Review: Donavan’s Double Trouble

“Maybe, Donavan thought, he wasn’t the only one who felt uncomfortable about Vic’s homecoming dinner.” page 43

Donavan’s Double Trouble by Monalisa DeGross, illustrated by Amy Bates.
Amistad, HarperCollins, New York, 2008.
Realistic fiction chapter book, 180 pages.
Lexile:  550L .
AR Level:  3.8 (worth 4.0 points) .
Note: Donavan’s Double Trouble is the sequel to Donavan’s Word Jar.

Donavan’s got all kinds of troubles lately.  Heritage Month is coming up, and he doesn’t know anyone to ask.  He’s struggling with math and his younger sister is overtaking him.  His favorite uncle is back, but no longer a firefighter.  He doesn’t play basketball or teach dance moves anymore, because Uncle Vic’s National Guard unit was called up, and he came home without his legs.  Donovan’s not feeling good about these changes – he just wants his old uncle back.

Donavan's Double Trouble

When I was trying to find books about PoC with disabilities, one word was overwhelmingly used to describe this book: sweet.  Having read it, I would certainly agree.

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Review: The Buried Bones Mystery – Clubhouse Mysteries #1

“School was over and the summer morning stretched ahead like a soft, sweet piece of bubble gum.” p. 1

The Buried Bones Mystery (Clubhouse Mysteries #1) by Sharon M. Draper, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson.
Aladdin, imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, New York, 1994, my edition published in 2006.
Elementary/middle school mystery fiction, 94 pages + excerpt from book two.
Lexile: 700L
AR Level: 4.3 (worth 2.0 points)
NOTE: Previously published under the title Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs.

Rico and his three best friends have nothing to do this summer now that the closest basketball court is ruined.  So they’re going to start a club, first building a clubhouse.  But then they discover a mysterious box, and something important turns up missing.  What could be going on?

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The Buried Bones Mystery (Clubhouse Mysteries #1) by Sharon Draper.

This book was something of a leap of faith for me.  I had never read a book by Sharon Draper before, although several were on my TBR list.  So many of her novels have come so highly recommended, that I went ahead and ordered this book in hardcover, sight unseen.  I’m so glad, because I foresee it getting a lot of use.

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Review: Case of the Missing Trophy

If you have or know a child between 2nd and 5th grade, go out and get them this book.

The Case of the Missing Trophy by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Robert Papp.
Scholastic, New York, 2004.
Elementary mystery, 135 pages.
Lexile: 580L
AR Level: 4.0 (worth 3.0 points)
NOTE: This book is a sequel to The Spray-Paint Mystery, but has no spoilers for that book.

Cameron is so excited about the upcoming science fair.  He can’t wait to be in fifth grade so that he can participate and maybe win the trophy back to his school for another year.  The only thing more exciting is solving mysteries like his dad.  But it’s no mystery why Cameron is always losing and forgetting things – it’s not easy shuffling between two houses each week now that his mom is back in Austin, Texas.  Cameron’s spent so much time staring at the trophy in the display case, now it’s up to him and his three best friends to figure out where the trophy disappeared to!

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I grabbed this book from the library because of the cover, blurb unread.  Honestly I’m finding so many wonderful new-to-me authors this way, I nearly feel like I should choose all of my books based on the diversity of the cover.  So I wasn’t aware this was a sequel.  However, it doesn’t matter.  The previous case is referenced a few times, but no details are given, adults just state that the case was solved last year.

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Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

“everyone in our school has afterschool activities.//mine is going home.” p. 27 (David Levithan)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.
Speak, a Penguin Random House company, New York, 2010.
Realistic YA fiction, 310 pages + extras.
2011 Stonewall Book Award honor, and New York Times bestseller.
Lexile: 930L
AR Level: 5.1 (worth 11.0 points)
NOTE: This book is marked as a Target pick, but I bought it ages ago in a John Green set.  It wasn’t an intentional diverse buy.

Will Grayson is struggling with love, life, and friendship, specifically his best friend Tiny Cooper.  will grayson is struggling with the will to live, his undying love for his boyfriend isaac, and his sort-of-friendship with maura, who wants to date him.

They don’t go to the same school, or live in the same place, or have very much in common at all, until suddenly their worlds collide.

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

It’s always hard to buck a trend.  I didn’t particularly like this book.  First I tried to read it when a friend recommended it, but didn’t get very far.  Then I stubbornly purchased a copy and made myself read it while working through all of John Green’s novels.  Finally, I reread it for this review.  I still don’t like it that much, although there are high points.

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Review: Save Me a Seat

“They don’t understand how hard it is for me to follow directions when the electric pencil sharpener is going, or the door keeps slamming, or I’m worrying about whether someone is about to sneak up behind me and do something mean.” p. 54

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Scholastic, New York, 2016.
Realistic chapter book fiction, 216 pages + extras.
Lexile: 780L
AR Level: 4.8 (worth 5.0 points)

Ravi (pronounced Rah-VEE) is new to America, but confident that he will be the smartest and most popular kid in 5th grade, just like he was back home.

Joe’s no stranger to Albert Einstein Elementary, but he’s facing some new challenges this year.  He’s always had Auditory Processing Disorder, but this year his best friends have moved away, and his mother’s taken a job at school, ruining his favorite subject: lunch.

This novel takes place over their first week of fifth grade, broken up into five days and alternating viewpoints between the two narrators.  The chapters tend to be short, and between the two narrators they cover a lot of ground.

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Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

I had heard a lot of buzz about this book, so I was really excited to read it.  It’s a good fit for this blog also as both of the main characters are from traditionally marginalized groups.

The book opens with Ravi’s perspective.  He comes off as a little bit arrogant but the reader is still able to sympathize with him.  He is the only Indian in the class, at least by his grandmother’s standards.  Most of the kids are white, but there is a boy named Dillon who is American-born but from an ethnically Indian family.  Clearly, Ravi thinks, they will be best friends.

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Review: Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It

“The streak test. Hematite was black, but its streak was red. ‘Color is just a part of who you are… like a mineral,” I said. (p.177-178)

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It by Sundee T. Frazier.
Yearling, Random House Children’s Books, New York, 2007.
Ages 9-12 chapter book fiction, 193 pages.
Coretta Scott King Award Winner, 2008 (John Steptoe Award for New Talent)
Lexile: 630L
AR level: 4.0 (worth 6.0 pts)

This book I got from the library (SM) as I found the back matter intriguing.  It focuses on ten year old Brendan Buckley over the summer between fifth and sixth grade.  Only child Brendan’s Grandpa Clem has just passed away, his father is busy working as a police detective, and he plans on spending the summer hanging out with his best friend Khalfani, practicing Tae Kwan Do, and learning more about science.  When his mom isn’t making him go to the mall with Grandma Gladys, that is.

On one of those mall trips, he wanders into a display of the local rock club and can’t wait to sign up. But his grandma sees him talking to the club president and drags him away – it’s his grandpa DeBose, whom he’s never met.

So now Brendan has a lot of questions.  Why has he never met his white grandfather?  Who is this guy?  And what does it mean that he is mixed?  What will it mean to look black as he grows up?

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Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It by Sundee T. Frazier

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