Number the Stars by Lois Lowry [Book Review]

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I read a paperback copy that I own. The decision to review and all opinions are my own.

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Title: Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Series: N/A
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Publication Date: February 9, 1998

Plot

Number the Stars is a historical fiction tale that tells the story of Annemarie living in Copenhagen in 1943, during World War II. She’s ten-years-old, trying to be brave and understand what’s going on in the world in terms of the war and Nazis standing on every street corner. Her best friend, Ellen, is Jewish. This is the story of Annemarie and her family standing up for what they believe in.

I read this book in elementary school and recently the fifth grader I babysit had to read it for school. I re-read it on my own as a refresher. This book opened many discussions between us, especially in light of what’s happening in the world today.

Characters

The characters are based on the author’s friend’s story, leaving this a historical fiction novel. The main characters are aged ten. Annemarie and Ellen do their best to continue living their lives as normal kids but, of course, the war has other plans. I thought the two characters were well-done and had the minds of children, even in dark times.

The adults were just as well done. They handled what was happening around them with poise and only told the kids what they thought they needed to hear, but not necessarily sugar-coating the situation. They were well thought-out, over all.

Writing Style

This is a short book being under 150 pages. It’s meant for a younger audience and I think Lois Lowry hits the nail on the head. Number the Stars depicts a perfect picture of what living in World War II was like all the while keeping the information relevant and simple to understand for the readers.

As I said, this book opened a lot of heavy discussions between myself and my 11-year-old. We were able to have an honest discussion with one another without delving too deep into the heavy stuff. It was age-appropriate but he certainly understands what happened in that dark time. (In fact, he taught me some things!)

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Conclusion

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a must-read by all. It doesn’t matter what age you are, this book is a wonderful representation of that tragic time in history.

5

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Guts by Raina Telgemeier [Book Review]

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I borrowed a paperback copy from the kids I babysit. The decision to review and all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Guts by Raina Telgemeier | RachelPoli.com

Title: Guts
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Middle Grade

Series: Smile, #3
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 17, 2019

Plot

Guts is about a middle-schooler who ends up with stomach issues. She doesn’t know why and it begins to take a toll on her physically and mentally. Not to mention she’s dealing with everyday middle-school drama: mean girls at school, best friend drama, homework, no privacy at home, etc.

I didn’t realize how relatable this book would be until I started reading it. Raina, the protagonist, has anxiety over food and others getting sick. As someone who has anxiety (and gets it worse about germs due to COVID) this book was exactly what I needed to read.

The overall plot was well done showing us how and when Rain began to have her troubles and carries us through as she overcomes them. It captures the teenage girl in a realistic light among life, school, fears, and growing up in general.

Characters

The characters were the best part, I think. Raina is the protagonist but she’s also the author as Guts is a memoir as well. Where were these books when I was growing up? I don’t know.

But the characters are well-done in the sense that you can relate to their middle-school issues. I also related to Raina’s parents as they did their best to be supportive and help Raina through her troubling times.

Writing Style

Being a graphic novel, this story is told through dialogue, minimal description, and lots of pretty pictures. The author’s art style is cool and makes it easier for young kids to read and comprehend. The overall topic of the story isn’t too heavy, despite it being about mental health. But mental health is something we need to normalize and this book captures it perfectly, showing kids they’re not alone when they feel this way.

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Conclusion

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

Guts by Raina Telgemeier is a quick read and a book everyone should read at some point. It’s certainly an eye-opener for young kids that’s informative and entertaining at the same time.

5

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Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria by J.M. Bergen [Book Review]

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I was given a free ARC of this book from the author’s publicist at Book Publicity Services. The decision to review and all opinions are my own.

Title: Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria
Author: J.M. Bergen
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Series: The Elandrian Chronicles, book 2
Publisher: Elandrian Press
Publication Date: May 20, 2020

Plot

Book two takes place three months after the events of book one. Thomas and his friends seem to believe the battle is over though more dangers await them.

The plot was well done since it picks up where the previous book left off. The story was already established with new ideas put into place. This was another fun adventure.

Characters

Most of the characters were already introduced in the first book. We get to know them a little more in this one but it’s refreshing to see them again. The kids are the lot of fun to follow in this story. They’re serious when they need to be but their kid-antics and mannerisms still come out here and there and it’s realistic.

Writing Style

Even though this book is classified as middle grade, I think it’s a fun read for all ages. The writing style isn’t “too young” yet it’s not complicated for a younger audience.

Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria

Conclusion

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria is a great sequel to a unique series. I’m looking forward to book three.

5

Favorite Quote

“Dying would be a terribly ineffective way to save the world.”

J.M. Bergen, Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria

About The Author

J.M.’s debut fantasy/magic series originally started as a bedtime story for his oldest son. The story turned into a saga, and one book turned into five.

When J.M. isn’t working on the Thomas Wildus books, you can find him playing with his kids, napping, or dreaming up new adventures.

If you ever meet him and can’t think of anything to talk about, you might ask about Herman the Shark, the Kai and Eli stories, or why Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip is his all-time favorite book. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll have questions and stories of your own (if you do, he’ll think that’s far more interesting).

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I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 By Lauren Tarshis [Book Review]

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I borrowed a paperback copy of this book from my library. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 By Lauren Tarshis

Book Review: I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 by Lauren Tarshis | Historical Fiction | Middle Grade | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com

Title: I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
Author: Lauren Tarshis
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Series: I Survived, 5
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 1, 2012

Summary – I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906

Ten-year-old Leo loves being a newsboy in San Francisco — not only does he get to make some money to help his family, he’s free to explore the amazing, hilly city as it changes and grows with the new century. Horse-drawn carriages share the streets with shiny new automobiles, new businesses and families move in every day from everywhere, and anything seems possible.

But early one spring morning, everything changes. Leo’s world is shaken — literally — and he finds himself stranded in the middle of San Francisco as it crumbles and burns to the ground. Does Leo have what it takes to survive this devastating disaster?

First Thoughts

I’ve read the first couple of books in the series and I’m going down the line.

Book Cover

The cover is “realistic” enough in the sense that shows the heart of what the story is about – right in the middle of the natural disaster.

Plot

Leo goes about his normal life, selling newspapers and occasionally getting beaten up by some local bullies. He treasures his father’s piece of real gold that was passed down from his father’s father.

Then the earthquake happens and the fire spreads. Leo and his friend stick together in order to survive and possibly get out of the city – but there’s really nowhere to go. The journey they go on for those few hours is a great one of determination and survival that no one should ever have to go through. It was an interesting read.

Characters

Leo and his friend Morris were great characters to read about through this tragedy. They even help the two bullies out when they were in trouble and even become friends with one of them. It was great character development for all of them throughout.

Writing Style

As always, this book was a quick and easy read. There was just enough information about the natural disaster, but it wasn’t thrown into your face.

I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 by Lauren Tarshis

Rating

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

This is another great, informative read. Even though it’s a big young, anyone can read it and get something out of it.

3.3

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I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 By Lauren Tarshis [Book Review]

This post contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission should you purchase anything from these links. It’s no extra cost to you and supports this blog. If you’d like to learn more about affiliate links on this website, please read my Privacy Policy. Thank you.
I borrowed a paperback copy of this book from my library. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 By Lauren Tarshis

Book Review: I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 by Lauren Tarshis | Historical Fiction | Middle Grade | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com

Title: I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Author: Lauren Tarshis
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Series: I Survived, 3
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 2011

Summary – I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005

His whole world is underwater…

Barry’s family tries to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina hits their home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. But when Barry’s little sister gets terribly sick, they’re forced to stay home and wait out the storm.

At first, Katrina doesn’t seem to be as severe a storm as forecasters predicted. But overnight the levees break, and Barry’s world is literally torn apart. He’s swept away by the floodwaters, away from his family. Can he survive the storm of the century – alone?

First Thoughts

These are quick reads and I enjoy the historical tidbits. After reading the first two books in the series, I grabbed the next three.

Book Cover

The cover shows Barry and a dog he rescued in the middle of Hurricane Katrina trying to find their way to safety. As always, it shows a lot about the plot and the design is well done.

Plot

Life is normal for 11-year-old Barry until the forecasters urge everyone to evacuate for the upcoming storm. Everyone is worried, though Barry doesn’t fully understand why until the storm is directly on top of them.

The plot was well executed with enough information about the historical tragedy without laying it on thick.

Characters

Barry was a good protagonist to follow along with such a story. He was strong and brave throughout the whole event. He followed his parents’ lead and overcame the storm. It was interesting to see the events through his eyes, even though he’s fictional.

Writing Style

This is a super quick and easy read. I learned more about Hurricane Katrina than I thought I knew. The information is easy to comprehend and it’s quick enough to read in one sitting.

I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 by Lauren Tarshis

Rating

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

This is another great addition to the I Survived series. If you’re looking for something quick with a little history boost, this is the one for you.

4

Favorite Quote

“Out there in the flood, Barry had discovered some powers of his own.”

Lauren Tarshis, I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 (I Survived 3)

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