Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

This book is the first in the series, and I gave it a rating of three out of five. Greg Heffley writes a journal, not a diary, about his life as  middle school student. He talks about his attempts to become popular as the class treasurer, comic strip writer for the school paper, and class clown, among other things. He shares his adventures with bullies and embarrassing moments with his classmates. He talks of being picked on by his older brother and his jealousy of his spoiled little brother. And finally, he describes his on and off friendship with his best friend Rowley.

This series is very popular for many students. There are humorous and realistic moments described during the plot. There didn't seem to be an ongoing conflict, so the plot lacked some direction for me. The writing was interesting, but it didn't grab me. Again, many readers enjoy the books, so they're worth giving a try. Maybe they'll grab you.

Lexile level from lexile.com 950

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

This story is about courage, kindness, friendship, and character, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. August Pullman was born with a rare, genetic disease that left his face badly deformed. As he said on the first page, "I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." He's undergone twenty-seven surgeries since he was born and has been home-schooled by his mother. His parents think fifth grade is a good time for him to start public schools. He's teased and ignored by most of the students; they even said classmates would get the plague if they touched him. August and his few friends persevere through the educational and social difficulties of school, and August ends up a winner in the end.

This is an emotional book, and I felt very sorry for August. The author retold part of the plot from various points of view, so it was interesting to see what others were thinking. Some of their thoughts were quite surprising. I was wondering where the plot would lead, but it actually came to a climax during the fifth grade overnight trip. It was fun to see a person with August's character come out on top.

Lexile level from lexile.com 790

Monday, April 9, 2012

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

This book is about a freshman boy's first year of high school, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. Peter has high hopes of being a star baseball player with his best friend, AJ. Then Peter blows out his arm in his last eighth grade game. He's afraid to admit to AJ that he'll never be able to play baseball again. To add to his problems, his grandfather starts developing signs of Alzheimer's Disease, and Peter may have a girlfriend. He's not sure how to deal with girls. Peter has talent as a photographer, which was also his grandfather's passion and career. Peter finally comes to grips with his athletic future, his grandfather's disease, and his girlfriend.

I'm not sure why I liked this book so much, but I did. The author did a great job of sharing Peter's various problems and was able to communicate his mixed feelings. I don't often see novels about teenage boys that show them with feelings and insecurities. At least, not to this extent. Some of the parts got a little descriptive about photography terms, but I read them quickly.

Lexile level from lexile.com 800

Monday, April 2, 2012

Marley, A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan

This book is an adaptation of Marley and Me, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. It's the true story of the author's life with his new puppy, Marley, a huge yellow lab. Each chapter shares a different experience with the dog. Marley likes to eat everything, knocks over anyone visiting the house, and doesn't always obey the commands of his owner. There are funny accounts of Marley's life as an "actor", traveling in a car, and many interactions with other animals.

Anyone who's lived with a new puppy will enjoy this book. He has many of the same experiences, but Marley is a 100-pound puppy. Warning, the last chapter is about the family deciding to get a replacement for Marley after he passes away.

Lexile level from lexile.com 760