Archive for the ‘Student Book Reviews’ category

Mrs. Conrad’s Class: Fifth Grade Book Reviews

June 3, 2013

In library class today, I had each student write a book review of a book that they have loved during their 6 years at CPS.  Here are their reviews:


brian's returnBrian’s Return by Gary Paulsen

I just finished reading the second book of the Hatchet series, BRIAN’S RETURN, by Gary Paulsen.  This book is about a boy named Brian who needs, really actively NEEDS, to go back to the wilderness because after he got lost in the wilderness he doesn’t fit in the city anymore.  So he goes.  He runs into a bear, makes a new friend, and canoes through a chain of lakes.  But his destination is a mystery for you!


Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events

bad beginningBook I:  The Bad Beginning

When smoke rises from their parent’s house, three orphans are informed that their parents have burned to ash in a massive fire.  Being orphans, they are delivered to their legal (but evil) guardian, a nasty villain called Count Olaf, who will do anything to get his dirty hands on the immense fortune that the orphans’ parents left behind.  The orphans, Sunny, Klaus, and Violet, desperately try to stay out of the way of the criminal, but with the dastardly plan he has, well, what’s a couple of brilliant orphans to do?


dog on his ownA Dog on on his Own by Mary Jane Auch

This book is about a dog that ran off from his owner.  He does not trust people and he finds two other dogs from the shelter.  He gets hurt, and  Peppy and Pearl help him get better and find shelter and food.  This book is so scary and happy and great!


elephant in the gardenElephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

Fifth grade was a year of excellent books.  I’m sure I can’t remember all of them, but I know this one will be with me forever.

A woman and her son visit an old woman in a rest home, where the mother works.  Soon enough they become lost in an incredible story of her childhood in Germany during World War II.  A thrilling adventure unfolds as she retells the story of her expedition across the country with her brother, her mom, and an elephant!  How do you survive a Nazi attack with an elephant to take care of?


wildwoodbookWildwood by Colin Meloy

This whole story is about when Pru, a young girl and the main character, is babysitting her baby brother Mac.  When they’re walking around, a murder (which means like a flock) of crows lifts her brother right out of the wagon!  Pru, as anyone probably would, goes to find her brother.  She figures out that the crows brought Mac into the Impassable Wilderness, which no one has ever gone in and has ever returned to tell his/her tale!  Pru ventures in with her friend Curtis to find her brother.  But, the woods is filled with jails, big birds, bandits, and an evil Dowager who is ready to feed Mac to Ivy to awaken it.  Can Pru, Curtis, and their friends stop the Dowager Governess and save Mac?


TangerineI just finished TANGERINE by Edward Bloor.  Paul Fisher is one of the best soccer players in Tangerine County, Florida, even though he is legally blind.  When his school is sunk into a sinkhole, that changes his life forever. His dad just pays attention to his brother Erik who is a jerk.  His mom is nice but still pays a lot of attention to Erik.  Why?  Because Erik is some football superstar.  There is a very dark secret in this family.  When you are reading the book you will figure out the dark secret, and how Paul learns friendship, bravery, and courage.



When I read Swiss Family Robinson the first time, it taught me to have imagination.  It’s about a family of six people stranded on an island where they learn to survive.  The island is pretty much like the whole world on a small island.  They have lots of exciting adventures and they build a house out of solid rock.  They ride a buffalo, an ostrich, and a mule.  There are funny parts and sad parts.  It’s really easy to read, but it really paints a picture in your mind.  When you read it you feel like you’re right there.  It’s truly a great book for all ages.


capt underpandsCaptain Underpants series

Captain Underpants is the best series of books that I read because it’s all about two kids getting into adventures with Captain Underpants who is the kids’ principal.  You will find out how the principal is Captain Underpants.  It is hilarious.


runaway twinRunaway Twin by Peg Kehret

Sunny Skyland is a 13-year old girl who has been in seven foster homes since age 3 because her mother and grandmother were killed in a car crash and her dad was nowhere to be found.  She had been separated from her twin sister Star at the age of 3 as well. Sunny has kept all of her memories of Star under her bed including a picture of them the day they were separated.  During a nice walk in the woods, Sunny finds a canvas bag with $800.  She puts out signs to try to figure out whose bag it was that she found, and no one claimed it.  So she set out on a journey to find Star, From Nebraska to Washington.  On the way Sunny comes up to a stray dog outside of McDonald’s in the parking lot.  Her trip is harsh and hard to get around, but with the help of the $800, does she make it or does she fail?

Mia’s Book Shout #5

May 21, 2012

Fifth grade book lover Mia shares her favorite books

Skellig by David Almond

So what would you do if you had just moved into a new, really old, house and there was a really old, about-to-fall-in garage?  Would you or would you not go in it?

Well, Michael does; I mean what eleven-year-old boy could resist?  As Michael shines his light all around, he sees thousands of dust bunnies, blue bottles, and spiders.  As he shines his flashlight into the corners of the garage, his light falls on something pale, something dead looking;  could it be the previous house owner?  It moves its dusty, pale face, blinks in the light.  “What do you want?”  the voice asks.  Michael steps away in shock.  How could this… this thing be alive?   Michael’s wonderment and disgust are broken by his mother’s stern voice telling him to stay out of that garage.  Then she returns to the baby, the ‘stupid” baby.

In this mysterious and stunning book, Skellig, eleven-year-old Michael finds love and beauty in a man with no life, only a memory of one.  Two kids, Michael and Mina, change his life completely.

I found this book sad.  It was as if Michael was searching for happiness when there was none to be found except in his friend Mina, and sometimes in the baby’s face when she smiled.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves adventure and magic beyond your wildest dreams.

Mia’s Book Shoutout #4

April 1, 2012

Fifth grade book lover Mia shares her favorite books

“A Book to Get You Buzzing About Spring
Have you ever thought about a bee’s life? What it does, all the different kinds of bees: which ones are useful; which ones are not; how long a bee lives; or how you get honey, I mean real honey?
Well, A Hive for the Honey Bee is told from all sorts of bee perspectives and Thora is the main character. Thora, is a worker bee and we follow her through her life. To really appreciate this book, you really need to know a few things about bees. First, the queen controls everything. Second, the drones do absolutely nothing– well, it’s awkward, but the drones are needed for the queen bee to make babies. Third, all the bees that work are females.
Back to the story which starts when the queen bee leaves Thora’s hive to start a new hive somewhere else. Of course you probably know that it is bad for a honey bee hive for the queen to leave, because the queen controls all the work orders. And, just all the bees knowing the queen is there helps everyone. So a hive must learn how to survive with only about 100 bees and no queen, so if you want to learn how the hive survives in this beautifully illustrated and written book, I recommend you read it now.  But if you are not too interested in bees, there is another part of this story!  It is about Moe, a drone, and his search to find idleness for all worker bees whether they want it or not.  He can see how unfair the hive is, even though most drones are too blind to see it themselves.
A Hive for the Honey Bee is so sad and good. When you finish it you will probably start to cry because Soinbhe Lally is a truly amazing author. Her writing in this book is SO beautiful. This book might be hard to get into at first, but if you just keep pushing through, you will eventually come out on top with the beauty of it. So if this sounds appealing to you, go to the “L” section of the Crescent Park School Library and read it. So, on your mark, get set, BUZZ!

Mia’s Book Shoutout #3

February 17, 2012

Fifth grade book lover Mia shares her favorite books

“Peter again!”

Are you a Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Redwall, Narnia, or just a plain lover of all kinds of action packed books which are full of dangers and fights around every corner? Well, this novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson is just the book for you. People don’t realize how good the original Peter Pan is,  so now with Dave Barry’s Peter Pan you will just simply fall in love.

When Peter and his mates from a boys’ orphanage learn that they will soon be sent on a ship to another part of the world called Rundoon where there is a king with a giant-man-eating snake and extremely strict rules, the boys are scared that they will be reduced to shreds. This scene leads to all the action.

When the boys arrive on the boat, they soon realize that the boat will be more likely sinking than sailing with a crazy drunken captain and a dirty underfed crew, but that’s not the worst of the boys’ problems. They are supposed to stay in a little tiny cabin where they are fed once a day and the food…well it’s, you’ll just have to find out for yourself. Also there is a mysterious black trunk that’s been loaded on the boat which could have magic in it. Peter soon finds a friend and companion, Molly. When Peter learns what Molly is protecting and how bad it could be if pirates, the sea, or if the crew get it,  Peter and Molly are on a mission to keep it safe even if it means flying. Peter and Molly fight grown men, pirates, and and Indians.

This book is simply delightful. When I read it I got so nervous that Peter would die or something tragic would happen. My little brother Eli, who is in first grade,  says that “Peter and the Starcatchers is the best book ever!” Eli also says “that he feels like he is in the book whether the boys are flying, swimming, or taunting the pirates.” This book is “hard to stop reading” says Eli;  “ it just keeps getting better and better every time my mom or dad says let’s take a break from listening to Peter.” If you are getting really excited about this book, or you’re getting a really good feeling about it, go directly to the library and look in the “B” section and start reading! Once you finish this book and you want to find out what happens next go back down to the library and check out the next couple called Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, and Peter and the Sword of Mercy.

Mia’s book shout out #2

February 2, 2012

Fifth grade book lover Mia shares her favorite books

“Happy 50th birthday,  Phantom Tollbooth!”

Do you ever think that a book can be really boring because there’s just something you can’t quite reach? Well then you won’t like the Phantom Toll Booth exactly for that reason. So after reading this, think about it, because if you read it at a younger age, you could still read it again and get more out of it.  But I’d still recommend reading it when you’re ten. It’s perfect – especially if you like words .  Or if you’re 7 and you are just into adventure and you can understand simple wordplay.

Have you ever wondered where letters, words, phrases, sentences, numbers, terms, expressions, and equations come from? When Milo finds a Phantom Tollbooth in his room, Milo decides to see what it can do, since he has nothing better to do. Milo hops in his little car and suddenly finds himself speeding along a highway, on his way to Dictionopolis. On the way, Milo encounters a trip to the Doldrums and Expectations and meets his journey companion Tock, a watch dog. Upon arriving in Dictionopolis, Milo discovers the silence between two regions, Digitotopolis and Dictionopolis. There, Milo is destined to rescue and return the fair Rhyme and Reason. Will Milo be able to save the fair Rhyme and Reason so fairness will return to the land?

I found that this story was so funny that I didn’t want it to end, but the great part of this is the wordplay and characters. Take the Which, for example, and look at how I spelled her name. She’s not dangerous, right? Only witches with the T are dangerous.

The Phantom Tollbooth is a hard book to know when to read because if you read it too early you won’t be able to understand a good part of this book, but it would still be a good adventure. If you are interested in reading this book it is located in the “J” section of the CPS Library. Have fun reading! The Phantom Tollbooth has been making people laugh for 50 years and hopefully many more!


January 4, 2012

Introducing Mia, one of Mrs. Conrad’s awesome fifth grade readers, who is going to start sharing her book reviews on this blog.  Her posts will be called “Mia’s Book Shout Out.”  Mia loves to read and share her enthusiasm with others, so here’s her first post!  Thanks, Mia.


“The undiscovered series in the “M” section”

I know that this book is already on the library shelves, but this is a truly amazing series that nobody reads very often.  Although the book is very similar to the familiar book CADDIE WOODLAWN, readers tend to overlook this book by Kerry Madden and zoom by it to Wendy Mass, who is a “hot” writer.  So if you need a book, check out the “M” section in the library.

Livy Two is the second oldest out of nine siblings.  She has a banjo- playing Daddy and a hardworking mother.  Livy Two’s sister Gentle’s eyes aren’t so good, but that’s just what Livy Two’s mother says.  It was so amazing for me to read about this family living in 1956 with the newly invented telephone and tv.  Also, reading about how Livy’s family lives with barely enough food to feed the family and a father with no consistent job made me think of how lucky I am.  Maggie Valley, where the book takes place, is very similar to Gilead , Maine – a very rural village with just a few houses, a church, school, and lending library truck that travels all over the Smoky Mountains.

Will Livy find out what’s wrong with Gentle’s eyes, and what will that lead to?  Gentle’s Holler is a thrilling story of money worries and watching three generations in a  family learn to live together and deal with all their problems.  And, if you like this book, check out the other two, LOUISIANA’S SONG and JESSIE’S MOUNTAIN.

Milo: sticky notes and brain freeze by Alan Silberberg

October 4, 2011

Here’s a book review by a fifth grade student in Mrs. Conrad’s class, Emily:

This is the fifth time Milo has moved!  Milo doesn’t think it will be the last time, though.  After all, it seems to Milo that moving is part of his life.

Milo’s family is a little, well, strange.  Sure, he has a Dad.  And a sister, of course.  But….they’re probably not like yours.  But what about the mom? Well, she had cancer and she died.  The main part of this book is about Milo figuring out how to deal with the fact that his Mom is gone.  Milo feels lost without a full family.

There are three people who make him feel better:  his best bud, Marshall, makes him laugh.  Hillary, his next door neighbor, knows how he feels and makes him feel safe.  A neighbor lady who has lost her husband teaches him that even if somebody close to you is gone, there are ways to keep them “alive”.

It sounds like this is a really sad book, but it is also very funny.  For instance, Milo is “in love” with Summer Goodman, and one of the first times he sees her he is buying SUPER SOFT TOILET PAPER!  How embarassing!  He and Marshall have a nice, funny friendship that reminds me of the way boys really do fool around.

This isn’t a graphic novel, but it does have a lot of sketches that are fun to look at.   I recommend this book to anyone who likes realistic stories about love, life, and family.

Caroline’s Awesome Sleepover Club Project

September 13, 2011

What a great way to start the day:  a student exceeded my expectations!

I’ve been doing the Fourth Grade Sleepover Club for 15 years now, where I ask students to read 8 books in different genres over the course of the year, share their books with their class at library time, and then we celebrate with a sleepover in the library in May. (For more information, check out 4th  GRADE SLEEPOVER CLUB under “Pages” at right). Usually students stand in front of the class and give a booktalk. Sometimes students draw pictures or maps to go along with their booktalk. Often they write a summary. Today, Caroline in Mrs. Jerome’s class blew me away with a very professional brochure about her first completed book:

Here's the cover of the brochure.

And here's the center spread.

Finally, here's the final page.


Fantastic job, Caroline! You took this to a whole new level!

*If you want to read the wonderful information Caroline wrote about THE BATTLE OF THE LABYRINTH, just click on the images and they will enlarge for you.

THE SECRET SERIES by Pseudonymous Bosch (A student book review)

January 7, 2011

I’m Julia, a fourth grader in Mrs. Jerome’s class, and I want the school buzzing about this series.  I want students standing in line waiting for another person to finish the next book!  The series is called “The Secret Series”.  It is about a secret society and two young heroes.  They have to beat an evil group called The Midnight Sun in order to save their friend Benjamin Blake.  Midnight Sun lives forever and people have tried to stop them for years but all has failed.  There are killings, living forever, spying, kidnapping, disguises, and friendship.  Our heroes are odd and you might think weirder than weird, but they have found a place where they belong.  There are four books in the whole series:  The Name of this book is Secret, If You’re Reading this it’s too Late, This Book is not Good for You, and This Isn’t what it Looks Like.  Just let me warn you:  these books can get a little confusing, but I think a good reader can figure them out.  I hope you love the series as much as I do!

Nicole loves this series!

October 13, 2010

Nicole, a fourth grader in Miss Haines’  class,  has been reading Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events for awhile now.  Listen to what she has to say:

This series is about these three children who have unfortunate events, of course.  I did this picture because there’s a lot of adventure and evil, and I said, “I wonder if Mrs. Raymond will like it?”  So I did it and now she loves it.  I think you will like this book because it has a lot of adventure, evil, and you’ll get a goosebump once in awhile.  Who doesn’t want a goosebump?  I think you will like this series just like I do!