Book Reviews by The Reading Revolution Class

Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian

This book is my favorite book so far on the Battle of the Books list. It is a historical fiction about England in WWII. The government required that the children of London to be evacuated to the country where it was mandated that the villagers had to house them. This was to protect kids from the constant bombing in London. This book follows one 8 year old boy, William, during his relocation time in the country. The boy is housed with Mr. Tom, a grumpy, old widower. This turns out to be the best thing for both of them. The boy comes from an abusive single parent home. Mr. Tom after losing his wife is lonely and has cut himself off from the world. As the story flows, Mr Tom opens his heart to William, helping him heal and grow. However, everything changes when the boy’s mother calls for William to come back home to London early. Back in London, things for William go from bad to worse and Mr. Tom has to decide if he is going to risk it all to save William.

As I read this book I found myself cheering for William and being thankful for Mr. Tom. Also there were side stories of mothers and wives worrying about soldiers in the war and soldiers coming home. The side stories really helped to show the effects of the war on the whole village. If you like historical fiction, you should give this one a try.

Reviewed by Bray Woodard

Every Day By David Levithan

“There will always be more questions. Every answer leads to more questions. The only way to survive is to let some of them go.” This is tough lesson that A has had to learn throughout life.

Every day sixteen-year-old A wakes up and borrows the life and body of a similar age boy or girl for 24 hours. In order to respect each body, A establishes guidelines: avoid being noticed, don’t interfere, and don’t get too attached. A has upheld these principles, until one day, when A wakes up in the body of Justin. Justin has a girlfriend named Rhiannon, who makes A fall in love and forget all the rules. Every day after Justin, A tries to find Rhiannon. A finally reveals the secret to her, but Rhiannon has a hard time getting past A’s constantly changing exterior. Will the two make it work? How? Read the book to find out!

Every Day had an interesting concept, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever read. The ending was a bit disappointing, though, and it left me feeling a little dissatisfied. While the plot was exciting, and I enjoyed the plot’s originality, I thought the ending was this book’s downfall.

Reviewed by Sophia Renner

The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins

Do you have a secret? Well it seems most everyone does. What if someone told you they would pay you to tell them your darkest secrets, and for some strange reason, you felt comfortable telling them? And to top it off, they wrote them down in a black book for safe keeping? Well this is exactly what happens in The Black Book of Secrets by F. E. Higgins. Ludlow Fitch is a young boy that has run away from his cruel parents, and finds himself in a small town of Pagus Parvus. While roaming the streets, Ludlow sees a man and follows him. The man enters a small shop and Fitch spies on him through a window. The man sneaks around the back of the shop and catches Ludlow. The man is kind and invites Ludlow into his shop where he introduces himself as Joe Zabbidou, a pawn broker. The two talk, and Joe finds out that Ludlow can read and write, and offers Ludlow a job. All Ludlow has to do, is write done what he’s told in a black book.

The next morning, out of curiosity, the people of Pagus Parvas have gathered outside Joe Zabbidou’s shop. Joe comes out and announces that he is a pawn broker, and he will trade anything for money. Suddenly, a man steps up and tells Joe that they do not need his pawn broker shop. The man introduces himself as Jeremiah Ratchet. Ratchet tells Joe to leave town, and the villagers slink away in fear. As the villagers are leaving, Joe spies a man walking up towards the old church house. He catches up to him, and the man tells him he is the grave digger. Joe invites him to come by his shop at midnight. When the grave digger shows up later that night, Joe tells him he is a secret pawn broker and will trade him money for secrets. For some reason, the grave digger feels comfortable enough to tell Joe his secret. Joe instructs Ludlow to start writing everything the man tells him. Once the man has told his secret, he feels relieved. Ludlow now understands his job. It is to write down the secrets that are told to the secret pawn broker.

Why would someone tell their darkest secret, even for money? Who is this Ratchet fellow, and why does everyone seem to fear him? Will Joe ever figure out that his own apprentice might have the darkest secret of all? What other secrets does this book hold? Read this book to find out! I loved The Black Book of Secrets and look forward to reading the rest of the ‘Tales from the Sinister City’ series by F.E Higgins.

Reviewed by Hu Poston

PIE by Sarah Weeks

Do you love pie? If the answer is yes then you will love PIE by Sarah Weeks! PIE is about when Polly, The Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away and leaves her Blueberry award winning pie crust recipe to her cat, Lardo. Polly gives Lardo to her niece Alice.

Alice and everyone is wondering why would you give a recipe to a cat. Everyone misses Polly’s pies and everyone wants to be the next Blueberry award winner. Alice and Charlie have to find a way to protect Lardo, so no one will get the pie recipe. Will they be able to keep him safe?

My favorite thing about PIE is that there is a pie recipe in every chapter! I recommend this book for people who love books with delicious situations.

Reviewed by Bray Woodard

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

This book is a Mystery/Adventure book. There is a girl who moves from California to London and meets this guy named Benjamin at her new school. They figure out that Benjamin’s dad is trying to figure out how to stop an atomic bomb. Benjamin’s dad disappears when people come to look for him. With help from a friend Pip they find the apothecary and they go to Russia to stop the bomb, and the rest I can’t tell you. That’s what you’re supposed to figure out.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when they find Benjamin’s dad. I love it so much because they don’t know if it’s going to be him. They also don’t know if they’re going to get the process right, but they end up doing it okay.

If you like books that you’re always on the edge of your seat. You will love this book. If you love adventure books also this is a great book. There is lots of magic in this book that is probably why I loved it so much. I strongly recommend this. Read The Apothecary!

Reviewed by William Saye

Cracker By Cynthia Kadohata

This action packed book is about the bond between man and dog. Rick Hanski is a man who plans to change the world. He will start with the army. When Rick goes to Vietnam it is his dog that will save his life.

When a young German Shepard is paired with a sassy young man, she isn’t sure if she should trust him. But when the unlikely pair is sent to Vietnam Cracker will give her life for Rick.

This is a great book for all ages and I would definitely recommend this for people who like action books. The genre is action and adventure. I would also recommend this for people who like realistic novels.

Reviewed by Reese Dickerhoff

Under A War-Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot

Are you willing to leave your home, your family, and your friends to fight in a war and see people being killed and your life being at risk? Under A War-Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot is about a boy of nineteen named Henry who chooses to do all of these things.

Henry was in the U.S Air Force in World War II. On Henry’s fifteenth mission his plane was shot down and he lands in enemy territory. Henry fights to find his way home without being seen or caught by enemies. Will the French Resistance help Henry across the country? However until the end Henry did not realize the danger the French Resistance put themselves through.

This story taught me what freedom means by the suffering of the soldiers and What the people went through to get it. Henry was brave and determined to get home and be free and come back to a loving family. I really loved this book because you did not know what would happen next. I recommend this book for people who love history, wars, and adventure.

Reviewed by Bray Woodard

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Have you ever heard of Peter Pan? Did you ever wonder how Peter and the Lost Boys got to Never Land? Just how was Peter able to fly? Who named the island Never Land? And how did Hook get his hook? The fictional book Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson is a prelude to Peter Pan, and if you want the answers to all these questions and many more, you definitely need to read this book.

Peter begins as just one of many orphaned boys put on one of two ships sent to Rundune, a city ruled by King Zarboff III. King Zarboff has plans to use these boys as his servants. Along the way the ships are attacked by the ruthless pirate, Black Stash, eventually known as Captain Hook. Black Stash has heard that a treasure of a life time is aboard one of these ships, but he doesn’t know which one. On the first ship he attacks, he finds a chest, but it is filled with plain sand. Now he knows that the treasure he seeks is on the other ship. Peter and the other orphans are on this other ship along with Molly, a starcatcher. Only Peter knows that she is a starcatcher.

Black Stash captures the second boat, and just as he arrives, Peter and Molly throw the treasure chest overboard. The chest contains “star stuff”. Now what is star stuff you ask? Star stuff is collected when a shooting star (not just any falling star) falls to earth. These very special fallen stars are then collected by starcatchers before anyone else can get their hands on them.

Next question you ask. Why would anyone want to get their hands on these rocks? These special rocks give you tremendous powers that include, but not limited to, making you smart, giving you the ability to fly, and can even heal you if you are wounded. If these powers get into the wrong hands, they can be used to take over the world, which is exactly what the “Others” want to use them for.

Who are the “Others”? They’re the bad guys that want to take over the world, of course! And one their most evil leaders is none other than King Zarboff III, the king that the orphans were being sent to.

Oh yea, did I forget to tell you that Molly and Peter went overboard with the chest? Well, they did! Luckily for Peter, Molly the starcatcher has these special powers in a locket she wears around her neck. She grabs Peter and flies them to a nearby island. Black Stash takes over the second ship while the orphans sneak away in a life boat. A storm arises and forces Black Stash to cut the lines to the second boat as it hits a reef and smashes apart.

After the storm passes, the orphans, Black Stash, the star stuff’s chest, and the broken ship’s name plate wash up on the island’s shore. What happens next? Who gets the chest full of star stuff? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

If you like adventure, magic and Peter Pan, you will really love this book. AND if you’re like me and hate when a good book ends, you’ll be glad to know that this book has three more books in the series that are equally as good.

Reviewed by Hu Poston

Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko

Moose Flanagan’s dad, previously a guard, has just become assistant warden of Alcatraz when he learns from a friend, Piper, the warden’s daughter, that the inmates have a game that involves killing prison employees. The inmates award points for each guard killed, and they receive greater points for killing the warden or his assistant. The first night as assistant warden, Moose is babysitting his crazy, weird 16 year old sister Natalie, and he falls asleep. He is awakened by a fire in their apartment, and Moose and Natalie are able to escape. Once the fire is put out, Darby Trixil a prison guard that has been trying to get Moose’s dads job, says that the fire was started by Natalie and that she is a menace. Moose sets out to prove him wrong.

While Moose’s family apartment is being fixed by inmates, Moose sneaks in and tries to recover anything that will help him figure out who really started the fire. He finds his English homework just as he left it, but there are notes written on it suggesting that he should be writing about Al Capone instead of Theodore Roosevelt. It also says “state problem?” Moose knows that Al Capone has written this message, but what does it mean?

Does Al Capone know something about the fire, and he is trying to tell Moose? Are the inmates just trying to gain points in their sick game by killing the assistant warden, or is Trixil trying to get rid of Moose’s dad so that he can have his job? If any of this sounds interesting to you, read the book to find out the answers and more. The Al Capone books, by Gennifer Choldenko, are fantastic if you love giant prison islands, dangerous convicts, and America’s number one gangster, Al Capone.

Reviewed by Hu Poston

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

The first book in Rick Yancey’s latest trilogy is The Fifth Wave. The book mostly takes play in an alternative present-day reality with the only exception. Ninety percent of the human race is gone because of the first four waves. “The Others” have come to earth and have yet to explain why. We know “The Others” are not typical beings and we also know they are killing off humanity. Besides that, we know nothing about them. This book is told from the perspective of a courageous, determined, sixteen-year old girl named Cassie Sullivan. She is on her own in the woods going to save her brother when the book starts. Cassie is going after her brother because “The Others” have him, and he is the only thing she has left to live for. At least, that is what she thinks until Evan Walker rescues her. Cassie is confused by Evan because he rescued her without knowing is she is an “Other.” Evan tries to earn Cassie’s trust, but to do that he must convince her to break her one rule: trust nobody. Will she break her rule and trust Evan? Will she save her brother? Or will the inevitable happen, and she will die?

Overall, this is a book that you won’t want to put down. It is filled with plot twists that you will not expect. This book is written from a young female’s point of view, and I believe that is why I enjoyed it so much.

Reviewed by Fiona Duffy

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

Can you imagine that you are 15 years old, living with your aunt for the summer in San Francisco, and you and your twin sister have summer jobs across the street from each other? Yea, maybe you can.

Now imagine that the bookstore where you work is one day visited by four men, one with glowing eyes and the other three have eyes like stone. While you are in the cellar, searching for a book, you start smelling something that resembles rotten eggs and peppermint. The smell gets so bad that you come out of the cellar and see your boss, Nick Fleming, talking to the man with the glowing eyes. Both men are making strange motions with their hands and mist is forming and swirling about. Suddenly, the two men throw these swirling balls of mist at one another, and there is a major explosion. After more mist balls are thrown, more explosions, you and your boss escape through a hidden door behind the books. This is just what happens to Josh Newman when he and his twin sister, Sophie, get caught up in this fictional book, The Alchemyst by Michael Scot. It is a story of magic, adventure, monsters, and 676 year old immortals.

Okay, so now you can’t imagine any of this, right? How about once you and your boss escape. You see your sister, Sophie and Nick’s wife, Perry, entering the bookstore that you have just escaped from? The man with the glowing eyes calls Perry, Perenelle and tells her, he has come for “the book”. She calls the man Dee, and says that Nick and she are the guardians of the book.

Nick and Josh come running back to the bookstore. Nick removes a tiny cloth covered book from around his neck. When they get there, Dee causes another explosion and goes for the book Nick has removed from his neck. Josh sees Dee going for the book and knocks him down, but Dee is able to hang on to it. Dee rips the book from Joshes hands, grabs Perry, and departs. What the heck is going on, you asked? That’s just what the twins want to know!

Nick tells the twins that his real name is Nicholas Flamel, a 676 year old alchemyst, and the book that Dee stole was the book of Abraham the Mage. This book can give you the gift of eternal life. His wife’s real name is Perenelle Flamel, a sorceress, and Dee is Dr. John Dee, an alchemyst, magician, sorcerer, and necromancer. He is here to bring back the dark Elders and destroy the world. Whoa! What’s that you say?

Josh tells Flamel that although he tried to grab the book from Dee, he was only able to get a few pages, but apparently they were the two most important last pages of the book. Without these pages, Dee can’t awaken the dark Elders. Flamel says they will all be in danger when Dee figures out the last pages are missing, so they should go get help from a friend of his named Scathach.

Scathach, what kind of name is that? It’s the name of a vegetarian vampire!! Okay, now you’re really lost, right? Scathach is a dojo master, a fighting machine that will help protect the twins from harm. Do the twins really need protecting?

Scathach agrees to help them, and suggest they go to Hekate, The Goddess with three faces. Scathach secretly suggests to Flamel that Hekate can awaken the twin’s powers. The twins have powers?

At that moment, a mud man of Dees burst through the wall. Flamel and Scathach destroy him. The four pile up in the car of one of Scathach’s students and head to Hekates.

Do they make it to Hekates? Will Josh and Sophie every realize they have powers to be awakened? What happens to Pernelle? Will Dee destroy the world?

If you want to know the answers to the first two, read The Alchemyst! If you want to know more, read the rest of the series! This is a great book, and even greater series that encourages readers to see the magic inside of themselves.

Reviewed by Hu Poston

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Chasing Vermeer is a mysterious and adventurous book. It is a very good book in my opinion. I love the way Blue Balliett writes it because it confuses you, but then you understand it. It has really cool history inside it.

There are two kids who go to the same school and aren’t really friends, but as the story goes on they become best friends. They work together to solve a mystery that the whole world is dealing with at the time. The kids have very little clues to work with. As they get closer friends with an old lady who lives down the block, the solution gets closer and closer.

If you like mysteries you would love this book. You’re always on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. One thing I really liked about the book is that the main characters never gave up. Even though they had very little clues they searched and searched for clues. I loved this book and I think you would to!

Reviewed by William Saye

The Wave Walkers: Pirate Curse by Kai Meyer

What is a polliwog you ask? It is a person that can walk on water. There were 30 in the beginning. Now, there are only two left, and they must unite to save the world from the Maelstrom, an evil that creates monsters and wants to take over the world. Jolly, a pirate, and her captain, Bannon, have taken over a Spanish ship when jars of spiders kill the crew. Jolly, the only survivor, escapes and washes up on an island where she meets another polliwog named Monk.

While Jolly is on the island, a creature from the Maelstrom arrives and kills Monk’s parents. Jolly and Monk manage to escape by walking on water to Monk’s friend, The Ghost Trader’s ship. The Ghost Trader takes them to New Providence, a pirate town.

When they arrive at New Providence, Jolly seeks out the Pirate Emperor, Kendrick. She is hoping that he will know something about Bannon’s death. She threatens the emperor, but to no avail, he claims to know nothing. While at the emperors, she meets Soledad, a pirate princess whose father has been killed by Kendrick. Soledad is posing as a woman in love with Kendrick so that she can gain access to him and kill him. Jolly persuades Soledad not to kill the emperor.

The Ghost Trader hires a captain to take Jolly and Monk to Tortuga, where they might be able to get information about the Maelstrom. With a bounty on her head for threatening the emperor, Jolly leaves New Providence. As they are leaving port, Jolly sees Soledad dashing down the quay, and invites her to come aboard, which she gladly accepts as she now also has a bounty on her head for wanting to kill the emperor.

Do Jolly and Monk defeat the Maelstrom? Do they ever get Kendrick off their heels? Will Jolly ever find out the answer to the mystery of Bannon’s death? Will Jolly ever figure out her true powers? Just a warning here!! You will have to read not only The Wave Walkers, Book One: Pirate Curse, but also Book Two: Pirate Emperor to find out the answers to these questions and so much more. Great books if you love pirates, adventure, and magic!

Reviewed by Hu Poston

The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore

The Fall of Five is a great novel. Though it is fourth in its series I strongly recommend reading the series. This series is about an alien race of children called the Lorinites. They live peacefully on their planet, Lorien, until one day an evil race of aliens called the Mogodorians, or Mogs for short, show up. They came and killed all the people of Lorien, except for the chosen nine.

The nine survivors were children who were supposed to take the place of the nine original leaders of Lorien. They and their Parent Figures are called Ceapen. The Planet Lorien, for the lore taking care of their planet, gave them powers: such as Telekinesis, Luman, and Flight. They unite and fight for their lives. There were nine. Three died. One more dead. Can they survive and make their way back to Lorien? Only time will tell.

Reviewed by Reese Dickerhoff

Liar, Liar by Gary Paulson

The book Liar, Liar, by Gary Paulsen, is about a boy who lies to get his way. He’s good at it too. In the book Liar, Liar, the main character is a boy who lies his way out of everything and also to get his way. He has just started liking a particular girl in school but the problem is that he doesn’t have any classes with her, so he lies his way out of class to spend time with her. I loved it when he gets his older siblings in trouble because he isn’t getting his own way. I recommend this book to anyone who likes funny fiction stories.

Reviewed by John David Druga

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Have you ever seen Yoda from Star Wars? What if he were an origami finger puppet giving out excellent advice to kids in need? This appears to be the case in The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. It is a fiction book based on the character Yoda from Star Wars. The main character in the book, Tommy, is writing a case file about an origami finger puppet that looks like Yoda, and is attached to the finger of a not so bright boy named Dwight. The finger puppet gives some remarkably good advice to kids that need his help. Tommy has put together these case files to find out if Origami Yoda is real or not.

Dwight is a strange boy, in the sixth grade that does a lot of weird things, but one thing he does do really well, is make origami. He creates a finger puppet that looks just like Yoda from Star Wars. Yoda was a wise alien that helped Luke defeat Darth Vader, and now Origami Yoda is helping sixth graders defeat their problems. This book contains a number of case files that express the feelings and stories shared by many sixth graders in Tommy’s search to find out the answer to The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.

You would have a very hard time selecting just one favorite case in this file, but my favorite was probably “Origami Yoda and Embarrassing Stain”. A boy washing his hands in the rest room accidently splashed water on his pants and it looked as if he had peed in them. Origami Yoda told him, in his freaky voice, “all of pants, you must wet”. When the other kids saw his wet pants, they just asked what happened, but know one laughed and made smart remarks.

I think anyone that likes funny stories about kids trying to find their way through sixth grade issues, with the help of an outside force, will like this book.

Is Origami Yoda using the force, or is he just a wad of paper? Could crazy Dwight actually be smarter than he appears to be? Read the book to find out?

Reviewed by Hu Poston
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