<![CDATA[KidSenz - News for kids - BookReviews]]>Sat, 05 Dec 2015 01:38:59 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[The Tale of Rodney Ram]]>Wed, 08 Apr 2015 16:56:07 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/the-tale-of-rodney-ram
Title: The Tale of RODNEY RAM
Author: Sarah Brennan

Illustrator: HarryHarrison
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Range: 8+
Grade Level: 3 and up

Review by Lavannya, Grade 4.

Rodney the ram is a tale about a shy but romantic ram which was the farmers favorite ram that was liked by many. 

Rodney was chosen by the farmer to be the head of rams but  Rodney refused. He set out for an extraordinary journey but unexpectedly found an amazing grain to end a Famine………and saved the village. It is an amazing book to read if you LOVE fictionalized Chinese tales explained by poetry.

<![CDATA[Elephant Run]]>Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:43:37 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/elephant-run
Title: Elephant Run
Author: Ronald Smith
Cover Artist: Roberta Pressel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Range: 9+
Grade Level: 4 and up

Review by Sid, Age 9

Elephant Run is a great book staged during World War ||.

When I think of World War || a picture of bombs exploding over Europe and American battleships fighting Japanese forces comes into my mind.I never really thought about the southern hemisphere.In this book it explains how far-reaching the effects of World War ll were and what they caused.

Nick lives in London.Everyday they hide in the subway tunnels while the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) bombs the city.One day after the bombings,they found their apartment destroyed.Nick’s mom decides to send Nick to Burma,where his dad owns a teak plantation, thinking London is too dangerous.But in Burma his Father is captured by Japanese soldiers.Nick and his friend are enslaved in Hawks Nest ,the main house of the village.But with the help of an old monk,a kind Japanese sergeant, timber elephants and some secret hideouts they plan their escape!

<![CDATA[The Hobbit]]>Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:05:45 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/the-hobbit
Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Illustrator: J.R.R. Tolkien
Genre: Fantasy, Children's Literature
Age Range: 10+
Grade Level: 5 and up

Review by 'AM Booker', Grade 5

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is an action-packed story about a hobbit who reluctantly goes on a quest with a band of thirteen dwarves to reclaim a dragon’s hoard.

One of the main characters is Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit, who is forced into the adventure by Thorin and Company, the dwarves. They are a merry bunch most of the time, but go on many frightening
adventures fighting the orcs, such as the time when they sneak into the orcs’ hideout. Bilbo meets a rather strange creature named Gollum, guarding an invisibility ring, who is not very modest, and calls himself
“my precious”.

The Hobbit is a very well-written book, because, instead of telling the reader the story of the adventure, J.R.R. Tolkien delves deep into the minds of the characters, and shows their deepest thoughts and desires. If I could change one thing about this book, I would add more on the perspective of the dwarves, because the only perspective shown in the book is Bilbo’s.

I would recommend this book to higher elementary grades and lower middle schoolers who really like fantasy and completely made up things, because this is the age that I enjoyed it.

Some other books you may like are:
● The Lord of the Rings series, also by J.R.R. Tolkien
● The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
● The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis.
<![CDATA[Going Solo]]>Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:03:52 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/going-solo
Title: Going Solo
Author: Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
Age Range: 9+
Grade Level: 4 and up

Video book review by Aanya, Grade 5

Book review by Hari S., Grade 5

“Going Solo” is the second volume in the two-part autobiography of the late children’s book author Roald Dahl. He was sometimes known as the world’s #1 storyteller. This book is about Dahl’s life after he graduates from Repton School in England to join the Shell company in Africa, and when war breaks out, fights the German Luftwaffe in the Royal Air Force of England. It shares with the reader many funny, scary, and action-packed anecdotes from this amazing author’s life in a witty and almost relatable way.

For example, picture this moment. Roald comes into his cabin on the SS Mantola, a ship bound for Africa, to fetch his pipe. He finds his roommate, named U.N. Savory, standing in the room with no hair. Then, he figures out that Savory’s hair was a wig all along! It turns out, U.N. Savory had been sprinkling Epsom salts in his wigs to simulate dandruff, so people wouldn’t suspect he was bald. I found this hilarious, because Roald
Dahl described U.N. Savory as such a weird character, I burst out into peals of laughter.

The book has a few scary moments too. In one scene, Roald was flying over Mersah Matruh, Libya (now in Egypt), when his gas tank read zero. His plane spiraled down into some rocks, and it was a week before Dahl’s face was reconstructed in a hospital that he could see again. Roald Dahl vividly describes the scenario in his slowly combusting plane with his face bashed in, and how he waited desperately until British
doctors reached the wreckage.

Finally, the book is suspenseful and action-packed. Roald was part of a squadron of 15 British Hawker Hurricane fighter planes flying over Elvesis, Greece, when they were attacked by hundreds of German bombers with their machine-guns blazing. Roald managed to escape unscathed, and shoot down two of the Nazis to boot! This scene left me hanging on the edge of my seat, and I longed to know what happened next.
Going Solo is a funny and exciting description of Roald Dahl’s more-than-eventful life. His unique way of delivering thoughts and educating the reader about his experiences makes you really want to read on. I think this book is great for anyone older than 9.

About Roald Dahl:
Roald Dahl was born in 1916 to Norwegian parents in Cardiff, Wales. His father died when he was 4, leaving his mother in charge of the Dahl family. Dahl went to school at The Cathedral School at Llandaff, St. Peter’s School, and Repton School (with a tyrannical headmaster), before leaving to Tanganyika (Tanzania) with the Shell company. In Tanzania, World War II broke out, and Dahl had to stop a convoy of Germans heading for Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) before joining Britain’s Royal Air Force.

In the Air Force, he almost died twice, once while being shot at by a German Ju 88 bomber, and the other when he crashed in the Libyan desert after his Gloster Gladiator ran out of gas. These amazing experiences and many more make Going Solo one of the best books I’ve ever read.

<![CDATA[Why is the Moon Following Me?]]>Thu, 16 Oct 2014 21:58:50 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/why-is-the-moon-following-me
Title: Why is the Moon Following Me?
Authors: Emer Martin, Suzana Tulac

Illustrator: Magdalena Zuljevic 
Genre: Non Fiction, Poetry
Age Range: 7+
Grade Level: 2 and up

Review by Anjali, Age 8

Why is the moon following me?

The book starts in the forth century BC.Back then,there was an astronomer named ARISTOTLE. He proclaimed that the Earth did not orbit around the sun, but the sun and  the other planets orbited around the Earth.

Then came ARISTARCHUS, he was the one who said that the earth orbited around the sun. 

After that there was PTOLEMY, he proposed the first general theory of cosmology.

Next was NICHOLAS COPERNICUS, he got the theory right by saying that the planets orbit around the sun.

GALILEO GALLILEI created the telescope so that you could see stars more close up.

Then there was TYCHO, he was the astrologer of the king.

At last there was JOHANNES KEPLER, he put together the facts and at last we all found out the pattern 
of the heliocentric model.

I noticed that there is always a rat and a girl in the illustrations. I think that maybe the girl is the one who asked “Why is the moon following me?”

This is a great book because it has so much information(If a kid did not pay attention in history of stars and they had a test, they could hand in this book and they would get an A+.)I recommend this book to 7+Children and Adults. Remember to read this amazing book and find out more about these scientists!

 During the last two pages of the book, it reminds you and me that it takes teamwork or a lot of people to accomplish something big.

Review by Anjan, Age 10

Why is the Moon Following Me? is one of the first books about astronomy that children can read and understand. The reason they can understand it is because this book is written in a poetic format that kids think is fun and will enjoy throughout the book. The author describes otherwise hard concepts in the blink of an eye. Also, with fun, cartoon-ish illustrations, the book draws children in with eagerness and fascination. 

This is what the book describes:
At the beginning, the author delves into the minds of readers by explaining how the first great mathematician, Aristole thought. All humans like to think that they are the center of everything, and Aristotle was no different. He built the first theory that the sun was rotating the earth and we were the center of the universe. Of course, human nature agreed with Aristotle, so when another great mathematician named Aristarchus came along and proclaimed that the sun was the center of the universe and we were just a small planet on the side, the people of Greece said “We prefer Aristotle” and squashed Aristarchus’s ideas.

At the same time in Ancient Rome, the author goes back in time and explains clearly how a great cartographer named Ptolmey agreed with Aristotle’s ideas and put earth in the center of attention.

1400 years later a quiet, shy man named Nicolaus Copernicus came to the conclusion that Aristotle and Ptolmey were wrong and the sun WAS in the midle and not the sides. But when the great powers of the time didn’t like his theory Copernicus gave up and lost his ideas.

But another boy was now approaching. An Italian boy named Galileo Galilei came along and tried to study the stars, but he couldn’t see them. So this boy made a telescope! With his new contraption he looked up in the sky and saw many amazing things. But when he expressed that Copernicus and Aristarchus were right, and the earth was tiny, the church’s feared organization took him away and put him under house arrest. It was too late then, though, to hide the truth any longer. People began to realize that Galileo was right.

Next, though, came a man name Tycho (whose cousin went a bit psycho) who was a genius. The problem is, he knew it. He was always treated like the smartest person on the face of the earth, although he wasn’t. Soon a much smarter man would come along.

Johannes Kepler was always very weak–he was born that way, but just because he was weak doesn’t mean his mind was! When he was young he came over to Tycho to be his assistant.

Tycho thought his student was smarter than him so he did the selfish thing by distracting Kepler with extremely tough math problems so he wouldn’t get credit. But when Tycho died Kepler inherited his math problems and prove that the sun was in the center. He straight out proved it. This is why Kepler is the smartest of them all–he did something nobody else could do–he proved his thinking.

The reason I like this book:
The reason I like this book is because I can read this book and enjoy it like any other book while taking in information over a thousand year scale. This book taught me a LOT about history. During the book, fun rhymes tickled my brain and  made me laugh. My favorite line was: “The truth will advance: Our spinning home joins the other planets in a dance”. I like this rhyme because it explains Nicolaus Copernicus’s thinking in a playful way.

The last two pages of the book are also very nice because they talk about how all these discoveries weren’t one person’s work. Many people over thousands of years made astronomy as we know it today.

<![CDATA[Peak]]>Thu, 16 Oct 2014 21:03:30 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/peak

Title: Peak
Author: Roland Smith
Cover Artist: Francis Floro
Genre: Sports Fiction/ Adventure
Age Range: 10+
Grade Level: 5 and up

What is the book about?
Gripping adventures of a 14 year old boy, narrated by Peak, the protagonist. The readers get a glimpse of his climbing escapades as he scales New York’s skyscrapers to tag them with his “blue mountain” graffiti. Graffiti on skyscrapers seems thrilling, till he gets caught in the act and has to decide between jail time and traveling to the other end of the world to stay with his biological dad.

Of course, he picks staying away from jail time only to find out that his next adventure is to climb Mount Everest. If he succeeds, he could become the youngest climber to scale Mount Everest. He is assisted in this by another 14 year old, San-jo, who wants to achieve the same feat but with a different goal - so he can save his family from poverty using the money that would follow if he set the record.

Will Peak or San-jo reach the peak? Can these young climbers scale the treacherous mountain?

What is special about the writing style?
Peak is tasked with regularly recording his days in his Moleskine notebook by his teacher.
So, readers get to read Peak’s unedited records. They journey with him through the physical and emotional challenges as he transforms from a thrill seeking adventurer to a true mountain climber.

What else will I learn?

Lots of little known mountaineering facts.

Favorite Quotes?

Peak records towards the end of the book: “The only thing that you’ll find on the summit of Mount Everest is a divine view. The things that really matter lie far below.”

Any awards?

Peak won the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award (Children's Category).

<![CDATA[Boxers and Saints]]>Thu, 16 Oct 2014 20:34:56 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/-boxers-and-saints
Title: Boxers and Saints
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Illustrator: Gene Luen Yang
Genre: Historical Fiction/Magic and Fantasy
Age Range: 12+
Grade Level: 7 and up

Why 2 books?
This is a duo of graphic novels of the parallel stories of 2 teen protagonists Little Bao and Four-Girl. In Boxers, Little Bao learns kung-fu and gathers an army of peasants to fight foreign missionaries and soldiers. In Saints, young Four-Girl, converts to Christianity and takes the new name of Vibiana and its belief system. Both Little Bao and Vibiana strive to do the right thing, but their beliefs are in direct opposition.

One book cover shows the left half of Bao's face with Qin Shi Huangdi and the other book shows the right half of Vibiana's face with Joan of Arc. Together the 2 book covers portray a divided China during the years 1898-1900 when the Boxer Rebellion took place.

Do the characters meet?

Each book develops the lead character and one can understand their individual beliefs and actions. Bao’s and Vibiana’s paths eventually intersect resulting in a harrowing end.

What else?

The books navigates the complex effect religions can have - they can enrich lives but can also be an oppressive force. The book makes us ponder on ways to fight oppression.


Winner of the 2013 Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Young adult literature) and nominated for several others.
<![CDATA[Kit's Wilderness]]>Thu, 16 Oct 2014 20:14:10 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/kits-wilderness
Title: Kit’s Wilderness
Author:  David Almond
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fiction/ Young Adult Novel
Age Range: 12+
Grade Level: 7 and up

What is this book about?
Thirteen year old Kit moves to Stoneygate to take care of his grandfather who has Alzheimers. Kit’s grandfather has many stories about the harsh coal mining days and the disasters that were part of his youth. Kit becomes friends with bubbly Allie Keenan and also a shadowy boy named John Askew. Kit is drawn into playing Askew’s dark and dangerous game called “Death” where they re-enact the death of the children in the coal mines. The game changes Kit, as he struggles to cling to the belief that there is a goodness in everyone.

Eerie..is it all dark?
Author David, brings the opposing forces of light into dark for an unputdownable gripping story about the bravery of children. He leaves us with the hope that in the end, goodness wins.

Themes and Styles
Written in lyrical prose, the story weaves-in opposing themes - light and dark, life and death, remembering and forgetting, to tell the story of the importance of relationships.

Any awards?
It won the Michael L. Printz Award and was nominated for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize
<![CDATA[The Giver]]>Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:43:14 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/the-giver

Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Age Range: 11+
Grade Level: 6 and up

What is the book about?
A "perfect" world without disease, despair, doubt or discomfort. Everything is regimented and everyone has assigned roles. The community strives for sameness, order, and perfection.

What could possibly go wrong with such a tidy world?
All authority rests in the community's advisors. They make decisions for everyone, as no one has any personal choice in matters of life or work. There is no individuality in this world, only sameness and conformity. To protect themselves from pain, everyone must take a daily pill to suppress all memory. Isolated from "elsewhere" (the rest of the world), the community lives only in the present, without a sense of history, the past, or any continuity with the human race. As we find out, there is plenty that is wrong with such a tidy world.

Who is the protagonist?
A boy called Jonas. When he turns twelve, he is chosen by the community to receive special training from the Giver- a community elder who alone holds the memories of the pains and pleasures of life. Once Jonas takes on the role of "Receiver," he begins to understand the problems with such a "perfect" world. He now wants to change and disrupt the order.

Anything controversial?
Yes. The world created by Lois Lowry in the book is intriguing and complex. The reader is often forced to consider difficult issues. This book is not for the faint-of-heart.

The Giver won the 1994 Newbery Medal.
<![CDATA[Beastly Tales from Here and There]]>Thu, 25 Sep 2014 21:20:29 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/bookreviews/beastly-tales-from-here-and-there

Title: Beastly Tales from Here and There
Poet: Vikram Seth
Illustrator: Ravi Shankar
Publisher: Viking/Penguin
Genre: Poetry/Verse
Age Range: 9+
Grade Level: 4 and up
What is the book about?
Ten brilliantly comic animal fables told in verse. Yes, verse.


Don't worry. The fables are easy-to-read, rhyme wonderfully (in couplets), and are full of wicked twists. They are splendid. Really.

Read this excerpt from "The Frog and the Nightingale" to see if you vibe with this sort of verse:

                   Once upon a time a frog
                   Croaked away in Bingle Bog.
                   Every night from dusk to dawn
                   He croaked awn and awn and awn.
                   Other creatures loathed his voice,
                   But, alas, they had no choice,
                   And the crass cacophony
                   Blared out from the sumac tree
                   At whose foot the frog each night
                   Minstrelled on till morning light."

What do you think?

What other animal characters does one meet in this volume?
They are a motley bunch. Among others, you will meet a henpecked crocodile ("Greeny-brown with gentle grin"), a snake ("Gold and shiny, vicious, long/Venom-fanged, hypnotic, strong-"), a prima donna hare, a slow-and-steady tortoise, a gluttonous pair of goat and ram, and even a tragopan (a kind of a pheasant, in case you are wondering). There are many more. All are quirky. All are fun.

Where do the fables come from?
The ten tales included here come from many different oral/folklore traditions. Two come from India, two from China, two from Greece, two from Ukraine, and two, as the poet puts it, "came directly... from the Land of Gup." All are ingeniously told- or retold.