This summer, Printers Row Journal invited kids aged 5-16 to submit reviews of their favorite summer reads. Here's what young writers had to say. Watch for more in the coming weeks.
This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email. Click here to learn about joining Printers Row.
"No Safety in Numbers" by Dayna Lorentz
"No Safety in Numbers" is a book about four teens who were on an everyday trip to the mall when a biological bomb was discovered in an air duct. The busy mall was quickly quarantined and nobody could get in … or out. It may seem like it would be enjoyable to hang out in a mall with tons of stuff. Kids took laptops and phones, stocked up on candy, and raided the food court while thieves stole from department store cash registers. People were happy. The fun never lasted for long. After the third or fourth day in the quarantined mall, a feeling of desperation began to spread. Bad things happen when people get desperate.
— Amiri Rivers-David, 11, Chicago
"Breathing Room" by Marsha Hayles
This summer, I read the book "Breathing Room" by Marsha Hayles. It is about a girl named Evvy who goes to a sanatorium to fight off tuberculosis during the 1940s. She shares a room with three other girls: Dina, Pearl and Beverly. The nurses are strict, and Nurse Marshall tells them they are forbidden to talk, but they do it anyway. The girls do various things to try to fight off tuberculosis, and they become good friends. A new girl named Sarah joins them, and she is very sickly. Evvy helps Sarah turn her life around, and she regains her health. After a long time passes, after death and sickness, Evvy goes home to her family.
The life lesson I learned from this book is that you should believe in yourself, care for others and always remember that you are strong.
— Kiki Sikora, 9, Oak Park
"The Danger Box" by Blue Balliett
"The Danger Box" by Chicago author, Blue Balliett is about a boy named Zoomy. Zoomy lives in Three Oaks, Michigan just over the border of Indiana and Michigan with his grandparents. One summer, Zoomy comes across a mysterious old, red notebook that he can barely read. It is so old and many of the words are crossed out. After some research, he realizes that the person who wrote in the notebook went to all the places scientist Charles Darwin went on his travels and expedition. So Zoomy starts researching Charles Darwin with his new friend Lorrol. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to kids who like to learn about new things and solve a mystery along the way.
— Suzy Switzer, 10, Chicago
"Double Fudge" by Judy Blume
The main characters are Peter, Fudge, and Tootsie. Peter is the oldest. He has his own dog named Turtle. Fudge is the middle child. He has a pet bird named Uncle Feather. Uncle Feather copies everything that Fudge says. Tootsie is the youngest. She likes to copy every word that Fudge says like Uncle Feather.
It's about how much Fudge really likes money. He likes money so much that he makes his own money called Fudge Bucks. He even tries to spend it! It's in the first six chapters. And in five chapters it's about Peter, Fudge and Tootsie's cousins, Mini, Fauna, and Flora. They are pretty crazy cousins. Fauna and Flora are twins. They are about Peter's age, 10.
They sing in public when people say something that they like. And Mini is a little younger than Fudge who is 3. And Fudge is 5.
The lesson is do not try to spend money with fake money. It will not work out so well.
I read this book after meeting Judy Blume on June 9 at the Printers Row Lit Fest. She was really nice. She signed my books.
— Sydney Schanz, 8, Orland Park
"The Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis
"The Last Battle" is my favorite book in the 7-part series of The Chronicles of Narnia. In this tale we meet some colorful characters, including, a handsome prince, a talking donkey, and a blue-horned unicorn. The magic-filled land of Narnia is in turmoil. An impersonator is pretending to be Aslan, the Great Lion and creator of Narnia. With the aid of two young allies from "the world beyond," Earth, the last king of Narnia, Prince Tirian, might be able to stop the impersonating scoundrel.
I like this book because during the final battle, the Narnians were outnumbered, and I enjoyed reading about their last stand and tactical plans. Read this book for hours of enjoyment!
— Warren P. Bolton II, 12, Merrillville, Ind.
"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
In J.D. Salinger's timeless "The Catcher In The Rye," one can learn many lessons from the sarcastic, oft-depressed, but undeniably loveable narrator Holden Caulfield.
This sixteen-year-old boy who seems old beyond his years has plenty of stories to tell, from his awkward anecdotes about past girlfriends and irritating roommates, to how he got kicked out of school yet again, to his rather strange conversations with taxi drivers, but his story also teaches a few lessons.
Holden is notoriously known for his anger, which lands him in some pretty sticky situations throughout the book. Holden also flashes back to his past a lot. These flashbacks are either traumatic and leave him depressed, or happy, which comfort him. While reading "The Catcher in the Rye," one can learn that it is unhealthy to cling to bad memories, and also that keeping a level head can keep you out of trouble.
"The Catcher In The Rye" is a fabulous book about coming of age and the trials and tribulations of adolescence, all told in the brutally honest yet touching voice of Caulfield. The novel, suitable for ages 15 and up, entertains and teaches valuable life lessons. Those who read this classic will want to reread it again and again and will be sure to recommend it to others!
— Jennifer Bolek, 15, Elk Grove