MG Book Reviews

Somewhere on a blog I was readin, an author recently posed a question which essentially asked when are MG authors going to start respecting their readers. I’m wondering if the problem is the authors or the editors. I find that in MG books, characters and situations are poorly developed, situations don’t see real and inconsistencies abound! While this isn’t always the case, I’ve found these problems in the books I’m reviewing today. 

book review: Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Sean Qualls

Little Brown Books for Children April, 2011
Bird in a Box is a story set in 1936 During the Great Depression. Otis, Hibernia and Willie each tell their stories in alternating chapters. Hibernia likes singing just as her mother did. Her mother followed her passion and left Hernia and her father years ago. Willie and Otis meet in an orphanage where they quickly become friends. Each child has a past to which they cling and each looks forward to Joe Louis winning his next fight. Louis provides an interesting backdrop to the story but his importance never fully comes to light. The story has an energy and an excitement that doesn’t take the time to develop either details or characters. Why is this young middle class girl whose father has a car going out to pick up rations with her wagon in all kinds of weather and was she really pressing her own hair? I even found myself at one point wondering what was motivating me to continue reading.  As you can see from the reviews I’m listing below as well as those that are all over the Internet, Bird is getting a lot of good reviews. If you, dear reader, decide to read this book that I think is mediocre at best, please come back and let me know what you think!
additional reviews:
review copy received from author

book review:  Teenie

Teenie is the story of a high school freshman who is trying to find her fashion sense, get good grades and develop her relationships with others. While her closest (only?) friend Cherise is hooking up the strange older men at night, Cherise is trying to learn how to talk to boys on the Internet in clunky, long hand conversations. Teenie lives with both of her parents while her twin brothers are off to college. From her parents, she has developed an appreciation for other cultures and she wants to travel to Spain to study.

I liked that Teenie was a smart girl who had an academic purpose. I want to say I liked the tone of the the book; I liked the wholesomeness of it but there was a touch of locker room that was way out of place. I didn’t understand why Teenie and Cherise were friends and Cherise herself even stated this in the book! I didn’t know enough about Cherise to understand why Teenie felt a loyalty to her and I didn’t know the character’s history to help me figure this out. I have a hard time feeling sorry for stupid characters and Teenie was stupid. She lacked street smarts and didn’t have sense enough to rely on people around her. She seemed way too immature to be ready for a trip overseas. I do have to remind myself that characters are not perfect, they won’t be if they’re fully developed. The trick is for the character to be developed in ways that readers are able to empathize with them and to want the best for them.

I so wanted her to turn to her brothers for help! I wanted Teenie to learn to trust them and I wanted to really see how close Teenie’s family was. She learned she could trust each of her parents, why not her brothers?

As they say, ‘the devil is in the details’ and these details can make a mediocre story just that much better. Teenie is not an awful book. 7 & 8th grade girls will be drawn to this book and many will enjoy it. While Teenie is a ‘good’ girl, she speaks in a language and lives a life to which many girls can relate. While she’s over her head with the boys, her real issues are with school, meeting her parents expectations and maintaining friendships. It’s a worthwhile add to the media center and I eagerly look forward to another Christopher Grant book.

additional reviews
reviewed library book

One thought on “MG Book Reviews

  1. Thanks for the link! I see we disagree on _Bird in a Box_, but that’s one of the great things about book review blogs, I think – getting to hear lots of different perspectives.


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