Tag: middle grades

A Good Night for Shooting Zombies

Author: Jaco Jacobs
Illustrator: Jim Tierney
Published:  
Kindle: October 11, 2018
Paperback to be Published: March 12, 2019
160 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 9-11, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Martin’s life changes the day his dad is killed in a car accident. No one talks about it, his mum refuses to leave the house, and his only consolation through the sleepless nights is solving difficult maths problems. Until he forms an unlikely friendship with his neighbour Vusi who dreams of making a zombie movie. The two are plunged head first into a wild adventure, pulling everyone they know along with them. Shortlisted for the Found in Translation award, it has also since been made into a popular film in Afrikaans.

Jessica’s Review:

This is a short novel aimed for children ages 9-12 that they will enjoy, especially if they like stories with zombies. (Though these zombies are not real.)  This story was just recently translated into English from Afrikaans and there is also a movie I would like to see.

The story takes place in South Africa and features Martin (aka Clucky)  who lost his dad a couple of years ago and since then, his mother has not left the house.  Martin reminded me of Christopher from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:  they both have a love for numbers.  There is an incident in A Good Night that deals with a chicken and through this moment Clucky meets Vusi and they become friends.  Vusi is determined to make a zombie movie which the boys work secretly at along with a girl, Chris.  They have many adventures and make mistakes as they film their movie.

This is a story that deals with tough topics very well: death, grief, and cancer. These issues are handled well where children will not be overcome with emotion, but understand these realities in life. I enjoyed this short novel. I wanted the kids to succeed with their movie and became attached to all our main characters: Clucky, Vusi, and Chris.  I liked how everything came together at the end of the novel.

This is a well done novel and I would recommend it.  There are also illustrations throughout the novel that help enhance the story. I wish I could have seen the illustrations in color, but my kindle is a paperwhite.

**Thank you to Oneworld Publications for granting me a copy via NetGalley.**

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK (available in Kindle and Paperback now)

 

Wait Till Helen Comes

Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Published:  November 2, 1987
184 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Beware of Helen…

Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her…our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.

But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home — a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond…to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watch her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather…

Kim’s Review:

This was the first book by Mary Downing Hahn that I read. I was looking for scary, ghost stories and this one was perfect! After I finished this book, I worked my way through most of her other books. I very much enjoyed this story, but I gave it 4 stars because of Heather. Unfortunately, I doubt she could be changed much because her awfulness is what makes Helen believable. I just don’t understand how any parent could allow their child to act the way that she does.

I think we’ve already established that I’m not a very compassionate person. I don’t have much patience for self-pity, or for the excuses people use to shift responsibility for their lives. Yes, Heather saw her mother die in a fire and I get that that would be a traumatic thing for a kid. But, why the heck was she not taken to a therapist?? Spoiling a kid is never the right course, no matter what the situation! Ok, other than that, I love this book! I always go back to it when I’m looking for a creepy read. Hahn did a great job of entwining history and ghosts. Molly is a great protagonist, she’s very believable and I couldn’t help but sympathize with her. It’s also safe for younger readers. I absolutely recommend this to anyone looking for a scary, ghost story.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: August 25, 2015
357 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

From NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

Kim’s Review:

Jennifer Nielsen has joined the ranks of “authors Kim will read no matter what”. She hasn’t written a thing I don’t like. She writes with such emotion and I very rarely look at page numbers while reading her books. With all that established, I have to admit that this is her weakest work so far. That does not mean it is bad, it simply means that A Night Divided is not my favorite of her books. I enjoyed this book very much, the only issue is that sometimes, while the characters were dealing with their boring existence in Communist East Berlin, that monotony came out for me, the reader, as well. That is the only reason I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5.

I love how Donnelly showed the practical side of life under Communism; the little things that we  Americans take for granted like the freedom to listen to music, or say the things we are thinking, no matter what we’re thinking. The scenes where Gerta goes to the market and the shelves being empty of most things except cabbage was especially potent.

I would suggest this book to most millennials, no matter their age. The suspense that Donnelly created, especially near the end, made me forget any boredom I was feeling near the beginning. This is another book that I would tell high school and middle school teachers to keep on their shelves. And the cover is amazing. And everyone should read it. And now I want to visit Germany. And I’m going to start writing all my reviews in this short sentence, list format. Ok, just kidding! 😊 I really liked this book and I think everyone else should read it as well!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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