Category Archives: Junior Fiction

Book Reviews on Junior Fiction Books

Polaris

Polaris

We have a new writer on the block!  Welcome to  LIZ COHEN, invaluable (read indispensable) member of our Winston community! Liz will be sharing some thoughts on books she is reading that she thinks many of our students will enjoy.  Liz has a soft spot for zombies, so wait for her rave reviews on those despicables. 

 

Review by LIZ COHEN

Polaris by Michael Northrop

(Scholastic, 2017)

Do you like an adventure tale? Swashbuckling sailors? Adventure on the  high seas?  Maybe?! How about this: do you like a science fiction story? People running from monsters? Maybe?! How about this: do you like a murder mystery? Scientists and sailors struck down by
the unknown? Maybe?! How about this: do you like an all-boy book? Or an all-girl book? Hang onto your backpacks because this book has it all!

The Polaris is a sailing ship on a mission to the Amazon jungle looking for new plant-life. The botanist finds something else, and brings it back to the ship. What is in the trunk stored in the hold of the ship? Before you can find out, half of the ship’s crew dies, and the other halfabandon ship while trying to blow it up! The only people left are the cabin boy, the botanist’s assistant, and some deck hands, and none of them are older than 12. How will they get back to
America? They will have to sail the ship back while fighting stormy seas and the mysterious thing in the hold.

This book would be great for a book report, a diorama, a poster, or just a good read.
(Best for 5th and 6th graders.)

The Icarus Show: Do you believe a boy can fly?

The Icarus Show 

By Sally Christie

Recommended for Upper Elementary through Middle School

 217 pgs. I

“Alex has worked out a foolproof plan to avoid being picked on. Don’t react. It’s so simple, it just might work.”  

David Marsh, on the other hand, has chosen his own relentless path, and will suffer for it.  Alex who can be such a wuss agonizing over some bully creeps is nonetheless intrigued by David and finds himself drawn into his company.  Alex lands up helping David build his project.  The plot unfolds towards a dark revelation when Alex comes to understand something about David’s motives. This read gets tense. I think you will enjoy it!

The myth of Icarus: “Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus’ father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, so the sea’s dampness would not clog his wings or the sun’s heat melt them. Icarus ignored his father’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun; when the wax in his wings melted he tumbled out of the sky and fell into the sea where he drowned.”  Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

Scar Island

“Scar Island” by Dan Gemeinhart

published by Scholastic, 2017, 249 pages

Appeals to 5th to 7th graders

scar_island_pb

“The jerks are gone,” he said. “We can do. Whatever. We. Want.”

This fast paced thriller will keep you reading until the last page.  The story is set in a Dickensian prison reformatory on an island. The men who oversee the boys, “scabs”, are scheming and sadistic.  One of the unfortunate boys, Jonathan, is convicted of arson. Jonathan has his own guilt to come to terms with and consequently feels he needs to be punished. He arrives by boat to sit out his sentence in this foul place that, contrary to public perception, is dangerous with labyrinthine corridors, large rats and storms at sea. Fear, however, is the unexpected human element. When you come to the end of the book, another twist awaits you – a good one.

The story takes several unexpected turns which make it hugely entertaining. Parallels to Lord of the Flies by William Golding and other literature will make this a savvy read for anyone in Upper Elementary and Middle School.

Visit Dan Gemeinhart at his website and find out about his two other novels: Some Kind of Courage and The Honest Truth.

 

 

 

Raymie Nightingale

Raymie Nightingale

by Kate DiCamillo

263 pgs.

5th Grade and up

raymie nightingale

“There were three of them, three girls.”

Raymie, “flexing her toes and isolating her objectives”,  and her two unlikely companions: Beverly, looking permanently fierce, and Louisiana, who is decked out in pink and a mass of hair barrettes for luck. These girls are enrolled with this alarming character to learn baton twirling in order to compete in the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition.

Marvelous kids, appalling circumstances: a dead-beat dad, a mother with a fist, a lovable but klepto grandmother, and other sadly deficient grown-ups.  How’s a kid to figure it all out?  But they do somehow, through friendship, daring, and resourcefulness.  This is a whimsical, funny-sad story.  It isn’t necessarily a book only for young readers.  It can take you back to your childhood and the sometime obsessive need one had to fix important stuff that had become unraveled, because somehow you felt that only you could.  DiCamillo captures the sense of all that.

One of my all time favorite children’s books is The Tale of Despereaux.  This novel is so different but shows the depth and range of this wonderful author.