• Book Reviews from Grade 8

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 12/2/2013

    Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

                    Kira is born with a twisted leg in a harsh society that shuns imperfections and she is now an orphan because of her mother’s mysterious illness. She is taken in by the Council of Guardians, and Jamison, her defender, makes sure that whatever the task might be, it is completed. There, she if given a comfortable room with food and is allowed to create the crafts for which she has talent – embroidery.She trains with an old woman in learning how to make dyes and is given the task of restoring the robe worn by the Singer once a year. She meets many creative and talented kids and together they discover the truth about themselves, their parents and their society. After that, Kira keeps remembering the color blue and what she will do when she finds it. Matt goes to get blue “over yonder” as the old lady says and comes back with an old man, some other people and the color blue. The old man turns out to be Kira’s father and he tells her about what happened to him and how Jamison attacked him and left him in the forest to die. At the end, Kira has a choice of either staying here and continue with weaving or go with her father. Kira chooses to stay and wants to learn more about weaving and promises her father to someday go and live with him. Gathering Blue asks readers to think about the sacrifices they would make to improve an angry and loveless culture. The ending is ambiguous and most of the questions are not answered. The story is focused on the exploration of the society and the revelation of some of its secrets. This book is interesting but somewhat paler compared to The Giver.


    The Messenger by Lois Lowry

                    For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man, known for his special sight. Village was a place that welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has to deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter to return with him before it’s too late. The forest has become hostile to Matty as well and he must risk everything to fight his way through it. On his way in the forest, Matty heals a frog and brings it back from the brink of certain death. He is able to deliver the message to Kira and then, they both make their way to the Village. The forest is now attacking them and they are entangled by vines, have blisters on their arms and twigs poking and stabbing them. Near the end, Jonas who is known as Leader, is able to save Kira but not Matty. Matty dies while trying to save the forest and during this, all his energy is used. Matty becomes known as the Healer.This book contains several characters from The Giver and Gathering Blue.  The author doesn’t flinch away from harshness yet somehow manages to offer up hope.
    Submitted by Bhakti P. - Grade 8
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  • Book Reviews from Grade 8

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 11/6/2013

    The Giver by Lois Lowry

                   The Giver by Lois Lowry was a great book that grabbed me in from the start and left me on the edge of my seat. Now I am hopelessly waiting to read the sequels. I would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to sit down and enjoy a good read. The main character, Jonas, lives in a community where once you are 12 you are assigned a job, which you will train for, and take on. But when it’s Jonas’s turn…something happens that he will never forget.


    The Day the World came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede

                   The Day the World came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland was another typical story of the unsung heroes of 9/11. Author Jim Defede tells the story of the many families and people stranded on the little fishing island of Newfoundland in Canada. The people of Newfoundland or “Newfies” were known for their hospitality and warmth. Many planes coming from Europe to the US were redirected due to the terrorist attacks of the day. The airspace of the US was entirely closed – no planes were to fly. When these people were stranded here in Newfoundland the Newfie’s hospitality and warmth really shined. The way they treated people and invited these poor, stranded people into their homes was quite touching. All in all I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone. But what I really admire about this book was the author’s purpose which was to show people about this terrible event in our history yet bringing the warmth and kindness of a town into it to prove that even in the face of tragedy people can rise up and do what is right.

     Submitted by Mike D. - Grade 8

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  • Book Reviews from Grade 8

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 10/31/2013

    Reviews submitted by Grade Eight


    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


               The Hunger Games is the first book of a science fiction trilogy. The story is appropriate for children in middle school and early high school. The Hunger Games was released in 2008 along with an audio and e-book. This story is about a young girl named Katniss Everdeen who lives in district twelve of Panem in North America. When her younger sister is pulled to go to the Hunger games, Katniss volunteers herself to go in her sister’s place. Each of the districts picks two children (one boy and one girl) between the ages of 12 and 18 to battle each other until the last one standing. Katniss and her partner Peeta, are the last two standing and have to fight each other. Neither one has the heart to take out the other and decide that they will take themselves out. Since there wouldn’t be a winner, the judges declare both Katniss and Peeta the champions. When Peeta and Katniss arrive home they are considered heroes and are pampered by everyone in the district.The Hunger Games was an exhilarating and suspenseful story that had its tragic moments.The Hunger Games was followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay which were two other well written stories by Suzanne Collins.


    The Secret Zoo by Chick Bryan


               The Secret Zoo is another series that was written for kids between the ages 9 and 13. The genre of the book is speculative fiction. The first book is namedThe Secret Zoo. The outline of this story is about four young children who live next to a zoo. When little 9 year old Megan notices something wrong with the animals, she goes and checks on them. Megan ends up disappearing and her brother Noah, and two friends Richie and Ella go to find her. One night the three kids go to find Megan and enter the zoo, only to discover it is a magical land full of interesting animals. The kids go on a quest through the zoo; the animals call it the “City of Species”. In the end the kids find Megan and return home, but later will head back to this mysterious zoo. The theme of this first book is all about teamwork and friendship, which is all the kids need to work together.


    The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey


               The Fire Within was the first novel in a series, which was published in 2001. The genre of the story is fantasy. The story is for children between the ages of 10 and 13. The story is about a young man named David Rain and his adventure while living at the Pennykettle’s Home for College. David is given a special dragon during his stay at the home. David believes something “fishy” is going on. David finds out there is no heating control in the house, yet is warm during the winter. David also believes what he sees is fire, but the landlords try to persuade him to keep their secret. At the end, the Pennykettles tell David that the dragons are real when people believe in them. This novel is followed by Icefire, and is part of a series of eight books.


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  • Action and Adventure Novels

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 10/22/2013

    The Enemy by Charlie Higson

                   The Enemy is the start of a seven book series that is still in the process of being written. This book was published on September 2, 2008 by the great author, Charlie Higson. This is the story of how all humans on earth die if they are above the age of 16. But there is a select group of survivors lurking around the world searching for kids to eat so as you can assume these adults are cannibals. Now, it is up to the young kids to make decisions and to live by themselves. The main set of characters in this story are three groups of surviving kids; the Morrisons, the Waitrose crew, and Sophie’s crew. The Morrisons and the Waitrose kids all join up and are surprised when a kid named Jester invites them to stay in Buckingham Palace. The group decides to go except one kid named Callum. During the walk to the Palace, they meet another group of kids and their leader is Sophie. She accidently kills Waitrose’s leader, Arran, and carries that burden throughout the story. When they arrive at Buckingham Palace, they think it will all so great compared to what they had at first. They eventually discover that they were running out of food so Maxie, another main character in the story and the group decide to leave. Small Sam was a little kid who was abducted in the beginning of the story and the story switches between his survival with the two adults and the Waitrose and Morrison crew. Callum gets bitten and attacked by the adults and then changes his mind and goes with the adults to help them catch more kids. This story is action packed, a little gruesome and has lots of twists and turns.


    SYLO by D.J. MacHale

                   SYLO is a part of a new and developing series with the next book coming out next March. This book was published only on July 2, 2013 by D.J. MacHale. The story starts off on a peaceful little island off the coast of Portland, Maine. Our main character, Tucker Pierce, is at the scene of the first of many mysterious deaths. He was on the bench during his high school’s football game when all-star running back Marty Wiggins drops dead in the end zone. Tucker talked to him before he died and said he had a fiery look in his eyes. That night, Tucker and his best friend Quinn went on a bike ride to talk about what happened earlier when the unusual happened. A weird shadow comes out from the sky and then a streak of light appears out of nowhere to explode the shadow. A mysterious looking guy keeps showing up at spots where Tucker is. The mystery guy named Feit approaches Tucker and tells him about a supplement known as “The Ruby” and offers Tucker a sample. He takes it and improves physically immediately. The next death occurs when a festival goes abroad. At a sailing competition, one sailor crashes into a pier and dies. Minutes later, groups of military choppers fly by and take over the town but the odd thing is that these military personnel were Americans and called SYLO. Feit was still pushing “The Ruby” to people during the quarantine. Kent, another main character in the story, takes “The Ruby” to improve his football game. Tori Sleeper, Tucker’s friend, shows him a site where two horses died after consuming washed up Ruby. SYLO shoots torpedoes at any ship trying to escape. Tucker, Quinn and Tori try to escape and fail when Quinn dies in the attempt and Tucker and Tori are put into a holding camp. Tucker, Kent and Tori all meet up at the camp and escape using “The Ruby” to take over an ambulance. Kent leads them to a camp where all the rebels meet. SYLO raids the camp and Tucker, Tori, Kent and Olivia escape alive and go out to sea using a boat. They escape while a battle occurs in the air and on the sea and kill the SYLO leader Granger during the process. They arrive on land only to discover that Portland was completely abandoned. This book was very good, detailed and very suspenseful.

    Contributed by Jeremy – Grade 8

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  • Book Reviews from Grade 8

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 4/5/2013

    The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

               After the success of his first series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Rick Riordan continues the magical world ofGreek Gods and Goddesses and their demigod children on Earth with The Heroes of Olympus series. In the first book of the series, The Lost Hero, the reader follows Jason Grace, Piper McLean, and Leo Valdez as they soon discover everything is not what it seems. Jason had been suffering from amnesia, he wakes up on a bus not remembering anything from his past, even who he was, and he was sitting next to Piper, a girl claiming to be his girlfriend, and a boy, Leo, who claims to be his best friend. After three storm spirits attack the three of them, Annabeth Chase informs them that they are children of Greek Gods and Goddesses, demigods, and are taken back to Camp Half-Blood to find more kids like them. There, Leo is revealed as a son of Hephaestus, Piper as a daughter of Aphrodite, and Jason as a son of Zeus. After a day of learning about their previously hidden identities, the three receive an
    urgent quest to rescue Hera, queen of the gods, who was captured by unnamed forces as well as Piper's father. The trio set off to their quest, seeing and meeting Boreas the North Wind, a trio of cyclopes, the evil enchantress Medea, King Midas, a pack of werewolves and Lycaon and the very unhelpful Lord of the Winds, Aeolus. In the end, Piper, Jason, and Leo eventually rescue Hera and Mr. McLean. During this adventure, Jason realizes that he is a hero from a Roman version of CampHalf-Blood somewhere near San Francisco, and that Hera has switched him with the Greek hero Percy Jackson, who is now at the Roman camp with no memory of his life at Camp Half-Blood, just like him. With that, Riordan ends the book with the reader already knowing that Jason, Piper, Leo, and Annabeth are going to find Percy and rescue him from the Roman Camp. After reading The Lost Hero, readers learn about the Greek Gods in a fun, exciting, and adventurous way. To continue the adventure through Greek mythology, read the following two books in the series, The Son of Neptune and  The Mark of Athena, you won't regret it.

    Submittedby Lorraine F.

    The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens


                    I read the book called, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. In summary, I found the book highly engaging and a must-read for any teenager looking for inspiration and motivation to succeed. Mixed in the seven habits are cartoons, famous quotes, song lyrics, poems and other classic techniques to keep you interested. This is why I’m not surprised that the Seven Habits was a national bestseller. I would recommend this book to any teenager or adult. Whether they are going through tough times or are bored and need a good read. All in all this was a great book and I give it five stars.


    The Hunger Games


                    The Hunger Games is a book about how in the future, post-apocalyptic US is divided into twelve districts. The twelve districts surround the governing capital, which is the richest place of them all. The narrator of the book is a girl named Katniss Everdeen. She is a sixteen year old who takes the place of her little sister, who was chosen to be in the seventy-fourth Hunger Games. It’s a “game” where twenty- four children, two from each district, fight to the death. This is to show that the capital will not put up with rebellions. One boy and one girl from each district are chosen for the games. The last one standing is the winner and lives the rest of his/her life in luxury. The selected children are put through training, and then they go into the arena and fight to the death. I give this book five stars. I recommend this book for anyone over the age of thirteen.
    Submitted by Alex  W.

    Looking for Alaska


                    Looking for Alaska by John Green was the best book I’ve ever read. It was a Booklist Editors’ Choice Pick and it won the Michael L. Printz Award for 2006. It is about a boy named Miles, later known as Pudge, who gets sent to boarding school. At the boarding school, he makes a lot of new friends, not that he had any at home. He is smart, and has a huge fascination with people’s “last words”, and has a lot of them memorized. At his boarding school, there are two main groups of students: Pudge’s friends and the Weekday Warriors. The Weekday Warriors are a group of students who only live at the school on weekdays and go home to their parent’s mansions on weekends. There is a rivalry between the two groups and they always pull pranks on each other. They do this while trying not to get caught by “The Eagle”, the campus headmaster. While all this is happening, Pudge becomes friends with a girl named Alaska. She’s crazy, reckless and a basket case. She teaches Pudge about a book and one thing in the book is “Getting Out of the Labyrinth”. Alaska tells Pudge to figure out how to get out of the Labyrinth. He spends the rest of high school trying to figure this out and he realizes there is no way out of the Labyrinth, because the Labyrinth is suffering and suffering is eternal. Except, Alaska figured out how to get out of this Labyrinth of suffering. To figure out how she did it, you’ll just have to read the book.
    Submitted by Kelly B.
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  • Ethical Treatment of Animals in Captivity

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 3/14/2013

    The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

                   Ivan the silverback gorilla doesn’t remember much about his life in the jungle before he came to be in a cage at the Big Top Mall or at least he chooses not to remember. When an older elephant dies through neglect and a baby elephant joins the animals at the Mall, Ivan begins to realize that life at the roadside attraction is really not the way a gorilla’s life was meant to be. He tries to figure out a way to improve life for Ruby (baby elephant) and for himself. With the help of some kind human beings and his unique artwork, Ivan is able to arouse interest in bringing about a better situation for himself and the other animals. This story is based on true events.  The real gorilla was rescued from similar circumstances by Zoo Atlanta. This is the 2013 Newbery Award winner.


    The Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

                   The setting of this historical fiction novel depicts events surrounding the bombing of Dresden, Germany by Allied forces during World War II. The narrator is a nursing home patient named Lizzie telling her story to a young boy and his mother (her nurse). She relates a rather astounding tale of walking an elephant across Germany to seek safety.  A zookeeper along with her daughter (the narrator) and her son were trying to save the elephant from certain destruction. The animals at the zoo were all scheduled to be euthanized so that they could not roam loose in case the zoo was bombed. On the way they get some help from an unlikely person, an injured Canadian pilot trying to get back to the Allied forces. The plot reads like an adventure and has a satisfying conclusion. This story is loosely based on true events.


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  • Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 1/24/2013

    My Favorite Character

                   My favorite character in the story was Prue. Prue has left her family behind to save Wildwood. Her best friend Curtis, is a bandit in the Impassable Wilderness. (Nobody can cross into the woods unless they have wood magic in their blood.) Prue has wood magic and so does Curtis. Wildwood is in danger because dark spirits are taking over Wildwood and Wildwood needs all the help they can get. The reason I like Prue is because she had the bravery to take the dark tunnels under Wildwood to the land of the moles. The moles gave her clues about where to find the only person who could kill the dark spirits. Prue found out that it was Esben. Well, Esben turned out to be a bear. A bear with hooks as hands because the queen ordered them cut off. Anyway, Prue returned to the outside and met the leader of the dark spirits, Darla. Darla was a shape shifter that had once been Prue’s science teacher. Prue and Darla fought hard against each other. Prue was hurt and Darla was hurt. Just when Darla was about to slash Prue, Esben jumped out and killed Darla. Prue realized Wildwood was saved and the dark spirits had been defeated. That is why Prue was my favorite character.

    The Most Important Event in the Story

                   The most important event of the story was when Prue and Darla fought and Esben jumped out and killed Darla. This was the most important event because it stopped the dark spirits from taking over Wildwood.

    What was hard to believe?

                   I found it unbelievable that the author (Colin Meloy) had such an imagination to create this story. From impenetrable forests to mole kingdoms to talking bears. Colin Meloy has some imagination. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was so good and yet, so imaginative. Great Job Colin Meloy! That’s what I found unbelievable aboutUnder Wildwood.

    Submitted by Devin H. - Grade 6

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  • Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 9/25/2012

    Princess Ben

     At the story’s opening we glimpse a spoiled princess who doesn’t like to dress up or be told what to do or eat. Through a series of murderous events the princess suddenly becomes an orphan and the heir to the throne. She finds herself in the control of her widowed aunt who vows to prepare her for her role as the Queen of Montagne and find her a suitable match. Ben rails at courtly lessons and the diet her aunt has insisted on and finds herself in trouble time and time again. Finally, her aunt locks her in a tower where she discovers a room filled with magical wonders. She begins to teach herself magic. But all this comes to a halt when her kingdom is threatened. Growing with maturity, Princess Ben accepts her role and using her wits and a little magic saves the kingdom and even gets the prince.

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  • Book Reviews from Grade 6

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 3/21/2012

    Island of the Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon is a great book.  The book is a suspenseful book with a mystery and many twists.  Island of Lost Girls is about a girl who lost a longtime friend and her dad.  After one girl is stolen, new mysteries arise.  Rhona Farr has witnessed a kidnapping in a gas station by a bunny. In the guilt of letting the little girl get stolen right in front of her eyes Rhona goes on the search team for the little girl.  While on the search Rhona meets new people, and raises suspicion about old friends. In conclusion, this book is a great book for people wanting a good mystery.
    Submitted by Lauren R.  - Grade 6

    Kaleidoscope Eyes by Jennifer Bryant

    The book Kaleidoscope Eyes is a wonderful read.  Kids from the age of 9 to the age of 12 will enjoy this book.  Someone who loves adventure and mystery will obsess over this book.  The main character Lyza is the most adventurous person ever. She looks for buried treasure that the famous Capitan William Kidd dropped in a river.  Together she and her best friends will search far and wide in order to find the treasure. The story takes place during the Vietnam War when her friend’s brother gets drafted.  Lyza and her friends have to overcome the sadness and fight on to find the treasure. Late nights sneaking around and suspicions among your family is just what it takes to find the treasure.  Will they find it or not, you’ll have to read to find out!     

    Submitted by Maddie B. - Grade 6

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  • Stories with Two Voices

    Posted by BARBARA LAZARUS on 2/7/2012

    Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen and Never Mind by Avi and Rachel Vail are two stories which are voiced by a girl and a boy in alternating chapters. If you like stories told from different viewpoints then try one of these:

     Flipped is the story of Julianna and Bryce beginning with their meeting during the summer before second grade until eighth grade. From the beginning, Juli is smitten with Bryce but Bryce is not interested in her at all. As they grow up their feelings for one another change and the reader learns that there is more to them then first appears on the surface. The story advances with chapters narrated from each perspective. With a satisfying ending the two come to have a new understanding of one another and perhaps a romance is on the horizon.

    Never Mind is the story of twins, Meg and Edward. Also told in alternating chapters, the story relates an event in the lives of seventh grade twins who have very different interests. Their own mother says that they are “like night and day”.  What transpires is a zany adventure when Meg tries to become part of the popular crowd and Edward does his best to stop her efforts. By the end of the story the reader will see that the twins are not as different as they think they are and they come to realize that they really do like one another.
    Submitted by Mrs. Barbara Lazarus
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