A visually impressive combination of short snippets of fact with diagrams and images to recount the history of the world from 6.5 million years ago to...moreA visually impressive combination of short snippets of fact with diagrams and images to recount the history of the world from 6.5 million years ago to 2012. It treats all peoples, places, religions and customs equally as historical events, not dedicating more to one than another, though perhaps the non-Christian religions have a more detailed explanation of beliefs and customs with less emphasis on wars and injustices committed in their name. Published as it is in the UK, the point of view is only faintly noticeable as British, with slightly more events of British history recounted than of other countries. Overall it is an informative and highly useful resource for teaching a broad range of history to children between 8 and 12 years.(less)
John Flanagan writes excellent coming of age fiction for 9-12s, and whether you read the whole series or dip into it here and there, each book has an...moreJohn Flanagan writes excellent coming of age fiction for 9-12s, and whether you read the whole series or dip into it here and there, each book has an interesting story about characters you'd love to know in real life. Maddie is an adventurous and strong-willed fifteen year old princess whose parents are at their wits' end. Halt has the idea of apprenticing Maddie to Ranger Will, both to discipline Maddie and help Will find some purpose in life after losing someone he loves.
Though written in the third person, we often see one character's impression of another (like Will noticing how Maddie begins to change under the apprenticeship), and it's refreshing to hear more often about their virtues than vices. The good characters aren't just content with being good themselves, but they notice and encourage goodness in others, too. We see nobility, bravery and courage and all the big heroics involved in facing grave dangers, but there's also humility and deep concern for others, making allowances for weaknesses and correcting in the way that's best for each person.
I loved the episode where Maddie and her friends try alcohol for the first time, whereupon they find themselves to be so hilarious that they can't stay upright for laughing. Will is not impressed, and when he makes Maddie train as usual the next day in spite of her hangover, she complains and asks why he is doing this to her. He tells her clearly that it's the alcohol that is doing this to her, and to remember that. She does. Following this episode there's a good discussion about friendship being based on trust and reliability, as opposed to sneaking around drinking wine together behind the stables.
There's much self-reflection from characters who recognise they need to change, as when Maddie realises that apologising with words is not enough, she must apologise with deeds, applying herself to her training and her lessons with new diligence.
And there's an impressive undercurrent of the purpose of a Ranger's vocation being to help people in ways big or small, whether tracking down highwaymen, arresting killers, or saving a farmer's livelihood. Will says 'rangers are here to serve the people,' and Maddie learns this lesson admirably. She even learns enough to be able to coach along others younger than herself, pulling them out of self-pity and being demanding when necessary.
A highly recommended instalment from an excellent series, ideal for young adventurers who might be encouraged to aim high.
Michael continues his adventure through the Amazon jungle, trying to outrun Hatch and his evil recruits with the help of his friends.
If you've read th...moreMichael continues his adventure through the Amazon jungle, trying to outrun Hatch and his evil recruits with the help of his friends.
If you've read the series so far, you'll know what to expect. As in books one and two, there's a challenging combination of overly 'nice' teen sentiment, simplistic narration, and the occasional serious consequence of the dangers in which the characters find themselves. Thus it is best suited to mature young readers who can overlook a little cheesiness, not be annoyed by simplistic statements of facts, and not be disturbed by the occasional death or description of torture perpetrated by the baddies.
Having said that, a good many teens (male and female) like this series and haven't complained of cheesiness or overly simplistic writing. There are a few mentions of God and the bible and praying for friends in difficulty (positive from the goodies and negative from the baddies), but nothing that sits falsely with the story. Michael frequently reflects on principles taught by his mother, such as 'All that's required for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing,' and the friends counsel each other in perseverance, grieving loss and overcoming adversity. They demonstrate courage, compassion and solidarity, and their adventures show the struggle of good against evil. For readers looking for this kind of thing it's a safe series.
A fascinating book that will captivate inquisitive kids (and adults) for days! It's packed with information about everything from why we need to eat c...moreA fascinating book that will captivate inquisitive kids (and adults) for days! It's packed with information about everything from why we need to eat certain foods, to why doughnuts have holes, why plants grow upwards, why there are rainbows, why some people have curly and others straight hair, why planes fly, why boats float, and loads more. With straightforward text and clear pictures even young children can follow the explanations, and yet the content is rich and varied enough to extend older ones too. Highly recommended for whenever kids have time on their hands.
A magnificent picture book about a girl who meets her great-grandfather for the first time, and with the help of little keepsakes in an old cigar box,...moreA magnificent picture book about a girl who meets her great-grandfather for the first time, and with the help of little keepsakes in an old cigar box, hears the story of his childhood and his family's journey from Italy to the USA.
Though a story of hardship and struggle, it gains a special beauty and worth when passed on to a younger generation, as though both are now enriched by the experience of one. The text is simple, like an elderly man talking with a child; he remembers, and she chimes in with an occasional question or comment.
The illustrations are a window into the now faded but still emotive pull of memories held dear; we are shown a past re-lived, and it is a treasure.
A marvellous book about history and sacrifice, family and education, and the importance of stories to communicate from one person to another the meaning and value of life.
A fairly balanced and realistic portrayal of the life of a medieval knight in images, diagrams and short, informative passages of text. It doesn't shy...moreA fairly balanced and realistic portrayal of the life of a medieval knight in images, diagrams and short, informative passages of text. It doesn't shy away from the less romantic details, including the smells of the armour, the primitive ways of treating wounds, the importance of wealth and rank, the distinct roles for males and females, and the power held by the Christian Church at this time... without labouring these points but stating it as it was. These details are balanced by the many more neutral customs and traditions, food and occasions, and even sporting and town-life events. Reviewed for www.GoodReadingGuide.com(less)