Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Kaleidoscope Eyes* by Jen Bryant- young readers book review
Also by Jen Bryant:

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

Pieces of Georgia
Kaleidoscope Eyes
by Jen Bryant
Grades 5-7 272 pages Knopf May 2009 Hardcover    

A novel in verse, a mystery, and historical fiction, Jen Bryant’s Kaleidoscope Eyes takes place in New Jersey during the height of the Vietnam War.

Fourteen-year-old Lyza’s life is missing something. Her mother has left the family, her father constantly teaches at the local college, and her feminist older sister is obsessed with Janis Joplin. The world is at war, young men in her community are coming home in coffins, and racism is prevalent.

Lyza’s strongest family anchor has always been her grandfather, and now he’s dead. When Lyza helps her father clean out her grandfather’s house, she finds an envelope addressed exclusively to her with clues from her grandfather to a greater mystery involving maps, a key and buried treasure. Lyza and her best friends work together to find and uncover the treasure.

Divided into 10 parts, each beginning with a line from a 1960s-era song (Paul McCartney, Joan Baez, etc.), Bryant’s book makes the most of the verse format telling the story from Lyza’s point of view – her observations about the world around her, her family, her feelings of loss and her need to fill the empty places in her life.

Subheadings within each part organize her thoughts. Each subsection is a poem utilizing space, concise language and dialog to move the plot forward, looking deeper into moments of thought and instances of time.

The image of Lyza’s kaleidoscope changing a view shows her own changing perception of the world, how she unlocks the keys to the treasure and understands the people in her life. The treasure hunt reflects the need for hope, for change and for meaning in a world which doesn’t make any sense.

In itself, the hunt is exciting, builds on research and is the climax of the book. Whether or not children of the 21st century will appreciate or understand the historical references is not important. Readers will learn much more than what happened in the 1960s. They will gain insight on what it felt like to live through this turbulent period of history and search for hope.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Kristine Wildner/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (