Review: The Isle of the Lost- A Descendants Novel

Be prepared to slam head first into a Disney character set where all of the villains, heroes, and their new children run around on either the Isle of the Lost (for banished villains) or the Kingdom of Auradon (for those goody goodies). The plot focuses on 16-year-old Mal who is seeking revenge on Evie—daughter of the Evil Queen—for not inviting her to a childhood birthday party. Four unlikely characters come together in search of an evil, magical scepter, each representing their personal family histories. A parallel story follows Prince Ben who is trying to address very adult grievances in preparation for taking over his father’s kingdom. There are some cheesy adult-geared lines and jokes about how villains get their kicks in writing the wrong names on Starbuck cups and where in the much happier United States of Auradon (USA), the Department of Formerly Magical Vehicles (DFMV) has 5-minute wait times.…

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Review: A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy

As Evelyn enters 5th grade, cue the arrival of a boy in a pink shirt with eccentric, bohemian, tattooed parents. Queen is my hero as he wears what he wants, builds a force field against bullies, starts his own school clubs, and makes personalized, collage birthday invitations. Evelyn instantly accepts Queen into her world and is rewarded with self-awareness and courage. Reading much like a younger version of Stargirl, A Boy Named Queen addresses what it is like to grow-up and more importantly, grow into one’s skin. This heartwarming realistic fiction novel is suitable for third to sixth graders and left my heart feeling fuzzy. However, as I scrolled through the last page on my iPad, I questioned if half of this eBook failed to download. To say that the story ends abruptly is an understatement, and while this quick read felt more like a short story, I would recommend A Boy Named Queen to any child who…

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Review: The BFG by Roald Dahl

Sophie, an orphan, finds herself awake during the witching hour and is snatched by a big-eared, dream-catching giant. This monstrous being happens to be one of the only giants in all of Giant Country who does not eat “human beans,” which is why he is known as the Big Friendly Giant or BFG, for short. The BFG is the master of creating dream stories, and his tales of mean giants inspire Sophie to take action. She devises a plan involving a realistic nightmare and the Queen in order to save the world from this gaggle of man-eating giants. For third to sixth graders, The BFG is magical and imaginative.  Growing up, this was one of my favorite books. As an adult, I have a few more concerns: The references to families in Baghdad having ten children or how the Sultan recently had to chop off heads is racist rather than…

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Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book #1)

Greg’s mom buys him a diary—excuse me, I mean a journal—and he decides to write and draw cartoons of his everyday, middle school life. Greg loves his video games, is always getting into mischief, and he has to deal with his mean older brother, Rodrick, who is destined to humiliate him. Greg bullies around his friend Rowley and finds that he feels jealous and left out as Rowley begins to gain popularity in the tough middle school social scene. We watch as the boys scheme up a profit-making haunted house and roll the world’s biggest snowball to keep trespassers off of their neighborhood hills. A series for reluctant and lower-level readers, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is geared for fifth to eighth graders. Greg is a pretty unlikeable little dude who does mean things much like Eric Cartman in South Park. Whereas South Park has satire and highly intricate plots…

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