"Oodles of Noodles" by Diana Hendry, illustrated by Sarah Massini
"Oodles of Noodles" is about spaghetti going all over the house. I think it's funny because it's not about real life. I want a pasta machine to make noodles. You'll like this book if you get it from the
— Jack S. Adee, 5, Chicago, transcribed by his mom
"Bystander" by James Preller
It is a tough decision to be a bystander, as I experienced in second grade. In the book "Bystander" by James Preller, Eric makes friends with Griffin when he moves to a new state because of his parents' separation. Griffin had been bullying David but things changed when Eric came. Griffin tried to get Eric into the bullying business, and Eric had to make the decision to be a bystander or stick up for David. The most proud moment of my life was when I stuck up for myself against a bully and it ended up in my favor. "Bystander" can give other kids courage to do that too.
— Devin Zakeri, 8, Skokie
"The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom" by Christopher Healy, illustrated by Todd Harris
On the topic of fairy tale princes, the name "Prince Charming" is usually what comes to mind. But what if these princes had different names and even a different story than we're used to?
In "The Hero's Guide to Saving your Kingdom," author Christopher Healy creates a whole new way of looking at four classic fairy tales. Take edgy Prince Frederic, fiance of Ella, a bold, courageous girl. Or Rapunzel's Prince Gustav of Sturmhagen, youngest of 17 brothers. Maybe you'll prefer whimsical Prince Duncan and his wife, the dreamy Snow White. If you're a hero person, you'll favor dashing Prince Liam, and you might like his sister Lila, too. The princes' adventures as they face many dangers, including the witch Zaubera, the mischievous Bandit King, and a feisty dragon are brought to life with detailed sketches and rich descriptions. I'll never look at Prince Charming the same way again.
— Adeline E. Larsen, 10, Palos Heights
"A Study in Scarlet" by Arthur Conan Doyle
The first of the Sherlock Holmes series, "A Study in Scarlet" is a chilling murder mystery complete with bloodstained walls and revenge. It is a fast-paced novella set in England for confident readers of at least 12 years old. It uses high-level vocabulary, and the storyline is probably more appropriate for older children.
It is narrated mostly by Dr. John Watson, who accompanies Sherlock Holmes on his investigations. Most of Part 2 is narrated by an unspecified narrator and follows the story of the murderer and the victims.
After Holmes and Watson are united, Holmes receives a letter from Tobias Gregson about the murder of Enoch Drebber. Later, Mr. Lestrade reports the death of Joseph Stangerson. Holmes solves both murders and makes it seem simple. And of course, Gregson, Lestrade, and co., take all of the credit.
— Wasim Rahaman, 11, Chicago
"Matched" by Ally Condie
"Matched," written by Ally Condie, is a 384-page novel with a distinctly dystopian theme. Although critics raved that the book was "absolutely riveting," and a "must read," I found the story to be altogether too cliché. The love story was much too reminiscent of "The Hunger Games" and other popular novels to be considered original. Despite these shortcomings, however, Ally Condie does have a way with words that vibrantly illustrates the story in a reader's mind. Even though I wasn't enthralled with her predictable tale, I admired her talent and the way she ended the story so that the reader was clamoring for the sequel. In conclusion, if you're a fan of "The Hunger Games" and enjoy dystopian love stories, you'll find this book and its sequel entertaining reads. That being said, I don't recommend this book to avid readers who can spot a plot twist a mile away.
— Grace Macuk, 13, McHenry
"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
For a lover of literature, "The Book Thief" provides not only an affirmation of every wonder found within a novel, but also a chance to slip into a story painted with beautiful characters and anecdotes that cause a guilty smile in a story of heartbreak and loss. In the town of Molching, the cast of Zusak's novel interacts in a way that leaves the reader with a renewed faith in humanity. Liesel, the infamous "book thief," teaches the value of reading through not only her own conviction in the magic of a well-read book, but also through bringing stories to the skeptical, preoccupied neighbors. Her own determination provides inspiration to keep diving into stories ... as a healing method, as an escape from a sometimes brutal reality, and most important of all, as a chance to exceed society's expectations for us.
— Emma Maxwell,15, Evanston
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