Sunday, May 5, 2013

Struggling with Book Reviews

When I originally started this blog, I anticipated it as a spot to reflect, share lessons from the classroom, and write book reviews. That last item seems to happen rather infrequently. It’s not that I don’t love reviews, I do, but I am horrid at writing them. I don’t really summarize the book; I mainly talk about my reaction to the book. And I like short reviews – but mine can ramble at times. Today I am going to talk about a few books I’ve read recently that you don’t want to miss! 

The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy came out last week. This is the much-anticipated follow-up to The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom. In this installment our princes – and princesses – are back! This time they have to come together to stop an evil guy from coming into power AND help Prince Liam break off his relationship with Briar Rose. Great follow up to the first book and one that my students have been devouring. 

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett K. Krosoczka is a new middle grade detective novel with hits of the cop movies I grew up watching. Rick Zengo is the rookie cop who has been assigned a partner – Corey O’Malley. O’Malley is the veteran officer who’s a bit down on his luck. Both find themselves caught up in a case that is bigger than it appears. Since bringing this ARC into my classroom I have yet to see it return to the shelves, it is passed hand-to-hand. The sure sign of a hit in the making! Look for this one to come out May 7th.

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer is a fascinating book. I have meant to get around to reading this one for some time, and screen free week gave me the opportunity. Sophie’s mom lives in the Congo where she runs a Bonobo Sanctuary. When a revolution begins in the capital, Sophie flees to the jungle with a young bonobo that she has come to care about, Otto. This book brings you right into the Congo and taught me a lot about the dangers of the country, but also the beauty as well. I loved it so much I selected it for one of the books for my summer camp. 

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff is a fabulous read. So wonderful that I am leaning towards it being our first read aloud next year in fifth grade. We start off with our main character, Rump. Rump received his unfortunate name at birth. It is all anyone heard his mom say before she passed away. Poor Rump lives in a world where names hold power, and his name is holding him back. One day Rump discovers that he has the ability to spin straw into gold – and believes he has found the answer to his prayers, or has he? Wonderful take on the classic fairy tale.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is the type of YA book that I would have devoured when I was in high school. Park tries to go unnoticed on the bus, and around some of the more cruel high school kids. When Eleanor comes onto the bus that first day, he looks away. He knows that talking to her will bring unwanted attention. Yet, Park feels bad as he watches Eleanor walk up and down the aisle, looking for a seat. He eventually moves over, allows her to sit down, and changes the course of their history as a result. This is a beautiful story of friendship the lengths we will go to for those we love. 

There are so many more books I’ve read that I highly recommend: Water Castle, Destiny Rewritten, Going Vintage, Aristotle and Dante Discover Secrets of the Universe, and so many more. Hopefully this is a start of some reviews with more to come.