Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teen Review Winners Round 5! (Final Round)

I want to personally thank all of the teens who participated in this summer's Teen Review Contest. It has been a real pleasure to read all of these reviews. I know my list of books I need to read has grown as a result. Congratulations to all of you who have won this summer, you have written some wonderful reviews.

Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American TownOutcasts United by Warren St. John

Outcasts United tells the brilliant story of the one common factor that can unite a town full of refugees: soccer.  When immigrants moved from their war-infested countries to Clarkston, Georgia, little did they know that there would be more hardships awaiting them.  The people of Clarston came to view these newcomers as invaders, and gang shootings killed people nearly as often as roadside bombs.  In response to these new hardships, refugee boys, under the guidance of their tough but caring soccer coach Luma, learn to work together and cooperated in their new environment.  United by their love for the game, they form bonds and build leadership skills, all while retaining their desperately-needed morals in the foreign land they now call home.

(Christine, Grade 11, Homeschool)

Beastly (Kendra Chronicles, #1)Beastly by Alex Flinn

Beastly is a modern day “Beauty and the Beast.” It has phenomenal characters and close attention to detail.  The writer gets all the details from the original story and tweaked them to fit modern day.  The unexpected twists and turns left me breathless from crying and laughing.  Five stars Alex, absolutely wonderful!

(Anna, Grade 9, Tri-Central)

A Wind in the Door (Time, #2)A Wind in the Door by Madeline L’Engle

It was a really fascinating book.  It turned my idea of science fiction of fantasy completely around.  Some parts were hard to visualize, but with a little imagination it worked.  And what are books without imagination?

(Evan, Grade 12, Western)

Many Waters (Time, #4)Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle

Many Waters was a great retelling of the story of “Noah and the Ark.” With more characters, it really fleshed out the story and made it a real narrative.  It was also fun to see the two unlikely main characters thrust into the story, and to see them change because of it.  Another great book by Madeline L’Engle.

(Evan, Grade 12, Western)

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2)The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

In The Scorch Trials Thomas thought it was over, but the maze was only the beginning.  When they finally think they are safe Teresa is taken, cranks who are victims of the Flare attack them and they are thrown into a scorching desert.  When Thomas finds out that him and the other gladers have the Flare their only hope of surviving is to make it to a safe haven across the desert.  Will they make it across the desert only to die of thirst or killed by a crank?  You’ll have to read and find out.

The Scorch Trials is a page turner that leads right into the next book.  You would be crazy not to read this book.

(Hannah, Grade 6, Western)

Found (The Missing, #1)Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

In Found thirteen year old Jonah always knew he was adopted but he never thought it was a big deal.  When he finds out that his new friend Chip is also adopted they start to receive mysterious letters.  Jonah, Chip, and Katherine are plunged into a mystery involving the FBI, an airplane that appeared out of nowhere, and people who can disappear.  Jonah and Chip are forced to make a decision that could change their lives and the world.  Will they make the right decision?  You’ll have to read the book and find out.

This book is amazing, it is a mystery that will leave you on the edge of your seat.  You would be crazy not to read this book.

(Hannah, Grade 6, Western)

Sent (The Missing, #2)Sent  by Margaret Peterson Haddix

In Sent our beloved characters go back in time to save time.  When they almost get lit on fire, thrown out a window, and killed in battle, they realize just how high the stakes are.  Sent is an amazing book that will leave you on the edge of your seat.  You would be crazy not to read this book.

(Hannah, Grade 6, Western)

Lord Sunday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #7)Lord Sunday by Garth Nix

I loved this book.  The book was going just like you think it was then at the end the thing that you thought was least likely to happen happened and you’re like “WHAT!”  I recommend this book to action fantasy readers.

(Ethan, Grade 7, Western)

Superior Saturday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #6)Superior Saturday by Garth Nix

This book is AWESOME.  I loved all the sorcery, magic, and action.  I advise this book for fantasy action packed book readers, but this book is good for everyone.

(Ethan, Grade 7, Western)

Lady Friday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #5)Lady Friday by Garth Nix

I liked the book a lot and also that they started to include the Leaf character.  This book is a very detailed, action packed, good book.  I would advise people that like action.

(Ethan, Grade 7, Western)

Many Waters (Time, #4)Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle

It was interesting and a very good book.  It was a little confusing at first, but got clear at the end.  I think this book would be for Christians, but it’s good for anyone.

(Ethan, Grade 7, Western)

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus, #2)The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

This book was awesome.  I would advise people you like mythical creatures, heroes, and gods.  The plot was very good and the end couldn’t be better.

(Ethan, Grade 7, Western)

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus, #1)The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

I loved this book and advise readers you like mythical creatures, gods, and pure awesome.  I liked the references to the books in the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series.  The plot was awesome and the ending was even better.

(Ethan, Grade 7, Western)

Triss (Redwall, #15)Triss by Brian Jacques

Triss is a wonderful book.  Triss the brave squirrel maid and her two friends Shogg the otter and Welfo the hedgehog are enslaved at the island of Riftguard ruled by King Agarnu and his son and daughter who are all pure ferrets.  Triss and her friends make a daring escape.  At the same time at Salamandastron,  Sagat the badger, Kroova the otter, and Scarum the hare go questing looking for adventure.

(Morgan, Grade 7, Eastern)

The Fame Game (Fame Game, #1) The Fame Game by Lauren Conrad

The book is about 4 girls trying to make it in Hollywood.  It had a confusing plot, and a story that every Hollywood book talks about.  This book was okay, but I wouldn’t say I loved it.

(Michaela, Grade 9, Northwestern)

The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1) Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

The Ruins of Gorlan is a fantastic story about an orphan named Will.  He has lived his whole life in the ward (orphanage) of a fief (Barony) named Redmont, ruled by the kindly baron named Baron Arald.  Will has never know who is father is, but knows that he had been a great knight and a hero.
Will lives with four other wardmates.  They are all fifteen years old and they will get to be apprenticed to learn a profession.  Will and another boy both want to become knights.  One wants to become a famous cook.  Another wants to become a diplomat, and the last wants to become a scribe.  On the day of the choosing, everyone but Will gets his or her apprenticeship.

When Will is denied the path of a warrior, the mysterious ranger Halt gives Baron Arald an envelope containing Will’s future.  Late that night, Will climbs Baron Arald’s tower to see what is in the envelope.  Halt catches him and brings Will to Arald.  Arald tells will that this was all a test!  And Halt will train Will to be a ranger.  News comes to them that the evil assassins called the Kalkara are roaming the lonely plains.  You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.

I think that John Flanagan wants to tell you with this story, that it is okay to be scared, but that you need to face your fears.  Will learned that to be good at anything, you need a lot of practice.  He also learned that revenge isn’t always sweet but friendships can be.  Will also learned to trust in himself, and Halt.

I liked this book because John Flanagan has such a good sense of plot.  He combines humor and friendship and gets an awesome book like this.  John Flanagan’s books are so vivid, when you read them it is like you are actually there!  This series is so good I’m rereading!  I hope you like it too.

(Donovan, Grade 7, Northwestern)

The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice, #2) The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

This is the amazing sequel to The Ruins of Gorlan.  It starts off with The Good King Duncan sending Will and his friends to a neighboring country to bolster King Duncan’s troops so it would be easier to fight Lord Morgarath’s evil army.  Will’s problem was that there weren’t any troops to recruit.  Meanwhile, the good King Duncan had gotten hold of Morgarath’s ‘secret battle plans’ and moved the royal army to meet Morgarath’s army.  Will gets captured and his friends barely escape with the news about the two secret attacks on King Duncan’s army.  To see what happens next, check this book out at your local library.

I think that the underlying theme of this book is overcoming adversity like Morgarath, or a lack of troops.  Will’s friend learned to trust his instincts.  Will learned that most plans have multiple parts that interlock and in order to figure them out, one usually needs help. 

I liked this book so much because John Flanagan really knows how to write a story.  When I read them, I just don’t know what will happen next and I just have to keep guessing!  He combines humor and friendship and gets an awesome book that you can’t put down.  John Flanagan’s descriptions are so vivid, when you read them it is like you are actually there!  This series is so good I am rereading it!  I hope you like it too.

(Donovan, Grade 7, Northwestern)

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey

This is a self-help book that helps teens like me understand how to get ourselves together.  This book covers seven topics that will save you from certain doom.  Some of these are; keep a calendar, don’t focus your whole life around one thing (a celebrity, for example), and how to break a bad habit.  As one teen puts it, “If The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens doesn’t help you, then you must have a perfect life already.”  I have followed the examples in this book and one thing that it has helped me with is keeping and organizing a calendar.  That has helped me organize my summer so well, I hardly have to think of things like thank you notes and dates for concerts and things like that.

The main idea of this book is that even if you start out at the bottom of the food chain, you can work your way up to the top with enough support, determination, and courage.  The author wanted to write this book so teens can find their way through the jungle of life.  I really liked this book because it absolutely is a self-help book.  It really acted like a compass for me, leading me in the right direction.  It does so in a way that is interesting and really works. 

While I was turning the pages of this wonderful book, I felt a mixture of emotion.  Sometimes I laughed so hard, I had to stop reading for a while.  Sometimes I had to stop to contemplate what the author was trying to get through to me, but most of the time I couldn’t stop reading.  So if you want to add a little greatness in your life, please look for the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, of recommend it to a teen you know.

(Holly, Grade 7, Northwestern)

The Squire's Tale (The Squire's Tales, #1) The Squire’s Tale by Gerald Morris

Terrence, our protagonist of the story, has grown up in the forest with the old hermit, Trevisant.  Terence is checking his snares one morning when he comes across a man eating a rabbit freshly caught…from Terence’s snare.  The man, Gawain, thanks him for the rabbit and teaches Terence how to shoot a bow.  This catches poor Terence by surprise, and he invites the man to the old hermit’s cottage.  Gawain asks for Terence to be his squire and Terence not only agrees to that, but starts into a magical world of adventure and danger.

Terence is very loyal to Gawain.  Even when the lady of the lake tests them and they had to cross a lake filled with poisonous serpents, Terence still leads his master to safety.  In the story of high adventure, and gut-wrenching evil, and beautiful damsels, Terence shows unwavering loyalty to his master, which is the theme of this story.

I really liked this story because it has a lot of adventures and was during the medieval times.  In this story, Terence learns who is father is, many squirely skills, and how to shoot a longbow.  If you are looking for a great first book in the series, look for The Squire’s Tale!

(Holly, Grade 7, Northwestern)

The Bag of Bones The Bag of Bones by Vivian French

Our main character in this book is Gracie Gillypot.  Keep that in mind now; I am going to start on another end of the story.  The council of Wadingburn witches has met on their monthly outing to make healing potions, love potions, and the like.  It’s all good stuff you see.  The council of witches isn’t particularly evil or powerful witches, so it sticks to the small stuff.  Mrs. Cringe, one of the lesser witches, has brought her grandmother, Truda Hangnail, from across the bordering land, and asks the head witch if she can stay for a while.  The head witch smells something fishy, but agrees.  Little do they know…Truda Hangnail has plans to become queen of Wadingburn!

Now for the Gracie part!  Gracie sets off with her troll, Gubble, and her bat friend, Elf, to stop her.  Will that be enough?  In this fast paced story, the second tale from The Five Kingdoms, Gracie gets kidnapped, befriends a rat, and discovers an evil plot.  Gracie is locked in an orphanage washhouse because her plan to escape failed.  She is losing hope like a colander loses water.  What can she do?  Wait, is that a bat?  Or is it just a shadow?  Everyone knows bats are great at escaping…

The main idea of this book is not to lose sight of what you are going to accomplish. Gracie makes that point clear by never completely losing hope, not even when she is sleeping on the freezing stone floor of the washhouse.  The author wrote this book to entertain young readers like me.  (I think she accomplished that!)  The main character of the book learned how bad dark magic can get and not to trust anyone associated with it.  I really liked this book and I would like for you to read it too.  Try looking in the teen section for The Bag of Bones!  Or asking a librarian…they’re very friendly, you know!

(Holly, Grade 7, Northwestern)

Wild Magic (Immortals, #1) Wild Magic  by Tamora Pierce

Dragons… griffins… kraken… all of these creatures, and many more have been released in to the world of young Daine, our protagonist.  With the help of a stubborn pony, her kingdom’s champion, and a horse trainer, can she stop them from destroying her kingdom?  And she’d better watch out… not all the birds are friendly.

Veralidaine Sarrasri is not your normal teenager.  At fourteen, she ahs run with a wolf pack, held many interesting conversations with her pony, Cloud, and has saved the world’s (almost) strongest mage from certain death.  Oh, and did I mention that Daine can talk to animals?

The main idea of this book was about bravery.  Daine, a crack shot with a longbow, has to face many dangers in her journey to Tortall, but eventually, all of her problems start to look like targets.  The author of this book definitely wrote it to entertain the reader, and she was quite successful, in my opinion.  I really liked this book because it had all sorts of adventure that I wish I could partake in.

(Holly, Grade 7, Northwestern)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Parli italiano?

You can learn to speak Spanish, French, German, Italian, and many other languages — including Pirate — with the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library’s new online language learning system: Mango Languages.

Mango is free for all KHCPL patrons and offers a fast and convenient solution for the community’s increasing language-learning needs. Each lesson combines real life situations and audio from native speakers with simple, clear instructions. The courses are presented with an appreciation for cultural nuance and real-world application that integrates components of vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture so users learn actual conversation.

To learn more about Mango and get a preview of what the program has to offer, stop by the library, and we will give you an introduction. You can access Mango via the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library website at Even better, if you have your library card and have access to the Internet, you can access the actual courses remotely from anywhere! Plus, there’s even a smart phone app for it.

For more information, call 765.454.4710.