Book Review: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan
Genre: Middle School Age, Fairytale, Historical, Humanity

Form: Audiobook
Narrator: Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler

Blurb (From Goodreads):
Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this virtuosic, genre-defying tour de force from storytelling maestro Pam Muoz Ryan. Lost and alone in the forbidden Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives, binding them by an invisible thread of destiny. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. How their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

Richly imagined and structurally innovative, ECHO pushes the boundaries of form and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories.

My Review:
Echo is not a book I would have picked up on my own. Never would I have read the blurb and thought, “hey, this book is for me!” However, I have a friend who is a youth/young adult librarian, and she read a variety of things, some of them specifically to have a better knowledge of her product. She listened to this book via audio, and thought it was great, and pressured me into listening to the audiobook specifically because the audiobook comes with musical interludes that correlates with what is happening in the book.

What I Loved: This book isn’t simply fiction. It isn’t non-fiction. This book isn’t even straight up literary fiction. Describing Echo to others has been a little bit something like this: “It’s a fairytale, historical fiction, and a lesson in humanity wrapped into one book.” Echo starts off with a short fairytale, or myth, which surrounds music. Music, specifically harmonica music played on specific harmonicas becomes the point zero of this tale, but once the first part is completed it quickly branches off into three different stories taking place in a somewhat jagged yet still the same timeline. Each story is unique, yet the lessons seem to be about the same.

I love the woven tales, the music, the relationship between the stories, and the differences. I LOVE the message of this book most of all.

Not So Much: I can’t tell if it was mean, or genius how the stories are broken down. All I have to say is that if you are using some kind of electronic device, you might have a strong temptation to throw it. Don’t do it. Just trust me.

The Verdict:        

I cannot speak more highly of this book. I know my review was vague, and it is purposeful, because the journey itself is what makes this special. If I were to lay out details too specific, it might ruin the effect for you. I suggest getting the audiobook if you are able to. This book is written for Middle Age/Jr. High Age, and it’s very age appropriate. In fact, I recommend it for your children, and you adults as well!

Kidz Korner: The Cats of Roxville Station – Jean Craighead George

Title: The Cats of Roxville Station
Author: Jean Craighead George
Genre: Middle School

Buy Link:

Blurb (from
Rachet was thrown into a river to drown. But she claws up the riverbank and finds a home with the feral cats living by the Roxville train station. Amid foxes, raccoons, owls, and hostile humans, the cats fight for territory, hunt, and are hunted. Mike, a foster child, lives near the station. He spots Rachet and sets his heart on befriending her. But Mike must learn to ?speak? the language of cats to gain wily Rachet?s trust. This gorgeous novel from two-time Newbery medalist Jean Craighead George offers insight into feline behavior as it explores the wonder of friendship and the natural world hiding among us.

Azalyah’s Review: 

The cats of Roxville station was a very interesting book about a nice tabby named Ratchet. I enjoyed Ratchet and the other cats, they are not the nicest cats, but they are good characters. Mike, a boy, is loving to cats, I enjoy hearing a boy loving cats, usually boys are dog people. Cats are one of my favorite animals, this book explains how cats work, like their pupils. In conclusion this is a good book and if you like cats you should definitely read the cats of Roxville station. 

Kidz Korner Book Review: Belly Up – Stuart Gibbs

Title: Belly Up
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: Middle School Reader

Buy Link:

Blurb (from Goodreads):
12 year old Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Fitzroy has got a murder on his hands and trouble on his tail. Henry, the hippopatamus at the brand-new nationally known FunJungle, has gone belly up. Even though it’s claimed he died of natural causes, Teddy smells something fishy and it sure ain’t the polar bear’s lunch. Dealing with the zoo’s top brass proves to be nothing but a waste of time. They want to see any trace of Henry’s death disappear like yesterday’s paper. So Teddy sets out to find the truth. With the help of Summer McCraken, a fiesty girl with secrets of her own, the two narrow down their prime suspects. Is it Martin Del Gato, FunJungle’s head of operations who dislikes kids and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and Summer’s father, who has more concern for the dough he’s raking in than the animals in the zoo? As their investigation goes on, Teddy gets squeezed on all sides to quit asking questions– or Henry won’t be the only one to turn up dead. The deeper Teddy and Summer get, the more the danger mounts — because when it comes to hippo homicide, the truth can’t be kept in a cage!

Azalyah’s Review:
I think Belly Up is quite an interesting book. It has action and humor, it does have a pretty weird cover of a hippo. I think the main character is quite humorous, right away you find him giving chimp’s water balloons 🙂 The main animal character is Henry the Hippo. People should definitely read this book, I loved it.

Azalyah’s Disclaimer: Not suitable for younger children, has mild cussing

(she says they say “H-E-double hockey sticks” a lot!)
Azalyah is my 11 year old Reviewer – the above review is in her words, not my own! 🙂

KidzKorner: Captain Underpants #11 – Dav Pilkey

Reviewer: Elijah

Author:  Dav Pilkey

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When the Incredible Robo-Plunger defeated the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, George and Harold thought their toilet troubles were over. Unfortunately, their porcelain problems were only beginning . . .

Just when you thought it was safe to flush . . .

The Turbo Toilet 2000 strikes back! The carnivorous commode known for devouring everything in its path has built up a real appetite . . . for REVENGE! Join Captain Underpants for another epic showdown of Wedgie Power vs. Potty Power as our tighty-whitey-wearing superhero GOES TO ELEVEN!

Elijah’s Review:
What did you think about the book?
At first I thought it was kind of inappropriate, but after I read the book, I actually thought it was a very great book. 
Why did you think it was inappropriate?
Because it’s a guy in his underpants
What was your favorite part?
When Captain Underpants fought the Turbo Toilet 2000, because it had a lot of action in it.
Do you think other kids your age would like to read it?
I don’t think so, I know so!
Do you think Adults would like to read it?
Probably, because….I don’t really know.
Rate the book, was it Very Good, Kind of Good, Good, Not that Good, or Bad?
Very, very good.

KidzKorner: Smile – Raina Telgemeier

Reviewer: Abigail
Title: Smile
Author: Raina Telgemier
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
From the artist of BSC Graphix comes this humorous coming-of-age true story about the dental drama that ensues after a trip-and-fall mishap.

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

Abigail’s Review:
What did you think about the book?
I think it funny, because even though its based off a real person, it’s still a little funny because theres a lot of crazy stuff happening.
What was your favorite part?
When Rana fell and knocked out her two front teeth.
Do you think other kids your age would like to read it?
Yeah, because its about an actual girl when she was a kid.
Do you think Adults would like to read it?
I don’t know
Rate the book, was it Very Good, Kind of Good, Good, Not that Good, or Bad?
Very Good
~* Books by Rana Telgemeier*~
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KidzKorner: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess – Rachel Renee Russell

Kidz Korner are book reviews by my children; Elijah, Azalyah, or Abigail.  They love to read almost as much as I do, and I thought it would be fun for them to do reviews as well!
Reviewer:  Azalyah
Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In the fourth book of the New York Times bestselling series that’s as popular as it is dorky, Nikki Maxwell is determined to help out her crush!

Nikki Maxwell isn’t at all surprised to find out that her crush Brandon volunteers at a local animal shelter. He’s such a sweet guy of course he wants to help those adorable puppies! Then Brandon tells her that the shelter is in danger of closing, and Nikki knows she can’t let that happen. Especially when she discovers a shocking secret about Brandon that makes keeping that shelter open more important than ever. So Nikki and her friends Chloe and Zoey enter an ice skating competition to help raise money for the shelter, but (big surprise) Mackenzie has to stick her nose in and cause trouble so that she can be the one to swoop in and save the day. No way will Nikki let that happen: She’ll just have to come up with some extra creative ideas this time!

Azalyah’s Review:
What did you think about the book? 
It was pretty good.
What was your favorite part, and why?
Mostly when Nikki’s sister popped out of a box on the ice, because it was funny.  It made me laugh out loud a little.
Do you think other Kids would like this book?
I know that they already do, a lot of my friends read these books.
Do you think that Adults would like this book?
I think they would think it’s funny, I don’t know if they would like it though.
~*More from the Dork Diaries Series*~