Budding engineers and other science- and gadget-lovers will enjoy this charming new series co-written by Science...moreReview first posted on RedeemedReader
Budding engineers and other science- and gadget-lovers will enjoy this charming new series co-written by Science Bob, an elementary school science teacher. Nick and Tesla are twins who are sent to live with their very eccentric inventor Uncle Newt whilst their parents are on some mysterious “work” trip. Nick and Tesla are given free rein in Uncle Newt’s lab, and they put their own science skills to the test to solve a mystery. There is also a bit of top secret government action.
Fast-paced and filled with several sets of directions for gadgets and experiments young readers can do at home, this mystery series will delight anyone who enjoys tinkering with household objects and crafting science experiments. The book is much shorter than its 240 page limit indicates; several pages are taken up with diagrams and directions for the experiments. Illustrations also dot the narrative pages. The writing is similar to what you might expect in a formulaic mystery series, but the hands-on experiments add their own charm.(less)
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing continues the story of plucky (and hilarious) Mo LeBeau. The writing is even s...moreReview originally posted on Redeemed Reader
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing continues the story of plucky (and hilarious) Mo LeBeau. The writing is even stronger in this second story of small Tupelo Landing and its quirky characters. Mo and her best friend, Dale, are still running the Desperadoes Detective Agency, and she is still infatuated with his older brother, Lavender. Sixth grade starts up one day after the opening of the story, and Mo’s favorite teacher is back. For fans of the first book, this second book will deliver even more charm and more quirky characters. For those who are new to Tupelo Landing, this book will easily work on its own.
The mystery this time involves the identity (and reality) of the ghost of the old inn that Miss Lana and Grandmother Miss Lacy Thornton bought out of spite. The ghost is even in the disclosure statement in the contract! No one believes she is real except Mo and Dale who decide to interview her for their history project. They succeed–this ghost is real–and solve a decades old mystery in the process. The theme in Ghosts of Tupelo Landing is putting ghosts to rest: old relationship issues, old mysteries, old arguments, and the real ghost of Nellie Blake. In the end, much has been resolved (except the identity of Mo’s “Upstream Mother”), and the town has rallied together. Putting so much to rights has been the work of many people together, not just one person.
**Really, this is a 4.5 for me. There's one main thing that knocked it down--kind of dumb, but I couldn't get past it (this will alert people to my total nerd-hood): at one point, when Mo is explaining Buddha's name, she says his name was supposed to be Bubba, but his mom (or whoever) was dyslexic, so it became Buddha. But Buddha has an "h"!! AAGGHH…. Does this bother anyone else? (like I said--I'm a nerd)(less)
A weak 4 stars, I confess. I liked this book, and simultaneously I was frustrated by it. The concept is great, but I think perhaps there are too many...moreA weak 4 stars, I confess. I liked this book, and simultaneously I was frustrated by it. The concept is great, but I think perhaps there are too many characters in the mix. It's hard to really click with any one character because there are so many--Cady is clearly the central character, but we lose some of her story in the myriad other stories going on. Maybe lose one of the other kids? Mr. Asher was sort of a non-event as well, although his presence is needed by his own family. Not sure who to drop. The idea of Talented was an intriguing one. In short, good idea, good execution overall, just a little too complex/too many characters. The mystery angle is fun, and I have no doubt that many kids will enjoy this one. (less)
Even before Willy Wonka is mentioned, readers will note the similarities between Mr. Lemoncello and Wonka: both are as quirky and eccentric as they come, and both enjoy creating a mysterious "playground" of sorts for children to explore. The nice ones survive and move ahead; the mean kids are out of luck.
In Mr. Lemoncello's case, it's a new library for a town that's been without for twelve years. Mr. Lemoncello is a famous game maker--both board and video--who's now a billionaire and decides to create the ultimate library + game for this small town that gave him his own beginnings in puzzle making and solving. In true eccentric fashion, his library will open with twelve twelve year olds playing an elaborate game of "escape from the library" in one 24-hour period. Kyle Keeley, game player extraordinaire but NOT a reader, is one of the twelve lucky participants, and he can hardly wait. His other eleven companions are the types of characters that enable the reader to immediately guess who's going to win and who's going to lose. After all, jerks and wimps are pretty easy to recognize, but team players nearly always get ahead--at least in books!
The game makes this book: it's elaborate, full of tricks like holographic former librarians, and is all being supervised by the actively involved Mr. Lemoncello (albeit from a distance through video cams).
What doesn't make this book are the very things that are probably supposed to make the book: the myriad references to libraries and books. Oh, the books which are referenced! Favorites of this reader, to be sure--grown-up books, kids' books, old books, new books. I had a great time noting the references, some of which are quite obscure. And there's the problem: what twelve year old who really has read enough to get all those references is going to pick this book to read next? And, if you're a gamer like Kyle who doesn't like to read, will you get any of the references? Will you really want to go read all those books?
No, I'm afraid Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, although it's getting lots of praise from professional reviews, is not going to be the crowd pleaser people seem to think it will be. It's a fun read, but it's hard to figure out who the audience will be who really gets into this: grown-up librarians or the type of kids it's about?
I rarely say this, but I think this book--ironically enough--would make a better movie than book. It's high adventure and would beg for terrific special effects. But a good read? Hmm...
When 12-year-old Cat suffers a concussion and brain damage after falling from her bird watching perch, noth...moreReview originally posted on RedeemedReader.
When 12-year-old Cat suffers a concussion and brain damage after falling from her bird watching perch, nothing is quite the same. Her balance is a tad off, her memory a tad off, her concentration…you guessed it…a tad off. So when she and her mom hear about an innovative brain science institution that’s promising full recovery, they are definitely interested. The only problem? When Cat arrives at the specialized institution tucked away in a remote part of the Everglades, she discovers that things aren’t always what they seem. Why, at such a prestigious institution, aren’t there more than a handful of patients? Isn’t it odd that they are all twelve year olds with similar brain damage? Why have some of the patients mysteriously disappeared? What is really going on?
Wake Up Missing is an adrenaline pumping read that just came out this month. A little bit of brain science, a little bit of potential DNA manipulation, a little bit about the history of some very famous scientists, and a lot of action make this book a quick and exciting read. Guys and girls both will enjoy the mixed cast of characters and the small subplots going on in the background. Anytime a book brings up such murky waters as DNA manipulation, there is much to discuss. This is not a “deep” novel, but there are great issues to pick apart. In this book, it is clear that the way each person was originally created is the way he or she should stay–even if a brain injury has complicated that original design (although Messner doesn’t phrase it quite that way, the point is there).(less)
I really wanted to like this book: a unique setting (homeless shelters in Chicago--not many of THOSE books floating around), a mystery (I'm a big myst...moreI really wanted to like this book: a unique setting (homeless shelters in Chicago--not many of THOSE books floating around), a mystery (I'm a big mystery fan), and a library employee (I'm a wannabee).
But this novel just didn't work for me. It's not a bad read, and no doubt there middle grades students who will enjoy it. I appreciate the unique aspects of the setting and thought the shelter scenes were done well as was the portrayal of the family's experience being homeless in general. Well done.
But the reason they were IN the shelter? And how they managed to get OUT of that lifestyle? Just a little too much for me to swallow. I'm honestly not sure what didn't fit/work: Dash's character? The means Early uses to figure out the mystery? The mystery set-up itself? Or the "clues" throughout that were intentionally vague?
All in all, it felt like Balliett was trying too hard to write this book and make it what it was. I've heard good things about
And One Came Home is definitely one of the former. Did you know there were massive passenger pigeon migrations once upon a time? Huh. Me neither. That there were folks called pigeoners who traveled after these huge flocks hoping to cash on in the big nestings? Huh. Me neither.
A little mystery (or, a lot), some quirky characters, and lots of lovely prose made this a book I thoroughly enjoyed. The ending was a bit tidy in parts--rather quickly wrapped up in a way. But overall, I enjoyed reading this book tremendously. The journey was great.(less)
I enjoy Feinstein's Final Four mysteries. Baseball fans would get more out of this than I did... I found myself skimming in parts when the technical b...moreI enjoy Feinstein's Final Four mysteries. Baseball fans would get more out of this than I did... I found myself skimming in parts when the technical baseball talk would kick in :-).(less)
Oh, so, so, so, so funny. My kids (ages 6-7) seemed to enjoy the book, but much of the humor went over their heads. Maybe better for a middle-upper el...moreOh, so, so, so, so funny. My kids (ages 6-7) seemed to enjoy the book, but much of the humor went over their heads. Maybe better for a middle-upper elementary audience.
Terrific choice for music appreciation, but also a fun choice to demonstrate Lemony Snicket's usual flare for word plays and clever text in general.
I want to give this 4.5 stars really. Still chuckling. And it comes with a CD. (less)
This is just the kind of book I devoured in 4th grade (and thereabouts). Mystery, adventure, potential murder, danger... (which is precisely why I had...moreThis is just the kind of book I devoured in 4th grade (and thereabouts). Mystery, adventure, potential murder, danger... (which is precisely why I had a steady book diet of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys during that time!). Kids will enjoy it!(less)
I really enjoyed the peek into Egyptian daily life as it might have been centuries ago. Good story, great setting--the historical/cultural details are...moreI really enjoyed the peek into Egyptian daily life as it might have been centuries ago. Good story, great setting--the historical/cultural details are thrown in as it they're completely natural with no intrusive authorial explanation.(less)
I read the first No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book a few years ago and enjoyed it--very fun. I'm delighted to see the author's foray into early chap...moreI read the first No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book a few years ago and enjoyed it--very fun. I'm delighted to see the author's foray into early chapter books has also produced a fun read! (less)
I haven't read the others in this series, so the characters and their back stories were new to me. Feinstein seems to do a good job giving you enough...moreI haven't read the others in this series, so the characters and their back stories were new to me. Feinstein seems to do a good job giving you enough information about their history without going overboard (and, therefore, boring folks who have read the others). I'm an Olympics fan and a mystery fan, so this was a fun read; it's typical of mysteries--light reading, fun plot, and likable young sleuths. I think kids in the 7th-9th grade range will enjoy this series--both girls and boys. (There's a boy and a girl main character; in this pair, the girl is the super athletic one, but both want to be sports writers). I enjoyed the sports-related information as well as the behind-the-scenes details about big sporting events, agents, sponsorships, etc. I'll be watching the Olympics with a whole new eye this year!
The setting is the London Olympics, so this might be worth picking up when it hits stores next week if you know a child who be interested. Lots of current names are thrown out (such as Michael Phelps--the main girl is a swimmer, so most of the names are swimmers' names). (less)
So many things I enjoyed with this book (and thank you, Net Galley, for the opportunity to read it!). Full review on my blog coming; I'll update this...moreSo many things I enjoyed with this book (and thank you, Net Galley, for the opportunity to read it!). Full review on my blog coming; I'll update this accordingly. For now:
1. SHORT--less than 200 pages, an increasing rarity in middle grade fiction
2. DEPTH--without feeling too much like "a book with a message." There's LOTS of stuff in here to discuss, but you don't "have" to (bullying; parents working a lot--or not working, as the case may be; friendship; fears; etc.)
3. DETAILS--I always enjoy a book with well connected dots... ha ha ha--now you have to read it to see what I mean! :-)
4. CHARACTERS--great characterization
5. PLOT--a little mystery, a little intrigue, realistic school/apartment life, etc.(less)
Great story! Not sure it's as high on my 2012-list-of-faves as the Newbery committee decided it was for them, but still, it's a solid read with great...moreGreat story! Not sure it's as high on my 2012-list-of-faves as the Newbery committee decided it was for them, but still, it's a solid read with great quirky characters, unpredictable plot (at least the details), some suspense, and a good ending. Kids will enjoy this one a lot! (less)
I enjoyed this little mystery a lot. I knew it was "Christian fiction" going into it, but it is NOT preachy at all like so many others. The characters...moreI enjoyed this little mystery a lot. I knew it was "Christian fiction" going into it, but it is NOT preachy at all like so many others. The characters' faith seems genuine and unaffected. The mystery itself is good--didn't see the end coming until shortly before big reveal. My only complaint: it's a bit long.... I think it could be tightened up a bit there in the middle. Another small issue: the perspective changes bothered me a touch because this really seems like Cooper's story; the shift occasionally to his cousin Gordy and his friend Hiro were distracting. I read an ARC of the book.(less)
This is totally Nancy Drew in Christian form. It's a quick read, action-packed, and not too preachy. In fact, despite my misgivings at picking up a bo...moreThis is totally Nancy Drew in Christian form. It's a quick read, action-packed, and not too preachy. In fact, despite my misgivings at picking up a book in a series titled FaithGirlz (that "z"... why do they do that?!), I found that the Christian element was well treated. There is no come-to-Jesus-preachy-message; instead, Jeri's faith seems genuine and realistic--much like what many 12-year-old Christians might be thinking/feeling.
My biggest issue is that Jeri consistently disobeys orders. I know, I know--her "instincts" and good detective skills are what save everyone in the end! Just like Nancy Drew! But, when you imply that those are in response to some vague direction from the Lord... well, that's a troubling message to give to impressionable middle school girls. In my experience, the Lord doesn't usually lead us to continually and flagrantly disobey those in authority over us.
It's a subtle thing, perhaps, and not something that would keep me from passing this book out. Indeed, it's far, far better than most Christian fiction out there. But still, it's worth noting.(less)
I so much enjoy Morton's plotting--the way she unravels the storyline.... The Distant Hours is probably my favorite of her books, and I thought the en...moreI so much enjoy Morton's plotting--the way she unravels the storyline.... The Distant Hours is probably my favorite of her books, and I thought the ending was absolutely perfect. I was troubled by some insinuations regarding Saffy's relationship to her father, but otherwise couldn't put the book down. Morton has a knack for revealing bits and pieces to the reader, jumping back and forth in time and between narrators, so that about half way through the book you just can't stop reading.... There are mounting feelings of dread and anticipation and surety as you think "I've figured it all out" (but of course you still have several hundred pages to go, so there is obviously much more to the story!). Eventually she wraps it all up, manages to make you sympathetic for every character, and, perhaps troubling, makes you "understand" why every character did what they did--and you want to absolve them of any guilt.... This book covers some of the experiences of the children evacuated from London to the country during WWII--something I'd now like to read a bit more about.(less)
**spoiler alert** This reminded me so much of the general idea behind The Forgotten Garden that I wanted to ask my grandmother if there was an implied...more**spoiler alert** This reminded me so much of the general idea behind The Forgotten Garden that I wanted to ask my grandmother if there was an implied similarity to her life (she's given me both). The similarity is this: girl finds out her historical female relative was involved in a significant undercover mystery that involved the life of an infant.
I enjoyed the read, but it's not as well written as The Forgotten Garden and the plot is a touch predictable.(less)
For all you fellow Agatha Christie/Dorothy Sayers/Victorian lit fans out there… read this book!! Mystery + time travel + witty comments...moreSO. MUCH. FUN.
For all you fellow Agatha Christie/Dorothy Sayers/Victorian lit fans out there… read this book!! Mystery + time travel + witty comments about the Victorians + myriad references to Victorian lit and the aforementioned mystery dames + a touch of romance…. to say nothing of the dog. Hilarious and a great read (plus some rather deep musings on our place in the tapestry of time and the Grand Design). A clever book that is as sharp as it is fun.(less)
I read this book in December as some brain candy--gripping like many mysteries, exotic from the setting (Kenya), and a little romance thrown in. Delig...moreI read this book in December as some brain candy--gripping like many mysteries, exotic from the setting (Kenya), and a little romance thrown in. Delightful if you're looking for some escapism.(less)