Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone… by Margie Palatini

Click here to see the review on WUAT.

Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone
by Margie Palatini

Published By: Katherine Tegen Books: An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0061138980


How Cool is Chic?
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/22/2008

Zoey Zinevich is almost-but-not-quite eleven years old. It’s less than 200 days until sixth grade, which means it’s less than 200 days to get molto chic. If she isn’t by the time sixth grade starts, she will never be cool! That’s what Venus’s (read: Zoey’s magnifico best friend) sister says.

It seems like nothing Zoey and Venus do can get the other kids—especially the Bashleys—to admit they’re cool. What’s not cool about catching bullfrogs, or bowling shirts with fedoras, or owl pellets? Zoey’s only hope lies in getting a fairy godmother. It worked for Cinderella! So what if other ten-almost-eleven-year-old-double-digit kids don’t believe in that kind of stuff anymore?!

This is a very creative middle-grade novel that deals with the preteen’s most pressing concern: coolness. Author Margie Palatini enters into Zoey’s story with great intentions and a sense of offbeat style. Unfortunately, there’s a little too much style. Literally. There are so many font styles and embedded sketches that the pages—just as literally—made my head hurt worse than it already was. The pages are so busy that the reader’s eye jumps helter skelter all over the place. It distracts from the story.

The story is full of heart. It speaks to the basic need for most American preteen girls to fit in with the popular crowd. Zoey is a free spirit who can’t be leashed, and this will become quite apparent, especially toward the end.

The end of the story is one that parents will appreciate, even if it’s a touch unrealistic. Even though the pages are visually busy, I recommend this for all preteen girls.

hi

Search for Other Reviews Rating 4 Books

Search for Other Books by Palatini

Search For Other Reviews in Children by Age Group : 8-12, Middle Grades

Search For Other Reviews in Children’s Fiction : Books for GIRLS

hi

Advertisements

Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!… by Diane deGroat

Click here to see this review on WUAT.

Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!
Written and Illustrated by Diane deGroat

Published By: HarperTrophy: An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0061340611


Gilbert’s Camp Story
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/21/2008

Gilbert has his first overnight trip to camp. All his friends are going, as well as some kids that aren’t as nice. Lewis keeps trying to scare Gilbert by telling him Camp Hi-Dee-Ho is haunted. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as ghosts—or are there?

Gilbert’s experience is one that many children face when going to camp for the first—or fifth—time. The fear of the unknown may stem from the kind of teasing Gilbert gets from Lewis, or it may come from the imagination with no prompting. Either way, facing fears is something every child eventually endures.

Diane deGroat handles this fairly well, although, as a mom, I question how Gilbert handles Lewis when the tables are turned. As long as parents remember the importance of reading with their children, they can address whether Gilbert does the right thing. For reference: Gilbert gets even with Lewis for scaring him.

As always with this series, the illustrations are attractively done. Some “spooky” scenes in the middle can be revealed to children as not so scary (i.e.: that tree doesn’t have faces, it has knots and broken-off branches).

This book is a decent pick for children ready to go to camp, and it may also be well-suited to Halloween time.

hi

Search for Other Reviews Rating 4 Books

Search for Other Books by deGroat

Search For Other Reviews in Children by Age Group : 5-8, Early Grades

Search For Other Reviews in Children’s Fiction : Series

Search For Other Reviews in Children’s Fiction : Spooky

hi

Foundation… by Mercedes Lackey

Click here to see this review on WUAT.

Foundation
(Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles, Book 1)
by Mercedes Lackey

Published By: DAW Books, Inc.: A Member of Penguin Group (USA)
ISBN-13: 978-0756405243


Set the Foundation for a New Series
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/21/2008

Mags has been a virtual slave in a mine since he was a little tyke. To survive, he scrabbled for food and learned how to dig out “sparklies” to keep the mine owner off his back. The day the Herald arrives is both the most wonderful and most terrifying of Mags’s life. After more than a decade of abuse and neglect, Mags is brought into a new life that defies comprehension. All that keeps him from panic is the gentle white horse with blue eyes… a horse that is as smart as any human… a Companion who has made Mags his Chosen, a future Herald.

Mags and Dallen must travel to Haven, the city where the Heralds are headquartered, and where the Collegium awaits Heraldic Trainees. Mags must overcome thick layers of defense in order to see the world as more than hunger and beatings. If he can, he’ll find more than he imagined possible—both good and dangerous.

From grubby child worker to a Trainee in the middle of growing intrigue, Mags has the chance to do more than most people experience in a lifetime.

There is no doubt that Mercedes Lackey is extraordinarily talented. This novel is imbued with her spirit and a strong sense of justice. Depth of character, setting, and story are all present in this orphan’s tale, opening readers to a new glimmer of understanding of those less fortunate and the appreciation for having what is needed.

There were some holes in the story that were distracting. As someone new to the world of Valdemar, it took some time to understand what constituted the bond between Companion and Chosen. The story is told from Mags’s point of view, so the reader shouldn’t be told everything right away, but there were basic questions I can’t believe Mags didn’t ask of Dallen. Other “holes” are things that I assume to be lead-ins to the next novel in the series.

Overall, I think fans of Mercedes Lackey will find this to their liking. It seems more targeted for a young adult, or even middle school, audience, but it’s a good read whatever your age.

hi

Search for Other Reviews Rating 4 Books

Search for Other Books by Lackey

Search For Other Reviews in Fiction : Fantasy & Science Fiction

Search For Other Reviews in Young Adult Fiction : Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Paranormal

hi

Paper Towns… by John Green

Paper Towns
by John Green

Published By: Dutton Books: A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0525478188


This Paper Burns with Soul
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/20/2008

Margo Roth Spiegelman is a name you say in one breath. Just ask Quentin. Q has watched her grow up, the literal girl next door. When she shows up at his window late one night, he’s swept through the next few hours on an adventure such as he’s never experienced. Still in the thrall of overnight hijinks, he goes to school to learn that Margo has disappeared.

With his friends Ben and Radar, Q desperately works to solve the mystery that is Margo Roth Spiegelman. Her cryptic trail of clues has Q crisscrossing central Florida. His friends say she’ll show up at graduation, but he’s not so sure. He doesn’t care about prom or graduation. He just wants to find Margo before it’s too late.

Author John Green knows how to see into the souls of teens on the cusp of adulthood. There is a lot of Young Adult fiction that sees teens just as kids who need to be entertained. Green sees beyond the surface and creates situations that delve into readers hearts—whether they are eighteen years old or thirty or fifty.

Green waxes philosophical fairly often, but it works. There is enough “normal” teen behavior to balance the spurts of deep thinking. Besides the intellect behind the book, Green does a great job of setting each scene. Readers will find each of their senses engaged, pulling them into Q’s life.

Lest readers think I’m all aglow about PAPER TOWNS, it is worth noting that there is a lot of swearing and frequent references to sex and teen drinking. This novel could be used as one of those “teaching moments” professionals like to talk about. Quite frankly, a lot of the behavior in this book is common, so it would be a good chance to talk about it and let kids and parents air out how they feel about these issues, as well as the overall plot of the book.

This is one that will make people see others around them with fresh eyes. I highly recommend this novel for older teens and up.

hi

Search for Other Reviews Rating 4½ Books

Search for Other Books by Green

Search For Other Reviews in Young Adult Fiction : Fiction

hi

My Beach Book… The Smithsonian Institution

My Beach Book
by Smithsonian Institution

(also, My Shell Book, My Bug Book, My Butterfly Book)

Published By: Collins
ISBN-13: 978-0061115745


Nice and Simple
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/20/2008

Young children will enjoy this simple board book. Each full-page photo has a “Wh-” question, something that children love to answer and that grown ups don’t ask enough. Each answer is in large, easy font that very early readers have a chance at grasping.

The Smithsonian line of children’s books seem to be well-research into what works for the target ages, and this little board book is no exception. If you’re looking for something highly visual and meaningful, this is a good choice.

hi

Search for Other Reviews Rating 5 Books

Search for Other Books by Smithsonian Institution

Search For Other Reviews in Children by Age Group : 0-3, Babies & Toddlers

Search For Other Reviews in Children’s NonFiction : Picture Books

Search For Other Reviews in Children’s Science : Nature

hi

Who Lives in the Rainforest?… by Nora Pelizzari

Who Lives in the Rainforest?
by Nora Pelizzari

Published By: HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0064117709


Nice Little Book
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/20/2008

This little book is very colorful with a bit of a puzzle feel. Children are asked to find an animal in the jungle, which is drawn in bright greens, oranges, yellows, and reds. The animals hide behind flaps. When they’re found, the child sees an uncluttered picture, with a labeled, smaller picture on the reverse of the flap.

The flaps in this board book seem sturdier than average, but I am still concerned about small kids pulling them off. For flap books, I tend to recommend them for preschoolers rather than babies–although flaps often don’t survive three years olds either!

Cute and educational, this is a nice little book for your child’s library.

hi

Search for Other Reviews Rating 4½ Books

Search for Other Books by Pelizzari

Search For Other Reviews in Children by Age Group : 0-3, Babies & Toddlers

Search For Other Reviews in Children by Age Group : 3-6, Preschool

Search For Other Reviews in Children’s NonFiction : Animals

Search For Other Reviews in Children’s NonFiction : Board Books

hi

The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters… by Lorraine López

The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters
by Lorraine López

Published By: Grand Central Publishing: A Member of Hachette Book Group USA
ISBN-13: 978-0446699211


A Gifted Author
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/17/2008

Loretta, Bette, Rita, and Sophie Gabaldón lost their mother when they were very young. The ancient housekeeper who helped raised them promised each girl they’d receive a gift after her passing. Over the following two decades, the girls grow into women, each of them uniquely gifted. One heals, one tells splendid lies, one curses, and one makes others laugh. Time can only tell whether or not the gifts are blessings.

The bonds of sisterhood are explored and tested as the sisters Gabaldón search for meaning in a sea of questions about their family. Each chapter is told in a different sister’s point of view, and each voice is beautifully rendered through first, second, and third-person narrative, and past and present tense—a different style for each of the sisters.

On the surface, the story may seem complex, maybe over-ambitious. But Lorraine López skillfully weaves the story of five women into a complete saga. Her use of scenery, emotion, and flat-out characterization is entrancing. I smelled the kitchen aromas and cringed at bad karaoke. I saw the sisters as young children, then mothers.

I enjoyed the characters and was sorry to parts ways with them. Each sister was wonderfully flawed, yet deliciously vibrant. It would be a joy to meet them again.

hi

Search for Other Reviews Rating 4½ Books

Search for Other Books by López

Search For Other Reviews in Women’s Fiction : Fiction

Search For Other Reviews in Women’s Fiction : Multicultural

hi

%d bloggers like this: