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review 2017-09-15 20:59
So You Want to be a Jedi?
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back So You Want to Be a Jedi? - Adam Gidwitz


This book is a retelling of The Empire Strikes Back and a guide to becoming a Jedi. It is told through Luke Skywalker's point of view, and follows the original book's story line very closely. In between chapters Gidwitz talks directly to the reader giving lessons on meditation and self-control. Gidwitz tells the reader that he (or she) is Luke, so when he tells some parts of the story he says, "but you know this because you are Luke" (or something like that).


If you read my other review of A Tale Dark and Grimm by Gidwitz, then you might remember he was scheduled to visit our school on September 12th. Well, Irma had other plans for that week. I'm not sure when or if his visit will be rescheduled. But, I really hope it works out; it would be fun to meet him.


Our librarian has been reading the meditation lessons to the students. It is interesting to see how the different children respond. The first lesson involves closing your eyes and counting to 10, while trying to keep your mind blank. It is funny how many students either miss the instructions or can't sit still long enough to even count. And then there are the students who take it so seriously - very cute.


The librarian is not a fan of Star Wars, but she enjoyed the book anyway. (I am a huge fan.) When she tells the students that this book is about the most famous jedi, they almost always guess Yoda, and some of them say they would rather be a sith lord.


I loved the book. I remember reading The Empire Strikes Back (many years ago), and reading this version brought back so many memories. There are three books in this series. I am going to go back and read the first book (A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel and the Farmboy) and then the third (Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side) which are both written by different authors.

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review 2017-08-28 03:46
A Tale Dark & Grimm - Review
A Tale Dark & Grimm - Adam Gidwitz

Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

- Opening Sentence



I read this book because the author, Adam Gidwitz, is coming to visit our school in September and I wanted to be familiar with his works. I'm reading Star Wars: So You Want to be a Jedi also written by Gidwitz. 


I enjoyed this book. Be warned, he talks to the reader, often. So, if meta-fiction isn't your thing, then I would skip this one. He talks about how the next part is scary, and you should make young children leave the room, or about how the reader (supposedly children) might be scared and might want to stop reading. Are you sure you want to keep reading? Ok, don't say I didn't warn you...


It's cute actually, and I think the intended audience (children) will enjoy it. Also, it's a great opening to introducing the concept of meta-fiction and "breaking the fourth wall" to students.


The book doesn't shy away from the scarier parts of fairy tales. Gidwitz actually points out that he was inspired to write these books (this is the first in a trilogy) by a group of second graders. He says that the stories are awesome and "children can handle it." 


This book is based on Hansel and Gretel and includes different aspects of many Grimm fairy tales, including Gretel cutting off her finger (from The Seven Ravens) and Hansel going to Hell and tricking the Devil. I'm not sure which fairy tale that came from. It's a fast-paced story and a fairly quick read. I found myself worrying about Hansel and Gretel, even though I was pretty sure they would end up ok. I like Gidwitz's style and highly recommend this book, with a caveat to consider the specific reader and what they can handle.


I found myself wondering how this would play in a room full of second graders (or even third graders). I guess I will find out since our librarian will be promoting the books to our students.


Bottom Line:

If you are a fan of Grimm fairy tales or enjoy retellings, give this one a chance. :)

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review 2017-08-20 03:40
Artemis Fowl Graphic Novel
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel - Eoin Colfer,Andrew Donkin,Giovanni Rigano,Paolo Lamanna



Honestly, I'm not a huge fan. I never read the original books, so I don't have any background knowledge. Maybe I would have liked the story better if I read it in the traditional format first.


As a first-time reader, I found Artemis to be cocky (although as a 12-year old genius, I guess he has the right to be) and irritating. All he cared about was money, it seemed. And his evil plan was to steal the money by kidnapping a fairy and holding him for ransom. I can see this story appealing to kids, with characters like Mulch Diggums, a dwarf criminal who digs tunnels by eating the dirt and then ejecting it from his rear end. And the technology Artemis and the fairy people use, like the time-stopper and the bio-bomb.


Cool elements, but I just didn't enjoy the story. And I couldn't root for Artemis - I thought he was a jerk. I don't think I'll be reading any more of this series, in graphic or traditional format...

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review 2017-08-02 04:53
The Girl in the Well is Me
The Girl in the Well Is Me - Karen Rivers


The whole thing feels like a prank at first, like something they planned -- a joke with a punch line.

- first line



Lying turns your soul into something small and dry and hard, like an old raisin you find in your book bag squashed under a book you on-purpose-forgot to return to your old school library because you loved it too much to leave it behind.

page 5


But, obviously, popular and mean are tied together so tight they're like those knots that just tighten and tighten no matter how hard you try to untangle them. Mean is where they get their power.

- page 29



Ahh, poor Kammie. She's 11 years old, in sixth grade, just moved to a new school, and all she wants is to fit in. She decides she wants to be friends with the mean girls, she will be mean girl #4. Oh, and the mean girls are Mandy, Kandy, & Sandy. Seriously?? Kammie says they are like one person, interchangeable and three times meaner when they are together. They move through the school like sharks, and the other kids move aside for them.


Kammie moved because her dad embezzled money and they lost their house. She thinks everyone in her family is a liar, but she resolves not to be one. Then she goes and changes who she is to fit in with the mean girls, so go figure.


The girls convince Kammie to let them cut her hair off, and then ask her to stand in a deserted field and sing a song. Well, that's a bad idea. Turns out Kammie is standing on a cover of an old well.


She falls in, and then... guess what? The three ...andys have no idea what to do. And act like Kammie should just stop playing games and get out.


We see the whole situation through Kammie's eyes (and through her distorted view of the world). 


This is a great book. It is suspenseful and moving and darkly humorous. Truthfully? I read almost the entire book in one sitting. I read a little bit the first night, and then picked it up again the following night and couldn't put it down. I felt sorry for Kammie and was mad at her at the same time. How could she be so stupid... to let the girls cut her hair? And then stand in a field and sing for the bratty, nasty girls, just to be part of their club? What was she thinking?    


Then again, I'm looking at this through the eyes of a 48 year old woman, who isn't afraid to be who she is and who doesn't care if people don't like her the way she is (mostly anyway). It's hard to remember what it is like to be eleven. But... I feel like the author captured that feeling in this book. Kammie is eleven, and she just wants to be accepted. She doesn't want to be the outcast. She wants to be part of a group... to belong. And boy does it get her into trouble...


This book is nominated for a Sunshine State Young Readers Award for 2017-18 in the 6-8 grade category. I'm hoping I can find some girls who want to read it this year...

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review 2017-07-03 05:07
Beware of wasps...
The Nest - Jon Klassen,Kenneth Oppel


The first time I saw them, I thought they were angels.

- first sentence


Well, this was a bit quirky. I liked it, but I didn't love it.


Steve is a worrier, and what he worries about most nowadays is his baby brother. His parents are worried too. The baby has things wrong with him, and he isn't strong enough for the operation yet. The wasp queen visits Steve in his dreams and says she can make things better. All Steve has to say is "yes." But, things aren't always what they seem, and the queen may not have the baby's best interests at heart after all.


This book asks us to question what is normal and decide if an imperfect life is still worth living.


This book is nominated for a Sunshine State award, grades 6-8 (2017-18). It might be a bit creepy for kids though. The wasps are scary and there are some life or death situations. Steve doesn't know who to trust or how to protect his brother. He wants to do the right thing and readers will certainly root for him. Steve is scared at times, but he shows true bravery to protect his baby brother.


Just keep in mind, this is a horror story, a fairy tale horror story, but still...


This is my second Free Read Friday book. It has 272 and is worth $6.00

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