Book Reviews by Teens
Volume 5 - Number 1

You’re looking at Volume 5, Number 1 of UNDER the COVER, a partnership between Skokie Public Library, local junior high schools, and several book publishers who give us a sneak peek at the newest books for young readers. This is the first issue of the 2010-2011 school year. We call it V5N1 for short.

Reviews in this issue were written by students from Fairview South, McCracken Middle School, and Old Orchard Junior High School. Most of the titles are available for checkout at Skokie Public Library or your school library.

You might find a good book or three in this issue to put on your holiday list for giving or receiving. You can find more reviews in back issues of UNDER the COVER on our website. In the meantime, read on!

graphicDownload this issue of UNDER the COVER in its original print format
PDF symbol Note: Requires Adobe Reader

Aces Up

Reviewed by Francesca G.
Fairview South School

photoThis book is about a 17-year -old girl named Shannon Card who is a high school senior. She wants to get in a really good college named Wellesley. Her family has money problems, her dad just lost his job, so now her chances of getting into Wellesley are very low. So she gets a job at a casino called the Collosio in Connecticut. She is under age to work there and her parents have no idea that she is working there. Her parents think she got a job at the Rusty Nail down the street. When she is working there she meets Cole, the leader of Aces Up, a top secret poker group. She is asked to join Aces Up, at first she says no, but then she decides she should; it would be a good way to get money for college. Aces Up enters in the poker championships, but when she finds out she will only get a few thousand out of millions if another member of Aces Up wins, she thinks about leaving Aces Up to win the championship. What will she do? Read to find out.

coverI would definitely recommend this book, once I started reading I could not put it down, I wanted to know what was going to happen next and how the book would end. It can also help you think about college, how much money you will need, which one you want to go to, and how you’ll make the money. I hope this made you think about reading Aces Up. (Youth Junior High Fiction BAR)

Reviewed by Sean L.
McCracken Middle School

photoIn the book Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt, Shannon Card, a high school student in her senior year has a big issue on her hands. Her dad just lost his job and Shannon got accepted to Wellesley College. The problem is her family can’t pay for the tuition. How does Shannon handle this?

Shannon competes for a math scholarship against her “math nemesis,” Parvati Carlson, and while she’s competing she thinks of other ways to make money. One other way Shannon is making money is that she gets a job at the Collosio, a casino. The problem with that is that Shannon is underage at 17. In addition she tutors her secret crush, Max Heller. Then she finds out from Cole Porter about an underground poker society titled Aces Up and she sees an opportunity.

After a party where Shannon gets the nerve to kiss Max and then he completely blows her off, obviously not interested, Shannon decides to get closer to Cole by joining Aces Up. In about three weeks of playing poker, Shannon has money–lots of it!

Every night Shannon thinks about getting caught. But when you are making so much money is it worth quitting? What would you do?

Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt is a book full of twists and turns and even some romance. All of that will make you not want to put it down! Read it and find out what happens in Shannon Card’s life. (Youth Junior High Fiction BAR)

Back to Top

Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens

Reviewed by Nelson C.
McCracken Middle School

photoWhat do purple exploding teddy bears, people who get lost in fireplaces and giant robots have in common? They’re all in the same book, Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson. The premise of the story is that Alcatraz Smedry must find his mother and the book she has. The book apparently holds the secret to the “Smedry Talents,” talents that only direct descendents of Alcatraz the 1st have. Alcatraz’s dad, unlike his mom however, seeks to give everyone Smedry talents. That is Alcatraz’s dilemma. Who is doing what is right and who is doing what is wrong? That answer might surprise you. AND he must do all of this while a war is going on.

coverSmedry Talents, when activated, do strange and mysterious things. Believe it or not, some examples of Smedry Talents are: getting lost in a fireplace, breaking things, being terribly bad at math, and always being late.

This brings me back to the subject of the war. Sadly, the book does not spend much time going into details about the war. All that is said about the war is that the Librarians are waging war on the Free Kingdoms and will stop at nothing to destroy them. Unfortunately, the Librarians cannot be stopped and have toppled Free Kingdom after Free Kingdom. Mokia, the next target and setting of this novel, is about to fall to the Librarians when Alcatraz steps in and causes chaos.

In conclusion, Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens is a good book, but arguably so. It has many good points, many laughs, but the general confusion of the plot often takes control. However, don’t let that discourage you, Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson is still worth your time. (Youth Fiction SAN)

Back to Top

Catching Fire

Reviewed by Zach O.
Old Orchard Junior High School

photoWhat do you think the future will be like? Will it be filled with peace and no violence? Well, not according to Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

In Panem, the country that is where the United States of America used to be, everything is controlled by the “Capitol.” The Hunger Games is a major, national event which is held every year. Each of the twelve districts in Panem must send one boy and one girl to compete in the violent, anything-goes, elimination games, until only one of them is still alive. That person is the champion. The games are conducted by the “Gamekeepers,” but they are under the control of the Capitol, like everything else.

coverIn the previous Hunger Games, Peeta and Katniss were the finalists. Katniss outsmarted the Gamekeepers by eating death berries at the same time as Peeta did. The Gamekeepers had to stop the Hunger Games and declare both Katniss and Peeta to be the winners, or there would be no victor. To learn more about those Hunger Games, you will need to read The Hunger Games, the first book in the series. If I had read that book first, the beginning of Catching Fire wouldn’t have been somewhat confusing.

In Catching Fire, there is rebellion by the people in the districts, and Katniss has become the symbol of hope for overthrowing the Capitol. For the very first time, this year’s Hunger Games will be for former Hunger Games champions only. This means that Peeta and Katniss must compete in the “to-the-death” games again, which has never happened before! Suzanne Collins described the action and violence so well, that I could actually imagine it happening!

Katniss is smart, brave, and clever, but can she survive a second time, or will she die in the blood bath to come? Find out in Catching Fire, an action-packed book that you won’t be able to put down! (Youth Junior High Fiction COL and Adult Fiction-Teen COL)

Back to Top

Crash Test Love

Reviewed by Danielle B.
McCracken Middle School

photoCrash Test Love, by Ted Michael, is a novel that I believe is a perfect novel for 8th through 10th graders, even though I believe that the story line could have been stronger. I enjoyed reading about the side stories more than the main plot which was sometimes dull and boring, though the side stories about other cliques were amusing.

One of the main characters, Henry Arlington, has been labeled as a player. There is more to Henry than meets the eye the first time you read this novel. Henry’s mother left him and his father to provide for themself. His father is rarely home before midnight, and he also cries when he is alone at night. Now Henry has the stress of a pretty new girl named Garrett tossed onto his plate as soon as things with work, school, and his father are finally going well.

coverGarrett Lennox is new to the town of Long Island. She wants desperately to fit in at her new school and she prays that she will be liked. The girls that make up the J squad, the three most popular girls in school, are prepared to take Garrett under their wing. They have one condition; Garrett must make it public knowledge that she is dating the “Player” of East Shore High School, Henry Arlington, and dump him in front of everyone at the biggest sweet sixteen party of the year.

Sounds perfect, right? Henry likes Garret and Garrett has to date Henry. There is only one problem, Henry doesn’t date and Garrett has sworn off of boys for life.

I recommend this book to all people who like a good piece of teenage literature. I hope you will enjoy this book even more than I did. This book kept me reading and was very detailed. I will admit that I found the secondary plot hilarious. That is what kept me reading. I give kudos to Ted Michael for writing such an entertaining side story. Please read this book and come to me with your reviews. I am interested to know what other students thought of this book. Spoiler Alert!!!! Keep a close eye on The J Squad. (Adult Fiction-Teen MIC)

Back to Top

The Darkling Curse

Reviewed by Jimmy G-V.
Old Orchard Junior High School

photoThe Darkling Curse by Chris Mould, is about a boy named Stanley Buggles, who inherits the great Candlestick Hall after the death of his uncle, Admiral Buggles. One day, a family of unknown guests knocks on the door. They are the Darklings, a father, mother, teenaged daughter, and young twins. They are all dressed in black are very quiet, and show no emotions. They give strange vibes to people around them and seem dangerous.

coverAfter being in Candlestick Hall for a very short time, Mr. Darkling announces that they are the house’s rightful owners. He gives Stanley seven days to leave his uncle’s house. That means Stanley has seven days to prove that Candlestick Hall is rightfully his and does not belong to the “wickedly weird” family. Will Stanley be able to prove that the house is legally his? Or will the Darklings find evidence to show that the house really belongs to them?

The book was definitely a strange, wicked, and mysterious story! Having Candlestick Hall surrounded by hundreds of crows that attacked visitors, is only one of the many strange things that happens. The Darkling Curse is a perfect book, if you are interested in a creepy, suspense-filled story with a little mystery. It is the best book in the “Something Wickedly Weird” series, and I think it is the best book Chris Mould has ever written. The book was fantastic, and I guarantee that it is like nothing you’ve ever read before! (Youth Fiction MOU)

Back to Top

Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles

Reviewed by Tenzin W.
McCracken Middle School

photoDo you like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, are a girl, and just need a wayyyyy too easy book to quickly read? Well, Doodlebug is the right choice for you.

It’s about a girl named Doreen Bussey, and she moves from Los Angeles to San Francisco. She’s the new kid in school, with an urge to doodle her way out of trouble. You see, Doreen, or Doodlebug, has A.D.D., Attention Deficit Disorder, which means she can’t sit still/concentrate for a long time. The main problem of the book is that “Doodlebug” has to convince Mr. Juarez, the mean math teacher, into letting her draw during class, to prevent her A.D.D.

coverThe book is basically a diary with tons of pictures. On every single page, probably 2/3 of the page is art. I did not enjoy this book very much, because it was 1.) Too easy/quick to read (for me, at least) 2.) Hand writing was messy, and hard to read. 3.) The plot was moving everywhere, and jumping from place to place. So, even though there was a story, it kept introducing random people, jumping from action to action, and was just plain hard to understand! If all those aspects were fixed, this would be a decent story.

I would recommend this book to girls, who are in second or third grade, or for people who are looking for a super quick/extremely light reading book. All in all, I think this was a less than average book, but it wasn’t one of the worst ones I’ve read. It is a satisfactory easy read book. (Youth Fiction YOU)

Back to Top


Reviewed by Tim P.
Fairview South School

coverphotoDragon by Jeff Stone is staged in China. Here Tonglong tries to get his way into a city built for the Chinese emperor. Fallowlong is on a quest to stop Tonglong from taking over the Chinese empire. In order to stop Tonglong he must do something illegal. He must impersonate the emperor and even wear the sacred yellow robes. Only the emperor is allowed to wear yellow. Will Fallowlong’s plan be successful to save the emperor or will Tonglong deceitfully take over the empire?

I would recommend this book if you like to read action books. But be careful not to get lost, because it skips a lot from place to place and character to character. While it is not necessary to read books 1-6 in the series to understand this book, as I did not, it might be helpful in order to get to know the characters better from the beginning. (Youth Junior High Fiction STO)

Back to Top

The Dragon in the Driveway

Reviewed by Razvan R.
Old Orchard Junior High School

photoDragons, hobgoblins, an evil villain, magical objects, and a treasure, make The Dragon in the Driveway by Kate Klimo a great book to read!

Ten-year-old Jesse is staying with his cousin Daisy for the summer, and they have a dog that can turn into a dragon! Of course, the neighbors and Daisy’s parents think that the dog is just a regular dog. The children discover that the evil Saint George wants a powerful, magic treasure that is buried in the mine. He has already made slaves of the hobgoblins and has stolen the magical book. But he still needs to find the golden pickaxe before he can use the book to locate the treasure. It is up to Jesse, Daisy, and Emily, their dragon, to stop Saint George and save the hobgoblins and other creatures that he has enslaved. However, they must be very careful to protect Emily from Saint George as well. The children do get help from the “Professor,” who only gives them advice and clues on the computer. The clues are always in riddles, which they must figure out, before the clues are any help to them.

coverJesse, Daisy, and Emily face magic and danger wherever they go! Kate Klimo’s descriptions were so powerful that I could actually visualize what was happening, especially in the dangerous parts. The Dragon in the Driveway is actually the second book in the “Dragon Keepers” series, and it seemed somewhat confusing in the beginning, but that didn’t last long. If I had read the first book in the series, I would have already known about the evil Saint George, the “Professor” who helps them with computer riddles, and Jesse, Daisy, and Emily. There didn’t seem to be much action in the beginning of the book, but very quickly it became an action-filled book with mystery, adventure, and fantasy! Anyone in sixth grade or younger should enjoy reading The Dragon in the Driveway. (Youth Fiction KLI)

Back to Top

Escape from the Carnivale: A Never Land Adventure

Reviewed by Niko T.
Old Orchard Junior High School

coverphotoLittle Scallop is a princess, the daughter of the Mollusk tribe leader. She should be very happy, and she is. But she is also bored. Her older brothers are allowed to do many exciting things, but she is not allowed to leave their lagoon. Two mermaids, Aqua and Surf, are her best friends, and they also want some adventure. They convince Little Scallop to go with them to search for pearls. At night, the three close friends, sneak outside the lagoon, and get much more adventure than they wanted. One mermaid is captured by pirates, attacking sharks are nearby, and other life-threatening dangers are everywhere! Will they survive? Will they ever be able to return to the safety of the lagoon?

Escape from the Carnivale is one of the books in the “Never Land” series by Ridley Pearson, Dave Barry, and Greg Call. The great descriptions helped me to visualize how people looked and what was happening! The book wasn’t really believable to me, so it would probably be better for readers in third through fifth grade. I’m sure they would enjoy the many amazing adventures of Little Scallop, Aqua, and Surf! (Youth Fiction BAR)

Back to Top

George Washington’s Spy

Reviewed by Alice C.
Old Orchard Junior High School

photocoverThis sequel to George Washington’s Socks is a time-travel historical adventure. Four boys: Matt, Q, Tony, and Hooter have their own secret club. In George Washington’s Socks, they went on an adventure in an old boat that took them back to the Revolutionary War times. In George Washington's Spy, while Matt’s sister Katie is playing with the boys’ classmates, the twins Lily and Emma, Katie brags to them that she owns George Washington’s socks. When the twins don’t believe her, she shows them the way to the magical boat on the nearby lake that drove them back into the past on the last adventure. The boys attempt to rescue the girls from the boat’s spell, but fall under it too, and also climb onto the boat. They arrive just before the Battle of Dorchester, which they have been recently studying in history class. The girls are sheltered by a group of Loyalists from England, and the boys are captured by a group of Revolutionary Spies, who think they are British counterspies. Matt is destined to go on a spy mission to retrieve information crucial for General Washington and the Patriots. Will Matt achieve his mission, or not? This book might be good for adventure lovers or readers who like historical fiction. I’d recommend that you dive right into this great new adventure by Elvira Woodruff! (Youth Fiction WOO)

Back to Top

Girl Stolen

Reviewed by Sophie S.
McCracken Middle School

photoGirl Stolen by April Henry is a thrilling book that was nearly impossible to put down. In the story, a blind girl named Cheyenne asks her step-mom to let her stay and leave the keys in the car for the few minutes that she is in the pharmacy. I mean, there’s no reason to get out, right?

coverExcept that Cheyenne is kidnapped just a few minutes later. The kidnapper only meant to steal the car, but Cheyenne was so quiet he didn’t see her. Now Cheyenne fears for her life, from the time she hears the engine roar until- well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Every time I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down. I really recommend reading Girl Stolen by April Henry– you’ll love it! (Youth Junior High Fiction HEN and Adult Fiction-Teen HEN)

Back to Top

Girlfriend Material

Reviewed by Jem S.
Old Orchard Junior High School

photoGirlfriend Material by Melissa Kantor is about a never-had-a-boyfriend girl named Kate. She would rather be at home with her best friend Laura, playing tennis and sleeping over at Laura’s mansion. Instead, she’s spending the summer in Cape Cod with her mom, thinking that they came just to make her workaholic Dad, jealous. The only thing Kate is looking forward to in this dreary town, is hanging out with her childhood friend, Sara. But Sara is not willing to hang out with Kate.

coverSuddenly, she finds herself becoming very interested in Sara’s friend, Adam, and he also becomes interested in her. Kate’s summer is getting better, until she finds out that Adam and his long-time girlfriend are only temporarily apart. She also learns that her mom didn’t come to Cape Cod to make her Dad jealous, but to decide whether to get a divorce or not. What will Laura do? Will she ever be Adam’s real girlfriend? Or will she be only his “girlfriend material”? Will she and Sara ever get along? And will her mother and father ever make up?

I personally think that this romance novel is a perfect piece of art! Melissa Kantor made the characters and their feelings so real, that it made me cry at times. The book started slowly, but quickly grabbed my interest. For girls who are at least 12 years old and looking for a little romance in their life, Girlfriend Material will be a book that you won’t be able to put down! This book is worth reading, crying, and loving! (Youth Junior High Chick Lit KAN)

Back to Top

Green Witch

Reviewed by Camille H-A.
McCracken Middle School

photoIn the story Green Witch by Alice Hoffman, Green tragically loses everything, including her mother, father, and sister, in a horrible fire. The city, once alive and colorful, now seems like a black and white photo capturing a sense of loss, grief, pain, ashes, and broken hearts.

coverTo make matters worse, Diamond, Green’s true love, is missing. In order to rediscover the truth in love, and in hope, she must venture away from home, traveling to women known as witches to collect their stories. Only through their tales and years of experience will Green find her own true love.

This is the sequel to Green Angel, and readers will enjoy travelling along with Green again as she makes an expedition of a lifetime to try to reunite with her true love. Green Witch by Alice Hoffman is a sad, depressing story. I recommend it to mature readers because of its complexity and overall mood. However ALL readers can learn the true meaning of love, and how to never let go of it once you find it. (Youth Junior High Fiction HOF and Adult Fiction-Teen HOF)

Back to Top

Hawksmaid: The Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian

Reviewed by Emily R.
McCracken Middle School

photoDo you ever feel that you need to live a new life, need to change your name? Hawksmaid by Kathryn Lasky is the perfect book for you! It is a mix of history, adventure and romance based on the legends of Robin Hood.

coverPrince John has taken control of the country, and Richard the Lion-hearted has been kidnapped! (Or rather, kingnapped) As you read, you join Matty (perhaps better known as Maid Marian) as she journeys across 12th century England and France, rescuing kings and paying ransoms!

With a tragic start and a triumphant end, Matty fulfills her part as Maid Marian in the adventures of Robin Hood in Hawksmaid by Kathryn Lasky. If you like adventure, you’ll probably like this book. (Youth Fiction LAS)

Back to Top

How to Steal a Car

Reviewed by Michelle C.
Old Orchard Junior High School

photoHave you ever stolen a car? Or gotten really bored with life and thought that stealing a car might help? Well, Kelleigh Monahan has, in the novel How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman. Kelleigh Monahan is nobody’s pick for a criminal. According to her mother, she dresses like a nun, and, according to her best friend Jen, she’s relentlessly unadventurous. So, when 15-year-old Kelleigh (not even a licensed driver), happens to see a man drop his car keys, she decides that she should take the car for a spin. She realizes that all she has to do is sneak up when nobody is looking, drive away, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. This becomes a habit of Kelleigh’s, and she steals another car….then another….and another. It seems as though she can’t stop. Basically, Kelleigh starts living her life to the fullest and forgets all of her troubles.

coverWhile reading the book, I felt as though I was in Kelleigh’s place, risking my life to steal luxurious cars for the money or for the thrill of it! Although stealing cars is not a good hobby, the story demonstrates the importance of living life to the fullest and taking risks. It also shows that there are consequences to every action that you make.

Before reading How to Steal a Car, you should have your parent’s approval, since it does contain some inappropriate actions and words that might influence children to move in the wrong direction. I recommend it for teenagers who are thirteen years old and older. At times, Pete Hautman seems to get sidetracked and starts writing about things that are not related to the plot. Although that interferes with the story, I still liked the book and am sure you will enjoy it too! How to Steal a Car was a breathtaking and thrilling adventure! Give it a try! (Youth Junior High Fiction HAU)

Back to Top

The Keepers’ Tattoo

Reviewed by Soretti D.
Fairview South School

photocoverAll her life Nyssa had dreams that were as though she lived someone’s life. Little did she know that the dreams were about her long lost twin brother, whom she’d had no idea about until the Shadowmen came to capture her. After her escape, Nyssa finds out that she’s a Keeper and that the tattoos on the back of her head are words that have the power of destroying Archipelago. In The Keepers’ Tattoo, Nyssa deals with finding her brother while also learning about who she really is. Will Nyssa ever find her brother? Why is the tattoo, which is causing so much trouble, important? And will Nyssa ever escape the Shadowmen? To find out, get down to the library and check out The Keepers’ Tattoo!

This novel is pretty mature so I would recommend this to teens 12 and up. If you enjoy reading about legends and suspenseful novels this is the book for you. The Keepers’ Tattoo teaches you a lot about how the bond of love and friendship overcomes greed and evil. I really enjoyed it and hope that others who have the pleasure of reading it will feel the same as I do! (Youth Junior High Fiction ARB)

Back to Top

The Madman of Venice

Reviewed by Crystal V.
Fairview South School

photocoverThe Madman of Venice is about Master Ashby, Celia, his daughter, and his clerk, Ned living in London during the 1600s. One day, a musician stops by at Master Ashby’s home. She’s constantly begging him to help her find Sarah Tedeschi. Sarah Tedeschi is a Jewish girl who has disappeared from the Ghetto after being blamed for witchcraft. They all go on a little trip to Venice to help find Sarah. When they arrived in Venice, Master Ashby, Celia, and Ned begin to start their investigation. Also, during the trip, Celia and Ned start to get to know each other even more. Later, Master Ashby surprisingly vanishes. In this novel inspired by Shakespeare, Celia has one of the best times of her life. This novel is full of adventure, mystery, and romance.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys mystery and adventure novels because this book is not like any other. It makes you feel like you’re in the story and makes you feel like a detective. (Youth Junior High Fiction MAS)

Back to Top

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze

Reviewed by Fillip K.
Fairview South School

photocoverIn Milo by Alan Silberberg, a seventh grade boy named Milo has moved to a new town once again. This is his fifth house. In the book you will witness all of his friends and foes. You will see how he lives his life and everything he does. When Milo moves to a new house he is welcomed by a girl his age named Hilary, who lives next door. He has an imaginary friend that tells him to do everything “cool.” Read about the life of Milo Cruikshank to find out!

When you read this type of book you find a meaning in the book like this. If anyone has liked the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, you will be sure to like this book. It provides the thoughts of Milo only and how he lives with his father and sister. It is a detailed description of every day from the beginning of the school year to the end. Anyone who likes reading about a boy’s life will absolutely love this book. (Youth Fiction SIL)

Back to Top

Morpheus Road: The Light

Reviewed by Ben B.
McCracken Middle School

photoThe book Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale is a thrilling ghost story about a sixteen year old artist named Marshall Seaver, who is being haunted by a character of his own creation. It begins when his dad leaves for Las Vegas on a business trip.

coverWhile his dad is gone, Marshall begins to hear strange sounds. Soon, he gets a mysterious phone call to pick up some artwork he left at school of a character Marshall had been developing for a graphic novel. While at school picking the pictures up, he comes face to face with Gravedigger, the character Marshall had been drawing. Marshall then runs home, only to meet him again. So he asks Sydney, who is the sister of Marshall’s best friend, to take him to the lake house where Cooper (Marshall’s best friend) and his family spend the summer. Marshall thinks that only Cooper will believe him. Soon Marshall finds out that his best friend has gone missing, and that Gravedigger has followed Marshall there…

Morpheus Road: The Light has an excellent plot, and a few scenes would be perfect for a campfire story-telling. If you do decide to read the book, do not make the same mistake I made, reading it at night. Please take my word; this is a very scary book. There is no questioning that Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale is certainly worth being read. (Youth Fiction MAC)

Back to Top


Reviewed by Natalie N.
McCracken Middle School

photoParty by Tom Leveen is a story about 12 kids that are going to this huge party at the end of the year. It’s told from a different kid’s point of view in each chapter, much like Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman.

coverEveryone has a different reason to be at the party, and they all have different problems going on in their lives. For example, Josh wants to get his ex-girlfriend back; Ashley is there to just pretty much watch over her best friend Morrigan. Also, there is drinking at this party, so it is pretty crazy. There is even a fight and then the police come, but you’ll have to read to see what happens in the end!

I really liked this book! It was fun to read from everyone’s perspective. It gave you a different view on the story and how different everyone is. I also recommend this book from 12 years and older because it swears and there are some disturbing scenes, and more adult-type ideas, like drinking and death. Despite those things, Party by Tom Leveen is a really great book. Find out the outcome of everyone’s story, they’re all over the place (good and bad) just like real life. (Adult Fiction-Teen LEV)

Back to Top


Reviewed by Priya P.
McCracken Middle School

photoRunaway by Meg Cabot is the third (and probably last) book in the exciting Airhead trilogy. These books are about two accident victims, level-headed tomboy Emerson Watts and supermodel diva Nikki Howard, having their lives switched in an amazing medical procedure. Obviously, this leaves the characters and their families with a lot to deal with!

coverIn this book, Emerson Watts is forced to go with wealthy heartthrob Brandon Stark because of a secret involving the original (real) Nikki Howard. She is living almost as a captive with Nikki Howard’s family and Brandon. Em’s plan is to escape…but can she? What will happen if the truth gets out?

I really liked this book. It was fun to see how the character changes her view and personality as the story ends. I recommend Runaway by Meg Cabot to anyone who likes adventures with drama and a touch of romance and love. It would be best if you read the other two (Airhead and Being Nikki) before reading this conclusion to the series. (Youth Junior High Chick Lit CAB and Adult Fiction-Teen CAB)

Back to Top

Tyger Tyger

Reviewed by Jonathan H.
Fairview South School

photocoverIn the story of Tyger Tyger, the story begins when Abby is in big trouble by some creatures that are coming to get her. But Abby does not know that these weird creatures are coming after her. So her best friend, Teagan Wylltson, is helping her, but Teagan’s family also gets troubled by these creatures. Then Teagan’s cousin comes and stays with Teagan’s family. Shortly after, Teagan’s mom, Mrs. Wylltson, gets sick and has to go to the hospital because these creatures touched her. After what happens to Mrs. Wylltson something even worse happens to Mr. Wylltson. He gets taken away by some goblin creatures. So Finn, Teagan, and her younger brother set out to look for Mr. Wylltson. Then they started on an adventure for him. They had found Mr. Wylltson, but the goblins did something to him that made him lose his memory. They then go see a doctor to try to figure out Mr. Wylltson’s memory loss problem. Will they be able to put an end to these goblin creatures before more are hurt? Read Tyger Tyger to find out.

My recommendation of Tyger Tyger was that some parts were good and some parts weren’t. The beginning of it was very exciting, but once you got to the middle with the goblin creatures, it became confusing for a while. Otherwise, it was an excellent book. Those who would enjoy this book are people who like creature books and mystery books because both of these concepts are throughout the book. (Youth Junior High Fiction HAM)

Back to Top

The Wide-Awake Princess

Reviewed by Silvia B.
McCracken Middle School

photoThe saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is true when it comes to The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker. Although the title may not be very inventive, the book itself is. The story is about a princess named Annie. Annie was given the gift to resist magic when she was a baby, since her older sister Gwendolyn was cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and sleep for 100 years and then be awakened by a true love’s kiss on her 16th birthday. Because of the curse, spinning wheels had been banned from the kingdom and every precaution taken, but a curse can’t be prevented. When Annie realizes what has happened and that everyone else in the palace has fallen asleep as well, she sets out to find Prince Digby, the man her sister was to marry. Although Annie doesn’t like Digby, her sister Gwendolyn appeared to be in love with him.

coverOn her way, Annie encounters Liam, a new guard in her palace. Because Liam had been running an errand when the curse took place, he was not affected. Liam insists on joining her and so they set out together. They soon become friends and although Annie knows little about him, she likes how he is handsome but not perfect. No magic enhanced appearances like all the nobles.

Further on in their journey Annie realizes that Digby might NOT be the one and so she and Liam ask other princes they meet along the way if they would go to Treescot, Annie’s kingdom, and try waking Princess Gwendolyn with a kiss. She also realizes that the curse said Gwendolyn could be woken with a kiss after 100 years of sleep. This, of course, is a problem, and so Annie and Liam also have to find the two fairies that cast the spell and hope to enlist their help.

I highly recommend this book. Although fairytales are usually for younger kids, Baker takes all the fairytales we know and love, gives them each a twist and then combines them. In my opinion The Wide-Awake Princess is E.D. Baker’s best book yet and is the perfect blend of adventure, comedy and romance. I couldn’t wait to continue reading it. (Youth Fiction BAK)

Back to Top

Witch & Wizard

Reviewed by Bryanna P.
McCracken Middle School

photoThis amazing book called Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet is a must read! With adventure, magic, and a touch of sadness–this book needs to be put to the test.

coverThe story is about a witch named Wisty (my favorite character!) and a wizard named Whit. Sadly, their parents get taken away by The N.O. (The New Order). So they are left with only two items, a book (an empty one actually) and a drum stick, as they are taken away. Wisty’s powers are simple. When she wishes for something to happen, it does. For example when The N.O. comes to their house and is trying to bring them to the jail, Wisty wishes she were invisible so she can escape and in a blink of an eye they can’t see her anymore–even though she’s right in front of them! Whit’s powers are nothing compared to Wisty’s. Whit can only do his magic with his wand like when they are trying to get out of The N.O. jail and Whit turns Wisty into a hamster in order to get to the van that’s waiting for them!

Whit and Wisty have extraordinary powers that no one has in their world. They are willing to fight and save their mom and dad no matter what! If you want to know what happens, you should read Witch & Wizard by James Patterson–you won’t be disappointed! (Youth Junior High Fiction PAT and Adult Fiction-Teen PAT)

Back to Top

This issue of ‘UNDER the COVER: Book reviews by Teens’ is published in partnership with...

Fairview South School: Sarah Florea, 7th Grade Core Teacher

McCracken Middle School: Tori Gammeri, Director of Learning Center; Judy Kopp, Assistant Director of Learning Center; Annie Monak, Technology Specialist

Old Orchard Junior High School: Rebecca Borree, LMC Director; Rebecca Townsend, Substitute LMC Director

Skokie Public Library: Linda Sawyer, Youth Services Programming Coordinator; Ruth Sinker, Youth Services Technology Coordinator