Book Review

HiLo by Judd Winick

Hilo the boy who crashed to earth book cover: a blond boy wearing red shirt and blue jeans is smiling with his hands out and light glowing from them; a boy in green hoody is behind him as well as a girl in a pink tank"I'm a Robot! That is Outstanding!"
     -"Okay. Yeah. Maybe. But You're a really really broken robot."
"True, true, but it doesn't take away from how unbelievably cool it is that I'm an actual robot."

HiLo fell from the sky in this hilarious graphic novel. He has no idea who he is or were he comes from, but thankfully he landed near D.J., a young boy in need of a friend. HiLo absorbs D.J.'s vocabulary, reads the dictionary and sixteen encyclopedias (all in twenty minutes), and his memory slowly comes back in bits and peices- usually while an evil robots shoots lasers at them. D.J.'s old friend Gina recently moved back into town and it isn't long before she is also chasing after HiLo as he races from one battle to another. This fast paced adventure is filled with humor- "Holy Mackerel-- I forgot about the lasers! How outstanding are my hand lasers?!" - and perfect for grades 3-6. Be forwarned- in true comic book style, the story will be continued in a later sequel.

Celeste, Kids World

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Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Fuzzy Mud book cover: 3/4 of the cover shows mud with roots and fuzz. Top portion shows grass and trees as well as the silhouettes of people in what appears to be a forest“Be careful not to step in that,” Tamaya warned as Chad … made his way around the strange mud.  “What do you think all that weird fuzzy stuff is?” she asked.

Author Louis Sachar has been popular since Sideways Stories was released in the late 1970s.  This new novel is more like his big hit, Holes --- a dark story of unlikely friendship and strong middle-school characters dealing with a disturbing situation.

Sweet Tamaya, school bully Chad, and bullied classmate Marshall together uncover an environmental horror near their school.  The story is quite dystopian, involving an infectious rash spreading through town and a horrific injury to one of the main characters.  I recommend this exciting novel for ages 11-14, especially readers who enjoyed Holes.

Mary Jo, Kids World

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You Choose - Batman: Seed Bank Heist By: J.E. Bright

You Choose Batman Seed Bank Heist book cover: batman drops in on a grab line. Poison Ivy is sending monster plants reaching towards him“Give yourself up Ivy!”

If you ever thought that you could be a real superhero, here’s your chance! Batman is on a mission to stop Poison Ivy from robbing Giordano Gardens’ Seed Bank, and getting her hands on plants that could wipe out Gotham City. With such a wild villain on the loose, there’s more than one way this story can go…and that’s where you come in. Help Batman choose how to do what he does best, fight crime. Can you save the Gotham from the bloom boom brewing?

With 14 different endings, Batman: Seed Bank Heist is a definite re-read for any fan! Grades 3 – 5 will be accustomed to the word usage in the book, aside from the plant species names which can be difficult to tackle at times. Full color pages are there to help illustrate your adventure, no matter which path you choose.

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Naomi, Kids World

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

Castle Hangnail book cover: a witch, dragon/mosnter, and two other spooky characters in front of a black building with bats swirling around"I'm a Wicked Witch. Witches don't lose their tempers over stupid people. Witches fix things. Wickedly."

The minions of Castle Hangnail have been waiting most eagerly for a new master.  If this one does not work out, the castle will close for good. But Molly is not quite what they pictured. She is young and small, and for a Wicked Witch she does not seem very, well, wicked. To prove she is up to the challenge she must complete several tasks, including smiting, blighting, and defending the castle from those who would be a danger to it. When the greatest danger comes from a former friend, Molly must rally all the castle inhabitants to save them from a spiteful sorceress.

This book would be ideal for readers in ages 9-12 who love their supernatural, spells, and sorcery with a side of suspense.

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Maggie, Kids World​​

Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison

Bernice Gets Carried Away book cover: cat in a pink dress has a grumpy face"It was a horrible, dreary day, and it suited Bernice's mood just fine.

Bernice is at a birthday party, and it is not going well. Everyone gets extra frosting on their cake and candy from the pinata, but not her. She didn't even get a turn at swinging the bat! Finally, when the balloons come out, Bernice has had enough being left out. She takes them all. Unfortunately, she is a small kitty, and the balloons take her up into the air. The good news is as Bernice shares balloon after balloon, the day begins to turn sunny - literally.

Bad days are bad days, and the concept of being left out because of being small will be one many pre-schoolers are familiar with. As Bernice shares balloon after balloon, the readers will see that bad days can be turned around.

Great for kids who struggle with "that's not fair" as well as those who need examples of sharing.

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Celeste, Kids World

Invisible Girl by Mariel Hemingway

Invisible Girl book cover: a riped photo of a girl scrapebooked along with purple wild flowers and sketches of birds flying and other notebook doodles“What makes a family sad?  It’s a hard question to answer. Maybe it’s better to think about what makes a family happy and then subtract it.”

Having grown up in a famously dysfunctional family, actress Mariel Hemingway has become a national advocate for mental health awareness. Here she candidly shares vignettes about her family and how those relationships made her feel disconnected and lonely as a child.  She writes as a young person confiding in her readers, kids who might also be feeling invisible and alone.

This book might appeal to tweens who are feeling that things are not exactly right within their own families.  Each chapter wraps up with the author’s inner reflections on her family and suggestions for coping, touching upon many issues such as alcoholism, choosing a trustworthy adult to talk to, finding the joy in each day, and trusting your own feelings.

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Mary Jo, Kids World

125 True Stories of Amazing Pets By National Geographic Kids

125 true stories of amazing pets book cover: a photograph of a steer being ridden as it jumps over a pole gate like a horse“Paw through these pages and find 125 of National Geographic Kids’ favorite true tales of animal heroes, silly tricks, spoiled-rotten critters, and even pets that have pets of their own.”

Opening with a full page spread of a surfing pig, this book delivers one fascinating surprise after another.  Touching stories of animal helpers and pets that have made heroic rescues are included, but many of the profiled animals seem to have, for better or for worse, quirky owners or keepers who train them to do ridiculous stunts.  Meet dogs that drive cars, a gorilla with a pet bunny and a goat that rides a cow every day.  My favorite: the poodle whose owner disguises it as other (wild) animals (like a lion and a panda) through exquisite grooming and dying of its hair. 

The photography is what makes this book (and other National Geographic books) exceptional. This book is recommended as a bring-along browsing book for families with readers ages 6-12.  It is a good bet for reluctant readers due to the high interest subject manner and the number and variety of animals profiled.

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Mary Jo, Kids World

My Dog Is the Best By Laurie Ann Thompson

My Dog is the Best book cover: pencil drawing of a young boy peering over a dog with long ears who has a ball in front of it"My dog is the best. He does tricks."

What could be more enchanting than the relationship between a child and their beloved pet? ‘My Dog Is the Best’ is a tale of unconditional love that’s accented by simplistic illustrations, leaving readers with that warm and fuzzy feeling that’s so dear to any pet owners’ heart.

An excellent book for beginner readers, parents will love the easy words and repetition that lets children try reading aloud. So why not read this book with your pet at home? Then you can decide if My Dog Is the Best is the best book for you!

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Naomi, Kids World

Eyewitness Plant by David Burnie

Eyewitness Books: Plant book cover featuring a close up image if a flower patter“The oldest seed known to botany comes from North American Arctic lupine plant and is thought to be about 10,000 years old.”

We are surrounded by them, our existence depends on them, yet we never care to notice them. Plants are at the core of all living things, so it is safe to say that we should know something about them. “Plant” by David Bernie gives a well-balanced introduction to this fascinating world of plants. The book is rich in photographs which show in great detail the beauty and complexity of a wide variety of plants and their structures.

This book is a good nonfiction read geared towards 4-6th   independent readers. The vocabulary is at times challenging as new scientific concepts are being introduced, but the book in general does not rely heavily of scientific terminology.

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Jerry, Kids World

Uh-Oh Octopus! by Elle van Lieshout & Erik van Os Mies van Hout

Uh-Oh Octopus book cover: water color scene of ocean, a yellow octpous is center with fish, jelly fish, seahorse surrounding him"Octopus lived in a cozy home under the sea. He had nothing to complain about. He could make himself a decent meal. He had a wonderful view."

Everything is perfect for Octopus until the day a very large and mysterious tail is found sticking out of his cave. All the fish have different ideas of what to do, but will Octopus have the best idea of all?
 
Told with both soft, impressionistic watercolors and crisp ink that show off the details of Octopus's underwater home and the variety of wildlife; both real and imaginary, readers of all ages will find something in this picture book to enjoy. 

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Jennifer Palermo, Kid's World

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