Title: My Life as a Cartoonist
Author: Janice Tashjian
Illustrator: Jake Tashjian
Reviewed by: Nikolas, Grade 4
This book is about a boy named Derek who has a monkey named Frank. Derek likes to draw cartoons. One day at his school, a new kid named Umberto comes. Umberto eggs Derek on to a fight and both boys get detention for a week. At first the boys don't get along, but in detention they have to do a comic strip together in a week or else they get detention extended for another week. They manage to get it in before the deadline, and they also become best friends.
The setting is at Derek's house and it branches off to his mom's vet's office because she is a vet and takes care of animals. It takes place at the school. It also takes place at a dog park where Umberto saves the day and it takes place at the ocean where Derek puts a smile on Umberto's face.
Derek is a confident boy. Even though stuff is hard he gets through it. Derek wants to train his monkey for Umberto but at the end, Umberto says he doesn't really need a monkey in his house. Derek reminds me of Snoopy because Snoopy fights through all sorts of things and gets a little frustrated like Derek. But Snoopy keeps on trying and goes away feeling proud when he succeeds.
There are cartoons in this book that mostly explain what some complicated words mean. Like for the word 'dissipate,' it shows a stick figure with pieces of him coming off of him like a mosaic. I like the illustrations, and once in a while there is a funny cartoon like the one in the beginning of the book. This comic is funny and is part of the story because it shows one of Derek's cartoons. It also gets you interested in the story.
I recommend this book to readers that like to read stuff about someone's life because it teaches you how times can be hard but you just have to fight through it. My favorite part was when Umberto got to get back on the ocean because his first time on the ocean was when he was a baby so I felt good for him that he got to go surfing again. Something surprising was at the end when Derek and Umberto became friends. This book is a series of "My Life" books and there is also My Life as a Book and My Life as a Stunt Boy.
Title: The Tail of Emily Windsnap
Author: Liz Kessler
Illustrator: Sarah Gibb
Reviewed by: Nikolas, Grade 4
The Tail of Emily Windsnap, by Liz Kessler, is about a girl named Emily who goes to a regular middle school. When she takes swimming lessons, she thinks she has a cramp. She goes swimming again in the night to figure out what happened, and she discovers that she is a mermaid. Emily finds another mermaid named Shona and they become fast friends! This is the first of lots of secrets to unleash!
There are two settings. First the book starts where Emily is living on a boat that is docked at an island in a harbor. It is an ordinary town. It has a school, and houses, and a lots of shops, and an arcade, and a lighthouse. The other setting is out in the ocean. Emily disccovers that there are a lot of mermaids there who live in houses and have schools!
In the beginning, Emily is a regular person who is bullied by a girl named Mandy. Mandy sneers at her and steals her friends. When they were little Mandy told her how to get free games at the Pin Wizard game at the arcade that her family runs. When Emily told on her, Mandy got mad and started doing bad stuff to her. Emily changes because Mandy has been doing all this bad stuff for years, and she learns to be strong and ignore it because she finds lots of mermaid friends.
The illustrations are nice. There are little pictures of ships and sea life in each chapter. There are also bigger pictures at the start of each chapter. They are in ink print which I think is pretty interesting because they are dark and it's like there is light behind it.
I would really recommend this book because it is really good. The characters have a lot of adventures. There is a really good lesson about how you figure out who you are. I found it interesting that Emily became a mermaid. The book had so many secrets to hide in it, and I just wanted to find out what those secrets were!
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