Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

The Last of the Really
Great Whangdoodles

by Julie Andrews Edwards
From the publisher:
"Ben, Tom and Lindy Potter are ordinary children. They lead ordinary lives - until they meet the brilliant Professor Savant. He tells them all about the Whangdoodles, the wise and magical creatures who once lived on earth but then disappeared to another land, and were forgotten forever. Except by Professor Savant and the three children, who are determined to visit Whangdoodleland, where the last of the really great Whangdoodles rules over his kingdom of fantastic creatures. Getting there isn't easy. The children must look "beyond" the ordinary, and see things in a completely different way. It's hard and dangerous work, and sometimes it seems that they'll never reach the Whangdoodle's castle. But little by little the children learn that with a bit of imagination, "anything" is possible."

This book is meant to stir the imagination, and I think it will do that for middle schoolers.  However, as an adult reading it, I found it very hard to get into.  I had read so many good reviews of this book, and I absolutely loved the author's book Mandy , so I was very disappointed that this one couldn't hold my attention.  I guess I'm too old to appreciate it, or maybe I should have been wearing a "scrappy cap" while reading. Hopefully elementary and middle school kids can still appreciate it, although it is a little dated (1974, I think) and the word "gross" was way over-used.

Areas of concern:
Nothing. There were parts that were trying to build tension, but didn't really succeed, so it would be good for all ages. Even a read-aloud for younger elementary students.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Testing

The Testing
by Joelle Charbonneau
From the publisher:
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust."

I really enjoyed this book. The idea of the testing was intriguing, I felt very connected to the characters- even the secondary family members - and I thought the world building was really good. There was a lot of tension wondering who to trust and whether the main character was making the right decision. Is this book completely and totally original? No. But the dystopian genre is flooded with books that all resemble each other. There were similarities to other books in the genre, but there were also some really original plot points, and the ending blew me away! How is everything going to work out? I'm very glad the next book in the trilogy is now out, and the last comes out in June. No waiting a whole year in between! I strongly recommend this one!

Areas of concern:
There is violence, but it wasn't as graphic or as intense as The Hunger Games or Divergent . There were a few kisses and a handful of cuss words. 

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 7+