TeenLit Book Reviews

October 2000

Wilderness Peril

Thomas Dygard

The book I read was Wilderness Peril by Thomas Dygard . This book is about two teenage boys who get into a life-threatening adventure in the woods . The teenage boys go on one last camping trip together before they go to college . After canoeing all day the boys go on a hike . They decided to get blueberries for tomorrow morning`s breakfast pancakes . While in a field they find loose dirt . The boys are courise so they dig up the dirt . “Under the loose dirt there were two bags of money “. The bags contained three quarters of a million dollars ! They next morning they headed to a checkout point while being chased by a angry hijacker . The boys barely made it out and they handed the money over to the FBI . This author did a excellent job with suspense . I wanted to keep reading the book ,although I wish the author would have described the characters better . This is a great book for people who love mysteries and lots of action .
Reviewed by Kyle. Grade: 7th Grade in Worthington, - Link directly to entry

Lucy the Giant

Sherri L. Smith

Lucy the Giant, by Sherri L. Smith, is a fictional novel, about a six-foot tall, sensitive and awkward heroine. The rating is a 3, (1-4, and 4 being the best). The audience who would most enjoy the book would be young adults, male or female, aged 11-14. The reader is quickly introduced to the main character, a tenth-grade student, named Lucy, who lives with her alcoholic father, and her loving stray dog, Bar. This is an odd name for the dog she loves, and the place she hates, the bar, where her father goes to drink. For a moment she thinks that Bar can bring comfort to her lonely life in the small Alaskan town where she lives, since her mother left the family eight years ago. Early on, Bar, dies, and sadly, Lucy can only afford a tin can for the ashes. Lucy runs away, and without much difficulty gets a job on a crab fishing boat, under the assumed identity, of an adult named Barbara. Life doesn't necessarily become easier, but at least the Bering Sea of Alaska is beautiful, and life is different. As a crew member leading an adult life, she feels far away from the emotional dangers she had experienced at home. Her new family seems safe. The feeling of safety doesn't last very long. Lucy a.k.a. Barbara, comes to realize that problems follow you wherever you go, unless the change is positive and internal. This theme is developed particularly at the end of the novel, which ends somewhat predictably. Not much is solved, at least not the relationship with her father. She does however, find ways to comfort herself by enjoying her good memories, and the pleasure she takes in understanding herself, and this is an important change.
Reviewed by Katie. Grade: ----- in San Francisco, - Link directly to entry

Harris and Me

Gary Paulsen

Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen is a funny boyish story.The main character and the farm boy Harris have a great time and many adventures on the small farm. The main character has no true home because his parents have drinking problems and he has to leave. When he comes to a small farm, he finds a weird family. Harris always cusses and has far out ideas, Louie, the farm hand eats faster than lightning, and Harris’ sister slaps him all the time. On one adventure Harris and the main character play cowboys, Harris uses a real shotgun while riding a horse. Needless to say Harris sees stars. this book is great if you like funny adventures. The author did great on the adventures, but if you don’t like foul langauge, read carefully, Harris loves to cuss!
Reviewed by Nick. Grade: 7th Grade in Worthington, - Link directly to entry

Akiko in the Castle of Alia Rellapor

Mark Crilley

Akiko in the Castle of Alia Rellapor is a humorous science fiction title aimed at 5th through 6th graders but of interest to older pre-teens that enjoy graphic novels or computer games. This easy to read “chapter” book (155 pages) captures the flavor of the popular Akiko comic book series, with black and white comic style illustrations, sound effects, lots of dialogue and little narrative. This is the second adventure of Akiko, a precocious 4th grader, who is transported to the Planet Smoo, where she and her non-human traveling companions attempt to rescue Prince Froptoppit from the Alia Rellapor’s castle. The first book in this series is Akiko and the Great Wall of Time. Akiko, a strong, level-headed girl who dresses in jeans and a T-shirt, is a nice role model for young girls but equally attractive to boys. This is a witty, quick read which would satisfy younger readers. It deserves a rating of 3.
Reviewed by Jan. Grade: ----- in Chelsea, - Link directly to entry

Harriet Spies Again

Helen Ericson

Harriet Spies Again, by Helen Ericson, is a continuation of Louise Fitzhugh's famous bestseller, Harriet the Spy. I'm sure fans were excited to hear of the sequel, but, unfortunately, they will be disappointed. Although Harriet Spies Again is clever and entertaining, it is not nearly as exciting as the original. The characters are not as developed and the plot is pretty unrealistic. I am sixteen, and felt the book was too young for me. I first read Harriet the Spy when I was about eight and thoroughly enjoyed it then. I believe that Harriet Spies Again is suitable for ages 9 to 13. Both younger and older readers will be equally bored. Harriet Spies Again picked up where Harriet the Spy left off. Harriet's parents are leaving for a few months and her beloved nanny Ole Golly is coming to care for her. Harriet is shocked to discover that Ole Gole is not the same person as she was before. Instead, Ole Golly seems to be hiding something, and Harriet will stop at nothing to determine what it is.
Reviewed by . Grade: ----- in , - Link directly to entry

33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women’s History

Tonya Bolden

33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women’s History edited by Tonya Bolden, is a great historical non-fiction book. I would rate this book a 4, because it really showed me a lot about women’s history that I didn’t know already. I found it very interesting and would recommend it to anyone ages 13 and on, even if they aren’t interested in women’s history, both female and male. The book contains many short stories, poems, quotes, and pictures that all reflect the awesome women that have changed the way women act and think today. This book is also a great resource to use for projects, papers, research, and debates. There aren’t many books today that completely reflect women’s history, but this is one that does.
Reviewed by Arlene. Grade: ----- in , - Link directly to entry

Midnight Predator

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Anyone who has read any of Amelia's books knows what I'm talking about when I say her books are to say the least addictive! So it isn't a shocker this is another wildly perfect book. It is mostly about a vampire hunter named Turquoise Drake, and her life. Her life mostly is a real mixture of being a vampire hunter trying to deal with her life and deciding what she wants in her life. After some catastrophic and tear-jerking things happen with her family she is force her the path of working with vampires, Along with some thriller in the mix to when a she is sold into slavery as a job to kill a particular vampire. While under ownership she encounters a previous master who decides to create havoc for Turquoise. Which threatens her life more then ones. I really love how the characters are so well developed with there own untold but unquestionably noticeable quarks to there personality. The only weakness is if any is the cliffhanger end! But I predict anyone who picks this book up will be able to put this one down! Rating: 4++ Reader: Anyone 13 and up who likes Amelia's twisted life of vampires and humor
Reviewed by Candace. Grade: ----- in Brooks, - Link directly to entry

What Janie Found

Caroline B. Cooney

What Janie Found, by Caroline B. Cooney, is the sequel to three other novels, all based on a similar theme. The genre is fiction, for a young adult audience, ages 13-16. The rating is a 3 on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the best. Someone who has read the first three in the series would be the best reader of this book, but it is remarkable how easily this novel can stand alone after a brief reading of the introduction. The main character, Janie, was kidnapped at age three, and brought up by her kidnapper's parents, after her kidnapper disappeared. This unlikely plot is balanced by the more common and well- developed themes of love, guilt, family attachments, and all of their complexities. These universal themes help the reader go beyond the unlikely plot. Janie's need to know her kidnapper, Hannah, and the details about her life, drive this novel to a peaceful conclusion. A major strength is the character development of Janie, and also, surprisingly, the character development of Hannah in her absence. One weakness is the implausibility of the events, but again, this is countered by the universal nature of the more important themes of the novel.
Reviewed by Katie. Grade: ----- in San Francisco, - Link directly to entry

Alice the Brave

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Alice the Brave is by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. It is about a girl named Alice McKinley who faces many of the problems teenage girls confront. In this particular book Alice is afraid of deep water, but by the end of the summer Alice overcomes her fear. Alice’s mom died when she was four years old of Leukemia. She lives with her dad and her brother Lester who is twenty-one. She doesn’t have anyone to talk to about personal things besides her two best friends Pamela and Elizabeth, but Pamela and Elizabeth are pretty much clueless about them also, so Alice has to call her Aunt Sally long distance in Chicago. Aunt Sally is a little paranoid though. The biggest problem Alice had was her fear of deep water and all of her friends are going to spend most of their summer swimming at Mark Stedmeister’s pool. Alice trys to make up excuses of why she can’t go in the pool , but after a big incident at the pool, Alice learns to swim, with some assistance of Lester and goes back and shows all of friends she indeed can swim. This was a wonderful book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read books that are humorous, realistic, and about adolescense.
Reviewed by Lea. Grade: 7th Grade in Worthington, - Link directly to entry

Catherine Called Birdy

Karen Cushman

Catherine Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman, takes place in the Middle Ages in A.D. 1290. The setting is the Village of Stonebridge, outside of London, England. It is the story of 14 year- old Catherine whose diary writings tell the story of her wish to be free of the suitors who her abusive father has chosen for her to marry. As the story develops, so does her keen, funny and disrespectful sense of humor. This is clearly needed as she tries dismiss suitors that she would never choose for herself. In the end she is content being herself and finds an acceptable man to marry. She continues to wish, and feels that she has wings and freedom, even if she never leaves home. The main character, Catherine, sees herself as a “plain gray and brown goose”(Cushman, 31). In deciding what “birdy” best describes her she says “I think I love geese more that any other birds because no one else does. They are not small and delicate like larks and sparrows, or swift and clever like hawks and falcons. They do not sing like nightingales, and cannot be trained to talk, or dance, or do tricks. They are cunning, greedy, shortsighted, and stubborn--much like me, now that I think on it.” (Cushman, 30). Her goal is to be different from other girls of her time. She wants to choose her own husband, and stop pursuing traditional girl’s roles, which she feels will not allow her to be comfortable with herself. Her biggest obstacle is carving out a unique identity free from the control of her father. She resolves this challenge by developing a better understanding of herself and learning that she doesn’t have to leave home to be free. She is able to hear this from the fortuneteller Madame Joanna who tells Catherine “You are lucky. Little Bird, for you have wings, but you must learn to master them. Look at the baron’s hawk there on her perch. Just because she doesn’t flap her wings all the time, doesn’t mean she can't fly” (Cushman, 104-105). Another challenge for Catherine is to find a safe way to express her feelings in a society where women are not outwardly emotional. She is able to do this by complaining to her diary. The reader learns about how medieval life is defined by social roles based on economic class and inherited position. Girls are born to grow up, be married off, and have children. Women’s work also consists of spinning, sewing, and making ointments and potions. Young boys have the right to play, and men can work at a paying job. In contrast, most modern women are free to make choices about their lives and it is not at all unusual for women to work outside the home. Young girls and boys both have opportunities to be educated. Catherine Called Birdy is highly recommended for readers ages ten to fourteen. It would be particularly fascinating for a young adult who already had background information about the Middle Ages. The greatest appeal would be to a female reader who could most easily identify with the emotional life of the main character. The many rich details of medieval life are a colorful addition to a simple story line. Katie R.
Reviewed by Katie. Grade: ----- in San Francisco, - Link directly to entry

Falling From Fire

Teena Booth

As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, Teresa Dinsmore also has to deal with her mother, the frequently married town beauty; her wild sister, and just not fitting in anywhere. That is, until the fire\ In Teena Booth’s debut novel, an outcast freshman gets the opportunity to reshape her life after a raging fire destroys her home. When Teresa is flooded with attention after the disaster, she begins to wonder if this sudden fame could be just what she needs to find her place, both at home and at school. The answer to this question and more await you in “Falling From Fire.”
Reviewed by K’si. Grade: ----- in , - Link directly to entry

An Ocean Apart, A World Away

Lensey Namioka

The book An Ocean Apart, A World Away is basically about a young Chinese girl of sixteen who dreams of being a doctor someday, in early 1920s china. The young girl, nicknamed Yanyan, meets a handsome young man, who she develops feelings for. This young man, in turn returns the affection, but later on, she finds out that the boy has plans to change the state of government in china. She is invited to go on this dangerous adventure with the boy, but in order to, she has to leave everything behind, including her dreams of being a doctor. This book is suitable for children 12 years and up. It is an interesting book, and teaches a lot about our differences, morals, and growing up. On a scale of one to four, this book is rated a solid three.
Reviewed by . Grade: ----- in Silverspring, - Link directly to entry

Durable Goods

Elizabeth Berg

Durable Goods by Elizabeth Berg is a novel about a young girl who lost her mother and is trying to help and understand her father’s feelings and grief. Katie, the main character, has a father who is in the military and her family has to move quite often. Her mother died, and her father misses her very much and is having a lot of trouble raising his two daughters. He is definitely not a mother and does not know how to handle the things that happen to girls. Katie and her older sister have been trying to deal with his anger and frustration toward the loss of their mother for a long time and can’t take it any more. They decide to run away. Elizabeth Berg did a great job writing this book; it was exciting, interesting, and fun to read. In the end it didn’t seem like she really finished the book; it seemed like everything went back to how it was before. After an interesting or exciting part, it went dull then exciting then dull. It needs to stay interesting throughout the book. I recommend this book for girls who want to read about how it is to live without a mother, or have the experience of living without a mother.
Reviewed by Lynsey. Grade: 7th Grade in Worthington, - Link directly to entry

Both Sides of Time

Caroline B.Cooney

Any novel by Caroline B.Cooney should be read between the ages of 13 and 15 years old. Her writing is simple yet includes masterful created conflicts that may take a few minutes to clew into but, are worth it in the end. This novel has no specific gender aim. I think this is an excellent novel to read in the classrooms. Annie Lockwood, a fifteen year old romantic living in 1995. When she travels back a hundred years she is faced with difficult situations even more complicated than 1995. Strat, a young man about to embark on the adventure of his life. Devonny, Strat's younger sister who although loves a great mystery, can't keep herself from revealing the truth. Throughout this novel we are taken back to a time where manners and thoughtfulness were a necessity in everyday lives. In a novel where romance begins young and morals are the logic of the story, we learn from the characters. Both sides of time is an amazing novel, it brings life to a young spirit and hope to a forgotten heart. The knowledge throughout the novel is thoughtful and has a great significance to manners in today's society. Rating: 4
Reviewed by Julie Ann . Grade: ----- in Wallaceburg, ON, Canada, - Link directly to entry

Carolina Autumn

Carol Lynch Williams

Starting high school and having a real boyfriend is unsettling enough for fourteen-year old Carolina, but she’s still trying to cope with extreme changes from the last year. First her father and sister went on a trip and never came back. Then she and her mom moved to a different house, and her mom seemed to forget Carolina was there. But it’s new neighbor Garret who becomes a real boyfriend, and thank goodness for her friend, Mara—at least she’s been there for support. When Carolina, Mara, and Garret sign up together for a photography class, Carolina doesn’t need the camera’s lens to see that Mara intends to add Garret to her “other-girls’-boyfriends-I’ve-stolen” list. Her mom wants to reconnect with Carolina’s life, too, and Carolina isn’t sure she even wants that. With “Notes to You” sprinkled throughout her story, Carolina gradually reveals to the reader where and why her father and sister went away. Carolina is bruised by her family and friends, but she is not broken. The reader will root for her as she picks herself up and faces the changes in her life.
Reviewed by Carol. Grade: ----- in , - Link directly to entry
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