This book is a bit complicated. The story is told through the tales of three sets of siblings: Venus & Swimmer escape from a slave ship in 1781 and end up in the Second World, Kinchen & Pip live in the Second World, and Thanh & Sang are trying to escape Vietnam with a few relatives, in the First World in 1976.
When Pip is taken by the Raft King, Kinchen must find and protect her younger brother. At one point, other characters tell the story of Venus and Swimmer and their journey. Then we learn about Pip’s experiences on Raftworld. Other characters are sprinkled throughout and we eventually meet Thanh & Sang and follow their adventure.
This book combines fables and magic with historical fiction. The Vietnamese family is trying to escape what is left of their country after the war in Vietnam. The original colonists of the Second World are escapees from slave ships who used magic to find a portal through from the First World. Inhabitants of the Second World include a large group of people who live on a group of connected rafts, islanders, sea monsters, people who can talk to sea creatures, and others who can walk through water.
I found this book overly long and it had difficulties keeping my attention. The child characters are too similar and I found myself forgetting who was who. The story will appeal to some kids, but I don’t think it will be overwhelmingly popular.
Recommended to:Middle School students who enjoy complex tales with multiple characters and a bit of magic.
At nine years old, Tessa and Callie were the prime witnesses in the trial of a serial killer (the Ohio River Monster). Now a teenager, Tessa returns to her hometown to confront her past and find out the truth.
This book was just okay for me. I didn’t care for any of the characters and I didn’t enjoy the narration. The main plot was okay, but the end felt contrived and unbelievable. The subplot involving Tessa’s mother and sister was unnecessary and distracting.
Bottom line:Take out the subplot, make the characters a bit likable or relatable, and this story would be better. As it is, there are better thrillers to spend your time on.
“Tell me how you survived the whale attack,” the reporter said.
– opening lines
Could you survive if the whale watching boat you were on capsized and you were left floating in the cold ocean? Travis and Marina are in just such a situation. Luckily, Travis is wearing an immersion suit, and Mariana has survival supplies in her vest (and a lot of knowledge). All they have to do is stay out of the water, find land, and get rescued. Simple, right?
So, this is a good book, but the plot is a little thin. Things resolve a bit too easily for me, but I don’t think kids will mind. At the end of the book, there is a section with “U.S. Coast Guard-Approved Cold Water Survival Tips” which kids will probably find very cool and informative.
It’s about 100 pages, easy to read and about survival, kids will love it.
Recommended to: Grades 3-5 (and some second graders), fans of the I Survived series, adventure fans, reluctant readers
In this series, Sam and Martina use their brains and skills to solve puzzles that will help find an invention that could save or destroy our nation. After winning a contest, they are on a trip across the country, but it quickly turns into something far more important and dangerous. The founding fathers left clues to seven “keys” that will unlock Benjamin Franklin’s greatest invention, but, sinister forces are also searching for the keys. Sam and Martina get along like oil and water, but they must learn to work together to solve the difficult puzzles and avoid booby traps to find the keys first.
In this book (the first in the series), Sam and Martina are looking for Ben Franklin’s key. Throughout the book, we learn different facts about Franklin (thanks to Martina’s vast knowledge). Most of the story takes place underground as the kids evade the bad guys and try to survive the dangerous puzzles/traps. The keys are vitally important and failing to solve the puzzles could lead to death. Sam and Martina didn’t sign up for this, but they are determined to find the keys and thwart the bad guys.
This is a fun adventure/mystery story. Kids who enjoy solving puzzles or have an interest in history will love this book. There are three books in the series so far, but I’m assuming there will eventually be seven (for the seven keys). The keys are not all literal keys like Ben Franklin’s key – each one relates to the founding father who hid it. The second book to Thomas Jefferson’s Eagle’s Quill, and the third to Alexander Hamilton’s Ring of Honor.
Recommended to: Ages 9-13, fans of history and adventure stories.
Imagine having a friendly monster as your best friend and protector. Sophie’s parents own a dream shop in the basement of their bookstore where they secretly sell liquid dreams. Sophie’s best (and only) friend is a cupcake-loving monster named Monster, who she once pulled out of a dream. Monster is a bit sarcastic and a lot overprotective, but he would do anything for Sophie. Then, Mr. Nightmare arrives, the shop is robbed, and Sophie’s parents go missing. With the help of Monster, some new friends, and some fierce, but friendly creatures, Sophie just might be able to find and save her parents.
This is an enchanting and quirky story that reminds us it’s okay to be different. And our most courageous friends may look all fluffy and cute on the outside, but they have fierce hearts.
I listened to the audio and the narrator was excellent. I loved the voice she used for Monster. I highly recommend the book and the audio.
Recommended to:Ages 9-13, fans of fantasy and adventure stories.
There are a lot of things you should probably know to understand why a bunch of kids decided to climb up a treehouse and not come down.
– First Line
Imagine a never-ending sleepover in a treehouse with 9 of your best friends. Just so you know, the treehouse has a bathroom (but no stove), two floors, a craft station, a platform for deliveries, a skylight, and a zipline. The thing is, the kids are staying in the treehouse and refusing to come down until their parents give in to their demands. While a treehouse sleepover sounds amazing (and who wants sleepovers to end), 10 kids in close quarters can become stressful for even the best of friends.
Winnie originally stays in the treehouse every Wednesday – so her divorcing parents can have equal numbers of days with her. When Winnie realizes she is failing 5th grade and the only time she gets any homework done is Wednesdays in the treehouse, she decides to stay there permanently. But, will her parents ever see reason and stop fighting over everything being exactly equal??
The plot touches on issues like divorce, screen time, tv privileges, and other difficulties between parents and children. It’s an engaging story with realistic characters who love and support each other through everything. The format is a group memoir (written by Winnie) and there are cute illustrations and post-its from the other characters throughout the book.
Kids will love the idea of living in a treehouse with their friends and not having to answer to parents. (There is a plot point that prevents the parents or police from entering the treehouse which verges on ridiculous, but the kids won’t mind.)
Recommended to: Grades 3 – 8, fans of realistic fiction, and reluctant readers. Fans of James Patterson’s Middle School series will enjoy this one. 🙂
This is an enchanting adventure that kids are sure to love. There is magic, talking animals, danger, friendship, and by the end Raffa realizes that choices (and people) are not always what they seem to be. The plot is unresolved at the end (which makes sense because this is a trilogy), but all three books are already released so it’s easy to continue with Raffa’s adventure.
Highly recommended to students in grades 4 and up, fans of fantasy, magic, and adventure.
I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did an excellent job.
August 28, 1939 – Somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Valkyrie is found, drifting, with a single passenger – a baby wrapped in a blanket and left on the dance floor.
Present Day – Kate is a reporter who recently lost her husband (Ralph), and she is looking for a distraction. When the editor offers her the chance to follow up on the final story Ralph worked on, she jumps at the chance. But this is no simple mystery. There is an evil presence on the Valkyrie, and Kate may be the only one who can end its reign.
This story involves not time travel, but an overlapping of times. On the ship, Kate sees the current version of the ship, then blinks and sees the ship as it was in 1939. There is a high creepiness factor and a fair amount of blood and violence. I enjoyed the book and may look into others by this author.