Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bystander by James Preller


4.5 Stars - Must read for middle school students


     Eric hated being the new kid in middle school.  To his surprise, though, he is asked to join a popular group the first week of his 7th grade year.  Griffin seemed to be the leader of the group - he was goodlooking, charming, popular, and all the parents and community members seemed to love him.  It wasn't long, though, before Eric saw Griffin's dark side.


Griffin loved to bully others - hurt them, scare them, steal their most treasured possessions.  Being in Griffin's circle came at a cost.  You were expected to participate in Griffin's "fun activities" or look the other way.


When Eric sees how Griffin tortures David, a 7th grader labeled an outcast, he finally decides to take a stand.  Eric tells Griffin he's antics are stupid and mean.  Eric will no longer be a bystander and watch Griffin run all over everyone.


Griffin has a lot of buried anger.  He doesn't like being confronted by anyone.  Now Eric has decided he want be a bystander anymore, Griffin decides to make him his next target....



*Recommended Read Aloud

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer Reading blog posts

 



Summer Reading Book Reviews


Students may post their summer reading book reviews here!  Just select the comments link and include your first and last name (do not include your email address).  The blog post should be a minimum of 3-4 paragraphs and include the following:  summary paragraph, description of major characters, setting of novel (if relevant), and the novel's theme.  The book review should include enough specific details which indicate that the student has read the novel in its entirety.  Please note that it may take several days before the book review becomes published onto the blog's site.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

2011-2012 Top Tiger Books Teacher Reviews

D.R. Hill Middle School teachers love reading our Top Tiger book titles, also!  Select the comments link below to read their reviews of the 2011-2012 Top Tiger Books~!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen




 4 Stars - Not as suspenseful as The Compound, but still a good read


      Mason has been plagued with problems his entire life.  At the age of five he was viciously attacked by a dog and still had the scars left behind from his face being savagely ripped and torn.  Mason's mother drinks too much and her job frequently doesn't provide enough money to cover their bills.  The only connection Mason has with his father is a faceless video recording of him reading Runaway Bunny to Mason when he was just a toddler. 


     Despite his past, Mason is determined to have a better future.  His classmates were used to seeing the scars and no longer reacted much when they saw him.  Mason was hopeful that his grades and an athletic scholarship would provide the tuition needed to one day attend Stanford University.


Things quickly changed, though, when Mason's mother discovered his application for the summer program at TroDyn Industries.  Mason didn't understand why she demanded he stay away from TroDyn.  After all, the industry owned half the town and the facility was established for a worthy cause after all - to sustain our environment against the threat of global warming. 


Mason learns his mother has her reasons.  A former worker at the facility, she had inside knowledge about the horrific  experiments using young children, the children of their own employees, nevertheless.  TroDyn scientists claimed their work would eventually sustain life during an environmental crisis and the seemingly cruel experiments were designed to ultimately save future populations.  But what about the young children they were sacrificing today? 


Mason knew his mother had left her prestigious job in order to save him from also becoming part of the experiments, but he didn't understand why she ignored what they were still doing to the other ones left behind.


Mason takes matters into his own hands when he meets the impossibly beautiful young girl who was being locked up in the nursing home where his mother currently worked.  Despite what they said about the girl being catatonic due to a brain injury, Mason knew otherwise.  The young girl could speak and think, and she's desperate for him to help her escape, to hide her from "The Gardener".....


What had they done to her?  Who was the Gardener?  How could he save the girl who had captured his heart?


Readers will be amazed when they, like Mason, learn the shocking truth...









Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pop by Gordon Korman



  5 Stars - Great read for football fans and nonsports readers alike!


Though Marcus hated being the new kid in town, he was determined to stand out and prove  he was worthy of a spot on the town's coveted championship football team.


  Practice makes perfect, and thanks to Marcus's new friend Charlie, Marcus becomes an even more exceptional player during the summer before varsity tryouts.  Even though he was middle-aged, Charlie loved the sport as much as Marcus did, and to top it off, Charlie was a remarkable football player.  Charlie would tackle Marcus, smash him, make him feel the "pop" of a hard-hit delivered by his opponent.  It only toughened Marcus and took away his fear of being hit during the game.  Marcus not only learned to take the pop from Charlie, he also became proficient at taking down the opponent.  Charlie becomes a friend to Marcus - great player and crazy prankster, even for an older guy.


When Coach recognizes Marcus has talent he decides to give him a chance.  Troy, the star quarterback, is less than thrilled and makes no attempt to hide it. Troy knew competition when he saw it, and he instantly labeled Marcus a threat - not only for Troy's star quarterback position, but also a threat to his relationship with Alyssa, the gorgeous captain of the cheerleading squad. 


Imagine Marcus's surprise when he finds out that his new friend, Charlie, is actually the father of his rival, Troy.  Not only does their friendship make Troy more angry, he seems desperate to keep Marcus away from his family....to prevent Marcus from learning the truth about his father...


I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this novel.  The end will leave you gasping.  Another touchdown by Gordon Korman!



*Recommended Read Aloud

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jump the Cracks by Stacy DeKeyser

 



4 Stars -

Victoria tried to ignore the little boy and his teen mom.  You couldn't help but overhear the mom's angry, biting words to the young toddler, though....or see how she jerked him up by the arm and the bruises that were already there from the many times she had been rough with him before.

It bugged Victoria that the little boy wasn't treated decently, but she had to focus on other things - like meeting her dad at the train station.  Victoria was spending the summer with her dad in New York for the first time since her parents divorced.  There wasn't anything she could do about the young toddler's situation.

When Victoria's father didn't show up on time, she walked slowly back to the train -  to her surprise, she sees the teen mom exiting the train alone...where was her sweet little boy?

Anger and frustration overtake Victoria as she thinks about the neglected little boy, and how she herself had been shuffled around since the divorce, feeling abandoned and forgotten by her father.  She knew how the child felt - how hard it was not to have a real home anymore or a real family.

No matter what, Victoria wouldn't let that happen to the little boy.  He was not going to slip through the cracks.  She would find the little boy who was left alone on the train, take him away from his uncaring mother and her boyfriend Jake - who was angry she had brought her son with her and probably a worse parent than the girl even was.  Victoria would do what she had to do in order to make sure the little boy had a safe, loving home before she would ever return him.

Victoria had no idea that she was carrying thousands of dollars - drug money - stashed into her bag on the train when she wasn't looking.  Jake doesn't care about the little boy, but he wants the money.  He'll hurt Victoria and the child to get it back. 

Victoria can only run for so long...Her face is shown all over the news.  To the police and press, she's not a heroine.  Victoria is a kidnapper.  If she keeps running, Victoria could be arrested and lose her entire future...but what about the future of the young child?  Didn't he deserve more?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vampire Rising by Alex Van Helsing


     -    4 Stars


After getting into a violent fight which ended up with his opponent being hospitalized, Alex tries to make a fresh start at Glenarvon Academy.  It wasn't long, though, before things began getting a little crazy.  Suffering from insomnia, Alex takes a walk around campus to settle his nerves. 


Then Alex hears a scream of terror.  Running quickly to help, he stumbles across a dead body - freshly killed in a brutal way.  Looking away in horror, Alex sees a young girl  running away.    Intending to help her, Alex pursues the girl in white - only to have himself brutally attacked, not by a young girl, but by a ferocious vampire.


Alex manages to injure her and escape.  Although he decides to keep his little adventure quiet and to forget what happened,  the vampire does not forget.


Soon Alex finds out that he is being hunted by a clan of deadly vampires - ones who are all too familiar with the family name "Van Helsing."  Alex also learns that his teacher is not just an instructor but Secret Agent Sangster who works for the Polidorium - a group founded in order to hunt and destroy evil vampires.  To Alex's shock, he learns the group of agents once included his own ancestors and counted among its members today Alex's own father and mother. 


 Alex's superior combat skills and his sixth sense in detecting the presence of evil are no mishaps.  Alex knows he is destined to join the fight.  His skills and determination are put to a test when Alex's friends from school are kidnapped by the vampire clan and Agent Sangster is injured and unable to help.  Alex knows what he's up against, but he can't sit back when his friends are taken as a sacrifice.  He has to find them and rescue them before it's too late... 

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams


 5 Stars - Could not stop reading this novel!


     Kyra isn't your average 13 year-old.  Isolated from the "outside" world, Kyra has grown up with 17 siblings, her mother, and her father's other two wives.  For years, Kyra believed her father when he told her that they were "the chosen ones."  She was obedient to her family and to the annointed Prophet in their small community.  Once Kyra became a teenager and a new Prophet was named, however, she began questioning the life which has been dictated to her and her siblings.


The new Prophet had restricted their access to the outside world, banned Kyra's beloved books, and believed women should be kept silent, while the men ruled their families with an iron fist, forcing them all into obedience if they ever questioned the Prophet's teachings or if they acted in defiance against their community's strict beliefs.


Kyra begins breaking the rules.  She starts reading books again delivered from a book mobile.  She also develops feelings for Joshua - sweet Joshua, even kissing him and letting him hold her hand.  When Joshua tells Kyra that in two years he wants to choose her to be his wife - his only wife-Kyra believes she can one day find happiness despite the oppressive community and overbearing rules.


Kyra's dreams are soon shattered when she learns that she has already been chosen by another.  The man she is to wed is her sixty year old uncle.  Kyra knows she has to act now and escape, even if it means leaving behind the family she adores and losing the boy she loves, even with the chance they may catch her and kill her- just as they did the others.....


  


    

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix



 

4 Stars - Fast-paced mystery








Lindsay seemed to have it all.  She spent her tween years as a child star of the hit TV show Just Me and the Kids.  She was beautiful and famous.  Parents wanted their children to be like her, teen girls wanted to look like her, and all the boys wanted to be with her. 






When the pressure became too much, Lindsay started slipping.  Before long, she had a full-blown nervous breakdown.  Living in obscurity with her eccentric father, Lindsay just wants to forget about her former life and hide away from the world.  For years, she is able to do just that.  Her father homeschools her, and she rarely goes out in public.  Everything changes, though, when her father dies.






All these years, Lindsay has kept a secret from the world.  She can hear others' thoughts about her - reads their minds.  Feeling like a freak, Lindsay is determined to continue living her life isolated from the world.  She stays alone in her home, continues with her online classes, and pays the bills with the savings from Just Me and the Kids. 



Lindsay manages to get away with it for a while....until the tabloids publish a crazy story that she is being held hostage by her father.  Once she's spotted in her neighborhood, two teen boys decide to be heroes and kidnap her, thinking they are "rescuing her" from her horrible father.  Lindsay is afraid - not because she thinks they may hurt her.  Toby is pretty good-looking, and she knows his thoughts ... how much he likes her and how he only has good intentions to help her.  What about his friend Roz, though?  She's very suspicious that something is not "quite right" with Lindsay?  Will she sell information about her to the tabloids or go to the police?



Lindsay wants to hide but now she can't.  Even though her father is now gone, Lindsay finds out she's not alone.  There are others who are waiting and watching....listening to her thoughts - including Lindsay's own mother.


Will Lindsay learn to trust others?  How long can she keep her sixth sense a secret?


 

*Recommended Read Aloud

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