Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

April 28, 2008

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

Told in a handwritten script and cartoons in his journal (not a diary, says Gregory), Gregory writes of his daily life at home and school. As a pretty wimpy kid, Greg is often picked on, so he spends his time trying to find ways to get attention or better his life situation at home or school. Unfortunately, his one good friend Rowley is often the one bearing the brunt of Greg's faulty ideas. Like when he thinks it'll be a good idea to start weight-lifting...but makes Rowley try it first. Guess who gets stuck under the homemade dumbell? Or the time Rowley breaks his hand after playing the Big Wheel and football game. Although Greg is not the type of kid you can say is particularly nice, a lot of the situations he gets himself (and Rowley) into are pretty funny. It would have been too much to ask to have any real character growth in this type of story which is just out for cheap laughs, but the kids who read it won't care. They'll just laugh and ask for more! So if you like a funny read, pick this one up. A sequel, Rodrick Rules, will also be on the funny story reading list.

April 22, 2008


By Patricia Reilly Giff
Rating: 4 stars

Sam is turning 11 years old, but for some reason, the number eleven scares him. Then he finds in the attic a newspaper clipping with a picture of him as a three year old with a different last name and the word "missing." Missing? Was Mack, the grandfather he lived with, not really his family? There's more, in a locked box. And he keeps having dreams; dreams of shouting, dreams of being wet in a storm, dreams of a castle, dreams of the number eleven. To help him figure out the clues to his past, Sam enlists Caroline, a new girl in his classroom. A struggling reader, Sam figures it will help to have someone who can read well. Sam and Caroline's friendship develops much like the pieces of the mystery to Sam's past until there is a point where all of their relationships hang in the balance and Sam must make the final effort to know the truth. Readers' interest will be held by the various clues as well as by the likeable Sam and Caroline which all combine to make an enjoyable tale about finding out about who you were so you can move forward to be who you are.

April 11, 2008

Lily B. on the Brink of Paris

By Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Lily B. wants nothing more to be a great writer, and how better to start her writing career then absorbing the wonders of Paris? Lily is excited to be on 8th grade class trip to Paris with her best friends Charlotte and Bonnie as well as five other classmates. How can she help but mine "mental gems" from the City of Lights? But being a tourist in Paris isn't quite what she imagined it to be...especially when a girl who doesn't like paying attention to details finds herself separated from the group without a clue about where she is and how to get back. Suddenly her writer's spirit of disorganization has lead her awry. Often quite funny, we follow Lily as she sees some of the sights of Paris, plumbs some hidden depths in herself as well as in some of her friends and classmates, and finds out you don't have to leave your own backyard to write a great first novel (but she's glad she got to see Paris anyway). A light but enjoyable read that will appeal to many girls. More Lily B books include Lily B. on the Brink of Cool and Lily B. on the Brink of Love.

April 08, 2008

Me and the Pumpkin Queen

By Marlane Kennedy
Rating: 3 3/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Mildred is obsessed with pumpkins. Giant pumpkins. Mildred lives in Circleville, Ohio, where every year the Pumpkin Festival proudly displays those giant pumpkins which can weigh well over 1,000 pounds. When little 6 year old Mildred discovers that her mother, who recently died of cancer, always wanted to try growing a giant pumpkin, her own obsession is born to grow a pumpkin her mother would be proud of. As Mildred grows older, she learns more and more about what it takes to grow a giant pumpkin, but so far, she hasn't been successful in getting one big enough and good enough to bring to the festival. Mildred's veterinarian father is understanding, but her Aunt Arlene thinks her obsession is unhealthy. What about clothes? Friends? Vacations away? The year Mildred turns eleven, she finds that growing up might include having to do and learn some things she could ignore before. As she battles Aunt Arlene's good intentions, ignores the girls at school who only care about how you look, and bonds with her best and only friend Jacob, Mildred struggles to grow her best pumpkin ever. Will she finally have one that can be displayed at the Festival? This is a light and entertaining read which is certainly an education about both pumpkin growing and growing up. With a feel good ending, readers will enjoy this fun story. For another great story about pumpkin growing pangs, read Squashed by Joan Bauer.