Reviews by emeloche
More than just funny
The humor of Jonathan Coulton's songs are wonderful (and what originally brought me to him), but what makes him more than a novelty act is that the musicality of the songs can stand on their own. Sure, they might be funny, but they're good songs too!
The comedy of Blues Brothers carries over, even though it's been more than 30 years since the movie was originally released. The true highlight, though, is its soundtrack-- both the performances by rhythm and blues legends and the songs playing in the background of the car chases are excellent.
Trying to fit in with some classmates, middle schooler David Ballinger steals an old woman's cane and she shouts a curse at him. As an aspiring scientist, David doesn't believe in witchcraft, but after bad things keep happening to him, he begins to suspect he may really be cursed.

Though it lacks the zany humor of Wayside School and heart and driving plot of Holes, Sachar's ability to make the reader care about his characters and their fates comes through. The problems David faces-- such as drifting apart from old friends challenges talking with the girl he likes, and struggling to find his place at school-- are ones any kid can relate to...with the added challenge of a potential curse spicing up the storyline.

This book will be best appreciated by late elementary and early middle grade students.
The somewhat strange and super-intelligent teen Cadel from Evil Genius continues to come to terms with his abilities and whether they should be used for good or evil.

Cadel finds himself working with another set of entertaining characters with unusual talents, and though it can be occasionally challenging to keep track of the many new faces, the reader still cares about their fates. Sections of the book, particularly in the middle third, are slow-paced, but the story picks up with the remarkably unpredictable climax. Genius Squad is set apart from other teen adventurer stories by the way it deals with the complications that can come with family-- be it made up of blood relations or just people who care.

Both boys and girls in middle school and lower high school grades will eat up this action-adventure story.
Fancy Nancy loves everything elaborate-- accessories, sparkles, the french language-- if it makes things fancier, Nancy is all about it. When she's given the chance to give her plain family lessons in fanciness, Nancy leaps at the opportunity.

O'Connor perfectly captures the voice of her enthusiastically fabulous protagonist, and readers will find themselves learning the tricks to living fancy (e.g. wearing lacy socks, always choosing sprinkles) along with Nancy's family.

The real joy of this book, though, are Glasser's amazingly detailed watercolor illustrations. The vivacity of Nancy leaps off the page thanks to her expressive facial expressions, multitude of accessories and baubles, and bright color palette.

Though the femininity of Nancy will likely turn off male readers, little girls will eat the story up and the multitude of details in the illustrations will help to keep parents interested through multiple reads as well.