Tag Archives: realistic fiction

Review! Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

9 Aug

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
By Rita Williams-Garcia
176 pages – ages 8+
Published by Amistad on May 9, 2017

Synopsis From Publisher- “Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.

Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.”

What I Thought- This was a book that makes you stop and think. The plot is simple, but there is a lot of things to ponder about family, discovering the world, yourself, and legacies. I like that the book teaches kids a little bit about basic blues music and the history and culture of blues. Williams-Garcia breathed life into her characters in a way that the reader really connects with them. She describes the gritty trail Clayton travels with such details I could envision each step. I personally appreciated this story as it touched many chords within me. This was a book I enjoyed reading, and I believe others will too!

I give this book five out of five bookworms.

Review! The Summer of Bad Ideas by Kiera Stewart

4 Aug

The Summer of Bad Ideas
By Kiera Stewart
304 pages – ages 9+
Published by HarperCollins on May 2, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- “In this funny, big-hearted friendship story, perfect for fans of Wendy Mass and Linda Urban, twelve-year-old Edie and her impossibly cool cousin, Rae, set out to complete a mysterious list of “Good Ideas for Summertime” that their eccentric late grandmother wrote back when she was their age.

But good ideas? Most of them seem like bad ideas. Reckless. Foolish. Ridiculous. Still, by accomplishing everything on the list, rule-abiding Edie feels certain that she can become the effortlessly brave adventurer she dreams of being, just like her daring cousin and bold grandmother. For this one summer at least, bad ideas are the best shot she has at becoming who she wants to be.

Bad Idea Number One: It’s time for a new set of rules.

What I Thought- I think this was a neat realistic fiction story. There are so many believable details, it was fun to read about the characters and town life. I like the development of Edie as she becomes a little more adventurous, like her grandmother, as the story goes on. The story was well-written and speaks to a young middle grade audience well. At times I found the story a bit inspiring in the way Edie seeks to become a bit more outgoing. The plot is simple, predictable at times, yet satisfying. This book is a nice bridge for kids going from smaller novels to larger reads. The story flows well and gives the reader enough to remain engaged from start to finish. The characters are realistic, and I could see a lot of them acting like some of my friends. Overall, it was a fun book.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.

Review! From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle

26 Mar

From Ant to Eagle
By Alex Lyttle
256 pages – ages 9+
Will be Published by Central Avenue Publishing on April 1st, 2017

Synopsis- Calvin Sinclair has a little brother, and they do everything together. Or really, Sammy does everything Cal tells him to. They still hang out together, but it isn’t until Calvin becomes enthralled with a new girl in town that they start spending less time together. If he had realized that Sammy had cancer growing inside of him, then he would’ve acted differently. He would’ve spent quality time with Sammy. But now all Cal can do is hop on the roller coaster with him and hope for the best.

What I Thought- This book was outstanding. When I first heard about it, I was interested enough to try it, but not quite sure if I would enjoy it. I am glad to say that I loved this book! Lyttle, being a pediatrician who worked in an oncology unit, knows the details about the ravages of cancer and the toll it takes on families. Lyttle also knows how to write a poignant, thought-provoking story that has beautifully-crafted lighthearted moments. Because of the subject matter, the story does have a darker feel to it, but Lyttle does a great job with keeping a sense of redemption and hope going. I do not normally like or even read books about topics like cancer/death, but this one is such a wonderfully crafted story about siblings I loved this story. Sammy and Cal have the most realistic brother relationship I’ve read in a book in a while. Everything about it rings so true.  Cal says it, that he loved his brother, didn’t wish any harm to him, but he sure could be a pain in the rear at times. Okay – most of the time. Close to the end of the book, there are a few cuss words (s*** and d***) in an acceptable scenario, but just know that they’re there. This is a fabulous debut from Lyttle, and I really hope to read more from him. This is a definite must read.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review and Book Birthday!!! Avenging the Owl by Melissa Hart

5 Apr

owlAvenging the Owl

By Melissa Hart

224 pages – ages 11+

Published by Sky Pony Press TODAY- April 5th, 2016!

Synopsis- Solo never knew that avenging a beloved pet’s death could get him in such a huge amount of trouble. When a great horned owl kills Solo’s kitten, probably the one thing keeping him sane after his family’s big move and change of lifestyle, Solo takes a shotgun and tries to shoot it. He accidentally hits a kid who jumped in front of the gun (he just grazed him). Now he has to do eight weeks of community service. At a rescue for raptors. Which includes great horned owls.

What I Thought- This was pretty darn good realistic fiction. You can really feel Solo’s pain and anger with his parents for moving, for his dad’s attempted suicide (yes – it’s brought in slowly, with hints at it, until the end-ish, where Solo flat out says it), for his community service, for the death of his kitten. It’s all tough, but this book has a coming-of-age feel to it, with Solo coming to terms with all of the above problems. It’s a good, well-written, skillfully crafted story. I enjoyed this book a lot. Note that there are darker topics in the book, which are handled very well by the author for her young audience. This is a great read.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Just Like Me by Nancy Cavanaugh

28 Mar

justlikemeJust Like Me

By Nancy Cavanaugh

256 pages – ages 8+

Will be published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on April 5, 2016

Synopsis- Julia is not a happy camper. Or, she will be. Her mom is making her go to a week-long summer camp with her two “Chinese sisters” – two girls also adopted from the same orphanage in China – who absolutely adore everything Chinese while Julia doesn’t. It doesn’t help that the adoption agency’s agent is writing an article about how the three of them are bonding. And Julia doesn’t want a single part of it.

What I Thought- I was not expecting to like this book. In fact, I kind of went into reading it with a sour attitude – I was craving a good action/adventure. What I found was a skillfully crafted, meaningful story that captured my interest from the start. To me, that really shows what a good book this was. I really got into the story, and felt connected to the characters. There was a lot of drama, which could get annoying (especially for a boy), but it helped build the story. The story is about getting along with others, getting to know yourself, and ultimately accepting yourself. The characters have their ups and downs with each other, creating a nice challenge for the kids to overcome. The book is very character-driven, and tells two stories – one of Julia learning to get along with the other girls, and another told through letters to her adoption agent, about her internal conflict. I like the fact that the book points out that even though they are adopted, they are still their parents’ children. This is a very good story and speaks to Ms. Cavanaugh’s ability to capture a middle grade audience.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks


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