Book Review: No More Dead Dogs by Gordan Korman

no more dead dogsAfter reading a book for school, did you ever wish you could write a book report saying how much you really hated the book? Well, that’s exactly what Wallace Wallace (yes- he has the same first and last name) does after reading Old Shep, My Pal for his 8th grade English class. It’s no surprise when his teacher, Mr. Fogelman has a  fit and assigns detention to Wally until he writes a proper book report. In his eyes, Old Shep, My Pal is a timeless classic and an award winning novel – nobody could possibly hate it!

Never one to lie about anything, Wally refuses, citing he hates the books most teacher assign because the dogs always die, and he knew Old Shep would die before he even opened the book. Remember Sounder or Old Yeller? Dead dogs. Where the Red Fern Grows – two dead dogs – a double whammy! What is the deal with dying dog books that make them such wonderful classics?

When detention involves having to spend his afternoons watching Mr. Fogelman direct the school play, Wally finds himself becoming involved in making the play adaption of Old Shep more contemporary.

Strong male and female characters combined with a solid and very humorous plot line keep the book moving quickly to the end. No More Dead Dogs is not a new book, but I highly recommend it to anyone who might enjoy the humor at poking fun at the classics that students are supposed to love reading – but often don’t. (Review by Mrs. Hembree)

Book Review: Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff

wild girlIf you love everything horses, then Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff is a good choice for you. After her mother dies, Lidie who lives in Brazil, finds that she has to move to New York to live with her father and older brother. She hasn’t seen them in years and they have some awkward moments in the weeks after their reunion. Add going to a new school where you don’t speak English, and nobody speaks Portuguese, and you have some tough times. Luckily for Lidie, her father is a trainer at a famous racetrack and she can live around the horses she adores.

Every other chapter tells the story about a new born foal and its start in life. Like Lidie, the foal faces many difficulties as it is removed from its mother and has to start life anew.

The story comes alive when Lidie and the foal come together at her father’s stable. A satisfying read for girls who love horse books. (Reviewed by Mrs. Hembree)

Book Review: Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories About Growing up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka

knuckleheadIf you like to laugh, especially about the ridiculous things other people do, you will love this book. Jon Scieszka, author of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man, and many more, writes short stories about his life growing up as the second oldest of 6 brothers in the mid 50’s /early sixties. Don’t think because he grew up a few decades ago that it will be completely boring and a waste of time! This book is pure comedy as he relates stories of blowing things up, sword fighting with his brothers in the bathroom or games of “Slaughter Ball”. How these brothers even survived their childhood from all the antics they played on one another is a miracle in itself. Give it a try, but heed the knucklehead warnings and don’t try any of their crazy ideas at home! (reviewed by Mrs. Hembree)

Book Review: Theo Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

booneI love to read legal thrillers and when I saw that John Grisham had written ,Theo Boone: Kid Lawyer I bought the book immediately. I spent countless hours as a kid immersed in the pages of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Their books are pretty dated for today’s kids and nothing has stepped up to fill the void. I figured I finally had the chance to turn kids on to a genre I adore.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

Theo Boone is a 13 year old middle school kid who loves the law. He is a product of two lawyer parents, and strange Uncle Ike, also a lawyer. Through the years, Theo has apparently spent enough time in his parents’ offices, and the courtroom, that he has a fair understanding of the law. As a result, peers come to him for help at school and he gives them advice on which lawyers to see and how to proceed within the law to fix their problems.

Oh yea, there is a murder mystery which is the main plot line of the novel. Mrs. Duffy is murdered, there are no witnesses and Mr. Duffy goes on trial accused of murdering his wife. Yada, yada….Boring. To begin, Theo himself is just not a very believable character. He is unlike any 13 year old boys I’ve ever known. He looks okay on the outside, but when you poke further, there is no depth. Once you get that he likes law in chapter one, you never really find out anything else about what makes him tick and be likeable. Theo is like a piece of decorated cardboard- okay on the outside and nothing  beyond.

This book seems to be written with the boy market in mind. Grisham in an interview featured on the website, talks about how he loved the Hardy boys as kid and how this character, Theo Boone, a single child of two lawyer parents came to him first. However, I think it’s going to be a hard sell for most 9-14 year old boys. They typically want more action, and substance. They have been reading Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Alex Rider – and are used to fully developed characters, mystery and intrigue mixed with thrilling action. There’s none of that recipe in Theo Boone. The plot never really builds to any great crescendo and it ends with an unsatisfying whimper.

If you are interested in the law and how courtrooms work, you will probably enjoy this book. However, I think with a few exceptions, this book will be collecting a lot of dust on our library shelf. (reviewed by Mrs. Hembree)