Young ReviewerSure Signs of CrazyKaren HarringtonPub 8-2013, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Sure Signs of Crazy is Karen Harrington’s most recent novel and made its debut this past July.  Harrington has written many novels including Janeology. I have only read this one, but so far I like her books.  Sure Signs of Crazy  tells a story of grief, loneliness, and confusion.
“I told you.  I don’t want to go,” says Sarah.  While every other girl Sarah’s age is hanging out at the mall with her mom, Sarah is forced to leave her father and spend her summers in Houston with her grandparents.  Sarah’s mother was declared mentally ill on trial after trying to drown both Sarah and her twin brother, Simon, when they were two years old.  The famous case of Jane Nelson, Sarah’s mom, ended with Jane in a mental institution and Simon in a graveyard in Houston.  Sarah’s grief never stops, but this summer she gets the break she needs.  She doesn’t have to leave her father or live in Houston with her grandparents.  Plus, her neighbors are letting her hang out with them while her dad is at work.  Her days are filled with painting nails and watching T.V. like a “normal” kid.  She also enjoys writing letters to Atticus Finch, a character from To Kill a Mockingbird, as a school assignment.  Though this part of her summer is perfect, her life at home is nowhere near perfect.  Her father is an alcoholic and after twelve years of him getting drunk all the time, she can’t stand it anymore.  As Sarah struggles to make amends with her father, the reader can’t help but wonder how Sarah will ever learn the importance of love and family.
The seriousness of Sarah’s past makes Sure Signs of Crazy stand out from other books about summer adventures.  I enjoyed the letters to Atticus Finch that contained her feelings, not only toward her mother, but also toward her father.  I think that her relationship with her father is truly important because he is the closest family that she has.  For much of the book, she ponders how to deal with her father’s drinking problem.  She wants very badly to get revenge on him, which I cannot truthfully say I understand, but I liked watching half of Sarah try to work things out with her father while the other half is mad at him.  She is worried about things I would never dream of being scared of, such as turning out like her mom or dad.  The peaks and valleys of her emotions are a highlight of the story. 
Although most of the story is serious, Harrington was able to infuse fun within this deeply emotional book.  Hanging out with the teenage neighbor girl is the most fun Sarah’s had in years.  After all, it is awesome to go to the mall and accessorize yourself. The way that the author explains doing these things, it seems like Sarah is going to an amusement park for the first time in her life.  Normal things are such a big deal to Sarah.  It makes the reader see everyday things from different angles. 
Different angles create interesting shapes, and Sure Signs of Crazy is a work of modern art.  Get ready to accompany Sarah Nelson on one of the most important summers of her life! I promise you, it won’t be easy, but you’ll be glad you went.
- Mira M., 10

Young Reviewer
Sure Signs of Crazy
Karen Harrington
Pub 8-2013, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Sure Signs of Crazy is Karen Harrington’s most recent novel and made its debut this past July.  Harrington has written many novels including Janeology. I have only read this one, but so far I like her books.  Sure Signs of Crazy  tells a story of grief, loneliness, and confusion.

“I told you.  I don’t want to go,” says Sarah.  While every other girl Sarah’s age is hanging out at the mall with her mom, Sarah is forced to leave her father and spend her summers in Houston with her grandparents.  Sarah’s mother was declared mentally ill on trial after trying to drown both Sarah and her twin brother, Simon, when they were two years old.  The famous case of Jane Nelson, Sarah’s mom, ended with Jane in a mental institution and Simon in a graveyard in Houston.  Sarah’s grief never stops, but this summer she gets the break she needs.  She doesn’t have to leave her father or live in Houston with her grandparents.  Plus, her neighbors are letting her hang out with them while her dad is at work.  Her days are filled with painting nails and watching T.V. like a “normal” kid.  She also enjoys writing letters to Atticus Finch, a character from To Kill a Mockingbird, as a school assignment.  Though this part of her summer is perfect, her life at home is nowhere near perfect.  Her father is an alcoholic and after twelve years of him getting drunk all the time, she can’t stand it anymore.  As Sarah struggles to make amends with her father, the reader can’t help but wonder how Sarah will ever learn the importance of love and family.

The seriousness of Sarah’s past makes Sure Signs of Crazy stand out from other books about summer adventures.  I enjoyed the letters to Atticus Finch that contained her feelings, not only toward her mother, but also toward her father.  I think that her relationship with her father is truly important because he is the closest family that she has.  For much of the book, she ponders how to deal with her father’s drinking problem.  She wants very badly to get revenge on him, which I cannot truthfully say I understand, but I liked watching half of Sarah try to work things out with her father while the other half is mad at him.  She is worried about things I would never dream of being scared of, such as turning out like her mom or dad.  The peaks and valleys of her emotions are a highlight of the story.

Although most of the story is serious, Harrington was able to infuse fun within this deeply emotional book.  Hanging out with the teenage neighbor girl is the most fun Sarah’s had in years.  After all, it is awesome to go to the mall and accessorize yourself. The way that the author explains doing these things, it seems like Sarah is going to an amusement park for the first time in her life.  Normal things are such a big deal to Sarah.  It makes the reader see everyday things from different angles.

Different angles create interesting shapes, and Sure Signs of Crazy is a work of modern art.  Get ready to accompany Sarah Nelson on one of the most important summers of her life! I promise you, it won’t be easy, but you’ll be glad you went.

- Mira M., 10

Young ReviewerEinstein the Class HamsterJanet TashjianPub 8-2013, Henry Holt & Co.
Janet Tashjian has written many books including My Life as a Book and For What it’s Worth.  Her latest novel, Einstein the Class Hamster, is a fun and easy read.  Read this book to learn about a crazy hamster’s crazy adventure!
Einstein the Class Hamster is about a class pet named Einstein.  Einstein wants to be in charge of Ms. Moreno’s class at Borring Elementary School.  His only problem is that the students in the class cannot hear him and nobody will ever believe that a hamster can teach them anything.  Nobody but Ned, that is.  Ned is a shy student in Mrs. Moreno’s class.  Every day, Ned talks to his only friend at school, Einstein, while Mrs. Moreno is snoozing.
Einstein is a bit on the crazy side and all he really cares about is being a game show host.   Too bad for Einstein, nobody knows that he wants to have his own game show or that he knows a lot of facts about history, science, and other random things.  He learned many fun facts from his great uncles and aunts who were also class hamsters.   On the bright side of things, those facts don’t go to waste — Einstein shares them with Ned.
One day, when sleepy Mrs. Moreno enters the class into a trivia game show audition for “Kids Know Stuff,” Einstein gets really excited.  The rest of the class is not as happy.  Mrs. Moreno sleeps for most of the day because she stays up all night watching commercials.  (I think that she’s kind of like an owl.) How will they prepare and get a spot on the game show if their teacher snoozes for most of the day? 
Einstein! He came from a long line of class hamsters, so he knows a lot.  That weekend, Ned takes Einstein home.  While Einstein is at Ned’s house, they play Answer that Question (Einstein’s game show), and by the time the weekend’s over, Ned’s head is stuffed with facts .  The next day, Ned teaches the class instead of Mrs. Moreno, and gets them ready for the audition.  Mrs. Moreno sleeps at her desk like usual.  Will Ned lead the class to victory or will the class fail?  Read the book to find out!
I liked that the book has “Einstein’s Tasty Tidbits,” pages of facts.  They’re helpful because they prepare you for the next round of Answer that Question.  One fact is that undigested whale vomit is turned into perfume.  Another fact is that mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on Earth.  These facts are very interesting to me, but I wouldn’t want to be a contestant on Answer that Question.  If you were a contestant on Answer that Question, it would be like having a test every week, even in the summer.  All you would have time to do is study.  I wouldn’t like that at all.   
Einstein the Class Hamster is a good book to read if you ever wonder what your class pet or class hamster does and thinks about all day.  It’s also good if you like funny stories.  Read this book and find out about Einstein the hamster’s crazy adventure!      
- Tage M., 7

Young Reviewer
Einstein the Class Hamster
Janet Tashjian
Pub 8-2013, Henry Holt & Co.

Janet Tashjian has written many books including My Life as a Book and For What it’s Worth.  Her latest novel, Einstein the Class Hamster, is a fun and easy read.  Read this book to learn about a crazy hamster’s crazy adventure!

Einstein the Class Hamster is about a class pet named Einstein.  Einstein wants to be in charge of Ms. Moreno’s class at Borring Elementary School.  His only problem is that the students in the class cannot hear him and nobody will ever believe that a hamster can teach them anything.  Nobody but Ned, that is.  Ned is a shy student in Mrs. Moreno’s class.  Every day, Ned talks to his only friend at school, Einstein, while Mrs. Moreno is snoozing.

Einstein is a bit on the crazy side and all he really cares about is being a game show host.   Too bad for Einstein, nobody knows that he wants to have his own game show or that he knows a lot of facts about history, science, and other random things.  He learned many fun facts from his great uncles and aunts who were also class hamsters.   On the bright side of things, those facts don’t go to waste — Einstein shares them with Ned.

One day, when sleepy Mrs. Moreno enters the class into a trivia game show audition for “Kids Know Stuff,” Einstein gets really excited.  The rest of the class is not as happy.  Mrs. Moreno sleeps for most of the day because she stays up all night watching commercials.  (I think that she’s kind of like an owl.) How will they prepare and get a spot on the game show if their teacher snoozes for most of the day?

Einstein! He came from a long line of class hamsters, so he knows a lot.  That weekend, Ned takes Einstein home.  While Einstein is at Ned’s house, they play Answer that Question (Einstein’s game show), and by the time the weekend’s over, Ned’s head is stuffed with facts .  The next day, Ned teaches the class instead of Mrs. Moreno, and gets them ready for the audition.  Mrs. Moreno sleeps at her desk like usual.  Will Ned lead the class to victory or will the class fail?  Read the book to find out!

I liked that the book has “Einstein’s Tasty Tidbits,” pages of facts.  They’re helpful because they prepare you for the next round of Answer that Question.  One fact is that undigested whale vomit is turned into perfume.  Another fact is that mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on Earth.  These facts are very interesting to me, but I wouldn’t want to be a contestant on Answer that Question.  If you were a contestant on Answer that Question, it would be like having a test every week, even in the summer.  All you would have time to do is study.  I wouldn’t like that at all.   

Einstein the Class Hamster is a good book to read if you ever wonder what your class pet or class hamster does and thinks about all day.  It’s also good if you like funny stories.  Read this book and find out about Einstein the hamster’s crazy adventure!      

- Tage M., 7

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Kid ReviewerMy Big Fat Zombie GoldfishMo O’HaraPub 7-2013, Feiwel & Friends
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish is Mo O’Hara’s first published novel.  Mo O’Hara lived in Pennsylvania but now lives in London.  
It is interesting that she chose a fish as the main focus. When she was young,  she brought her goldfish back to life when it was on the brink of death. This may have inspired the story of My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish.  
The book’s main character, Tom, is the little brother of his ‘mostly evil’ big brother, Mark. Tom’s best friend is Pradeep, who also has a big brother who is ‘mostly evil.’ His name is Sanj.  
Mark’s grandparents give him a chemistry set for his birthday. Little do they know, a chemistry set will turn Mark more evil — into an evil scientist! Mark brings home a goldfish from school. His first evil experiment is to dunk the goldfish, Frankie, into some toxic chemicals. Frankie dies, and in order to save him, Tom electrocutes him. Because of the chemicals, though, Frankie now possesses a Zombie stare, with hypnotic powers! That is one cool fish!
Tom and Pradeep bring Frankie the Goldfish to school to keep him safe from the toxic chemicals. At school, Frankie hypnotizes kids with his zombie stare and they start to listen to Mark and Sanj’s evil orders. Frankie clearly isn’t a normal fish, as well, because he can stay out of the water for a long time. 
Tom is a well-crafted narrator because he is on the good side, while his brother is mostly evil. While Mark is trying to take over the school, Tom is trying to stop this from happening. Tom’s perspective impacts the telling of the story because he makes the reader believe him, and not his brother Mark. Since Tom is good, and the narrator, hence in control of the story, you are motivated to be on the good side, too. He really pushes you to be on the good side.
In the beginning of the book, Mark and Sanj, the mostly evil big brothers, have power in the book because they are Evil. They call their little brothers Morons (according to Pradeep, a “big brother word”), and they try to use Frankie’s hypnotic powers to get the kids at school on their side, and take over the school. They remain really powerful until they find out that Frankie is against them.
The relationship between Tom and Mark is very important to the plot. Tom and Mark are brothers but they are really against each other. For example, Mark kills Frankie and Tom brings him back to life. Then Mark tries to take over the school while Tom tries to stop him. Tom and Mark have a strong sibling rivalry.
A lesson from this book would be: kindly don’t take over the school just because a big fat Zombie goldfish isn’t on your side! This book is a must-read for kids 7 - 10 who like hilarious books!
- Krish G., 8

Kid Reviewer
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish
Mo O’Hara
Pub 7-2013, Feiwel & Friends

My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish is Mo O’Hara’s first published novel.  Mo O’Hara lived in Pennsylvania but now lives in London.  

It is interesting that she chose a fish as the main focus. When she was young,  she brought her goldfish back to life when it was on the brink of death. This may have inspired the story of My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish.  

The book’s main character, Tom, is the little brother of his ‘mostly evil’ big brother, Mark. Tom’s best friend is Pradeep, who also has a big brother who is ‘mostly evil.’ His name is Sanj.  

Mark’s grandparents give him a chemistry set for his birthday. Little do they know, a chemistry set will turn Mark more evil — into an evil scientist! Mark brings home a goldfish from school. His first evil experiment is to dunk the goldfish, Frankie, into some toxic chemicals. Frankie dies, and in order to save him, Tom electrocutes him. Because of the chemicals, though, Frankie now possesses a Zombie stare, with hypnotic powers! That is one cool fish!

Tom and Pradeep bring Frankie the Goldfish to school to keep him safe from the toxic chemicals. At school, Frankie hypnotizes kids with his zombie stare and they start to listen to Mark and Sanj’s evil orders. Frankie clearly isn’t a normal fish, as well, because he can stay out of the water for a long time.

Tom is a well-crafted narrator because he is on the good side, while his brother is mostly evil. While Mark is trying to take over the school, Tom is trying to stop this from happening. Tom’s perspective impacts the telling of the story because he makes the reader believe him, and not his brother Mark. Since Tom is good, and the narrator, hence in control of the story, you are motivated to be on the good side, too. He really pushes you to be on the good side.

In the beginning of the book, Mark and Sanj, the mostly evil big brothers, have power in the book because they are Evil. They call their little brothers Morons (according to Pradeep, a “big brother word”), and they try to use Frankie’s hypnotic powers to get the kids at school on their side, and take over the school. They remain really powerful until they find out that Frankie is against them.

The relationship between Tom and Mark is very important to the plot. Tom and Mark are brothers but they are really against each other. For example, Mark kills Frankie and Tom brings him back to life. Then Mark tries to take over the school while Tom tries to stop him. Tom and Mark have a strong sibling rivalry.

A lesson from this book would be: kindly don’t take over the school just because a big fat Zombie goldfish isn’t on your side! This book is a must-read for kids 7 - 10 who like hilarious books!

- Krish G., 8

Calling teen reviewers! 
We need a smart, incisive, well-written review of the book you see above. Are you smart? Incisive? A good writer? Then you are the right person to review this book.
EMAIL US: reviews@mcnallyjackson.com
The first person to ask will be the person to get it. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Calling teen reviewers! 

We need a smart, incisive, well-written review of the book you see above. Are you smart? Incisive? A good writer? Then you are the right person to review this book.

EMAIL US: reviews@mcnallyjackson.com

The first person to ask will be the person to get it. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Young Reviewer
Stick Dog
Tom Watson
Pub 1-2013, HarperCollins
Tom Watson started writing books for his kids. Everyone liked them, so he started writing them online. Then he was discovered by a publishing company, HarperCollins, and recently published Stick Dog, a good book with kind of bad drawings. Tom Watson lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, and son.
Stick Dog is a dog that loves food. He has dog friends, including Mutt, Poo-Poo, Stripes, and Karen. They love food also. The story takes place near Picasso Park. It’s summer, in the afternoon. The dogs can smell the hamburgers grilling on the barbeque, so they make it their mission to steal hamburgers from the humans. They make a plan, but soon discover they didn’t need to.
I enjoyed Stick Dog because it is hilarious! The whole book is about getting hamburgers, and the characters all have funny names! Stripes has dots, not stripes. Stick Dog isn’t called Stick because he likes sticks; it’s because a stick dog is the only kind of dog that Watson can draw. Watson’s illustrations are like kids’ drawings. At the beginning of the book, he demonstrates how he draws trees and broccoli, and they look very, very similar. I like his pictures because it makes the book sillier.
During their mission to get hamburgers, a lot funny things happen. Stripes thinks a fork is a sword and walking is the same as charging. It shows what Stripes thinks of the world. When the other dogs are thinking of plans for how to get the hamburgers, Mutt has a funny idea: he would first get the car keys from the humans and then drive the car and stick his head out of the window while the other dogs get the hamburgers. I liked the character Poo-poo because he makes an enormous deal about a squirrel dropping an acorn on his head. Why make a big fuss over a squirrel dropping a teeny-tiny acorn on someone’s head?
If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate, then Stick Dog is for you! Tom Watson wrote it like a kid would: off the lines with terrible pictures. If you like funny books, Stick Dog should be number one on your list. Tom Watson’s Stick Dog is a big must-read!
- Krish G., 8

Young Reviewer

Stick Dog

Tom Watson

Pub 1-2013, HarperCollins

Tom Watson started writing books for his kids. Everyone liked them, so he started writing them online. Then he was discovered by a publishing company, HarperCollins, and recently published Stick Dog, a good book with kind of bad drawings. Tom Watson lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, and son.

Stick Dog is a dog that loves food. He has dog friends, including Mutt, Poo-Poo, Stripes, and Karen. They love food also. The story takes place near Picasso Park. It’s summer, in the afternoon. The dogs can smell the hamburgers grilling on the barbeque, so they make it their mission to steal hamburgers from the humans. They make a plan, but soon discover they didn’t need to.

I enjoyed Stick Dog because it is hilarious! The whole book is about getting hamburgers, and the characters all have funny names! Stripes has dots, not stripes. Stick Dog isn’t called Stick because he likes sticks; it’s because a stick dog is the only kind of dog that Watson can draw. Watson’s illustrations are like kids’ drawings. At the beginning of the book, he demonstrates how he draws trees and broccoli, and they look very, very similar. I like his pictures because it makes the book sillier.

During their mission to get hamburgers, a lot funny things happen. Stripes thinks a fork is a sword and walking is the same as charging. It shows what Stripes thinks of the world. When the other dogs are thinking of plans for how to get the hamburgers, Mutt has a funny idea: he would first get the car keys from the humans and then drive the car and stick his head out of the window while the other dogs get the hamburgers. I liked the character Poo-poo because he makes an enormous deal about a squirrel dropping an acorn on his head. Why make a big fuss over a squirrel dropping a teeny-tiny acorn on someone’s head?

If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate, then Stick Dog is for you! Tom Watson wrote it like a kid would: off the lines with terrible pictures. If you like funny books, Stick Dog should be number one on your list. Tom Watson’s Stick Dog is a big must-read!

- Krish G., 8

Kid Reviewer
Written in Stone
Rosanne Parry
Pub 6-2013, Random House
Written in Stone is the story of a determined young Makah girl named Pearl who lives on a Native American reservation in Alaska.  It is set in a time when Native Americans were mistreated by our nation.  Award-winning author Rosanne Parry takes us on Pearl’s journey to preserve her parents’ spirits, thoughts, and traditions.
When Pearl’s father dies in a fatal accident on a whaling trip, Pearl is devastated and longs to have him back.  She thinks that the closest she will ever be to him is to keep something from his Regalia (belongings). Typically these items would go to other Native Americans on the reservation. As if being lonely isn’t enough, Pearl is constantly worried because her extended family, with whom she is left to live, struggles to earn enough money for food.   When an art collector comes to the reservation, Pearl’s family thinks about selling items from Pearl’s father’s Regalia.  Although it seems like the perfect solution, Pearl is immediately suspicious of him and sees him as another obstacle to having a connection to her parents.  Persistent and determined, she is sure there is another way to feed her family without selling her only connection to her parents.
Rosanne Parry captures Pearl’s emotions so well that the reader can’t help but share her sadness.  Pearl’s heart aches when she thinks of her mom and baby sister, who died from the flu. She longs for her family even more after her father passes away. Pearl holds back her tears, and I found myself doing the same while reading her story.
Although this book is emotionally difficult to read, it reminds me of how lucky I am. For example, Pearl is excited when she receives a pencil with which to write in her diary. Normally, I would take having a pencil for granted, but now I realize that it is a luxury for some. In addition, Pearl’s aunt, who weaves baskets, is always telling her that basket weaving is the perfect profession because it pays more than blanket weaving.  Pearl resents her advice because she would rather be a blanket weaver like her mother. I am lucky that the career advice I receive is to do what I love: writing. I would feel trapped if I were Pearl. I am grateful that I do not have the same struggles as her.
Written in Stonemay be a little heavy, but it is a perfect book for discussion. While there are many differences between Pearl’s life and modern childhood, Parry shows us that the emotions caused by circumstances are often universal. In addition, she shows a side of American history that many people overlook. With a book like this, who knows where a discussion could go?
Written for today’s reader, but set in a completely different time and place, this book opens the door to Makah life in the 1920s. Written in Stone is the perfect addition to a young reader’s collection of literature!  

- Mira M., 9

Kid Reviewer

Written in Stone

Rosanne Parry

Pub 6-2013, Random House

Written in Stone is the story of a determined young Makah girl named Pearl who lives on a Native American reservation in Alaska.  It is set in a time when Native Americans were mistreated by our nation.  Award-winning author Rosanne Parry takes us on Pearl’s journey to preserve her parents’ spirits, thoughts, and traditions.

When Pearl’s father dies in a fatal accident on a whaling trip, Pearl is devastated and longs to have him back.  She thinks that the closest she will ever be to him is to keep something from his Regalia (belongings). Typically these items would go to other Native Americans on the reservation. As if being lonely isn’t enough, Pearl is constantly worried because her extended family, with whom she is left to live, struggles to earn enough money for food.   When an art collector comes to the reservation, Pearl’s family thinks about selling items from Pearl’s father’s Regalia.  Although it seems like the perfect solution, Pearl is immediately suspicious of him and sees him as another obstacle to having a connection to her parents.  Persistent and determined, she is sure there is another way to feed her family without selling her only connection to her parents.

Rosanne Parry captures Pearl’s emotions so well that the reader can’t help but share her sadness.  Pearl’s heart aches when she thinks of her mom and baby sister, who died from the flu. She longs for her family even more after her father passes away. Pearl holds back her tears, and I found myself doing the same while reading her story.

Although this book is emotionally difficult to read, it reminds me of how lucky I am. For example, Pearl is excited when she receives a pencil with which to write in her diary. Normally, I would take having a pencil for granted, but now I realize that it is a luxury for some. In addition, Pearl’s aunt, who weaves baskets, is always telling her that basket weaving is the perfect profession because it pays more than blanket weaving.  Pearl resents her advice because she would rather be a blanket weaver like her mother. I am lucky that the career advice I receive is to do what I love: writing. I would feel trapped if I were Pearl. I am grateful that I do not have the same struggles as her.

Written in Stonemay be a little heavy, but it is a perfect book for discussion. While there are many differences between Pearl’s life and modern childhood, Parry shows us that the emotions caused by circumstances are often universal. In addition, she shows a side of American history that many people overlook. With a book like this, who knows where a discussion could go?

Written for today’s reader, but set in a completely different time and place, this book opens the door to Makah life in the 1920s. Written in Stone is the perfect addition to a young reader’s collection of literature!  

- Mira M., 9

Young Reviewer
The Ability
M.M. Vaughan
Pub 4-2013, Margaret K. McElderry Books
I think that The Ability by M.M. Vaughan was really about teamwork, which makes it different from other books like it. It reminded me, for example, of The Mysterious Benedict Society, because in both books children go to a special school to learn specific things that other children don’t learn. In this book, the London school, Myers Holt, teaches students how to use their “ability.” An “ability” is not really easy to define, but it has to do with using your mind to do different things: enter other people’s minds and move objects, or put a thought in other people’s minds that is not really true, but can make those people believe it is. Chris is the main character of The Ability. The beginning is very funny because everyone in Chris’s old school thought he was a bad kid, and they were all surprised when he was chosen to attend Myers Holt. Chris is my favorite character. His mother watched TV all day long, and she made Chris take care of her, and that made me feel sad for Chris. Even then, Chris is very enthusiastic and cheerful, and friendly to the other students.One of reasons I really liked this book was because it was a bit scary, and I like that. The bad guys seem extremely bad and powerful. There were screens on the walls and fake moons and stars at night, and a blue fake sky in the morning that made the school seem special. I also like the characters. Rex is funny, and Daisy, I think, likes Chris. I don’t know if it is a love story, but it is definitely about strong friendships. Everything these kids do is very interesting, and I wish all twelve-year old kids would be able to do these things as well. Only six students go to the school, even though all twelve-year olds have the “ability.” Once you turn twelve, you can use the “ability,” but when you turn thirteen the “ability” will go away automatically. These six kids had to do a special test to go to the school, and they all passed it using the “ability” even though they still didn’t know they had it.I definitely recommend The Ability to everyone. Kids and adults that like stories about unusual powers will really enjoy this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book by M.M. Vaughan.
- Lucas B., 9

Young Reviewer

The Ability

M.M. Vaughan

Pub 4-2013, Margaret K. McElderry Books

I think that The Ability by M.M. Vaughan was really about teamwork, which makes it different from other books like it. It reminded me, for example, of The Mysterious Benedict Society, because in both books children go to a special school to learn specific things that other children don’t learn. In this book, the London school, Myers Holt, teaches students how to use their “ability.” An “ability” is not really easy to define, but it has to do with using your mind to do different things: enter other people’s minds and move objects, or put a thought in other people’s minds that is not really true, but can make those people believe it is.

Chris is the main character of The Ability. The beginning is very funny because everyone in Chris’s old school thought he was a bad kid, and they were all surprised when he was chosen to attend Myers Holt. Chris is my favorite character. His mother watched TV all day long, and she made Chris take care of her, and that made me feel sad for Chris. Even then, Chris is very enthusiastic and cheerful, and friendly to the other students.

One of reasons I really liked this book was because it was a bit scary, and I like that. The bad guys seem extremely bad and powerful. There were screens on the walls and fake moons and stars at night, and a blue fake sky in the morning that made the school seem special. I also like the characters. Rex is funny, and Daisy, I think, likes Chris. I don’t know if it is a love story, but it is definitely about strong friendships. Everything these kids do is very interesting, and I wish all twelve-year old kids would be able to do these things as well. Only six students go to the school, even though all twelve-year olds have the “ability.” Once you turn twelve, you can use the “ability,” but when you turn thirteen the “ability” will go away automatically. These six kids had to do a special test to go to the school, and they all passed it using the “ability” even though they still didn’t know they had it.

I definitely recommend The Ability to everyone. Kids and adults that like stories about unusual powers will really enjoy this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book by M.M. Vaughan.

- Lucas B., 9

Young Reviewer
The Sasquatch Escape
Suzanne Selfors
Pub 4-2013, Little, Brown for Young Readers
Suzanne Selfors is known for writing books with magic—just a little, though. The Sasquatch Escape is the first book of a new series: “The Imaginary Veterinary”. Selfors takes her readers on a magical journey through Buttonville, and what seems to be a boring town at first is not boring anymore.
Ben is a ten year-old California kid who visits his grandpa in Buttonville for the summer. Soon enough, he makes friends with a girl named Pearl. Ben and Pearl find an injured dragon that Ben’s grandpa’s cat had bitten. It is not everyday that you find an injured dragon! They take it to the hospital, but once there, they find it’s no ordinary hospital. It’s a hospital for worms! But not just worms—magical creatures. They are scattered around the hospital. Meanwhile, Ben and Pearl get into trouble because a sasquatch—a big, brown hairy beast—escapes from the WORM hospital. And it’s Ben’s fault! He didn’t lock the door.
I like the setting because Buttonville is a boring town but soon comes to feel like a very suspenseful Olympic Final. Ben is a city boy from Los Angeles, where there is a lot more things to do than in Buttonville. Compared to L.A., Buttonville is a speck of dust! This setting affects Ben because, where at first, he predicted it would be the most boring summer, now he discovers it is the best summer ever!  
My favorite character in the book was the Sasquatch because he is a very funny magical creature. The Sasquatch is my favorite because it is not a normal creature, but is a very important character in the book. My favorite part was when Ben accidentally trapped Ms. Mulbery and her daughter, Victoria in a net! The net was from the “Sasquatch catching kit”. I like this scene because it is very funny and unusual. It’s not every day that people get trapped in a net by a ten-year-old boy!
At first, when I read the beginning of The Sasquatch Escape, it seemed like it would be uneventful because nothing happens in a place where nothing happens. But progressing through the story, I became more and more interested. This book is one that everyone should read. And if you read this book and like it, you can get the second book! Read the whole series! Soon you will read a lot of Suzanne Selfors’ books!
By Krish G., 8

Young Reviewer

The Sasquatch Escape

Suzanne Selfors

Pub 4-2013, Little, Brown for Young Readers

Suzanne Selfors is known for writing books with magic—just a little, though. The Sasquatch Escape is the first book of a new series: “The Imaginary Veterinary”. Selfors takes her readers on a magical journey through Buttonville, and what seems to be a boring town at first is not boring anymore.

Ben is a ten year-old California kid who visits his grandpa in Buttonville for the summer. Soon enough, he makes friends with a girl named Pearl. Ben and Pearl find an injured dragon that Ben’s grandpa’s cat had bitten. It is not everyday that you find an injured dragon! They take it to the hospital, but once there, they find it’s no ordinary hospital. It’s a hospital for worms! But not just worms—magical creatures. They are scattered around the hospital. Meanwhile, Ben and Pearl get into trouble because a sasquatch—a big, brown hairy beast—escapes from the WORM hospital. And it’s Ben’s fault! He didn’t lock the door.

I like the setting because Buttonville is a boring town but soon comes to feel like a very suspenseful Olympic Final. Ben is a city boy from Los Angeles, where there is a lot more things to do than in Buttonville. Compared to L.A., Buttonville is a speck of dust! This setting affects Ben because, where at first, he predicted it would be the most boring summer, now he discovers it is the best summer ever!  

My favorite character in the book was the Sasquatch because he is a very funny magical creature. The Sasquatch is my favorite because it is not a normal creature, but is a very important character in the book. My favorite part was when Ben accidentally trapped Ms. Mulbery and her daughter, Victoria in a net! The net was from the “Sasquatch catching kit”. I like this scene because it is very funny and unusual. It’s not every day that people get trapped in a net by a ten-year-old boy!

At first, when I read the beginning of The Sasquatch Escape, it seemed like it would be uneventful because nothing happens in a place where nothing happens. But progressing through the story, I became more and more interested. This book is one that everyone should read. And if you read this book and like it, you can get the second book! Read the whole series! Soon you will read a lot of Suzanne Selfors’ books!

By Krish G., 8

Guest Reviewer
The Giver
Lois Lowry
Laurel Leaf
“It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.”Thus opens Lois Lowry’s haunting novel The Giver, in which a boy inhabits a seemingly ideal world: a world without conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, or inequality. It is a time in which family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and even good manners are a way of life.December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man—the man called only the Giver--he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling, it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.
I first read this book in my grade 6 English class at the choosing of one of my favorite English teachers. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think she was quite influential in developing my appreciation and need for books. The Giver was not my introduction to Lois Lowry, however. I had read Number the Stars the year before, and loved it as well. Since, I have read Messenger and Gathering Blue multiple times and am beyond excited to read her fourth installment, Son. The Giver has remained my favorite of Lowry’s novels to date. 
I ripped through the book, finishing it in about a day during a very busy Christmas season. It had been a while since I read fiction geared towards as young an audience as The Giver is, but I enjoyed the story and the story telling all the same. Lowry is excellent at dropping readers into the midst of a world they know nothing about and revealing key details just in time to allow you to understand what’s happening, but keep you guessing about what could possibly come next. 
I remember the book seeming much longer the first time I read it, perhaps because many of the ideas and concepts of dystopian fiction were entirely new to me at the time. My eyes were certainly opened to many new concepts of government, choice, rights, and responsibility the first time I read The Giver. My most recent read found me particularly focused on the idea of truth: what qualifies as truth, when it should be told, when it should be with held, and the power and responsibility that comes with the truth. 
One of my favorite things about rereading books is the experience of going back and finding a new detail that hadn’t stood out to me before. The Giver was a comfortable and familiar book that was still able to challenge my opinions. Jonas’s story is easy to read and his experiences allow one to see aspects of our lives that are taken for granted, through a fresh pair of eyes. 
It is always a pleasure to read Lois Lowry’s work and I recommend this book for anyone as young as grade 5, and any and every age older. 

Reviewed by Diana at Project:Read 
http://project-read.tumblr.com/

Guest Reviewer

The Giver

Lois Lowry

Laurel Leaf

“It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.”

Thus opens Lois Lowry’s haunting novel The Giver, in which a boy inhabits a seemingly ideal world: a world without conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, or inequality. It is a time in which family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and even good manners are a way of life.

December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man—the man called only the Giver--he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.

Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling, it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.

I first read this book in my grade 6 English class at the choosing of one of my favorite English teachers. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think she was quite influential in developing my appreciation and need for books. The Giver was not my introduction to Lois Lowry, however. I had read Number the Stars the year before, and loved it as well. Since, I have read Messenger and Gathering Blue multiple times and am beyond excited to read her fourth installment, SonThe Giver has remained my favorite of Lowry’s novels to date. 

I ripped through the book, finishing it in about a day during a very busy Christmas season. It had been a while since I read fiction geared towards as young an audience as The Giver is, but I enjoyed the story and the story telling all the same. Lowry is excellent at dropping readers into the midst of a world they know nothing about and revealing key details just in time to allow you to understand what’s happening, but keep you guessing about what could possibly come next. 

I remember the book seeming much longer the first time I read it, perhaps because many of the ideas and concepts of dystopian fiction were entirely new to me at the time. My eyes were certainly opened to many new concepts of government, choice, rights, and responsibility the first time I read The Giver. My most recent read found me particularly focused on the idea of truth: what qualifies as truth, when it should be told, when it should be with held, and the power and responsibility that comes with the truth. 

One of my favorite things about rereading books is the experience of going back and finding a new detail that hadn’t stood out to me before. The Giver was a comfortable and familiar book that was still able to challenge my opinions. Jonas’s story is easy to read and his experiences allow one to see aspects of our lives that are taken for granted, through a fresh pair of eyes. 

It is always a pleasure to read Lois Lowry’s work and I recommend this book for anyone as young as grade 5, and any and every age older. 

Reviewed by Diana at Project:Read 

http://project-read.tumblr.com/

Staff Pick
A Tale Dark and Grimm
By Adam Gidwitz
"Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome." And gory, and irreverent, andhilarious, and completely original in the hands of debut author AdamGidwitz. Great as a solo read or read-aloud for ages 10 and up, or foranyone who likes their fairy tales with an abundance of death anddismemberment.
- By Cristin

Staff Pick

A Tale Dark and Grimm

By Adam Gidwitz

"Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome." And gory, and irreverent, andhilarious, and completely original in the hands of debut author Adam
Gidwitz. Great as a solo read or read-aloud for ages 10 and up, or for
anyone who likes their fairy tales with an abundance of death and
dismemberment.

- By Cristin