For being over 500 pages, this was about a 1 1/2 to 2 hour read, because there is a balance between words, and also full-paged pictures. You can't talFor being over 500 pages, this was about a 1 1/2 to 2 hour read, because there is a balance between words, and also full-paged pictures. You can't talk about the book without talking about the author, who is in the movie business, and the way the pictures in the book told the story directly relates to a way a movie (especially a silent movie) tells a story. The pictures and the words worked together to create a unique and highly effective way to tell a story.
Hugo Cabret is an orphan. He lives inside of the walls of the Paris train station in the 1930's, and has been keeping the clocks running, secretly, since his Uncle died.
His sole mission, though, is to get an automaton running, which his father found and was trying to fix before his death. To accomplish his mission, Hugo has been stealing gears and small parts from an old man's toy shop in the train station, and using a small notebook full of sketches that belonged to his father. One day, though, he is caught by the old man, who takes his notebook.
Isabelle, the granddaughter of the old man in the shop becomes interested in Hugo, and tries to help him get his notebook back...but little do the two of them know how much Isabelle holds the key to getting the automaton to work.
The story was unique, sweet, and surprising. You have an instant empathy for Hugo, and that empathy helps carry the reader through the story. Getting back to the illustrations, I was surprised to notice how much thought had been put into them, even down to the fact that the single spread illustrations have more detail, so you linger over them longer, yet the multiple page illustrations are less detailed, allowing the reader to flip through them faster, giving the feeling of seeing the action progess, the way it does on a movie screen.
The only issue I have with the book, is, in fact the title. I found it misleading, and wished that the author had come up with another that was more accurate.
This one is highly recommended, and has the feeling of a new classic about it....more
This book confused me in a way. This is because I could not figure out the recommended age of the reader: it was a very simple and childlike story, deThis book confused me in a way. This is because I could not figure out the recommended age of the reader: it was a very simple and childlike story, despite a little work with symbolism, but the vocabulary and length were not what a younger child could handle. Overall, it was a little younger of a story than I prefer to read, yet one that would be perfect for a read aloud to a group of children, or for a bedtime story.
The story takes place "long ago and far away" and is about 2 different groups of characters, these groups alternate chapters in the first half of the book, but come together in the second half of the book.
The first group is Pia and Enzio, a brother and sister aged about 13 or so, who have grown up as poor peasants. They don't remember their parents, and have always lived with a mean man who has worked them hard. Despite this, they spend their days dreaming of what life might have in store for them, and in particular, they dream of what life must be like for the denizens of Castle Corona, of which they live on the outskirts of. One day they happen upon a pouch, which has been stolen from the castle, and this pouch sweeps them up into the story that is told.
The other group of characters is, in fact, the denizens of Castle Corona. A King, who would rather be napping, a Queen, who is bored with her life, an older prince, who would rather be a poet, a princess, who is spoiled and vain, a "spare" prince, who would rather be sword fighting, and the King's hermit, who is wise. They have all grown comfortably bored in their roles, until one day, something is stolen from the castle, and this creates a stir that sweeps them up into the story that is told.
All in all, I found the portrayals of the royal characters to be stereotypical and one-dimensional. Also, the ending was too cursory, and, for a younger reader, would be difficult to understand, because it leaves a lot to subtext, and also does not tie things up entirely satifactorly. I also found it hard to get into, although I did enjoy it once I was more involved in the story. The illustrations resembled what you would find in an old-fashioned illuminated Bible, which added greatly to the "long ago and far away" feel of the book. Overall, the book was okay, but nothing fantastic....more
I loved Nancy Drew books when I was younger, so I had high hopes for this.
This book goes book by book, for several of the earliest Nancy Drew books, aI loved Nancy Drew books when I was younger, so I had high hopes for this.
This book goes book by book, for several of the earliest Nancy Drew books, and summarizes the plot. There were also a few interactive things on each page, like flip open journals, levers that would make things change, and other fun things. In addition, there are postcards of the book covers included, and the history of the writing Nancy Drew (very frank and honest, given that there was no Carolyn Keene, instead ghost writers), and decade by decade, what was popular during the years that Nancy Drew was written.
This could have been cooler if there had been more interactive things, and less reading. It was more wordy than I would have liked, and in fact, I didn't read through all of it. Given that "The Jolly Little Postman" was one of my favorite books when I was a child, I had really been looking for more interactive elements. Also, I wasn't sure who they were thinking was going to read this. It was too childish for the nostalgic older readers, and it was not really acessible for younger readers. For example, some of the writing was in cursive, and hard to read in places, and the vocabulary used did not seem like it was meant for kids. I also had a problem with the title. Inside it says that it is the lost JOURNAL of Nancy Drew, where she discussed each of her cases in more depth, but the title having the word FILES rather than journal, makes you think that there will be new files, and there's not. ...more
Peiling is the only one in her class who does not celebrate Christmas, since her family immigrated to America from Taiwan, and they instead celebratePeiling is the only one in her class who does not celebrate Christmas, since her family immigrated to America from Taiwan, and they instead celebrate the Chinese New Year.
She wishes that her family did celebrate Christmas because it makes her feel left out and different from her classmates, especially the annoyingly perfect (and generally just plain annoying) Laura.
This year, though, she convinces her family to celebrate Christmas. The only problem is that her parents add their own flair to the holiday: the star on the top of the tree is made of origami, the turkey is boiled, and mah jong games are played.
These add up to a Christmas that still makes her feel different from her classmates, but, perhaps these differences are what make her family what it is, and are, in fact, a good thing?
This was a quick, cute, and young story. The author obviously remembers what it was like to be in middle school, because it seemed emotionally realistic. I did feel like the author belabored the point a bit, and Peiling's teacher was unrealistically involved with her family, but overall a sweet story....more
Cute and fun. Not so much plot driven as events in an Italian American girls summer, both big and small. It got quite sad toward the end, but ended weCute and fun. Not so much plot driven as events in an Italian American girls summer, both big and small. It got quite sad toward the end, but ended well. The narrator was pretty good, but I disliked the voice she did for Frankie. When women do pre-teen boys, it usually comes out sounding whiny and nasal, and this was no exception....more
Well, I usually agree with the Newberry Award Winners, but I felt this one missed the mark by a mile.
The information inside the cover said that it waWell, I usually agree with the Newberry Award Winners, but I felt this one missed the mark by a mile.
The information inside the cover said that it was about a cat that is new to a barn. He is a descendant of Dick Whittington's cat, and as the long cold winter goes on, he tells all the animals in the barn the story of Whittington and his cat.
This sounded interesting, and at the core, was what the book was about, but this book suffered from too many cooks in the kitchen. That's not the right saying. What I mean is that there was too much stuff going on to make the story a clear cohesive one. All of a sudden, there's a boy who can't read, and there are kids talking to the animals, and some people can't talk to them, but it's not explained, and it was all too much.
The author should have chosen one story and stuck to that. Either tell the story of a boy who has difficulty reading, and how he learns to read. You could tell the author had some unresolved issues about the subject, because it was written angrily. It would be good for kids who are struggling readers to read about a boy who is a struggling reader, but struggling readers couldn't read the book because the vocabulary was WAY too advanced, ex: emnity (I don't even know what it means!).
Or tell the story of Dick Whitington, through a modern day cat as story teller. This is what really frustrated me. The cat says at the beginning that it isn't fair that everyone knows Dick Whittington's name, but no one knows the cat's name, but even though the story has been passed down to him through the generations, he NEVER says the cat's name! I would have prefered if the focus could have been on this story thread, because I found Whittington's ocean journeys interesting, and if it could have been done more thoroughly it would have made a good book.
That's my major issue, but there were other issues that were smaller, such as the chapter endings were way too abrupt, and the subject matter was sometimes too advanced for the intended audience, including topics like constipation, and how horses are made into dog food....more
I reread this book, because I enjoyed it so much when it was read aloud at the beginning of each class, a chapter a day, by the Professor of a childreI reread this book, because I enjoyed it so much when it was read aloud at the beginning of each class, a chapter a day, by the Professor of a children's literature class I took in 2004. In fact, the Professor that read it aloud to my class, Nancy Johnson, is thanked by the author in the Acknowledgements section of the book. I was hoping my reread of it would be as good as the first time, but Nancy Johnson did the voices, and reading it to myself just wasn't the same, although I did still enjoy the story!
Ruby Lavender has grown up in a small town in the South, best friends with her eccentric Grandmother. During the summer that the book takes place in, Ruby's Grandmother leaves, for the first time in Ruby's life, to go to Hawaii to meet her new granddaughter. Ruby feels abandoned and left alone to deal with the wretched Melba Jane, and her own emotions following an "accident" that the reader is left to wonder about until the end of the book. The story is told through letters between Ruby and her Grandmother, and also narrative, telling what is going on in Ruby's life.
The story has an amazing sense of place and voice, the characters are lively and interesting, and the reader is right there with Ruby Lavender as she makes her way through a difficult summer. Highly recommended for more comfortable readers, and also it's a great one to read-aloud!...more
Hmmm...this was Montessori propaganda masquerading as children's literature. If you can get over that fact, it's a cute story, and anyway, I don't thiHmmm...this was Montessori propaganda masquerading as children's literature. If you can get over that fact, it's a cute story, and anyway, I don't think children would pick up on it.
Elizabeth Ann is an orphan (it's amazing how many kid's books begin that way!) who gets raised by her 2 elderly aunts. These aunts are citified and prissy, and they raise Elizabeth Ann to be that way as well. She cries often, eats little, is barely outside, and is waited on hand and foot.
Suddenly, one of her aunts gets a cough, and the doctor says it is not safe for Elizabeth Ann to be with them, so they go off to Europe to heal, and, very grudgingly, leave Elizabeth Ann with her Vermont relatives. These relatives are worlds different from the ones she has grown up with. They have the stereotypical stiff New England upper lip and do not encourage her gails of tears. They also expect her to do chores and care for herself more than she was used to. Poor Elizabeth Ann has a tough time adjusting, but very quickly she discovers that not only CAN she do these things she never has before, she LIKES doing them.
It isn't long before Betsy (as she is now known) becomes a healthy, hearty girl with friends, who can take care of herself...but what will happen when her Aunts get better and come back for her?
This book was written in 1917 and was recently reprinted with cute new illustrations. I love the quaint old fashioned story. Snuggling around an old fashioned stove in the evening playing checkers with a kitten in your lap sounds enviably cozy to me! The negative was the obvious reason behind the book. The narrator of the book is the author, who has a clear reason for her writing it, which is to promote Montessori style teaching (she discovered it in Italy, and was one of the first to bring it to America), which is not necessarily a bad thing. BUT the narrator is so over the top with it at times, it's just really in your face. Especially, in my opinion, given that it is a children's book. It seems sneaky to me to mask propaganda as a children's story. If the story had been told without the narrator/author's voice in it, it would have been another cute historical fiction a la Little House on the Prairie, but with the narrator's voice, it becomes something else entirely, and for that I give it 3 stars....more
A girl, who has never known a home or family, is taken in by a not very nice midwife, and expected to work to earn her keep. The girl ends up really lA girl, who has never known a home or family, is taken in by a not very nice midwife, and expected to work to earn her keep. The girl ends up really liking the work, but, after messing up one day, she leaves the only home she's ever known, and runs away. It will take bravery to go back, but does the girl posess enough bravery to try again?
I've always liked this a bit less than Catherine, Called Birdy, and I think that's because of the difference in format. Catherine, Called Birdy is an epistolary story (diary entries) and so you really get to know Birdy well. This book on the otherhand, is told in 3rd, with just a few glimpses into the girl's mind, so it's definitely a more distanced experience.
I do really like how, since there are few relationships in this book, each one is more precious, in some way. Her relationship with her cat, and with the boy, I found genuinely touching.
All in all, a quick read, and an enjoyable one....more
I've always really loved this book. Historical time period, plus diary format, plus spunky main character is a winning competition in my view. The onlI've always really loved this book. Historical time period, plus diary format, plus spunky main character is a winning competition in my view. The only problem is that it ends where it does. You get to the end, and you just want to know how things will work out for her, and whether a character who is only obliquely referenced throughout will turn out to be as she hopes. Really, it's as if she ran up against a publisher's deadline. Despite the ending, though, I highly recommend this book!...more