Book Review: AMAL UNBOUND, by Aisha Saeed

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Wow. That was my reaction after I read Aisha Saeed’s amazing book, Amal Unbound. It’s a book, just screaming for all to read. Should you be able to follow your dreams? Should girls be permitted to be educated? Amal is a character maintaining helpful, caring, and daring qualities. She worked her way into everyone’s heart. Problems arise, and Amal will do anything for her family. Read a compelling, beautiful, and uplifting book where a girl can get her hands untied, with a little help from some friends and family along the way.

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I’m Ariana, an 11 year-old fifth grader, who loves to read. I really like mystery and fictional books. My favorite books of all time are part of the series The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. I love to draw, and my favorite animal is a cat. I really like to give other kids good book recommendations!

Book Review: SPY SCHOOL, by Stuart Gibbs

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A CIA undercover school, Jr. agents, a math wiz, crushes, evil agencies, new friends, teamwork, and a boy with more talent than he knows—where would it even be possible to have all of this content?
Spy School, of course! But SHHH, that’s classified!

This book is action-packed from the point of view of a soon to be a CIA agent, Ben. But before he can be the agent of his dreams, he must go through spy school. But all of this information is highly classified. So where does all of his friends and family think he’s going? A science school with high security, so for all we know, he’s a nerd. But when a mole is at spy school targeting Ben, can he, with the help of friends, find out who it is, WITHOUT getting killed?

Ben is a rookie who looks up to a girl with extreme skills. One thing that is not classified, Ben has a huge crush on her from the start. And the BEST part is that this is book one in a series with still more books coming! So you don’t have to be upset to finish a book, you can just get the next one. Will Ben be able to save his friends and spy school? Or will he die in the process of doing it?

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My name is Allegra and I am in fifth grade. I love books and am happy when I am hooked on a good series. Some of my favorites are Harry Potter, The Land of Stories and Spy School. When I am not enjoying a good book, I play lacrosse or act. I also love to travel. I hope I can share the joy of reading with others so that they, too, can find a good book.

 

Book Review: WONDERLAND, by Barbara O’Connor

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Wonderland, by Barbara O’Connor, is a heartwarming story of friendship and the challenges of growing up. Mavis is extremely bold. She and her mom move around a lot, but Mavis plans on finding a true best friend. Rose is a worrier but wants to try to be bold and fearless just like Mavis, and she has only one friend, the old gatekeeper known as Mr. Duffy. Unfortunately, after Mr. Duffy’s dog died, he hasn’t been the same. When Mavis and Rose meet and form a Best Friends Club, they are determined to cheer Mr. Duffy up. That’s where the dog Henry comes in. The two best friends go through an adventure to make things right, and learn the true meaning of being a best friend.

Barbara O’Connor’s sweet and amazing story is filled with humor and heart and is a book that you definitely have to read.

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My name is Heather, I’m in 5th grade, and I am 11 years old. When I’m not at home reading, I like to ice skate and draw. I love books that are either fantasy or realistic fiction. Writing book reviews is a great way to share an author’s amazing book with other people!

Book Review: THE SEISMIC SEVEN by Katie Slivensky

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The Seismic Seven by Katie Slivensky was sensational! I loved all the chances in the book for the kids to save the world. The kids were willing to sacrifice to help others and I can relate to that. The kids were responsible and took the initiative to solve problems all the way through the book. The science and geology of Yellowstone National Park was so exciting to read about and made me look up super volcanoes. One happened there 2.1 million years ago and won’t happen any time soon! Drilling into a volcano might not work because the fluid minerals would quickly seal any hole.

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My name is Allegra and I am in fifth grade. I love books and am happy when I am hooked on a good series. Some of my favorites are Harry Potter, The Land of Stories and Spy School. When I am not enjoying a good book, I play lacrosse or act. I also love to travel. I hope I can share the joy of reading with others so that they, too, can find a good book.

Book Review: TAKEDOWN, by Laura Shovan

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Takedown by Laura Shovan is an amazing and inspiring book. I had a burning desire to meet the characters Mickey and Lev and be like them in my heart. An influential part of the story is where the main character Mickey went on to be the only girl on her wrestling team. She followed her heart pushing aside other people’s negative thoughts. Sports often do help kids find friendship. Takedown shows how two kids struggled to get along on a team while working together on a long journey ahead. The theme of the story is friendship found in sports. The bond between the two kids grows throughout the story. Friendship is priceless is the feeling I got after reading Takedown.

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My name is Siyona and I live in NJ. I love to play basketball and tennis. Reading is my favorite thing to do during my free time.

 

Book Review: SMART COOKIE, by Elly Swartz

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I thought that this book was spectacular! This AWESOME book was about how the ‘smart cookie,’ Francine May Greene, tried to fill the empty hole in her heart caused from missing her mother.

The book is told from Frankie’s point of view, and I felt as if I stood right next to her—at Jessica’s house, at the library, at the B&B, at Reggie’s office, and on the float. Jess was such an interesting character, she felt like some sort of bully towards Frankie, and then like a great friend. I loved how Elly dreamed up Jess, so Frankie could encounter and learn from another situation. The thing I loved the most in this story was the entire bakery and food related items because I think Elly put them in to remind us of the sweetness in life. I had a craving for muffins, Doritos, pancakes, and obviously, cookies. Smart Cookie was better than amazing, and I can’t wait to read more from Elly Swartz!

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I’m Ariana, an 11 year-old fifth grader, who loves to read. I really like mystery and fictional books. My favorite books of all time are part of the series The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. I love to draw, and my favorite animal is a cat. I really like to give other kids good book recommendations!

MG at Heart Book Club Book Review: JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS, by Melissa Sarno

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Our July book club pick was JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS by Melissa Sarno. This incredibly touching story set in Brooklyn, NY, is an intimate look at the life of Cora, her little sister, and her mother, struggling to find a place to call home. The book combines so many true-to-life details, about the houseboats on Gowanus Canal, the tree names lining the streets of Brooklyn, an actual Miss Li and a stray cat, that it felt as tangible as touching the bark of an actual tree (the Tree of Heaven, perhaps) and made Cora and her family feel like real people.

At the beginning, Cora lives in a homeless shelter with her sister Adare, who is “different” from other girls her age, and her mother, who tries to provide for her family with a minimum-wage job. Cora’s horticulturist father has been gone for some time, and they have moved from place to place. Cora finally feels like she wants a permanent place to settle her roots, so when their residence is raided and her family moves to her mother’s friend Willa’s fancy apartment, Cora wants the apartment to be home for keeps. She wants her sister Adare to understand things, and she wants her mother to figure out their path.

Meanwhile, like any middle-grader, she has to figure out how to pass her math class and deal with the classmate making fun of her. She makes friends with Sabina, who lives in a houseboat and prompts a question: How does living in one house but moving from town to town differ from moving from home to home? Cora doesn’t quite know, but Sabina eventually leads Cora to the Tree of Heaven, one of Cora’s father’s favorite trees.

Cora’s dogged pursuit of climbing the Tree of Heaven resonated with me because, so often, we pursue goals like her. What happens when we reach it? What happens if we don’t? It’s the journey that makes the pursuit valuable. The lessons we learn are like scars, branches, and leaves on a tree. And yet, we keep growing. Just like Cora.

To learn more about the author, or for printable drawing pages, activities, recipes, and discussion questions, check out our Middle Grade at Heart newsletter devoted to Just Under the Clouds here.

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The Middle Grade @ Heart book club pick for August is WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW by Cindy Baldwin! Stay tuned for more posts about this awesome book and don’t forget to join us for our Twitter chat on JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS on August 7!