The Book Reviews – Website

January 1, 2011

Maximum Ride The Angel Experiment

Maximum Ride The Angel Experiment

Author: James Patterson

Page Length: 440

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction, Adventure

PLOT SUMMARY: Maximum Ride got to name herself because she is a fourteen-year-old girl who is the result of genetic experimentation conducted in a lab.  She has wings as a result of avian genes injected into human embryos. She is 98% human and 2 % bird.

Maximum lives with five other kids who have her same genetic make-up.  They are called “bird children” and call themselves, “the flock”.  Fang is a boy, four months younger than Max.  The other members are: Iggy, another boy blinded by an experiment at the lab, Nudge, a girl who talks in excess, Gasman, an eight-year-old boy with stomach problems, and Angel, his six year old sister.

The group was raised at the lab in cages and subjected to many experiments.  Then, Jeb Batchelder, one of the lab scientists, took them to his home in the mountains and educated and nurtured them as a father would his own children.  When he suddenly disappeared, two years ago, Max, being the oldest, was put in charge of “the flock”. 

One day, Erasers (other experimental beings who can become wolf-like creatures) appear at the mountain home and kidnap Angel. Led by Max, “the flock” begins the journey to find Angel, discover their real parents’ identity, and get revenge on an unlikely traitor.

REVIEW: Full of adventure, mystery, and suspense this would be a good book to use as a class novel.  The characters, along with the action, provide good descriptive reading.  I believe young adults would identify with the loyalty the children exhibit for each other and enjoy the fantasy of what genetic experimentation may provide in the future.

This is an excellent book for boys, girls and adults to read.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: None

AREAS OF TEACHING: Figurative Language, Simile and Metaphors, Compare/Contrast, Theme, Character, Sequence of Events, and Cause/Effect

RELATED BOOKS: Maximum Ride: School’s Out Forever, Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.maximumride.com

www.jamespattterson.com

www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/NIE/cguides.html

http://readkiddoread.com/home#

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Maximum Ride (set to release in 2013)

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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Here Today

 

Here Today

Author: Ann M. Martin

Page Length: 308

Reading Level: 5

 

Genre: Fiction

 

Career Connections: Teacher, Model, Construction  

PLOT SUMMARY: Living on Witch Street in 1963 with a mother who dreams of being an actress is not the ideal life Ellie Dingman would ask for, but she appears to deal with her circumstances in a very mature manner for a sixth grader. While her mother Doris participates in community plays and takes dance lessons, Ellie makes sure her little brother and sister, Albert and Marie are fed and nurtured.  It is after the assassination of JFK, that Ellie sees her family unit beginning to dissolve.

The inhabitants of Witch Street are ridiculed by the home townspeople.  The children are of Jewish descent and are raised by an unwed mother. Ellie’s mother is an eccentric model/actress.  There are also two unrelated women who live together who are accused of being “lesbians”.  The children are hazed daily on their bus ride to school and frequent malicious incidents happen in the neighborhood.

Unaware of these events, Doris Day Dingman, searches for her identity while abandoning her husband and children.  Desperate to see her mother, Ellie uses her savings to travel to New York City to find out where her mother is living and working.  Ellie discovers that her mother has taken a job at a department store and lives in a small one room apartment.

Upon her return home, Ellie begins to stand up for not only herself but for her family and neighborhood.

REVIEW: Set in 1963, the book was interesting for me to read as I could relate to the exact time of JFK’s assassination and the feelings of the country that are reflected.  The story is tragic in that it characterizes a mother who seeks her own wants and needs rather than those of her family. Also, the ridicule and humiliation the children endure at school is cruel.  However, Ellie’s character rises above all the hurt to help her family and friends overcome obstacles.

There is an interesting Afterward in the back of the book.  I believe teen girls would enjoy this book, as well as, any women who remember the year of 1963.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: None

AREAS OF TEACHING: Historical Context, Setting, Character, Cause/Effect, Compare/Contrast, and Conflict

RELATED BOOKS: So B. It, Becoming Naomi Leon, The Center of Everything

RELATED WEBSITES:

 www.pecentral.org/lessonideas/health/familysocialhealthunitplan_smiller.pdf

http://www.edu.warhol.org/pdf/ulp_hcc_hm_s2.pdf 

www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=36

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Soft Fruit (1999), This Boy’s Life (1993), JFK (1991)

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

August 24, 2008

One True Friend

One True Friend

Author: Joyce Hansen

Page Length: 154

Reading Level: 6

Genre:  Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: This is the story of a friendship between Amir and Doris who met while Amir was living in a foster home on 163rd street in the Bronx. Amir’s parents were killed in a car wreck and he was separated from his siblings who were put into foster care.  As the story evolves, Amir is living with his youngest brother, Ronald and his foster parent’s, Alvin and Grace Smith. Amir is on a mission to find his aunt, who he believes has his other sibling’s living with them.  He has a letter and picture he wants to send to all of the people who have the same last name as his aunt to try to find them.  However, Mr. Smith forbids Amir to send the letters and says that he will help find his aunt.

Amir feels alone and writes Doris about his life in Syracuse, the Smith’s, and Ronald.  Doris writes back about issues she is having with her schoolmates and family.  Both Amir and Doris, give each other advice and support through their mail. They both feel disconnected from the world they live in and hold on to the distant friendship to solve their problems.

REVIEW: This book starts off slow, but gets better as the relationship between Doris and Amir develops through the letters they write.  The issues that the two teens face are realistic as to what many teens fact today.  A meaningful relationship also develops between the Smith’s and Amir that makes Amir realize what blood family and chosen family can both be a part of one’s life.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Main Idea and Supporting Details, Conflict, Cause/Effect, Compare/Contrast, Setting and Characters

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: References to marijuana use and AIDS, but nothing that is not age appropriate.

RELATED BOOKS: The Gift Giver, Yellow Bird and Me

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.kidsreads.com/reviews/0395849837.asp

www.kidsreads.com/reviews/0395849837.asp

www.joycehansen.com

www.answers.com/topic/joyce-viola-hansen

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

April 29, 2008

Empire State Building

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Empire State Building

Author: Elizabeth Mann

Illustrator: Alan Witschonke

Page Length: 47

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Non-fiction

REVIEW: I was amazed at how much interesting information this “picture book” about the Empire State Building contained. Picture books now-a-days are under-rated. Many are written at high reading levels and the wealth of information inside them is endless. This book is one such example.

The idea for the Empire State Building construction started with a partnership between two powerful men – one of whom was a former governor of New York. Due to advancements in industrialization, the discovery that taller buildings were more useful, and the need for men to show off their wealth, Alfred Smith and John Raskob envisioned a building that soared above every thing in the NYC skyline. Their vision came to light after 19 months, 1250 feet, 6 worker deaths, and numerous economic hardships during the Great Depression. 

Two little known facts that I read about in this book were that Native Americans in the area assisted in the construction of the sky scraper, and the building was built in such a way that every office had close access to a window-view.

Author Elizabeth Mann describes it eloquently when she states that, “the Empire State Building was a hopeful sight for New Yorkers who watched it climb like a rocket from a hole in the ground during the Great Depression.” Even over 70 years after it’s “ribbon cutting ceremony” the sky scraper remains an architectural gem.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: text features (captions, diagrams, facts, maps, glossary, time-lines), compare/contrast (before and after photos, Empire State Building vs. Chrysler Building)

RELATED BOOKS: Elizabeth Mann has written books over other U.S. landmarks such as The Brooklyn Bridge & Hoover Dam.

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: (King Kong & The Howdy Doody Show, pages 44-45)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.newyorktransportation.com/info/empirefact1.html (Link to a listing of movies in which the Empire State Building has appeared)

http://www.esbnyc.com/index2.cfm?CFID=27279257&CFTOKEN=37787068 (official site of the Empire State Building)

http://skyscraperpage.com/cities/?buildingID=23

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/greatbuildings/interactive/0,,2184617,00.html (Interactive Slideshow and Video)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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