Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt August 18, 2016

book cover2Ally knows she is different from the other kids. Reading is hard for her, almost impossible. She’s gotten good at hiding it from teachers, her mother, everyone. She’s become the master at creating a diversion, saying something funny, even getting sent to principal’s office if she has to, just to keep her secret. But her secret is draining to keep. It feels like she’s carrying a heavy weight that makes it hard to keep afloat. When she starts sixth grade, her teacher Mr. Daniels sees what’s really going on. It is a relief for Ally, like the weight has been taken from her shoulders. But can Mr. Daniels really help her? As far as she knows, there’s no cure for dumb.

This is a heartwarming story about a girl with dyslexia. It is both believable and unbelievable that her parents and previous teachers did not catch on to her struggles. I want to believe that someone would have noticed, but I’ve heard many stories about kids slipping through the cracks. I would recommend this story to upper elementary or younger middle schoolers who will be able to relate to Ally’s desperation to have her problems disappear and wanting to blend in with her classmates.

3 out of 5 stars

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My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary January 23, 2016

Filed under: adult biography,adult memoir,Uncategorized — Bethany @ 12:27 pm
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My Own Two FeetMy Own Two Feet is the second part of the autobiography of beloved author Beverly Cleary. The story begins in the 1930’s as Ms. Cleary is leaving her home in Portland, Oregon to attend college in California. Readers learn about her college experiences, her struggles to fund her education in a post-Depression economy, her relationship with her parents, her early career as a librarian, and her beginnings as a children’s book author.

This book was absolutely fascinating! I loved the Ramona books growing up and have found that they’ve stood the test of time. Ms. Cleary says that she was inspired to write children’s books when, as a young librarian, a group of boys asked her for books about kids like them and she found there was nothing to give them. I really liked reading about her life as a female college student in the 30’s. She was really quite brave and as independent as she could be during an era where young women went from being under the wing of their parents to their husbands. It was also interesting to learn that librarians now face many of the same dilemmas as they did over 75 years ago. Her story of being assigned to further destroy ratty books to justify throwing them away under the watchful eye of tax payers made me laugh. I would recommend this book to adults, especially librarians, who want to know about this strong and interesting woman.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek By Maya Van Wagenen August 11, 2015

Filed under: nonfiction — Bethany @ 10:31 pm
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Popular_comp9.indd“School is the armpit of life.” This was how Maya’s friend Kenzie described it. Maya agreed. Her description of her school was something most of us can understand. There are jocks and popular people and not-so-popular people and cliques and gossip and drama. Maya thought there was no way to change your standing in the social structure of school. But one day she came across an old book from the thrift store. It was written in 1951 and called Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide. She decided to spend her 8th grade year following all of the advice in the book, no matter how embarrassing or complicated. She wrote this book about her experiences. Some things were pretty easy such as stand up straight to look taller and thinner. Some things were hard such as sitting at every table in the cafeteria and talking to everyone in school at least once. She learned a lot, not all of it good, but sometimes with surprising results. This a true story about Maya’s real life and how it changed from one old-fashioned self-help book and a lot of courage.

This was an absolutely charming book about a girl making the best of her situation. I felt like I could relate to Maya’s struggles and wished I would have been as brave and confident as she became by the end. As I read this, I thought of several teens who would enjoy it as much as I did.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero July 19, 2015

Gabi a Girl in PiecesHave you ever wanted to read someone’s diary? Here’s your chance. Gabi is a senior in high school. Her life isn’t perfect. Her best friend got pregnant without even telling Gabi she was having sex. Her other best friend just came out to his parents and got kicked out of the house. Her father is addicted to meth and might or might not come home at night. And Gabi’s mom is always on her case about not being easy… even though Gabi’s never been past first base. Some things about life are good, though. She has her friends, she’s figuring out how to use poetry to express her feelings, and she has food… so much good food. Things just might turn out okay.

This was one of the best books I’ve read all year. It dealt with a number of controversial topics in a realistic way. Gabi’s voice seemed authentic and her reactions to difficult situations were unflinchingly honest. I have already recommended this book to a number of teen girls and mothers.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Winger by Andrew Smith April 24, 2014

WingerRyan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old high school junior at a fancy boarding school in Oregon. This year he’s been transferred to O-Hall, the residence hall for the troublemakers. If his roommate Chas doesn’t kill him, it will be a miracle. Ryan Dean just hopes he can make his smoking hot friend Annie realize he’s not a little boy first. Annie, his friend Joey, and rugby are best things about this year, the year he becomes his own man.

I can’t write a review that does this book justice. It’s that awesome. Sure, it’s filled with swear words and Ryan Dean spends almost all of his time talking about or thinking about sex with every female he sees. But it’s also so funny, endearing, and heart breaking. Read it and love it.

5 out of 5 stars

 

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider April 23, 2014

Filed under: drama,realistic fiction — Bethany @ 9:11 pm
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Beginning of EverythingEzra believes everyone has one great tragedy in life that will set the course for that person’s life. For his childhood friend, it was witnessing a deadly accident at an amusement park. (A severed head lands in his lap on a roller coaster.) For Ezra, it was the night a car accident shattered his knee and his life as he knew it.

Now that his tennis career is over, Ezra doesn’t know what to do. He no longer fits in with the jocks and reunites with his childhood friend. It is in this new group of friends that he meets Cassidy Thorpe. She is unlike anyone he has every met and leads him down a path in life he never expected.

Ezra has had his great tragedy. Where will his life lead him now?

Golden boy loses it all? Check. Quirky but cute girl makes life interesting? Check. Surprise ending? Check. I’m the type of person who likes having a plan, but sometimes life doesn’t stick to the plan. And sometimes that’s a good thing. I would recommend this to older teens.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Just One Day by Gayle Forman June 13, 2013

Just One DayStraight-A student, Allyson Headley’s parents send her on a European tour as a graduation present. Teen Tours is a whirlwind of museums, cathedrals, picturesque sites, and photo opportunities. Most of the other kids go to bars to take advantage of the lower drinking age, but not Allyson. She watches movies in her hotel room and goes to sleep early. On the last day of the trip, her friend Melanie convinces her to skip out on the evening’s activity to go to an impromptu outdoor Shakespeare performance. That’s when Allyson sees him. After the performance, she does something completely unlike her. She talks to the tall, cute boy from the play. The next day, she runs into him again and is talked into spending just one day with him in Paris. This magical day changes her life forever.

The plot of this book was fairly predictable. Straight-laced female does something daring that changes her life and opens up things she would have never dreamed about before. Allyson really grows as a character and sets her life on a course that makes her happy instead of pleasing her overbearing mother. I would recommend this to older teens and adults who like realistic fiction and travel fiction.

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

 
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