Book Reviews by Teens
Volume 3 - Number 2

Welcome to our online Happy New Year! issue of UNDER the COVER, featuring book reviews written by students from Fairview South School. These students were chosen by their teachers to read and write about new books for young readers. Some of the books haven’t even been published yet! This special “sneak peek” was provided by Skokie Public Library and several book publishers. Why? So that students could give their peers a heads-up about what’s new in fiction for junior high and young adult readers.All of the books in this issue of UNDER the COVER are available for checkout at Skokie Public Library. Stop by and check our shelves for any or all of these recommended books!

If you missed other issues of UNDER the COVER, you can still find them in print and on the Web!

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Accidentally Famous

Reviewed by Damaris C.

photoIf you’re an ordinary girl, and your science teacher asks you to go into the school competition after your friend asks you to go into modeling, then you’re in Amy’s shoes.

Amy is an ordinary girl, in 7th grade, with her brother Kirk and two BFF’s Mitchie and Kiwi. Her other friend Janelle asks her to go into Bounce’s modeling group. So then after that, her science teacher asks her to go into the school competition against Karter School. She goes to both. Then she keeps missing the study sessions for the competition because she is always at rehearsal for the modeling and fund-raiser fashion charity.

coverSo then one day, when Amy misses the study session, the team votes her off. Amy gets sad and mad at Mitchie because she votes her off. Arielle takes her place with a smirk on her face. When the competition comes, Arielle got sick and couldn’t go. Will they let Amy back on the team to help win the competition? Will Amy and Mitchie become BFF’s again? Read and find out because this book is the one for you.

This fun-filled book for girls is great for girls ages 9-12. If you’re reading this interesting book, you will find out the answers to these two questions. I liked Accidentally Famous because when I started reading, it basically pulled me into the book like I was Amy, I couldn’t put it down! (Youth Series Paperback: CANDY APPLE)

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The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing
Volume 2: The Kingdom on the Waves

Reviewed by Liam W.

photoNOTE: Liam read and reviewed this book months before it received a 2009 Michael L. Printz Honor Award for excellence in young adult literature. Liam, you picked a winner!

When Octavian and his friend Dr. Tresusis find themselves in a terrible storm, they take shelter in British occupied Boston. While there, Dr. Tresusis falls ill and it is up to Octavian to help him recover. Octavian searches for a way to make money and joins a local music group. But when he learns of Lord Dunmore’s Ethiopian Regiment, and Dunmore’s plan to hire Negro slaves in return for their freedom, Octavian soon joins. While in his fight on the British side, Octavian finds that the Americans don’t seem to understand what the true meaning of the word free is. Why if they desire equality and freedom, why does General Washington not allow slaves to bear arms? Will Octavian survive the Revolution? And will he ever find out what it truly means to be free? Find out in The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.

coverWhen one reads a book of the particular genre as Octavian Nothing is written in, one usually finds a tale about the struggles of the American Forces. This delightful tale provides a satisfying twist to the genre and turns the spotlight instead upon the British and their struggles. It also provides intriguing letters from people of that time, some addressed to George Washington himself. This book portrays the roles of people who actually lived incredibly well, and gives insight into the fact that the Americans were not always the saints that so many works depict them as. This book will challenge the things that we have thought about the American Revolution. Was it fought for the freedom of all men and woman? Or were the Americans hypocrites when they excluded a group of people willing to die for the sole reason for the war?

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, but also to anyone who would seek to find out what injustices were done to so many people. (Youth Junior High Fiction AND; Adult Fiction-Teen AND)

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Beauty and the Bully

Reviewed by Mahnoor B.

photoDo you like both romance and music? Well, you might like Beauty and the Bully. This realistic fiction story is about a teenage boy named Duncan Boone. He loves music and has his own band, but mostly, he loves Carly Garfield, a girl in his school who adores animals. He will do anything for her; even change the name of his band to Flaming Tarts. But when he gets hurt, he isn’t invisible to her anymore. To make her notice him, he has to get a bully to hurt him? This is one realistic fiction comedy!

coverI would recommend this book because this is a marvelous book that has a lot of problems that teenage kids go through and a lot of kids love music too. This book has some teenage romance outside and inside of school too. This book may have some bad language, but it is the story inside the lines that counts. If you are a teenager who loves music and some teenage romance, check out Andy Behrens’s Beauty and the Bully. (Youth Junior High Fiction BEH)

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The Devouring

Reviewed by Dee L.

photoWhat would happen if you didn't have any more fears, but you were trapped somewhere that can end up killing you? This almost happened to Regina (Reggie), Aaron, and Henry in The Devouring by Simon Holt. It all started over an old journal. When Reggie starts to read the first page of the journal her brother, Henry, gets extremely scared. After a couple minutes of comforting Henry, he goes to bed. At first Reggie thinks that this is all one HUGE joke. But… she was wrong. When Henry's favorite hamster, General Squeek, is found dead in the toilet Reggie starts to get suspicious. Reggie, Aaron, and Eben team up to find out what is wrong. What will happen next, you ask? All you have to do is read the book and find out.

coverIf you love horror and realistic fiction this book is just for you. This book will probably scare you half to death, especially on the eve of the winter solstice A.K.A. Sorry Night. But it will definitely keep you wondering about what's going to happen next. This book definitely scared me half to death. I really do hope that it is fiction.

I would recommend this book for people who are probably 13 and older, due to the inappropriate language. This book would probably be for both boys and girls, depending on your love for horror. (Youth Junior High Fiction HOL)

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The Disappeared

Reviewed by Grace R.

photocoverThe Disappeared starts off with Silvia thinking of the night Eduardo, her dear brother, was taken away from her family. Silvia secretly thinks of a plan to get Eduardo back home. She will get the general’s son to fall in love with her and get him to do whatever she requests - to set Eduardo free. Will Silvia’s plan work or will it put her and her family in jeopardy?

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and likes action. This story is a great way to see how the hundreds of families in Argentina felt when their children were taken away and some were never to be seen again. It also shows the lengths a family will go to get back together. (Youth Junior High Fiction WHE)

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Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation,
Surveillance and Cookery

Reviewed by Kristine P.

photoSherman gets rejected by the girl he likes, Dini. Then, when Dini starts to date the popular lacrosse player, Sherman feels that Dini might get D-listed, or in other words, rejected from the high school society. When you’re D-listed, a picture of you is hung up in the bathroom with a D on it and everyone treats you badly. He starts to investigate to see who is behind the D-listings.

coverDuring Home Ec. class, Sherman gets a picture of himself with a little D at the bottom of it. Sherman’s friend, Rick, looks in the bathrooms and finds out it was just a warning. Cleverly, Sherman goes to a party as stakeout and hides in a closet. Will Sherman get to the bottom of this? Will he protect Dini and even himself? Read the book to find out!

I recommend Getting the Girl to anyone he enjoys reading about the dramas of school and teenage life. I enjoyed some very surprising twists and turns in the book, and I think you’ll enjoy them too. (Youth Junior High Fiction JUB)

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The Hunger Games

Reviewed by Nathan A.

photocoverThe book Hunger Games was magnificent. It was about a girl named Katniss who lives in Panem with her sister and mom. There is a game every year that makes all twelve districts in the area select one boy and one girl. There used to be thirteen districts, but they rebelled at the capital and were destroyed. That’s why they play the hunger games. Katniss’s sister gets put up for the game, but she doesn’t want her to go, so she offers herself. She does well throughout the game, but now it’s getting harder and there aren’t enough supplies to last. The rules also change and now both people from the same district can win instead of only one person. The bad thing is that her partner is badly injured and about to die. You will have to read the book to find out what will happen.

I strongly recommend this book because there is a lot of action, suspense, and life threatening situations. It’s really well-written and a page turner. (Youth Junior High Fiction COL; Adult Fiction-Teen COL)

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What I Saw and How I Lied

Reviewed by Emma L.


NOTE: The book that Emma chose received the 2008 National Book Award for young people's literature. Fairview picks another winner!

What I Saw and How I Lied is written by Judy Blundell. It is about a teenage girl, Evie, in the era after World War II ended. Her stepfather, Joe, comes back from the war and opens up big businesses. With the money he has been making he takes the family on a vacation even though it’s the start of school for Evie. Romances, crimes, and much more are unearthed after an ex-GI, Peter Coleridge, who knows Joe shows up where they’re vacationing. Evie must pick her loyalty to her parents or the truth about what really happened in the war. As lies are revealed, a shocking past from the war floats to the surface.

Do you need a book to read? Check out What I Saw and How I Lied as soon as it gets out. I definitely enjoyed this book. It started out innocent, but became a refreshing plot with crazy twists. I highly recommend What I Saw and How I Lied. It’s an easy read that I was able to finish in a short time period. I recommend putting this on your reading list. (Youth Junior High Fiction BLU; Adult Fiction-Teen BLU)

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Ignatius MacFarland: Frequenaut!

Reviewed by George E.

photocoverI read the book Ignatius MacFarland: Frequenaut! by Paul Feig. The book is about a boy called Iggy who is in the 7th grade. In the beginning Iggy gets made fun of by a guy called Frank Gutenkunitz. Iggy just wants to get away from it all, so he wonders if he could build a rocket and go to another planet. His best friends, Gary and Ivan, help Iggy with his plan, but something goes terribly wrong. Iggy ends up in a parallel universe. While in the parallel universe, Iggy meets a girl named Karen who helps him rid this universe, from an evil dictator.

I would most definitely recommend this book because it is action-filled and HILARIOUS! I would also tell others to read this book because it is so imaginative. I really loved it. I would recommend this book to people who like imaginary sort of stories that are not from this world. (Youth Science Fiction FEI)

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Jars of Glass

Reviewed by Anna Z.

photocoverIn Jars of Glass Chloe and Shana are trying to live a normal life. But how can they when their mom is in a mental hospital because she’s crazy, they live above a funeral home that their dad owns where there’s always dead bodies, and they’re trying to raise their three year old adopted brother from Russia. To escape from their lives they each do something. Shana (the oldest sister) sneaks out at night and becomes gothic. Chloe (a year younger than Shana) is always asking to go with her. She escapes her life by making two new friends who work at a Starbucks. With them she tries to live a normal teenage life. Chloe always has high hopes that their mom will come back home, but Shana knows the truth. Mom will never come home and if she does she’ll be out of there. One day their dad comes in and makes an announcement that their mom is coming home for one day of Christmas. What will Shana do?

I highly recommend this book because it can relate to a real teenage life. It shows how two sisters have to bond to get though their tough life. Also, the description in the book is so good that it’s almost like a movie is playing in your head of the scene your reading. This book is good for people who like stories that relate to real life, and stories that show how rough life can be at times. (Youth Junior High Fiction BAR)

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The Lab

Reviewed by Nick J.

photocoverI read The Lab written by Jack Heath. The main character of this book is Agent Six of Hearts, a superhuman teenager who works for The Deck. The Deck is a team of special agents trying to keep justice in a corrupt world. The King, who later becomes the leader of The Deck, is the only one who knows Six’s secret since he found him as a baby and raised him. Agent Six is not human; he was created by the Lab. When he was 13 the King started The Deck, and Six became an agent. They send him on the impossible mission that no one else can accomplish and he passes every one. But he meets his match when he comes face to face with the one thing that scares him the most. After all these years of running he has to overcome his fears and face his creators in order to save his friends.

I would definitely recommend this book because it is nonstop action and always keeps you guessing. Also, it isn’t hard to read and it never gets boring. I think people that enjoy action books will love it. This is the best book that I have ever read in my life! (Youth Junior High Fiction HEA)

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The Leanin’ Dog

Reviewed by Emmanuel P.

photoThis book tells about a girl who lives with her dad in the snow covered Colorado Mountains and they’re nowhere near civilization. Dessa Dean is still suffering from the loss of her mother and her father has to hunt for their food, so she is alone for the day. Just when all hope seemed lost, a shaggy friend crashes through the doors.

coverIt seemed that the dog came from nowhere, but it had a sprained wrist and was unable to hunt for itself. Dessa kept the dog until her father came and took out the family’s gun to scare off the dog. He was afraid that the dog would harm Dessa. After a day or so the dog came back. Dessa was so happy that the father let her keep the dog. However, trouble soon comes their way. Will the dog help them through the trouble? Will he be able to stay with Dessa? You’ll only know if you read The Leanin’ Dog.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes dogs or someone who likes adventure, sorrow, and happiness. Also it teaches a lesson and the lesson is don’t let life pass you by, because if you do you will miss a lot in life. (Youth Fiction NUZ)

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The Lucky Ones

Reviewed by Kelsey O.

photocoverThe Lucky Ones by Stephanie Greene is about two girls named Cecile, 12, and Natalie, 14. When their family takes their yearly trip to Gull Island, everything isn’t how it used to be. Cecile wants to know why Natalie would rather be with William (even though she really doesn’t like him) instead of playing at the dock with Cecile, Jack, and Lucy. This story is about two very different sisters growing up with such different opinions. Will their summer work out, or will nothing ever turn out right?

I would definitely recommend this book to any girl who likes reading about the experience of growing up. It is fun watching two different girls growing up together through ups and downs. This realistic fiction book will give girls with siblings something to relate to and to show everything has a solution and can be fixed. (Youth Fiction GRE)

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The Patron Saint of Butterflies

Reviewed by Summer B.

photoThe name of the book I read is called The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante. It is about two sisters named Honey and Agnes who slowly begin to grow apart. Agnes loves being at Mount Blessing, but Honey just wants to be free and grow up a normal girl. Agnes is always covering for Honey when she runs away to be with her boyfriend, until one day she gets caught. Unfortunately a tragic episode takes place and they are forced to leave Mount Blessing and live with their grandmother. This is when Honey finally realizes how much she loves Mount Blessing.cover

I would recommend this book to girls over 12, because it is a very interesting book and I think that they would totally understand everything going through the girls’ heads. I would not recommend this book to boys or children under the age of 12, because they may not understand the meaning of this book as well as the term. Overall it is very interesting as you are given an inside look at the girls’ lives, thoughts, and dreams. Definitely pick it up today. (Youth Junior High Fiction GAL and Adult Fiction-Teen GAL)

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The Richest Doll in the World

Reviewed by Jill R.

photocoverThe Richest Doll in the World focuses on a girl named Emily who is trying to break into a mansion to see the richest doll in the world. Her name was Delilah. Emily, while trying to break in, gets locked outside. For a couple of hours she’s locked out. But, while she’s outside, her grandma, Grandma Rose, is helping Delilah and Mrs. Bigley. Mrs. Bigley goes out to buy Delilah the best gift, but she didn’t know what that was. When Mrs. Bigley left, Emily got in and found a bed, then she went to sleep. Mrs. Bigley came back and found a present that was good for a human or a doll. That gift was a dog. When Mrs. Bigley returned with the dog, there is a lot of mix-up with a girl sleeping in a bed that’s not hers, a grandma who thinks her granddaughter is at daycare, and a dog who thinks everything is a play toy, including Delilah.

If you like comedy and sadness, I would definitely recommend this book. The Richest Doll in the World is a book that you would sit down and read for hours and hours. I loved this book and I know you will too. I definitely recommend this book. (Youth Fiction ROB)

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Six Innings

Reviewed by Michelle S.

photocoverThe book I read is called Six Innings by James Preller. It’s about a boy, Sam Riser, who announces at Little League baseball games. Most of his friends are on the team that he announces for, and he really likes to see them play. But that’s all he can do, just watch, because there is something about Sam that makes him incapable of playing his favorite sport. Why can’t Sam play? You’ll have to read this book to find out!

I really recommend the book to baseball fans. Otherwise, if you’re not a fan, you might find the book boring. So all of you fans pick up Six Innings and enjoy the game. (Youth Junior High Fiction PRE)

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Reviewed by Sakinah R.

photocoverSovay is a wonderful book filled with action and is a very good page turner. The setting is England, 1783. Sovay is a rich and beautiful girl, but she has a huge secret she keeps from her father – the secret of who she loves. She robs horse-drawn carriages going up and down streets in daylight. As you can see, to get away with this, she has to be a very brave and clever girl. One of her friends, Gabriel, knows what she does. Gabriel is a friend who was with her since they were little kids. Then tons of things happen. Gabriel’s brother has disappeared from college so Sovay’s father goes after him to bring him home. But while he’s doing that there was a rumor saying that Sovay’s father said something bad about the king. So while Sovay’s father was looking for Gabriel’s brother, an officer comes to the castle to arrest him. After Sovay convinces them to go, she goes after her father to make sure he’s okay and to warn him about the danger. During that time, Sovay robbed a powerful man’s wallet with some powerful and important papers and now the king’s after her, too. She suspects her father to be heading towards France where the war is. Then, she gets caught, is thrown in a prison, and surprisingly finds her father in the prison, too. Does she escape? Will her father be safe? Read this excellent book to find out!

I recommend this book because it is so detailed that it helps you imagine the setting and what’s happening in your head. If you like action-filled books that keep you guessing then you’ll love this book. (Youth Junior High Fiction REE)

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Trading Faces

Reviewed by Vanessa P.

photoTrading Faces is about two girls, Payton and Emma. They are both twins, and they had just moved to a new town which means for them a new school! Then, while they are in their new school, they have already gotten the question people always ask, “Are you two twins?” So far Emma and Payton like their new school. Payton has made some new friends, but spills a burrito on someone! Emma has not made one friend yet. Then, Payton starts off badly too with her clothing falling apart! So, she and Emma switch their clothing.

coverPayton now switched places with Emma, even though she doesn’t want to switch places with her. Then as they switch, Payton (as Emma) starts to enjoy being her because she gets to be noticed and actually becomes smart. When a special meeting takes place, a girl named Jazmine James gets suspicious about Payton (as Emma). Does she discover the truth? You’re going to have to read to find out. Do the two girls ever get best friends? You will have to read to find out.

I recommend this book for kids 9-14. This book is funny, a mystery in some ways, and really interesting. It basically talks about two girls who move to a new school and switch their places, by trading faces. Then they discover something very fun and new. This is a great book for girls in the 7th grade, and I think it’s amazing. (Youth Fiction DEV)

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Word Nerd

Reviewed by Nancy H.

photocoverThe name of the book I read was Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen. Word Nerd is about a boy who loves Scrabble, is raised by his mother since his father died, and has a deadly peanut allergy. Now you might be thinking, “that’s really random” or “sure…” but if you read along, you’ll find that it’s a very entertaining story. Ambrose is pretty much a friendless nerd in a new school and on one unlucky day, three boys decide to bully him by slipping some peanuts inside his ham sandwich. The school takes up the issue and decides that Ambrose will now be home-schooled. When his overprotective mother, Irene, goes to work, Ambrose goes upstairs to pester Cosmo, the 25-year-old son of the landlords. One day, Ambrose sees a poster for a Scrabble club and begs Cosmo to take him. At first Cosmo was reluctant, but Cosmo kept going because of Amanda, the Scrabble club organizer. Somehow these three become great friends and for the first time, Ambrose feels relieved.

This book was absolutely fantastic. It shows humor, wit, and the drama of life. Sometimes you feel bad for the characters, but then you still enjoy reading it. Personally, I enjoyed this book very much. Since this book has some inappropriate words and themes, I’d recommend this book for boys ages 12-14. (Youth Fiction NIE)

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The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail

Reviewed by Theo N.

photocoverThe book that I reviewed was The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail. The book is about a young boy named Tristan. He was found on the doorstep of a monastery, where a mute monk raised and took care of him. When he was fifteen, a group of Templars, on their way to the Holy Land, stop at the monastery. There, a knight named Sir Thomas, asked Tristan to be his squire. Tristan agreed, and they left for the Holy Land. Along the way Tristan befriends an eccentric group of people, even King Richard the Lionhearted. He and Sir Thomas go on adventures and battle the Saracens. Tristan is even entrusted with the most precious item in all of Christendom, The Holy Grail. What will await him now?

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Dark Ages or King Arthur. This book talks a lot about the war for the Holy Land in Jerusalem, and if you are interested in that, then this book is perfect for you. I recommend this book mainly to people who like action and adventure, along with a passion for the Middle Ages. (Youth Fiction SPR)

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Fairview South School project leadership: Kerrin Riley, Learning Center Director; Sarah Florea, Language Arts/Social Studies teacher

Skokie Public Library project leadership: Linda Sawyer, Youth Services Programming Coordinator; Ruth Sinker, Youth Services Technology Coordinator.