Young Adult Book Review ~ They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End Book Review

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

They Both Die at the End

Written by: Adam Silvera

Number of Pages: 384

Age Range: 14 and up

Rating: 4/5

In a not-too-distant future, Death-Cast, a group that is somehow able to forecast the exact date of a person’s death, calls each person just after midnight on their End Day. This gives people the chance to take advantage of many organizations and companies that create once-in-a-lifetime experiences, offer discounts and help provide for the end of life.

Two very different teens in New York both receive their calls and set out to try and reconcile a few things before they die. Mateo’s a bit of a recluse who needs to say his goodbyes to his best friend and her daughter and his comatose father but his anxieties continue to plague him even in the face of death and he ends up back in his apartment, alone.  Rufus is in the midst of beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend (with the help of a few of his gang) when he gets his call and then dashes from his fake funeral leaving his friends to deal with the cops that show up. They both sign onto the app, Last Friend, which connects them with each other and their differences balance each other out leading to a day filled with sky diving, karaoke, soaking in the sites and food of the city, making amends, saying goodbye and falling in love.

Yes, they really both die but there’s a lot of living, philosophical discussions and food for thought crammed into their last day.  And as the two guys face their mortality, their life choices and what it means to live and love the reader can’t help but face those same questions about their own lives.  It’s definitely eye opening and would make for some fabulous discussions among reading groups.

Middle Grade Book Review ~ Saving Marty

Saving Marty Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Saving Marty

Written by: Paul Griffin

Number of Pages: 195

Age Range: 8-12

Rating: 5/5

There are books that grab you by the lapels and shake you until your soul falls back into place, particularly when you didn’t know your soul was out of place to begin with. I admit, it may have just been my mood that day but this book, my goodness!

Marty was the runt of the litter. And just like another literary runt, he’s more than just a pig. Marty doesn’t befriend a spider, but he does think he’s a dog and consequently gets his owner Lorenzo into a bit of trouble, and also out of some trouble as well.

Eleven-year-old Lorenzo wants nothing more than to be a hero like his father who died in the war. His best friend Paloma is the only thing that makes life bearable until Marty comes into his life. The three are inseparable and spend their time singing songs Paloma has written (Renzo accompanying her on his father’s guitar), trying to avoid the town bullies who have it out for Marty, and hanging out with Renzo’s grandpa.

But then Paloma wins a songwriting contest and a scholarship to an arts school in another town. Marty causes a dangerous accident and is doomed to be sent away as well. And then Renzo learns a truth about his father he doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to process.

This book had all the feels and then some. Renzo is the best kind of underdog, perfectly lovable and heart-breakingly sweet. The story is timeless. The text is punctuated with hand-written copies of Paloma’s songs and letters to and from Renzo’s dad. If you like stories filled with honesty and hope, put this on your to read list!

 

Middle Grade Book Review ~ The Stars Beneath Our Feet

 

The Stars Beneath Our Feet Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

Written by: David Barclay Moore

Number of Pages: 294

Age Range: 10-14

Rating: 4/5

Lolly’s having a hard time dealing with his older brother Jermaine’s death.  The only thing that seems to help is building his Lego city in the bedroom they used to share. When his mother’s girlfriend brings home two large bags full of Legos from her job his city and obsession grow bigger than their apartment in the NYC projects can hold. An adviser in the after school program invites him to use a spare storage room and the city takes on a life of its own, even helping Lolly become an internet sensation practically overnight.

Meanwhile, Lolly and his best friend Vega are also on the verge of making a life-altering decision. In their neighborhood, once you reach a certain age it’s expected that you’ll join a crew or gang. They’ve each been jumped by a couple of older kids and also approached by some of Jermaine’s friends who’ve offered protection and retaliation. Lolly spends more and more time absorbed with his city while Vega takes a different approach and their friendship suffers. Things reach a critical point when Vega gets a gun from his cousin, Frito. Will he convince Lolly to confront the crew with him or will they find a way to step outside of the expected path and do something different with their lives?

One of the best things about books is their ability to show you a world unlike your own and this one definitely fits the bill. I had a hard time reading it because it broke my heart knowing that there are kids who actually have to make decisions like this every day. An author’s note explains his use of African American vernacular throughout the book and the role of language throughout cities in America. I would definitely recommend this, especially as a class read aloud. The discussions will be priceless.

Picture Book Review ~ The Girl Who Thought in Pictures

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

I absolutely love learning about the lives of others, particularly women. And it’s an added bonus if someone can introduce me to an unsung hero, a person who did something relatively ordinary with their lives that ended up making a difference, or someone who slipped under the radar. Today I’ve got four fabulous women profiled in four fabulous picture books that I’m excited to share with you all.

First up we have The Girl Who Thought in Pictures, a brief biography of Temple Grandin, whose work with animal rights is unparalleled. Grandin is autistic and she’s used her experiences growing up and entering a male dominated workforce to bring awareness to both autism and women’s rights.  Written in rhyme and complete with a timeline, additional information after the story and even a note from Temple herself.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures

Written by: Julia Finley Mosca

Illustrated by: Daniel Rieley

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 5-10

Rating: 5/5

Next is Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist. Eugenie Clark fell in love with the ocean and its creatures the first time she stepped into an aquarium as a child. She had a particular affinity for sharks who everyone else thought of as brutal and bloodthirsty. She spent her life studying the sharks in their natural habitats and making many valuable discoveries in the process. Written by Keating, an acclaimed zoologist in her own right, the book includes a timeline, shark facts and more.

Shark Lady Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Shark Lady

Written by: Jess Keating

Illustrated by: Marta Alvarez Miguens

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 5-10

Rating:  4.5/5

Dangerous Jane tells the story of peace activist Jane Addams. Inspired and touched by the various scenes of poverty she saw in many corners of the world, Jane founded Hull House in Chicago. Over twenty-five years she helped immigrants from many countries to learn skills and find jobs. At the onset of World War One she set off to lecture and convince the leaders of the involved countries to bring about peace. This lead her to being named the FBI’s “Most Dangerous Woman in America” and finally being the first woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. There’s back matter containing additional biographical information and photos.Dangerous Jane Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dangerous Jane

Written by: Suzanne Slade

Illustrated by: Alice Ratterree

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 5-10

Rating: 4.5/5

And last but not least is a little-known figure by the name of Lucile “Ludy” Godbold. In the early 1900s a new international meet called The Women’s Olympics was founded as a way for female athletes to compete. Ludy’s height and skill make her a natural on the field and thanks to the support of the students and faculty at Winthrop College she is able to venture to France for the 1922 games where she sets numerous records. When she returns home, she embarks on a life-long career of teaching athletics and is even admitted into the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Back matter includes photos and further information on her life.

Long-Armed Ludy Book Review

Long-Armed Ludy

Written by: Jean L. S. Patrick

Illustrated by: Adam Gustavson

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 5-10

Rating: 4.5/5

 

If you’re looking to be inspired or to inspire a young reader, look no further than these four books!

Happy Reading!

Middle Grade Book Review ~ Every Soul a Star

Every Soul a Star Book Review

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Title: Every Soul a Star

Written by: Wendy Mass

Number of Pages: 322

Age Range: 10-14

Rating: 4/5

Three teens’ lives intersect at the occurrence of a total solar eclipse and none of them will ever be the same.

Told in alternating points of view the book opens with 13-year-old Ally describing Moon Shadow, the isolated campground her family established and her home for as long as she can remember. An amateur astronomer, she’s looking forward to the upcoming eclipse and honoring her grandfather’s memory by discovering a comet. She loves the quiet, the hot springs, her home school studies with her brother, and conversing each night with her friends, the stars and planets she studies.

Next up is Bree. She wants nothing more than to be a model, run the A-Clique at school, and anything else she can come up with to distance herself from her uber-scientific parents and nerdy little sister. When her parents drop a bombshell and tell her they’ll be taking over running a campsite in order to devote more time to their science she’s convinced her life is over.

And finally we’ve got Alex, a smart, shy kid who’d rather spend time drawing and thus finds himself facing summer school until his science teacher invites him to join a research trip to witness the eclipse. He hops a bus full of strangers prepared to keep his head down and muddle through but the universe has other ideas.

As they converge on camp Moon Shadow, the kids are forced to face their realities and what they had envisioned for their respective futures. The other camp goers also play a part in helping each one of the narrators expand their views of what happiness can mean and how to appreciate what’s right in front of us.

I missed the totality of the recent eclipse by a couple hundred miles but heard so many accounts of the incredible experience that reading the descriptions in this book made me feel as if I was somehow reliving it anyway. Apparently words like “magical” and “life changing” aren’t an exaggeration. (I’ve added it to my bucket list.) But I’ve always been fascinated by the stars and found so much to love and think about in these pages.

Mass has a great talent for creating stories that reach out and grab you and make you re-think your place in the world.  If you, or your child, witnessed the eclipse you should definitely give this one a look. And if you missed out on the totality and wondered what all the fuss was about add it to your list as well. Or, if you just love stories about self-discovery filled with heart and magic…well, this book’s for you!

I’d love to hear about your astronomical experiences or your favorite book about the stars in the comments below.

Happy reading!

 

Picture Book Review ~ Something Extraordinary

Something Extraordinay

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Something Extraordinary


Written and Illustrated by: Ben Clanton
Number of Pages: 32
Age Range: 4+
Rating: 4.5/5

In light of the events of the last few weeks the world is in desperate need of a little hope and a change in perspective.

Enter Ben Clanton’s simple story of a boy wishing that something, anything would happen to make life a little more interesting. If only he could fly, or breathe underwater. Wouldn’t it be great if his drawings could come to life or that he could talk to animals? But in the midst of all his grandiose wishings and dreamings he stumbles on something extraordinarily real right in front of him.

This is a great reminder that while we’d often like to change things in our lives or get caught up wishing for more that this world is actually a pretty amazing place if we just remember to look!

Check it out! (And Clanton’s other books are a little more on the silly side but also highly recommended!)