Alejandria G.'s blog

Staff Picks: Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

Reviewed by Alejandria G.

At six feet tall and 180 pounds, Marcus isn’t exactly the smallest 8th grader at Montgomery Middle School. But looks can be deceiving and he isn’t quite the tough bully many seem to think he is. When the real school bully calls Marcus’s younger brother a nasty word, Marcus fights back and faces suspension.

Marcus’s mom decides this suspension is the perfect time to hit the ‘reset’ button for their little family. She takes Marcus and his younger brother Charlie to the island of Puerto Rico, to reconnect as a family and meet relatives they never knew they had. But Marcus has a secret mission as they adventure across the island: to find his father, who moved back to Puerto Rico and walked out of their lives ten years ago.

Staff Picks: The Adventurers Guild by Zack Logan Clark and Nick Eliopulos

Reviewed by Ginny H.
 
Best friends, Brock and Zed are anxious for their Guildculling Day, the day their futures are determined by what guild chooses them to train and work for the rest of their lives. They decide they'll be happy as long as it isn't the Adventurer's Guild, the guild tasked with venturing outside of the city walls to defend against the dangerous monsters outside. When the Adventurer's Guild unexpectedly steals the two friends for their guild, everything in Brock and Zed's world changes.

I loved this book! It'd be great for fans of Harry Potter with its mix of humor, adventure, mystery and friends who fight and stand up for what's good.

Staff Picks: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

Reviewed by Alejandria G.

Leo Logroña is the youngest member of her family. And as the youngest member of her family, she is used to everyone always telling her she is too young to help.

When the annual Día de los Muertos festival approaches, Leo thinks this will finally be the year she will be asked to help with festival preparations at her family’s beloved bakery. But yet again, she is disappointed when she is told she is still too young. After sneaking out of school to make sure all is really okay at the bakery, Leo accidentally discovers the shocking family secret: she belongs to family of brujas -witches- who use their magic to bake up the sweetest (and luckiest) treats in town.

Staff Picks: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Reviewed by Cidne B.

Told in a series of letters, this is the story of twelve year old Sophie Brown’s adventures after she and her family move from L.A. to the rundown farm they inherit from her great-uncle Jim. It begins with the sighting of an unusual chicken and leads to the discovery that there was once an entire coop full of remarkably different breeds.

This wonderful novel tackles issues of family, belonging, community, and change. The difficulties of adjusting to a whole new life are made more interesting by Sophie’s efforts to learn how to take care of her remarkable flock and to solve the mystery behind where they came from and where they are hiding.

Witty, engaging, and utterly delightful, with charming illustrations by Katie Kath, this warm-hearted story would make an excellent read aloud for younger children as well as appeal to independent readers.

Staff Picks: What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? by Chris Barton

Reviewed by Alejandria G. 

It’s impossible not to feel inspired while reading this gorgeous, well-written nonfiction picture book about the life of Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

From a young age, Barbara Jordan had a remarkable voice. Her voice demanded attention and projected confidence beyond her years. As the author ponders, “What do you do with a voice like that?”. And so began the journey of Barbara Jordan from child to college student. From lawyer to Congresswoman. Jordan spent her career speaking up for those who had less power and protected the rights of those who were discriminated against. Chris Barton’s wonderful words remind us to honor Jordan’s legacy by making our own voices heard.

Ekua Holmes honors Barbara’s life with gorgeous mixed media illustrations. Bold colors and patterns fill the pages and add dimension to the story.

Staff Picks: The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold

Reviewed by Ginny H. 

A.F. Harrold's novel follows Rudger, an imaginary friend. Amanda, Rudger's real person friend, helps him run away from an evil man who hunts "imaginaries".

But when Amanda is injured, Rudger is left all alone, which is bad news.The longer that Rudger has no one to believe in him, the more he fades. Can Rudger evade the evil hunter and find Amanda before he fades completely?

The Imaginary is a great book for kids interested in whimsical, imaginative fantasy stories

Staff Picks: Step Right Up by Donna Janell Bowman

Reviewed by Christina J. 

You have to read it to believe it. Then you have to see the photos in the historical note at the back of the book to really believe the incredible story of William ‘Doc’ Key and his intelligent horse Beautiful Jim Key. Even people who witnessed it firsthand, including scholars from Harvard University, couldn’t understand how Doc Key managed to teach his horse how to read, spell, cipher, and more on command. This is a stunning and inspiring story of how kindness and love has the potential to unleash the intelligence and capacity in animals, during a time when most people believed animals had no feelings.

Staff Picks: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Reviewed by Lizzie F. 

Callum Hunt has spent his entire life avoiding magic, but his attempts to flunk the entrance exam for the Magisterium are unsuccessful, and he finds himself an apprentice at the underground magic school where young mages are trained. Despite his initial reluctance, he begins to enjoy learning to use magic, but nothing can prepare him for what he is about to learn about himself and his past.

This book is great for fans of Harry Potter and the twist ending will leave you excited for the Magisterium series' second installment.

Staff Picks: The Honest Truth

Reviewed by Ginny H. 

Mark has been sick for a long time and after receiving bad news from the doctors, he's had enough. He's angry, scared, and just wants to disappear. So he does.

Mark sets out with his dog, Beau, to climb Mount Rainier. He encounters all kinds of people and obstacles along the way, all the while documenting his travels with his camera and writing haikus. While he misses his mom and dad and his best friend, Jess, he keeps going, even when he starts getting sicker.

This book was a really intense adventure novel. I found myself relating to the character in huge ways. The bond between Mark and his dog, Beau, was so relatable and real. When they got into some of the more dramatic parts, I was literally holding my breath!

If you like adventure and action, you'll love this book by Dan Gemeinhart.

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