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Book Reviews

Refugee
Alan Gratz
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

Three different children from three different countries and three different eras, have one thing in common—they are all trying to escape war. Refugee chronicles Josef from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Isabel from Cuba in 1994, and Mahmoud from Syria in 2015. The three interwoven journeys of leaving everything behind to escape the surrounding chaos create a tragic yet hopeful story about the horrors of war, the desperate search for freedom, and the resilience of children.

-Pola
Posted 5/22/2020

Knock Three Times
Cressida Cowell
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

Having already read the first two books in the series, I was eager to get my hands on this, the third installment! Cowell is a wonderful storyteller, instantly engaging, with a whimsical bent that is a joy to read. Her books have many illustrations, as though it is a journal that is being doodled in as the story progresses. Zar and Wish are the two main characters. Wish is openly said to have Dyslexia (even if it wasn’t called that back in the time the book is written in, the author uses the term); while I don’t think she says it explicitly, I highly suspect Zar has some degree of ADHD. Kids reading this book will be able to easily relate to not only the main two characters, but also a host of fun sidekicks and supporting cast. There are adults, too—though not all are cast in the best light. One recurring theme is that sometimes you can try your hardest and feel you have done everything you can, but things still won’t turn out the way you want, and that is okay. The book leaves us with a cliffhanger, as Ms. Cowell so often does, so now I cannot wait for the fourth installment! Fingers crossed it isn’t too long in coming!

-Katie
Posted 5/22/2020

Pom Pom Panda Gets the Grumps
Sophy Henn
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

This story follows a little panda who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. He grumps his way through the day, only to find it makes him rather unpleasant to be around. Cheerful illustrations and repetitive vocabulary are found throughout, making this a worthy choice for a those readers who are just starting out.

-Katie
Posted 5/22/2020

The Bad Mood and the Stick
Lemony Snicket
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

This book follows the progress of a bad mood through a town, and eventually the world. The stick seems to just be along for the ride. The illustrations are bright and unique. I was honestly surprised to find a Lemony Snicket book that was so upbeat and funny, especially since it was about a bad mood!

-Katie
Posted 5/22/2020

The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

The story follows Mary Lennox, a young British girl whose wealthy parents’ cold lack of interest in their child has shaped her to be sickly, spoiled only by her many servants. When she is sent to live with her mysterious uncle back in England, she finds a locked away garden on the grounds of his estate, and it opens up a whole new world for her that she never could have imagined. Though this book was written in the early 20th century, it is a classic story that explores timeless themes that can be applied to any generation. It is a delightful tale about youth, abandonment, isolation, and the beauty of nature.

-Pola
Posted 5/22/2020

Magic Colors
Patrick George
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

This innovative book is simply and truly a wonderful and magical read! Young readers on their own or families together can flip the translucent pages to see a transformation happen right in front of their very eyes, as new colors and new pictures emerge. When you mix two colors, what will happen? Readers can find out the answer with this imaginative, interactive book. Each page turn engages with minimal text and colorful images in this innovative concept picture book for readers young and old.

If you enjoy this book, Magic Opposites is another title from this very creative author/illustrator that you may also want to read!

-Heidi
Posted 4/2/2020

The Ice Dragon
George R. R. Martion
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze anyone could remember. When the weather turned colder, she knew her birthday was near and the ice dragon would return. When she was only four years old, she saw and touched it—and by the next year, she was riding it. When fiery dragons from the north arrive and attack her father’s farm, can young Adara and the ice dragon save the day?

Set in same universe as the author’s adult series, A Song of Ice and Fire, this story for youth offers another dimension of that vast world.

-MJ
4/2/2020

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Pablo Cartaya
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

“Love and faith are most important.” This is exactly what 13-year-old Arturo Zamora must remember as he faces the most challenging summer of his life. Not only does Arturo’s tight-knit family live in the same apartment building, but they also work together in their family-owned restaurant, La Cocina de la Isla. But just as they hope to expand the business, the Zamoras learn their restaurant is in danger of being shut down. To make matters worse, Arturo must deal with his less-than-ideal summer position at La Cocina, his developing feelings for a family friend, and his beloved Abuela’s ailing health.

Guided by his deceased Abuelo’s letters, the inspiring words of Cuban poet José Martí, and his heart, Arturo learns to overcome his fears and discovers that even epic fails can result in positive change. An entertaining, humorous, and relatable coming-of-age story, Pablo Cartaya’s The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora will appeal to tweens and teens from all demographics. The novel even includes a couple of the author’s personal recipes for readers who are left hungry for more!

-Malini
Posted 4/2/2020

All the Lovely Bad Ones: A ghost story
Mary Downing Hahn
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

How scared do you want to be? Do you want the hairs on the neck of your neck to stand up? The feeling of being watched? This ghost story offers just the right amount of “wait, what was that?”Follow along with Travis and Corey as they spend their summer vacation at their Grandmother’s haunted Vermont Inn.

-Michelle H.
Posted 4/2/2020

Readers Advisory Staff

Looking for something new for your child to read? Are you a teacher looking for something to read to your children? The Villa Park Public Library has a fantastic Readers Advisory staff that is happy to recommend all sorts of genres and titles. Whether you’re looking for new authors similar to old favorites, or you’re ready for something completely new, our staff is here to help. They organize fun programs like Toddler story and song time to help make reading a more social experience. These folks know their stuff!

Looking for a Recommendation?

If you’re looking for a recommendation you can contact one of the readers advisory staff.

Amity
Favorite genres:
Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult Literature, and Books about weird animal friendships.
Amity’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Cristi
Favorite genres:
Comics and Young Adult Literature.
Cristi’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
heidi gHeidi
Favorite Genres:
Historical Non-Fiction and Fairy Tales.
Heidi’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
jean j_finalJean
Favorite Genres:
Books about animals that lose their hats and Mysteries.
Jean’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Juli K.
Favorite Genres:
Historical Nonfiction and Books about aquatic animals.
Juli’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Nancy
Favorite Genres:
Literary Fiction and Regional American History.
Nancy’s bookshelf on Goodreads.