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Summer Book Reviews: Part 5


Do you love to read? TFK Kid Reporters do too! Lucy Sandor and Gabri Blankson shared their reviews of two of the summer’s most interesting books. This is the last installment in our five-part series. We hope you’ve enjoyed TFK’s Summer Book Review roundup. Happy reading!


Title: The Turtle of Michigan

Author: Naomi Shihab Nye

Reviewed by: TFK Kid Reporter Lucy Sandor

Genre: Realistic fiction

Number of pages: 336

What’s the plot? Aref is a friendly, talkative third grader who’s just moved from Oman, a country in the Middle East, to Ann Arbor, Michigan. These two places couldn’t be more different, and Aref is excited to discover all the amazing things life in the United States has to offer. He’s nervous. But he makes new friends, including a dog named Honeybun. Aref writes to his grandfather, Sidi, back home. Aref tells him about all the new things he does in Ann Arbor, like taking hikes and going to art camp. But Aref feels lonely. He misses Sidi and everything about home. He especially misses seeing turtles at the beach near his old home. Aref sets up a terrarium, hoping he’ll find a Michigan turtle to adopt and help him feel more connected. But finding a turtle in Michigan seems impossible. Will he ever find one? Will he ever feel at home in Ann Arbor?

Are the characters relatable? The characters are very relatable. In the book, just as in reality, many kids in Aref’s class have moved from their home country to the U.S. They’ve left their old life and family behind. Dealing with change, feeling lonely, and missing old friends are things many kids face in real life.

Who would like this book? All kids ages 7–12 would like this book. They’re around Aref’s age, so they might be in a lot of similar situations. His experiences include seeing snow for the first time, making new friends, missing people he loves, and feeling a strong connection to animals.

How would you rate this book? Why? I would definitely rate this book a 9 out of 10! The Turtle of Michigan is funny while being relatable. Its pace is just right, and the characters all have their own stories to tell. Aref enjoys life and has fun, and readers will enjoy seeing him experience life in Michigan.


Title: Swim Team

Author: Johnnie Christmas

Reviewed by: TFK Kid Reporter Gabri Blankson

Genre: Graphic novel

Number of pages: 256

What’s the plot? Swim Team is about a girl named Bree who has to move from Brooklyn, New York, to Florida with her father. Bree struggles with social anxiety as she adjusts to her new home, grade, and school. She loves puzzles and excels at math, so when she learns there are no more spots in the math club at her new school, she’s disappointed. She joins the swim team instead, but she doesn’t even know how to swim! Fortunately, Ms. Etta, a swimming star who lives near Bree, teaches her everything there is to know about swimming and sets her on a good path. Will Bree be able to help her team win the state championship?

Are the characters relatable? Yes! Just like Bree, many kids struggle with social anxiety. Whether they are new to a school, a city, or an activity, they can find it hard to fit in. But sometimes, it helps to get outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Roberto is another lovable character. He loves fashion, and even makes his own clothes. Lots of boys love fashion and design and are sometimes made fun of because others think it’s something only girls can like. But that’s not true at all!

Who would like this book? I think any middle grade student would love this book. It’s funny, interesting, relatable, and a quick read. I also think anyone who doesn’t know how to swim or fears swimming would like this book. It could give them the confidence they need to try swimming, stay positive, and face their fears.

How would you rate this book? Why? I would rate this book a 10 out of 10. It describes so many concepts, struggles, and fears. Sometimes, we need to be reminded that everyone needs to be loved. We all matter.