Bookworm Burrow

Book reviews on over 125 different books from several different genres. Use the search or categories to see more.

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins July 3, 2008

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins was originally published in 2005.  It fits into the juvenile fiction genre and is recommended for readers ages 10 and up.

Finally there is a Newbery Medal winner that actually deserves the award.  So often when I read them I wonder but Criss Cross has it all.  This realistic and hilarious novel not only captured my attention it made me remember all the joys and frustrations of being a teen.  The story follows the lives of several teens in a town called Seldem.  Mostly we learn about their desire for boyfriends and girlfriends and their oblivion to the possibilities before them.  The laugh-out-loud anecdotes not only brought the characters to life but also told me how they think and what they struggle with.  The book was also filled with illustrations by the author every once in a while that were interesting, enlightening, or just funny.  Over all it was a great book and I would recommended it to anyone and everyone.


Hattie Big Sky By Kirby Larson May 20, 2008

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson fits into the Juvenile Historical Fiction genre. It was first published in 2006 and is recommended for people age 12 and up.

Summary and Review: Hattie Big Sky is the heartwarming Newbery Honor Book that tells the story of Hattie Brooks. Hattie, who was orphaned at age five, had been living with a long line of distant relatives when she got a letter from her dying Uncle Chester who wanted her to come to Montana and prove up on his homestead claim. Unaware of what this really entails and in an effort to escape her life of feeling indebted to everyone Hattie goes out to prove herself. Once she’s there Hattie learns the true meaning of work with the help of a stubborn cow and the never-ending combination of chores and poor weather. While there Hattie writes letters to her Uncle Holt and also to her friend Charlie who is over fighting the Germans. Her uncle showed her letters to a newspaper man and Hattie got paid $15 a month for her tales of life as a homesteader. She also makes some life-long friends, one of which was German born.  In a time where people are leery of anything German Hattie learns what it means to be patriotic in spite of what other people may say, and becomes a strong and independent woman. Larson’s prose is magnificent and full of wit as she describes the troubles and joys common to a Montana homesteader during World War I.


Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli February 8, 2008

Filed under: Book Reviews,Books,Fiction,Juvenile,Newbery Medal,Preteen Fiction — Julie @ 11:09 am

maniac-magee.jpgManiac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Published in 1990

Recommended Age Group: 10 and Up

Summary: Maniac Magee is a Newberry Medal winning book about a legend of the same name. Also known as Jeffery Lionel Magee, Maniac is the hero and unifier of Two Mills, Pennsylvania. When Maniac ran into town there was a great divide between the people. There were the black people who lived on the East End of Hector Street and the white people who lived on the West End of Hector. As a twelve-year-old boy Jeffery didn’t understand the difference between black people and white. He didn’t understand that the white people just did not cross over to the East End. So on his first day of town he walked right over to the East End and made friends with Amanda Beale. He borrowed a book from her and then proceeded to do other unheard of things like sit on Finsterwald’s front steps and intercept a ball one handed that was meant for James “Hands” Down these things, among others, earned him the nickname Maniac.

Jeffery was a wanderer without family or home, he was orphaned at age three, he lived with some relatives but he was so unhappy there he ran away and landed, after a year of wandering, in Two Mills. He proceeded to enact social change bit by bit one miracle at a time. In the end he was a legend with a home, which is what he longed for most of all.

Personal Notes: An insightful book on the power of one fantastic person. Jeffery was able to do more for that town than anyone ever dreamed because he was able to set aside perceptions and actually get to know the people. This book teaches great lessons about the basics of humanity in the process of telling fun and interesting stories. A great story, something that I think everyone would enjoy but especially boys.


A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck January 25, 2008

a-long-way-from-chicago.jpgA Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

Genre: Preteen Fiction

Published in 1998

Recommended Age Group: 8 and Up

Summary: A Long Way from Chicago, is a novel in short stories. Joey, who is nine in the first one, tells these stories over the summers from 1929 to 1935 when he and his sister Mary Alice go to visit their Grandma Dowdel. They have a lot of interesting adventures over the course of the years. They see a dead body, catch some local boys causing trouble, help feed an old lady, enter a baking contest, fly in an airplane, help some trapped lovers escape, get a friends house back from the bank, and participate and win all the contests in the Centennial program. Through these adventures the children learn lessons about life, themselves, and their Grandma and they create memories to last a lifetime.

Personal Notes: I really struggled getting though this book. The stories were interesting and fun but they just didn’t grab me. It took me 9 days to read it and it’s only 142 pages written for ages 8 and up. Being a Newbery Honor book and a National Book Award Finalist I expected it to be great but was disappointed. It may be because I’m a 25 year-old female and this was probably written for boys. I’ve run into this problem before with some books by Beverly Cleary. It would be best with a young male audience.


Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis January 7, 2008

Filed under: Book Reviews,Books,Fiction,Newbery Medal,Preteen Fiction — Julie @ 12:35 pm

599.jpgBud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Genre: Preteen Fiction

Published in 1999

Recommended Age Group: 10 and Up

Summary: Bud, Not Buddy, is a Newbery Medal book about ten-year-old Bud whose been living in an orphanage for the past four years since his Mom died. This is during the years of the depression and Bud’s been in and out of many foster homes and after his stay with the Amos family he decided to run away and find his father. Bud’s Mom kept some flyers with a band on them and the only constant was the name Herman E. Calloway so Bud thought that was his father. His Mom also kept some rocks with names and dates on them. Bud knew Herman was living in Cedar Rapids so Bud decided to walk the 120 miles from Flint, Michigan to Cedar Rapids. On the way he meets Lefty Lewis who gave him somewhere to sleep and a ride the rest of the way to Cedar Rapids.

Once Bud arrived he went straight to Herman and tells him that Herman is his father. This gets a laugh for almost everyone and a scowl from Herman. The rest of the band accepted Bud readily but Herman continued to shun him and leave whenever Bud was around until one day Bud rides home from a gig with Herman and they discover something they have in common. The rocks with the name and date on them are from Herman and were a gift to Bud’s mother. They are the cities and dates of places Herman and his band played. This leads to a discovery that is quite shocking for Herman but good for everyone. In the end Bud finds himself happy and where he was supposed to be. Like his mother said when one door closes another opens.

Personal Notes: I really enjoyed the humor in this book. Curtis wrote from the perspective of Bud and the things he says and the way he observes things are so funny. For example, “There was a real old smell that came out of it too, like dried-up slobber and something dead. It smelled great!” I read that and I just can’t help thinking ten-year-old boy. Curtis really captured the boy and by doing that captures his audience.


Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine December 15, 2007

ella-enchanted.jpgElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Genre: Fantasy

Published in 1997

Recommended Age Group: 8 and Up

Summary: Ella Enchanted is a Newbery Honor Book that begins with Lucinda, a foolish fairy, casting the spell of obedience on Ella shortly after Ella’s birth. Lucinda thought she was doing a good thing but no matter how Ella’s mother and their cook Mandy explained it to her she wouldn’t change her mind. The spell put Ella in a lot of danger all the time. No matter what the command was she had to obey. She would be able to delay the obedience but not for long.

The first disaster happened on her fifth birthday. The cook told her to eat the cake and no matter how she tried to stop herself or how sick she felt she had to eat the whole cake until her Mother discovered the problem and told her to stop. Later Ogres caught her and they commanded her to come to them and not to run away. She was lost to their control until something broke the spell and she was able to use their own tricks to command them. Her two stepsisters had power over her as well. Olive took all of her money and made her count it over and over again. Hattie usually made her do small things but also took a necklace that Ella’s mother wore on her wedding day. Her stepmother made her a servant and she was unable to leave or defy them. She fell in love with the Prince of the land Charmont who liked to me called Char. When she found that he loved her too she was afraid that her curse would be used against her to hurt him or the kingdom. She tried to trick him into thinking she was married and it worked, but not for long.

Mandy, the cook, who also turned out to be Ella’s fairy godmother, told her there was a way to break the spell she just had to find it. Ella believed that Lucinda would take it back if she was found but she didn’t. Ella was finally able to break the spell in the end and was able to live happily ever after with Char and without her stepfamily.

Personal Notes: In the beginning this book wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. As the book went on it got dramatically better until the end when I didn’t want it to be over. I enjoyed the friendly banter between Ella and Char. I also liked her obedient defiance it reminded me of my own children only they don’t have to obey me. A great book, beautifully written and fun.


Number the Stars by Lois Lowry November 21, 2007

number-the-stars.jpgNumber the Stars by Lois Lowry

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Published in 1989

Recommended Age Group: 10 and Up

Summary: Number the Stars, a Newbery medal winner, is set in Denmark in 1943. The main character Annemarie Johansen is not a Jew but her best friend Ellen Rosen is. In the beginning of the story the Nazis had come into Denmark but they weren’t actually doing anything. As the story progresses so do the Nazis in their discrimination. People go into hiding and businesses close. Ellen’s parents have to run and leave her behind where she pretends to be Annemarie’s sister, taking the place of one who died. They are almost discovered and decide to flee to the coast where fishermen are helping Jews out of the country in secret places aboard their boats. The Nazis use dogs to help locate those secret places but the fisherman have found a secret weapon against the dogs. During the escape to the boats a man drops the secret weapon and Annemarie risks everything to run and return it before the Nazis discover those in hiding.

Personal Notes: I’ve been wanting to read this one for some time but did not own it. It was worth the wait and even though I expected it to be great it was much better than I expected. The story line was new and different from other WWII fiction I’ve read. It is set in Denmark and is from the perspective of a non-Jew. A great read, entertaining, and enlightening.