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Search tags: sunshine-state-nominated-14-15
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review 2015-03-22 21:42
Dead City
Dead City - James Ponti


Severed fingers, death chambers, and scary noises. As far as field trips went, this rated well below the Museum of Natural History. (But it was still better than our class visit to the wastewater treatment plant.)




Up until she meets Natalie, Grayson and Alex, Molly has no friends to speak of. She is a brainy, socially awkward 7th grader attending the Metropolitan Institute of Science & Technology (MIST). Molly helps out in the morgue where her mother worked before she died. Little does Molly know how much her world is about to change. Natalie and the others are Omegas, basically zombie police. Molly finds out the world is more complicated than she thought. New York City is full of zombies. But these aren't your typical zombie. There are three levels: Level 1's look and act just like us and they want to basically live normal lives; Level 2's look and act like us too but they have no soul and therefore no sense of right and wrong; Level 3's are more like the zombies you see in movies, they stay underground most of the time and can't really pass for human. After discovering all of this, Molly finds out that her mother was an Omega too and she prepared her for this work all her life. Molly doesn't always make the right choices, but she does try to do the right thing and the rest of the team stands behind her. The danger of Dead City (underground where the zombies live) is exciting and scary.The surprising twist ending has me dying to read the sequel.


I really enjoyed this book. It manages to look at zombies in a new light. There are a lot of zombie books out there and I have read my fair share. And don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the Walking Dead. But James Ponti has written a book that brings the zombies into a new light and makes them safe entertainment for middle graders. 


This book is great for fans of middle grade books. Many of the 4th & 5th graders at my school seem to really enjoy it. It's a great book with lots of action and suspense. It manages to be scary without being too blood and guts graphic (good for middle graders). I flew through this book in a few days and can't wait to read the next one.


Recommended to:

4th - 8th graders who are looking for a twist on the zombie genre. 

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review 2014-09-05 00:29
Fairy-tale based story...
Far Far Away - Tom McNeal

Jeremy Johnson Johnson (so named because his parents both had the last name of Johnson BEFORE they got married) is a quiet outcast who lives above the town bookstore with his father.  An adventurous young girl named Ginger takes an interest in Jeremy. Together they cause some mischief and grow closer. Ginger encourages Jeremy to do things he would never have done on his own.


Jeremy has been guided and watched most of his life by the benevolent spirit of Jacob Grimm (one of the Grimm brothers). Jeremy is one of a select few people who can hear ghosts, even though he can't see them. Jacob finds Jeremy and becomes his companion and protector. Jacob feels his most important job is to protect Jeremy from the Finder of Occasions, but he doesn't know who this is and that makes his job difficult.


In the small town of Never Better, things are not at all what they seem. And evil could be lurking within any one of the townspeople - waiting and watching....


My Opinion

I finished this book quickly, in less than 5 days. I enjoyed discovering the secrets of the town and trying to figure out who the Finder of Occasions was. Jeremy & Ginger's story is romantic but not sappily so. They do fun and crazy things and aren't just concentrating on being in love or whatever.


This is a good book for 5th - 8th graders. This book is nominated for a Florida reading award know as the Sunshine State Readers Award. There are a lot of fairy tale based stories out there. This one is very original and enjoyable. The book is 369 pages and may be too long for reluctant readers, but for readers who enjoy fantasy or adventure, this one should be a hit. :) 

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review 2014-08-02 02:39
Willy Wonka meets the library....
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library - Chris Grabenstein

An essay contest to determine which 12, 12-year olds will spend the night in the new library. What is so special about this library? It was designed in secret by Mr. Lemoncello, the designer of many popular board games & video games. He is eccentric and does things his own way. No one knows what the library will look like inside and these lucky 12-year olds will get to see it first.


Kyle Keeley loves board games; his older brother is better than him at sports and his younger brother is a genius. Kyle's only hope to beat them is at games. Kyle forgets to write his essay and that is no big deal to him until he realizes who the judge is and what the prize is. He takes a chance and hands in his essay late. But will he get one of the coveted spaces in the overnight?


The kids that win get locked in the library overnight. In the morning, they find out that the real game is to find a way out of the library. Some kids choose not to compete but others stay and battle for the chance to represent Lemoncello's company in commercials and be his official spokesperson. They have three lifelines, Ask An Expert, Library Consultation & Extreme Challenge. And they can use any resources they find in the library.


Who will win and what is the secret of Lemoncello's library?


My opinion:

WOW. This book was great. I loved every minute of it. It was like a high-tech version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The twists and turns in this book are so much fun. I really enjoyed reading about the kids solving the puzzles and trying to find the way out.


This book is nominated for a Sunshine State Reading Award in Florida. Children in grades 3-5 will enjoy reading about Kyle and his friends' adventures in Mr. Lemoncello's library. I highly recommend this book to any fans of Roald Dahl's Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and anyone who likes puzzles and adventures.

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review 2014-06-30 18:45
Stranded - Jeff Probst,Chris Tebbetts

"It was day four at sea, and as far as eleven-year-old Carter Benson was concerned, life didn't get any better than this."

Stranded is written by Jeff Probst, the host of TV's Survivor.  Who better to write a story about a family stranded on a deserted island, right? His coauthor is Chris Tebbetts who helped write the Middle School stories with James Patterson.


The story is fast paced and easy to read. Vanessa and Buzz's father married Carter and Jane's mother. While their parents are on their honeymoon, Uncle Dexter is taking the kids on a sailing adventure. This trip is supposed to help the new siblings get to know each other better. That doesn't seem to working and the weather isn't helping. Uncle Dex has been trying to steer them around the storm, but the weather keeps getting worse. When the ship starts taking on water, Dex attempts to get everyone into the life boat. However, the lifeboat is pulled away by the storm and the kids are left alone on the ship. The ship crashes on a deserted island and the kids are left to fend for themselves. 


This is an exciting adventure that young readers will enjoy. Both boys and girls will find connections with these kids. They each have their own strengths and pull together when it matters. Any kid who enjoys adventure stories will like this book. This is the first in a series and the end of the book isn't the end of the story. If your kids enjoy this book, I'm sure they will want to read the sequels. I think this book will appeal to reluctant readers and avid readers alike. I read it in one day and enjoyed it.

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