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December 12, 2008

Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo

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Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo

Author: Greg Leitich Smith

Page Length: 188

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction         

PLOT SUMMARY: Elias, Shohei, and Honoria are best friends attending Peshtigo Middle School. Elias is from a family of very smart and successful parents and siblings.  Shohei is the adopted Japanese son of two Irish parents. Honoria is the girl caught in between the two.

It is time for the annual school Science Fair.  Elias decides to copy one of his older brother’s past experiments and Shohei decides to join him in working on the project. Honoria wants to teach piranhas to become vegetarians.

The plot thickens when Elias’ experiment does not match the findings of his brother; Shohei faces his parent’s daily issues to acquaint him with his Japanese culture; and, Elias has a crush on Honoria who confides in him that she has a crush on Shohei.   

REVIEW: This is an entertaining book in that the character’s each tell a portion of the story.  Each of their personalities is developed through their actions and thoughts.  The trio face conflict with their parents, teachers and each other. There is a Reading Group Guide at the end of the book which would assist if the book was used as a class novel. I think both boys and girls would enjoy the book for leisure reading.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Character, Theme, Conflict, Compare/Contrast, and Cause/Effect

RELATED BOOKS: Holes, Tofu and T. Rex


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner


September 21, 2008


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Author: Carl Hiaasen

Page Length: 292

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY: Roy Eberhardt is a middle-school student who has just moved from Montana to Florida.  He rides the bus to school each day, and sits alone.  He is the latest victim of the school bully, Dana Matherson.  One day, when Dana is in the middle of attacking Roy, Roy spies a boy running very fast with no backpack or shoes.  This intrigues Roy, because he knows the boy is not headed for school.  Roy discovers that the running boy is Mullet Fingers and has a sister, Beatrice. Mullet is on a mission and Roy gets involved with some of his antics.

Meanwhile, there have been several incidents of petty crime occurring on the lot of the site for the new “Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House.”  As an officer and security guard try to protect the lot, Roy and Mullet find a way to get revenge on Dana while also protecting the environment.

REVIEW: This is a story of mystery and adventure involving some rather weird characters. Those who enjoyed Holes would like this book. It has a good message concerning the endangerment of burrowing owls. Boys would probably like the book more than girls.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Character, Conflict (Environmental vs. Business Development)

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Mild violence, some cursing

RELATED BOOKS: Flush, Naomi’s Geese, California Blue, The Fledglings, The Silent Spillbills, The Maze



REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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