I Want My Hat Back (Jon Klassen)

4.5 out of 5 stars

This is a simple, clever book with non-flashy illustrations and an interesting punchline/conclusion.

There’s a bear, and he’s lost his hat, and he wants it back.

He goes around asking various animals if they’ve seen his hat… and eventually realizes that one of the many animals he asked (a turtle, a rabbit, a snake, an armadillo…) was lying to him, and…

(spoiler alert… yes, I know it’s a kid’s book)…

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The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)

5 out of 5 stars

There’s been so much that’s been said about this book already, that I’ll keep it brief.

1. Yes, there were times when I had trouble buying not only the premise, but the main characters of this story — two cancer-stricken teens who talk like well-educated, elitist literature majors, who fall in love, deal with the heartbreak of their friends and families, and take a trip of their lifetime (sponsored by a make-a-wish-like-foundation). There are a couple of scenes where the way they’re talking, the way they’re acting, are soooooo beyond their years and such kind-of perfected examples of what a perfect person/character would be like, that it’s a bit distracting from the overall story/how believable the story was.

2. That said, the story is moving enough, the characters real *enough* that it’s hard to mind its small imperfections. It’s an engrossing, involving read. As a teacher/tutor, I find that even some of my most recalcitrant students, who “just don’t like books” loved this one, that alone makes it five stars. Beyond that, I truly enjoyed it despite small moments that kicked me out of the story. It’s a wonderfully written, compelling novel deserving of the hype.

Ben’s Day

Recommended, Repeatable

This is an energetic story that’s been wonderfully, engagingly illustrated. The author (who has, in the past, primarily been an illustrator) has a blended cartoon/almost-comic-book style in terms of how he illustrates actions and expressions.

It’s a cute rhyming story about what Ben (our protagonist) does on his day of adventures. There were a couple of times where I thought the meter could have been a little smoother, but overall, this was a fun, energetic read that definitely hits the mark for the energetic-toddler-age-group.

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Trenton Lee Stewart)

Cut to the Chase:
Nice premise, fun characters and an interesting plot make for a wonderfully entertaining read. Though there are bits that were slow (there are 2-3 places where I really felt like the plot and pacing seemed to suddenly slow down) and also parts that were ultimately a bit predictable (though maybe less so if I weren’t an adult), it was a fun, interesting read. I think it’s great for middle-aged kids (the protagonists are in the 11-12ish range): especially ones that maybe feel a bit left out or not-completely-normal. There’s a fair bit of “let’s celebrate what makes us different” and a lot of small, fun adventures throughout. Despite the slower bits, I found it to be a quick and engrossing read overall, one that makes me interested in reading the rest of the series, and definitely one I’d recommend to elementary through maybe early middle school children.

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