Friday, July 24, 2009


By: Gail Carson Levine

This is called a "companion novel" to Ella Enchanted. In this case, that means the fairy tale is set in the same kingdom, and you'll recognize many of the creatures and a few of the characters. Aza is the daughter of two innkeepers who adopted her after her birth mother left her at the inn. Aza is very self-conscious of her looks, and believes she is ugly. However, Aza has a beautiful singing voice. Eventually she even teaches herself how to "throw" her voice so it sounds like it is coming from other parts of the room. By chance, Aza gets to go to the king's wedding, and the queen chooses Aza to be her lady-in-waiting. But, when the queen asks Aza to deceive the entire kingdom, Aza has to decide what to do.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I read this book immediately after Ella Enchanted. Fairest is longer and a bit more difficult, but follows the same patterns of a girl who must overcome something about herself. In this book, singing is very important, and the author writes out the verses of many of the songs - I didn't like this as much, even though I love music and singing, I tended to skim these verses and get back to "the real story". There were good twists and turns in the story, and it had a happy ending!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ella Enchanted

By: Gail Carson Levine

This Newbery Honor book follows Ella, and the challenges she faces after a fairy gives her the "gift" of obedience as an infant. Ella must follow direct commands - she can't disobey, even when she wants to. When her mother dies, Ella is sent to finishing school where one of the other girls discovers that Ella will do whatever she is told. Eventually, Ella runs away from school, but she still has to figure out how to break the curse.

Mrs. Senechal says:
Great book! It is amazing to think about what life would be like if you had to obey every command given you, good or bad. Ella has a good sense of humor, and the other characters are fun, too. The author really makes the fairy tale lands and creatures come to life through her descriptions. This is a wonderful story!

Monday, July 13, 2009

No More Dead Dogs

By: Gordan Korman

Wallace is a very honest 8th grader. In fact, he gets detention for telling how he truthfully feels about a book his teacher assigned the class to read. Wallace doesn't like the book - especially because the dog dies at the end. However, his teacher loves the book and gives Wallace detention until he can write a better book review. This means Wallace has to sit through play practice with his teacher after school instead of being at football practice.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I originally got this book because it was by Gordon Korman (author of the Chasing the Falconers series). But, I also wanted to read it because, like the main character Wallace, I hate it when the dog dies at the end of a book. I like how many of the characters change and learn new things throughout the story. And, I enjoyed the surprising ending!

*There are two times when one character calls another an inappropriate name.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Iron Thunder

By: Avi

The battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor was one of the most important battles in the Civil War. In this book, the story is told by Tom, a boy who finds a job working on a brand new type of ship in the navy shipyard in New York City. The North was rushing to finish the Monitor to protect the Union from the South's ironclad, the Merrimac.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I really enjoyed this book! I learned so many new things about these two ships and their importance to the Civil War. In addition, the story has a lot of suspense as the North tries to complete the ship and Tom has to face up to Confederate spies. There are pictures, photos, and maps in the book, too. I also appreciate that the author put a glossary and notes on how the story was written at the end of the book.

The White Giraffe

By: Lauren St. John

When Martine's parents are killed in a fire, she must leave England and move to South Africa to live with the grandmother she didn't even know she had. Martine is nervous yet excited to live with her grandmother who runs a wildlife reserve. As Martine tries to get used to her new life, she faces challenges at school and trying to find out if the legend of the white giraffe is real.

Mrs. Senechal says:
The best part of this book was the author's description of the landscape and animals found in South Africa. It really made me want to see these places and creatures for myself. Some of the story is unrealistic with some mystical powers, but overall I enjoyed this story.