Book Review – Race for the Sky by Dan Gutman

After years of planning and experimenting, Wilber and Orville Wright finally got the powered Wright Flyer off the ground on December 17, 1903. Look where we are one hundred and thirteen years later. According to Wikipedia, in 2016, an average of ninety three thousand commercial flights originate from nine thousand airports daily. And Boeing has a 787 Dreamliner which seats up to 335 passengers.

Race for the Sky is told to us through the diaries of fourteen year old Johnny Moore, a kid who lived in Kill Devil Hills at the turn of the twentieth century. He watched the Wright brothers create the Wright Flyer and he wrote about it in a journal that his mom gave him.

As a pilot myself, I love to read books about aviation. I visited Kill Devil Hills with my aunt and saw the place where powered flight began. I love going to the places where these things actually take place and imagine how it really happened. Reading this book added to my knowledge of Wright Brothers and how the Flyer took flight that day.




Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Race for the Sky


Dan Gutman

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction


The book was published November 1, 2003 just in time for the one hundredth anniversary of the first flight.

Summary of the story

Fourteen year old Johnny Moore is given a journal as a gift from his mom to ring in the new century (1900). She said he didn’t have to go school if he wrote in this book every day. At that time, it wasn’t uncommon for kids to not go to school. They would stay home and help with things around the house or go to work and earn money for their families. While he did fish to earn some money, Johnny wound up getting his education in a little different way, he spent time watching the Wright Brothers build the Wright Flyer.

The Wrights weren’t the only ones trying to build an airplane. The race to put a flying machine into the sky was being attempted by men all over the world. The Wrights even had visitors come to see what they were doing. Some were truly curious, but others acted as spies and were trying to steal ideas so they could be the first to built one.

Reactions to the book

Just like Dear Mr. Henshaw, this book is written in epistolary style, from the main character Johnny Moore’s point of view through the use of his personal diary. This style makes the story more personal by showing how Johnny feels and what happened through his eyes. I really enjoy that for middle grade reads.

Gutman does a great job of writing an engaging novel to describe one of the great moments in history. Reading stories like these are a fun way for kids to learn about these significant historical events. Having been to the site and reading this book brings the significance of the event full circle for me. I would definitely recommend this book.

To find out a little more information about the author, Dan Gutman, here is a link to his website Dan Gutman’s website

If you are interested in purchasing the book, here is the link to it on Amazon Race for the Sky


Book Review – Wish by Barbara O’Connor

I have been reading more middle grade and YA books lately. Not only to see what other authors are writing about, but because I genuinely love the stories. I went looking on the other day and I loved the cover of this book when I first saw it. A picture of a girl and her dog touched my heart. It reminded me of how special my relationship is with my dog Maggie. I was drawn into the book not just with the idea of a girl and her dog, but also by the title, Wish.

Also on the front cover, she has the statement, With a little luck, you can get what you wish for printed across the top. Just one more thing I was drawn in by. It instills a feeling of hope that anything you dream about can come true. What an inspiring message for young readers.




Selma’s Book Review

Book Title



Barbara O’Connor

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction


Junior Library Guild Selection, American Book Sellers Association Best Books of the Year 2016, Parents Choice Gold Award

Summary of the story

Charlemagne (Charlie) Reese felt like a child out of place from a broken family with her dad in jail and her mom dealing with depression. When her parents were unable to care for her, she moved from Raleigh, North Carolina to live with her aunt and uncle in Colby, North Carolina. Charlie relates her story to us about being the new girl at school, making friends with unlikely kids and finding her dog, Wishbone. Throughout the book, she believes in wishes coming true and was always looking for situations to make them. Like finding a four-leaved clover or wishing on a star. She tells the reader that she always wishes for the same thing every time. We don’t learn what her wish is until the end.

Reactions to the book

For middle grade reads, I think that having the stories written from the child characters’ point of view helps to make the story relatable to the audience that it has been written for. The same story told from an adult point of view, loses some of the feelings and innocence of being a kid. O’Connor does a great job of capturing the feelings and thoughts of the main character, Charlie Reese.

It is an inspiring read for any middle grade reader. The characters are easy to relate to and the story being told by Charlie is very real. Charlie shows us through her compassion for people and animals that all beings are worth caring about, even if they are stray or different.

I read in O’Connor’s bio that she grew up in South Carolina and that she mixes some of her personal experiences into her stories. Mixing those experiences in added depth and feeling to the reading experience of the book for me. I would definitely recommend it.

If you would like to learn more about the author, Barbara O’Connor, here is a link to her website Barbara O’Connor

If you would like to order a copy of the book, Wish, here is a link to it on Amazon Wish

Book Review – The Accused (Theodore Boone #3) by John Grisham

I have quite a few writers that follow my blog which is great. Since I am planning to become a middle grade author, I want to bring some YA/Middle Grade readers, parents, teachers and librarians on to follow my blog. To make that happen, I decided that I would need to come up with some different content for my blog posts. Topics they would genuinely be interested in and want to come to my blog for.

As I worked through the WordPress workshop I was involved in last month, I brainstormed some new ideas. One of the ideas I came up with was book reviews. Not just any book review, but a review of either a YA or a Middle Grade book. That way, I could draw in those readers for a new book to read and also write the review for the parents, teachers and librarians to help them decide whether the book would be suitable for their young readers. It would also help me to read the books that my soon to be published one, The Hard Way, will be found on the shelf with.

So, I decided to start with a monthly book review this month. For the featured book for July, I went into our family bookshelf and looked at the books that the boys have read. I found one, Theodore Boone – The Accused by John Grisham. I was intrigued by the fact that it was a middle grade novel written by Grisham. I like his style in the adult novels I have read so I thought that I would try this middle grade novel out.

A book review is just one person’s view of what they read. So I will give it a shot and share my thoughts with you about this one. Check out what I have to say about The Accused in the book review below.


Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Accused (Theodore Boone #3)


John Grisham

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction


This is the third book of a series. After reading the book, I learned that it can be read and enjoyed without having read the first two books in the series.

Summary of the story

Theodore Boone (Theo), an eighth grader at Strattenburg Middle School, falls into in a stolen goods situation at school. As the son of two lawyers, he uses his knowledge of the law and interest in investigating and takes the case. He has to fight through being the one accused of the crime, to work on the case with his Uncle Ike and his friends.

Reactions to the book

Couldn’t put the book down. It was a very engaging read with characters that would be very easy for any middle grade reader to relate to. I have read many of Grisham’s adult fiction novels and I am a fan. The same writing style is found in his middle grade series. The idea of reading a mystery at that age, reminds me of the Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene. I had fun reading those books as a young girl and enjoyed trying to figure out how it was going to end. I found that reading this book was the same way.

Theo seems to be an above average kid in his knowledge of the law. He must be really interested in it to take on his case and other people’s cases like he does in the book. The other kids seem to want to help him out with it, which brings in kind of teamwork and friends helping each other theme into the story.

If you enjoy a good kid sleuth solving a mystery story, I would definitely recommend this book for any middle grade reader out there. It was even a pretty enjoyable read for this adult reader.


A Book Report

As I sit here writing and looking out of my deck door, I see a beautiful day coming along. This morning the sun is out and the blue sky is showing itself with no clouds. They say it is supposed to be almost 60 degrees here in Minnesota today. That is rare for this early in March, but I’ll take it. I think I’m ready to be outside again, without a heavy coat and boots on.

I’m still reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is a longer book, but it is also taking me longer to read. I think I’m just in a busy life period lately. Or maybe I have a lot on my mind. After blogging last month about black American people who made some great things happen in the history of our country, I think I got a little heavy hearted about how they were treated. Even as I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I feel sympathy for the characters and how they didn’t have many choices. They were split up from their families with no regard for their feelings. They were killed if they were caught escaping with no consideration of why they had to leave. Many did escape and become free, but it wasn’t an easy journey. It was pretty stressful not only for them, but also for the people who were helping them get away from slavery.

Thinking about the title A Book Report, I remember the book reports that we did in school. It made me go back into my archive files to look through some papers that my Mom had saved for me from grade school and high school. I saw some poetry that I had written in fourth grade. I saw the awards I got for reading books in the Bookmate Program in fifth grade. I have memories of walking into our library at my elementary school, which I think was actually called a media center, and going to the posted list of Bookmate books. I wish I had a list of the books I read, it would be fun to see what kind of books were of interest to me then. I know at home I was reading Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie. My Godmother also gave me some books from Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series. This books were similar to Little House on the Prairie in setting, but was more of a Christian romance story.

So, after looking through those papers I wondered how would I write a book report about Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Well, first off, I should probably finish the book to have the full story to work with. Back in the school days, I wonder how many students did write their book reports without finishing the story. I know that some kids were watching the movie and writing their reports based on that version, which the teacher would always catch them at. Nowadays, kids can go right onto the internet and find reviews and even videos about the book to write the report from. How about Cliff Notes? I know that I received some help from copies of those to write my English papers. Are they even still available? I just googled it and they are still out there.

With another google search, I found out how to write a book report on

I think the first paragraph is great advice to how to get started. This information could have been helpful to me when I was assigned this task back in the day.

Most students will have to write a book report. But writing a book report isn’t always easy. It is best to enjoy the book and not think about the report until you have finished reading. Now, absorb and think about what it was you read. Get up from your chair, walk around, then sit down at the table and start to write. talks about the process to write the book report

Method #1 – Before you write the report

  1. know the requirements of the assignment
  2. read the book an annotate
  3. Outline main ideas and sub ideas of your book

Method #2 – Form of your report

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

Method #3 – Final Copy

  1. Reread your report
  2. Edit your report

The process sounds familiar, but I don’t think I had it spelled out like this for me before. As I look through the steps, I would say that I probably did them all, but maybe not as in depth as I could have. I am not sure if I did any annotating or outlining while I was reading the book then, but it may have helped in writing the report. The form of the report is how all reports and research papers are set up. I remember the teachers talking about that format a lot, not just for a book report but other research papers too. Then there is the reread and edit phase. I think I was so happy to get the thing done, I may not have did such a great job at the proofreading part. Now, as a writer of blogs and manuscripts, I do this step a lot before I post or publish. Oh, how my writing process has changed since then!

A book report is a paper about what the book is about that is usually written for a class assignment. How about a book review?  I have seen them as articles in the newspaper that are like a mini book report. On the other hand, the ones that I see posted on Goodreads and, tend to be little blurbs about what the reader thought of the book. They are usually accompanied by star review, one star being dislike and five stars being liked a lot.

Authors like to receive reviews from their readers and reviewers, either good and bad. One of the things that I have learned over my years of writing is that not everyone is going to like what you write. It is just like with people, some are going to like you and some aren’t. That shouldn’t be your motivation to write. Your motivation to write is that you enjoy writing and to get your voice out there. Any feedback that we can get from the readers is a gift. They took their time to let us know how they felt about what we wrote, good or bad.