Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Review of "Better Nate Than Ever"

I am back from my summer vacation with a whole bunch of new books to review. Here is one of them!

Better Nate Than Ever is a delightful book about a thirteen year old with BIG dreams. Nate Foster's dream is and always has been to star in a Broadway show, but how can he? He is, as bullies constantly remind him, is in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, "(unofficial motto, 48.5 miles from Pittsburgh and a thousand miles from fun'"). The only person who believes in him and his theater career (he played the broccoli in a junior high pageant) is his friend Libby. Together they have studied Broadway musicals through illegal clips on YouTube, and Libby's soundtracks. It all starts when Libby goes on Facebook and finds that Jordan Rylance has posted that he will be auditioning for, "E.T. The Musical", ON BROADWAY. Nate and Libby devise a plan the bare outline: Nate will travel by bus to New York City while his parents are on a vacation and his brother is at a football meet. He will audition, and then get out of there. Although Nate makes it to the audition, will he make it back in time? In this thrilling and unspeakably funny adventure, Nate Foster proves that just because you are from a small town, you can accomplish big things. One of the things I enjoy about this book is how accurate the references are. For instance, there really was a musical flop called Moose Murders which ran for one show. The author, Tim Federle is himself a former Broadway dancer, and among other things was on the choreography team for Billy Elliot! He has the sequel to Better Nate Than Ever coming out in January this year. Make sure you read it!


Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Review of Jean Merrill's "The Pushcart War"

The Pushcart War begins when a certain truck driver by the name of Mack smashes his truck into Morris the Florist’s flower cart and hurls Morris into a nearby pickle jar. The reason for this “accident” was that the three major truck companies had decided to take over the city streets, (a feat in which they were already close to achieving) starting with the pushcarts. This plan of theirs was to smash all of the pushcarts and then get the automobiles. As the trucks begin to become more and more aggressive, the pushcart peddlers decide to have a meeting at Maxie Hammerman’s (The pushcart “King”) shop. At his shop, the peddlers decide that the trucks are provoking a war, and they at once begin to prepare for it. They elect Maxie as the head of the army and Old Anna is now General Anna. Once they have decided to wage a war, they now realize that this is more complicated than they thought at the time. It was Carlos (Cartons Flattened and Removed) who had the idea to shoot the trucks tires with pea-shooters. Carlos explains that it was his son who gave him the idea, as his little boy has a very clever pea-shooter that not only shoots peas, but also pins stuck in peas, Carlos explains that the pushcart peddlers would be able to “kill” the trucks with these pea-shooters, and so The Pea-Shooter Campaign (Phase 1) begins. Everything goes as planned, that is, until Frank the Flower is captured and is interrogated, until he admits that he shot all the trucks, (which of course he didn’t). Who will win, the menacing trucks, or the innocent pushcarts, find out in this amazing saga, (which I have now read twice). Also check out The Toothpaste Millionaire, also by Jean Merrill


(Illustrations by Ronni Solbert)


Sunday, May 5, 2013

A review of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a story told in words and pictures. The story describes the story of a orphan boy named, yes, Hugo Cabret who lives in the clockworks of the train station Paris Gare Montparnasse. In the time Hugo has between evading the Station Inspector and winding the clocks, he repairs an automaton that his father had been working on before he was tragically killed in a fire at a museum. He continues to acquire clockworks for the automation by stealing pieces from a little toy shop.

Then one day his life is changed forever when the old man who runs the shop catches Hugo stealing the parts to a clockwork mouse toy. The old man takes away his notebook, where all his plans for the automation reside. The old man threatens to burn the notebook. Hugo is furious, and is extremely sad at the loss of his notebook. Then, he meets a girl, the girl that he has seen many times at the old toy shop. She informs him that the notebook is NOT burned and Hugo is very relieved. However, Hugo is prepared to bet the next day that the girl is lying, because the old man calls him over to the shop to give him his notebook. It is in ashes. The girl once again tells him that the notebook is NOT burned. How can this be you ask, find out in this entrancing book by Brian Selznick. The pictures in the book are simply wonderful, with their grey, detailed style. This is a wonderful invention, this book is. I highly suggest that you read it.

(PS. Next week, stories by the author of this blog!) 


Sunday, March 24, 2013

A review of Gregory Maguire's "Wicked"

Divided into five stunning sections Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, is the life of Elphaba, or as she is better known as, The Wicked Witch of The West. When Dorothy stumbles into Oz she assumes that Oz is a magical place where everyone is happy, but as The Witch has grown up in Oz she develops a fuller view of how the Wizard is taking away Animal rights, (Capital A’s mean that that Animal has spirit and can talk and think, opposed to an animal.) and banning Animals from public transportation. In the book, Doctor Dillamond (a Goat) discovers more of this, and The Wizard sends a tiktok machine to murder him.

         The story begins when Elphaba is being expected by her mother Melena and her father Frex. The first chapter is called “The Root of Evil,” which might lead the reader to think that the parents are the making of Evil, this idea is even more encouraged by the author in chapter three, entitled “The Birth of a Witch.”  In this first part of the book the father, Frex has some strange experiences with a traveling show that is called The Clock of the Time Dragon which presumably can tell what the future holds, and makes the past clearer than ever. A Quadling glassblower stays at Melena’s house when she is pregnant with Elphaba and his visit is probably the cause of   Malena’s next child, Nessarose (Witch of the East) and, at the end of this section of the book Elphaba is a little girl and is predicting the arrival of the “Wonderful” Wizard. “Horrors,” she says, “Horrors.”  The next part of the book describes Elphaba time at Shiz, a respectable collage. There she meets Glinda, and other people who become important in the story.  The Third Part, entitled “City of Emeralds” tells of Elphaba’s relationship with her school friend Fiyero and how she begins to become a rebel.  “In The Vinkus” is when Elphaba lays low after a serious injury and the death of Fiyero. All of these events are, of course, leading up to the Murder of The Witch. The famous melting. That part is the same as the original story. “Wicked” is also a wonderful musical which I recently saw at the Segerstrom, and there is also a sequel to Maguire’s novel called “Son of a Witch.”


Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Review of Lois Lowry's "Anastasia Krupnik"

Anastasia Krupnik is a ten year old girl who is trying to decide a lot of things, all at the same time. This story begins when she decides to write a different type of poem than the kind her teacher, Mrs. Westvessel is looking for and gets an F as her grade. She comes home and writes in her green notebook a list of, THINGS I HATE and puts her teacher's name under it. Later at dinner she tells her parents about the poem and her father, who as it happens is a poet, tells her she needs some extra letters after that F in fact the letters A-B-U-L-O-U-S and Anastasia is astounded that she wrote such a good poem. In this short novel she has many little adventures such as this one, including whether she is in love with an obnoxious 6th grade boy named Washburn Cummings, and whether she wants to become a Christian. However all through her adventures the story's main plot is that her parents are having a baby, without telling Anastasia!!! Anastasia is furious, and to calm her down her father tells her that she will be allowed to name the baby anything she wants. Another story I must mention is her grandmother coming over at Thanksgiving. Anastasia doesn’t like her much because she is so old and can’t remember anything. A brief conversation with her is all it takes to make Anastasia feel very sad and loving to her grandmother. At the closing of the story Anastasia’s grandmother dies in her 90’s and the baby is born. Anastasia, who planned to name the baby a terrible name, decides to name the baby Sam, after her grandmother’s husband. This is a great book and there are other books about Anastasia and her little brother Sam. A wonderful book.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Review of the Jeff Kinney series "Diary of a Wimpy Kid"

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is a thrilling Tale of minor crises in the life of a kid in middle school, Greg Heffley. Greg is not popular, or cool, or handsome, or particularly smart. Greg has a friend named Rowley who fits this description even more than Greg. In the first book is their first year of middle school. Greg has plans to be popular and cool, he imagines that this will be a good time for him, but every time he tries to fulfill his plan, whether it is trying out for the school play, or becoming a safety officer, Rowley blunders in and ruins it. Greg knows that Rowley is not that smart and he is always trying to take advantage of it. For example, in the latest book Greg wants Rowley to sign up for student council so Greg can tell Rowley what to do, since Greg can’t run. This is a great and exciting series which I have read over and over again. It is written by Jeff Kinney, who has a wonderful imagination.  I highly suggest these books. 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A review of "Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes"

Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes is Jonathan Auxier’s first book and a very good one too. The story begins by introducing the main character, Peter Nimble, a blind boy who is forced into a life of crime by a cruel beggar-monger by the name of Mr. Seamus. Peter is, although he may not know it, is the very best of thieves Mr. Seamus does know that though and he takes advantage of this. One rainy afternoon Mr. Seamus sends Peter out with his burgal-sack to steal from honest citizens, as usual. Peter does not expect a successful day because of the rain but is quickly drawn in by a hat seller whose carriage, he senses, is completely covered in locks! Accepting this as a personal challenge, Peter unlocks every single lock on the carriage. In doing so he unlocks the door to a wild adventure involving a cat/horse/man (Sir Tode), talking crows, and a giant dogfish named Fredrick. In my opinion Auxier’s first book is a great success. In fact, I almost read I over again but then started on a new one. The illustrations are also fantastic, even if they are only at the beginning of the chapters they help the story come alive. The characters of Old Scabbs, and Mr. Pound, Mrs. Molasses, you will remember long after you are done. This book educates you a lot - about thievery. Soon you will be wanting your own burgal-sack.