Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

December 28, 2006

Vive La Paris

By Esme Codell
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

This is a companion novel to the wonderful Sahara Special. Named after the city in France, Paris is a 5th grader who loves to read, has 4 big brothers, and a father who wants all the kids to know how to play an instrument. Accordingly, Paris gets sent to elderly Mrs. Rosen for piano lessons, with her 8th grade brother Michael in tow. Paris is troubled by 2 things: how soft her brother Michael seems to be, and Tanaeja, a girl in her class who keeps trying to beat up Michael at recess. Michael only wants to keep the peace, so he doesn't fight back, but Paris is itching to put this bully down. But as her lessons with Mrs. Rosen progress, she learns about a different perspective on life as well as some jazz. Paris is taught the hard way that her point of view isn't the only one that exists, and to try and be your brother's keeper is a long, bumpy road. And if Tanaeja is her enemy, maybe there is a reason behind her actions if she can just see past them. This is a wonderful book about being and becoming. Paris is very realistic in her narrow point of view, and in her reluctance to forgive and forget. Fans of Sahara Special can hope for more stories about members of Miss Pointy's class.

December 24, 2006


By Frank Cottrell Boyce
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

In this absolute charmer, Dylan lives in the tiny Welsh town of Manod, where it rains almost every day of the year, and his family runs the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel where they sell petrol (gas) and fix cars. But with the Oasis Auto Marvel at the end of a dead end road in a town which doesn't even have a sign to exit from the highway, things are not going so well for business. On top of that, Dylan is the last boy left in Manod minus his baby brother, so forget about playing soccer. Then suddenly, there is activity on top of the mountain road past the Auto Marvel where the old slate quarry is--the National Gallery in London has sent its entire collection of paintings to keep safely on the old mountain due to flooding at the museum. As the townspeople get glimpses of the different paintings, they find themselves moved and changed by the artwork, which in turn, begins to change life in Manod. But despite the best efforts of Dylan's family, the Auto Marvel is still failing, and his sister Minnie gets an idea--what if they could steal one of the paintings and hold it for ransom? Then they'd be able to pay off their debts. But can a couple of kids and an adult obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pull off the robbery of the century? This a extremely likeable story, filled with great characters and the transformative powers of art. Not to mention the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Big thumbs up.

December 14, 2006

My Dog's a Scaredy-Cat

By Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Rating: 3 3/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

This is book 10 in the Hank Zipzer series. It is Halloween, and Hank has a fabulous idea for the school's costume parade--a table at an Italian restaurant! Despite his friends' warnings, he forges ahead with his costume, and if you know Hank, you know that things didn't quite work out like he planned. But what bothers Hank the most is when Nick McKelty, the 5th grade bully, makes fun of both him and his sister, Emily, in front of the whole school. It is time to put a stop to Nick the Tick's bullying! Hank recruits his friends Ashley and Frankie to put together a last-minute haunted house in his living room to give McKelty the scare of his life! But when Hank's dog, Cheerio, goes missing, revenge takes a backseat. Can they find Cheerio in time to still give Nick his scare? As always, a Hank Zipzer story is full of fun and laughs, along with a big heart. Readers will chuckle along with Hank's ups and downs and come back looking for more installments to eat up.

December 01, 2006

Looking for Bobowicz

By Daniel Pinkwater
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Nick is unhappy to have to move to Hoboken. He is even more unhappy to have his bike stolen the very first hour in the new place. But then he makes some new friends and they hang out in the cool basement, reading Classic Comics and listening to pirate radio as the summer passes. One day in the basement, Nick and his friends stumble on a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings about a giant chicken who terrorized the city and was owned by an Arthur Bobowicz. When the kids start asking questions, no one seems to know about the 6 foot high chicken, or about "the phantom" who they suspect of stealing bikes. Soon the trio are chin-deep in attempts to track down Arthur Bobowicz and find the giant chicken! Readers will be rolling in the aisles as they meet crazy characters, try catching bats with hats, and search for the giant chicken. A very funny, offbeat story that will have kids asking for more books by Daniel Pinkwater.