harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallowsWritten by J.K. Rowling, Narrated by Jim Dale.

Published by Listening Library, Unabridged Edition 2007, 17 CDs

Annotation

Who hasn’t read these books? But I will write a brief synopsis nonetheless. Harry returns in his seventh installment of the Harry Potter series. This time he does not return to Hogwarts as before, but due to the danger posed by Voldemort, he must be taken secretly to a safe place before his birthday. The protection put in place would wear out by then. Harry, Hermoine and Ron go to find a way to destroy the Horcrux locket that has a piece of Voldemort’s soul. They search for Gryffindor’s sword which would be able to destroy it. After this, Harry was left as the last Horcrux. In a final duel with Voldemort, Voldemort sent a killing curse onto Harry killing his horcrux. However, Harry was able to return because Voldemort also had a bit of Harry in him as well (way back a few books when Voldemort was able to fully materialize himself). Harry got a hold of a wand and was able to reflect a second killing curse at him by Voldemort. The curse completely destroyed Voldemort and left Harry as victor over evil.

Criticisms

The performance by Jim Dale who reads the book is done very well and complete with a British accent! He is able to give each character a different voice and narrates in an easy to listen to tone. The only thing that I have against the audio book edition is that it takes too long to get through it! It would be perfect for the car or a long road trip, but I had a much better experience reading it for myself in less time!

Book Rating

P5/Q5

Recommended Age

All Teens

Cover Art Commentary

The audio book is easily identifiable due to the same cover art that appears on the books.

24 Girls in 7 Days

April 12, 2009

24-girls-in-7-daysWritten by Alex Bradley

Published in New York by Dutton Books, Copyright 2005, Hardcover, 256 pages.

Annotation

Jack Grammar is a senior in high school. He has a problem. He doesn’t have a date for the upcoming prom. And he is terrified at the thought of asking a girl out. After another failed attempt at asking someone out, his friends Percy and Natalie put an ad in the newspaper in order to solicit candidates. The next day Jack confronts both Percy and Natalie, who admit that it was a joke, but they then convince him that it actually has real potential. They finally get him to agree to speed date 24 girls within the week before the prom. After that he would have to make choice in who to bring to prom with him. Around this time he first begins to receive messages from a mysterious girl with the screen name FancyPants. He becomes obsessed with FancyPants because she knows him but he doesn’t know who she is. She also knows exactly what he is thinking and gives him helpful advice. Every girl that Jack meets during the week he feels compelled to ask if they are the mysterious FancyPants. Jack seems to be getting into the whole thing, but still feels awkward about things. Some girls he outright knows are not ones he is meant to be with, others are a little more difficult to read. As the night approaches, Jack decides that he would not go out with any girls. Most girls had ulterior motives behind their intentions in getting him to prom. But it is not a lost at all for Jack. Instead it is a liberating experience which has made him wiser and more knowledgeable about himself. He finally realizes that FancyPants is actually Natalie’s little sister Bridget. After prom he confronts her and they agree that they should hang out more over the summer before he leaves for college in the fall. Later on, Jack then returns to the prom where he bumps into one of the girls on his list of 24. Adrian Swift, he finds out will be also going to the same school as he is in the fall. They both decide to go and talk at the local diner instead of the after prom party.

Criticisms

I’m afraid that this ended too abruptly for me. However, it was in my opinion a very well written and overall good book. It is funny, it can also be somewhat serious, and is just good. It was written the first person point of the protagonist Jack Grammar. Readers should immediately sympathize with Jack’s character as being a normal, good mannered, and slightly goofy teenager. Strengths are a well written story and believable characters. Weaknesses would be a slightly disappointing ending due to it being slightly open ended.

Book Rating

P3/Q5

Recommended Age

Grades 7-12

Cover Art Commentary

The cover art for my particular edition happens to look rather girlish. On the cover, a boy in a tux holds out a hand with three girls holding out roses. There is a new version for the cover out there too, but both in my opinion are probably designed to attract girls, which I think is too bad considering that I think that guys could really enjoy this book. This book was written by a guy and the main character is a guy.

How I Live Now

March 31, 2009

how-i-live-now1Written by Meg Rosoff

Published in New York by Random House, Copyright 2004, Paperback, 224 pages

Annotation

Daisy is a teen girl who is sent over to England from New York to spend time with her cousins. Her mother had died given birth to her and now her dad had recently gotten married again, this time to a witchy character who was now pregnant with her step-sibling. When she arrives in England she discovers another way of life in the country side. Her aunt (sister to her mother) tells her a little bit about the mother she never got to know. However, her aunt has to soon leave to go to the peace talks to stop a war from happening between England and an aggressor. She and her cousin Edmond bond together more than any of the other questions. Oddly, in an ewwww sort of way, while her aunt and their mother is out of the country in the peace talks, Edmond and Daisy hook up. Daisy cannot stop thinking about Edmond and Edmond her. Each night they would steal away to spend more time together in midnight trysts. Suddenly, everyone’s world is turned upside down when England is attacked as well as some cities in the United States. Email, telephone and other communications are shut down. The country seems unaffected until the military moves in to be quartered in houses. Unfortunately they take over the cousins’ house and split up Daisy from Edmond. Daisy and her cousin Piper are put up in a house of a military man. They soon discover where the others are and plan their way back. Through their adventure to get back to the others, her and Piper become close friends. Soon they get back to their house to discover that a massacre had taken place there. The enemy had evidently taken over England when all of her forces were overseas. But the British government was able to get the country back and the war quickly ends. Daisy is taken back to the States before she has a chance to see Edmond. Years later she returns to the English country side to visit and stay with Edmond. And that is how she lives now.

Criticisms

It is a well written book from more of an English perspective (but the author is American transplanted into England). The mystery of the unnamed occupiers brought back the sense of WWII but in a new context, which was very interesting. The book focused I thought too much on relationships and day to day things (which bored me and I am sure it would do the same for most boys). But the thing that was probably a little disturbing is the sexual relationship between Daisy and her cousin. Obviously this thing was written from a girl’s perspective and maybe they would enjoy this a little more, but other than sense of mystery and magic behind the story and the good writing that English authors posses, I really see no redeeming value to this book. Strengths are a command of the English language in a well-written story that delves into neat details (perhaps too much). Weaknesses I thought was the Hillbilly relationship that Daisy has with Edmond which weirded me out, as I am sure for other readers.

Book Rating

P4/Q4

Recommended Age

Grades 11-12

Cover Art Commentary

A black background covered with white butterflies, tan trees and pink shrubberies definitely screams as a girl novel. It would seem to have a catchy cover for teen girls.

Monster

March 31, 2009

monsterWritten by Walter Dean Myers

Published in New York by HarperCollins, Copyright 1999, Paperback, 281 pages

Annotation

Monster starts off with the trial of Steve Harmon, a young teenage black boy. He has been brought to court to be tried for the murder of a shop owner in his neighborhood. Unfortunately, Steve is innocent of the charges, but has been identified by those truly involved as to have been an aid to the murder. Steve doesn’t write his story of the trial from a first or third person perspective, but instead from a unique point of a movie script. You see Steve is an aspiring filmmaker who was in the wrong place at the wrong time looking for good shoot locations for his school film project. He happened to be in the store and walked out at the wrong time making the murderers think that he had cased the store to give the all-clear. Steve begins to wonder if anyone believes his innocence. He wonders what his parents think, what his lawyer really thinks, and what the jury sees. What sticks in his mind is being called a “monster” in front of everyone by the prosecutor. Steve actually begins to think that is what he is becoming (thus accounting for his wondering what everyone else sees in him). Steve’s lawyer is able to figure out a discrepancy in the testimony and evidence and in a big last minute relief, the jury finds him innocent. However, when this is reached, his lawyer looks at him in the most peculiar way, as does his father. Steve wonders if he actually still is a monster…

Criticisms

I felt indifferent about this book, although I did not really care for the “unique point of view” that was taken by the author in writing this in a script format. I found it annoying and standing in the way of the story. This book felt more like a racial justice book rather than a murder mystery, and the innocence of the main character near the ending seemed more like an afterthought within the story. I really do not know what to think about how teens would receive this book. Those who are interested in a light murder-mystery may be interested in this. Strengths are an easy and quick read. Weaknesses are an annoying script format and perhaps a weakly formed plot.

Book Rating

P3/Q3

Recommended Age

Grades 7-12

Cover Art Commentary

The art on the cover makes for a very intriguing thought. Teens may be attracted to the cover due to its gritty, edgy style.

shields-scoutWritten by Charles Shields

Published in New York by Henry Holt and Company, Copyright 2008, Hardcover, 256 pages

Annotation

This book details [Nelle] Harper Lee’s life from her early years living in Monroeville, Alabama through her time working hard on her masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird and then to today. Nelle was born in 1926 in Monroeville. Her father was a prominent citizen and was also a lawyer, newspaper editor, and was also a state representative in the Alabama state legislature. Nelle’s years growing up in the town shaped the location and characters that would later appear in her book. For instance, many parallels between herself and the child character Scout are very evident, as well as Scout’s friend Dill, who was inspired by Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father and lawyer, draws the strongest resemblance of any character from Lee’s father. In fact the town in which Shields describes as the town that Harper Lee grew up in was very much the same town that she wrote for her fictional story. Lee’s views on racial equality and justice were not necessarily ahead of their times, as progressive as some may consider them, instead they were really more a sign of the times. Harper Lee began writing her book after going to college for some and studying to become a lawyer (she dropped out only one semester from graduating) and decided to move to New York, where she began writing her novel. After writing more than several drafts with the aid of her old friend Truman Capote and several new ones, she finally published the book expecting the worse. To her surprise it became a hit and climbed the best seller lists and remains to this day one of the most widely read books ever published. After that she considered and even attempted to write other books, but nothing could compare to her first masterpiece, so nothing ever materialized. In 2007 she received from President Bush the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the Whitehouse. She still lives today.

Criticisms

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and now would really like to read To Kill a Mockingbird with the knowledge of the background/behind-the-scenes information. Unfortunately, I have not seen the movie and so this week I promptly picked it up from the library and will be watching that, too. In regards to the biography, I thought it was extremely well written and easy to read for most ages. For those who have read the novel, it should give an extra appreciation for it. The story of Nelle Lee’s life is written in such a way to never be dull or boring. I think that this book can also inspire teens (and others) to reach out and do something they want to do with their life instead of accepting certain expectations. Nelle Harper shows how it is like to be a free-willed individual. Strengths would be a well written book with interesting details of Lee’s life. Weaknesses would be long chapters and the possibility that teen boys may be unsure of whether they want to read a book about a woman writer.

Book Rating

P4/Q5

Recommended Age

Grades 7-12

Cover Art Commentary

This book has a really neat cover of an old fashioned typewriter accompanied with a tire-swing. To me it feels like childhood in an earlier time (which for some odd reason is strangely attractive). I do not think that there is anything that would not turn-off teens to this book just by the cover. I think it is a very attractive cover and poses no negative attributes in a teen sort of perspective.

The White Darkness

March 4, 2009

whitedarknessWritten by Geraldine McCaughrean

Published in New York by HarperCollins, Copyright 2005, Hardcover, 373 pages

Annotation

Symone Wates is a 14 year old girl who has had a difficult family past. Her father had died a few years before. Sym’s earlier memories of her father were warm and good, but as he grew sicker and sicker before he died, those memories faded away to hate and abuse. After her father died, her Uncle Victor moved in (he was actually not her uncle but her dad’s best friend). Uncle Victor is a kind man always looking out for Sym and educating her. He evidently is a genius with an IQ around 184. One day, Victor convinces Sym and her mother to take a vacation with him to France. When they leave, Sym’s mother cannot find her passport and misses the train. Sym and Victor make it to France and spend the night in Paris. However, Uncle Victor decides to change his plans and tells Sym that they are now heading South to Antarctica. This sounds exciting to Sym, but she also faces her first doubt about her uncle –in one of his pockets she finds her mother’s missing passport. They arrive in Antarctica with several others via South America on a touring expedition. During their first week there, Sym discovers her uncle’s secret obsession –to discover Symme’s Hole, a mythological opening into the center of the earth. They meet with a filmmaker and his son (who also happens to be Sym’s age). Apparently Victor is so set to find this hole to the center of the earth that he had hired this filmmaker to document his journey. But the plans drastically change in a short time. The expedition is brought to an end when the plan comes back from South America to pick everyone up. Suddenly the plane blows up and everyone is now stranded at the site. Oddly, soon after everyone collapses unconsciously –everyone but Victor. Before she knows it, Sym and her uncle have stolen a vehicle to traverse the ice shelf to find Symme’s Hole along with the filmmaker and his boy. But soon it becomes apparent that they will not have enough fuel to get back after “finding” the hole. It comes out that the filmmaker is actually a con artist who was taking advantage of Victor’s imagination and scammed him out of thousands upon thousands of dollars in helping believe that there was such a hole. Unfortunately for the filmmaker, he is left stranded by Victor on the ice (Victor later confesses that he poisoned him and he would die before he would freeze). Sym also finds out that he also drugged the people back at the expedition in order to make their escape. Then in a totally shocking revelation, she is told that her father was one of the first casualties of her uncle’s madness. Apparently, her father was a believer in Symme’s Hole, too, but his faith in it dwindled and faded. Uncle Victor poisoned him, causing him to go mad and become abusive in his final days. With this information, Sym wants Victor dead for his crimes. How fitting it was, then, when Victor claims that he has found the hole and attempts to slide down a tube into the darkness, never to be seen again. Sym is left alone and tries to head back. Luckily, there is a rescue mission to save her. People back at the site had pieced everything together and she runs into a ship that is breaking the ice.

Criticisms

I found this book a rather long read and uninteresting. I believe that I can rightly assume that this book would certainly not be a good book to recommend for teen guys, because of its length and a slow unfolding of the story. Teen girls, on the other hand, may find this a very gratifying and interesting book. It is after all from the perspective of a teen girl and is thoughtful and emotional to many degrees.

Book Rating

P3/Q4

Recommended Age

Grades 7-9

Cover Art Commentary

The cover should certainly scare off any teen guys considering a look. It definitely is intended to attract the teen girl crowd. The whole book is white with a picture of a girl peering straight ahead through the whiteness.

The Re-Gifters

February 20, 2009

regiftersBy Mike Carey, Sonny Liew, and Marc Hempel

Published in New York by DC Comics, Copyright 2007, Paperback, 174 pages

Annotation

Dik Seong Jen, known as Dixie, is an American of Korean descent. She practices the martial art Hapkido at the local Dojo. She is a fierce fighter, but she has a problem – she has a boy named Adam on her mind, which of course distracts her energy and attention. He is also a student of Hapkido. Her best friend Avril tells her that he is having a birthday party that Saturday and was invited to it. Dixie gets worried, because she does not get the invitation right away (due to the fact that it was accidently put into someone else’s locker. To add to the anxiety of wanting a boyfriend, Dixie is also expected to fight in the National Hapkido Championship, which is being held in town. Her parents give her a hundred dollars for the entry fee. But Dixie becomes desperate for Adam and decides to buy a statue of a Korean warrior which she wants to give as a gift to him. She decides that she will still enter the championship by working her way up a “street-sweep” where anyone can try out off of the street to get into four open spots. She buys the statue and bumps into a character named Dillinger. He tells a few of his thug friends to leave her alone as she is going to the shop. She continues on and buys the gift. She goes to Adam’s birthday party and discovers after giving him the gift that he really likes someone else. She leaves very upset and later on goes to fight in the rounds for the open spots in the championship. She loses badly and when she gets back home her parents find out about it and she is grounded for the entire semester. While she is grounded, her friend gets hurt by a falling display in a museum. Fortunately, the rough-looking Dillinger is there to help out. Dixie is allowed to visit her friend in the hospital, where she gives her own ticket to Dixie, because she now cannot participate in the championship. Dixie vows not to let her friend down. Meanwhile, Adam had re-gifted the statue and given it to Megan (the girl he liked), but Megan finds out and lets her stupid brother try to pawn it off. Oddly, her brother owes Dillinger a significant amount of money. Megan is rather furious at the idea that she has been re-gifted and decides that she and Adam have nothing in common. At the national championship, Dixie goes through all her match-ups successfully to the end of the day. Afterwards, she runs into Dillinger who convinces her that she should practice at his place. Dillinger has street fighting skills helps Dixie refocus her energy and attention into fighting and even shows her a move or two! During the championship, Megan dumps Adam. Adam soon comes to Dixie and suggests that they might have something in common. He wishes her luck in the fights. But soon when Dixie makes her way up the rankings with Adam, they soon will have to fight each other. Adam says that it would be very awkward for him to fight her if they are to have a future relationship, and suggests that she lose one of her rounds. She ignores his request and she soon comes to the final round of the championship. Just before she goes off to fight Adam, Dillinger shows up and gives her a gift and wishes her luck. It is the re-gifted gift of the warrior that she had originally given to Adam. She and Adam fight and she fights with such focus and energy that she beats Adam. Adam is very sore over losing to her and says to Dixie to forget anything he said to her. Her family congratulates her and so does Dillinger (whose actual name is Tomas). She surprises him with a hug and kiss. And the story ends with them as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Criticisms

I really liked the story from the beginning to the end. It was simple but it intertwined characters and events which all coalesced into a satisfying ending where the good guy gets the girl. I think it will appeal definitely appeal to teen girls who are interested in graphic novels but who are maybe also a little more tom-boyish of sorts. Some teen guys may like the story for the martial arts perspective, too. The story line is well written and can be well understood. Strengths are a good storyline and well-done gray-shaded artwork. Weaknesses, while teen guys may like graphic novels, they may shy away from a female protagonist.

Book Rating

P3/Q4

Recommended Age

Grades 7-12

Cover Art Commentary

The book is actually a picture of a red wrapped gift box, with the character, Dixie, attached to it like a card. This could be another reason why guys may shy away from this particular book is due to the pinkish/white bow that wraps the “box.”

A Wreath for Emmett Till

February 20, 2009

wreath-for-emmitt-tillBy Marilyn Nelson

Published in New York by Houghton Mifflin, Copyright 2005, Hardcover, 48 pages

Annotation

A Wreath for Emmett Till is a poem divided into 15 sonnets. It comments and postulates “what-ifs” and mourns the death of Emmett Till. It written in the memory of a black boy named Emmitt who was visiting with relatives in Mississippi . He was lynched for allegedly whistling at a white woman and his death helped pave the way for the Civil Rights movement. The sonnets are arranged in a 14 line rhyming poem in iambic pentameter, with an Italian (Petrarchan) rhyme scheme.

The poem makes references to Shakespeare’s plays and little known facts (probably in an attempt to make them better known). However, I think that it and the wording adds to a harder readability factor, especially for younger people.

Criticisms

I thought that the book was visually beautiful and well-done, but I cannot say much for the verse. To me it was confusing, did not make sense, and made obscure references to obscure facts (of which I learned after reading through it by reading the notes in the back). While my experience may not have been positive, teens with an interest in poetry and poetry form and prose may find this fascinating (especially the 14 line iambic pentameter). Those interested in the Civil Rights movement and era may also enjoy this book.

Book Rating

P2/Q2

Recommended Age

Grades 9-12

Cover Art Commentary

The cover features a young black man (presumably Emmett Till), with a flower and the roots of a tree, all put together in a nice collage. Teens may find the image of Emmett to be one of mutual understanding, since he is suppose to be a 14 year old boy, and many teens who will be reading this will also be around that age too.

maximum-ride

By James Patterson

Published in New York by Vision, Copyright 2008, Paperback, 432 pages

Annotation

This is James Patterson’s third book in the successful Maximum Ride teen series. This being the first time I have ever picked up and read a Patterson novel (let alone this particular series) I was hooked within the first twenty chapters. The story begins with the winged kids, Max, Fang, Nudge, Iggy, Gasman, and Angel accompanied with the dog Total in a van running away again from the people of Itex and the School. The kids are running away from the mad scientists who created them and now apparently want to kill them. Each one has been paired up with some avian wings (which means that they can fly) thanks to some DNA grafting. The “flock” heads west through the States and part of them is kidnapped by a group of mechanical flying wolf-human hybrids. Meanwhile, Max and Fang are over at Dr. Martinez’s home and ask her for help in removing a microchip from Max’s hand. When Max gets back to the canyon where the rest of the gang was suppose to be, they follow the tracks of an obvious truck trailer. They soon make it to the rest of the captured flock but they too find themselves captured by the mechanical flyboys. In short, they wake up back in the School. There Max learns that all recombinant life forms made by Itex are being “retired” including Ari (one of her arch enemies who is half human and half wolf – they call them Erasers). Ari is set to be retired and helps the flock escape a sure death. Max convinces him to join the group but Fang has no part with having a former enemy in their ranks, so he departs and take Izzy and Gazzy with him to the West coast. Max, Nudge, Angel and Total take to Europe in pursuit of destroying other Itex facilities. After a little sightseeing, they arrive in Germany to find a compound with many mutant-hybrids marching around. They infiltrate it but soon are captured and brought to the Director who is a woman bent on remaking the world by killing half of the population in order to make a stronger race of humans. Later, while being held prisoner, Max learns that Ari is her stepbrother and Jeb is her father and his father, and amazingly Dr. Martinez is also her mother. Max is soon brought back outside where the Director wants to prove that her new specimen is superior in every way compared to Max (who evidently is old and outdated at just 14). While both of them battle with their skills, Angel (who is also telepathic) plants chaos among the crowd and causes a riot to ensue. During the fight, Ari suddenly expires and dies in Max’s arms. The flock escapes and goes back to the States after causing many problems for the people at Itex and thus delaying any of their evil plans. Max regroups with Fang, Izzy and Gazzy and then head back to Dr. Martinez’s house where she and Jeb are waiting for them. After some time to recoup, they take off once again on Max’s quest to save the world…

Criticisms

It took more than a few chapters to get into the book, but when I did, I really liked it. I think many teens will enjoy it because it is fast paced and carries a witty dialogue with the characters, as well as an easy to read prose, mixed in with teenage angst and ideas. Teenage boys may be a little more hesitant to read the book due to a female heroine as a lead character, but I think that it can be overlooked due to the type of character that she is (with a little convincing). The writing is solid and fast paced and is on a level that teens can enjoy.

Book Rating

P5/Q5

Recommended Age

Grades 7-12

Cover Art Commentary

There are evidently several different cover versions for this book. The exact one is displayed at the top of this post with the title. I think that this book carries a more interesting cover than other teen books out there. The cover is flashy with a really neat title. Adding to the allure is the mysterious winged female flying in front of a large lit moon. Since this is the third in the series, I would put less emphasis on the cover art than the first book (assuming by then it would be the story that would driving the consumption at this point).

Laika

January 24, 2009

laika

By Nick Abadzis

Published in New York by First Second, Copyright 2007, Paperback, 205 pages

Annotation

This story takes place during the Cold War and the beginnings of the space race. The story begins sometime after the successful launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite put up into orbit around earth. The story follows a historical-fictional tale of Laika, a small Russian dog, that is sent up on a one way ticket to space as the first living thing to be put into orbit. It begins with the Laika being born as a puppy. The owners give it away to a high party member’s son to take gave of, but it escapes from the abuse and is soon caught by the dog catchers. The dog catchers have met their quota of dogs for the month, so they decide to give it to the Soviet space agency. The scientists take it and begin to train it for a possible mission. A woman named Yelena is charged with taking care of all of the dogs for the space agency, but she soon grows attached to the fun little dog Laika. Soviet Premier Khruschev decides after the success of Sputnik to have another monumental achievement made by the 40th anniversary of the Soviet Revolution. Chief Designer, Sergei Pavlovich makes the call to put up a small dog as the first living thing in space and they have only one month to do this. However, they have to take many shortcuts to make it on the deadline. The most drastic one is the option not to have the capsule return to earth. It becomes a one-way mission for Laika. Before Yelena knows it, she is putting Laika into the capsule, where she is sealed and hours later the rockets launch. When she reaches orbit, she goes around earth a few times. The Soviets claim that it is a success, but it comes at the cost of Laika, who dies of heat exhaustion in her 4th orbit around the earth. The mission was to glean important information so that a man could be sent up in orbit, but ironically it contributed little to Yuri Gagarin’s first manned flight.

Criticisms

The story tries to make something of a hero out of a dog and to mythologize its life. The only part that historians know about is the fact that it was a stray dog that was sent up into space and died there. It makes for an interesting read, and appeals to animal lovers and Cold War space enthusiasts an historians. I personally thought that the story dragged on a little too long. I suppose it was to build an emotional attachment to the dog, but I found it a bit too much. I think it also misses the whole context of the space race. It puts it into a very nice story, with nice people but it overlooks the evils of the evil empire and the motives of the Soviets. I think that it tries to make the Soviet space program nice a sunny, where in reality it was far from the case. Strengths: characters are well thought out and it can get teens interested in space history. Weaknesses: history is overlooked a bit and it is rather long (but it does have chapters).

Book Rating

P3/Q3

Recommended Age

Grades 7-12

Cover Art Commentary

Laika the dog appears on the front cover in her space uniform on a snowy ground. The background is a deep blue with a Soviet rocket blasting off in the distance. For dog lovers, it certainly appeals to teens when they see the cute little terrier on the front. For space lovers, the rocket looks appealing.

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