Reviews written by Mark Buxton

386 results - showing 1 - 15
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Ordering
February 25, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Middle Grade Fiction
Confusing emotions

What worked: This story follows the emotional ups and downs of Grace’s life as she prepares to enter high school. As the synopsis states, middle school found her obsessed with trying to out-perform her former best friend Jonah only to finish second to him for the highest academic...

February 21, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.8
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
Middle Grade Fiction
Creative conflicts

What worked: The story goes through the creative process of writing/drawing a comic book. The book is formatted to share the steps Eliot goes through from generating ideas to the “published” final product. The artwork depicts different types of paper as his concepts get more serious. The pictures...

February 19, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Middle Grade Fiction
Overwhelming expectations

What worked: Umbra are creatures made from shadows and starlight that can be ferocious fighters. They can change their sizes and they wield sharp teeth and claws. Most of them have yellow eyes but umbras with red eyes are unnatural and dangerous. Some of the umbra can be...

February 16, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
A wacky adventure into space

What worked: Noah can manifest characteristics of all the animals on Earth since his body contains all of their DNA. He can summon the strength of a bear or elephant, swing from trees like a monkey, or escape from danger as a bird. Transforming into various animals adds...

February 14, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Communication is the key

What worked: Most kids don’t attend boarding school like Heidi but everyone must deal with meeting new classmates. She has the added pressure of living away from home so she doesn’t have the daily support of her family. Heidi must learn new routines and touring the large school...

February 12, 2024
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Middle Grade Fiction
Living with thieves

What worked: The contrast in values between Theo and the rest of his family creates an amusing conflict. Theo cannot lie and gets a stomachache whenever he tries. He refuses to steal and feels stressed when he’s aware of his family’s thieving ways. His parents are crooks, his...

February 12, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Middle Grade Fiction
Monsters among us

What worked: Caleb’s difficulty fitting in may resonate with some young readers. He’s warned that he needs to wear a Halloween costume to school but he refuses. He’s okay with his decision but it doesn’t make the hallway stares and bullying any easier. He then chooses to wear...

February 09, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Emotional, dynamic characters

What worked: The author presents dramatic changes from what’s been happening in the previous three books. The biggest twist occurs when The Librarian sends an email to Lada and the other super kids saying she’s been secretly working with President Fuertes and has now officially switched sides. This...

February 09, 2024
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Fighting for survival

What worked: The book combines elements of science fiction with familiar details to make the story more relatable for young readers. In the opening chapter, Kai lives in Kalifornia which has sandy beaches along an ocean shore. He walks to his mom’s dojo after school where he practices...

February 06, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Whose side are you on?

What worked: The main characters are children with some of them possessing supernatural abilities. Some of their parents have talents too that include x-ray vision, invisibility, and reading minds. However, the adults are performing heists for President Fuertes in other countries which creates conflicts for their kids. The...

February 04, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Fulfilling a prophecy to save two worlds

What worked: A prophecy describes the one who will defeat the evil sorcerer Gideon but it could be talking about Ty or Ayslenne. They’re both children of Arcania who were raised in the non-magical world. Many people believe Ty is the savior since his magic defeated Gideon in...

January 30, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Middle Grade Fiction
Battling to save her identity

What worked: A central conflict in the story involves the concept of autism. Some people compare autism to a disease and want to cure it. Others, including Paige, understand it's part of who they are and they learn to deal with it. It really bothers Paige when her...

January 28, 2024 (Updated: January 28, 2024)
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
Dory and her imagination

What worked: Dory has a vivid imagination which leads to unusual situations. The opening chapter finds her wanting to be a teenager named Rainbow but the purse she brings to school creates an issue. She has several imaginary characters including her friends Mr. Nuggy and Mary while Mrs....

January 27, 2024
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Middle Grade Fiction
Being wicked is hard

What worked: Readers should feel empathy for Marigold since she grows up living in the shadow of her older sister. All she hears is how wonderful Rosalind was before being kidnapped. Marigold is a normal, curious, adventurous young girl but she can’t stand being ignored once her sister...

January 27, 2024 (Updated: January 27, 2024)
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Overcoming severe anxiety

What worked: Cameron is a classic, underdog character as he’s small in stature and has lived with anxiety and bullying since he was about six years old. His lack of confidence constantly negates any positives that might arise. He’s welcomed back to summer camp by well-wishers who call...

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