booksinckids's blog

 "I loved this book. I would recommend it to people who liked, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." I liked that the book was about the ordinary life of Tad, and that he wrote a little bit every day (mostly), over a whole year.

The book was kind of silly and funny at the same time. I thought that it was fun to read about a kid in middle school. Planet Tad is definitely one of my new favorites. I hope that there will be another book after this one. I can't wait to see what happens next!" ~Trever age 9

The Amazing Adventures of John Smith Jr, aka Houdini
by Peter Johnson

John Smith Jr, known to his friends as Houdini because of his love of magic, is a 13-year-old boy growing up in a rough neighborhood outside of Providence, Rhode Island.  Growing up is painful- especially when you have a cantankerous Vietnam Vet as a neighbor, a bully who won’t let you be, and a brother missing in Iraq.  Inspired by an author visiting his school, John decides to write his first novel.  He views his world, one cracked and flawed block at a time.  And as he describes his world, he slowly lays out a plan on how he, and hopefully his friends, can make the great escape-  just like his hero, Houdini.


This book will be an inspiration to any middle grade reader who is feeling the growing pains in the worst way.  It gripped me from the first sentence to the closing sentence.  It is, without a doubt, the most authentic child's voice I have read since Catcher in the Rye.  A lot of adults try to sound like children in their writing- Peter Johnson succeeds.  Don't be put off by the cover- it looks very young.  But this book is definitely not intended for young readers.  I would say 12-13 year-olds would be the ideal audience.
 
--Katherine from Books Inc. Laurel Village

Young Sherlock Holmes #1: Death Cloud

by Andrew Lane

A wonderful introduction to the character, Death Cloud goes back well before that fateful meeting between Holmes and Watson to see how Sherlock ticks. Sent to his mother’s relatives during the school holidays, Sherlock acquires a tutor who begins to train him not only to see, but also observe. There are lots of lovely touches to the original stories for those who know as well! A cracking mystery, engaging original characters and brisk prose add up to a worthy YA read for even the most disaffected youth. Ages 12 + --Reviewed by Steven of Books Inc. Palo Alto
This is the best middle reader historical fiction that I’ve read in years.  As a girl growing up at the end of the 19th century, Callie doesn’t feel like she has any control over the path her life will take; the only girl in a house full of brothers, she is all too aware that her future is full of cooking, cleaning, sewing, and raising children.  But what Callie loves more than anything is observing nature and conducting scientific experiments.  Fortunately, Callie finds an ideal companion and mentor who shares and nurtures her interest in science- her grandfather.

Each chapter begins with a quote from Darwin’s Origin of Species, mirroring Callie’s own “evolution” and the awakening of her ambition.  The characters are smart and endearing, and I love Callie’s touching relationship with her grandfather.  This Newbery Honor book is a must-read if you missed it the first time around.
 
-Caitlin, one of four Children's Lit experts from our Palo Alto Store 

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (ages 10& up)

This is one of those books that you know is going to be special from the very first page.  Starting middle school is hard, even harder for Auggie who’s been home schooled due to a rare genetic disorder that has given him a misshapen head and face that earned him nicknames like Freddy Krueger, he’s grown used to people adverting their eyes when they see him (I was terrified for him).  But Auggie feels normal inside, he is obsessed with Star Wars, loves his Dog, and is surrounded by an amazing family that I secretly want to be a part of. What follows is an extraordinary debut novel told from not only Auggie’s perspective but his sister & other people around him whose lives have changed from his attendance at school.  Both touching and funny this is a story about courage and friendship that will melt your heart.

 

--Shannon, Senior Children's Book Buyer for Books Inc.

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