Review: A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Gerta wakes up one morning to find that a heavily defended wall divides her country. Her father and brother are caught on one side of the Berlin Wall while she, her mother, and other brother, Fritz, remain at home in a land where even bananas are a freedom not to be had. Desiring a better life on the western side of the wall, Gerta and Fritz risk their lives to build a tunnel to freedom and their family. Along the way, they must reconcile white lies, true friends, and false enemies. The ending seems unrealistic even for historical fiction, but maybe I just need to read more about the Berlin Wall. I kept hoping for a slightly stronger historical background and faster-paced novel—there is a lot of digging—but overall, A Night Divided introduces young readers to a piece of history and feelings that they may not be familiar with. Kate…

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Book Review: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi is a nine-year-old girl who lives by herself in Villa Villekula with her pet monkey and horse. Along with her friends, Annika and Tommy, she bakes cookies on the floor, defeats bullies, tells tall tales, and collects treasures. Pippi constantly finds herself in trouble while attempting to attend school and tea parties but also possesses unusual strength and the ability to charm robbers. Pippi Longstocking is the day-to-day chronicles of an eccentric girl. I read this title in school in second grade, but Pippi Longstocking is designated more for third to sixth graders. Pippi plays with pistols and tramps roam the streets at night. Glanzman draws Pippi as an impish looking girl, and her red hair and freckles set her apart from her Swedish friends. This otherness is furthered in the way that Lindgren describes other cultures. Like Dahl, she crosses the line into racism—although brushing “differences” off with the…

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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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