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
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.)
Kathryn Lasky is the Newbery Honor-winning author of many books including the Guardians of Ga’Hoole fantasy series, the Wolves of the Beyond series, A Time for Courage and several Dear America titles.
211 pages, MS and US
Night Witches is a novel of World War II. The Germans have surrounded Stalingrad. Valya, a sixteen year old Russian girl has been trained as a pilot by her father. The story starts out with the brutal murder of her mother. Left alone, Valya must now try and reunite with her sister, Tatyana, who is one of the fighter pilots of the Night Witch Brigade. Valya is determined to join up with the brigade and fight the Nazis. This book is based on thorough research and is a great read for those who love action, historical fiction, and a story featuring the first all-female air combat team.
The Blood Guard
By Carter Roy
Two Lions (June 9, 2015)
279 pgs (paperback)
What a fun adventure novel. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
Ok, in the rush to get kids back into the swing of school I have fallen a bit behind in reviewing books, but when an announcement for book two of this series arrived in my inbox I decided I needed to read book one first. Fortunately it was available. So, downloaded and read it this afternoon, and what a fun story.
Evelyn is a boy without much free time. His Mom has him scheduled for every sort of class imaginable from frisbee to gymnastics to fencing classes. But when she shows up after school and guns their little car across the city, Evelyn is thrown into a world of kidnapped people, mad scientists, secret societies, sword fights, and a battle between the forces of good and evil. He will pick up several companions along the way in a race to DC to save his family.
This is a good solid adventure novel with a twist of magic and a whole lot of car chases. While the story can get a bit twisted in on itself and there are some gruesome moments, in a turn much like in George of the jungle “no one gets hurt, they just get really bad boo boos”. This is a great Junior Fiction novel appropriate for middle graders of the action adventure bent. I was not all together thrilled with the female character, but then I never liked over zealous rule enforcers. This novel should appeal to both boys and girls equally.
Parental Note: there are a lot actions by the characters which should cause catastrophic consequences if real world physics is applied. Treat this novel as a fantasy and you should be fine. There are several scenes that were gruesome until you realize many of the adults are immortal. The book does sort of hit the reader with death right at the beginning, even if it takes it back later and introduces the hilarious addition of trying to duct tape a head back on a body so it can grow back together. It is part of a series so expect a lot of world building and an open ended finale that leaves many questions unanswered.
“They have a saying out here – if you’re going to shoot a grizzly, make sure you have six bullets in your gun. Five for the bear, and one for yourself” – a wry remark from Tyson’s grandfather who has other sober, unsentimental advice for his 13 year old grandson. This is a book about fear, problematic relationships, and other tough issues of trust unfolding in a great adventure. You may have to rethink your ideas about hunting. This tale is not for the faint-hearted or squeamish, but it is a fast-paced, convincing and often hilarious Middle School read. The lessons are profound, and I thought it was excellent.