Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park April 19, 2011

Filed under: children's realistic fiction — Bethany @ 11:14 pm
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Junie B. is ready for her first day of school.  She meets her teacher, she sees her classroom, and then her mother breaks the news:  Junie B. has to ride the school bus to get to school.  She’s scared but her mother makes her board the bus for afternoon kindergarten.  The kids on the bus aren’t very nice and Junie B. is glad to to arrive at school.  On the first day, her class takes a tour of the school and sees the cafeteria, the nurse’s office, and the bathrooms.  School seems okay, but when it’s time to go home on the bus, Junie B. is scared.  Instead of going outside with the rest of the class, she decides to stay at school.

This is a popular series for those beginning to read chapter books.  The story is written in a first-person point of view with language that a kindergartner might use.  Instead of being authentic or cute, I found it to be annoying and distracting.  The plot line was unrealistic (Junie spends a long period of time alone in the school, wandering around and going through the nurse’s office) and there were no consequences for Junie’s rude words or actions.  There are much better books for kids to spark a discussion about being nervous for the first day or school or riding the bus.


Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer

Filed under: ages 9-12,humor — Bethany @ 11:12 pm
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Will thinks life is hard with four brothers, but things are about to get a lot harder.  His parents decide he and his older brother need something to do during the summer- a (gulp) educational hobby.  Marty and Will are sent to the public library.  Their parents think the librarian is a nice older lady, but kids know the truth.  She is known as Spud Murphy, named for the gas-powered spud gun she keeps under her desk to shoot soggy potatoes at anyone who makes trouble.  Will the boys survive a summer surrounded by nothing but books under the watchful eye of Spud Murphy?

This was a great book about boys being forced to spend their summer at the library only to discover they like reading and the terrifying librarian is not so bad after all.  This book is funny and imaginative enough to interest the reluctant reader and would be especially appealing to boys.


Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

Clementine is having a rough week.  It all starts when she helps her friend Margaret with her hair.  Even though she is helping, she ends up in trouble with Margaret’s mother, the principal, and eventually Margaret herself.  Everyone is always sending Clementine to the principal’s office and telling her to “pay attention,” when she notices things that no one else does.  Maybe if she can find a solution to The Great Pigeon War and clean her room and do everything an easy child would do, she wouldn’t be in so much trouble all the time.

Clementine is the modern day Ramona.  She has a good heart but always ends up in trouble.  She is funny, quirky, and endearing.  Highly recommended for anyone in second through fourth grades.


Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows April 14, 2011

Filed under: humor,realistic fiction — Bethany @ 10:03 pm
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“No thanks,” was Bean’s reply when her mom suggested she befriend the girl next door.  To Bean, Ivy seemed way too boring.  Always sitting by herself, reading books and wearing dresses.  Then, when a practical joke on Bean’s older sister goes wrong, Ivy comes to the rescue and the girls realize they aren’t so different after all.

A fun read about two spunky seven-year-old girls, perfect for those beginning to read chapter books.


When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead April 12, 2011

Cryptic notes, an absent best friend, sandwiches, and time travel.  These are all pieces of 12-year-old Miranda’s story.  Her mother is chosen to play on the $20,000 Pyramid game show right around the time Miranda gets the first mysterious note.  Her best friend Sal stops hanging out with her right around the time he is beaten up by the boy in the green Army jacket who knows a lot about time travel.  Throw in a lunch hour job at a sandwich shop and homeless man on the street corner and all that’s left is to figure out how the pieces fit together.

When You Reach Me handily blends realistic fiction with science fiction.  The characters were well done and the story, although a little far-fetched at the end, was enjoyable.  Recommended reading for upper elementary through adults.

Newbery Medal winner


The Bird Artist by Howard A. Norman April 4, 2011

Fabian Vas was first inspired to draw birds as a child, and his mother, pleased with his talent, encouraged him.  As Fabian grows up in Newfoundland in the early 1900s, he continues to draw and paint birds for pleasure and for a small profit selling his art to journals and magazines.  Fabian does not have many friends other than Margaret Handle, a girl two years older than him that his mother despises.  He and Margaret develop an intimate friendship in their teen years.  Little does Fabian know that his parents have different plans for him, a marriage to his fourth cousin, Cora.  When his father leaves for several months on a money-making expedition for the wedding, Fabian’s mother is overcome with temptation that will affect the future of the entire town.  The Vas’ formerly quiet life is disrupted by betrayal, vengeance, and murder.

I read this book for my book club.  Had it not been for that, I would have not have chosen this book and would not have finished it.  There was nothing memorable about the story, the characters, or even the murder.


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