Every little kid I've ever known has wondered if they could dig a hole through to the other side of the world. Sam and Dave just want to find somethinEvery little kid I've ever known has wondered if they could dig a hole through to the other side of the world. Sam and Dave just want to find something spectacular, and they get oh-so-close time and again. Look closely at the last few illustrations for a fun surprise! My 6-year old son thought this book was pretty funny, even though he knows you would have to dig through the burning-hot center to get to the other side of the world via a hole... ;)...more
I had high hopes for this story. Based on true events, a young girl (Electra), sent to live with her grandparents after her father's death and her motI had high hopes for this story. Based on true events, a young girl (Electra), sent to live with her grandparents after her father's death and her mother's desire to be untethered (so to speak), is excited by a large undertaking at her new school. Along with thousands of other school children across the country, her school purchases a special doll to be sent (along with hundreds of others) to the children of Japan as a gesture of goodwill after World War I. When a rumor starts that one student will be chosen to see the doll off at the port of San Francisco, Electra sets her sights on the prize, eager not only to accompany the doll but also at the opportunity to reunite with her mother, who is slated to perform at the celebration. Little does she know what her mother has in store.
The true elements of this book are fascinating, and could open an interesting and educational conversation with young readers. However, the story is strangely-paced, the language is odd and inconsistent, and the characters do not feel true from beginning to end. "A" for effort, though, and surely some young readers will enjoy the endearing thread of the book....more
So, full confession, I do enjoy a little bit of Bear Grylls every now and then -- I hope they continue with his show, "Running Wild". Having said thatSo, full confession, I do enjoy a little bit of Bear Grylls every now and then -- I hope they continue with his show, "Running Wild". Having said that, I am not a crazy fan by any means. I read the book because it was on sale, most reviews were fairly good, and when he refers to his background on t.v., I feel like I should know a bit more about it.
The ups: Bear's internal compass and moral grounding seem to be sound and well-ingrained, and he shares how his fundamental beliefs directed his earlier years, carried him through impossible circumstances, nearly pushed him to his death and keep him doing what other people deem un-do-able. The overall message is inspiring and heartwarming, without being too "precious".
The downs: While I wanted to learn more about his military background and Everest expeditions, these sections really dragged on for me -- particularly the military stuff. By telling me 10 stories of grueling treks through the punishing U.K. hinterlands, I don't really remember any of them, and their punishing details got lost in the swirling recesses of my shrinking-with-advanced-age brain.
There you go. I still like Bear Grylls, whose real name is Edward, by the way. ...more
How do kids end up in foster care? Why do they want to go back to parents who are not loving or kind or "parental"? Who in their right mind becomes aHow do kids end up in foster care? Why do they want to go back to parents who are not loving or kind or "parental"? Who in their right mind becomes a foster parent, and are there any decent foster families out there? Will troubled kids do better with more or less of a "cushy" place to temporarily stay?
My 10 year old daughter and I read this together, and I was surprised that she liked it. We do have family members who have taken in foster children (who were eventually adopted, once parental rights were terminated), and so I suppose she found this story shed a little bit of light on that subject. Still, some of the subject matter was violent and troubling (a mother holding her child down so her new husband could beat the kid to a bloody pulp?) -- though my daughter handled it well enough. She is a compassionate kid, and well understands that her life is really easy compared to many other kids'.
The story was well-paced, and the characters compelling, but there was no "wow" factor to push me over to five stars. Not too sappy, not too blunt, main character Carly knows life with her mother is strange and atypical, but when she is removed from everything she knows, Carly becomes unmoored. Eventually she realizes she can define her own expectations of life and decide whether some is "right" or "wrong". A realistic portrayal of our current foster care system? Probably not. A nice, good story? Yes....more
This was such an odd book -- the title and book cover continually confused me, because I couldn't (still can't!) connect the story in any way to them.This was such an odd book -- the title and book cover continually confused me, because I couldn't (still can't!) connect the story in any way to them.
The story is told from multiple points of view, which was fairly easy to follow. Still, some of the characters and their actions did not quite ring true. I suppose the author thought that this would add to the mystery, but it really just seemed to make many parts unbelievable. I read a review or comparison somewhere that suggested "The Art of Secrets" was "The Westing Game" for the kids of today. That is stretching it, in my opinion.
It is a pretty easy read, but these complex characters really deserved to be a little better developed. ...more
This I read with my 10-year old daughter, and she was not terribly fond of it. Young Turtle is sent toAnother book I read (what feels like) long ago.
This I read with my 10-year old daughter, and she was not terribly fond of it. Young Turtle is sent to live with her aunt in Key West, Florida, when her mother takes a housekeeping job for a woman who won't allow children to stay. Of course, Turtle's aunt is unprepared for the visit, having three young sons underfoot as it is, and another mouth to feed (particularly in 1935) is an expense she barely knows how to handle. Turtle does her best to stay out of trouble and help out when she can, but she still pines for the day her mother comes back to get her. Just when it seems that all of her dreams have come true, the picture is dashed again -- but this time, Turtle's real family is there to lift her back up.
Ella did not like this story. It moved at a strange pace, and sometimes the "picture" the author drew was quite fuzzy. I thought it was okay, particularly because it was short.
Great googily moogily -- I have not posted about all the books I have been reading in literally MONTHS! This is bad for many reasons, but particularlyGreat googily moogily -- I have not posted about all the books I have been reading in literally MONTHS! This is bad for many reasons, but particularly because I am setting a bad example for my daughter, who is avoiding doing her own "book reports", even though she has read the books.
I digress. These next reviews are going to be short, so I can catch up. I finished this book more than a month ago, but here we are. It is about monarch butterflies and their migration. It is about a young mother living with her husband and young children in rural America, on the family farm where they work with her (sometimes difficult) in-laws. They are eking out a living (barely), when the butterflies appear, like a something magical out of the thin air. To some, it feels like just a strange infestation of bugs, but the arrival of the monarchs eventually has consequences for everyone.
Not my favorite Kingsolver novel, but it will do. It will do....more
This book was painful. Not like a sharp pain, or a gory, violent pain -- it's a brooding, twisting, pit-in-your-stomach, frightening kind of pain. InThis book was painful. Not like a sharp pain, or a gory, violent pain -- it's a brooding, twisting, pit-in-your-stomach, frightening kind of pain. In the beginning, it was a little hard to get into, but eventually, I felt a little like I had to stay with it in order to find some RELIEF.
Intended for readers in grades 4-6, I wonder if kids will have the patience to get to the end. For those that do, it is a bit of a haunting/traumatizing story. Naomi (aka, Chirp) is an 11-year old bird enthusiast; she lives with her older sister, ailing mother, and psychiatrist father. Set in 1972, there are a lot of little reminders of the time period (some of which may go right over younger readers) -- for example, this scene from a presentation in Chirp's class: "'Please sing along,' Dawn says, all miserable, and then she walks to her desk, picks up a pink Easter basket filled with dry roasted peanuts, and hands them out, three peanuts each." Totally not happening at school these days.
And then the worst thing happens, or what I imagine to be the worst thing for an 11-year old girl. And it is the worst. It isn't sugar-coated. It doesn't get better or easier. The boy who becomes Chirp's closest friend over the course of the book has his own serious problems, and while they try to lean on each other, neither one can offer support or fully reveal themselves to the other.
Nest addresses complex and serious issues, including mental health, child and domestic abuse, and drugs, and while they are all dealt with tastefully, it seemed quite deep for this adult reader. ...more
Disclaimer: My 10-year old daughter says this book deserves 5 stars, and while I was dazzled, it didn't "sing" like some other middle grade books haveDisclaimer: My 10-year old daughter says this book deserves 5 stars, and while I was dazzled, it didn't "sing" like some other middle grade books have for me.
We read Ungifted together, and it sparked several great discussions. Middle-of-the-road, trouble-finding Donovan is up to his usual tricks, when a seemingly "safe" prank leads to an accident of epic proportions, significantly damaging school property in its wake. Unable to move quick enough, the superintendent catches Donovan before he can escape, and vows to hold him accountable for his actions and the destruction of the school gym. Strangely, Donovan hears no word on his punishment, but rather receives notice he has been enrolled in the district's school for high achievers. Themes of bullying, "gifted-ness", creativity, leadership, friends and family are all addressed throughout the story -- all in a way that weaves a seamless, action-filled story.
This is a book that boys and girls can easily enjoy. Although Ella and I read it together, she could have easily read it on her own: the chapters are relatively short, creating easy stopping places for kids. Donovan is in middle school, and the book is recommended for grades 5-8. In the story, Donovan's older sister is pregnant with her first child, and the "gifted" class is allowed to learn about human growth and development as they accompany her to doctor visits and so forth -- some reviewers were concerned that too much information is divulged, but it is much less about sex than about eggs being fertilized and how a fetus grows, etc.
One concern I did have was that Donovan's "gifted" classmates conveniently represent all the stereotypes you can think of for high-ability learners, and others have also mentioned this. Still, I think most kids who will read this kind of story will also be able to point this out, particularly if they are reading with other students or parents and discussing these kinds of details. Read it? I vote "yes"....more