I ordered Ms. Wiz Spells Trouble because I do enjoy fun middle school books and because I'm always looking out for a good book for my 5 year old niece...moreI ordered Ms. Wiz Spells Trouble because I do enjoy fun middle school books and because I'm always looking out for a good book for my 5 year old niece Sofie.
The books comes in large, easy to read font and with fun illustrations every few pages. It's the sort of book that's fun to read to a child and that I imagine Sofie would be able to read on her own. The voice is fun, reads well, and is easy to understand. I can see how the book became a best-seller in the UK.
"Most teachers are strange and the teachers at St. Barnabas School were no exception. Yet it's almost certain that none of them - not Mr. Gilbert, the head teacher who liked to pick his nose during Assembly, not Mrs. Hicks who talked to her teddies in class, not Miss Gomez who smoked cigarettes in the lavatory -- none of them was quite as odd as Class Three's new teacher. " Tall with long black hair and bright green eyes, a purple shirt and jeans, black nail polish and large rings, Ms. Wiz looked like she was heading to a disco not about to teach at a school. She faced Class Three, known throughout the school for their disruptive element and with a history of making teachers cry.
Ms. Wiz has magical powers and friends that reminded me of P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins and of Betty MacDonald's Miss Piggle-Wiggle. Strange soccer plays, a magical cat called Hecate and a mathematical owl named Archimedes turn things around for the difficult Class Three. I'm excited about Ms. Wiz Spells Trouble and Terence Blacker's new series. Looking forward to reading the next books in the series. Am certain that Sofie will enjoy them!
Age Range: 6 - 8 years Grade Level: 1st - 3rd Series: Ms. Wiz (Book 1) ISBN-10: 0761455485 Hardcover $12.99 Publisher: Two Lions (September 1, 2008), 60 pages. Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.(less)
Blackout opens with three teenagers executing an attack on the Grand Canyon. Laura, Alec and Dan are not the usual teenagers - they each have differen...moreBlackout opens with three teenagers executing an attack on the Grand Canyon. Laura, Alec and Dan are not the usual teenagers - they each have different and superhuman powers. From the ability to manipulate the minds of others, the power to destroy natural elements to superhuman strength, the three terrorists prove their abilities. While the reasons behind their attacks are not known, the impact of their actions are clear. The Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam are flooded with water, homes are pulled down, people drowned, and lives are irrevocably changed.
The government calls on military powers to combat the threat posed by the growing number of teens with superhuman powers. Scientists attribute these powers to a virus that only affects people in their teen years. The military and government scientists work together as they isolate teenagers, test them for the virus, and quarantine those who may have mutations.
Government separations are immediate - and would be unconstitutional in civil society. Children and teens are removed from their homes and families are torn apart without explanation or warning. Those with the mutation are subjected to all sorts of physical tests, almost to the point of torture.
We see the events firsthand from several teenagers. Laura, Alec and Dan are the young terrorists well aware of their powers that I'd described earlier. Aubrey and Jack are old friends from the poor part of town. Though they've grown apart with Aubrey's sudden popularity, they find each other the night that the military troops pick up their classmates and friends during the senior prom. Aubrey is able to hide in plain sight. Jack seems to be unaffected by the virus. When Jack is quarantined with the infected teens, Aubrey attempts to free him. The military authorities call on Jack, Aubrey, and some of their fellow prisoners to help counter the teenage terrorists.
Jack and Aubrey are the more interesting characters in Blackout. Unpopular because of their families' poverty, they're both personable and good looking. They're loyal, decent, and willing to risk themselves for each other and to forgo money and power. Aubrey and Jack aren't particularly suspicious or worldly wise though, so I spent much time wondering when and how they'd suffer betrayal. Blackout is a fun read but ends with much unresolved - we have to wait for the next installment.
ISBN-10: 0062026127 - Hardcover Publisher: HarperTeen (October 1, 2013), 432 pages. Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Reviewer Program.(less)
Ralph Steadman's Garibaldi's Biscuits is a playful account of how the famous General Garibaldi and his army forced the French Bourbon invaders to thei...moreRalph Steadman's Garibaldi's Biscuits is a playful account of how the famous General Garibaldi and his army forced the French Bourbon invaders to their knees in Italy.
Garibaldi's soldiers use pizzas for belt buckles to hold up their pantaloons and eat them when they're hungry. The Garibaldi army attacks with water balloons and sheer courage. The defeated army and the conquerors meet at grandparents' Garibaldi's home for a meal - and for special biscuits baked by grandmother Garibaldi.
Garibaldi's Biscuits is a fun, fanciful story with pictures to delight kids and adults. (less)
Mister Owita's Guide to Guardening: How I l Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart is a beautifully written account of the frie...moreMister Owita's Guide to Guardening: How I l Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart is a beautifully written account of the friendship that develops between two happily married people from very different lives and backgrounds. Carol Wall is a well loved suburban high school teacher married to a successful lawyer. She's a mother, grandmother, and loving daughter. After her children have grown up and left the home and her parents are moving from their home to an assisted living facility, she starts looking at the outside view of her home. She'd spent years focused on the inside and decides to engage her neighbor's gardener to help improve her own.
Instead of a phone call, Carol Wall receives a well written and sensitive letter from Mr. Owita where he introduces himself, describes his impression of her garden and young dog. When Carol Wall and Mr. Owita do meet, they connect and in their slow way, become friends. Their friendship stands out in that they are able to talk about things, big and small, and somehow understand each other - all without becoming familiar. It's a story that is easy to imagine as it invokes the closeness and sympathy that we sometimes find in other people - and the excitement and joy that we have in coming across such friendships.
I Shall Be Near to You is set at the start of the US Civil War. As young Jeremiah enlists in the Union Army, his young bride Rosetta is desperate and...moreI Shall Be Near to You is set at the start of the US Civil War. As young Jeremiah enlists in the Union Army, his young bride Rosetta is desperate and runs away to join him. She cuts her hair, binds her breasts, and pretends to be a young man in order to stay with Jeremiah. They don't expect the war to last, hoping that the Confederate Army will give up before their group has to engage. But Rosetta, now Ross Stone, trains and fights with the rest of the young soldiers - refusing to leave her husband.
McCabe's work is fiction but it's based on researched accounts of women who did hide their identities and enlisted to join their loved ones in battle. Part love story, part adventure and war, I Shall Be Near to You is an absorbing read.
I am a huge fan of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series of cozy mysteries.
Set in the 1950s countryside with the aristocratic de Luce family in danger...moreI am a huge fan of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series of cozy mysteries.
Set in the 1950s countryside with the aristocratic de Luce family in danger of losing their longtime home and estate of Buckshaw, it is hard not to become fond of the genius and Chemistry whiz that is Flavia de Luce. Flavia's nearly twelve years old in this, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, the 5th book in the series. Flavia's the third and youngest daughter of Harriet and Colonel de Luce and has been raised and educated at home by a series of tutors and governesses, watched over by her war damaged father, two beautiful and preoccupied older sisters, the caring staff, and Dodger - her close friend and her father's man during WWII.
Buckshaw has been owned and held by the de Luce family estate since William the Conqueror, but the unexpected disappearance of Flavia's mother, Harriet de Luce, has brought with it crippling estate taxes. It becomes apparent that Colonel de Luce is not particularly financially savvy and although the earlier novels show his and Dodger's talents, it is likely that Buckshaw will eventually be sold to cover the family's tax bill and expenses.
Buckshaw itself is an amazing place which we learn about through young Flavia's eyes. Flavia'd discovered a state of the art and well stocked chemistry lab that was initially organized by Uncle Tarquin. Through her insatiable curiosity, burgeoning chemistry skills and the invaluable handwritten journals that Tarquin has compiled, Flavia clearly shows hereof to be on par with the best chemists of her day. It's these skills, her powers of deduction and observation that make this young heroine one of the best sleuths of her day and both an invaluable aid and bit of a pest to the inspectors of her area and of Scotland Yard.
Unlike the earlier novels, this particular installment of the de Luce mysteries doesn't focus on a mysterious death of a stranger. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches deals more with the mystery of Harriet de Luce and her disappearance.
For those who haven't read any of the Flavia de Luce novels, you have to read the books in order, but I highly recommend this series! (less)
Just Grace and the Super Sleepover is the latest in third grader Grace's adventures. Things are still going well between Grace and her best friend Mim...moreJust Grace and the Super Sleepover is the latest in third grader Grace's adventures. Things are still going well between Grace and her best friend Mimi. They're in the same class, walk to and from school together, and are both invited to their first sleepover party.
While Mimi is extremely excited to spend the night in a tent and stay up much of the night, Grace is apprehensive. It's hard for Grace to admit her fears and she finds herself hiding more and more things from her friends. There are quite a few funny passages as Grace debates with herself the extent to which hiding her feelings should be considered lying. As Grace avoids speaking her mind, she comes up with an unlikely story - which spreads and gets away from her.
Friendship, quick thinking, and belated honesty help to make everything come right in the end. Along the way, we learn about the continents, geography, bugs, and about learning to speak up, even if you don't think your friends, teachers and family are going to like what you have to say. The book is told from Grace's point of view with her characteristic funny, honest, and likable voice. Highly recommended!(less)
The latest Father Christmas mystery, Ten Lords A-Leaping, is squarely a cozy mystery. Though there are several suspicious deaths, intrigue, romantic r...moreThe latest Father Christmas mystery, Ten Lords A-Leaping, is squarely a cozy mystery. Though there are several suspicious deaths, intrigue, romantic rendezvous, you won't find much of the action that characterizes the usual detective novels or thrillers.
Instead, we are treated the story told from the point of view of Tom Christmas, an amateur sleuth and young vicar. Tom is father to twelve year-old Melinda, a widower, and a personable young man. While he doesn't usually mix with the aristocracy and he's not fully at ease with them, he's got excellent manners and is generally well liked.
In this episode, the earl of Fairhaven has opened up his estate to a fundraising parachute jump by a group of philanthropic and adventurous peers who call themselves "Ten Lords A-Leaping". Tom's parish is the beneficiary, so he joins the group in this fundraising parachute jump. There is a terrifying moment during the jump and Tom is injured in the event. Tom is invited to recuperate on the estate as s a guest at Thornford Regis. Tom's nervous about being the odd man out during the house party of sorts but his friends Lady Jane Kirkbride and her husband Lord Jamie Kirkbride are also guests on the estate. The rest of the guests are related whether through marriage or by blood. It's an unusual set with half-siblings, step siblings, cousins that share overlapping and conflicting interests in priceless art collections and estates but little genuine affection.
Tom Christmas comes across the first dead body and finds himself in the middle of an investigation. Trapped in the country by his sprained ankle and the suspicious death, Tom and Miranda must stay until the very end.
I enjoyed Ten Lords A-Leaping largely because Tom Christmas' voice is engaging, funny, and with just enough self-depricating wit. If you prefer your mysteries action packed, this book isn't going to do it for you. But if you're looking for a light, escape in an English country house full of eccentric lords and ladies, precocious children, a secret passage and a priest's hole, you will likely enjoy Ten Lords A-Leaping.
Series: Father Christmas Mysteries ISBN-10: 0385344473 - Hardcover $25.00 Publisher: Delacorte Press (December 3, 2013), 512 pages. Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.(less)
I'd ordered Gooney Bird and All Her Charms with my 6 year old niece in mind. I've been collecting books to send her and I expect that this will go ove...moreI'd ordered Gooney Bird and All Her Charms with my 6 year old niece in mind. I've been collecting books to send her and I expect that this will go over well. It's my first time to read a Lois Lowry Gooney Bird adventure and it's an easy series to enjoy.
Gooney Bird loves hats, glasses, dressing up, but in a way that reminded me a bit of Pippi Longstocking because she chooses her accessories with a sense of fun and purpose. She has a serious hat that she wears for important meetings - such as her meetings with the librarian, the school principal, etc. She's not shy but she's not pushy either. She speaks her mind but listens to her classmates. She's comfortable with the limelight but doesn't have to always be the star. She's the active, self assured, funny girl that I imagine young girls would love to spend time with, befriend, emulate.
In this particular story, Gooney Bird's second grade class is studying the human body. Gooney Bird's great uncle lends the class a skeleton as a teaching aid and the students gradually adjust to having a skeleton and are excited to share what they learn about the different systems of the body. The book mixes the biology lessons with humor - and does this very well. There are opponents to this new teaching tool and a disaster of sorts that requires teamwork from all the classmates to resolve.
The one thing that I didn't enjoy was how the Keiko, the young Japanese American girl, was always scared, worried, easily upset. I'd much rather have a Japanese girl with a samurai spirit instead of a scared nervous and hyper feminine type.
I look forward to reading the other books in the series and sharing this with my niece Sofia.(less)