Book Review: The Clue of the Broken Locket by Carolyn Keene

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I read this book for my Literature & Media for Children class. I am using it for the Treasure Hunt (something made of metal, something you’d wear), Eclectic Reader Challenge (action adventure), Women Challenge, Bookworm Bitches 2013 A-Z Title Challenge, Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge, 52 Books in 52 Weeks, and Literary Friday.

It was impossible to find a summary of the book online! The ones I found were of the original book which is nothing like the one I read, as it was rewritten in the 1960s.

My review for my class: I was drawn to this book as I am researching the Stratemeyer Syndicate (producers of the Nancy Drew series) for my group project. I also loved Nancy Drew books as a kid and wanted to re-read one. I enjoyed the book and thought it was well-written as far as how the mystery unfolded. It was suspenseful and not too predictable. However, the language was a bit old-fashioned and parts of the plot/characters seemed outdated. Also I didn’t like how the character Bess was described as “inclined to be overweight” and then in may scenes is either talking about eating, eating, or cooking. It was kind of offensive.

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars. A fun, light read that preteen girls would enjoy.4 stars

Book Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

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I read this book for my Literature & Media for Children class. I am using it for the Treasure Hunt (a feeling), Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge, 52 Books in 52 Weeks, and Book Club Friday.

Summary from Goodreads: Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing. Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories–Ben’s told in words, Rose’s in pictures–weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful–with over 460 pages of original artwork–Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

My review for my class: I was drawn to this book because I really enjoyed The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The books were similar but in Wonderstruck there are two separate stories: one told only in text and one told only in illustrations. At the end of the book, the two stories come together and readers find out how they are related. It definitely met my expectations and is a quality children’s book. Children would enjoy reading this book on their own. There is nothing I didn’t like about the book!

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars. I liked Hugo more; I think the story was just more heartwarming. But this was still a great book!

4 stars

Top Ten Tuesday

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Top 10 Books I Liked Less/More Than I Thought I Would

Liked Less:

1. Beautiful Creatures… The ending sucked.

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2. Thirteen Reasons Why… Found it annoying/unrealistic/uninspiring.

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3. Paper Towns… Hated the main character Margo.

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4. Eat, Pray, Love… Hated the main character/author.

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5. Darkly Dreaming Dexter… The TV show is way better.

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Liked More:

6. Anna and the French Kiss… Thought it would be super dumb based on the title, but it’s pretty cute!

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7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian… Wasn’t sure what to expect, thought it was more of a boy’s book, but it’s my favorite!

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8. A Game of Thrones… Thought they would be boring since I’ve already seen the show, but the books are excellent!

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9. What Alice Forgot… This was a random book club selection that I’d never heard of, but it was so good!

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10. Into Thin Air… Jon Krakauer can take any event and write the most interesting non-fiction book about it. He has a gift!

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Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

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I read this book for my Literature & Media for Children class. I am using it for the Treasure Hunt (a number), Women Challenge, Bookworm Bitches 2013 A-Z Title Challenge, Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge, 52 Books in 52 Weeks, Book Club Friday, and Literary Friday.

Summary from Goodreads: Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all. Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line. Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better. Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

My review for my class: This touching novel tells the story of Ivan the gorilla in short chapters. The chapters aren’t numbered but titled based on their content: “tricks” and “comfort” are examples. This adds a unique spin to the book and encourages the reader to pay attention. There are a few simple black and white illustrations by Patricia Castelao interspersed throughout The One and Only Ivan, mostly of the characters. If there are any negatives to this amazing book, it is these illustrations. As there are not very many and they are not particularly detailed, they don’t really add to the story. Readers would be better off imagining what the characters look like in their own minds. Readers become attached to all the animals in the story and experience a range of emotions, from tears to laughter. The story is very funny and Ivan makes readers laugh out loud with his observations of humans and throwing of “me-balls.” The fact that the novel is based on a true story only adds to its charm. Ivan was a real gorilla who lived at the B&I Shopping Center in Tacoma, Washington for most of his life. Sadly he died last August, eight months after the publication of The One and Only Ivan. He did get to live the last 18 years of his life at Zoo Atlanta with other gorillas. This book is definitely appropriate for children of all ages (as well as adults!), who will love the story of the animals and understand the themes of friendship, family, and love.

Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars! I cried. So sweet!

5 stars