The Book Reviews – Website

December 19, 2010


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Responsible by Darlene Ryan: Book Cover


Author: Darlene Ryan

Page Length: 100

Reading Level: 3.2

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Kevin is the new kid again in his fourth high school. His new “friends” are the school bullies led by Nick. Nick has perfected the art of accidentally shoving and tripping others. One day Nick chooses the wrong girl to mess with. Erin’s fed up with Nick’s bullying and she isn’t backing down. Nick’s anger grows as he decides that Erin must pay. Kevin becomes involved in Nick’s plot to get revenge and as Nick’s attacks on Erin grow more vicious Kevin is caught in the middle. Does Kevin follow Nick’s lead and protect himself or does he help Erin before it’s too late?

REVIEW: This is the typical Orca book. The sentences are short. The action happens quickly to keep students engaged and the problem is handled on the surface. Students should find the bullying issue and the feeling of being stuck in a difficult position relevant and interesting.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence of events, cause and effect, internal conflict, external conflict, character traits, dialogue

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Topic of bullying, Language – “we’re not done pussy boy,” “get your ass out of my way”

RELATED BOOKS: Mirror Image, Pigboy, Daredevil Club, Saving Grace, Rules for Life

RELATED MOVIES: “Chicken Little,” “Ice Princess,” “Heavyweights”


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

Aria of the Sea

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Aria of the Sea by Dia Calhoun: Book Cover

Aria of the Sea

Author: Dia Calhoun

Reading Level: 5

Page Length: 264

Genre: Fiction

Career Connections: Dancer, Healer   

PLOT SUMMARY: After the death of her mother, Cerinthe Gale decides to follow the dream of her mother by pursuing her dancing talents.  She travels to the School of Royal Dancers, where she is accepted after the audition, although she is a commoner.  Cerinthe has the gifts of a healer.  However, she feels guilty because she was unable to save the life of her mother.  Because of this guilt, Cerinthe feels emptiness inside that is not fulfilled through her dancing. 

At the school, Cerinthe has several incidents which make her feel even more inept.  She has a disagreement with a young man she actually feels some desire for, a miscommunication with a teacher, a huge rivalry with Elliana – a very rich student, and an encounter with a mederi – a healer with magical powers.

When an accident between Cerinthe and Elliana occurs, Cerinthe is faced with the question she had earlier in her life with her mother—should she try to help Elliana or wait for the mederi to arrive?

REVIEW: This is a great book for girls from middle school to high school age who are interested in dance or any competition to read.  The characters are well developed and their feelings are easy to relate to.  The idea that a young girl can possess healing powers is intriguing and the discipline that dancers must endure is inspiring.


AREAS OF TEACHING: Setting, Character, Conflict, Sequence of Events

RELATED BOOKS: Avielle of Rhia, The Phoenix Dance, White Midnight


MUSIC, MOVIE, AND ART CONNECTIONS: The Turning Point (1977), The Company (2003), and Center Stage (2000)

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

How Angel Peterson Got His Name

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How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen: Book Cover

How Angel Peterson Got His Name

Author: Gary Paulsen

Page Length: 110

Reading Level: 6.2

Genre: Fiction, Adventure

PLOT SUMMARY: Being a 13 year old boy comes with many challenges – none the least of which is survival. Angel Peterson decides he wants to get in the book of records. He decides that the skiing speed record is the one he wants to beat. Who needs a hill? Angel just hooks up to the bumper of a car. The results aren’t quite what he expected. How about hanging gliding in a homemade tent or shooting a barrel through a waterfall? Gary and his friends reveal their craziest adventures and harrowing tales of near death possibilities.

REVIEW: This book is a short but entertaining ride down adventure lane. The characters, out of sheer small town boredom and thirteen year old stupidity, perform crazy stunts and get caught up in numerous off the wall adventures. This book would appeal more to boys but might also be a useful tool for creating the scene. Students could hear the descriptions and talk about what language and writing techniques make it possible for them to see the story themselves.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence of events, connecting text to historical time period, imagery, adventure

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: premise of crazy stunts (in the sense that we wouldn’t want students to be encouraged to experiment in a similar fashion)

RELATED BOOKS: Canyons, Brian’s Winter, Hatchet, Dogsong

RELATED MOVIES: The Sandlot (1993), The Goonies (1985)


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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