Showing posts with label Adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adventure. Show all posts

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Student Saturday: Diamond Willow by Helen Frost


Genre:  Middle Grade, Adventure, Novel in Verse

Student Reviewer:  Anna H.

 “Diamond Willow” by Helen Frost is a beautiful book with many different perspectives from a variety of characters. Diamond Willow (Willow) is a twelve-year-old girl from Alaska who lives in a cabin with her mother, Father, and Zanna, her little sister. Willow and her dad train dogs to pull them on the sled and teach them the way around the forest. Willow’s father was on a dog sled the day willow was born and found a diamond willow stick which is where she got her name from. Roxy is their best sled dog who leads in most of their rides and knows her way around the entire area. Willow feels as though her parents view her as a little kid and no one sees who she really is, but there is more to Willow than others see. Shes not much of a social butterfly and only has one friend, not including Roxy, named Kaylie. Kaylie is too focused on her crush, Richard, anyway which makes Willow seem like she really is alone. Willow's grandma and grandpa adore her and only live only about twelve miles down one of the sledding trails. Willow had been begging her parents to let her drive the dog sled by herself to her grandparents for forever, but they always thought she was too young. One day both of her parents agree that she may venture alone to her grandparents. Her and her father set up the sled with Roxy as the lead dog and she was on her way. Her ancestors watch over her in the form of animals to ensure that the trip goes smoothly. Sadly, on her way home, Willow and the dogs were going too fast to see a fallen tree and crashed. Willow got stabbed in the leg with a stick and poor Roxy had her gorgeous sparkling eyes jabbed with branches. Willow rushed over to Roxy and stopped the bleeding that gushed from her eyes and began her way home not sure what would happen. Willow told her parents, and they were furious, but they held themselves together well. Turns out that Roxy had been blinded and now their best sled dog could never see again. As willow eavesdropped on her parents, she heard that they were going to put down the dog. She couldn't let this happen so the next day she loaded the sled and took Kaylie with her to her grandparents' house. She put Roxy safely in the sled and left without her parents knowing. They happened to take a wrong turn and got lost in the woods where they decided to camp in a small shelter. They were found by Richard who brought Kaylie home, but Willow proceeded on to her grandparents' house. When she arrived, her entire family had a heart-to-heart conversation about Roxy and events from the past. They told Willow that she had a twin sister whos name was supposed to be Diamond but when she perished four days after being born Willow took both names. Where they had gotten lost on the trail is where Diamond's ashes had been laid. It would be crazy to think that is just a coincidence, wouldn't it?

   “Diamond Willow” is a book of many secrets and plot twists. You never know what will happen next, but in the end, it turns out to be a very heartwarming story. I loved the way Helen Frost incorporated a diamond shape when writing about Willows thoughts and feelings and adding messages that relate to the paragraph. This book reminds me of what it feels like to be getting older while your parents seem to think you are still five. I recommend this novel to anybody between the ages of 10-14 since they will be able to relate to the main character well. 

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Student Saturday: Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure 

Student Reviewer:  Clayron R.

There is no stopping a little boy who loves his grandfather. Stone Fox is about a 10 year old boy named Willy who is faced with adult challenges on a small potato farm in Wyoming. One day Little Willy woke up to be amazed that grandfather was still asleep. He and his dog named Searchlight went to Doc Smith's house to get some help. Once she had checked Grandfather out she said that he was as healthy as can be, and his grandfather just didn't t want to live anymore. Little Willy started to do everything he could to get Grandfather to feel better including doing the potato harvest, paying the bill at the general store and even getting all of the winter supplies, but Grandfather still wasn't better. To make matters worse,Mr. Clifford Snyder, a state of Wyoming tax collector, came to collect 10 years of back taxes. Little Willy had never heard of taxes and didn't believe the man because he knew Grandfather had always paid everything on time. There was a big problem if the taxes weren't paid. They would lose the farm. To solve the problem, Willy and Searchlight entered a race. The prize was the exact amount of money they needed to save the farm - $500. Searchlight and Willy were up against some of the best. Some things I really liked about this book was that Willy had to deal with real life problems. A connection I had with this book was little Willy and I share the same love for dogs. Did Willy win the race? Did he save his grandfather's farm? Read the book to find out! 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

The Rise of Balakrik by Melody J. Bremen


Genre:  Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy
Source: I purchased a copy

This is the sequel to "The Quest for the Luminae".  This was just as action packed as the first one. The tension was definitely tight in this one. The Prince of the Above Ground has decided to do whatever it takes to get control of the country. If that means he must get rid of the people below ground he will. When Milo and Rod return from their quest to find the luminae, they are attacked. They have brought back the potion that will heal their people, but are met at the dock by soldiers who bust up the barrels of the cure. Rod is arrested and Milo gets away.  

He seeks an audience with the King only to realize how crazy the man has become. Lady Mariel sends him with a message to the Prince's castle to give the message and explain to the Prince's granddaughter. She is not what Milo expects. There is a rebel in her that wants to save the people and she is willing to join Milo in whatever mission is necessary to do so.

There is danger all around those involved. Another legend turns out to be true, the legend of the Giant Balakrik who came to the area collecting gold and fell asleep underground.  Lately there have been a lot of earthquakes to add to the tension of the story.  After reading the first one you definitely need to read this one.  

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Quest for the Luminae by Melody J. Bremen

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy
Source: I purchased a copy

I just discovered this author's books. Milo is the apprentice to a Bounty Hunter. He helps capture criminals. His bounty hunter master, Rod found him beside his dead parents and took him to his sister's house to be raised. One day Rod and Milo are summoned by the Prince of the Above ground kingdom. They are also summoned by the King of the underground kingdom where they live. A sickness his wiping out the people who live underground. Both want them to go in search of something called the Luminae. This is a legendary creature that has the ability to heal the sick. Rod doesn't believe in them, but he will do anything when his sister get the illness. So the two of them set out in search of the legendary lunimae.  But, not everything is as it seems. Someone doesn't want them to succeed?

I read this in one sitting. I stay up into the night to finish it because it was that good. The world building is awesome and  the different lands are so well described you feel like you are there. The adventure is so tension filled you find yourself leaning forward and sitting don't he edge of your seat to find out what is next. Here is another book I will recommend to my local and my school library.


Sunday, November 26, 2023

A Wolf Called Wander by Roseanne Parry


Genre: Middle Grade, Animal, Adventure
Source: I received a copy from BookBub to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This book is based on an actual wolf somehow separated from his pack. Anyone who loves stories that tug at your emotions will love this book. Swift wants only to be the head of a pack. His life is not an easy one. He faces many challenges in his life. His will to survive is strong. What I loved most about this book is that both kids and adults will enjoy this book. There is information in the back that will reach out to that person who loves reading nonfiction information. The story carries you along to a satisfying end. As a teacher I enjoy reading books that I can recommend to my students. This is one that I know they will really enjoy.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Student Saturday: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls


Student Reviewer Clayton
Genre: Adventure

"Where The Red Fern Grows" is a story about a ten-year-old boy named Billy Coleman. He has lived in the Ozark mountains with his family.Billy is very intelligent when it comes to the mountains. One day he heard some coon hounds in the mountain and wanted some. A little while later he was walking down by the creek when he found a piece of newspaper, on the paper was a listing for some redbone coonhounds for twenty-five dollars apiece. Billy spends the next two years saving up for the dogs. Once he saved up the money, he had his grandpa send a letter to the seller. The seller told his grandpa that he had just had a litter of puppies and that he had lowered the price. Later that month Billy left home  one early morning heading to Talequa without telling his parents. When he got there, he got his puppies and with the leftover money he bought his mother some fabric and his father some overalls. He got home and immediately started training them. Once they were all trained, they were the best hounds in the country. He went back to that place where the newspaper was found and there were two names carved into the wood. Once said Dand and the other one said Ann.  Knowing that the male was bigger than the female, he named them big Dan and little Ann.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Student Saturday: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Student Reviewer:  Malia W.
Genre: Elementary, Middle Grade, Adventure

" I couldn't possibly", said Despereaux, backing away form the book.  "Why? Um," said Despereaux. "It would ruin the story." You see this might not seem like much but Despereaux was always the odd one in his family, but from this point on ...everything would start to go downhill. To me he had an emotional intelligence that the other mice did not - it made the reader feel more connected to him but for the mice in thebook, he wasn't normal -- that wasn't normal. Regardless of that when Despereaux said he couldn't possibly because it would ruin the story it reminded me of myself. There's often times I want to tell my friends something but then I don't because I'm afraid it would ruin our friendship.

You know when you were little and your mother might say "I'm disappointed in you" yeah, well I'm starting to think that's just a mom thing. In the book Despereaux's mother gave birth but all the other mice died except him -- and even he was so frail that she said he would die like the others. "All that work for nothing," said the mother. She sighed. "It is so sad. It is such the disappointment." Disappointment was something she said often, it was her favorite words.Sometimes it makes me wonder if it's my mom's favorite word too. There was just this time where my mom would always say she's disappointed in me, little me didn't reallyunderstand why at the time but Ido do now. I guess much hasn't changed since I still make selfish-idiotic choices that give my mother al the rights to be disappointed in me - to give everybody that right in fact. It often makes me wonder why people like me, still have faith in me. 

"But his existence was cause for much speculation in the mouse community," You know that feeling when you're the odd one in the family or on the side lines in the friend group? I think that is what this quote feels like. Like the guild-eating, self-conscious that's telling you that whatever you're thinking is 99.iiii% correct. When you feel like your existence is something to question, not just for you but for others too. It's almost like everybody you know and consider your friend starts to blur out and blend in with the darkness and start to questions why the even became friends with  you and why you're even here. Though in Despereaux's case, it was worse, even so he ignored it all and just did him. Sometimes I was ore like that instead of focusing on what others think about me.

This small book has so many lessons to teach and I highly recommend it.


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Student Saturday: My Cousin's Keeper by Simon French


Sttudent Reviewer: Humberto G.

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

The characters in "My cousin's Keeper" are Benn,Kieran, Renee, and Gina The setting takes place at his home and school.

Kieran, and Ben are related. At the start of the school year a boy shows up, which is Kieran ' cousin he doesn't know. Ben is in a really bad conditiona at home and at school. There are people at school who bully him. Kieran wants to be in a popular group with teh popular kids. When seh found out that they were relatedhe feels embarassed because of the way Ben looks. At home Ben has a mom who doesn't take good care of him. Ben has long braids, a babyish hat, and has a funny voice. Ben has an only friend which is Julia who likes Kieran.

Things I would do in this situation would be stand up for family. As we know Kieran and Ben are relatives and Kieran feels embarrassed to be Ben's cousin. Kieran lets people bully his cousin. I I was in this situation I would stand up and not be embarrassed over family and the way they look. This story has a big meaning to it and would recommend it to people who dealt with this tough time. I would also recommend this book to people who love drama.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Snake Food by Kristin Fulton

Genre:  Middle Grade, Adventure
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing

Theo and Olivia's parents are suddenly called away to Africa to help after an earthquake. Olivia and Theo's summer plans are changed. They will be spending their summer with their great-uncle Hazelsmith. They have never met this uncle. Their father tries to tell them how much fun they will have. He relates the fun times he had with his uncle. Arriving by train, their uncle never picks them up. They take a taxi to his house, where a grumpy-looking housekeeper meets them.  She shuts the door on them and returns a few minutes later with another man who claims he is their uncles lab assistant. Something doesn't seem right. They tell the kids that their uncle has gotten forgetful and has sailed his boat to Florida. When they meet the young man who mows the grass they are told not to listen to anything he says because he is a liar.  Something is definitely not right and they must figure it out quickly.
This was an, on the edge of your seat page turner. I loved it.


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Where She Fell by Kaitlin Ward

Genre: Young Adult, Adventure
Source: I purchased a copy. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This was one of the stranger books I have read. I had actually started it last year and never finished it. Today was as good as any day to finish it.  Eliza is not very out-going. She and two of her friends go down near the swamp. When her friends leave her to take a picture outside a cave she walks on. Suddenly she finds herself falling through the earth.  Eliza is found by a group of people who have fallen down as well. They’ve not been able to find a way out so they have formed a colony.

Eliza learns many things about herself while she is underground. She learns to be more assertive. She learns what true friends are. The friends she had on the surface were not true friends. She learns you can’t just sit back and wait when things take a wrong or bad turn. Sometimes you have to step up and go for what you want or what you know you should do.

For me I felt the ending needed a bit more. It was like watching a movie build up to the end and then you want to know what happened next, but never find out.  I will still recommend this book to my students and others who like adventures and young adult books.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Wild River by Rodman Philbrick

 Genre:  Middle Grade, Adventure, Realistic Fiction

Source: I purchased a copy

    One thing I really enjoy about Rodman Philbrick's books is the reality of them. So many authors who write for middle grade students create an ending that is satisfying yet often lacking. In Philbrick's books characters are injured, go through hardships, catastrophes, and yes, some of them even die. They have to fight for survival. 
    In this book five kids are chose to go on a white water rafting trip as part of their school's new "Project Future Leaders". Their two guides on this trip don't get a chance to teach them much about survival. On their first day they change their entry point into the river. They are unable to get their satellite phone to work so they have not been able to call anyone and let them know of their new location. They raft down the first leg of the river, make camp and get to know each other. Sounds like a nice story so far doesn't it? Each of these kids have things the others don't know about them. Some of them are fears, some of them are cover ups for hurts they have experienced. In the middle of the night they are awaken by their two guides and told to run to higher ground because the dam has broken. They are pushed to the top only to watch their guides washed away. Now they are on their own.  That is where I will end my summary. 
    These kids show what they are made of. They show who they are in desperate times. They show what it means to build friendships and rely on each other. My husband looked at me and asked, "You're done with that book already?"  when books are as good as this one is you can't help but read it straight through. I can't wait for the school year to start so that I can put this in the pile for my first week activity that introduces students to my large collection of books.  This is definitely on the top of my list of loved books for this year.

Friday, March 11, 2022

I Survived The Hindenburg Disaster, 1937 by Lauren Tarshis

Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Adventure

Source: I own a copy 

Hugo, his sister Gertie, their parents and their dog Panya are going to America on the Hindenburg.  They had spent the previous year in Kenya. Hugo’s parents are scientists. They have loved it there, but Gertie got malaria. They have only the hope of new medicine in America to save her life. On the Hindenburg, Hugo and his family are introduced to the man in charge of the Hindenburg and his daughter. There are Nazi soldiers on board because they are looking for a spy.  All of this is tense enough. When the actual event happens you get a small feel for what it was like inside the Hindenburg when it burst into flames and hit the ground. All of this took a little over thirty seconds. I was handed this book by one of my students and told I needed to read it over Spring Break. I am glad I did. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Alone by D.J. Brazier

I'm not sure what it is with me and survival stories. I absolutely love them in any form. This book reminded me of Gary Paulsen's "Hatchett" and also of the book I recently finished, "The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong.

When the plane Sam and his Dad are on crashes, Same is forced to find a way to survive. It helps that he is befriended by a baby otter. He has to face the elements, animals, and bugs and the basic needs of survival, food, water, and shelter.  This is an on the edge of your seat read, the kind you just can't put down.  Highly recommended. Can't wait to talk this one up to my students.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Great wide Sea by M.H. Herlong

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Adventure
Source: I purchased a copy

I had purchased this book and then another reading teacher recommended it. She was reading it to her students and my students who are in her reading class kept telling me how wonderful it was. So, yesterday, the first day of the new year I sat and read it cover to cover. This is the story of not only a physical loss, but the loss of trust and belief in someone. When Ben, Dylan and Gerry lose their mother to a terrible car accident their father sells everything they own, buys a sailboat and tells them they will be sailing for a year. There is no discussion, no answering of questions, just the order to pack and go. Fifteen-year-old Ben is angry. He of course sees things from his skewed view as a teenager. It isn't until they have been sailing for about six months and he has decided it doesn't help to argue with his dad that things go from bad to worse. He has been a faithful crewman on his dad's boat the Chrysallis. Each of the boys have certain "jobs" they are required to handle and they must all learn to do everything. Then Ben comes up top to discover their dad missing.  Add to that a storm that maroons them on an island and you have a heart-stopping book.  I felt bad for the boys the way their father talked to them. However, as a parent and adult I understood the underlying cause that the boys might not understand. The three boys were well developed. You had headstrong Ben, the oldest who felt responsible for everything and had the most trouble with his father. Dylan was the studious son who had the book knowledge that would help in a lot of situations. Then there was six year old Gerry who was terrified of the water because he couldn't swim. All of these issues and what happens to all of them made for a story you had to read from cover to cover. Can't wait to talk this up this week at school. It is a must read.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Wildfire by Rodman Philbrick

 Genre:  Middle Grades, Adventure

Source: Purchased

    This book definitely kept me reading. One of my biggest fears is fire. The main character makes a bad decision to go back to his cabin from which they are being evacuated, because he left his phone. That one decision led to him being left behind. He found his phone but on the way back to the bus he finds himself surrounded by fire. He runs to save his life.   Along the way he finds a jeep and then a girl who is also trapped in the fire. Together they must find a way out to survive.

     This definitely would have been my nightmare. The fact that Sam's father is ex-military and has taken Sam camping and taught him survival skills may just get him out of this alive. I loved when I started feeling really comfortable with their situation the author through in a black bear and a pair of people helping set more fires.  This is one of this year's Sunshine State Reader books. I try to buy them every year. I had forgotten how awesome this author's books are as it has been awhile since I have read any of them.  This is one I will promote with all my heart to my students.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Uncanny Express – The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sister by Kara LaReau


Genre:  Middle Grade, Mystery, Adventure

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.


This is the first book I have read by this author. There is so much to love. First we have the Bland sisters named Jaundice and Kale. From the minute I saw their names I knew this would be a very unusual book. This is a humorous mystery book with allusions to Murder on the Orient Express.  The girls go to meet their aunt at the train station. They are snatched as assistants to the magician Magique, Queen of Magic. While on the train Magique disappears and they are assisted by the famous detective Hugo Fromage, in finding her. I loved that the characters are very bland yet their adventures are completely the opposite. I felt like I was reading a book very similar to the Lemony Snickett series, which I loved. I have read so many serious books lately that this was a refreshing break. This is a fun and quirky book that I highly recommend.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

I Escaped the California Camp Fire by Scott Peters and S.D. Brown

Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade, Adventure
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers

For a small book this packs a powerful punch. Fourteen-year-old Troy is left in charge of his younger sister while his parents are away for twenty-four hours. Troy wakes to his cell phone ringing, his dog tugging on his sleeve and pitch blackness.  Unable to reach their parents Troy goes next door to the neighbor for advice. Mrs. Jones makes it clear they should stay put. When Troy sees houses on their street erupt in flames he decides they have to leave. Unfortunately he can’t convince Mrs. Jones. Troy loads up his sister and their two pets in their dad’s Bronco and heads for what he hopes is safety. 

This book is full of realistic action between the older brother and younger sister. He takes his promise to his parents to protect his sister even when she becomes annoying. This is fast-paced, on the seat of your chair action from the very beginning.  For those who are fans of the “I Survived “ series by Lauren Tarshis, I guarantee that you will enjoy this series. I highly recommend this to all adventure readers.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Watch Hollow: The Alchemist's Shadow by Gregory Funaro

Gregory Funaro’s first book “Watch Hollow” was a book that had my students lining up to read it. It was full of everything a middle school student loves in a book. It had characters they could identify with and a mystery to be solved. When I told them that I had an advance reader’s copy of the next book "Watch Hollow: The Alchemist's Shadow" they wanted to know if I would be buying it. I will most definitely be buying it.  This is a creepy mystery that kept the action going.
The Tinker family managed to keep away the great evil and set the house right. We all know that it would be boring if things didn’t go south again. This happens when Agatha and Algeron, along with their governess show up claiming they are the heirs to the house.  Of course, you need to expect whenever something or someone strange shows up, there is going to be something that will create chaos in Blackford House once again. A new evil has created a labyrinth along with a minotaur.
The children must work together to solve this mystery, get the governess back and take care of the evil. This is a daunting task, but they will receive help from the wooden animals of the clock. I am really loving this author’s work. I am probably the biggest lover of mysteries and this one has all the elements that I love.  I am hoping there is a third book on its way. This is a must-read series.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

An Unexpected Escapade by Kandi J. Wyatt

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The Opinions expressed here are my own.

The only fantasy animal besides dragons I would love to find are unicorns. I remember as a child when my sisters and I would play pretend outside and make up stories, we would have dragons and unicorns. Kandi Wyatt has taken us from dragons into the world of unicorns. In actuality, the unicorn entered the human world. Ana and Daisy become very close to the unicorn. They understand that the unicorn wants to go home. They need to find a way to help it, while making sure that those who would like the unicorn for unsavory reasons are kept at bay. Add into all of this Ana’s parents being hospitalized and you have a set of teens who definitely are in over their head. The feeling of being overwhelmed will ring true with middle school age children. Before anyone says anything about how this would be a great read for girls let me set the record straight. When we do narrative writing in my classroom it is often the boys who write unicorns into their stories. I think both boys and girls will enjoy this story. Since my students already enjoy Kandi’s dragon series  I am sure they will love her new Myth Coast Adventure Series.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Watch Hollow by Gregory Funaro

Genre: Middle Grades, Fantasy, Adventure
Source: I received an advance reader copy to facilitate my review. The opinion expressed here are my own.

I love reading middle grade books because I teach middle grade students. This is one that will be on my shelves the day it comes out.  Who wouldn’t love a story that had middle school age kids with all of their issues, monsters, a spooky house with talking animals?  On top of that there is a monster in the woods called the Garr.

The book opens with Lucy Tinker sitting in the display window of her dad’s clock repair shop. She is sitting there because she is in trouble. Her brother is trying to help her father. As they begin to close up a gentleman enters and makes a proposal that seems too good to be true. Mr. Quigley wants Mr. Tinker to repair a cuckoo clock in an old house he has recently acquired. He throws down a large amount of gold as an advance.  Up to this point the family has had it financially tough. It doesn’t help that their mother had died from cancer two year before. Lucy seems to be the one who is often impulsive yet seems to be the glue holding them all together. 

Mr. Tinker agrees to move to the house and fix the clock. It seems that Mr. Quigley didn’t tell them everything they should have known. The house is very peculiar. There are talking animals. The woods seem to be alive with something evil within.  Lucy can tell that something is not right. There father is thinking about how far the money would go.  Trouble is not that far away. This book definitely takes you on a journey. The characters are very well done. My students could easily identify with them.   Some of the problems they face are the same problems my own students face each day.  This has easily become one of my favorites of this year.  The adventure, magic, overall story will draw you in and hold you there for some time.  I highly recommend this book.