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.

The Turtle of Oman

The Turtle of Oman: A Novel

By Namomi Shibab Nye

New York: Greenwillow Press, 2014.

Grades 4 and up 299 Pages

So during the Christmas Holiday I spent visiting my beautiful daughter in San Antonio, Texas. Any trip is not complete without a stop at a bookstore. I found this lovely book written by a local author, from San Antonio.

A young boy from Oman is preparing to come to the United States with his parents as they both get their masters degrees from a college in Michigan. Oman is in the Middle East—and sad to say that is about all I know about this country. But through the writing in this lovely story I can picture what life must be like.516M4hIB1eL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

It is a simple country, with simple homes and a simple lifestyle. Aref is seeing his father off to the airport when the story opens and next week Aref and his mother will follow. So now it is time for Aref to pack his belongings as they will be gone for three years. His aunt, uncle and two cousins will be moving in to his house while they are gone. Aref is struggling with the move—leaving his cat, his room, his school and most of all this grandfather, Sidi. Aref is angry and refusing to pack. Then Siti come to take him on some final adventures around Oman—helping him to create memories that he can take with him and gently encourages him to look forward to his new big adventure to Michigan.

You will go to a desert camp and pass camels, to the sea to fish and to the beach to see where the Turtles of Oman hatch, go to sea and one day come back home.

A lovely story that allows one to travel somewhere else without leaving home.



Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina

Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina

By Rodman Philbrick

New York: Blue Sky Press, 2014.

Grades 5 and Up


The story of twelve year old Zane Dupree is the story of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Zane is bi-racial, living with his widowed mom in New Hampshire. Since Zane’s dad died before he was born his mom is making attempts to get him, to know his dad through the woman that raised Zane’s Dad. She puts Zane on a plane late August of 2005, zane_lgalong with his dog Bandit, to visit Beatrice Jackson (Miss Trissy)—his great grandmother in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. Zane is visiting with Miss Trissy when mandatory evacuation orders are made because of an incoming hurricane. With no transportation she starts to pack up and look for transportation out of town but there are complications and the storms sweeps in.

Here are the true details of the storm: On August 23, 2005 a tropical depression formed over the Bahamas by the 25th it is a Category 1 Hurricane that crossed into Florida. Then that hurricane crossed over Florida and gained strength in the Gulf’s warm waters. By the 29th a Category 5 Hurricane makes landfall in New Orleans and a few hours later the levee that protects New Orleans collapses and the most destructive flood of all times hits New Orleans.

One thing led to another and Miss Triss is on her way north while Zane and Bandit are trapped in the attic of her home. Temperatures in the attic reached in excess of 100 degrees and the water rose to just under the attic door—they were trapped. This is where many people died in New Orleans but something miraculous happens to Zane—a man and a girl in a canoe hear Bandit’s bark and save Zane. This is just the beginning of many terrible events of prejudice; discrimination, cruelty, and greed as the trio try to save themselves from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the United States.

Author Rodman Philbrick’s research of first person accounts makes Zane’s experiences seem very real and horrific. This book will change you—it is not for the faint of heart!

Mrs. R’s Summer Book #1

Author Website