Archive | book reviews RSS feed for this section

10 Reasons to read Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus.

Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus by Kristen Tracy

Great one line pitch from inside the book: Ten-year-old Camille McPhee relates the ups and downs of her fourth grade year at her Idaho elementary school as she tries to adjust to the absence of her best friend, maintain control of her low blood sugar, cope with the intensifying conflict between her parents, and understand the importance of honesty and fairness.

Okay, here we go:

  1. Awesome title.
  2. Super colorful and appealing cover – just makes you want to read it.
  3. Who wouldn’t want to read about how a girl falls under the bus?
  4. A realistic and believable and funny mg voice.
  5. Fresh twist on Camille not being the one to move away but being the one left behind.
  6. Camille has to give up her cat for a friend – which is a very hard thing to do.
  7. Lies, lies, and more lies. Everyone lies – even the parents.
  8. Parent’s conflict is realistic and done extremely well.
  9. Camille’s troubles keep getting worse and worse.
  10. Lots of humor. Lots of emotion. A moving and satisfying ending.

What great books – YA or MG – have you read lately? Give us 3 reasons!

Comments { 13 }

Ten reasons to read GREEN (and I don’t mean on an e-reader – that’s the title)


Laura Peyton Roberts wrote the middle grade story, GREEN. It’s her fourth book. And this one, made it into my town library, where I discovered it.

So, here’s ten reasons to read it, not only for your enjoyment, but to learn storytelling.

1. It’s a totally cute, fun, fast read. It’s a great example of humorous middle grade with the juxtaposition of leprechauns interacting with a human.

2. Lilybet is a spunky believable character who you care about quite quickly. 

3. It starts with a bang – literally and figuratively – as Lily is kidnapped by leprechauns on her 13th birthday and brought to the land of Green.

4. A well-developed cast of Leprechauns as secondary characters will draw you into the story.

5. Lily has a clear goal – to pass three tests.  Clear stakes – she can’t return home until she either becomes the Keeper (of gold) or quits. But if she quits her memory will be erased – even the memories of her grandmother.

6. Great emotional arc. Lily’s grandmother (the previous Keeper) has already passed away, but she is the motivation behind Lily’s struggle to become the new Keeper. 

7. A cute Keeper, from the clan across the meadows, offers a hint of romance and adds his own twists to the story.

8. A hint of mystery. Someone is sabotaging Lily’s efforts to become Keeper and there are many suspects.

9. Good example of a page turner. At the beginning, I almost put it down but each chapter pulled me forward. And once I hit half way and the great twists were revealed, I knew I’d finish.

10. This book is full of suprises. It was unpredictable. I never guessed the right antagonist. I never could have guessed the ending. And I didn’t pick up on the plant and payoffs until the payoffs were revealed.

Definitely worth the read. Kids will love it! And that’s what middle grade is all about. Have you read any good middle grade books lately?

Comments { 11 }

Have you fallen out of a tree today? (a book review)

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis.

A super smart girl tries her best to enter the social world of her peers with disastrous results while grieving her father’s death.

This is the new cover to be released this year.






Ten reasons to love Emma-Jean:

  1.  The reader feels the emotion even though the character isn’t blubbering. No gimmicks.
  2. A quirky genius of a girl protagonist with a well-rounded cast of secondary characters.
  3. Ms. Tarshis does an excellent job of switching over to another girl’s pov that doesn’t break up the story, but deepens it.
  4. An example of  3rd person pov writing that works. The author’s telling of the story and word choice reflects Emma-Jean.
  5. Ms. Tarshis never tells us what Emma-Jean is like: we slowly figure it out through Emma-Jean’s dialogue and actions. Great showing.
  6. You can’t help but root for a girl who has no clue why middle school girls are so complicated.
  7. Ms. Tarshis never manipulates the reader through gimmicks or fancy prose – a simple story that cuts straight to the heart.
  8. We see important secondary characters experience an emotional arc, not just Emma-Jean.
  9. It’s a short read, not padded with extra prose and filler scenes.
  10. It’s a good cry.

And here’s the companion novel, which I haven’t read yet, but I know exactly where it sits on our library shelves!

What book have you read that not only knocked your holey socks off but would be a great book for fellow writers to study excellent craft?

Comments { 10 }