TFK Kid Reporters Benje Choucroun, Christopher Nguyen and Nolan Watson review two of the summer's exciting new books.
Book Title: Peeves
Author: Mike Van Waes
Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter: Benje Choucroun
Genre: Science Fiction
Number of pages: 336
Steven “Slim” Pickings accidentally gets a dose of an untested experimental treatment made to prevent anxiety attacks. Before he knows it, his pet peeves—the things that bother and frighten him the most—are coming to life. And they’re contagious. Soon, everyone in town is hounded by their pet peeves in the form of fat, furry creatures. The town is going to have to confront its fears and annoyances to defeat them.
In Slim’s sister Lucy, the author perfectly portrays the way sisters are embarrassed by their brothers. She is the only realistic character in the book. The other characters are what you might expect from science fiction. For instance, you’ll never encounter a real person like Slim Pickings. He’ll put his family in danger just to save a peeve. As for his parents, they have no sense of what’s really important. They repeat the line “We’ll talk about this later” whenever they learn about one of their kids’ screwups. They do it even as they’re being chased by man-eating bugbears.
People who like science fiction will like this book. However, for a science-fiction book, there’s none of the death and gore you might expect. People who liked the movie Gremlins might like this book too, as Peeves is also a story about a town suddenly overwhelmed by small, pesky creatures.
I would rate Peeves a 4 out of 10. The major plot points are predictable, and all we learn about the main character is that he has panic attacks. I couldn’t find a reason to root for Slim, other than that I didn’t want him to get eaten by monsters.
HMH BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
Book Title: Class Action
Author: Steven B. Frank
Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter: Christopher Nguyen
Number of Pages: 272
Sam Warren, a sixth grader, is tired of homework. Most of his time in after school is spent doing homework or thinking about homework. So when he’s overloaded, yet again, with homework, he decides that he’s finally had enough and stands up on his desk with a protest sign. His friends join him. After being reprimanded by the teacher and principal, they stand down. But Sam gets suspended for refusing to sit. Sam then recruits an elderly neighbor (and retired attorney), Mr. Kalman, to file a lawsuit on behalf of all students in Los Angeles. With a team consisting of his beyond-brilliant sister, Sadie, and her tech-savvy boyfriend, Sean; a master chef in the making, Alistair; the numbers-obsessed Catalina; and sports star Jaesang, they take their case all the way to the Supreme Court. Will they win back the childhoods of students across the nation? Or will the whole thing be a huge flop?
Yes, the characters in this book are very realistic. Anyone who has ever been to school will be able to relate to them. Most middle schoolers will identify with the stress of having to keep up with their schoolwork and not having time to be a kid.
Anyone who likes comedy and legal books will enjoy reading Class Action. It is very educational in that it teaches about the judicial system and the process of appeals.
I would rate Class Action a 9 out of 10, only because it’s unrealistic to push a case to the Supreme Court in such a short amount of time. Other than that, the author did a great job keeping my attention throughout the book. It was very hard to put it down, even for one second.
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Book Title: The Crossroads
Author: Alexandra Diaz
Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter: Nolan Watson
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Number of pages: 336
Twelve-year old Jaime Rivera has fled gang violence in Guatemala to live as an undocumented immigrant in New Mexico. He moves in with his older brother on a ranch. There, Jaime experiences new joys, including his first snowfall, and he befriends an old rancher named Don Vicente. Although Jaime’s life at school is tough—he deals with bullying and struggles to understand English—his passion for drawing and for horseback rides with Don Vicente help him settle into a new life. But soon disaster strikes. Jaime receives news that his grandma has been a victim of gang violence. Not long after, Don Vicente is detained by immigration authorities. While Jaime tries to get through school, he is constantly worried about Don Vicente’s fate. Can Jaime help save Don Vicente, or will he lose someone close to him yet again?
The characters in this book all lead realistic lives that are complicated by their immigration status. Jaime has a tough time fitting in at school, like so many other kids. He has to deal with some bullying from the other students. His cousin Angela also seems to have a pretty typical teenage life and frequently hangs out with friends and spends time on her phone. Overall, the characters are very relatable and give us a glimpse into the life of an undocumented immigrant.
The Crossroads is great for anyone who has heard about undocumented immigrants in the news and is curious about their lives. Alexandra Diaz does a good job of showing the reader what it’s like to have to leave some of your closest family and friends behind and live under the constant threat of deportation.
I would give this book an 8 out of 10. The narration develops Jaime’s character and helps the reader connect with him. The action is a bit slow at times, however, and it takes a while for the plot to progress.