Review: One Day At Horrorland (Goosebumps #16) by R.L. Stine

Lizzy and her family are lost on the way to the zoo. While pulled over on the side of the road, a monster from the Horrorland billboard peers at them through the sunroof, inviting them to visit (or warning them to run away). It should be a bad sign when the car bursts into flames in the amusement park parking lot, but for some reason, this family of five continues into the park with its Horrors—the monstrous gatekeepers. With a doom slide that never ends, reflecting mirrors that threaten to squash anything in their path, and coffin canoes, the family soon realizes that this park is more terrifying than fun. Unfortunately, the monsters have other plans and no one leaves Horrorland alive. Or do they? As the book notes, “The signs give a warning. There is always a warning,” which must be taken seriously. Although One Day At Horrorland has…

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Review: Lemons by Melissa Savage

Lemonade’s mother dies, and she finds herself in Willow Creek, a small Bigfoot-obsessed town, with her grandfather, Charlie. Her new friend, Tobin, owns a Bigfoot detective agency and “hires” Lem to help him sort through and document Bigfoot sightings. Like Lem, Tobin has also lost a parent; his dad went MIA during the war and although brought back alive, has mysteriously disappeared in transit. The two friends struggle together through their losses and grief as they begin to uncover a few surprises. Lem must also reconcile the meaning of home as she decides whether or not to stay with her grandfather or return to her old home via a well-intentioned adoption. A book that questions the boundaries of family, friendship, and heartbreak, Lemons is a beautiful middle grade read for third to seventh graders. Well-written, Savage does not begin the plot heavy with backstory. Instead, she jumps headfirst into Lem…

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Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Suzy and Franny are growing apart as Franny starts hanging out with the popular crowd and caring more about cute boys. Suzy, the more bookish of the two, decides to retaliate against Franny’s cruel actions. Unfortunately, Suzy is never able to explain her disgusting actions and finds herself not only grief stricken but also feeling sickeningly guilty because Franny drowns while on vacation. Suzy refuses to talk to anyone: her parents, brother, therapist, and lab partner. Written with science report-like overtones, Suzy becomes obsessed with finding out the cause of Franny’s death and ultimately decides that a deadly Australian jellyfish has stung and killed her friend. Determined to prove this theory to herself as well as everyone else, Suzy seeks out the advice of experts, one in particular named Jamie. The Thing About Jellyfish is a National Book Award finalist. With themes of grief, growing up, and mental illness, fourth…

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