Category Archives: boys

happyface by Stephen Emond

Another Happy Face
happyface is a wonderful mixed genre book, perhaps this mash-up now has a name but it is part drawings, part comics, and part prose. happyface is the nickname for a young man whose life has taken some tough turns.  He is working hard to give himself a social makeover from lonely geek to mysterious charmer.  happyface is not just his nickname, it is his new persona.  This novel helps the reader to get inside the head of a young man trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to be.   Stephen Emond looks at under-age drinking, alcoholism, death, grieving and affairs of the heart through his character’s eyes.  A hidden and critical event in the plot line will make this a challenging read for some students.   Definitely worth purchasing for a high school, it is also a decent addition to the YA section within a K-8 or middle school.

Kirkus Review

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George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking

It was a little intimidating to pick up a book by Stephen Hawking and hope that I would get it but I knew this one was for kids so I had a little hope. Written by Stephen Hawking and Lucy Hawking George’s Secret Key to the Universe is an entertaining and fun story.  This is a book for your solar system and adventure girls and boys.  George is a young and sheltered boy.  His parents believe in living a simple lifestyle without electronics and marooned from popular culture.  George is starting to wonder about the limitations when he follows his pet pig into the wilds of his next door neighbour’s back yard.  Soon George and his new friend, Annie, are on adventures exploring the realm of outer space. Mixed in with the story are facts about outer space, the nature of matter and other astro-physics for kids. The tone and humour of this story are spot on for grade 3-5.  A good addition to the K-8 library with possibilities as a read-aloud.

Trigger-Happy Star Formation (NASA, Chandra, 8/12/09)

Rating #1 (Highly Recommended) #2 ✓  #3 #4 (Not acceptable)

Interest Level: grades 4+  Reading Level:  4+

Curriculum Area: Language Arts, Science

Themes/Topics: space, family, values, adventure

Literature Young Adult Fiction review

CommonSenseMedia review

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Charlie Bone and the…

the castle crackled with magic as its gods held lightning, ready to smite down the non-believersJenny Nimmo has a great set of characters and adventures in the Children of the Red King series. As a lover of fanatasy, I’m an easy sell and this series has me searching out the next one to see where it goes. I find Charlie, the main character, likable and hopeful without being cloying or irritating. He makes mistakes and tries to correct them. He accepts the consequences of his behaviour and is always on the look out for the welfare of his friends and family. It’s too bad his mother is such a weak person. I’d like it if his mother had a bit more spunk but I suppose that would get in the way for the story plots. It’s been somewhat confusing to find my way through the naming and renaming of these books. The original series has a wonderful set of names which have been altered to reflect the Harry Potter franchise, “Harry Potter and the…”, now “The Blue Boa” is “Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy”, but publishers have to do what publishers have to do.

I would recommend this series as an addition to the K-8 library. I wouldn’t add them to a 9-12. Charlie is 10 and although he ages as the series progresses, he doesn’t age as fast as Harry. The books are written for a younger audience and keep a more consistent tone than you see in the Harry Potter series. They are also a more consistent length. I believe these books would make an excellent read for the child who can’t yet manage the Harry Potter books both in maturity or reading level.

Rating #1 (Highly Recommended) #2 ✓#3 #4 (Not acceptable)

Interest Level: grades 3+ Reading Level: 4+

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Themes/Topics: fantasy, adventure, magic, family, losses, good and evil

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10:The Big One-Oh – Dean Pitchford

This is a book aimed squarely at the 8-12 year old boy niche. Part gross and disgusting, part humour, part revenge of the loser; it hits the mark. Charley Maplewood is turning 10. Thanks to a inappropriately timed birthday greeting, he decides it really is time for him to have a birthday party. The complication is he has no friends. It’s a shame the publisher didn’t see fit to add some drawings, a la Judy Blume’s Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing or Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I believe pictures by someone like Quentin Blake would take this book from very good to terrific.  Still it’s an engaging read worth adding to a K-8 collection.
Happy Birthday Candles on Angel Foods Cake
Rating  #1 (Highly Recommended) #2 ✓#3 #4 (Not acceptable)

Interest Level: grades 3+  Reading Level: 5

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Themes/Topics: growing up, friendship, fitting in, family

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Raymond and Graham Rule the School by Mike Knudson and Steve Wilkinson

First a disclaimer, this is a book intended for boys, I am not a boy.  I did not enjoy this book and I don’t think it should come close to your library.  I think Mike and Steve missed the boat on this one.  Raymond and Graham are entering grade four.  They are looking forward to ‘ruling’ the school.  It all goes down hill from there.  The lead up is Raymond’s fear of having a particularly nasty teacher but this doesn’t end up being the central story line at all.  I feel like I bought orange juice and then it was grapefruit.  The main story revolves around the Christmas play and the boys’ crushes on a couple of girls.  Boys in grade four, in my experience, do not have crushes on girls.  They are still pretty sure girls are disgusting and want as little to do with them as possible.  The story is set in an American elementary school which finishes after grade four, in my neck of the woods, elementary school ends in grade eight so the story line fits for a grade eight group of boys but these guys are 9 years old.   I’d be interested in reading a different installment of this series.  If Raymond and Graham stuck with body humour and inadvertent insults, I expect it would appeal to boys but not this one.
School Boy
Rating  #1 (Highly Recommended) #2 #3 #4 (Not acceptable) ✓

Interest Level: grades 3+  Reading Level:  2 or 3+

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Themes/Topics: growing up, school, overcoming challenges

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The Mealworm Diaries

Author:  Anna Kerz Copyright Date:  2009
P1020109
Jeremy and his mother have moved from rural Nova Scotia to Toronto.  Jeremy has some major adjustments to make in life and in school.  Funny and poignant, this story is a marvelous read.  The text is relatively simple but not over simplified.  Short chapters will appeal to struggling readers.  Jeremy and his classmate are wonderful and diverse characters.  A truly multicultural Canadian classroom is represented.  I appreciated the portrayal of an excellent and with-it teacher.  Boring and incompetent teachers are easy characters to include for a few laughs but this teacher is genuine, helpful and professional.  Yeah, I have a bias, I want to like the teachers in the books.

McNally Robinson Review – caution it’s a bit of a spoiler

Rating  #1 (Highly Recommended)   ✓  #2    #3    #4 (Not acceptable)

Curriculum Area:  Language Arts

Themes/Topics: Moving, Changes, Growing up, Grief, Death, Frienship, Realistic Fiction

This book would be suitable for  ✓  Lit Circles  ✓  Kit Materials                               ✓ Read-Aloud (Gr.)  4-6

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Juvie Three

Title: Juvie Three
Author: Gordon Korman Copyright Date: 2008
Three Travelers
Another book by Gordon Korman, again it is great fun. Three boys from Juvenile Detention are moved into a group home with an unconventional group leader. No one thinks it will work and one of the boys is determined to find trouble. The relationships and antics of this group make it well worth reading. Excellent character developments, well-told story, interesting sub-plots.  Recommend this one to your middle years boys. They will not be disappointed.

Many chapters would make great stand alone read alouds. Chapter Eight shows the introduction to one of the characters and would be particularly good on its own. The book offers possibilities for teaching predicting and inferring.

CM Review

Quill and Quire

School Library Journal

Rating: #1(Highly Recommended) ✓ #2 #3 #4 (not acceptable)

Interest Level: Grade 7-9 Reading Level: Grade 7+

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Theme(s) Topic(s): Justice, Reform, Crime, Punishment, Honesty, Friendship, Change, Growing up, Realistic Fiction, Gangs

This book would be suitable for: ✓ Lit Circles ✓ Kit Materials ✓Read-Aloud (Gr.)

Snow Willow nominee 2009

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