Evan Recommends THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

August 4, 2014

FaultThe Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Recommended by Evan Perez

“I like my choices, I hope she likes hers,” and I hope you like the choice of reading The Fault In Our Stars By John Green. It follows a teenager who deals with the struggles of battling cancer, and falling in love at the same time. I was in a trance while reading this book. My eyes were glued to the pages. This novel contains themes of pain, love, loss, and has messages that anyone can relate to.

This novel starts with Hazel Grace Lancaster, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was thirteen years old. Now seventeen, her mother decides that she is depressed and asks her to go to a support group to make friends. Then one Wednesday, Hazel argues with her mother about going to support group, but she finally caves in to going. There, she meets Augustus Waters. When support group is over that night, Augustus asks Hazel to go watch a movie with him. That’s where their love story begins.

The main reason I like this book is because of the way the author writes everything so amazingly. Not necessarily because of the themes, but because John Green wrote a dark, depressed, beautiful, happy novel that’s very easy and casual to read. His word choice if fantastic and he chose such a great character to tell the story. His writing has a very quiet and calm tone. An example of Greens writing style is, “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed. Presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a lot of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

The fault In Our Stars is also a great choice because it keeps your attention and you will not be able to put it down. First of all, it’s a love story and you know that in a love story, the characters can’t just live happily ever after: there needs to be a large amount of pain and suffering. It also kept me locked in because it centered around three teenagers who are dealing with cancer. You know something big will happen. You learn to care about the characters and wonder about what’s going to happen to them.

In the end, The Fault In Our Stars is a very well written book with great characters and fantastic themes and messages that everyone can relate to and agree with. So right now, go to wherever you find books and get The Fault In Our Stars by John Green! Okay? Okay.


 Several of Evan’s classmates have also allowed us to publish reviews of what they’re currently reading.  And for recommendations from kids of all ages, check out our Kids Recommend section.

Emily Recommends WILDWOOD by Colin Meloy

August 3, 2014

WildwoodWildwood by Colin Meloy

Reviewed by Emily Planck

I’ve always been afraid to read a large book that is until I read Wildwood by Colin Meloy. When I started reading Wildwood I was afraid I would never finish it. It turns out I couldn’t put it down! This book instantly had me hooked. Just the fact that it was based in Portland had me reading it non-stop. I ended up loving this book way more than I thought I would.

Prue McKeel’s life was ordinary that is until her little brother Mac got kidnaped by a murder of crows. Prue and her friend Curtis embark on a journey into the Impassable Wilderness (or the I.W.). Together they will conquer the obstacles standing in their way, Such as an army of coyotes and an evil ex-governess. Will Prue, Curtis, and Mac survive?

One reason you should read Wildwood is because of how Meloy describes the setting. I like his descriptive word choice, It really helps you picture what is happing. A quote that shows this is when Meloy writes, “The fog continued to fall away from the bridge until it polled just beneath the surface of the span, revealing the awesome edifice in its entry.” I like this quote because of the way he describes the fog makes you feel like you are there.

There are lots of books about wizards, princesses, and other things like that, that is why I like Wildwood. I have never read a book that has had a story line like wildwood does. The story is completely original, like Portland. To me this book goes with the saying “keep Portland weird” because of how unique the story is. This is just one more reason you should read Wildwood.

In the end, this book was awesome! The ending left me wanting to read the next book in the trilogy as soon as I could. If you live in Portland that is just one more reason you should read Wildwood because chances are you have probably been to some of the places Meloy talks about in his book. I would highly recommend this book to anybody. I encourage you to go to your local book store/ library and pick up this book.


 Several of Emily’s classmates have also allowed us to publish reviews of what they’re currently reading.  And for recommendations from kids of all ages, check out our Kids Recommend section.

Damon Recommends FULL-BLOODED by Amanda Carlson

August 1, 2014

Full-BloodedFull-Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Reviewed by Damon Latimer-Marquez

What if you were different than everyone else? No, I don’t mean personality or the way you look, I mean being the only female in your whole pack. Well, that’s the case Jessica McCain is in. She is a female werewolf, which every other werewolf is a male. She gets mistreated by a few werewolves because of her gender too. Finding this book was a dream of mine, I love things about the supernatural but not big into fantasy. So finding something without a majestic unicorn in it or a magical land in, it was perfect.

Jessica McCain lived a normal life as Molly Hannon, but she will go through something that will change her life forever. Being the slowest and the only female in the pack is really hard on Jessica. She gets taunted by other male wolves and is underestimated for her strength. Jessica is different than everyone else, not by gender, strength, but she is a different type of werewolf, a Lycan, the last Lycan in the world.

The author, Amanda Carlson is personally one of the most descriptive authors I have ever read a book by. She writes Full Blooded, in a first person point of view. She uses Jessica McCain (the main character) to express how she feels on things that happen in the book. She changes if she is humorous to serious depending on the character. Jessica McCain being the main character of the story, she usually writes in a humorous way since Jessica is talking most of the time. For example, “I can’t believe a rogue wolf tried to attack me, what kind of wolf does he think I am,” said Jessica McCain. “The female kind,” her brother, Tyler replied.

Another reason to read Full-Blooded is because of all the characters. There are tons of characters, ranging from humans to vampires to even a were-cat. All these characters are greatly described to like you know them in real life. Amanda Carlson deeply describes them throughout the book but then there are so many of them adding onto story, no characters is minor. My personal favorite is her description of Rourke. (the were-cat) An example of how Jessica thinks of Rourke, “Everyone thinks I am weird for being a female wolf, then we have Rourke, over here, who is this mysterious were-cat, supposedly has the ability to kill 10 wolves, in wolf form , with his fists and without using a his full cat form, and I am here getting all the attention.” It did turn out Rourke was my favorite character out of Full Blooded. Rourke, has a unique personality, not being able to tell if he is a protagonist or antagonist, because of the things he does, like once he kidnapped Jessica McCain, but it was for her “safety,” so it’s more your opinion to figure out if he is the hero or villain.

My final reason is the theme of the book. The theme plays a great part on making Jessica who she is, without it, the book would be way different with, close to none action. In the book, Jessica is a daredevil, making her not really thinking about her actions before she does it, so she kind of runs out into the middle of a fight by herself when people are coming to help. So the theme is, not to always try to complete something by alone. Jessica goes through getting her hip blown off, to mental damage throughout the book just because she doesn’t have the patience to wait for others when she knows there is action. Not just hurting herself, she also gets into trouble with police, by getting into tons of fights and not waiting for her friend Marcy (a witch) to fix the crime scene and making it look like a simple accident happened or a break in. I personally find this a very good skill to have aka patience.

Full-Blooded is a great book for anyone who is interested in reading. From Amanda Carlson’s great writing abilities to having a million characters all play a huge part in the book. These are not even the best things about Full-Blooded, the best thing is there is 2 more!

Several of Damon’s classmates have also allowed us to publish reviews of what they’re currently reading.  And for recommendations from kids of all ages, check out our Kids Recommend section.

What 8th Graders Are Reading (In 2014)

July 30, 2014

Every year we like to go to our friend,  Erin Ocon, and ask her eighth-grade students  in Hillsboro, Oregon to recommend books to us that they’re currently reading.  Here’s this year’s crop of  thoughtful essays on a recently-read book.

Check back daily for a new recommendation and insight from one of these young reader/writers.


Megan Recommends The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Sean Recommends The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Shaylea Recommends Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Logan Recommends Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Linda Recommends The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Laresa Recommends Twilight by Stephanie Meyers

Hannah Recommends Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz

Evan Recommends The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Emily Recommends Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Alden Kemper recommends Cages by Peg Kehret

Damon Recommends Full-Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Alden Kemper Recommends CAGES by Peg Kehret

July 30, 2014

CagesCages by Peg Kehret

Reviewed by Alden Kemper

Can you ever make up for your mistakes? This question lingers throughout the book Cages, which is about Kit, a 14 year old girl who makes a huge mistake and has to do 20 hours of volunteer work at the Humane Society. Peg Kehret, the author, writes this book in third person point of view which I think helps this book by seeing what’s happening in another person’s point of view as well as having enough detail to understand Kit’s emotions. I absolutely love this book because it is so detailed and is one of those books that you can’t put down.

Kit Hathaway is stuck. She never means to steal that golden bracelet. She’s just mad after not getting the lead in the school play and having to deal with her unbearable stepfather. Her mother is the only one who knows about Kit stealing the bracelet for a while. After being sentenced by the court for 20 hours of volunteer work at the Humane Society, Kit meets Lady, a medium-sized terrier with reddish-blonde fur. She wants to adopt Lady herself but she can’t. Join Kit as she discovers who she really is with help from her new best friend Lady.

The first reason why I like this book is because of the setting description. Peg Kehret, the author, describes the setting in Cages exactly how I would imagine it. The story mainly takes place at the Humane Society. It is described as loud and frantic. For example, Peg Kehret writes, “The noise was loud; it was frantic. The dogs sounded desperate as if they believed that if they barked loudly enough, someone would surly let them out.” Part of the story also takes place at Kit’s home, which is also loud because of Wayne, her stepfather, yelling all the time. I love the setting description because it’s very detailed and you can easily visualize it.

Another thing I like is the characters. Kit is the main character in this book. She is a 14 year old girl who is exactly 5 foot and ¾ inches tall. She has long brown hair and a thin, boyish figure. Tracy is Kit’s best friend and she turns 14 in the book. They do almost everything together. Tracy is an encouraging person who stands up for herself and Kit. There is also Dorothy, her mother and Wayne, her stepfather. Wayne is unbearable and mean. Also, another character is Lady. Lady is a terrier at the Humane Society that Kit fell in love with instantly. Peg Kehret writes, “The rest of Lady’s fur was coarse and wiry but her ears were like rust colored velvet.” I like this quote because I can easily visualize what Lady looks like. My favorite character is Kit because at first she is shy and at the end she stands up for herself and is bold. This means she is a dynamic character.

Last, there are three main themes in this book, love, hope and friendship. Kit loves Lady right from the start which is a great example of love in this story. For example, Kit says, “I wish I could adopt Lady. But my parents won’t let me have a dog.” Kit also has hope for Lady because she knows that Lady will get a home. Finally, Kit and Tracy have an amazing friendship. They makeup after fights they have in the book which shows great friendship.

I believe that you should read this book because it’s a book that I think everyone can relate to in one way or another. I think this book helps everyone can find out who the really are with this book. Kit is someone you feel like you know like a best friend and someone you want to be best friends with. So go on and meet your new best friend inside the pages of the book Cages.


Several of Alden’s classmates have also allowed us to publish reviews of what they’re currently reading.  And for recommendations from kids of all ages, check out our Kids Recommend section.

Celebrate Aunt and Uncle Day on July 26th

July 25, 2014

Time to celebrate those relatives near and dear to your hearts:  aunts and uncles!  Summer is the perfect time to take note of these important family members. And we’ve got the book recommendations to help.

AuntsWhat Aunts Do Best, What Uncles Do Best by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

We all know kids love to spend time with their aunts and uncles–and vise versa.  Numeroff’s book is a fun way to enjoy those memories and think about creating new ones.  The parallel stories are in a kind of “flip book” format and can be read to focus on either aunt or uncle good times.  Refreshingly, the activities are pretty gender neutral, too:  building clubhouses, staying up late for TV/movie watching–and both sexes cook and shop.  Endearing expressions on the faces of the animal critter families add to the book reading pleasure.  A great kick-off for Aunt and Uncle Day!


 Uncle-ElephantUncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel

This funny, thoughtful–and a little sad–tale of a young elephant visiting his uncle is now in its second generation of entertaining our family members.  The format of several small stories makes it a great choice for the youngest child, and early readers enjoy their success as they read it themselves.  The charm of the story, though is not lost on the adults in the family.   This poignant story of love of family, joy, and hope is a winner, and one of my favorites.


 UncleUncle by J.P. Martin, illustrated by Quentin Blake (New York Review Children’s Collection)

Who wouldn’t love an elephant who sports a purple dressing gown?  And lives in a huge ramshackle castle with a crew of quirky and funny friends?  Thank goodness this 50-year-old classic has been re-issued, and it’s still hilarious and intriguing across generations.  Based on the stories that Martin used to tell his kids, Uncle contains a delightful selection of adventures, mostly with the detestable Badforts.  Quentin Blake’s illustrations are just the ticket.  Perfect read-aloud fun.


Aunt-ClaireAunt Claire’s Yellow Beehive Hair by Deborah Blumenthal, illustrated by Mary Grandpre

Though the titles is a grabber,this book isn’t just about Aunt Clair.  It’s about Annie exploring her family and what makes each member special.  The old photos on her grandmother’s mantel are a perfect starting pace, as her great-aunt shares the stories that go with them.  The exploration branches out to include mementos such as letters, and even a lace wedding veil.  Annie and her aunt create a family history album, that might be an inspiration for your family as a summer project, too.  And as a side-note, the illustrations will look oddly familiar to readers of the Harry Potter novels.  yes, Mary Grandpre is the cover and interior illustrator for that formidable series.


July 20th is Moon Day

July 18, 2014

Team-MoonMoon Day, July 20th, commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969.

The Apollo Space program, begun by President John F. Kennedy, was created to put the first man on the moon. Apollo 11 fulfilled that dream, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. What an amazing and historic event!

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 was launched from Cape Kennedy Space Center atop a huge Saturn V rocket. On July 20, 1969, the Lunar Module, nicknamed the “Eagle”, touched down on the surface of the moon at Tranquility Base. Upon landing, Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong reported “The Eagle Has Landed.” A few hours later, Neil Armstrong, stepped off of the Eagle’s ladder, placed one foot upon the moon’s surface and proclaimed: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

A wonderful story of the first moon landing for kids (and the adults in their lives) :

Team Moon:  How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

What I love about this book is that it opens up the backstory of the first moonwalk and demonstrates that this is not just the story of the astronauts, but of thousands and thousands of people who made it happen.  Like the seamstress who had to put together 22 different layers of fabric for each space suit.  The many engineers who had to work to create heat shields to protect the capsule from the heat of re-entry. Imagine the soft-ware engineers, telescope crew, navigators, and more. . .The book reads like a documentary, with stunning photographs, interviews, oral histories, and other primary sources from the period.  Definitely a book to pore over with the whole family.



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