Book Review: The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

swallowsI was sold on this book by the second sentence. “We lived in a perfect stucco house, just off the sparkly Pacific, with a lime tree in the backyard and pink and yellow roses gone wild around a picket fence. But that wasn’t enough to keep my daddy from going to jail when I turned eleven.” A prickly beginning to a book that will stick with you long after you finish the last page.

One of the joys of reading for me is sometimes stumbling upon a book that just moves me in a way I never expected. The Year the Swallows Came Early is that kind of book. “Groovy” Robinson wants to go to culinary school when she grows up, but unfortunately learns some harsh life lessons when she turns eleven.  She also learns that life is complex and the power of forgiveness is tremendously powerful.

I imagine more girls will pick up this book than boys, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The author fully develops Groovy’s friend Frankie into a believable but  flawed character, and just as noteworthy as Groovy. Try it out, I hope you will like it as much as I did. (Review by Mrs. Hembree)

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: 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)