The Book Reviews – Website

January 1, 2011

Millicent Min Girl Genius

Millicent Min Girl Genius

Author: Lisa Yee

Page Length: 248

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction         

PLOT SUMMARY: Millicent Min is eleven years old and is enrolling in her first college class.  She is a genius and has appeared on TV talk shows, made the Dean’s Honor Roll, and is about to begin her senior year in high school.  Millicent is very intelligent, but has no idea of how to make friends or even have a normal conversation.

Her mother forces her to join a volleyball team and through her grandmother’s friend, she is forced to begin peer tutoring for Sanford Wong, the dumbest athlete in school.  Millicent is close to her grandmother, Maddie, who is about to leave on an extended trip to Europe. With a hatred for sports, ignorant boys, and the departure of her grandmother, Millicent is dreading the summer.  She only looks forward to the poetry class she has enrolled in at the local college.

Millicent actually has no friends, but at volleyball practice, a new girl, Emily befriends her.  Excited that Emily likes her, Millicent hides the fact that she is a genius from Emily.  She is afraid that Emily will not like her if she is aware of how smart she is and her placement in high school. As the story continues, Emily meets Stanford, the incorrigible jock that Millicent tutors.  When Stanford and Emily are attracted to each other, the plot thickens as Stanford tries to hide his lack of intelligence and Millicent becomes the “third party” in the triangular friendship.

REVIEW: The book is a narrative told from Millicent’s point of view.  The character development is excellent and the relationships between the families and friends are very realistic.  Lisa Yee includes humor and sarcasm, in how Millicent views the people who are apart of her life. I enjoyed this book immensely and would suggest it especially for junior high and high school girls to read.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Point of View, Compare/Contrast, Theme, and Characters

RELATED BOOKS: Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time, Totally Emily Ebers

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.webenglishteacher.com/childlit-y.html

www.scasl.net/bookawards/JBA_Activity_Guides_06_07.doc

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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December 1, 2008

Matilda

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Matilda

Author: Roald Dahl

Page Length: 240

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction         

PLOT SUMMARY: Matilda is only 4 years old but teaches herself to read and reading she does!  She spends her afternoons at the library reading novels by noted authors while her mother plays “Bingo” and her dad makes crooked deals at his used car lot.  She tires of their verbal abuse and put downs, and begins to invent practical jokes to get back at them.

When Matilda enters school, Miss Honey (her teacher) discovers she can multiply any two numbers and find the answer and reads like an adult. When she rushes to tell her parents, she realizes that Matilda’s parents put little value on education and could care less that Matilda is a genius.

At school, the entire faculty and student population must fight the principal and her physical abusive ways of tormenting others.  Matilda bonds with Ms. Honey and learns that she was abused as a child.  She makes a plan to use her newly found powers to help Ms. Honey; and, get rid of the dreaded school principal.

REVIEW: Elementary and junior high children would enjoy this book. The verbal and physical abuse towards Matilda and the other students made me grimace as I read, but in the end, the parents and principal (the bad guys) lose and Matilda and Ms. Honey have a happy ending. Dahl writes with great description and creates his characters quite visually.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Sequence of Events, Conflict, Character, and Making Predictions

RELATED BOOKS: Witches, James and the Giant Peach

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: “Matilda” (1996)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.roalddahl.com

www.vtaide.com/png/matilda.htm

www.webenglishteacher.com/dahl.html

www.roalddahlfans.com/teachers.php

www.scoilnet.ie/article.aspx?id=RoaldDahl_Themepage

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

October 30, 2008

Cruise Control

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Cruise Control

Author: Terry Trueman

Page Length: 149

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction

 

PLOT SUMMARY: Paul McDaniel is a star athlete in high school. His life seems perfect, but it isn’t. Paul keeps bottling up his rage over his family situation; unfortunately, when he lets his rage out he is in danger of completely losing control. On the one hand, Paul loves his brother and longs for a typical relationship; on the other hand, he hates the conditions having his special needs brother in his life has created for his family. Paul’s dad left the family and now he’s the man of the house – unwanted responsibilities that are affecting his future. Will Paul ever break free and can he ever forgive his father?

 

REVIEW: This book takes a real look at what life might be like for a family with a severely handicapped child. Through Paul’s emotions we experience his anger at not having a normal life, his disappointment in his father’s inability to be the man of the house and handle the situation, and his anger with himself over not being a better brother and ever even thinking about wishing that his brother didn’t exist. Powerful and raw — this book is moving and very real.

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: description, imagery, word choice in writing, mood, tone, author’s purpose, sequence of events, cause and effect, internal conflict, external conflict

 

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Foul language interspersed throughout the story

 

RELATED BOOKS: Stuck in Neutral, Inside Out, No Right Turn

 

RELATED MOVIES: “Rain Man,” “Gaby,” “Touched by Love,” “Door to Door”

 

   

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

www.harperchildrens.com/webcontent/teachers_guides/pdf/0066239613.pdf

 

http://unjobs.org/authors/terry-trueman

 

http://www.terrytrueman.com/books_cruise.htm

 

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/cerebral_palsy.htm

 

http://www.terrytrueman.com/

 

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

Stuck in Neutral

Filed under: S — thebookreviews @ 1:13 am
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Stuck In Neutral

Author: Terry Trueman

Page Length: 114

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

 

PLOT SUMMARY: Shawn McDaniel is fourteen years old. He is the average teenager – interested in girls and sports. He has an amazing mind and can remember details from conversations. The problem is that no one knows how brilliant Shawn is because he can’t tell them. He’s confined to a wheelchair, unable to move or speak, and prone to violent seizures. Everyone thinks he is incapable of thought or feelings, except maybe his dad. Shawn’s father is fixated on his son’s suffering; he cannot stand to watch his body tremor during a seizure and he’s feels guilty about Shawn’s suffering. Shawn fears that his father may be plotting to kill him.

 

REVIEW: This book takes a powerful look at the what if. What if mental and physical impairments aren’t always as comprehensive as they seem?  What if what we have always assumed to be true isn’t true after all?  Trueman paints a vivid picture of what life might be like for Shawn – colorful, rich, and exciting in its own way. As The Horn Book reviewer writes “evoking one of our darkest fears and deepest hopes — that a fully conscious and intelligent being may be hidden within such a broken body, as yet unable to declare his existence.”

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: description, imagery, word choice in writing, mood, tone, author’s purpose

 

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: pages 91-93 – violence as Paul nearly beats to death two boys torturing his brother, seizure descriptions, anger from siblings

 

RELATED BOOKS: Cruise Control, Inside Out, No Right Turn

 

RELATED MOVIES: “Rain Man,” “Gaby,” & “Touched by Love”

 

   

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-stuck-in-neutral/

 

http://www.harperchildrens.com/webcontent/teachers_guides/pdf/0066239613.pdf

 

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/cerebral_palsy.htm

 

http://www.terrytrueman.com/

 

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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