Reviews written by Francesca Amendolia

66 results - showing 1 - 15
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February 21, 2013 (Updated: February 21, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
A Magical Sequel

What kid doesn’t love magic, in any form? Sure, there’s the lovely, wish-it-were-so magic of Harry Potter and Oz and a million other books, but real-life magicians and their fabulously complex illusions are just as intriguing. This kind of magic also has the added bonus of being REAL, being about...

September 13, 2012
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Zounds! It's Zita!

Zita, plucky intergalactic adventurer and deep-space heroine, is back, but the alien paparazzi are getting to her. Constantly surrounded by admirers, she longs to return to Earth, or maybe just for a bit of peace and quiet to wander around by herself. A lonely, discarded android, capable...

September 13, 2012
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Dickensian nightmares abound

Eddie Pipkin, called Pip, is an orphan. One fateful night, before the drunk, cruel, greedy Mr. Oakes who runs the orphanage can sell Pip to a pirate, the brave, skinny lad pushes his captor into the brine and escapes. He sneaks onto a wagon belonging to a group of traveling...

September 13, 2012
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Kids Fiction
A halo for Mr. Spinelli!

The world is full of ordinary kids doing ordinary things: going to school, thinking about life, playing with friends, taking baths, reading books. You know. Stuff. It doesn’t seem at first glance that there are a lot of stories hiding among those ordinary kids and their ordinary days. ...

September 13, 2012
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Kids Fiction
Floored!

I have promised myself I will never compare anyone to Roald Dahl. Only Roald Dahl is like Roald Dahl. Only he manages to be so perfectly creepy and so perfectly safe, all at once. Only he seems to manage to call things Snozzwhizzlers and Wangdoodles without sounding twee. Other writers...

August 29, 2012 (Updated: August 29, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Young Adult Fiction
HIDDEN DEPTHS AND YOGA MATS

In SINCE YOU LEFT ME, the new book by Allan Zadoff, Sanskrit is confused, although at first, he doesn't seem too bothered by that. Life is confusing, parents are confusing, religion is really confusing, and so on. That's just sort of how things are, and he's resignedly, if not happily,...

August 28, 2012 (Updated: August 28, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Quantum Leaping

A few years ago, when I first noticed the 39 Clues series, I was very dismissive. "Boy band books," I called them, because they were sort of reverse-engineered. What I mean is that first, a group of editors came up with an idea for a series, and then asked writers...

August 21, 2012 (Updated: August 21, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
More Miri! Marvelous!

When I first heard Shannon Hale had written a sequel to Princess Academy, I admit, I was worried. I loved Princess Academy, and felt utterly satisfied with how it ended. I adored Miri and Mount Eskel, and all the girls, but I was content for their stories to continue in...

August 08, 2012 (Updated: August 08, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Kids Fiction
Another triumph for the Newbery-winning Rebecca Stead

While it must be utterly wonderful to win a Newbery, as Rebecca Stead did in 2010 with When You Reach Me, I imagine it must be terribly difficult to write the next book. Oh the expectations! The pressure! I loved When You Reach Me, and resonated with...

August 08, 2012
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
Wondrous indeed

The imagination evinced in THE WONDROUS JOURNALS OF DR. WENDELL WELLINGTON WIGGINS is astounding, and quite enjoyable. It’s not easy to conceive of one entirely new fantastical creature, never mind several dozen, yet that is what Lesley M. M. Blume has done, and what the illustrator David Foote has visualized....

August 01, 2012
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
Kids Fiction
What's the magic word?

HOCUS POCUS HOTEL, by Michael Dahl, is two stories in one, kid-friendly mysteries set in the marvelous, mysterious, almost magical Abracadabra Hotel. A quickly read, nicely designed book, it certainly held my interest, even if it only rarely piqued my curiosity. The action begins when the...

August 01, 2012
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Kids Fiction
Dirty Bertie strikes again!

FANGS! by Alan MacDonald and illustrated by David Roberts (and based on characters created by David Roberts) is a fun, lively early reader – three early readers, in fact, since three separate stories are housed in this one volume: Fangs! Hairy! and Fashion! First published in the...

August 01, 2012
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
Katie Woo strikes again!

The latest offering in the Katie Woo series, KATIE WOO RULES THE SCHOOL, by Fran Manushikin, is an early-reader with lovely watercolor illustrations and simple text, perfect for those readers just risking the giant step away from picture books. The main character, Katie Woo, wears bright blue...

July 19, 2012 (Updated: July 19, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Atmospheric and compelling

It was while reading Tim Conrad's graphic novel retelling of Victor Hugo's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME that I realized how very visual the story is, how the story hinges on appearance, and how that can disguise what lies beneath. How apt, then, to have the opportunity to read the...

July 10, 2012 (Updated: July 10, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Young Adult Fiction
A story of scales, both musical and other

Rachel Hartmann’s astounding debut novel, SERAPHINA, is an utter joy. Set in a refreshingly original world of dragons, music, princes and revolution, the book unfolds organically – and compellingly. Like the title character, the tale seems quiet, almost unassuming, at least at the beginning, but it quickly swells to full...

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