Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

September 13, 2008

Thank You, Lucky Stars

By Beverly Donofrio
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Ally can't wait to start 5th grade with her best friend since kindergarten, Betsy. She is planning to sing with Betsy in the annual 5th grade talent show. But she's in for a cruel surprise to find Betsy has taken up with Mona, a girl they never had liked before, and Betsy is going to be in a band with Mona for the show. Ally is unceremoniously dumped and she is devastated. Then new girl Tina joins the classroom. Tina is outgoing but definitely weird, sometimes wearing her hair like Princess Leia and always trying to be funny but not always succeeding. Ally isn't interested in being her friend, but with friends in short supply, Tina slowly begins to draw Ally in. Tina can't wait to be in the talent show, and comes up with different silly ideas to try until Ally hits upon a disco dance routine. But Tina also hides a secret--her mother acts very strangely, talking about people that don't exist and spending money they don't have. Whenever Ally tries to find out about her mother, Tina clams up. Then Ally's dream comes true--Betsy wants her to join the band and go-go dance in the talent show! But if Ally chooses the band, she'll have to abandon Tina. Should she go back to the person she's been friends with forever? Or should Ally be true to oddball Tina, who has always been loyal to her? There may be some references to 70's music and movies that kids don't catch, but in general, a likeable book about hard choices in friendship.

September 04, 2008

Who Ordered This Baby? Definitely Not Me!

By Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Hank Zipzer is back in his 13th book. This time, Hank receives the terrible news that his mom is expecting a baby. All Hank can think about is how this baby is going to ruin his life by taking attention away from him while spitting up and littering the apartment with dirty diapers. To make matters worse, Hank's birthday is here and no one wants to plan or attend a party. His best friends Ashley and Frankie are shopping for baby gifts and his parents want to just have a quiet dinner. The baby isn't here yet and it is already ruining his life! So Hank takes the initiative and with Papa Pete's help, purchases a baby tarantula named Rosa. Can taking care of a spider help prepare Hank for a real baby? Can Hank keep a large spider under control? If you know Hank, you already know the answers to these questions. Fans won't be disappointed by the funny scenes and the way Hank works through his problem. Although some readers may see the ending coming from a long way out, most will still enjoy the trip.