"Wait," I told Chiron. "You're telling me there's such a thing as God." "Well, now," Chiron said. "God - capital G, God. That's a different matter alto...more"Wait," I told Chiron. "You're telling me there's such a thing as God." "Well, now," Chiron said. "God - capital G, God. That's a different matter altogether. We shan't deal with the metaphysical." "Metaphysical? But you were just talking about-" "Ah, gods, plural, as in, great beings that control the forces of nature and human endeavors: the immortal gods of Olympus. That's a smaller matter." "Smaller?" "Yes, quite. The gods we discussed in Latin class." "Zeus," I said. "Hera. Apollo. You mean them."
A few weeks ago when we rented a movie, I saw a preview for the movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief. I had never heard of the series of books by Rick Riordan and was intrigued enough by the trailer to reserve the first book, The Lightning Thief, at the library. This is my somewhat convoluted review. :)
This book is the story of Percy Jackson ... a kid who is in and out of schools and doesn't really fit in anywhere. Between his dyslexia and penchant for finding trouble, he is branded as a misfit. Little does he know, he is a misfit for a good reason. Through a series of misadventures (some with tragic results), Percy finds himself at Half-Blood Camp - a summer camp for children who are half-bloods. Each has one mortal (or human) parent; their other parent is a Greek god or demi-god (think Zeus, Athena, etc.) You can imagine Percy's shock at finding out that the gods of Olympus weren't just the myths that he learned about it his Latin class ... and that he was related to them!
Once Percy finds this out ... and finds out who his Olympian father is ... he is called to embark upon a dangerous (most likely fatal) quest to find a missing object and settle a quarrel against the gods before war breaks out. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction – Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. This story is very well written - full of adventure and excitement and an incredibly original storyline, in my opinion. If one enjoys the likes of The Mysterious Benedict Society, the Eric Rex books, Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, etc., then these would be right up your alley. The part that I question is how heavy the books are into Greek mythology. Yes, this is fiction. Yes, the gods of ancient Greek are history and part of any classical education. I'm sure this is something that (down the road) N1 and I will spend some time reading about and discussing. However, there is a difference between studying something and rubbing it all over yourself and letting it become part of you, which is sort-of what happens to me when I find myself in a good book. All that said, this was a really, really good book. I'm going to hold off final judgment a bit and read the second book in the series, but if I was a parent of a 5th/6th/7th grader, I would preread this series before handing it over to my child.(less)
These are stories revolving around 4 children: Rush, Mona, Randy & Oliver and of course they get into all sorts of adventures. :) I've read the fi...moreThese are stories revolving around 4 children: Rush, Mona, Randy & Oliver and of course they get into all sorts of adventures. :) I've read the first book, The Saturdays, and loved it. The Saturdays is about the adventures that the children have on Saturdays - they come up with the idea to pool their allowance money so that they can take turns doing something that they REALLY want to do on their Saturday. One goes to a concert, another goes to a museum, and, of course, adventures happen. These books were written in the early 40's so the children have more freedom (i.e., able to do these things without parental supervision) that children today wouldn't have. Right now, I'm reading The Four-Story Mistake and already enjoying it. These books really are wonderful and I am going to look forward to adding them to my library for my girls.
Taken from a couple of Read-Aloud Thursday blog-posts:
Right now, our current chapter book is Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards. (Yes, that Julie Andrews)...moreTaken from a couple of Read-Aloud Thursday blog-posts:
Right now, our current chapter book is Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards. (Yes, that Julie Andrews). This was a favorite childhood book that I recently remembered and rediscovered and N1 chose this for our first read-aloud of 2011. Mandy discovers an abandoned cottage behind the orphanage that is her home and she is consumed with the desire to fix it up and make herself a little secret hideaway. Unfortunately, as you read the story, you find that Mandy employs a few ways of getting things that she needs for her little home by way of lies and "borrowing" items from the orphanage.
"-And besides, I didn't exactly steal the knife," Mandy told herself. "I really only borrowed it for a while. When I earn enough money I can buy one of my own." And so she justified her actions and felt better.
We're still in the first section of the book, but we're all eager to find out what happens to Mandy and her little cottage ... and if the choices that she is making are going to work out for her by the end of the story.
As far as our chapter read aloud, we finished up Mandy yesterday - flying through the last chapters to answer the burning question of whether or not this little orphan girl would be adopted. "They need to just adopt Mandy!" and "Why don't they adopt her?!" was heard frequently from N1 as we pressed on to the end. : ) I loved to see her so invested in the story so we spent a little extra time reading on it the last few days so that we could find out what happened. Just as an FYI for parents, as I read aloud, I did edit out several instances of the Lord's name in vain as well as one mild swear word, however, there is nothing in the book that would keep me from handing it over to N1 in a few years to read on her own. (This book was written with a very British feel to it and the swear word fits in with that style of writing and language, something that can easily be skipped over while reading aloud or even marked out of the book if you are so inclined.) I originally blogged Mandy here if you are interested. (less)
Pretzel is the story of a daschund. And unusual daschund. A very loooooooooong daschund. Actually, he was the longest daschund in the world! For the m...morePretzel is the story of a daschund. And unusual daschund. A very loooooooooong daschund. Actually, he was the longest daschund in the world! For the most part his great length was an asset to him - when he was one, he won a blue ribbon at a dog show and was admired by all the other dogs.
The little dog across the street, Greta, did not like Pretzel. And Pretzel really liked Greta. Her thoughts on the matter: "I don't care for long dogs." The rest of the story details how Pretzel tries to impress Greta ... and of course, he wins her affections in the end, but I'll leave the "how" to your discovery. :)
As with all the H.A. Rey books, my girls have delighted in Pretzel. I don't think they have ever seen a real daschund, so they enjoy the appearance and antics of this unusual looking dog. The artwork is sweet and very colorful, as with all Rey books and I think it's worth a look if you can find it!(less)
The timing of this week's Children's Classics post is perfect for us ... you see, we are about one chapter away from finishing our first A.A. Milne bo...moreThe timing of this week's Children's Classics post is perfect for us ... you see, we are about one chapter away from finishing our first A.A. Milne book! We've been working our way through Winnie-the-Pooh during our lunchtime read-aloud.
I had never read the original Winnie-the-Pooh. We have read a few versions of the classic tale (and several Disney storybooks with the modern Pooh illustrations) but, having now read the original, they don't even compare. The original story is so clever and very, very funny. To me, it's like those old episodes of The Muppet Show. The humor is definitely geared towards a small child - a bear and small pig in a forest having adventures - however, the subtle humor will make it very enjoyable for an adult.
My favorite chapter in Winnie the Pooh is the one where Rabbit, Pooh and Piglet set about to kidnap Roo. Kanga and Roo have been introduced to the forest and the threesome are not sure about these new neighbors. They liked things the way they were, thankyouverymuch, and decide that if they kidnap Roo, then Kanga might leave. There was just one other thing: when Piglet was taking to Christopher Robin, he learned that a Kanga was "Generally Regarded as One of the Fiercer Animals." Piglet, in his timidity, went on to say that, of course,
"I am not frightened of Fierce Animals in the ordinary way, but it is well known that, if One of the Fiercer Animals is Deprived of Its Young, it becomes as fierce as Two of the Fiercer Animals. In which case 'Aha!' is perhaps a foolish thing to say."
For more reviews and thoughts on the writing of A.A. Milne head over to Five Minutes for Books. I definitely recommend this book - especially as a read-aloud - for your children. My girls are five, three and 21 months. The five year old follows along with the story quite well; the three year old has a little more trouble, but the fact that she is familiar with the characters from other books and a few videos has definitely helped.(less)
I have to say, I wasn't as knocked out by this book as I expected to be. We love Cynthia Rylant books in our home, and so when I was looking for a fal...moreI have to say, I wasn't as knocked out by this book as I expected to be. We love Cynthia Rylant books in our home, and so when I was looking for a fall read-aloud with the girls, I pulled this off our shelf. The book was a sweet story - a mama squirrel and her babies were left out the elements when their old tree comes down in a terrible ice storm. With the help of a chocolate labrador, a bat named Murray, and a hermit crab, it all works out in the end even though the mama squirrel is temporarily separated from her little ones.
My issues wasn't with the story, but with little things inserted into the story. Gwendolyn the crab gives everyone a palm reading, Murray the Bat says that Alex Trebek (from Jeopardy) is his idol. They are little things, but I didn't like some of choice of wording in the book, and since there are so many other great things out there to read, I doubt we'll read it again.(less)
To wind up our summer, I decided that we needed a more frivolous read to give us a break from our trek through Narnia. With Nanny McPhee Returns hitti...moreTo wind up our summer, I decided that we needed a more frivolous read to give us a break from our trek through Narnia. With Nanny McPhee Returns hitting the movie theaters in August, and the original movie set to re-release on DVD in August as well, I decided that would be a good choice for us. (I'm not planning on taking the girls to this one in the theater - we'll wait for DVD - but I am planning a fun family movie night with the first movie hopefully this weekend now that we've finished the book). Anyway...
Nanny McPhee is based upon a book of short stories called The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda. They were written by Christianna Brand, and illustrated by her brother Edward Ardizzone. These stories were based on ones that their grandmother told her and her siblings when they were young ... the biography I read suggested that these were the stories that grandma told when her grandchildren were being particularly naughty.
In the story, the Brown children come from a large and very unruly family. There are so many children the author doesn't even bother to tell you all their names and ages ... she leaves that to you to figure out as you go through the story, there are that many children. And these children are bad. Really bad. For example:
Francesca had filled the Tiny Baby's bottle with baby-food and was feeding the dogs with it. Little Quentin had drawn flowers all up the nursery walls and was watering them from the big, brown, nursery teapot, Antony was filling up the nursery ink-wells with runny red jam. Nicolas had collected all the Little Ones' dolls and was lining them up for execution. Sophie was shampooing Henrietta's hair with glue. And the other children were doing simply dreadful things too. (p. 24)
The parents are somewhat shockingly blind to the misdeeds of their children and after yet another nanny has left the family, and they are unable to hire anyone to come and help with their children, they turn to Nurse Matilda. Nurse Matilda (or Nanny McPhee as she is called in the movie) is who you turn to when you are desperate. The first thing you notice about her is that she is ugly - she has a nose that looks like two potatoes are stuck together, warts, stiff black hair in a bun, and a tooth that you just can't seem to take your eyes off of. The children figure that they can get rid of Nurse Matilda just like all the other nannies, but it doesn't quite work out that way. For one thing, Nurse Matilda has this big black stick and when she bangs it on the floor unusual things begin to happen. For one, whatever mischief or naughtiness you are currently doing, you find that you can't stop doing, and so on.
The book is made up of three stories about the unpleasant Brown children. The first book centers on their behavior at home, the second on their behavior when they are sent to stay with their Great Aunt Adelaide, and the third when they are taken on a trip to the seaside. By the third book I was finding the story a bit reptitious as the children's antics seemed to take on a "second verse, same as the first" type quality to them, if that makes sense. I don't know if I would encourage everyone to rush out and buy a copy of the book but if you are looking for something light to read with your children, this is good one pick out at the library and try out ... and to feel free to stop after the first or second story. It's one that could be handed off to older elementary student to read as well.(less)
This book was WONDERFUL! N1 and I sat down to read it yesterday and couldn't put it down. At the end of every chapter, she said, "Just one more!" and...moreThis book was WONDERFUL! N1 and I sat down to read it yesterday and couldn't put it down. At the end of every chapter, she said, "Just one more!" and since the chapters were 3-4 pages, I obliged. The story is about an adventure that the storyteller's father had - the main character never has a name, but is referred to as "my father" the whole time. He sets off on an adventure to Wild Island to rescue a baby dragon. With only his knapsack full of supplies, he manages to get by many and varied wild animals in his quest. First published in 1946, this book has stood the test of time and gets two thumbs up from our house. : ) (less)
If you are a fan of Hello Kitty/Sanrio type art and cute little Japanese-style animated characters, this book should be right up your alley.
The Octon...moreIf you are a fan of Hello Kitty/Sanrio type art and cute little Japanese-style animated characters, this book should be right up your alley.
The Octonauts are eight little quirky characters that work together in the Octopod - their underwater vessel. For example, there is Sauci Dog, Nurse Peso Penguin, and Tweak Bunny just to name a few. Each character is cute and cuddly and looks like there should be a line of stuffed animals with their names on them. :) In this story, The Octonauts & the Frown Fish, these undersea travellers come across a new-to-them fish that is frowning. In their quest to help this fish, and wipe that frown off his face, they try all sorts of activities and work as a team to try and cheer him up!
My girls enjoyed this book and wanted more of these cute animal adventurers. There are three books in the series - this is the third - so I'll be on the lookout for them. If you have a little one that likes to color, I also recommend heading over to their website where you can print off color pages of different scenes from the book.(less)
This week (and much of December 09) we have been talking about Australia's animals and the country. (I think every child must go through an "Australia...moreThis week (and much of December 09) we have been talking about Australia's animals and the country. (I think every child must go through an "Australia" phase). Needless to say, Australia is fascinating, and this book is a good kid's eye view of it - from the view point of a family that takes a three month journey around the island/country/continent.(less)
The girls and I read this one several times this week as we are studying different Christmas traditions around the world. This story, as the title sug...moreThe girls and I read this one several times this week as we are studying different Christmas traditions around the world. This story, as the title suggests, tells of the poinsetta and how it became one of the traditional flowers of Christmas. And, pairing that with the art of Tomie dePaola makes it a winner.(less)
This book was DELIGHTFUL. I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a little longer chapter book read aloud for the little ones. My oldest who is...moreThis book was DELIGHTFUL. I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a little longer chapter book read aloud for the little ones. My oldest who is 6 could not get enough of this book and was always asking for one more chapter.(less)
Definitely different from the movie! It has just enough similarity to Disney to make you think you are reading about the same character, but the book...moreDefinitely different from the movie! It has just enough similarity to Disney to make you think you are reading about the same character, but the book has several more adventures that make it very fun! Will definitely be adding the rest of this series to my library for the girls.(less)
I LOVE these books about the boy Henry Reed and his summers in rural New Jersey. Absolute favorites from my childhood and ones that I will make sure m...moreI LOVE these books about the boy Henry Reed and his summers in rural New Jersey. Absolute favorites from my childhood and ones that I will make sure my girls read. : )(less)