Book Reviews Example

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Sewanee University of the South
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Book review
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The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

The Adventures of Captain Underpants is a 1997 childrens fiction book written by Dav Pilkey and illustrated by Dav Pilkey. It tells the story of two naughty fourth grade pupils Harold and George who hypnotize their schools principal into thinking he is a superhero called Captain Underpants. They then let him loose into a world of all types of weird characters including zombies, talking toilets, funny-colored people, and outrageous villains. What makes the book funny is that the principal has no idea what is going on, as he cannot stand the two boys and would never take orders from them.

The book is full of hilarious jokes, pun, bathroom humor as well as rowdy and disrespectful behavior. Each page has zany black-and-white illustrations that induce a comic book feel. The Adventures of Captain Underpants is for children who enjoy practical jokes and are always running around outdoors. It is recommended for children aged six and seven years.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising is an award-winning historical fiction book by Pam Munoz Ryan. Published in 2000 by Scholastic, Inc., it tells the life story of a Mexican immigrant farmworker called Esperanza during the 1930s. When her rich father is murdered by bandits in Mexico, her manipulative uncle burns the family ranch in an attempt to pressurize her widowed mother to become his wife. Esperanza flees to the United States with her mother where she struggles to adjust to a grueling life working as a farmworker. With the help of friends and a supportive family, she starts working towards a better future.

The story is all about the history of California, the Great Depression, and America as a nation. It also looks at how life was for immigrant Hispanic farm workers in the 1930s, as characters are faced with unpleasant living conditions, discrimination, and strikes. While Esperanza Rising targets children aged between 9 and 12 years, the author appears to be targeting a much wider audience.

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett is a 2013 novel that tells the story of an 11-year-old girl called Early. She lives with a happy and loving family despite them not being that well off. However, their happiness is abruptly shattered when her father disappears and thieves break into their home. Everything the family owns is either stolen or destroyed, leaving them homeless. The thieves imply that the incident is a retribution for the shady business that Earlys father was involved in. When Earlys mother goes to the police for help, they do not believe her. With nowhere to go, she takes Early and her younger brother Jubie to a shelter. While Early comes into contact with a few untrustworthy adults, she finds several people to help her solve the mystery of her fathers disappearance.

The book delves into philosophy, history, and mathematical puzzles, while the most important theme is compassion for other people. Earlys father had taught his family to hold on to their dreams. The author makes the reader understand that shelter homes are full of individuals in need of a dream to hold on to, as is the case with everyone else. The mature subject matter of homelessness and crime makes Hold Fast ideal for children aged between ten and twelve.

Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine

Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party is a fictionalized novel by Ying Chang Compestine published in 2007 by Henry Holt and Co. about her childhood experiences in oppressive China. It tells the story of a child called Ling during the last few years of Mao Zedongs Cultural Revolution. Her doctor parents are laid off from their jobs, and a high ranking political official invades their home against their wishes. When her father is taken away to detention, Ling and her mother struggle to survive as food becomes rationed. Her family is also persecuted by the government and she is bullied at school.

As the storys protagonist, children can relate to Ling; particularly her determined and admirable defiance towards the Red Guards and bullies. The books events are carefully presented in a way that they do not overwhelm young readers by making them appear as adventures. Lings inner strength and gradual maturity makes it look like a coming-of-age novel ideal for children aged between 6 and 8 years.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Walk Two Moons is a 1994 novel about self-discovery written by Sharon Creech. It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl called Sal as she looks into her personal and cultural heritage as well as her country; all at a go. It is divided into two narratives. One is taking place in the present as Sal is accompanied by her parents on a road trip. In the other, she tells them about her friend named phoebe. In her attempts to help her friend wade through a family crisis, the main character gains a deeper and more meaningful understanding of her own loss feelings.

In Walk Two Moons, the author narrates a complex story within a narrative that is full of intersecting and dramatic events. The novel also has well-presented characters and excellently articulated feelings. Although it is meant for children, even grown up readers capable of predicting the plots ending will be in for several surprises. The book is recommended for children aged between 10 and 12 years.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder is a 2012 novel by R.J. Palacio about the experiences of disfigured boy during his first time in school. 10-year-old August Pullman suffers from a severe genetic facial disfiguration. After years of being homeschooled, he joins school in fifth grade where he has to contend with a wide range of reactions to his appearance. The story follows Augusts first year at middle school from the start to end. It is a time that he gets a first-hand experience of what human nature can offer, and a year of significant emotional growth for him.

The novel presents a realistic look at the unpleasant reality of a largely ignored subject in childrens books. Wonder is about something that people do not like to discuss because it is quite rare and so sad. It is about a boy who cannot be ignored or silenced in his world just because of his appearance. The book is recommended for children aged between 9 and 12 years.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Published in 1985, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is among the best science fiction novels ever written. After the earth is attacked twice by aliens, the military embarks on recruiting a child genius to prevent another attack. They single out a brilliant and compassionate but embattled child called Ender Wiggins. A problem arises on how to manipulate him to battle the aliens while equipping him with the necessary skills to do it.

While the violence in Enders Game is intense at times, the ruthlessly efficient fighting skills displayed by the main character are quite admirable. The adults running will stop at nothing to achieve their goal, even at the expense of a young boys will. The novel is a thrilling and emotional sci-fi story that will appeal to children aged between 8 and 11 years. It is fun and informative for that age group, and readers will most likely read it over and over again. The story conveys a timeless message since many children can relate to the main character.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Since The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton was published in 1967, it has become one of the most popular novels among pre-teens. It narrates about a rivalry between two teenage gangs: the lower-class Greasers and the upper-class Socs as each try to cement their place in the society. The plot includes violence, delinquent behavior, under-age drinking, and violence.

The juvenile delinquent characters in The Outsiders are fully and humanely presented in this realistic examination of growing up and gang violence as narrated from a teenagers point of view. It is recommended for children aged from 9 to 11 years, especially those in sixth grade, since they are at an age when children break into social cliques and align themselves along ethnic or racial lines. Told in a first-person narrative style, readers can easily relate to the narrator. The novel deals with issues that are quite close to the hearts of pre-teens, irrespective of whether it is the 1960s when it was written, or in modern times.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is a gripping look at the Second World War from the perspective of a young girl. Originally published in 1947, it tells the story of Anne Frank and her family who go into hiding to avoid being captured by the Nazis during the German occupation of Holland. They spend two years in rooms located inside the warehouse of her fathers business. Anne writes a diary describing her experiences in the hideout, including the hunger, boredom, longing, and fear. She starts to mature while finding her greatest comfort in the written world.

Readers will admire Anne since she is remarkably clever and thoughtful narrator. Also, the diary is quite entertaining as it is a notable historical document. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is recommended for children aged between 9 and 12 years, and has even been made a required reading for many middle-school pupils.

Rabbit's Bad Habits by Julian Gough

Rabbit's Bad Habits is a book by Julian Gough that tells the story of a bear and a rabbit that discover that life is much better if it is shared with friend. The bear wakes up earlier than usual from her hibernation. With a lot of time at her disposal, she decided to do something has always wanted to do but never had a chance-to build a snowman. While embarking on this endeavor, she meets a rabbit who informs her that he can make a good snowman although he has never actually tried it. The bear is skeptical but has no option but to agree since she cannot do it by herself. This is because there is a hungry wolf stalking them and an avalanche on the way.

The best thing about this story is that one of the main characters is female. In most such stories, the main protagonist is male, and it is nice to have the reverse for once. Also, the book contains a lot of numerous illustrations to expound on the text and offer explanations on any difficult word. The book is recommended for children aged between 4 and 7 years old. The plot is about the importance of friendship and companionship; a theme that would resonate well with this age group.



Balliett, B., Turpin, B., & Scholastic Audiobooks. (2013). Hold fast. New York: Scholastic Audiobooks.

Card, O. S. (2010). Ender's game (Vol. 1). Macmillan.

Compestine, Y. C. (2007). Revolution is not a dinner party. Macmillan.

Creech, S. (2001). Walk two moons. Pan Macmillan.

Frank, A. (2010). The diary of a young girl (No. 333). Everyman's Library.

Gough, J., & Field, J. (2016). Rabbit's bad habits.Howard, T. (2001). The Outsiders. Lucent Books.

Palacio, R. J. (2012). Wonder. Edicions La Campana SL.Pilkey, D. (2013). The Adventures of Captain Underpants (Captain Underpants# 1). Scholastic Inc..Ryan, P. M. (2002). Esperanza rising. Scholastic Inc..


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