Monday, November 7, 2016

Reid and Justin in an Epic Duel to the Last Inning!

Wow! What a great finish to the World Series of Reading Contest!  And what an amazing similarity this whole contest has had to the real Series--that game went into extra innings because of a tie between two great opponents, Chicago and Cleveland. This game went into extra innings because of a tie between those two great opponents, Reid and Justin. Both teams scored in the last innings and Reid and Justin have both sent in reviews this weekend, which was the "extra innings" for this contest. Which reviews should we print first? Hmmm--let's go with Justin's:

The School Story by Andrew Clements

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: August 1st, 2002 by Atheneum Books

Summary: Goodreads: "Two middle school girls scheme to publish a book in this novel from Andrew Clements, the author of Frindle.

Natalie's best friend, Zoe, is sure that the novel Natalie's written is good enough to be published. But how can a twelve-year-old girl publish a book? Natalie's mother is an editor for a big children's publisher, but Natalie doesn't want to ask for any favors.

Then Zoe has a brilliant idea: Natalie can submit her manuscript under a pen name, with Zoe acting as her literary agent. But it's not easy for two sixth graders to put themselves over as grown-ups, even with some help from a couple of real grown-ups who are supportive but skeptical. The next bestselling school story may be in their hands—but can Natalie and Zoe pull off their masquerade?"

What I liked: Ok, so I think the biggest thing that I appreciated about this books was that it, like a character in the book, really hit home to my heart. This book pretty much embodied the inner sixth-grade novelist in me, the sixth-grade novelist which pushed me to start this blog. That was my goal, to get a book published, be famous, and this book really hit home, which is why I loved reading it. Of course, Andrew Clements always continues to write really good content, which is why time and time again I enjoy reading his books.

What I didn't like: This book is crazy unrealistic in every way shape and form. This book is like the Lawn Boy series: it only works because of two things- luck and craziness. Like seriously, I know Clements tried to sell off the fact Zoe managed to convince a teacher to let her be a literary agent and all of that, but I mean seriously, what are the chances? And at another point, how does Natalie's book manage to actually be seriously considered. The book says something about how she really wrote about how a kid thinks and all of that, but at the end of the day, plot movement, character development, etc. kind of matter. I don't know if I'm just going on a worthless spiel, but I was a little irked by that.

Rating: 9.1 out of ten

Why? I fell in love with this book after the first chapter or so. It started off fast and it never let up. Absolute amazing writing.

This one is The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Group: MG
Publishing Date: March 1, 2010 by Amulet Books

Summary: So after Dwight and his Origami Yoda save Tommy from humiliating himself in front of the whole school (Basically, he stopped Tommy from asking this girl to dance practically two seconds before another guy runs over and kisses her), everyone in the school listens to Origami Yoda's advice, except for Harvey, and honestly he has good reason to. Dwight is part of "that group (you know, the type of kids who make Origami Yoda puppets) so I guess it makes sense not to listen to one of "them" for advice. And yet, kids do, with success. Let's say you break an English Teacher's most prized Shakespeare head? No problem, Origami Yoda says to make a new one with play-doh and sure enough, you're not in trouble! But towards the next dance, after some shady things happen with Sara, Tommy's crush, a new Origami Yoda has popped up, and it is made by non other than our good pal Harvey. Suddenly, the next dance comes up, and Tommy needs to make a move on Sara, or else she'll be hopelessly lost to Tater Tot. In a hilarious and clever star-wars-themed middle school book. Tom Angleberger keeps you interested and intrigued by the curious world of Origami Yoda.

What I Liked: First off, I loved how Angleberger chooses to make a character like Dwight, who trust me is really "out there", a main character, because in most books, those types of kids are usually forgotten. Angleberger has really captured not just a certain part, but the entirety of the atmosphere that envelopes your down-the-road middle school. Also, the book is written so that all the challenges and struggles are turned into hilarious scenes. There wasn't really a time where the book got "serious" or "intense" and it's one of those books where you just ignore it because the plot line is so interesting and hilarious.

What I Didn't Like:  I mentioned it above: the book never got "serious" or "intense" I mean, I would've preferred some sort of rising and falling action, which while there was a little, it wasn't enough to make my stomach turn into knots the way a really driven book is. Another thing I'd like to mention is that the ending is based on a point that is mentioned throughout the book, almost thrown in the middle as a forgotten idea until ALAS, you needed to know the speck of info to understand the ending. Finally, the book is just...weird. Like it talks about Dwight's weirdness and it jumps a lot back and forth between subjects. It's not bad...just not a lot of people's cup of tea you know?

Rating on 'the scale': 8.3 out of ten.

Why?: Again, it's not bad, just...interesting. Although the hilarity and the most realistic middle-school book I've written just won me over, so I give this book a big thumbs up.

Finally this is "The League" by Thatcher Heldring

Summary: Wyatt Parker is your typical goody-two-shoes. Never lies, plays golf,  probably will become valedictorian, and built like a pencil, which is why he's friends with Francis (his golf partner who's exactly like him) and gets beat up by Spencer Randle, you typical big football player who's a bully. As Wyatt has realizes, football players don't get beat up, and get girlfriends, which is practically preached by his brother Aaron. After another encounter with Spencer Randle, and a hate for the game his dad forced him to play, he decides to play football. At first, it's only two hand touch with some people he kind of knows at the park, but then he wants to go full contact, with tackling. His brother then talks to him about the League of Pain, a group of the biggest and baddest kids where they play football without any protection...with no rules. To get to play in this league, Wyatt has to do something he hasn't ever done... lie, to his parents even to the girl next door who he likes. Even if Wyatt manages to get to play in the league...will he survive?

What I liked: The great thing about sports fiction novels is that it always includes a taste of romance, which like in every novel, moves the plot along and makes it really exciting. I also appreciate how these characters develop and change throughout the story. For example, Wyatt isn't happy with his life so instead of dealing with it and trying to make the best of it, like in a lot of the books I read, he changes it, and even though it was towards a bad way, I kind of like the moral it sends, most likely unintentionally. Just the fact that it brings sports to the novel makes it really good for me, because I don't know, but sports in books just make me happy.

What I didn't like: Well, in my opinion, the biggest flaw was that it's a little bland. There's not much going on, nothing that gives the book a wow factor. While the content starts to creep into the YA area, it's written sort of like a lower-level MG area. It's kind of hard to describe, but these days, every book has that X Factor which gives it something special, which is why you pick it up. It just felt like one of those stereotypical MG books, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It just doesn't have the special factor which made it over the top.

Rating on 'the scale': 7.9 out of ten.

Why? It's just your generic football MG book, which isn't bad at all, but it's not really special. If you're feeling tentative about sports fiction, it's a good book to get you into things, especially if your one of those people who just don't care for sports at all.

Related: Football Genius Series by Tim Green/ 15 minutes/ Honestly if there's the word football on the book jacket, it's related.

Wow! Three reviews! Good work, Justin. Now let's see what Reid has sent us:

I like The Fourteenth Goldfish by, Jennifer L. Holm because it is about science. Also it is great because it is so well written. It is about a scientist that found out that you can change your age to whatever age you want. He uses it himself to make himself the same age as his granddaughter. Her grandfather has weird habits that embarrass her in front of her friend Raj. Ellie realizes that the age-changer had been a terrible mistake because now people could be immortals. Can she stop her grandfather before it becomes public? I like this book and would recommend it for anybody who likes science

Yep, that was a good one. Thanks, Reid! 

Well---who's the winner?

According to the rules, each of Justin's reviews were worth one point each, which means that he got three points. Which gives him a total of six points. And, according to the rules, Reid's review  was worth four points, making it a Home Run and giving him a total of seven points and making him the winner! Well done, sir! Come on over to the Myers Park library to claim your prize. And, Justin, we haven't forgotten you. I'll be in contact and get you a prize as well. Not that the Iron Guy believes that every one who plays gets a trophy but I did say that the top three boys got prizes, so I'll be true to my word. 

Well done, both of you! Many thanks for an exciting contest and sharing some good reads with all the other guys out there. And don't let it stop here! I've enjoyed posting your first-class reviews, so please keep them coming. Same thing for all of you other reader guys. There are a lot of good books and graphic novels and biographies and nonfiction these days, so tell us about them and share the excitement!

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