of every age. I have introduced it to 4 or so people, and now they are all diehard fans! However, I think it would be best for kids ages 9 – 14, because there is some violence in the later books. It is still, however, very sweet series that would be good for anyone! Thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoy Keeper of the Lost Cities!

Steelheart – Review by Keuyrbel Zewedu

IMG_20180705_134619_2Keuyrbel can’t get extra credit for doing another review or writing during the summer, so it’s extra awesome that he emailed me. He might be done with my class, but I’m hoping we’ll keep working together in the school’s drama department. He’s as adorable on stage as in his picture. Don’t let the smile fool you. His book taste can run darker, as his review shows. Enjoy!
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Shots. Cries. Screams. Blood. Death. At the First Union Bank, Deathpoint arrives unnamedand starts skeletonizing people in the bank, then Steelheart arrives. Steelheart stops Deathpoint and forces him to surrender his loyalty to him. Steelheart continues Deathpoint’s task: killing innocents. As Steelheart gets to the last 10, a man stands up, grabs a gun, and fires. Deathpoint is down, shot after trying to kill Steelheart. But Steelheart is bleeding on his cheek. Steelheart turns and, with anger, kills him with his own gun. A boy hides in a vault. Steelheart finishes killing the people and flies, commanding one of his servants, Faultline, to bury the vault. Faultine finds the boy in the vault and lets him go. Later, Steelheart turns most of Chicago into steel and calls it Newcago. That boy is 8-year-old boy David Charleson and that dead man was his father. Deathpoint, Steelheart, and Faultline were all Epics, humans granted superhuman powers by Calamity, a star. And Steelheart is invincible. Ten years later, at 18, David joins a group named the Reckoners committed to killing all Epics in the United States. Meeting them in Newcago, he gives them his research and convinces them to try to kill Steelheart. Because David knows Steelheart’s secret. David has seen him bleed. And he intends to see him bleeding again.
 
After reading Steelheart, you will feel amazed and still have that feeling for months. This book is truly a must-read, 10-out-of-10, amazing, suspenseful, and interesting book. I learned the importance of trust, safety, teamwork, security, and rebellion from incorrect methods. What I really like about this book is how David and the Reckoners are able to work as a team to help the United States. This series will be amazing once you read it. After this are books Firefight and Calamity. There is also a short story called Mitosis. I recommend for readers 10 and up. What are you waiting for? Stop reading my review and go read the books. There are 3 books in the Reckoner stories, plus a short story.

 

Leah on the Off Beat – Review by Lillian Dow Paterson

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School’s out, but we’ve got another review by Lillian.

 

Leah on the Off Beat is the amazing sequel to the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens 0062804197Agenda by Becky Albertalli, and it follows Leah, on of Simon’s three BFFs. It showcases the senior year (of high school) in Simon, Bram, Nick, Abby, and Leah. Although this book is from Leah’s perspective, it does show how different relationships from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda turn out and progress. This book is amazing, and it also helps you learn about more of the background characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda a definite must read. Embarrassing, Laugh out loud funny, beautifully written, this book shows a message similar to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and it is that everyone deserves a love story, and that’s why Becky Albertalli books are so moving and inspirational.

Eastern’s Production of Macbeth – Review by Maggie Megosh

img_0848.jpgEastern Middle School put on the production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Macbeth is a gruesome tale with a large amount of blood, death, and scandal. Written in 1606, the story, which is meant to be constructed in play form, is about a man named Macbeth who is told that he is to be king.  After hearing this prophecy from three weird sisters, Macbeth, as many people would, sets off to kill the current king. This, however, didn’t make Macbeth feel powerful; it made him feel weak and powerless.

Eastern Middle School’s production of this show was a wonderful portrayal of this play IMG_0829fit with music, melancholy, and of course, murder. The actors and designers in this show have worked extremely hard and they delivered an amazing show. Someone important to highlight is Mr. Matthew Bowerman, the director of this incredible show. He is an actor himself and has brought so much to the production. His adaptation of IMG_0830William Shakespeare’s original work is amazing – the play has been brought to a whole new level. Many people’s favorite parts were the creativity and the music incorporated into the story. Macbeth has quickly become my most favorite Shakespeare play which is why I think you should take a look into this play as well. IMG_0831

 

Note from Mrs. Ray: Can’t get to a live production of Macbeth? I recommend Patrick Stewart’s film version. Want a modern adaptation? Read my novel MAC/BETH!

The Missing: Found – Review by Keuyrbel Zewedu

1.jpgKeurybel is delightful. Smart, funny, sometimes quiet, lights up when he knows the answer or enjoys a reading or a concept. In middle school, which can be dramatic and wild, Keurybel seems to stay above the proverbial fray and cruise through the day. I always love when he comes through the door to Literature class. He’s enthusiastically written two reviews, and this is the first to be posted.

 

 

Keurybel writes:

The Missing: Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix is about a 13-year-old named Jonah81wgt8F17AL Skidmore who was adopted. He has always know he was adopted. But when he and his friend Chip start to receive strange letters and Chip learns he was also adopted, they, with Jonah’s “sister”, seek to find their true origins. After discussion with the FBI, JB (Janitor Boy), a janitor working under the FBI, and Angela DuPre, a pilot attendant, meet up with Jonah, Chip, and Katherine. Talking to JB about what the FBI is hiding and Angela about how 13 years ago, a plane landed mysteriously, out of nowhere, and landed with 36 babies onboard alone, Chip and Jonah find out that they are missing kids, kidnapped from history and time. 

In The Missing: Found, there will certainly be laughter, confusion, and you guessed it, awesomeness! From this book, I learned the importance of friendship and maintaining history and time like nature. What I really liked about this book is that it puts a inexperienced 13-year kid into a life-or-death situation which just makes the story a lot more exciting and a lot more funnier. This series was also very cliff-hanging, which is to say that there is a lot of suspense, which I like. This series is one of the best in all the world of book series history. You just have to go back in time to get this series. It’s that good. Read it! I rate a 10 of 10. I recommend it for readers 10 and up who enjoy reading sci-fi and mystery, so go read it! It’s a must-read! There are 8 books in the series The Missing.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Review by George Chang AND Lillian Dow Paterson

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This week we have the SAME book independently reviewed by TWO different students. The book was recently made into a movie called Love, Simon, which I saw with my daughter and her friend, and we all loved it. It’s  everything I loved about 80s teen movies with more diversity/true representation of the world they’re growing up in (and none of the creepily questionable depictions of women, which I didn’t notice as a teen). Great acting, great writing, great message, and now I need to check out the book!

Anyhow, the two students writing here today are George and Lillian. Lillian is a returning reviewer (her last one was for Every Last Word), and she’s still great fun and super energetic. George is new to this book review party, and he is a kind, thoughtful, determined guy with a smile that lights up a room. As we fly through the last quarter of the school year, I’m pondering how much I’ll miss then and their classmates come summer.

Everyone deserves a love story.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: If he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be jeopardized. -Amazon

George writes: When you read Becky Albertalli Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, there will certainly be tears, laughter, and, most importantly, realness. Simon Spier, a gay teenager who is still ‘in the closet’, is just trying to define himself, and trying to love himself for who he really is, while life just keeps on throwing obstacles in his way. How the book depicts Simon as just a normal high-schooler going through life, makes me so happy. Most times, books with a LBGTQ+ protagonist goes out of the way to center the plot about the difficulties about coming out, and coming to terms about your sexuality, but not this one. It’s a genuinely heart-warming novel, a simple and sweet romance, one that makes you smile when you think of it, one that makes you feel so happy, as if you just ate a rainbow and there’s now flowers growing within your bones. The book really stands for the rights in the community, firmly stating that only you can come out, on your own accords, and that in the end, being gay really isn’t that special. Simon asks, “Why is straight the default?” It’s so sad that even in 2018, people are still homophobic and acts viciously cruel towards gay people. Everybody, whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, whatever; this novel is truly a must-read, one that will make you think about it months after you finished it.

 

Lillian writes: Simon Vs The Homo sapiens Agenda is a book by Becky Albertalli. Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about a “Not so openly gay” teenager Simon. This is the one secret that Simon is hiding from everyone, his friends, and his family… except for one person, “Blue”, the one person who Simon trusts with everything, his sexuality, his life, and his thoughts. But… one day . . .  [note from M. Ray – I cut spoilers] Now, what will happen next in this story? Find out by reading this amazing book by Becky Albertalli. This is in my top five favorite books, and it can easily become yours, for this book is a work of art. Out of ten (one being AWFUL and ten being BEST BOOK EVER), I would rate this a 9, it’s an inspiring, funny, heartfelt book that definitely needs to go on your reading list. I definitely recommend this book to kids ages 10 and up.