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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz and Illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain

Book received at no charge to facilitate review.

Raffi feels different from all of the other boys at school. While they like to play rough and make a lot of noise, Raffi preferred to sit quietly by himself. While looking for a quiet spot, he finds his teacher knitting and can't hide his fascination at her creation. He jumps at the chance to learn to knit and gathers yarn in every color of the rainbow for a scarf for his dad.

As his project grows, he tries to ignore the taunting of the other children on the school bus.  He receives unwavering support at home when he asks his parents if there is such thing as a "Tomgirl." Raffi expands his skills for the school play and gains the admiration of his classmates in the process.

Made by Raffi celebrates children's unique difference with pizzazz and color in a spirited story that will win the hearts of those who feel different as well as those who want to celebrate differences. Move over Calvin Klein, the young reader may want to take over the world of fashion design.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Publishing Details:
Publisher: Francis Lincoln Children's Books (July 29, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1-84780-433-4
40 pages
Ages: 5-9

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Double Reverse by Fred Bowen

Book received at no charge from publisher to facilitate an honest review.

Jesse Wagner doesn't plan on playing anything but wide receiver on his freshman high school football team. After all, he is built like a wide receiver. Stuck at playing the part of goalie on the girl's soccer team, his friend Savannah possesses a powerful kick hidden from her team. Even though they work hard, success eludes them.

When Henry, the Panther's quarterback, gets injured for the season, the team seems sure to fail. The coach takes a chance at replacing the quarterback with Henry and adding Savannah as the kicker. They must prove that sometimes those who don't look the part can play it well. In the meantime, Jessie's older brother, Jay, struggles in his first year of college football with many of the same issues.

Descriptive football action mixed with a dose of a lesson in what one can achieve written in simple text will appeal to the reluctant reader whose interests lie with sports. Although those not interested in sports may not find the story engaging, football enthusiasts who don't like reading may want to tackle Double Reverse. A solid sports book for ages 8-12 but will appeal to the younger end of the spectrum.

Rating ★★★★☆

Publisher: Peachtree Publishing (Aug. 2014)
ISBN: 978-156-1458141
Pages: 144
Ages: 7-12
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Invasion by Zack Satriani Book Review

Book received at no charge to facilitate review

Dray finally has the chance to prove herself as the commander in the Bellori army. Her friend, Kellor has become the new Cantor king and wants nothing more than provide good leadership while trying to change the way his people view their world. Meanwhile, their friend, Ayl, struggles  between trying to maintain peace and helping the Aquanth people understand the dangers lurking in their world.

When the evil Sudor returns with the Nara-Karith army strong enough to defeat the Bellori warriors, Dray is forced to make a decision that will change her people and those of the neighboring planets forever.

Plenty of action awaits the science fiction lover though it comes at the expense of meaningful character development. The formulaic plot resolves in a predictable ending to a three book series.

 Rating:  Good ★★★☆☆

Publishing Information:
Publisher: Hodder Books (May, 2014)
Pages: 286
Ages: 9-11
ISBN: 978-1444906622  
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez by Peter Johnson: Book Review

Book received at no charge to facilitate my review
His little brother calls him Mr. Negativity, his mom tells him he is the "glass half full" kind of guy but Benny Alvarez likes to think of himself as a realist who sees all sides of things. Benny also likes to think of himself as a word connoisseur (con-nois-seur - noun: an expert in a particular subject). With the help of his two friends and his handy thesaurus, his prowess with words lands him the boys champion in a poetry contest against his adversary, Claudine.

While Benny's smart-aleck antics at school make him a character easy to relate to for any middle school reader, his relationships at home carry rich characters through a lukewarm plot. As Benny faces a grandfather who is slowly going senile, a wild younger brother, an overly optimistic mother, a father who has lost his job and a sister who he actually likes, he learns the meaning of love that can't be found on the pages of his thesaurus. With character development deep, the reader can't help but laugh and even cry as Benny extends the compassion he gains at home to his peers at school.
Rating:  Recommended to Highly Recommended ★✬ (4 1/2)

Publishing Information:
Publisher: Harper (June 24, 2014)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-0-06-221596-3
Ages: 11-14

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