BOOKS FOR CHILDREN: How do you know what's good?

While there are many places (especially on the internet) where you can read book reviews, how do you really know if it's a good book or not when a single book might receive anywhere from one to five stars?
The answer: read the reviews of a book-addicted teacher librarian.

** The age recommendations are guidelines only; whether or not a certain book is suitable for a particular child depends on multiple factors, including their maturity, reading level, interests, and in some cases their experiences.
** While the ratings are largely based on my own personal appreciation/enjoyment of the book, they are also influenced by my experiences as a teacher and the potential attraction for the target-aged child (acknowledging that what one child may love, another may find exceptionally boring). A rating of 5 indicates the book is likely to be popular with the majority.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Scavengers (Middle Grade Fic)

AUTHOR: Michael Perry (US)
PUBLISHED: Harper ; 2014.
PAGES/ILL: ~322 pages.

When the world started to fall apart, the government gave everyone two choices: move into the Bubble Cities...or take their chances outside. Maggie's family chose the latter, and they have been living off the land ever since. They have friends, and Maggie seems to have found her place, renaming herself Ford Falcon after the rusted out car in which she lives.
Then one day she returns from visiting their friends to find her family's house ransacked and her parents missing.
As she uncovers the secrets her father has kept from her, as well as the truth about how the government took over, she must find the strength to be true to herself and save her family at the same time.

This story was a lot better than I thought it would be. It has very strong underlying political messages (such as big government, control, genetically modified foods, and the environment), so I would recommend parents or teachers reading it first so that they can discuss any questions that might come up.
This book has a strong heroine, and emphasises family and friendship. This is a middle-grade book and would be a suitable first-dystopia for children in upper primary school as an introduction to the genre. I've classed it as Middle Grade because it's below YA, but this is one where you would need to know the child and the book to make your own judgement about whether it is appropriate for a child at the younger end of Middle Grade.

AGE: 11+.
GENRE: Adventure, Soft dystopia.
RATING: 4 1/2 stars.

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