Realistic Fiction

Book Review: Tangerine by Edward Bloor

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Written by Edward Bloor 
Published by Sandpiper in 1997
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Sports, School 
Young Adult
320 pages 


Twelve-year-old Paul and his family recently moved to Tangerine, Florida. Paul is legally blind, but can still see with his glasses. In fact, Paul feels that he can see and sense things that others around him cannot see. However, nobody seems to listen to him. Strange events occur in Tangerine, Florida, such as constant lightning and fires. His mom’s mainly concerned with the odd town situations. His father only focuses on his high school brother’s goal of becoming the next great football player. Paul finally finds his ‘groove’ when he joins the middle school soccer team, although even then it takes time for him to really fit in. Tangerine is entirely written from Paul’s perspective in journal entry format. 

I enjoyed Tangerine, but I felt it was rushed at the end and there were loose ties. My book edition included questions in the back. I think Tangerine would be useful for great discussion in the classroom. It’s listed on Amazon as ages 10+ and others state Tangerine as a Young Adult book. I think the book’s length and sensitive topics at times may lead to a Young Adult, but Tangerine could be read by middle school age readers.

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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Written by R.J. Palacio
Published by Knopf on February 14, 2012 
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Peer Relations
315 pages 
Ages: 10+

Three Word Review: Heartwarming, Compassion, Thought-Provoking

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that held him back from attending school due to numerous surgeries. However, now Auggie is a ten-year-old boy who is about to attend school for the first time. He desires to be ordinary and not be constantly stared at or judged by his face. Auggie knows exactly why people turn their head or gasp when they see him for the first time. His favorite day is Halloween when he can wear a different ‘mask’ and blend in. School is filled with the typical middle school drama, but Auggie has even more difficulty as classmates tease, bully, and ignore him. Auggie makes friends with a few who see the true Auggie.  Wonder changes perspectives between different individuals who come into Auggie’s life, but it is mainly from his viewpoint. Hopefully, Wonder will make you look past outward appearances to see the real individual. I stated that this book is for ages 10+, but everyone can enjoy the book and take its message. In fact, it’s my city library’s Tacoma Reads Together book for 2013 for all ages. I plan to attend an  author book talk hosted by the library.

Book Review: Because of Mr. Terupt

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Because of Mr. Terupt 

Written by Rob Buyea
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on October 6, 2010
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, School, Peer Relations 
Ages: 8+, 288 pages 


Mr. Terupt is the new fifth grade teacher at Snow Hill Elementary School. The book takes the perspective of seven unique classmates in Mr. Terupt’s class. Jessica is the smart new girl; Alexia is your bully or friend; Peter is the troublemaker; Luke is the class brain; Danielle lacks confidence; Anna has a difficult home life; and Jeffrey dislikes school. Each student has his or her own problems and joys about everyday events and classroom situations told from their perspective. Mr. Terupt is a fresh and new teacher who connects with each student. He tries new things and lets the students think for themselves. Until the awful day when an accident occurs that changes everyone.

I really enjoyed Because of Mr. Terupt. We’ve all had that one special teacher that made a difference in our life. (Hopefully, more than one teacher.) The teacher that made us feel special or we tried something new and exciting for the first time. The students in Mr. Terupt’s class changed because of him. It almost made me cry. It’s a heartfelt book that can spark conversation. I recommend this book.


Book Review: Cat Found

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Cat Found 

Written by Ingrid Lee
Published by Scholastic Inc. on October 1, 2011
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Animal Rescue, Family Relations
Age: 10+, 176 pages 

Billy Reddick found an injured and dirty cat alone on the streets. He took the cat home, although his dad hates cats. Since Billy’s dad hates cats he kept the cat hidden in his messy room. His parents constantly fought and the cat gave Billy some comfort as he talked to the cat and provided care. The whole town disliked cats, because many stray cats wandered the streets at night. The town citizens became upset and discussed ideas about how to remove the cats. There were disagreements, since the town was divided with many ideas. Some citizens wanted to kill off cats whereas others wanted to safety rescue the cats. Billy was caught in the middle with family tensions, a secret cat he owns, and the town’s discussions.

Cat Found hooked my interest right from the first pages. The book described how the cat became injured and it truly broke my heart. Amazon listed this book for ages eight and up, but the subject was sensitive with some sad moments.  Depending upon the child’s maturity the book could be read with younger ages. The author wrote a similar book, Dog Lost.

Book Review: Dumpling Days

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Dumpling Days 

Written by Grace Lin 
Published January 2, 2012 
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Cultural, Taiwan, Family 
Ages: 8+, 272 pages 

Pacy Lin travels to Taiwan, for the first time with her two sisters and parents for her grandmother’s sixtieth birthday. Only the parents are excited to return to their homeland. Pacy may look like everyone else, but she feels out of place and has difficulty understanding people. Soon Pacy gains an identity and explores Taiwan. There are delicious foods everywhere, but Pacy falls in love with any type of dumpling. She even states the following: ‘There was no day that dumplings couldn’t make better’. She attends a Taiwan painting class and struggles with the techniques. Eventually, the time in Taiwan quickly ends and the sisters take fond memories of their adventure.

I thought Dumpling Days was a delightful book. It was humorous, but you also gained cultural awareness. There are simple black and white pictures throughout the book. The story is actually based on the author’s first experience travelling to Taiwan as a child.


Book Review: Eva and Little Kitty on the Titanic

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Eva and Little Kitty on the Titanic 

Written and Illustrated by Sidsel Carnahan 
Published April 23, 2012 (Presently, only available in digital format.)
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Titanic, Biography
Ages: 6-8
Pages: (I read this book on a pdf document which was 25 pages.)  

This is the partial true story of a Titanic survivor, Eva Hart. Eva is only seven years old when she boards the grand ship, Titanic, with her mother and father from England. Her father is very excited about their journey to America on the Titanic whereas her mother is unsure and believes something bad may happen. Eva asks if she can bring her Kitty on the ship, but is told no. However, this doesn’t stop Eva from hiding Kitty and secretly bringing the cat with her. Eva meets two young boys and she shows Little Kitty. She’s puzzled what to do about Little Kitty at night, because her mother is so worried she stays awake at night. The Captain notices Eva and asks if he can help. He states that Little Kitty can sleep in his cabin at night. One night, Eva is suddenly woken up and told to quickly dress. Her father takes Eva  to the top deck. They are told that the Titanic hit an iceberg and everyone must get into lifeboats. Eva remembers Little Kitty and hurries to the Captain’s cabin. At first, only women and children enter the lifeboats so she leaves her father behind. Eva snuggles with Little Kitty and keeps close to her mother until they are rescued.

I thought Eva and Little Kitty on the Titanic was a delightful book while also being educational. I believe this is a good introduction to the Titanic tragedy for younger ages. The story is sweet and simple as you learn about a young girl exploring the ship. I also thought it was interesting that there were different opinions within the family: the father was excited and proud to be on the Titanic, yet the mother believed nothing could be unsinkable and had negative thoughts. Although the illustrations were nice and wholesome, I wasn’t personally fond of them. The style almost appeared out-dated. However, I still enjoyed the lovely story to introduce the Titanic.

Eva Hart was one of the last remaining Titanic survivors who died at age 91. Eva Hart was very outspoken about the Titanic sinking. She  once stated: “If a ship is torpedoed, that’s war. If it strikes a rock in a storm, that’s nature. But just to die because there weren’t enough lifeboats, that’s ridiculous.”

Eva with her parents

Book Review: My Name is Yoon

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My Name is Yoon 

Written by Helen Recorvits
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Published April 3, 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Genre/Topics: Cultural, Realistic Fiction, Korean 
Ages: 6+, 32 pages
Awards: Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award (2004), Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year (2008)

Yoon has moved to the United States from Korea and now must adjust to her new life. Her father tells her that now she must learn how to write her name in English. However, Yoon doesn’t want to write her name in English and feels her name looks happy in Korean. It means Shining Wisdom, but her father reminds her that even when written in English her name still means Shining Wisdom. When she attends school she learns about cat and must write her name on the paper, but she doesn’t want to write Yoon. Instead, she wrote cat on each line. Yoon doesn’t fit in and has no friends. She wants to go back to Korea where she is happy and the teacher likes her. A girl at recess gives Yoon a cupcake and Yoon decides that her schoolmates will like her if she is a cupcake. Finally, she writes her name as Yoon. She writes her name in English and it means Shining Wisdom.

I enjoyed this cultural book about fitting into a new place. Yoon wanted to still be in Korea and didn’t want to fit in at first. Slowly, she learned that different is good and she can still be herself too.

Yoon’s name written in Korean.