Fish in a Tree – Review by Valerie

 Valerie bursts with enthusiasm, especially when it’s about books. When we are reading in class or discussing a story or chapters read at home the night before, Valerie thrills at the chance to share her ideas and insights. She notices aspects of stories that most kids miss, and shares beautifully during conversation and in writing. She’s reviewing a book that really connects with thoughtful middle schoolers, and one which my own kids loved very much.

Ally is different. She has known this her whole life. What she doesn’t know is why she is different. Why she says things different from what she thinks. Why her handwriting is so bad. Why she struggles to read and write while the rest of her sixth grade class does it with ease. Ally feels alone, with no friends in a world that just won’t understand her, but then she meets her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, and new friends Keisha and Albert. Ally has lived her whole life thinking she was stupid, until Mr. Daniels tells her something that will change her life, and the way she sees herself.

I think this is a great book because it teaches kids that just because someone is different, it doesn’t mean they are stupid or weird. It also has a large set of characters, each of whom face their own struggles and have a unique personality. This book will make you laugh and cry, and it shows how great minds don’t always think alike. If you like books like Rules, Wonder, and One For The Murphys, then you will love this realistic fiction book by Linda Mullay Hunt. My favorite character is Albert, and one of my favorite parts is when all the kids bring a bag to school with something that represents them, because it always makes me laugh, and we learn about the characters. I give this book two thumbs up!

The Toymaker’s Apprentice – Review by Noelle

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Noelle loves to share ideas, and not just about favorite books. We do a daily biography in class as an opportunity to feature scientists, artists, politicians, and more – any person someone thinks is worth knowing about. Students are invited to share their favorite people, and Noelle has shared plenty. I’m so glad this sweet, smart young lady has decided to a review to bring her book knowledge to you!

0The Toymaker’s Apprentice is about a boy named Stefan Drosselmeyer, who’s cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer (the godfather in the Nutcracker), intertwines him in a family fight against the Queen of Mice and the King of Boldavia, who are fighting each other and have both sworn to get revenge on Christian. Because of Christian, the mice of Boldavia have started a war with Boldavia, biting the princess and turning her into an ugly manikin. The Toymaker’s Apprentice focuses on Stefan’s journey to undo what his cousin did and to stop the fighting, for once and for all, as well as turning Princess Pirlipat back into a human. This sends him on a quest for the krakatook, a mystical nut which is supposed to be able to heal anything. However… is this nut real, or is it just a figment of Christian’s imagination, leading them on a wild goose chase? Read the book to find out!

This book appeals to me because of the wide variety of stuff it includes and the fact that some of it is narrated from a rat’s point of view! Heartrending and addictive, I couldn’t put it down, even after reading it for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, I-don’t-know-what time! Highly highly recommended!!!

*Note: Includes some romance and a little bit of violence, but nothing graphic.* Recommended for 5th graders and up.