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Middle School isn’t THAT Bad, Is It?

6 Nov

Hi, this is Kenna writing yet another review for this amazing blog. This one is the best book of all time, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life by a certain famous author by the name of James Patterson.

Maybe your parents have heard of him? He’s usually known as an adult author but recently has stepped out of his comfort zone and written this tween/children’s book.

This exciting novel isn’t just full of words; it’s also full of tons of illustrations. It’s not a picture book though, so don’t worry about your mom telling you, “You should be reading higher levels than picture books.”

The book is about a 6th grader named Rafe. He is a good kid but finds middle school extremely boring with all of its restrictions and rules.

So what if you changed the rules around? What if the rules were challenges instead? What if you took the rule book and tried to break every rule in the book?

Rafe does EXACTLY that!

With his best friend, Leo, they turn the rule book into a game with points and prizes.

But sometimes being bad has disadvantages, like cute girls hating you, an evil dragon torturing you in detention, or family problems giving you trouble at home. Rafe has to deal with all these while still making school bearable.

For all those readers who take things literally, middle school is not bad. It is so fun! Especially if you have teachers as good as I have.

I would rate this book a WAY75!

It is truly awesome!


Pushback on The Lightning Thief!

1 Oct

Alright, Naughty Book Fans:  Something REALLY cool happened today!

Mr. Hodgson–a sixth grade teacher in Massachusetts–saw my recent 60 Second Book Hook on The Lightning Thief and has created his own pushback video.

Check it out:

Interesting stuff, isn’t it? 

I think the BEST point that Mr. Hodgson makes is a point that I hadn’t even considered:  Percy, in many ways, is a role model for kids with ADD.

That’s powerful, isn’t it?  I mean sometimes we think that kids with “disabilities” or “disorders” can’t be heroes.  By intentionally creating a hero with a “problem” that so many kids struggle with—and to show that weakness as a strength—DOES have real value.

I also like Mr. Hodgson’s comments about Annabeth.  Sometimes I worry that there aren’t enough strong, confident and assertive girl protagonists in stories written for kids.  Annabeth fills that role really well.

So what do YOU think?  Can you give some practical examples of things in The Lightning Thief that are worth admiring?

More importantly, are YOU ready to record your own 60 Second Book Hook on the title?

I’m still not convinced enough to change my Way 0 rating, but Mr. Hodgson has definitely nudged my thinking.

Mr. F

PS:  Did you see the other interesting lesson learned here?  When you share your thinking online, it can be challenged by others—and that’s a GOOD thing!

Mr. Hodgson has forced me to think twice, hasn’t he?  More importantly, he’s pointed out important facts that I’d overlooked.  That’s cool—and it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t willing to open myself to others.

Maze Runner: Read it or else!

26 Sep

So Danielle has finally reviewed a book that I have wanted to read ever since seeing this interview with the author – James Dashner – who said his inspiration for Maze Runner was Ender’s Game, one of my other favorite books of all time. From the sounds of it, Maze Runner is definitely worth checking out.

Anyone else read it? Leave a comment and tell us what YOU think.

Mr. F


I love my Kindle.

Now I love it even more because Maze Runner is on it.

Maze Runner is a Sci-fi book with mystery mixed in with it.

This book starts out with Thomas, a boy who only has enough memory to remember his name. He is taken up by some kind of elevator into Glade, a place where boys are ruling. Glade is a place with houses, farms, and woods, surrounded by a giant maze that moves its walls consistently, and in the night, lets horrible monsters called Grievers loose.

Boys come to Glade every month, like Thomas, in the elevator.

But this time, after Thomas, something happens that’s never happened before: A Girl.

After she arrives, everything goes wrong, the supplies stop coming. The Grievers start to eat one boy a night. Thomas and his friends have to figure out the maze before it’s too late.

This book is one of those books where you are totally surrounded by the sights and sounds of the book. That is my favorite type of book. My Kindle recommended this book to me.

I like constant action, mystery, and this book has it all! Like all books, it’s not perfect. It can be confusing at times, but this book is still on my top 10.

My Rating for Maze Runner:  Way 90

The Roar is a Fantastic Read

20 Sep

So I’m not usually a sci-fi kind of guy, but Kush has found a title that has caught my attention here. While I’m a bit confused by his review—which starts by making animals appear to be the antagonist and then switches to talking about a bad guy named Mal Gorman—BOTH conflicts seem really interesting to me. I also like the idea of an overpopulated world that needs two stories for people to fit.

Looking forward to reading it myself!

Mr. F



The Roar is a fantastic sci-fi book, which is about the distant future and how everybody stays behind something called the Wall to be safe and sound from danger.

The Wall is basically a huge wall, and the danger that people face is from the animals. Normally animals are described as cute and cuddly in books, but in this one they are fierce and dangerous. The animals are breaking car windows so they can kill the people inside. The reason for their behavior is that they have a sickness called the plague; this sickness can only be caught by animals and makes them become crazy.

The Wall is located at the entire north of the world and stretches all the way around the world. Let’s think about this now….. EVERYONE IS CRAMED INTO 1/3 OF THE WORLD, and what makes it worse is that in the future there will be more people due to population growth.

Also since there was a shortage of land, they decided to make a 2nd floor on earth.

The main character of the book is Mika Smith, a 12 years old boy who lives in the shadows (the first floor of the world) and goes to school like a normal kid.

When he was 9 years old, his twin sister Ellie was kidnapped and presumed dead, but he believed that she was alive. Ellie was in fact trapped on a space station by a minister of the Northern Government, Mal Gorman.

Mal Gorman is a cruel man who is 182 years old and takes “ever life” pills. He is now making schools like Mika’s to participate in violent virtual games. Part of Mal Gorman’s evil plan was to make all the kids drink “fit mix”, so they could get the nutrients they needed.

One day a game called the Pod Fighter was introduced to the children and every kid who is 12-15 was playing it. When Mika played it for the first time, he was a pro at it.

Then a contest for the game came and Mika knew that he had to play because Mika had met a woman named Helen who told him that if he played the game, he will find his sister. You’ll have to read to find out if Mika ever saves Ellie.


Fever 1793 is INFECTIOUS!

15 Sep

Another powerful student review, y’all, comes from Lara—who has read a book that has captured my attention simply because it tackles a topic that is hard to wrestle with: Death.

Check it out—and be sure to tell Lara what you think of her review!

Mr. F


Hi! My name is Lara and I recently read
Fever: 1793
. This book is about trying to survive in a world where almost everyone has fled or is sick and dying.

Mattie, a girl living in the 1790’s that works in a coffeehouse with her mother, has to deal with more than she ever imagined. This book took me into another world that left my pulse pounding.

There is no doubt that this is one of my favorite books. The issues are real, but utterly emphasized. Feeling completely alone, deaths of people you love- they are all real. But in Fever: 1793, they are on a huge scale. It was a powerful book that kept me turning pages until late into the night!

Be warned, though- this book made me tear up because it is very sad.

It all begins when Mattie hears that the yellow fever is spreading. Everyone tells her it is a rumor. She ignores it all until her mother gets ill with Fever.

When she watches her mother get bled, a crude medicine where doctors take blood to get rid of poisons in the body (it didn’t work, in fact it killed many fever victims) her mother is asleep, but later her mother wakes up and orders her to go to the country with her grandfather.

Mattie and her army veteran grandfather set off for the country, to the Ludington’s farm- a friend of her mother’s. When the carriage they are riding in stops so a doctor can make sure they don’t have Fever and don’t spread it outside the city, Mattie’s grandfather has a cough and they are forced to the side of the road.

Mattie knows her grandfather is weak, so she goes to get water and berries. As Mattie is gathering fruits, which she found after the berries, she begins to feel cold. She then blacks out.

Mattie wakes in a giant room full of Fever victims with two doctors speaking French and helping patients. Mattie realizes that she has Fever. Mrs. Flagg, a nurse that brang her food to her, is a kind old lady that Mattie’s grandfather likes.

Mattie recovers because the French doctors knew how to treat patients better and fed them well. Mattie and her grandfather head for home.

When Mattie gets back to the coffeehouse, it is deserted and things are stolen. Her mother has run off. She and her grandfather live with little food.

One night, thieves break in again only to be scared away by grandfather and his sword. But, grandfather dies. Mattie is devastated and buries him in his nightclothes.

Mattie finds a little girl named Nell, whose mother is dead. She takes care of her, because the orphanage is full. Then, Mattie finds Eliza, who used to work in the coffeehouse. They work together to help ill people until Nell and Eliza’s nephews get sick. They try everything. Mattie is so tired that she just rests on the ground for a moment outside…

Mattie wakes to find a cold, light dusting of frost on the ground. She brings the sick children outside. People begin to pour into the city as the word spreads.

Finally. Mattie’s mother returns. They are reunited and Mattie informs her of her grandfather’s death. She is sad, but happy to see Mattie. This book has a bittersweet ending, because many people have died but even more have been reunited.

One of the most frequent concepts woven into the book was facing death– the death of others, the possible death of you.




The horrible truths echo around the book as if they we words spoken into a cave. There is happiness at the end, which seems even happier after all of the sadness.

Fever is a must-read.


My Rating for Fever 1793: Way 90


The Graveyard Book: Another Gaiman Creepfest

12 Sep

I’m completely jazzed to have our second student review of the year ready to roll! This one—written by Ryan M and tackling a Gaiman book that I haven’t read yet—is a good one.

Remember, I want to see a TON of reviews this year, so consider writing your first bit for I’m Always Right right now!

Mr. F


If you’ve ever read a Neil Gaiman book, you know how creepy he can be.

You may have read Coraline, or American Gods, but The Graveyard Book
is definitely the best one yet. It won a Newberry Medal, a Hugo Award, a Locus Award, and a Carnegie Medal. I began this book right after I finished a fantastic book, Coraline, which I mentioned earlier.

This book takes place in the late 1800’s before any developed technology like televisions or computers were invented. The cars are the old and slow cars that you never see today. Many of the ghost characters in this book still speak in Old English accents because they died two centuries earlier.

The Graveyard Book was written in 2008, and is based mostly off of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

If you’ve ever read the book, it’s about a group of wolves who find a newborn human and raise it as their own. This child, Mowgli’s, parents have disappeared. In The Graveyard Book, though, a boy parents are murdered right in front of him, and the ghosts of the graveyard find him.

He is raised as a “boy” named Nobody Owens, who goes by Bod.

He then travels away from the graveyard for the first time. People recognize him as the victim’s son, which triggers his curiosity. He then finds a snake they call The Seer, and it tells him to find the man Jack who killed his parents.

I don’t want to ruin the entire the book, though so you have to read it to find out the rest of the story. I thought this was a sort of eerie, fun book to read. I absolutely recommend this book to any fantasy lover.

If you’ve read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, this is a must-read.


My Rating for The Graveyard Book: Way85

Wringer will Blow Your Mind AND Break Your Heart

9 Sep

Let me ask you one simple question:  How do you feel about disappointing your dad?  Better yet, how do you feel about disappointing your best friends?

How far would you go, though, to make your father and your friends happy?

Would you do ANYTHING to please the people that you care the most about?

Those are exactly the kinds of questions that Palmer LaRue, a boy growing up in a rural Pennsylvania town defined by one horrible tradition:  The annual Pigeon Day Shoot in the town park, where dads shoot birds out of the sky while their sons fetch the dead bodies and dispatch the wounded with a quick wring of the neck.

Wringing has always been on Parker’s mind.

You see, his father has been a champion shot for as long as Parker can remember.  Worse yet, his best friends—Beans, Mutto and Henry—are OBSESSED with getting their chance to wring a few necks, an “honor” reserved only for boys who are turning 12.

Quite a growing-up gift, huh?

Here’s the hitch:  No matter how much his buddies and his father want him to be a Wringer, Parker just can’t bear the thought of breaking the necks of wounded birds.

Maybe it’s because he’s a kind soul.  Maybe it’s because his mom and his dad raised him to have a heart and to respect living creatures.

Or maybe it’s because he’s fallen in love with the pet pigeon that he’s hiding from his friends and his family in his closet.

Whatever Parker’s reasons, he’s got a choice to make:  Let down the people he cares the most about by standing up to a tradition that he despises OR let himself down by doing something that just doesn’t feel right.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if you’ve got a heart—or if you’ve ever had to wrestle with the pressure of pleasing peers who seem intent on doing things that you know are wrong—that you’ll LOVE Wringer by Jerry Spinelli.

Maybe it’s because I’m a boy—or because I’ve got a triple dose of Huffleblood running through me—but I really felt bad for Parker by the end of the story.

And I was completely blown away by the choice that he finally ended up making.

Wringer’s Score:  Way 85