Tag Archives: friendship

A Beautiful Adventure: A Review of ‘An Unexpected Role’

“The most beautiful and stirring adventure that can happen to you is the personal meeting with Jesus, who is the only one who gives meaning to our lives.”–St. John Paul II

Reading Level

Grades 7-12

Review and Comments

Sixteen-year old-Josie has left her family to spend the summer with her Aunt Lily after some embarrassment and bullying at her high school.  Since, in her mind, her mother has caused the bullying, Josie is happy to get away.

Josie loves the small island where her aunt lives and she is able to quickly make friends with people while there including an incredibly handsome and exotic guy  named Niko. Unfortunately, someone from her high school is also there, Ryan McNaulty.  She is afraid he is there to continue the bullying begun by his friends at school, and is shocked to find that he wants to be her friend. Continue reading A Beautiful Adventure: A Review of ‘An Unexpected Role’

A Review of Two of the ‘Kids of Polk Street School’ Books

The Kids of the Polk Street School series is written for young readers who are eagerly beginning to stretch their reading skills to chapter books.  This is quite an exciting time of new goals for children. Each book focuses on a student in Ms. Rooney’s second grade classroom.

The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room

“Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times, in all circumstances.”  – St. Vincent de Paul

Reading level

3.2        [Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

2.1         [AR]

Interest level

Grades  3 – 5

Review and Comments

The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room, the first book in the series, introduces readers to several typical second grade students.  Richard “Beast” Best is one of the students beginning the new school year in Ms. Rooney’s class – for the second time.  Because of this, Richard has to deal with a lot of concerns before he feels comfortable in a class of younger children.  What will he tell his old classmates about why he was left back?  Why does he have to feel so big next to the other second graders?  Why does he still have baby teeth?  Why can he only read ten words? Why does he get in trouble so often? The reader understands more about Richard’s struggles through his relationships with other students who eventually support and accept him.  Inevitably, there is also an irritating student who attempts to upset Richard’s adjustment to the new school year with hurtful remarks. Continue reading A Review of Two of the ‘Kids of Polk Street School’ Books

Virtuous Actions of Mercy: A Review of ‘Boxes for Katje’

“Love has hands to help others.  It has feet to hasten to the poor and needy.  It has eyes to see misery and want. It has ears to hear the sights and sorrows of men. This is what love looks like.”  – St. Augustine

Reading Level

Pre K – K, 1-2      [Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

Grade 3.5            [AR]

Interest Level

Ages 4-8

Review and Comments

Boxes for Katje is a wonderful story and an outstanding example of actually living Jesus’ commandment, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)

This true story begins after WWII when the people of Europe are suffering deprivations of all kinds, and charities in America are working together to relieve those affected. Katje’s tale is intertwined beautifully with the seasons, the growing needs of the citizens of Holland, the expanding generosity of the citizens of the United States, and the engaging letters of two little girls. Continue reading Virtuous Actions of Mercy: A Review of ‘Boxes for Katje’

Led By the Spirit: A Review of ‘9 Fruits Alive, Discover the Fruit of the Spirit’

“……. the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5

Interest Level: 2-5

Review and Comments:

9 Fruits Alive is a story that introduces young children to the fruits of the Holy Spirit and gives an example of how to live each one.  These are wonderful mini-lessons about sharing the fruits of the Spirit by doing every day kindnesses such as helping someone who has fallen or comforting someone who is sad. Continue reading Led By the Spirit: A Review of ‘9 Fruits Alive, Discover the Fruit of the Spirit’

A Determined Spirit: A Review of ‘Stone Fox’

“A small body of determined spirits fired by unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

Reading Level: 

Grade 4-5 [according to common core]

Grade 3.2 [according to Scholastic]

Grade 4    [AR level]

Interest Level:

Grades 3-5

Review and Comments:

Stone Fox is a story about courage and determination.  It is a story about a young boy’s love for his grandfather and his dog that will touch the heart of the reader. Continue reading A Determined Spirit: A Review of ‘Stone Fox’

The Games In Which We Compete: A Review of ‘The Crossover’ and ‘Booked’

“Continue, dear young men, to give the best of yourselves in sports competitions, always remembering that the competitive spirit of the sportsman, though so noble in itself, must not be an end in itself, but must be subordinated to the far more noble requirements of the spirit. Therefore, while I repeat to you: be good sportsmen, I also say to you: be good citizens in family and social life, and, even more, be good Christians, who are able to give a superior meaning to life, in such a way as to be able to put into practice what the Apostle Paul said about athletes to Christians of his time: ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it … They (athletes) do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable’” (l Cor 9:24-25).—Saint Pope John Paul II from his address to the Bologna Soccer Team, December 9, 1978

The Crossover

Interest Level:

5-9

Grade Level Equivalent:

5-6

Review and Thoughts

Kwame Alexander’s book The Crossover would’ve made my basketball-lovin’ heart oh so happy back when I was in middle school.  Alexander uses poetry to write so passionately about the sport and brings in a close family to add to the drama of the novel. Continue reading The Games In Which We Compete: A Review of ‘The Crossover’ and ‘Booked’

Middle School Perception: A Review of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’

“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some people will hear today.” — St. Francis of Assisi

Reading Level:  

Grades 4-5 [according to common core]

Grade   5.2 [according to Scholastic]

Interest Level:  

Grades 3-8

Review and Comments:

Greg Heffley reluctantly begins a journal at the same time he starts middle school. The journal is a very detailed record of his private thought process, observations, desires, and schemes. The reader also learns that the journal is primarily a record of his life so when he becomes famous he will only have to reference this history to recall his life story.  From the beginning, he realizes the transition to a new school is an uncertain one and brings with it many challenges.  His anxiety is on high alert as he tries to tread lightly and yet at the same time survive and fit into the intimidating world called middle school. Continue reading Middle School Perception: A Review of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’

Sidekick Wanted: A Review of ‘El Deafo’

“There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender, or disability.”—Sharron Angle

Suggested Grade Levels:

Interest Level: Grades 4-9

Grade Level Equivalent: 2.7

(As stated by Scholastic)

Review and Thoughts

El Deafo by Cece Bell is a cute novel written about the author’s own experience of dealing with becoming deaf at a young age.  This graphic novel chronicles her early life and explains how she became sick with meningitis as a child and lost her hearing.  Because the story takes place in the 1960s, some of the aids she receives are different than one might see today, but the situations with other people are all too familiar.  Friends, family, and teachers are unsure of how to treat Cece and she is unsure how to connect with them. Continue reading Sidekick Wanted: A Review of ‘El Deafo’

Life Spills Over For Better or Worse: A Review of ‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’

“No man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and worse.”  Pope Benedict XVI

Reading Level:

Grades  4-5

Review and Thoughts:

Foster Child: a child without parental support and protection, placed with a person or family to be cared for, usually by local welfare services or by court order. This is Gilly Hopkins.  Gilly, or Galadriel Hopkins, is an eleven year old girl who is starting over yet again in the third foster home in three years through circumstances beyond her control.  Gilly’s life experiences have forced her to create a list of rules written on her heart.  These rigid rules are what she fights to live by:

  1. I will accept no kisses or hugs.
  2. I will be clever and hard to manage.
  3. I will dare anyone to accept me or change me.
  4. I will be in charge of my own life.
  5. I will never appear the fool.
  6. I will never need help.
  7. I will be in charge of my education by making teachers treat me differently.
  8. I will be tough.
  9. I will continue to build a reputation and be proud of it.
  10. I will never attach myself to something that is likely to blow away some day.
  11. I will be Galadriel Hopkins – some day.

Continue reading Life Spills Over For Better or Worse: A Review of ‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’

Visiting a New Friend: A Review of ‘Owl at Home’

“Never shall I forget the times I spent with you.  Please continue to be my friend as you will always find me yours.”  Ludwig Van Beethoven

Reading Level:

K-1

Review and Thoughts

Reading the story of Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel makes the reader feel like a guest visiting the home of an innocent and trusting friend.  There is time spent by a nice warm fireplace, a comfy bed, and a peaceful seaside setting.  With every vacation however, there are also unexpected events.  This short holiday provides a glimpse into Owl’s simple life which to him is quite extraordinary. Continue reading Visiting a New Friend: A Review of ‘Owl at Home’