TIME for children | Summer Book Reviews: Part 5

Do you like reading? TFK Kid Reporters too! Lucy Sandor and Gabri Blankson have shared their reviews of two of the most interesting books of the summer. This is the final episode of our five-part series. We hope you enjoyed TFK’s roundup of summer book reviews. Good reading!


Title: Michigan tortoise

Author: Naomi Shihab Nye

Review by: TFK Kid Reporter Lucy Sandor

Gender: realistic fiction

Number of pages: 336

What’s the plot? Aref is a friendly and talkative third-grader who recently moved from Oman, a country in the Middle East, to Ann Arbor, Michigan. These two places couldn’t be more different, and Aref is excited to experience all the amazing things life in the United States has to offer. He is nervous. But he makes new friends, including a dog named Honeybun. Aref writes to his grandfather, Sidi, back home. Aref tells her about all the new things he’s doing in Ann Arbor, like hiking and going to art camp. But Aref feels alone. He misses Sidi and everything related to the house. He particularly regrets seeing turtles at the beach near his former home. Aref sets up a terrarium, hoping he’ll find a turtle from Michigan to adopt and help him feel more connected. But finding a turtle in Michigan seems impossible. Will he ever find it? Will he ever feel at home in Ann Arbor?

Are the characters related? The characters are very endearing. In the book, as in reality, many children in Aref’s class have left their home country for the United States. They left behind their old life and their family. Dealing with change, feeling lonely and missing old friends are things that many children face in real life.

Who would like this book? All children from 7 to 12 years old would love this book. They’re around Aref’s age, so they could be in a lot of similar situations. His experiences include seeing snow for the first time, making new friends, missing people he loves, and feeling a strong connection to animals.

How do you rate this book? Why? I would definitely give this book a 9 out of 10! Michigan tortoise is funny while being relatable. Its pacing is right and the characters all have their own story to tell. Aref loves life and fun, and readers will enjoy watching him learn about life in Michigan.


Title: swim team

Author: Johnny Christmas

Review by: TFK Kid Reporter Gabri Blankson

Gender: graphic novel

Number of pages: 256

What’s the plot? swim team is about a girl named Bree who has to move from Brooklyn, New York, to Florida with her father. Bree struggles with social anxiety as she adjusts to her new home, year and school. She loves puzzles and excels at math, so when she learns that there are no more places in her new school’s math club, she is disappointed. She joins the swim team instead, but she can’t even swim! Fortunately, Mrs. Etta, a star swimmer who lives near Bree, teaches her everything there is to know about swimming and puts her on the right path. Can Bree help her team win the state championship?

Are the characters related? Yes! Just like Bree, many children suffer from social anxiety. Whether they are new to a school, city or business, they may find it difficult to fit in. But sometimes it helps to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Roberto is another lovable character. He loves fashion and even makes his own clothes. Many boys love fashion and design and are sometimes made fun of because others think it’s something only girls can love. But that’s not true at all!

Who would like this book? I think any middle school student would love this book. It’s funny, interesting, relatable and a quick read. I also think anyone who can’t swim or is afraid to swim would love this book. It might give them the confidence they need to try to swim, stay positive, and face their fears.

How do you rate this book? Why? I would give this book a 10 out of 10. It describes so many concepts, struggles and fears. Sometimes we have to remember that everyone needs to be loved. We all matter.

Alycia R. Lindley