Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Giver by: Lois Lowry

*Just a quick little note: The Giver was banned in many schools because it was thought to promote suicide and euthanaisa.*

Jonas lived in a painless, perfect world where everything was under control and no one really knew what real sadness, anger, or frustration were. They thought they knew. And at one time, the whole world had known. The whole world had known what snow was. They had seen the color red. They had used the word love and felt love right back, which was now an impractical word that no one ever used. There was no real pain, no real choices they had to make. All the choices were made by the elders. As soon as a child turned twelve, they were assigned a job in the community by the elders, and that was their job for the rest of their life. They had to apply to get children and to get a wife. But this was the world they knew. They had not known the world of colour, rainbows, and sunshine. To them, making their own choices seemed impractical. What if they made a wrong choice? Yes, it was better the elders made all the decisions for everyone as they were more likely to make the right choices. So, when Jonas turned twelve, you can imagine he felt nervous. What if he was assigned a job he didn't like?

The elders had been observing Jonas since his childhood, so they thought they knew what was right for him. They chose for him the most important, most well respected job in the whole community... he was to be the receiver of memory. The receiver of memory's job was to hold all the memories that other people didn't want to be burdened with. He held them all in his mind and kept them there for when decisions were to be made. The receiver of memory alone knew the true pain and pleasures of life. But the current receiver of memory was growing old, once he died, who would hold all those memories? So, Jonas was chosen to be given all of the old man's memories. Slowly, over a period of time, he was to be given all the memories until the receiver of memory had no more left to give, if Jonas was able to make it through all the training. In the end, Jonas decides that the community needs to have real emotions like he began to have when he was chosen to be the receiver of memory and has to leave the community and never return if he wants to carry out his plan.


This book is thought provoking.

I don't know if this is exactly a pro, but The Giver was a very unique book.

In the end, Jonas makes a choice that I think was the right decision.


After Jonas is told he will be the receiver, he is given a sheet of rules. On this sheet it gives him permission to lie whenever it is necessary.

The way the receiver transmits the memories into Jonas is not actually something that could be done in real life and is kind of supernatural.

The society euthanizes people who are no longer useful.

Thoughts and notes about this book:

I do not actually agree with the reason this book was banned from schools, as I don't think it does promote suicide or euthanaisa. The reason I think this is because it is shown at the end of the book that in this perfect society where there is no love and no emotions people then have no value. But when Jonas started to feel love and emotions, he realized that this was wrong and that people do have value and we can't just end their life because they don't fit in with the society's plan.

In this book, once a person grows old, they are "released". Released means that they have a big ceremony in which they invite the community and they share about what they did in their life. After the ceremony they are killed, or, as the community calls it, released. This will also happen to a baby if it is born too small or there are twins. One twin must be killed, because, if it wasn't, then they would overpopulate the community. If the baby is born too small, it is killed because small babies aren't as healthy and helpful as big ones.

In The Giver, the people have no love. They have no real emotions. That is what the receiver of memory is for, to hold all those emotions for them. It is because they have no love that they don't feel guilty about killing too small babies and such.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Horse To Love by: Marsha Hubler

"Young lady - and I use that term loosely - I'm tired of your despicable behaviour. You have exhausted this court's patience. I'm sending you to the Chesterfield Detention Center!"

Thirteen year-old Skye Nicholson is in trouble for vandalism, shoplifting, drug abuse, and leaving five foster homes, and that's just in the past year! Fortunately, Eileen Chambers and her husband, Tom, are willing to take Skye on and keep her from being sent to juvenile detention. Skye doesn't think that it is fortunate, though. In fact, she would rather be sent to juvenile detention! She is in trouble for so many things that the judge admitted that in all his time serving as a judge, he had never seen so many offences on a girl so young. To Skye the Chambers' home, Keystone Stables, is just a another foster home that she will have to break out of. Except this foster home has religious people in it, a girl in a wheelchair, yappy dogs, and horses. Skye is terrified of horses! So when the Chambers forced her to ride one, you can imagine how she felt. But slowly, Skye begins to like horses, one in particular. She is still cold towards her new foster parents, but horses? They were beginning to be the most important thing in her life. She began to realize that she could never leave her horse, Champ, for anything.

Soon Skye is forced to go a meeting where someone has to "bring themselves up" every time. "Bringing themselves up" meant they had to come to the stage and confess something bad they'd done. Skye is forced to bring herself up and confess that she punched Hannah Gilbert in the nose. The other children all told her that was unacceptable and began teasing her. It was then that Skye's patience gave out. She had to leave, no surprise there. Then Skye decides to do something dangerous to impress a boy, and ends up getting Mr. Chambers in the hospital! Skye didn't realize how much she actually cared about the Chamber family until then. But is it too late?

My thoughts:

I like all horse books, and this one is no exception. Mrs. Chambers bugs me though. The way she talks I sometimes find to be annoying. Her choice of words is strange. I know most people won't agree with me on that. Also, I found it to be the same with the Chambers' other daughter, Morgan. I thought they made Skye a little too calm in some situations too. Most people will probably think that's weird, because it is, but that is just my opinion (which is what I'm here to give :). Anyways, I think this book is good for ages ten to fourteen.

8/10 stars

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Door In The Dragon's Throat by: Frank E. Peretti

The Door in the Dragon's Throat, by: Frank E. Peretti, is the first book in the Cooper Kids Adventure series.

Lila and Jay Cooper are excited to be included on a trip with their archaeologist father, Dr. Jake Cooper. Greedy President Al-Dallam asked their father to come and find out what lay behind a door, in a cavern called "Dragon's Throat," that has been a mystery for years. Many people had tried to open it, but they had either died horrible deaths or fled in terror. Why would the Coopers be any different?

Presiden Al-Dallam thought that since the Coopers believed so strongly in their God, perhaps their God could help them make it onto the other side of the door. He was not so curious about what the Coopers would find behind the door, but more about the treasures he expected them to find. Rumor had it that behind the door lay Nimrod's treasure!

Gozan, a nervous, selfish man who believes in the curse that was said to be real, was elected to accompany Dr. Cooper, Jake, Lila, and their crew (three men) into the "Dragon's Throat." Gozan did not want to help, he merely wanted the riches he was told were behind the door, same as his boss, President Al-Dallam. But he planned to take the treasure for himself, and not give it to his boss as he had said he would. When they got into the cavern, the earth began to shake, sending nervous Gozan fleeing in terror. Sounds, like an angry beehive, came from behind the mysterious door. Between Dr. Cooper's kids being kidnapped by a shaman that needs help and President Al-Dallam getting mad at him for bringing his kids at all, Dr. Cooper has his work cut out for him. It is up to the Coopers and their crew to find out what is behind that door. And when they do find out, it is nothing they ever could have imagined. It was far more dangerous then they ever could have dreamed. Behind that door is something waiting to be let out.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book and Frank E. Peretti's other books too. While this book is quite interesting, it is also kind of scary. Even my thirteen year-old sister finds this book too creepy and doesn't like reading it. I, on the other hand, enjoy that sort of book, so I liked this story immensely. In this book there are a few moments where the Coopers could have been killed or crazed like so many other people who tried to open the door were, but God protected them.

Ten to fifteen year-olds.
8.5/10 stars

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Girls Only ~Volume one~ by: Beverly Lewis

Dreams on Ice:

When Livvy Hudson's family decides to move, Livvy is sure her dreams of entering the Olympics and becoming a figure skating star have vanished. She has to leave her awesome ice skating coach and all her friends, just to move across the country to some small town that doesn't even have a good ice rink! And when a jealous rival at school begins calling and threatening Livvy, could it get any worse?
Livvy continues to figure skate though, even with no one to support her. Then she meets Jenna, a girl with similar Olympic dreams. They decide to form a club, the Girls Only club. Things slowly start improving. Livvy practices every day, and soon meets an old man who is often sitting on the side of the rink watching the skaters. She is curious about why he is there, and soon finds out something very special about him that could change everything!

Only the Best:

Jenna Song, an only child striving for her Olympic dream of being a gymnast, is upset to find out that her parents have decided to adopt a little boy. Why can't they just be happy with her? Jenna begins to get mad at everyone around her, even her best friend Livvy! Boys at school are making fun of Jenna because she is Korean, and Jenna needs someone to talk to, but Livvy refuses to talk with Jenna after an argument they had on the phone. Then comes a hard decision: Jenna has a gymnastics meet at the Olympics Training Center on the same day that she has to go with her parents to meet her new little brother Jonathon.

A Perfect Match:

Jenna and Livvy decide to let Heather Bock, a girl with ice-dancing Olympic dreams, join the Girls Only club. But Heather slowly begins to wonder if maybe she should skate solo instead of skating doubles with her brother, Kevin. Unfortunately, when Heather tells her family about her plans, they don't seem to like the idea as much as she did. Her family won't stop her though. If she wants to skate solo, that's her choice. Heather's brother goes in search of a new partner to ice-dance with and finds one easily. Shortly after he finds his partner, Heather slowly begins to wonder if maybe her decision had been in haste. Perhaps she should continue skating doubles with her brother. Was skating solo what she really wanted, or was she just being selfish?

Reach for the Stars:

Manda Garcia is given permission to join the Girls Only club. Manda is a twelve year-old downhill skier who is shooting for the Olympics. But when her mom, also an excellent skier, has an accident on the hills, Manda has to put her dream of winning the Dressel Hills Downhill Classic away and focus on her mom. She takes over her mom's ski class and teaches all the beginners herself. "Tarin the Terrible," an intelligent boy who seemed to know everything and acted like he was ten years older than he was, was included in the class. Manda took it on herself to tame him. She even speaks to his father and becomes Tarin's babysitter. But can she really tame "Tarin the Terrible?" A boy known to read dictionaries for entertainment?

My thoughts:

While all these books are excellent, I enjoyed Dreams On Ice the most. Livvy and Jenna are my favourite characters for sure. Livvy, because I like figure skating and Jenna, because she is so nice and always know the right thing to say. I like all of the four girls a lot, but I'd say my least favourite is Manda. Not because she isn't nice or anything like that, but I just found her book, Reach for the Stars, to not be quite as interesting as all the others. I enjoy the end and middle, but the beginning didn't draw me in like on all the other stories.
All the girls are striving for their best in their sports, and maybe to one day be in the Olympics. The Girls Only club encourages each other and gives each other the moral support they need. I would recommend this book for probably ages 8 to 15.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tug-of-War by: Katy Grant

Five minutes. We'd barely been at Camp Pine Haven for five minutes, and I was already tempted to push my best friend Devon into the lake.

In "Tug-Of-War," by Katy Grant, Chris Ramirez is excited to find out that her best friend, Devon, will be coming to camp with her. But she is a little worried about sarcastic, smart Devon (her best friend from home) meeting lively, out-going Maggie (her best friend from camp).

Devon, with her black hair and creamy white skin, is obsessed with her makeup, her clothes, and acting like she is thirty years older than she is. Maggie, with her own wild red curls and freckled face, is adventurous, full of fun, and reminds Chris of a lively puppy dog. They couldn't be more different. When Maggie wants to do sports, Devon wants to read her magazine or play chess. When Maggie eats meat, Devon insists that eating anything with a face is cruel. When Maggie acts crazy and starts joking around, Devon just sighs and flutters her eyelashes.

Upon arrival at Camp Pine Haven, Chris realizes that Devon and Maggie can never be friends. She feels like she is split down the middle. Half of her wants to be with Maggie, half with Devon. When she is with Maggie, she wonders if Devon feels lonely without her. When she's with Devon, Chris worries about all the fun things Maggie is doing that she herself is missing out on.

But it is about to get worse. An argument with Devon leaves Chris and Devon fuming at each other. Days later, they make up. By that time, though, Chris is mad at Maggie because Maggie caused a canoeing accident. Couldn't Chris be friends with both of them at the same time?

When Chris catches a fever and has to stay in the sick room for a few days, she comes out to find a huge surprise. Devon and Maggie are now friends! More than just friends, they are best friends, stuck together like super glue. Suddenly Chris is the one feeling left out. Maggie is now a vegetarian, like Devon, and she lets Devon put makeup on her. Devon now appreciates Maggie's sense of humor and actually is having fun at camp.

A rash of pranks have been going around, and Chris is convinced Maggie and Devon are doing them. After someone steals her teddy bear and leaves a ransom note, Chris springs into action. She does a mean prank to Devon and Maggie since she is convinced they are the ones behind it all. When she finds out that she was wrong, she quickly tries to set things right, only now her prank has gone wrong, badly wrong.

There are some great lessons in here on friendship, and it is an enjoyable book. However, it is more the type of book that would be enjoyed by younger ages, maybe eight to eleven or twelve.

I love camp stories and this one is my favourite camp story I've read so far. My favourite character was Devon. She was a little bit stuck up, and she was kind of mean because she didn't want to come to camp in the first place. Her parents forced her to because they wanted to go to Italy, without her, but she is funny and adds some colour to the book. This book isn't exactly the most well written book, or, as my mom would say, it's fluffy. The style of the book would definitely lean towards younger kids.

7 or 8/10 stars

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Endless Steppe by: Esther Hautzig

The year is 1941, and Europe is at war. To Esther Rudomin, though, life continues to go on. Wars and bombs stop at the gate of her peaceful, loving house. But, the day that Esther's grandfather wasn't out in his garden, she knew something was wrong. That day Esther's perfect world exploded. It was the day she didn't water the lilac bush.

Esther lived a happy existence in her big, beautiful home in Poland. Then Russian soldiers invaded her home. Along with hundreds of other Polish citizens Esther and her family were forced into a dirty, hot cattle car. And so began the long, heart wrenching journey across Russia to a place they would live for the next five seemingly endless years: Siberia! Once in Siberia, Esther's mother is forced to work on a blasting crew, her father to drive a cart, and Esther and her grandmother are forced to work in the fields. The family struggles with sickness, hunger, and the lack of daily provisions. The basic necessities they had once taken for granted were now novelties. The camp has no friendly faces and Esther longs to have her old life back, a life of safety.

In "The Endless Steppe," Esther Rudomin Hautzig (the author) recounts her own childhood in Siberia. It is a story depicting the life of a some-what spoiled girl stolen from her comfortable home and forced into a life of hardship and hunger.

My favourite characters are Esther and Esther's grandmother. Esther is a brave girl trying to survive in her hostile surroundings. Esther's grandmother likes to rule over everyone and be in control. She is very strong, even when she is separated from her husband.

Imagine, being without proper clothing or food, being forced into hard labor, and having all that was familiar to you taken away. These are just some of the hardships that Esther had to endure.
This story would be enjoyed by all ages.

9/10 stars