HockeyDawg is deeply moved by the lasting bonds of friendship in “The One and Only Ivan.”

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Title: The One and Only Ivan

Author: Katherine Applegate

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, is a very touching, sad and loving story. It is about two elephants and a gorilla making promises and sacrifices, and being brave.         

In this story, a silverback gorilla named Ivan lives in a domain at the Big Top Mall with an older elephant named Stella and a stray dog named Bob. They perform in a circus three times a day, 365 days a year.

 

When a new, shy baby elephant named Ruby arrives, Stella acts like a mom to Ruby and they learn new tricks together. But a change in Stella’s health worries Ivan and he is scared of what might happen to her and if he’ll be able to take care of Ruby on his own.

 

In conclusion, I loved this book so much that I could read it a thousand times and never get tired of it. Based on a real-life story of a gorilla that was caged in a mall, this story is deeply moving and full of heart. If you like animal stories or stories about the lasting bonds of friendship, this is the story for you.

 

Reviewer: HockeyDawg

Age: 12

Lbutterfly finds inspiration and adventure in “Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock.”

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Title: Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock

Author: Carolyn Keene

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 4 Stars

Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock is an engaging mystery story with cliffhangers at the end of each page. This book inspires me to do more for others and to appreciate fully what I have. To take nothing for granted.

Nancy Drew stumbles upon a family who is in need of money. This family was depending on inheriting money from their wealthy relative, Josiah Crowley. But after his death, his will went missing and they were left penniless. Nancy has to travel to many of Josiah Crowley’s friends’ and families’ houses where she gathers clues. She takes on this case and, with the help of her father and many other people, Nancy journeys to unravel all the secrets.

This book will make you turn page after page for hours on end. I love the way that Nancy just keeps on going. I recommend this book to anyone who likes books that are filled with lots of action, adventure, and mystery. If you have not read this book, I highly suggest it to everyone.

Reviewer: Lbutterfly

Age: 12

jay Z finds his oasis in “Ready Player One!”

Ready Player OneTitle: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, is a dystopian science fiction novel, set in the year 2044 and chalk full of 80’s video games, adventure, and mystery.

Protagonist Wade Watts is a teen who has found the first clue in the puzzle to a $200 billion fortune left behind by James Halliday.  Halliday is the recently deceased, 80’s-obsessed creator of the virtual reality video game called The Oasis.  

This fortune is hidden deep inside the game as an Easter egg. The catch: the competition is open to the billions of people who own Oasis consoles and haptic equipment. Furthermore, Wade has to contend with IOI, a giant corporation bent on taking control of the Oasis and cheating their way to the egg.

This book is a fantastic, compelling read.  By the second chapter in, I vowed to add this to my permanent library. The characters Cline brings to life are so crystal clear and lifelike, I wished it would never stop. This story was my oasis from the dull reality of life; for this, I am forever indebted to Cline for his enchanting wizardry with words.

Reviewer: jay Z

Age: 13

Hellemhockey pushes through with this powerful review of “Unbroken.”

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Title: Unbroken

Author: Laura Hillenbrand

Genre: Non-fiction, Biography

Rating: 5 Stars

Unbroken is an adventurous thriller about never giving up and always pushing through. This book is a true story about a man named Louis Zamperini who was an Olympic runner, and was at the peak of his career when he was drafted into World War 2. His plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. He endured a forty-day raft trip with the danger of starvation, dehydration, and death from sharks. When his raft washed up in Japan, he was captured by the Japanese and put into POW (prisoner of war) camps. Here he used his perseverance to make it through the war.

I really like how Louie is a fighter and never gives up. One example is when he was in the POW camp and held a twenty-foot-long 2 x 4 over his head for twenty minutes because he didn’t want to give the captain the satisfaction of seeing him fail. This captain, named “The Bird,” was one of the terrible leaders of the POW camps.  Louis was beaten, humiliated, and degraded.

In my opinion, this book keeps you turning the pages. I can’t wait to read it again.

Reviewer: hellemhockey

Age: 13

FatRat recommends the twists and secrets in “Salt To the Sea.”

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Title: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

Salt To The Sea, by Ruta Sepetys, is compassionate and filled with tragedy. It takes place near the end of World War Two. This book follows the perspective of four main characters, all with secrets to hide: (1) a former worker at Hitler’s personal museum now on the run, (2) a fifteen-year-old immigrant from Poland, trying to hide her nationality, (3) a Lithuanian nurse, trying to get to Germany, and (4) a Nazi, at the bottom of the pecking order, with delusions of grandeur, an inflated ego and a desire to please his betters. The first three of these four all meet in East Prussia through luck, bad luck, and coincidence. They get wind of a ship that would take them out of the war and into safety, The Wilhelm Gustloff. Meanwhile, the Nazi is assigned to help clean and manage the very same ship. These characters are pulled along the plotline by tragedy, love, war, and greed to their destiny.

Salt to the Sea is an engaging book and does a great job of bringing these characters to life. I am amazed at how the author was able to show the point of view of four different characters. It is filled with twists and is an interesting book to read.

Reviewer: FatRat

Age: 13

Naomi reveals her affection for the priceless and amazing “El Deafo!”

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Title: El Deafo

Author: Cece Bell

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir

Rating: 5 Stars

El Deafo is the funniest and yet most poignant graphic novel I have ever read. It is a memoir of author Cece Bell’s struggles after she becomes sick and loses her hearing at the age of four.  Until she reaches second grade, Bell lives in her own bubble with few friends because she is shy. All through the book, she thinks of herself as a superhero, known as El Deafo. By the time she reaches second grade, her social life is really only her brother and sister and one mean friend. When a new boy moves into town, she falls in love. The way the author explains how they interact is beyond hilarious.

 El Deafo is so touching and never gets old. I think I’ve read it 10 times and every time I read it, I deeply enjoy it. The cartooning is one of the best parts. The drawings are detailed but not overwhelming, and some of the best cartoons in this book are El Deafo superhero dreams, which are priceless. This is a must-read book full of humor, joy, and friendship between amazing characters.

Reviewer: Naomi

Age: 14

Martin_Montes finds mysterious threads in “The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time.”

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Title: The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 4 Stars

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, starts with a fabulous mystery because a dog has been killed with a giant pitchfork. The narrator is Christopher and he is an autistic teenager. His mom died two years ago.

In the neighborhood, on the night he finds the stabbed dog, Christopher decides to investigate who killed the dog. Christopher investigates about of the murder of the dog by himself. What will he find?

I like this book because it has so much mystery and I get to focus on the story and it is a good story.  But sometimes, the story is kind of strange. For example, the chapters are in prime numbers. The text includes drawings. The main character misunderstands people because of his autism.

This book succeeds in maintaining a mystery throughout while giving the reader a deep sense of what it would be like to have a mental condition. In this way, the reader learns a lot.

Reviewer: Martin_Montes

Age: 15

audrey.warren hones in on the importance of memory in “The Giver”

The Giver

Title: The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 4 Stars

The Giver, by Lois Lowry, is an intense and profound book to read. This story is set in a society which first appears to be utopian but is revealed to be dystopian as the story continues. The book follows an eleven-year-old boy named Jonas throughout his journey discovering what this society is about.

The citizens of the society Lowry creates can’t see color. When Jonas starts to realizes he can see color, he wonders what this means for him in the future. He’s different from other kids because he can see beyond. Jonas receives the job as a receiver, which means he holds all memory of history. This is isolating. Jonas starts training with this old man known as the Giver. The Giver slowly gives Jonas an idea of what the receiver’s job is. Jonas is scared and confused about why he was chosen as the receiver and as he receives the memories he sees his society is not as “perfect” as it seems.

Lowry came up with the idea of a scary, sterile world where nearly everyone takes drugs so they don’t remember their memories and emotions. In real life, so many have suffered the pain of losing someone. In this book, Lowry considered how much different our existences might be if we didn’t have memories at all. Lowry shows us that when we lose our memories we lose parts of our humanity.

Reviewer: audrey.warren

Age: 14

HockeyGirlMT finds a stunning message in “The War that Saved My Life!”

The_War_That_Saved_My_Life

Title: The War that Saved my Life

Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

The War that Saved my Life is a stunning book that takes the reader through a girl’s daring escape not only to get free from her fears, but to find her strengths. Ada has never left her one-room apartment because her horrible mother is too ashamed about Ada’s twisted up foot. When World War II hits London and kids evacuate to the country, Ada escapes with them. But will she be free or will the grip of her abusive mother pull her back? The War that Saved my Life is an extraordinary book with beautiful detail. You will love this book if you are interested in life around World War II or if you just want to read a tremendous and moving book. This book is very well written: I can imagine each scene because author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley writes with beautiful description. The War that Saved my Life is one of my favorite books and I can’t wait to read it again.

Reviewer: HockeyGirlMT

Age: 12

Win19 finds thrills in Rowling’s “Chamber of Secrets!”

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Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Author: J. K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4 Stars

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J. K. Rowling, is a thrilling book that keeps you engaged throughout. After a strange visit from a house elf named Dobby, Harry Potter leaves his terrible human/muggle family to go to his second year at Hogwarts, the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Dobby warns Harry that if he goes to the school, disaster will strike. And strike it does.

For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageous professor, Gillderoy Lockheart, a moaning girl haunting the bathrooms and the unwanted attention of lots of other students and teachers. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone or something starts petrifying children. Who could it be?  

This is a great book if you are looking for something to read just for fun. It is an action packed book and if you like reading fantasy, this is an awesome book for you.

Reviewer: win19

Age: 14

_quantum_03 celebrates the perseverance in “Black Holes and Baby Universes!”

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Title: Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays

Author: Stephen Hawking

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 4.5stars

Written by one of the most admirable theoretical physicists, Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays is a compilation of personal and scientific essays. Taken together, these essays showcase his great achievements, but also his battle with ALS. Unlike Hawking’s earlier bestseller, A Brief History in Time, which is primarily focused on current theories in science, Black Holes and baby Universes and other Essays is a mix of speeches, essays and paradoxes.

 At the age of twenty-one during his first year of graduate school at Cambridge, Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease (or ALS). This led him to experience a rapid deterioration of function until the point where he could no longer walk. While dealing with his permanent illness, Hawking finished school, married, and began to develop innovative theories of his own, such as black hole emission (otherwise known as Hawking Radiation). Though these essays vary in substance, a prominent theme of perseverance unites the book. It is incredible that a man who is faced with such life threatening difficulties can persevere and be smarter than all of us. Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays isn’t the most science loaded of Hawking’s books, but it is very inspiring.

Reviewer: _quantum_03

Age: 14

Yeetgawd is riveted by “Red Rising!”

Red_Rising_(2014)

Title: Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 5 Stars

Red Rising is a riveting and page-turning sci-fi that takes place in a dystopian society on Mars. The society is stratified into a caste system, with the Golds at the top and the Reds at the bottom. Darrow is a Red, the lowest class in society. His whole life Darrow has believed that he has been colonizing Mars for a better future for his people, but this is all a lie. When his wife is killed, he decides to go through a risky process called the carving to become a Gold, the highest class in society. Darrow enters the institute — a vile place where the Golds are tested in a battle of will. Will Darrow survive?

This book is like Hunger Games mixed with Ender’s Game. Pierce Brown’s writing style is fast-paced, engaging, and delicately woven to create a book that you won’t be able to put down. This was one of my favorite series I’ve ever read. This is the first installment in a series of three.

Reviewer: yeetgawd

Age: 14

Blairito is transported by “The War that Saved my Life!”

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Title: The War that Saved my Life

Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

The War that Saved my Life is a book that transports you through an adventure of historical fiction. It is about a ten-year-old crippled girl named Ada living in London during World War II. Ada lives with her little brother and her unstable mother, who is ashamed to let her leave their small London flat. Ada is faced with child abuse and the task of protecting her six-year-old brother from her mother. But when all of London is warned about bombs, her brother’s school organizes for all children to leave and go to live with new families out of harm’s way. Ada has to face the challenge of walking on her crippled foot to get to safety, but that is by no means the end of her adventure. Upon arriving in the countryside, Ada and her brother are sent to live with a stern lonely woman named Susan who lives alone in a big house. Can Ada’s hope and kindness help save not only her brother but also Susan?

I loved the way Kimberly Brubaker Bradley writes from Ada’s point of view. It gives the whole story a very real and inspiring feel. I hope that the next readers of this book enjoy as much as I did, looking at the world through Ada’s eyes.

Reviewer: Blairito

Age: 13