By Gary Paulsen

Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 

62 Pages.   Grades 5 and Up  Genre: Adventure–Survival

I love listening to the old fiction (2002) and really enjoyed Hatchet.  It is a quick read that would be great for reluctant readers as it moves quickly and is action packed! 

hatchet3Brian is really struggling with his parents’ divorce—spending the school year with mom and summer with dad is not what he planned for. So mom puts Brian on a small Cessna plane to fly into a remote area in Canada.  Mid-flight the pilot suffers a heart attack and since Brian is sitting in the co-pilot seat he has to step up to the plate or the plane crashes.  Obviously, Brian survives the “landing” and the only thing he has with him is he hatchet that attached to his belt, his mom gave him as parting gift to use in the woods up north! Brian, once thought the hatchet was a silly gift but now he clings to it as this is his only possession—it becomes a lifeline of sorts. 

You will go along with Brian on an adventure you soon won’t forget—an oldie but goodie!



By S.A. Bodeen

Book 3 in the Ship Wrecked Series (see previous posts for books 1 & 2).


Now the stranded family has to split up to find Dad and Marco who have gone missing. Mom has become quite ill, Sarah and Nacho go out as the search team but once again they find much more than they bargain for, as the curator is not who or what they think he is.  This exciting installment 9781250027818of The Shipwrecked series has aliens, pirates, treasure and a machine that can replicate almost anything! A really quick action packed read that would be perfect for reluctant readers!  The cliffhanger at the end is almost unbearable!



By S.A. Bodeen

New York:  Feiwel and Friends Book, 2015.

Grades 5 and Up Pages 137.

It has been a Bodeen Week. After finishing The Compound this week I went right into the second book of the Shipwreck Island series!  Shipwreck Island starts off like most shipwrecks—a deserted island and minimal supplies. But Bodeen spins a new blended family together with a somewhat creepy island—with some unexplained weirdness.

22718677In this second installment the weirdness turns sinister. The family ends up with an addition as they find a girl, Cashmere, who became stranded on their island—a pirate robbery of sorts. But once on the island she tells of a story that she was held captive by the “curator” and just narrowly escapes. Next, Dad, one of the brothers go missing causing Sarah and Marco to head off to find them but they find more than they bargained for—weird and dangerous animals — like a shark that comes ashore because it now has legs.

Stay tuned as island becomes more dark and sinister than you ever thought possible! A great, quick read for reluctant readers!

Next in the series, Trapped. 



The Compound

By S.A. Bodeen

Grade 6 and up

Have you ever thought of what would happen in the event of a nuclear explosion?  Where would you go?

Is there any safe place?

In this story Bodeen writes about a family who has planned for such an event and has to use their safe place called the compound.

Eli’s family had to go into the compound one night—they left in such a hurry they had left their grandma and Eli’s twin brother behind. Trying to deal with the loss of his twin—he hardly took in the vastness of the compound.  It was as big of the house that they just left—maybe bigger!  His family was very wealthy and his father had thought of 26358214everything—hydroponics, cattle and chickens, storerooms with food and clothes to last 15 years.  The amount of time needed for above ground to become safe again.

The story moves along quickly and family relationships have deteriorated over the 6 years that they have lived there, food supplies are running low and Eli’s father is thinking of taking desperate measures to keep his family alive.  Eli begins to think his dad has flipped out and then he begins to question their very existence.

Bodeen creates many ethical situations in this exciting and thrilling tale of survival.

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

By Firoozeh Dumas

New York: Clarion Books, 2016.

Grades 6 and Up.  Pages 378.

This is the story of Zomorod Yousefzadeh told in first person by an eleven-year-old who is just trying to fit in, again!  Zomorod is settling in from her fourth move between Iran and California in the 1970’s.  She is really tired of being the new and different student; so she decides to make changes by taking an American name, Cindy.  This she believes will allow her to make an easier transition into school so that each class she does not have to give the origin of her given Iranian name—which makes her stand out.it-aint-so-awful-falafel

I found it delightful and humorous that Cindy wants all the American experiences she can get—food, school, camp, scouts, holidays and that her parents are wanting to maintain their Iraqi culture.  No surprise that there are a lot of parental clashes! At Thanksgiving, Cindy wants to have an American Thanksgiving dinner but she compromises with her parents as they settle on cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie with their dinner.  As they open the can of cranberry sauce the author describes that the “sauce” does not come out of the can. They shake and shake can until all at once it plops out in one big piece—fearing that it is spoiled; they just throw away the can shaped blob.

The 1970’s are a tumultuous time in Iran and for relations with the United States.   The author does a great job of helping the reader to understand the role of the oil industry, the political leadership in Iran and the Iran Hostage Crisis. The latter which causes her family much distress as her father, an oil engineer loses his job in America. Then random acts of hatred begin to occur—blaming her family on the hostage situation—subtle at first and then a dead hamster with a note to go home!   Iran is in so much turmoil they cannot return home and so they are stuck in the United States with their fear, and their family and life falling apart. 

Lucky for Cindy, she has a caring and compassionate friend, Carolyn that helps her to make sense of her world and those who Cindy has touched rally around the family.  When Cindy tells Carolyn they are returning to Iran because they have no job and no money she and others join forces to help Cindy’s family to pick up all the broken pieces and put their life in the United States back together again!

It is a wonderful story that will make you laugh and have an appreciation for those Americans that have a different heritage from our own.  They all have a story to tell!  

Somewhere Among

Somewhere Among

By Annie Donerth-Chikamatsu

New York: Atheum Books for Young Readers, 2016.

Grades 6 and Up    Pages 433

This is the story of Ema, told in verse. She is the daughter of an American mom and Japanese father. There is a lot going on in this story maybe too much for the younger readers. donwerth-chikamatsu

 Ema’s mom is expecting but has miscarried in the past and is now on bedrest at the childhood home of her father.  Ema is binational, bilingual and bicultural. But being between two very different countries and cultures is very difficult for 11 year old Ema. She often talks of the difference between the grandparents—the ones from California are loving and giving and the ones from Japan who are very stoic, strict and simple.  The lifestyles couldn’t be any farther apart.  As Ema tries to make sense of her world—her mom’s difficult pregnancy, the events of 9/11, the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the current sinking of a Japanese ship, being the new kid at school and being bullied– she tries to blend the two cultures together to understand the tragic events.  Although, I think there was way too much going on in this book—I enjoyed the journey.  Experiencing the Japanese holidays, the cultural differences, family structure and education helped me to appreciate how difficult it is to be different and to be more understanding of those who are culturally trying to fit in.


A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans  

By Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder

New York: Crown Books, 2015.

152 Pages.   Grade 4-6.

Miss Drake’s pet, Fluffy has recently passed away.  And Miss Drake is not quite sure she is ready for her next–pet human.  That’s right Miss Drake is a dragon that has humans as pets!  Amelia, also known as Fluffy to Miss Drake, had been the greatest pet and companion!  Miss Drake has not yet finished grieving when just 2 days after the funeral a little, scrawny specimen, dressed all in black, with very curly light brown hair that went every-which-way burst into the dragon’s lair and announces herself as GreatCare of Humans Aunt Amelia’s niece, Winnie.  Miss Drake is quite surprised and asks how she had a key to the secret passage?  Well, Great Aunt Amelia thought Miss Drake might be lonely so she left a key, a map and the great secret about her friend the dragon.  Miss Drake tries to get rid of the pesky little girl but Winnie is bold and sure that the DRAGON would be HER new pet!

Go on a grand fantastical adventure as Miss Drake trains her new human and Winnie enthusiastically plays along and finds magic and mystery at every turn.  You will be delighted with the friendship that is created from loss.