Review: The List by Patricia Forde

In Ark, where only 500 words exist, Letta is an apprentice to the wordsmith. All other words are illegal and forgotten, and the residents speak in garbled sentences. The police strictly monitor this bubbled, alleged Utopia, and all aspects of life, including meals, are regulated. Letta loves her words and buys into this society until she meets Marlo, a resister who lives self-sufficiently in the outskirts of town—a place where music, art, and language still exist. As Letta’s master suspiciously goes missing, Letta begins to realize that this world is not as safe and happy as it seems, and she is the only member who has the ability to save the words from an evil dictator with misguided politics, John Noa. Noa is relentless in his convictions and actions, and the future of the world relies on the thwarted flick of a canister and a heartfelt revolution. A middle grade…

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Review: Alvin Ho- Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Alvin is afraid of everything and everyone except for explosions and when he is at home disguised as Firecracker Man. Entering second grade, Alvin carries around his own Personal Disaster Kit (PDK) with instructions and gadgets to survive. He even refuses to speak at school, which is unfortunate since his two goals in life are to be a gentleman and to make new friends. Flea, a girl with one eye and a peg leg, has always been kind to Alvin and tries to help him navigate the social scene of second grade. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things is a hilarious story about gaining confidence and growing up. Appropriate for first to fourth graders, especially those just getting into chapter books, children can laugh along as Alvin and his classmates pay money to catch chicken pox from Jules (no chickens involved), squirm as Alvin breaks his dad’s favorite…

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Book Review: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Amina is a Pakistani-American who has just started middle school with her best friend, a Korean-American, Soojin. Soojin is applying for American citizenship and has decided to change her name to sound more American. Soojin’s sudden refutation of identity causes a rift between the friends, which is further widened as Emily, a student who used to make fun of their cultural differences, tries to befriend the girls. As if Amina does not face enough stress and new feelings of jealously already, her strong-willed uncle from Pakistan decides to visit, her teacher pressures her to sing in the school concert—Amina never sings in public—and her Sunday school teacher and parents force her to enter a Quran competition for the local Islamic Center. Just as things cannot get any worse, Amina accidentally shares Emily’s secret crush, causing a trivial fight with her friends, and the local Islamic Center and mosque is vandalized.…

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Review: Liam Takes A Stand

Lister and Lester are identical twins, who like typical brothers, copy and compete with each other. Their younger brother, Liam, is of course left out and just wants to play. The first day of summer, Lister and Lester open rivaling lemonade stands and spend all of their earnings on gimmicks to appeal to their respective customers. The twins eventually go into debt, even owing their parents money. Although little, Liam is an opportunist and opens a cost efficient, specialty apple juice stand. In exchange for playtime, Liam hires his twin brothers to come work for him to help pay off their debt. Opening a business is tough. Suitable for kindergarten to third graders, Liam Takes A Stand is a picture book about family and hard work mixed in with a little youth entrepreneurship. Although I am not a huge fan of the disproportionate body parts—big ears, overly skinny legs, too…

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