Review: The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss

Title: The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss

Pages: 128

Genre:  YA/Middle Grade fiction

Where did you get it? Purchased on The Nook

Why did you read it? I wanted to pre-read it before giving it to my 12 year old daughter

What’s it about? It’s about a clique of middle school girls lead by a very popular “Queen Bee” type named Candace.  Maya is part of the ‘in’ crowd until one day Candace decides that she is “out.”  The group turns on Maya simply because Ms. Popular decides she is boring and doesn’t like her any more, and the other girls in the clique do whatever Candace wants because they feel lucky to have her as a friend.  Whatever Candace decides is right, because if you disagree, she might turn on you too.  Although some of the girls are conflicted, they all turn on Maya.  One of the girls asks another girl in the group why they don’t like her anymore, and she acts like it’s personal and if Candace wanted her to know, she’d tell her.  The truth is, she doesn’t know either and is just going along.

What did you like? Well, it was very realistic.  School is a warzone, and lunch (with no teachers to watch over) is a minefield.  The author has clearly spent time around this age group.  I could feel Maya’s pain at being excluded, and boy did I ever want Candace to get her comeuppance.  Girls can be unbelievably mean to each other.  I felt like cheering when a couple girls in the group started to think for themselves and realized that they actually did like Maya and didn’t want to be told who they should hang around with.  Yay for brave, independent actions!!  My hope is that reading this kind of book will empower my own daughter to be independent and not go along with the herd mentality of the crowd.

What didn’t work for you? I can’t think of a thing- it was excellent with so many great lessons for kids.

Share a quote: “Everyone in the cafeteria could see me sitting with Candace Newman.  I could feel all their eyes on me, and it felt fantastic!  But I kept cool.  At least I tried to.”

Who would enjoy this book? Educators, middle school readers, parents, and anyone who remembers the horrors and cruelty of middle school girls, and the fear of rejection by the popular crowd.  It would be a fabulous book for a mother/daughter book club or a classroom discussion.

Who else has reviewed it? I couldn’t find any blog reviews!

Anything else to add? This one will mentally put you right back into the halls of middle school- the scariest place on earth.

Waiting my turn for Catching Fire

scollins-330-Catching_fire_cI read The Hunger Games in August.  LOVED it.  I was totally engrossed and could not put it down.  My 11 year old read it after me.  Also loved it.  So we were thrilled to see that they had the sequel at the Scholastic Book Fair that I chaired at the junior high a couple weeks ago.

Catching Fire was literally flying off the shelves, even in hardback, even at $17.99.  I had to place a restock order twice during the one week fair.  Teachers were buying it, kids were begging their parents for it, and the librarian got 6 copies.  Scholastic also sent 25 copies of The Hunger Games in paperback at $8.99 and I sold out of them within two hours on the first day of the fair.  I ordered 50 more and sold them all.

My daughter’s eyes lit up when she saw all those copies of Catching Fire, that beautiful stack of crimson books.  “Please, Mom, can we get it?”  What she didn’t know was that I was way ahead of her.. I had already purchased it!!

I planned to read it first, but she got to it before I did.  She was reading it at dinner last night when she actually gasped, covered her mouth and looked at me with these huge eyes.  “Don’t tell me!  Seriously, do NOT tell me!” I said sternly.  “I have to, Mom!!  You are not going to believe it!  Katniss..” she began, but I stuck my fingers in my ears and said, “la la la la la” until she finally backed down and said, “OK! OK!  I’ll keep it to myself!  But PROMISE ME you’ll read this as soon as I’m done!”

She won’t have to twist my arm.

Why the Mean Mom loves Skeleton Creek

IMG_3315I’m such a mean mom, making my kids read during the summer.  At least that’s what my 10 year old says.  “It’s not fair!,” she says.  “We’re on vacaaaaaaaaaaaation!”    I tell her I’d love to have nothing better to do but read all day.  I’d love to have a self cleaning house, self-raising children, magic genies that do the laundry and put stuff away, personal shoppers, personal trainers, no work, a chef, a chauffeur, bills that pay themselves with an unlimited supply of money that just appears in my bank account with no effort.  She just rolls her eyes at me. “I’m a kid, Mom.”  Oh, yeah.  I forgot.

So I set the timer for 20 minutes and tell her she can go back to watching tv and farting around after she does her reading.  The book I forced her to read today is Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman. Her sister read (and watched) it in one day, but she’s my voracious reader.  No need to beg big sis to read.  The funny thing is that little sis continued to read after the timer went off.  She was totally into it!

This book is really cool.  The story is told by two kids; Ryan tells the story in journal entries, Sarah’s part is in video.  So you read a chapter, then log onto the website and watch a chapter (think Blair Witch- the camera is shaky, like a handheld video camera), then go back and read another chapter, and so on.  And (bonus!) it’s a dark and scary ghost story.  My kids love all things scary.

If you’re a mean mom like me with a reluctant reader this summer, you might want to take a look at Skeleton Creek.  Book 2 called Ghost in the Machine is coming out in October (the kids can’t wait!) and there’s a freaky fansite called Skeleton Creek is Real with lots of videos.  My daughter is convinced it’s real…

A Kid’s Review: Slob by Ellen Potter

31ddxnovrxl_sl500_aa240_Slob by Ellen Potter

Product Description from Amazon.com:

Twelve-year-old Owen Birnbaum is the fattest kid in school. But he’s also a genius who invents cool contraptions— like a TV that shows the past. Something happened two years ago that he needs to see. But genius or not, there is much Owen can’t outthink. Like his gym coach, who’s on a mission to humiliate him. Or the way his Oreos keep disappearing from his lunch. He’s sure that if he can only get the TV to work, things will start to make sense. But it will take a revelation for Owen, not science, to see the answer’s not in the past, but the present. That no matter how large he is on the outside, he doesn’t have to feel small on the inside.With her trademark humor, Ellen Potter has created a larger-than-life character and story whose weight is immense when measured in heart.

I received this ARC from Penguin and before I could even look it over, my 11 year old daughter snapped it up.  Maybe it was the Oreo cookie on the cover, or maybe it was the title, but she devoured the book in less than 2 days.   It’s a YA novel meant for kids 9-12 years old.  Rather than review it, my daughter wanted me to ask her questions about it, so here we go!

What is Slob about?  Who is the main character?

Slob is about a fat genius named Owen who tries to figure out a mystery about his parents.  Owen is 12 years old and goes to middle school. 

What challenges does Owen face?  

Owen is overweight, which presents a lot of problems for him, especially in gym class, where his coach is out to get him and embarrass him.  Someone suggests he get a ‘fat exemption’ from the doctor but he decides to tough it out.  Owen wants to solve the mystery about his parents so he builds Nemesis, a radio/television that can see the past and expand on what was caught on the security footage of a camera across the street from their deli.  It’s complicated.

How would you describe the book?  What was your favorite part?

I would describe it as suspenseful.  It has both serious and funny parts.  It’s mostly a mystery. The cover is really cool.  On the cookie, where it would say “Oreo”, it says “A Novel”.  The part I liked best were the parts at school, because he helps his arch-enemy recover from a seizure, and then they become friends.  

Were the characters believable?

I thought they were.  I liked Owen but the character I found most interesting was Mason Ragg.  He has one brown eye and one milky-blue eye and half his face is always sneering due to a medical condition.  It was rumored that Mason carried a switchblade in his sock, but it turned out it was just a key carrier.  There was another rumor that he was kicked out of his old school for being a handful.  It shows that people often make assumptions based on incorrect information. Mason knew about his reputation but didn’t let it bother him.

Did you like the ending?  Is there anything you’d change?

I did.  Owen learned a lot about himself by the end of the book.  He never did solve the mystery about his parents, but maybe some things are better left unsolved.

Who would you recommend this book to?  

I’d recommend this book to middle school kids, kids who’ve been bullied, kids who are friends with a bully, kids who are different, and kids who love to read.  It’s an easy read, and not too long (208 pages).  I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.  

 

Slob by Ellen Potter will be released on May 14th, 2009.