Review / Wayside School #4

wayside-4Book: Wayside School: Beneath the Cloud of Doom (2020)
Author: Louis Sachar
Genre: MG, Humour
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: The students from Wayside School are back. And of course, they’re all the way up on the 30th floor in Mrs. Jewls’ class. Not only is there the Ultimate Test, but there’s a very scary Cloud of Doom that’s making everybody just a little testy.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The Author’s Note at the beginning made me smile. Louis Sachar reminisces about how he wrote the first book forty years ago and… well, I won’t spoil it here. You have to read it yourself.

2) I think everybody from the Wayside universe makes some sort of appearance. Except maybe Mrs. Gorf. (Thank goodness!) Yes, even that mysterious class on the 19th story. (Except, there is no 19th story.)

3) As I was reading about the Cloud of Doom, I couldn’t believe that Louis Sachar would have written this before the existence of COVID-19. I like the optimism that the book has.

4) One of my favourite stories/sequences involved Stephen and the gong. I love how he was mistakenly chosen. And then there’s the build-up to just… Breathe.

5) Another favourite story involves Jason and the book that 999 pages. I love how the librarian arranges her library and how Jason tries to out-do the other students, only to have to read the longest book in the history of the world.  (Not really, but 999 pages is a really long book!) And the outcomehow he comes to feel about the book—is one of the best moments for me!

6) This book made me want to start collection 1 million toe nails just like they do in Mrs. Jewls’ class. 😉

7) And of course, you can’t have a Wayside book without Louis the yard teacher. He doesn’t seem to be in the book as much as in previous books, but he does have that umbrella scene!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I have mixed feelings about the ending of this book. In one way, I liked it. But, in another way, it wasn’t quite as satisfactory as I’d hoped. Maybe it was because I had a hard time trying to imagine the grey-goop they were supposed to eat. And when I did, I tried not to imagine it because it caused a gagging-reflex in me! I did feel glad for Miss Mush, though. Finally, she had something going for her at Wayside School.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I was very excited when I saw this book and put a hold on it way before the libraries closed. The book finally came in this past week! Yay! I tried not to read it too fast, but let myself enjoy the story. I’d definitely recommend this to anybody who loves Wayside School. Yes, it’s been forty years, but the kids and Mrs. Jewls and Louis the Yard Teacher are still the same.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Because of the Rabbit

because-of-rabbitBook: Because of the Rabbit (2019)
Author: Cynthia Lord
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot: Emma entering school for the very first time in fifth grade (after being homeschooled). As the new kid, she finds it tough to know where to fit in. She tries to make friends, but sometimes they’re friendly, sometimes not. And then there’s Jack. He doesn’t really fit in with their classmates either, but Emma’s not quite sure if she wants to be friends with him. But things begin to change when they bond over the rabbit Emma’s rescued.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) As somebody who has been the “new kid” in various different schools, I completely got Emma! It’s hard when everybody else knows everybody and you just want a friend. I like how Emma reaches out. (One thing where we differ, she’s definitely not as shy as I was!) But she makes some errors, like the little lie about pickles. It was funny (for us as readers, not her as a character) how that comes back to bite her!

2) The rabbit part was interesting. I like how she and her dad rescue it at the beginning of the book, then it actually comes into the plot later on at school.

3) As Emma becomes more comfortable at the school, we get a good dilemma for her with regards to Jack. Jack’s definitely a little different from the other students. And Emma makes some not-so-kind decisions with regards to him (especially at the lunch table). But I like how Lord lets us see Emma’s struggle and eventually how Emma comes to embrace Jack as a friend.

4) Loved the little Monsieur Lapin stories. The grandfather’s voice came through, even though he’s not even a character in the book… And so it was.

5) I also really liked the relationship between Emma and her brother. In fact, it’s because of her brother that Emma decides she wants to go to school. I like how he helps her get her photos for her project with Jack.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) The part about the search for the owners of the rabbit felt a little off to me. Maybe a bit too cliche? Especially with how it ended. I guessed that’s what would happen. But maybe that’s just the adult-reader coming out in me.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – Another solid read from Cynthia Lord. I really enjoyed this one about rabbits and finding your place as the new kid in school. 🙂


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Lucky Luna

lucky-luna.jpgBook: Lucky Luna (2018)
Author: Diana Lopez
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot: When Luna plays a prank on her prima (cousin Claudia), she gets in big trouble. Not only does she have to face the consequences (of not being allowed to wear her favourite hats), but now Claudia is going to be attending school with Luna! Needless to say, Luna’s not happy about it, but she gets some wise advice from her abuela (drink plenty of water, Luna 😉 ) and that helps… a bit. But when the kids at school seem to be making fun of her prima, Luna decides that maybe she should stick up for Claudia.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Luna has a fun voice in this book. She’s so sure of herself, but she endears herself. What I think is really cool is Luna’s strip of white hair (due to poliosis). I have a childhood friend who has this same thing! (We always thought it was super cool.)

2) And I loved all her primas! What fun to have so many primas (cousins). It was great to see the connection even though there are age gaps. I love how they greet each other: “Prima!”

3) And then there’s Luna’s prima, Claudia. This is a classic relationship of sibling (prima?) rivalry. I like how the book works through their miscommunications. Both girls learn and grow.

4) One of my favourite parts was when Luna goes to visit her grandmother. Abuela has all these pithy sayings, except she says them in Spanish, but Luna only knows a little Spanish. So, she misses key things. (Like about drinking water!)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I wondered about the “no wearing hats” punishment fitting the crime of locking Claudia in the bathroom. Especially when the mom knows Luna’s a little self-conscious about her strip of white hair.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – What a fun read! I loved Luna and all her primas. And her abuela.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: New Kid

new-kidBook: New Kid (2019)
Author: Jerry Craft
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Graphic Novel
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Basic plot: Jordan’s the new kid at his brand new prep school. What he really wants is to go to an arts school, but his mom insists on this academic prep school. And now that he finds himself away from the neighbourhood kids, he’s not always sure where he fits in. It’s hard being the new kid…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) There’s just something about prep school settings that are fun to read about. They’re kind of like boarding schools, without the boarding.

2) I really liked all the friendships in this book. I’m glad Liam turns out to be a real friend. When you first meet him, it seems like it’s going to go in the opposite direction. I also really liked Drew, especially with how he and Jordan are able to connect.

3) I found the subplot involving Alex and the puppet on her hand to be very interesting. At first, I thought it was odd and questioned why the author chose to put this character in the story. But, as the story progresses, I really like how it story-arcs… From how Jordan’s parents making the mistake of telling her parents that Jordan is her friend (when, at the time, he wants nothing to do with the “weird girl”) to how he digs deeper into the reason for the puppet and, finally, his solution.

4) Love the comic elements… the doodles. I thought it was a nice way to show Jordan’s love of art. And the moment when his teacher finds the doodles… A tense moment in the story.

5) I thought Jerry Craft did a nice job bringing out many of the issues that black students face in situations similar to Jordan’s. The one that really struck me was the book recommendations given to the black students were all gritty titles about kids in slums, belonging to gangs, etc… And then the same teacher turns around to recommend some fun fantasy to one of the white students.

6) My favourite line is at the end of the book. Jordan is hanging with his neighbourhood (non-prep school) pals when he starts explaining the meaning of the word metaphor. His  friend says: “Actually, Jordan, that’s a simile.”

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) The zombie-school kids I found… weird. Just a preference on my part. Not a huge deal-breaker, though.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4.5 Stars (out of 5) – I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I liked the characters and the story arcs. A definite two thumbs up from me. 🙂


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday