Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: Fish In A Tree

Fish In A Tree Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has spent much of her life avoiding everything to do with school and reading. She is embarrassed by her inability to read, and hurt by comments that have been directed at her over the years (dumb, stupid, freak).

She retaliates the only way she knows how...getting into trouble and being sent to the nurse or the office to avoid being forced to read. That is until her new teacher Mr. Daniels enters the picture. Mr. Daniels doesn't see Ally as a freak, and with his help and the support of her odd by loyal sidekicks Albert and Keisha, Ally begins to see herself as smart and gritty. And as Mr. Daniels shows her, reading is no longer IM-POSSIBLE, but POSSIBLE.

My Thoughts:
This is a wonderfully sweet, uplifting story about dealing with a learning difference (dyslexia). There are also threads in here about grit, family, bullying, and friendship. Hunt does an amazing job with her 3 main characters, as well as a supporting cast of students, family, and teachers.

I read this with my 5th grade reading club, and it was an absolute hit. Will be reading this again in future years with upcoming groups.

My Recommendation:
5+/5 stars
Grades 5 and up

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: Scythe

Scythe Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Talk:
Thou shalt kill. Thou shalt kill with no bias, bigotry, or malice aforethought. Thou shalt kill the beloved of those who resist.

Citra and Rowan find themselves apprenticed to scythes, the only people in a post-mortal world who are legally allowed to end lives in order to keep the population manageable. But they soon learn that the sythedom is rife with corruption and greed, and they must find a way to expose the truth and save their own lives.

My Thought:
WOW. I love everything I have read so far of Shusterman (Unwind series, Challenger Deep), but this one blew me away. It really creeps me out that the good guys in this book are essentially professional assassins. It's the same kind of creepy I felt reading "that scene" in Unwind. Like I should feel guilty for enjoying the story so much...

My Recommendation:
5/5 stars (and I very seldom give 5 stars)
Grades 7+ (pretty heavy violence)



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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: Freeks

Freeks Freeks by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Mara is a carnie. She and her mom live and work with a traveling circus. But this circus has some dark and mysterious secrets. Each of the members of the circus have supernatural powers. Unfortunately, even their powers cannot save them from going broke, and in a last ditch effort to keep things going, the carnival accepts an invitation to spend a week in Caudry, Louisiana. Things in Caudry seem a little off to Mara and her friends, and they soon find out that evil lurks in the nearby swamps.

My thoughts:
This one will not be going on my middle school shelves. There is a pretty descriptive sex scene that prevents me from comfortably sharing this book with my students, even with a YA label.

I wanted to like this book because it's in my favorite genre (supernatural with some mystery). It feels like it is borrowed from existing books, and that annoys me. Fans of Twilight will figure out a "plot twist" pretty quickly...it reads almost like fanfic with the way parts of this novel feel lifted from other stories.

My rating:
2.5/5 stars
Grades 9+ (sex scence, mild language, violence)


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