Winter 2017 Book Reviews: Part One

November 13, 2017
TFK Kid Reporters: Aanand Mehta, Gabrielle Hurd, Nolan Watson, Gitanjali Rao, Marley Alburez, Natalie Chen,
EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER/GETTY IMAGES

Title: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

Author: Rick Riordan

Reviewed by: TFK Kid Reporter Aanand Mehta

Genre: Fantasy

Number of pages: 432 pages

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What’s the basic story line?

Magnus Chase, the son of Frey, god of peace and rain, is not a brave warrior. He and his friends train at Valhalla for Ragnarok, a battle in which the most fearless will accompany Odin in the fight against Loki and his giants. Magnus soon challenges Loki, (the god of mischief) to a flyting, or a verbal duel of insults. In order to win and prevent Ragnarok, Magnus will need to drink the strongest mead, a beverage made of fermented honey and water. So he goes on a journey to find Kvasir’s mead, the strongest and most rare, which will give him the power to win the flyting. Along with his friends, Magnus travels across the world facing sea gods, vicious demons, and many other obstacles to find Kvasir’s mead and finally face the god of mischief. Will he be able to stop Ragnarok, or will good perish forever?

Are the characters believable?

Even though this is a fantasy, most of the characters are fairly believable. There are characters that can exist in the real world like Amir Fadlan, owner of Fadlan’s Falafel, who comes to wish Magnus Chase good luck on his journey. Magnus Chase is a fairly believable character, as he is an average 16-year-old homeless child. On the other hand, he is not so realistic because he is an einherji, a great hero who has died of bravery and comes back to life in Valhalla.

Who would like this book?

Anyone who is fond of Norse mythology, fantasy in general, or amazing surprises at the turn of every page would like this book.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate this book?

I would definitely rate this book a perfect 10. Author Rick Riordan combines Norse mythology with lots of humor. The more of the book I read, the more I engrossed I became in the story.

Title: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

Author: Karina Yan Glaser

Reviewed by: TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Hurd

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of pages: 293

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What’s the basic story line?

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street are facing a crisis. The landlord, Mr. Beiderman, isn’t renewing their lease. Can the twins Isa and Jessie, the only boy Oliver, creative Hyacinth, and 4-year-old Laney convince the landlord to let the family stay?

Are the characters believable?

The characters are pretty believable. They all have characteristics you might see in family, friends, and acquaintances. Isa is a phenomenal violinist. Jessie is a nerd in love with science. Oliver is an avid Treasure Island fan. Hyacinth is extremely creative, and Laney is a lovable 4-year-old who enjoys giving out hugs.

Who would like this book?

Realistic fiction fans, comedy fans, 4th graders, and 5th graders would all love this book. It’s a humorous, easy read. A fun aspect of the book: it contains notes and letters the characters have either written or received.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate this book?

I would rate this book a 9. My overall impression is that it is a great book. The plot was creative and intriguing. But be warned: I found some parts of the book confusing, but not so much that it got in the way of my enjoyment.

Title: The Stars Beneath Our Feet

Author: David Barclay Moore

Reviewed by: TFK Kid Reporter Nolan Watson

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of pages: 288

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What’s the basic story line?

Wallace Rachpaul, commonly referred to as “Lolly,” is a 12-year-old boy growing up in Harlem. Lolly recently lost his older brother Jermaine to gun violence, and is having a difficult time coping with the loss. When Christmas rolls around, Lolly receives an architecture book from his friend Steve, and two huge bags of Legos from his mom’s friend Yvonne. Lolly enters a new phase of his life, and tears down his existing Lego models to build an abstract castle with the colorful plastic bricks. When the castle becomes too big for the apartment, Lolly moves it to the storage area of his apartment’s community room. The Lego building starts to relieve Lolly’s pain, but his troubled life returns when he leaves his imagination and enters the streets of Harlem. Will Lolly break the mold and lead a new artistic way of life, or will he get stuck in the life that killed his brother?

Are the characters believable?

The characters in this book all have believable backgrounds and qualities. Lolly and his friends experience typical teen dramas and problems that most readers will no doubt recognize. But Lolly also has to deal with the threat of gangs and drugs on the streets of Harlem. The author does a great job of portraying how many of the residents of Harlem form tight relationships to deal with their tough life.

Who would like this book?

This book is perfect for anyone who is dealing with a loss, as it shows how occupying your life with a creative outlet can help you cope. But don’t discount this book as just another sad story. Rather, it’s an inspirational book about taking on life’s challenges.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate this book?

I would give The Stars Beneath Our Feet an 8. Author David Barclay Moore is able to connect you with the characters of the book, and make you feel their emotions as if you were right there with them. My only criticism is that there were a few loose ends that weren’t addressed at the end of the book.

Title: The Wizard of Once

Author: Cressida Cowell

Reviewed by: TFK Kid Reporter Gitanjali Rao

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Number of pages: 373

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What’s the basic story line?

This book describes the adventures of Prince Xar, a wizard with no magic, and Princess Wish, a warrior who has a secret that she will do anything to conceal. The two enemies begin their journey with the discovery of a witch feather, a sure sign of bad magic. The evil witches have returned. Will Xar and Wish succeed in capturing these dangerous creatures? Are the characters believable? The author’s descriptions are so vivid that I felt like I was right there in every scene with Wish and Xar! Even though magic, wizardry, and enchanted objects are the stuff of fantasy, each of the characters possess human traits that make them seem very much of the real world. I personally felt as if I could relate to their feelings.

Who would like this book?

Readers in elementary or middle school who enjoy magic ,wizardry and adventure will want to read this book. The story builds with every turn of the page, keeping readers on the edge of their seat. If you enjoy mystery and the unknown, this is the story for you!

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate this book?

I would rate this book a high 8. I enjoy cliffhangers and mysteries, so this book was perfect for me! Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.

Title: The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street

Author: Lindsay Currie

Reviewed by: TFK Kid Reporter Marley Alburez

Genre: Horror

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Number of pages:

What’s the basic story line?

Tessa Woodward has just moved from beachy Florida to the windy city of Chicago. If that’s not enough of a challenge, Tessa suspects her new house is haunted. The first clue? Her brother’s creepy vintage doll begins to cry real tears. The upside to Tessa’s ghost problem is it brings her new friends who help to solve this tricky mystery.

Are the characters believable?

Apart from the ghost, the characters are pretty believable. Tessa acts like a typical girl who is suffering from homesickness. Her parents are people who like to “go with the flow” (like mine!) and the rest of the characters act like typical preteens dealing with typical preteen problems. Who would like this book? Anyone who likes a mystery with elements of scariness and humor would enjoy this book.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate this book?

I would give The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street a 9. This book has it all: mystery, suspense, and lots of laughs. Anyone who has ever moved from one place to another and has felt homesick can easily relate to Tessa. Also, some of the places in this book actually do exist! Finding out about these places added a bit of real-life interest to the story.

Title: The Wonderling

Author: Mira Bartók

Reviewed by: TFK Kid Reporter Natalie Chen

Genre: Fantasy

Number of page: 450

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What’s the basic story line?

The Wonderling is set in a world with part-animal, part-human creatures (called groundlings) that live in the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures under the vicious rule of a villain named Miss Carbunkle. The story focuses on Wonderling, or Arthur, a one-eared, half-fox creature who has been an orphan all his life. He gets swept into an adventure with a bird groundling named Trinket who leads them on an escape from the orphanage. Together, they face many challenges on their adventure that will ultimately lead Arthur on a path to find his true purpose.

Are the characters believable?

The characters are of the fantasy genre, so you’re not likely to run into anyone like them in the real world. Still, Wonderling has traits that you might recognize in a small child. Readers will find it hard not to fall in love with the half-fox’s sense of curiosity, kindness, and adventure. Some characters are unbelievable because their traits are so exaggerated. Take Miss Carbunkle for instance. She is over-the-top evil!

Who would like this book?

This book won’t disappoint lovers of the fantasy genre. Readers who enjoy the “Warriors” series by Erin Hunter will surely delight in The Wonderling. The simplicity of the text, along with the book’s sense of adventure, make it a read for all ages.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate this book?

I would rate this book a 9. The author’s detailed imagery made the world come to life. It’s a light-hearted read, with hints of a children’s book narrative, yet the adventure-filled story kept me in suspense. The Wonderling is a book that I can read over and over again.