Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

December 07, 2007

No Talking

By Andrew Clements
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

The king of school stories returns with another winner. The fifth grade class at Laketon Elementary are known as the Unshushables for their nonstop chatter...until the contest starts. Dave Packer challenges himself to be like Gandhi and not speak for a whole day until he listens to one of the girls jabbering away. Then before he knows it, Dave has challenged Lynsey to a contest--no talking for 2 days straight, all the fifth grade boys versus all the fifth grade girls. Three word answers are allowed to speak back to teachers, but anything over that will be counted against you. But what begins as a battle of the sexes becomes more interesting as the teachers try to figure out what is going on with their suddenly silent classes and boys and girls learn to communicate in different ways and even become allies in their common goal. But when the principal feels like the fifth graders are undermining her school, will they be able to finish the contest? Who is going to win? Clements pens another fun and thoughtful novel about the power of speech and the power of silence. Like his other books, readers will eat this up and enjoy every mouthful.

December 03, 2007

Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf

By Jennifer L. Holm
Rating: 4 1/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Holm breaks new ground in storytelling with this fun scrapbook/journal. The subtitle of this book says it all: A Year Told Through Stuff. So we follow our 7th grade heroine, Ginny, through her school year by reading the notes, report cards, bills, bank statements, appointment cards, receipts, instant messages, lists, poems and more that reveal her many incidents, trials and tribulations. So one page will show a ripped out magazine bit on "5 Ways to Look Pretty Now" with the corresponding items purchased on a receipt at Roy's Drugs. Then the next page shows the bills for Ginny's trip to the salon and for plumbing repairs after she used the items she purchased to "Look Pretty Now." Readers will be able to follow the addition of a stepdad to Ginny's family, her brother's petty crimes, try outs for the Nutcracker ballet, the creation of a science project, and other bits in Ginny's life. Expect to want to pore over the pages to pick up details. This is a clever way to tell someone's story (in full color, no less!) and some fans may be inspired to keep their own "stuff" to tell their life stories. Pages and pages of enjoyment will be found here, and it may be especially attractive to reluctant readers.