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!
Cabot, M. (2015). From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess. New York: Feiwel & Friends.
Olivia Grace Clarissa Mignonette Harrison thought she was just an average girl, until, one day, Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Renaldo Thermopolis shows up at her school, and Olivia’s whole life, and everything she thought to be true, changes.
I chose to read this book because it is a spin-off of Cabot’s The Princess Diaries series, with all of the same characters. In fact, the storyline parallels the newest book in the series, Royal Wedding (for adult readers). Because I am a huge fan of the series, I enjoyed this book. I wonder, however, if readers who haven’t read the original series would get as much out of the story as I did.
Notebooks features Cabot’s witty writing style and is full of cultural references, which makes the story relatable and humorous. It also includes Cabot’s own illustrations. The main character is likeable, and most young readers, especially young girls with princess fantasies, will be able to relate with Olivia.
Because Cabot is my favourite author, I loved this book. I will give this book a 4.5 out of 5, because the story is fast-paced, fun, and, for the most part, can stand alone from the original series.
Rylander, C. (2011). The Fourth Stall. New York: Walden Pond Press.
“Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It’s what he does.”
Mac runs a tight operation in his school, doing favours for his peers and getting them what they need: candy, sick notes, hall passes, video games. That is until something happens that threatens not only his business but some of the most important things in his life.
This book is a hilarious play on Mafia classics like The Godfather. (Everyone who saw me reading the book drew the obvious comparison). It is witty and fast-paced, drawing on adult genre and references to make them enjoyable for children, referencing classic movies and referring to petty cash as “Tom Petty cash” because “why call a spade a spade when you can call it whatever you want?” (p.182).
Rylander’s style of humour is reminiscent of Gordon Korman’s and the story reminds me of Disney’s TV show of the late 1990s, Recess.
There is one catch with this story: the violence. There are numerous scenes about fighting and characters getting beaten up. While this is realistic and plays into the mobster genre, it makes this a book for older children. It is recommended for children 8-12, but I would say that it would be more appropriate for 10-14 year olds.
Aside from this, The Fourth Stall is a hilarious and enjoyable read. It’s quick-witted and sassy, and the characters are funny and relatable. For the right reader, this is a great book! For that, I give it a 4.5 out of 5!