Stilton, G., Foschini, M., Favia, L., et. al. (2014). All for Stilton, Stilton for All! Milan, Italy: Papercutz.
In this graphic novel, Geromino Stilton and his crew of friends are sent back in time to 17th century France to hunt down the infamous Pirate Cats. Much to his surprise, though, Geromino finds himself helping the Pirate Cats to make sure that history runs its proper course.
This story is a play on the classic The Three Musketeers. All the appropriate characters are present: King Louis XIII, musketeers, the Cardinal of Richelieu. There’s even a reference to the Man in the Iron Mask. Sidebar notes provide historical context to young readers, making this both a fun and educational read.
Anyone who has spent time with young readers, especially those in the kindergarten to grade 2 range, will know that Geromino Stilton is one of their favourites, and I definitely understand the appeal. The characters are likeable, and the adventures are worldly and entertaining, while also being educational in a fun way.
I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 for its amusing take on a classic tale.
Rylander, C. (2012). The Fourth Stall: Part II. New York: Walden Pond Press.
Mac and his gang are back in the second part of Rylander’s trilogy. They’ve taken care of their nemesis (from Part I), and now business is booming. But, of course, things are never simple. In fact, everything gets really complicated the moment Trixie Von Parkway walks into the Fourth Stall, and suddenly Mac must find a way to save his school.
This book is as hilarious, captivating, and enjoyable as the first. Even though it is 281 pages, it reads quickly and readers will be sucked in from the first page. It reminded me a lot of Gordon Korman’s MacDonald Hall series.
There is notably less violence in this story, compared to Part I, since Mac isn’t up against a bully. This time, Mac is up against the Man, or the Suits, as he calls them. Even kids who hate school will feel a tug on their heartstrings and feel sympathetic towards their schools after reading Part II.
Overall, I’d give this book a 4.5 out of 5. Usually, sequels fall short, but Part II is an exception to that. I was sucked in and finished the book before I realized it, which to me is the mark of a great book!
Riordan, R. (2010). The Red Pyramid. New York: Hyperion Books
Carter and Sadie Kane have only seen each other two days a year ever since their mother died 6 years ago. Sadie was sent to live with her grandparents in London, while Carter travelled the world with their father, an Egyptologist. All of that changes, however, when their father blows up the Rosetta Stone, summoning 5 ancient Egyptian gods. Now Carter and Sadie must team up to figure out how to save their family and the world, finding out that they aren’t two ordinary kids.
This book is excellent. It is evidently well researched, but presented in an exciting and engaging way that is as far away from a history textbook as possible. The characters are sassy and likeable, the plot is fast-paced, and readers are likely to get sucked in from the first sentence.
The length of this book (514 pages) may be a deterrent to some young readers. Yet the story is so captivating that it shouldn’t take them too long to overcome the length of the book. It is also a great book for children to read with their parents, who will get as much out of the story as their kids. Because of the length and the ages of the protagonists (Carter is 14, and Sadie is 12), this is likely a book for older children, ages 10 and up.
While a fantasy book, this story is set in the 21st century and is filled with cultural references, making the magic all the more realistic, leaving readers looking for Egyptian gods and goddess everywhere. Overall, this book is undoubtedly a 5 out of 5!
Wick, D. (Producer), & Burger, Neil (Director). (2014). Divergent [Motion picture]. United States: Lionsgate.
Based on Veronica Roth’s book of the same title, Divergent tells the story of Tris, who must decide whether she will continue to live with her family or leave them forever, while navigating the fact that she must hide her true self from the government.
For those who have read the book, the film adaptation follows the plot closely and accurately represents Roth’s story. For those who haven’t read the book, the movie is still enjoyable and can stand alone from the book. In fact, the movie is so captivating that it would likely prompt viewers to read the books.
Like the book, this movie would appeal to anyone who enjoys dystopian stories, action and adventure, and attempts to usurp controlling governments. Insofar that this is a dystopian film, it is similar to other hits like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. At the same time, it is unique and thrilling.
Because of its likeness to the book, as well as how good it is on its own, warrants this film a 5 out of 5, much like the book.
Lu, M. (2011). Legend. New York, NY: Speak.
Welcome to the Republic of America, which can be found in the former city of Los Angeles, California. June, a privileged girl destined for a high ranking military career, and Day, the Republic’s most wanted criminal, lead very different lives until one day they are brought together and must confront the Republic.
This dystopian novel would appeal to fans of structured regimes, lying governments, and rebelling youth. Readers who liked The Hungers Games or Divergent or who are looking to get into the dystopian genre would enjoy Legend. It is filled with action, adventure, and a little bit of romance.
I would give this book a 4 out of 5. The concept is unique, and the characters are likeable and relatable. At times, the plot lags a little and can be a slightly predictable, but, as a whole, this book is worth the read.
Cliff, T. (2013). Delilah Dirk and the Turkish lieutenant. New York, NY: First Second.
The Turkish lieutenant, named Erdemoglu Selim, embarks on a life changing adventure the moment he meets Delilah Dirk as together they travel and risk their lives.
As the first graphic novel I’ve ever read, I did not know what to expect, and so, I was pleasantly surprised. The clichéd saying “short and sweet” applies to Cliff’s graphic novel which is a quick, yet enjoyable and engaging read. The story wastes no time in starting and the images are beautifully created, so readers are hooked from the beginning.
Delilah, the strong female lead, would likely appeal to female readers, while the adventure of the story would appeal to anyone.
The only limitation worth noting is that this graphic novel is not very substantial. It is likely because the story is so short. Luckily, there are some scenes where the Turkish lieutenant is introspective, which helps to create interesting themes to analyze in the text.
Overall, this graphic novel was an interesting read. I do not regret reading it, I would recommend it to others, but I may not go through the trouble of reading it again. For that, I give it a 4 out of 5.
Korman, G. (2007). Son of the Mob. Listening Library. Retrieved from http://elnb-bnnb.lib.overdrive.com/FDC8E104-1046-4D83-AFF1-79F1AFA35BDF/10/50/en/ContentDetails.htm?id=DF993C4D-FC2B-43A6-A6BF-2E0E449E347A
Vince Luca is like any other high school kid. He’s just trying to pass his classes and maybe find a girlfriend. Except, there’s one thing that sets Vince Luca apart from his classmates: his father is a mob boss.
Told with Korman’s trademark humour, Son of the Mob is the young adult perspective of Mafia classics like The Godfather. It has the classic elements of young adult literature: identity struggle, family issues, love, heartbreak, planning for the future. This means that any readers could relate to Vince, even if their own father isn’t a mob boss. Guys and girls alike can get wrapped up in Vince’s world.
Readers can also continue to fulfill their Mafia obsessions with the sequel Son of the Mob 2: Hollywood Hustle, which follows Vince to college.
The audiobook version brings the story even further to life with Max Casella’s classic New York mobster’s accent.
This book is, without a doubt, a 5. Korman’s humour alone is superb. Paired with the well-developed storyline and hilarious characters, this book is a must-read (or a must-listen, if, like me, you choose to listen to the audiobook).
Roth, V. (2011). Divergent. New York, NY: Katherine Tegen Books.
When teens turn sixteen in the futuristic and dystopic Chicago, they must take an aptitude test to figure out where they fit into their society. But for Beatrice Prior, the aptitude test doesn’t work. She doesn’t favour one aptitude over another. She is divergent.
Divergent, a dystopic novel, would likely appeal to fans of the Hunger Games trilogy. Readers get to meet a strong female lead who must stand up against the government. The series is also being made into movies.
The story is fast paced, stimulating, and, perhaps most importantly, captivating. Some readers might feel intimidated by the thickness of this book (487 pages). But, the story is so engaging that before they know it, readers will be finished and salivating for the next book in the series.
On a scale of 1 to 5, this book is definitely a 5. It is well-written, there are complex and engaging characters and themes, and, best of all, you can’t put it down.