Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs by Henry Carroll


41pclktt49l-_sx354_bo1204203200_So I got this book while strolling through an Urban Outfitters with my sister. I saw it and thought “It’s only 10 dollars, why not?” and decided to buy it. After reading and reading, I came to the conclusion that this book is pretty rad. The title just came to me as bait. Read This if You Want To Take Great Photographs is a book that does just that. But what separates it from the crowd is that the author, Henry Carroll, isn’t a tech nerd, and because of this, he talks to you not like a computer, but as a person. Carroll writes in an intimate tone, and covers mechanics of a camera throughly. He discusses camera functions so that anyone can understand. But if I had one complaint, it would probably be that you only hear about some things (like a function or lens) once and never again, forcing you to travel back looking for the page when you need a refresher. In the end, Read This if You Want To Take Great Photographs is an easy to understand, innovative take at a classic picture taking manual.

~ Raka W., age 14

Note: This book does contain some material that may be best for older readers.


The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

Maggie Mayfield’s only purpose in life is to become President of the United States. That means no law breaking (liking watching R-rated movies), no crushes on boys, and only a perfect 4.0 GPA in school. On her 11th birthday, she asked for a stock in Coca-Cola. Her plea was accepted, and she proudly claimed herself, “Maggie Mayfield, member of a carbonated dynasty!” Impressive, huh? But suddenly, birthday’s are thrown pitilessly to the back of Maggie’s information-stuffed brain, for her dad’s medical condition is growing worse. He quit his job, and his legs are falling asleep. Permanently. Maggie’s long-standing belief that all of her answers are in books is impossibly twisted, because she now realizes there may be more to life than school and laws and being President. There is no known cure for her dad’s illness. Her mom has overworked herself into a “puddle of clothes on the floor,” and Maggie herself gets a B on her science project. Life is a disaster! Her “metaphorical bravery tank” is running dangerously low. But as she watches her family struggle with the “new chapter” in their lives, Maggie finally understands that there is nothing else more important than her family, because they are a team. An argumentative, occasionally dishonest, Neil Young loving team.

The Vacation by Polly Horvath 

Henry’s parents are embarking on a pretend “missionary” trip to Africa, leaving him hopeless with his two vicious aunts. Aunt Pigg and Aunt Magnolia are women blessed with highly unfortunate names, but that doesn’t stop them from completely changing Henry’s life. Aunt Magnolia becomes deathly ill, and her sudden illness causes her to think about herself, as she lays on the couch nearly dying. She turns forty and starts to crave a life-changing experience. Struck by a rather early mid-life crisis, she decides that Henry, Pigg, and herself will leave, effective immediately, on a spur of the moment road trip without any particular agenda or mapping. This unexpected three-month excursion brings a hilarious amount of grumpy travel bickering, missed turns, and Henry even floats misguidedly down a Florida swamp, lurking with alligators and crocodiles! The author does an excellent job of capturing the beauty (and the inevitable pains) of road travel, while giving you a heart-warming giggle.

Sixth-Grade Glommers, Norks, and Me by Lisa Papademetrion

download (1)It’s the last day of summer before sixth grade starts, that monumental transition from elementary school to middle school. Allie Kimball and Tamara Thompson, her best friend, have only one more day before becoming (dramatic music) sixth graders. Evidently, rumors haven’t prepared Allie enough, because sixth grade seems to keep chucking surprises at her from the first day. As a stereotypical middle school novel, Allie and Tamara don’t have any classes together, and Allie starts to crush again on an elementary school cutie. Where does she fit in? With the glommers, “girls who never go anywhere alone” or with the norks, an awkward mixture of “nerd and dork”. I am a bit ambivalent as to whether I actually enjoyed the book or not, but read as Allie Kimball struggles her way through sixth grade, and despite the odds, discovers who she really is. Predictable, I know, but a fun read before entering middle school and facing all sorts of “strange new beasts” as Allie puts it.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

imagesIt’s the stereotypical beginning that disappoints me. Julie is obsessed with Bryce, who has no interest in love- especially with a girl like Julie. She is annoying, selfishly smart…but only to Bryce. To Julie, Bryce is wonderful, breathtaking, with those cold, icy blue eyes. Alas, Julie’s years of chasing her beloved Bryce come to a pitiful, but unexpectedly shocking halt when she realizes he is terribly egocentric. Bryce, suddenly looking at the world with a different perspective, really sees Julie’s selflessness and beauty. I appreciate the author for so easily differing the tone in each characters voice, and their inner feelings. One may perceive this book to be exclusively for girls, but I strongly disagree. Even boys may find Bryce and his troubles relatable. There are books written simply for the pleasure of entertainment, this one, in my opinion, is one of them.