"Get Well Soon" by Julie Halpern
Get Well Soon, by Julie Halpern, is about a girl so depressed, her parents decide to send her to a mental hospital. But as she finds her place in this wacked-up, cut-off world, she realizes that it isn't as bad as she first thought. Aside from people like her doctor, who can't stop bothering her about her weight, and the messed-up workers, who are even crazier than the kids. Then there's the complete isolation, unbelievably stupid rules, and other downsides of living in a loony bin. The other kids aren't so bad. In fact, some of them are pretty cool. She makes friends pretty fast, and feels more accepted than she had back home. She even finds a crush in the oh-so-controlled environment of the mental hospital. Narrated in the unique voice of the main character, Anna Bloom, this book has the perfect amount of comedy, sadness, and appropriate romance. Although this book is meant for high schoolers, it is still appropriate for some junior high students. This easy-to-love book will capture the hearts of many readers. Don't forget to read the sequel, "Have a Nice Day."
—Amanda Tener, 8th grade, Glenview
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling
I had read the first six Harry Potter books. I was very interested to find out how everything ends. That's why I read the seventh book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in a hurry. In this book Harry, Ron, and Hermione do not go back to Hogwarts to study. If I was with them, I would miss Professor McGonagall. I think it's a shame they could not stay to graduate. Most of the time they are hiding from Lord Voldemort and are looking for Horcruxes. They are also looking for one of the three Deathly Hallows — the Elder Wand. They go to Hogwarts where the final battle of Harry and the good wizards against Voldemort and the Death Eaters takes place. I liked the books more than the movies because of Peeves the Poltergeist who was funny. Kids should read the books and then watch the movies because the books have more characters and details.
—Aurelius Zemaitis, 9, Willowbrook
"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green
I chose the book "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green. "The Fault in Our Stars" is a book about cancer. Even though it is about a grim topic, it has a lot of humor in it. In my opinion, John Green did an amazing job writing the story. Hazel is the main character in "The Fault in Our Stars." She does not do a lot of things, and she has stage four thyroid cancers, which is in her lungs. Even though Hazel does not do much, she is a fighter. She is fighting cancer, but not for her sake; she is doing it because she loves her Mom. She normally sits in bed and thinks about death. In the beginning of the book, her Mom decides that she is depressed and she sends Hazel to a support group at a church. The support group is a bunch of people who have cancer who go there to talk about their illness and their problems. There is also the character Augustus Waters, a funny, loving character who will make you laugh. Hazel meets Augustus at the group. Augustus is there because he has osteoarthritis, even though he has been cancer free for years, but he is mostly there because his friend Isaac wanted him to go. Isaac has only one eye because he lost one of his eyes to cancer. Sadly, for Isaac the other eye will follow his first eye's path.
Even though "The Fault in Our Stars" is sad, John Green did an amazing job adding some humor to the story. I think I liked "The Fault in Our Stars" so much because it was so well written and funny and you really care about and like the characters. I also liked it because in the story, Hazel decides to try to meet the author of her favorite book which is called "An Imperial Affliction." "An Imperial Affection" is not a real book … I checked. So in the book, Hazel had Augustus read her favorite book, while she read a book he recommended to her. After August reads "An Imperial Affliction," and loves it too, they decide to try and meet the author, who lives in Amsterdam. I would love to meet the author of one of my favorite books, but if he was not who he seemed to be, I would be disappointed. Also, "The Fault in our Stars" is being made into a movie soon. What is even cooler is that the actress, who is playing Tris from "Divergent," is going to be playing Hazel in "The Fault in Our Stars."
"The Fault in Our Stars" is somewhat like "Matched," by Ally Condie, because it is kind of a love story and has a female main character, but these are not girly books, trust me.
—Ben Janosy, 13, Wheaton, from his blog bensgreatreads.wordpress.com
"The Problem Child" (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3) by Michael Buckley
Over the summer I read the 3rd book in a series called "The Sisters Grimm." The characters in this book were Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, the main characters and the sisters Grimm. Puck, a fairytale character and nicknamed, "the trickster king." Granny, the grandmother of the sister Grimm.
This book is in a series, but mainly, a witch casts a spell over Ferryport Landing so every single fairytale character is trapped in there until the last Grimm dies. Sabrina and Daphne used to live with their Mom and Dad until their Mom and Dad got kidnapped. So, they went to an orphanage for 1 ½ years when suddenly their long lost Granny was relocated. Since then they all have been fighting the crimes and mysteries of Ferryport Landing.
I think there are two lesson for this series and they are, "never give up." And "expect the un-expected."
—Brooke Chomko, 9, La Grange Park
"Wild Magic" (The Immortals, Book 1) by Tamora Pierce
"Wild Magic," a young adult fantasy book, was well crafted by the award winning Tamora Pierce, who wrote several series including "Circle of Magic," "The Circle Opens," "The Song of the Lioness," and many more. "Wild Magic" is the first book in "The Immortals Quartet."
In this compelling novel, Diane, a 13- year-old girl, is looking for a job with her horse, Cloud. She gets accepted as an assistant with Ouna, the horse mistress for the Queen's Riders. Diane, Cloud, and Ouna, along with the horse herd they were taking care of, travel along the road to Tortall. On the way they meet Master Numair Salmanin, a black robe mage who works for the king and Allana, the Kings Champion. They also have to face stomwings — bat like creatures with a human head — and spidrens — large spiders with human heads — but they were never aware of the dangers they would face after they arrived.
The featured character in this book was a very strong willed character named Veraldiane Sarrasri, also called Diane. This character has to face many tough problems: facing the Immortals, getting in control of her magic, and facing her emotions. In my opinion she is a great role model for girls because of her loyalty to her friends and her caring for others. She is also a very relatable character for most girls. She is torn between her feelings and what's right. She wants to protect everyone at the same time which is only hurting them more.
Wild Magic had the perfect balance of action, humor, and emotion. There are parts of the book that made my heart ache in sadness, leap for joy, or race in anticipation. The way Tamora Pierce crafted her words made it so she didn't just express the emotion of Diane, but projected it into the reader as well.
This book is great for Harry Potter fans because it has the same level of magic and adventure. Even though there is no one main villain, the conflict easily rivals Harry vs. Voldemort. Percy Jackson Fans would also like this book because the action and emotion is very similar. Also, this book is for anyone who liked any of Tamora Pierce's other novels, because they all have adventure, and strong female characters.
Overall "Wild Magic" was a great book with great characters and a perfect story line. This book is the ideal read for all you adult girls.
—Cara Gould, 12, Glen Ellyn
"Divergent" by Veronica Roth
In "Divergent," a dystopian novel set in Chicago, Beatrice 'Tris' Prior chooses to leave her selfless faction, Abnegation, for the brave, Dauntless, after taking an aptitude test where she receives the results of a Divergent- Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite (the intelligent). However, she is warned not to tell anyone, because this is something to fear. However, in initiation, when training for fear landscapes, Tris does much better than everyone else, because as a Divergent she can tell it is a simulation when others cannot. However, Tris learns Erudite is planning an attack on Abnegation, and a serum all Dauntless has been injected with with help Erudite control Dauntless to help fight Abnegation. Tris and her friends must fight against Erudite in this climatic, thrilling book currently being made into a movie. I highly recommend it.
—Claire Fridkin, 14, Chicago
"The City of Ember" (The First Book of Ember) by Jeanne DuPrau
Imagine living with no natural light. Having your only lighting being ceiling lights and those big outdoor lamp posts. This is how the people of Ember lived their lives.
In this book, main characters Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow attempt to lead the people of their city to another city that they all only dreamed of. Do they succeed? Read this book and the other 3 books of Ember to find out.
I personally have only read the first book and started the 2nd. And I really liked them. I was surprised that I liked it because I don't read books like that usually. In my opinion this book has action in every part of it, which shows that Jeanne DuPrau is an especially good author because she can keep a reader interested the entire time. One thing I especially like about this book is the characters' names. For instance: Lina Mayfleet and her younger sister Poppy, Doon Harrow, Evaleen Murdo and lots more. In my opinion the best lesson to learn from this book is to be persistent, determined, and to believe in yourself.
I think this is a good book for people 9-Adult. If people under 9 read it I recommend to have someone read it to them. Give this book a chance because you will be surprised by how it turns out.
-Ella Greenberg Winnick, 9, Evanston
"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea is not just about what the title implies, but about a monstrous fish and a tale of its capture. I think the author chose the title because of the old man's love for the sea, as he describes the sea as a woman who is capable of giving or withholding great favors. I think it's very symbolic. In the story the old man spends several days in his small sailboat trying to bring in an 18 foot marlin. Previous to this, the old man has had horrible luck, and has caught nothing other than small fish suitable for bait for over 80 days straight. I think the fish represents the sea and the end of his bad luck. Because of this I think I would have chosen a similar or even the same title because of how much the symbolism ties in with the title.
I think the most important part of the book can't just be one part; instead it is two major events. The first part is the old man getting the fish on his line and using all of his skill as a fisherman to keep it there. It also consists of the old man killing the giant fish. The next part is about his trip back and the dangers on the way. Sharks smell the blood of the fish and start eating the fish, and the old man must combat the sharks to keep them away from his prize. I think this is the most important part of the book because there is so much build up to these points and they seem to be the points where everything changes.
There are no illustrations in this version of The Old Man and the Sea, but I don't think it needs them. Ernest Hemingway is descriptive in this book, so pictures aren't necessary. Pictures in books are generally only necessary when something is hard to describe, or words alone aren't getting a message across. If the book did have pictures it might even be a distraction. In short, pictures in Old Man and the Sea seem unnecessary and if they were added the might take away from the experience.
I liked this book a lot, but it had a very bittersweet ending. The author ends the story with the old man's prized fish being eaten entirely by sharks leaving only a skeleton behind, but because he caught the fish he broke his spell of bad luck. If I were Ernest Hemingway, I would have ended it a bit differently. I might have made it so he was able to fight off all the sharks, and keeps the fish mostly intact. I like the Idea of a bittersweet ending, but I'm one of those people who likes a happy ending.
-Graham Gillman, 13, Alexandria, VA
"Divergent" by Veronica Roth
A film crew just packed up and finished filming a movie about one of my favorite books, "Divergent" by Veronica Roth. Here is why you should read the book before the movie comes out.
Divergent is set in Chicago in the future. There are five factions that divide up the city. Each faction has a value it holds in high regard. For example, bravery is valued by the faction, Dauntless. Selflessness is valued by Abnegation, knowledge is valued by Erudite, kindness is valued by Amity and honesty is valued by Candor. The children have been raised to follow their faction's beliefs and when they are sixteen they take an aptitude test to see what faction they belong in. They have a chance to stay in their current faction or to transfer to another faction. Beatrice is sixteen and she was born into Abnegation. She always admired the quiet and thoughtful life, but never felt as though she belonged with them. She knows that by choosing a different faction she can find some place where she truly belongs. In the beginning of the story there are tensions between the factions and as the story goes on, the tensions turn violent. As time goes by, Beatrice, now "Tris", becomes someone who is able to stand up for herself. Read the book to find out where she chooses to be.
The theme throughout this book is selflessness. Tris learns that "selflessness and bravery aren't all that different". It made me think more selflessly about how to help others instead of only myself. Little things that could help someone are important like simply giving up my seat on the bus so someone else could have it. "It's when you act selflessly you are your bravest.".
If teens are looking for a quick, fast action story to get back in the swing of things as school starts, this is just the book. I read this book in the summer of last year and I've re-read it four times since then. I recommended it to several other friends and they loved it. Teens should read this book because it is all about finding yourself and learning to be selfless. Divergent is the first book in a trilogy. I am anxiously awaiting the third book, Allegiant which is due to come out this fall. I am counting down the days until March 20, 2014 when the movie is coming to theaters. Read the book first and imagine what future Chicago will be like, before the filmmakers show you on the screen.
-Hannah Puma, 14, Crystal Lake
"The Alchemyst" by Michael Scott
Nicholas Flamel was born on September 28th, 1330. Apparently he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty.
Cast of Characters
Main/ Most Frequent Characters
Sophie and Josh Newman Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel John Dee Scathach
Less Frequent Characters
Morrigan Bastet Hekate Witch of Endor Sphinx
The Book of Abraham the Mage (The Codex)
The book of Abraham the Mage (also called the Codex) is a powerful book capable of giving the owner immortal life, endless gold, and, of course the power to rule the world. Nicholas Flamel came across the Codex in a vintage bookstore while he was working as a bookseller. How he discovered how to use it is a mystery to us.
Shadow realms are dimensions that one of the elder race can create to live in if they don't like earth. Earth is a shadow realm, but it is the most populated shadow realm of all.
-Isaac Schiff-Lewin and Noah Oxer, Oak Park
"Francis and Eddie" by Brad Herzog
One of my favorite new books is a true story about possibly the most amazing underdog feat in sports history, and it happened exactly 100 years ago. "Francis and Eddie" a 32-page picture book (with amazing illustrations) about 20-year-old amateur golfer Francis Ouimet, who lived across the street from a golf course in Massachusetts. In 1913, the world's best golfers arrived to compete in the United States Open. Francis qualified to compete, but the only caddie who believed in him was a little 10-year-old kid named Eddie Lowery. Nobody thought they had a chance. People laughed at them at the beginning. But by the end, ten thousand people were cheering for them. And the "kid" from across the street won the whole thing! They became lifelong friends and changed golf forever.
-Jesse Herzog, 11, Pacific Grove, CA
"On the Blue Comet" by Rosemary Wells
A story of time travel, family, friendship, and engines, "On the Blue Comet", by Rosemary Wells, is a captivating novel for young adults.
During the late 1920's, Oscar Ogilvie and his father live in, the beautiful, Cairo, IL. Oscar only has his father because his mother died in a random event in her line of work (though, I cannot tell you how Oscar's mother died, "On the Blue Comet" will). Oscar and his father always find the time to bond as father and son while building, setting-up, painting, and playing with model trains. They take the most pride out of their model trains that are exact replicas of the original train. Unfortunately, after the stock market crash that leads to the Great Depression, Oscar's father must seek out a new job, not in Illinois, but in California. Ultimately, the Great Depression causes Oscar loses his father, his beautiful model train sets, and his old life. Now, forced to live with his Aunt Carmen, who isn't always so nice, Oscar has to adapt to his new way of life, for now.
However, Oscar does fall into some luck. The First national Bank, the bank that took away his father's house, have taken his and his father's Blue Comet train set and has put it on display in the bank's basement. Due to his Aunt Carmen's strict rules, Oscar is not able to leave his aunt's house. Though, the drive to have a small connection to his old life forces Oscar to go and see the train set on Christmas Eve of that year. After seeing his and his father's cherished train set, Oscar meets the banks Night Security watchman, a Mr. Applegate. Forming a strong friendship, Mr. Applegate becomes Oscar's teacher; helping him recite and memorize the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling, but also talking a lot about science of the 20th century. Einstein's theory, the possibility of time travel, and many more interesting concepts that were new to science at the time. Now, while standing the night guard with Mr. Applegate, one night, the bank and Mr. Applegate are attacked by robbers. Listening to Mr. Applegate's instructions, Oscar jumps into the Blue Comet train set model. Jumping into the Blue Comet train set has taken Oscar to the start of his next adventure. The interesting and most thrilling part being, Oscar is, now in a world of time travel; as he travels on the Blue Comet Train he will be taken from 1931 to 1941 and back in just a matter hours. Wow!
Follow Oscar as he: meets real legends of the 1930's and 40's, forms new friendships in this world of time travel, and finally, as he learns the rules of the railroad tracks.
Ms. Wells has really merged the sophisticated world of time travel with, what is now seen as, the simplistic times of the 1920's, 30's, and 40's. "On the Blue Comet" is recommendable readers 12 and up, and it has a wonderful writing style that can be easily grasped by the reader.To find out how Oscar gets back to his own time, and all the other questions the book causes you to think of, you must read "On the Blue Comet."
-Jimmy Gonzalez Vicker, 14, Skokie
"The Running Dream" by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Running Dream written by Wendelen Van Draanen is an amazing book. This book is full of excitement that will keep you wanting to read more and more. The Running Dream truly deserves a 5 star rating!
The main character is 16 year old Jessica who loses a leg . Her best friend Fiona helps her keep going and not to give up. Rosa is a girl who has cerebral palsy and really inspires Jessica to not give up. Gavin, Jessica's crush helps her get strong to run again with the help of Jessica's running coach Kyro.
The Running Dream is about Jessica who is a passionate runner and loses her leg in a horrific car crash. She really wants to run again so her team raises money to buy Jessica a prosthetic running leg. With her new leg Jessica trains hard so she can push her friend Rosa in a wheelchair in a marathon so Rosa knows what it's like to cross the finish line.
Some important lessons in this book are the following: do what you believe in, never give up, you have to work hard in order to reach your goals, and treat people the way you want to be treated even if they are different.
I recommend this book because it is full of excitement, sadness, happiness, and determination. Also because this book keeps you at the edge of your seat wanting to read more and more! Most of all I recommend this book because it would inspire anyone who had a passion for something not to stop until they cross their finish line.
-Julia Surane, 9, Lincolnshire
"The School for Good and Evil" by Soman Chainani
This summer I read an amazing book with the title of The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. Keep in mind the School for Good teaches the students to become princesses and princes. The School for Evil teaches the students how to become witches and other despicable creatures. The main characters in this book are Sophie and Agatha. Sophie is a girl who lives in Gavalon, wants to make it into the School for Good, wears pink everyday and tries to do good deeds and look beautiful. Agatha is a girl who lives at a graveyard with no friends except Sophie and her cat. There are also some important secondary characters: Tedros, the son of King Arthur and the school master who runs the schools and is thought to be able to control the Storian, a pen that controls the fairy tales. The students believe he controls it because evil hasn't won in a fairytale in 200 years! Sophie is lying in bed, hoping she would get kidnapped or taken to the school and she gets her wish. As Agatha tried to save her, the school master grabs her. Sophie thinks she is going to the School for Good but the bird the school master puts them on drops Agatha instead and Sophie goes to the School for Evil. The girls were shocked. Once Sophie got out of the sewage that surrounded the School for Evil she ran to the School for Good. Agatha, on the other hand, woke up on the ground and there were beautiful girls everywhere, then she had to go into the School for Good. When all the girls ran away from her she ran to the border of the school and met Sophie, who then told Agatha for them to trade clothes and she ripped it off of her. As Sophie was trying to get to the School for Good the pink dress disappeared and her ugly black robe reappeared and the wolves carried her to the School for Evil and fairies carried Agatha to the school for good. The girls both agreed on one thing: they had to get back home. When they went to the school master he gave them a riddle, "What can't a villain have that a princess can't live without?" Will Sophie and Agatha ever escape? Read The School for Good and Evil to find out. While reading this book I learned beauty is not just skin deep – it only matters who you truly are. In my opinion, The School For Good and Evil is almost a modern take on a fairy tale. After reading it, some of our favorite books as children may be twisted around a lot and you may see "good" and "evil" characters differently from now on.
-Kathryn McAuliffe, 10, Algonquin
"Mudville" by Kurtis Scaletta
I really liked Mudville, I have to say. Being Kurtis Scaletta's debut, it was a really good book. I would recommend it for ages 13 through 19, as it is more than 260 pages long, and it might be hard for younger kids to understand. I did notice one thing, not that I didn't like, but it would, I think, help the story be a bit better. Sturgis, the foster kid, came into the story too quickly. Scaletta had over 25 chapters, but introduced him in chapter 2. But I can understand this, because, of course, it was his debut.
There were also some things in this book that other books lack, which makes the story a good one. The story told in the first person, who is teenager Roy McGuire, but I felt like I was Roy, and it was all happening to me.
Another thing that I liked was the excitement in the book. Mudville is a baseball book. Most of the other baseball books I read aren't very exciting when there's no baseball at the time. In Mudville, when there's no baseball, it's still exciting.
Mudville was very enjoyable. I would rate it 3 1/2 stars out of 4. If you decide to read it, enjoy yourself!
-Kevin Amdahl Taylor, 8, Lake Forest
"Once Upon a Marigold" by Jean Ferris
This fairy tale begins with lonely Ed, an entrepreneur set on taking over the Tooth Fairy Monopoly. Ed stumbles upon Christian, an inventive but stubborn boy who has run away from home. Ed is leery but he eventually takes Christian in.
Christian has always felt a sense of destiny and is determined to find it as he watches the royal family that rules the forest and surrounding land.
Another character who is particularly funny is the Centaur: corrupt, loyal and helpful all at once. I like the humor and I love the happy ending!
- Kira Barrett, 14, Park Ridge
"Eragon" (Inheritance, Book 1) by Christopher Paolini
The book I'm recommending is Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. It is the first in a superb, well-written series called the Inheritance Cycle. The writing in this book is phenomenal, and there are well-placed plot-twists that will make you excited. There is never a time when the book is boring, as there is either fighting, adventure, or interesting explanations about the mysteries of this story. So, time to jump on in!
The main character of this book is a fifteen year old boy named Eragon. He was raised in Carvahall, a village in Palancar valley between the Spine mountain ranges and the forest Du Weldenvarden in the land of Alagaesia. Eragon was raised without knowing who his parents are by his uncle Garrow, with his cousin Roran.
Eragon's personality is likable, not arrogant, as he is a poor farm-boy, and caring and level-headed. On a hunting trip one day in the Spine, an explosion occurs in the forest as he is tracking. As the smoke clears, it reveals a blue stone. He assumes it was brought there by magic, so he approaches it carefully. He then brings it back to his house with his uncle, so they can figure out what it is and maybe sell it for some money. However, it is soon revealed to Eragon that the stone is an egg! Moreover, a dragon egg! He figures this out when the dragon hatches right in front of him one night. Eragon has heard tales of the Riders, a dead group of warriors who rode dragons and kept peace in the land, and decides to keep it, hidden from his family in the forest, so he might become a Rider.
It is there that the adventure truly begins, and Eragon starts on the path to become the Rider that will overthrow an evil king. Eragon will find great wonders, unspeakable evils, terrible sorrows, powerful foes, heart-pumping battles, and many companions along the way. And though his adventure is a long one, it certainly makes for an excellent series.
-Matthew Lawrence, 13, Naperville
The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
The Percy Jackson series follows Percy's (hint: Perseus') life as demigod on Quests and at Camp Half-Blood, a safe haven for Greek demigods. Through Percy's quests, the reader gets to meet the gods and get an insight into their unique personalities.
I recommend Rick Riordan's many books because they connect you to the same great vibe: always funny and exciting!
-Mica Barrett, 12, Park Ridge
"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow
Little Brother is about the not-so-distant dystopian future. It is set in San Francisco. The main character is named Marcus Yallow. He is just an average seventeen year old, cutting class, destroying library books, you know, the usual. But one day when him and his friends cut class and leave school, the biggest attack in U.S. History happens. At the Bay bridge. Where he just happens to be at the time. The DHS find him and his friends and they are taken to a top secret prison. He and 2 of his friends are released, but there were 4 kids who went in... Marcus now has a mission. To bring down the DHS and save his friend. This book is about the dangers of a government with too much control, and fear. Will Marcus succeed? Read this book to find out.
I would give this book an M+ for mature topics. I think it deserves seven apples. I would probably not recommend it to a middle schooler do to the topics within, but I think it would be great for a high-schooler.
-Teagan Connon, 12, Buffalo Grove
"Divergent" by Veronica Roth
The book, Divergent by Veronica Roth tells the story of a futuristic-like Chicago where the society is split into factions based upon characteristics that all societies need.
Abnegation – the selfless
Erudite – the intelligent
Candor – the honest
Dauntless – the brave
Amity – the peaceful
Beatrice Prior was born into Abnegation and grew up with the focus of helping others, never focusing on her appearance or anything about herself.
When the kids of the society turn 16, they get to choose to stay in the faction that they were born in and grew up in, or they can choose to devote their lives to a different faction and only see their parents occasionally. Beatrice and all of the other kids take tests at school where they are given case scenarios and see how they handle them. Every kid usually ends up with one obvious result determining the faction that they have the characteristics for. However, some people can have multiple results and are called Divergent. Beatrice is one of those people. At the beginning, it doesn't' seem too big of a deal, but when she leaves Abnegation for Dauntless, she discovers all of the ups and downs of being what she is. After she transfers, she fights off the challenges that are thrown at her through the initiation process. She does receive some help however from her initiation instructor, Four. He is nick – named that because he only has four fears which is the lowest number known to man. Through the book, they gradually closer and become more than friends.
After a period of time, they notice the top instructor, Eric, injecting a liquid into all the initiates including themselves. They go undercover to discover the secrets of Eric and his leader. They destroy what needs to be destroyed and after many deaths, they take refuge in the train heading toward Candor headquarters.
-Alexandria Hall, 11, Park Ridge
"Marcelo in the Real World" by Francisco X. Stork
I recently read the book Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork. Having not previously read any of the authors' work, I had no idea what to expect of the book. What I got was a nice surprise.
The basic storyline is this: Marcelo Sandoval is a seventeen year old boy with autism who has the unique ability to hear music that nobody else can hear. He loves working with the ponies at Paterson, the special school he attends. He is perfectly fine with learning at his own pace. His father, Arthur, wants him to go to Oak Ridge High, the local school, and start following the rules of the world so that he may have a chance to live a normal life. So, Arturo makes a deal with Marcelo: he has to spend his summer working at his fathers' law firm and try to follow the rules of the "real world"/ If he does this well, he can spend his senior year at Paterson, bit if he fails he has to spend his year at Oak Ridge. When Marcelo first starts to work at the law firm, things are a bit shaky for him. But, as the days go by, he improves in his tasks and starts to like working at the law firm. He also forms friendships with Jasmine and Wendell, to people that also work at the firm,., but has a deeper connection with Jasmine. Then, while working with Wendell, Marcelo finds a picture of a girl that only has half of a face, and he feels that he must do something in order to help her, no matter what the cost may be.
I felt like the plot moved along at a pace that suited it well. There were enough events going on in the story that it made the book more enjoyable as I got further and further into it. Sure, it could've moved faster at some points, but I felt that getting through the slow parts was made up for in the end. I felt that the author had set up the story well in the beginning and managed to keep the plot entertaining until the very last pages, where he has a strong conclusion to the novel that could serve as the basis for a possible sequel in the future.
Multiple characters from this book are memorable. Take, for example, Marcelo. As the main protagonist of the story, he has the ability to get his point across in simple, yet powerful, language. He also has the ability to think very deeply about things, whether it's about religion, Wendell and jasmine, or something that his dad said to him. His hear its big; he has the desire to do what is right, so that his actions may end up helping someone else in return. Jasmine is also memorable. Although she may seem reserved on the surface, she is a warm and friendly person deep inside. She has the ability to help others that comes across in a manner that almost seems natural at times; she does it without any hesitation. And she has the ability to understand Marcelo and his way of thinking better than anyone else. Finally, there is Arturo. He has the ability to switch from being a professional lawyer to being a father figure with a snap of your fingers. He is a loving dad, and he is not afraid to shield Marcelo from anything in the real world, allowing him to be able to see both the good and the bad that go on in it. Without these characters, or their attributes, there would be no story at all.
I think that the biggest lesson the book as to offer is the importance of having good character. This is demonstrated very well by Marcelo. He knows the difference between what's right and what's not. He makes decisions based on what he believes is right, and he has the courage to act upon these decisions. Plus, he is not afraid to admit if he failed at something. The book teaches the lesson very well. It is a lesson that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
I recommend this book to very teen! It is a wonderful book that everybody can learn something from. This book ended up being one of the best books I've read all year, and I can't wait for a sequel to come out!
Rating: 5 stars
-Daniel Oster, 15, Batavia
"A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park is about a boy named Tree-ear who is fascinated by a great potter's work. When Tree-ear accidentally broke one of potter Min's pots, he is forced to work for him. When Tree-ear is asked to show two of potter Min's pots, he went through many dangers. On the way he met two burglars who broke the pots and a shard was left. You should read this book because it teaches a lesson of perserverence and accountability. Will tree-ear succeed in showing a single shard to a great leader?
-Ethan Ho, Elgin
"Fever 1793" by Laurie Halse Anderson
The book I chose to read over the summer was Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. The book was filled with many ups and downs, much like a rollercoaster. The main character is a young girl named Matilda Cook. She lives with her Mother, Grandfather, and cat Silas. Matilda, Mother, and the cook Eliza all work at the family coffee house.
Early in the story Matilda's Mother contracts the fever. She becomes very sick and needs the care of a doctor. At this time Matilda and her Grandfather fled from the state at Mother's request. It was many months before Matilda finally reunited with her Mother. A very sad time for the family was the unexpected, tragic death of Matilda's Grandfather. The family's coffeehouse was robbed and Matilda's Grandfather was beaten to death. Now Matilda was all alone.
Other characters in the story were very important in helping Matilda survive these terrible times in 1793. Eliza, the cook at the family coffeehouse took Matilda under her care providing shelter, food, and water. Another character was Nell. Matilda found Nell and formed a long-lasting friendship.
One of the events that caught my attention involved Eliza and the children she helped care for because their parents had died. Many of these children had the fever. If you had the fever your eyes became a shade of yellow and others needed to be wanted not to get too close. "An ugly yellow scrap from a ripped bodice was still tied to the handle of the front door, which was open." The author wanted the reader to know how people reacted to this sight. I could only imagine the fear people experienced during this time in history. Matilda often read the Bible to find peace during this awful period in her life. Matilda would not feel any sense of relief until the first frost. This was a sign that the plague had come to an end in Philadelphia. The plague had lasted about five months.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I learned to be thankful for all I have. I am so thankful for my family! I hope to read more of her books in the future. I would definitely recommend this book to students in Junior High.
-Julia Crowley, 12, Lemont