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Search tags: realistic-fiction
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review 2018-03-01 03:06
Brave - Svetlana Chmakova


Brave is the sequel to Awkwardan amazing graphic novel about navigating middle school life. Brave follows the same basic group of kids, with a different main character. In Brave, Jensen (the art club kid from Awkward who is obsessed with sunspots) learns about bullying. He doesn't think he is a victim at first, but he gradually begins to understand what being bullied really means. He compares his school day to a video game, a constant struggle to avoid the "bad guys" and traps; making it through the day is a struggle for "survival."


This book has a bit more mature content compared with Awkward. There is no sex or serious violence, but the bullies call Jensen "fatso" and "stupid" and Jensen uses the phrase "makes my life a living hell." Compared to the overall message in this book, these are tiny considerations. But, as a parent, you should know what you are getting into. Many of our 3rd graders read Awkward and their parents might not think they are ready for this one.


Overall, this is a great book that describes realities of middle school, bullying, feeling alone, making friends, and standing up for yourself. I highly recommend it to 4th grade and up. 

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review 2018-02-26 00:27
Room - Emma Donoghue

Folks at my work are trying to start an IRL book club that will meet about once a month. The organizer gave us a choice of 3 things that were on her TBR and the others picked Room - Emma Donoghue as the first selection (I voted for one of the other selections


I was a bit hesitant about Room and thought that the artifice of a 5-year-old narrator would quickly get tiresome.  But surprisingly, even though the kid narrator worked the best for the first section and didn't quite feel right for some of the later sections once the wider world intruded, I enjoyed the whole book. 


Things I had issues with after the spoiler tag



I didn't like the cliffhanger at the end of the 4th chapter when you aren't sure whether or not Ma survives her overdose


I also was surprised that Jack wasn't more agoraphobic and having more visible discomfort once there wasn't a roof over his head or rooms that were larger than Room (but maybe I've just been reading too much SF with former spaceship-dwellers being agoraphobic once they leave the ship.

(spoiler show)




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review 2018-02-24 05:17
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Awkward - Svetlana Chmakova


Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don't get noticed by the mean kids.


Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.


Penelope Torres (Peppi) is thinking of these rules as she starts a new school. When a boy (Jaime) tries to help her pick up all her stuff, the mean kids start calling her Nerder Girlfriend. Embarrassed, Peppi pushes Jaime and runs away. She feels guilty and spends most of her time trying to figure out how to apologize. When a rivalry heats up between Peppi's art club and Jaime's science club, things become even more awkward.


This is a charming middle school story that kids will enjoy. It is age appropriate for 3rd grade and up - no violence or bad words - just a sweet story with a hopeful ending. The graphics are expressive and fun, a highly recommended graphic novel.

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review 2018-02-02 16:27
This illness isn't real so don't worry
Close Enough to Touch: A Novel - Colleen Oakley

There is a section on New York Public Library's website where librarians recommend some of their favorite books. I have been known to trawl through looking for ideas about what to read next (because I'm clearly lacking in books lol) and that's where I came across Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley. Our main character, Jubilee Jenkins, is a small-town librarian with a big secret...she's allergic to human touch. And I do mean deathly allergic. Let me back up a bit because the book doesn't open with her working in the library and fretting about whether or not anyone has figured out she can't touch them. Instead we meet Jubilee in her home where she has been sequestered away for several years after a bad allergy attack which nearly killed her. She decides the best way to keep herself safe is to not come into any kind of contact with the outside world which of course results in her becoming absolutely petrified to leave her house for any reason. (She even comes up with a system for getting her trash to the curb without going outside.) I had originally been intrigued by this book because it gave me slight Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore vibes but once I got into it I realized that the main difference here is that she's not trying to solve a mystery. Jubilee just wants to live. 


This book's narrative could have been tightened up extensively. There's the exploration of mental illness but there's also a burgeoning romance. AND there was a second subplot involving her romantic interest and his relationship with his adopted son. I think by splitting the focus, none of these were explored satisfactorily. The ending was somewhat confusing and left me disappointed that I had spent the time reading the book at all. And honestly I didn't care for Jubilee. She was extremely wishy-washy and many times I found myself frustrated with her. The initial concept was interesting but the execution and the muddied plot turned this into a low rated read for me: 4/10.


Check out the different interpretations of the story via the book cover:



Source: The eBook Hunter
Source: Simon & Schuster



What's Up Next: Deep Dark Fears The Creeps by Fran Krause


What I'm Currently Reading: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-01-28 04:44
The Hero Two Doors Down
The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend - Sharon Robinson


I read this book to the students in my Sunshine State Club. It's the story of a boy (Stephen) living two doors down from his hero, Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn in the year 1948. The book was written by Sharon Robinson (Jackie's daughter) and is based on "the true story of a friendship between a boy and a baseball legend."


The kids loved the book and it was fun to discuss what it was like to live in the 1940's. It's hard for them to imagine life without a cell phone, let alone life where you can only hear baseball on the radio, instead of watching on tv. We learned about Jackie Robinson and his courage and integrity. We learned about egg creams, transistor radios, and stoopball. And we learned about what it was like to live in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn in 1948. It was also fun to talk to the kids about who their heroes are and what it would feel like to be friends with them.


This book is great for elementary students, especially sports fans.

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