Wilson writes tight, robust fiction. Full of action and depth, there is nary a stray word–despite that page countReview first posted on RedeemedReader
Wilson writes tight, robust fiction. Full of action and depth, there is nary a stray word–despite that page count! Everything has meaning. The transmortals (mythological characters such as Gilgamesh) are back. The Smith family along with their allies are also back. The Phoenix is back. Skelton’s inheritance begins to make more sense. Cyrus, in particular, is coming of age; Wilson handles this expertly. The supporting cast of characters revolve around his maturation, and the stage is set for Cyrus to step into a position of leadership. And it all comes down to a massive, epic battle of good v. evil.
When you read Scripture, particularly the prophetic passages in books such as Daniel or Revelation, do you allow yourself to imagine the awe and terror of some of those scenes? Whether or not you read these books as completely literal is beside the point. We too often tame strong Biblical passages down and make the Christian walk in general one of peace and goodwill with no offense given, none taken. Wilson does not. He weaves Biblical imagery and language in and through this book, especially in the final one third-one fourth. And the stakes are high. There are no wimps here, no “nice” good guys, no bad guys who just “made a wrong choice.”
In Empire of Bones, we see truly evil characters in transmortal Radu Bey and the woman he wants to raise up from burial (Babd Catha–who demands child sacrifice). These characters feed on pain and will bring nothing but terrible destruction. Rupert, Cyrus, Antigone, and their allies are desperate to stop this coming destruction, but the price is great. Justice and Wrath will have to be awoken from burial, but these two characters will mete out justice and wrath to all. And all are guilty at some level, even the “good guys.” (Note: Justice and Wrath are the stone characters pictured on the cover.)
Monks, transmortals, a prophetess, ancient mythologies weave in and out in this hold-your-breath wild ride. Those who enjoy action-packed fantastic adventure will enjoy this series as will those who like to read between the lines and beneath the surface for deeper truth. This series is a violent one, and evil is truly evil. But Wilson makes the counterpoint startling clear in this book. I love that the “good guys” are still guilty before Justice and Wrath and without hope save in the covering of blood, that the way to fight the evil is to take the path of the fool and to celebrate love and joy, and that sacrifice is both necessary and heart-breaking. This book will enrich your understanding of the “feel” of Biblical books like Daniel and Revelation as well as the sacrificial tapestry of Scripture as a whole while simultaneously providing a good read. And it will remind you that evil really is evil…sin isn’t just a “mistake.”...more
I almost shelved this book on my "parenting" shelf because it has a lot to say about parenting! Which brings us to the crux of the matter right off: wI almost shelved this book on my "parenting" shelf because it has a lot to say about parenting! Which brings us to the crux of the matter right off: will KIDS want to read a book that has so much great stuff about PARENTS? There are those transitional/short chapter books that focus on adults which have found good readership (Sarah, Plain and Tall perhaps), but they are few and far between. And this little book is primarily about the grown-ups.
A childless couple finds a boy on their porch, a boy who can't speak but who possesses great and amazing gifts in the arts (music and painting particularly). He can communicate with animals after a fashion as well. But the book is entirely from John and Marta's perspective, not Jacob's EVER.
A great statement about foster parenting, the gift it is to children, and how children/ unexpected relationships can enrich our lives beyond our expectations.... And it's beautifully written with succinct short chapters and just enough said. I'm going to be curious to see who picks it up more, grown-ups or kids....more
This book came out on my birthday this year (January 8) along with titles such as Hokey Pokey, Navigating EarlyReview originally posted on Literaritea
This book came out on my birthday this year (January 8) along with titles such as Hokey Pokey, Navigating Early, and The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brockett. Despite the "potential Newbery buzz" for books like Hokey Pokey and Navigating Early (both were on the early "to read" list at Heavy Medal, for instance), my favorite of this group is The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A Novel of Snow and Courage.
So, why do I like this little chapter book so much? A longheld love affair with Charlotte's Web making me predisposed to like any pig chapter book? A general fondness for talking animal stories? A son who loves all things "pig"? Those are all reasons that helped me pick up this title off the "new" shelf at the library earlier this year. But those are not the reasons that make me like this book better than others I've read this year.
The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A Novel of Snow and Courage is well written. Pure and simple. Characterization is top notch. We first meet Flora as a piglet who dreams of life beyond the pigpen, befriending the barnyard cat (Luna) in hopes of finding out "stuff." One day: escape! And Flora meets Oscar, a lead sled dog. Henceforward, after being returned to the pigpen, Flora dreams not just of exploration but of joining the sled dog team. After all, she has courage, pluck, strength, a stout heart. What more could you ask for in a sled dog team member?
One day, Flora is taken, along with Oscar and a number of other dogs, on board a ship bound for an Antarctic expedition. The reader will pick up on clues that go over Flora's head: her destiny is clearly for the crew's plates. She and her newest cat friend, Sophia, team up in the ship's hold to conquer the myriad rats, and Flora works hard to build up her strength in preparation for her anticipated sled dog/pig role.
Catastrophe strikes the ship, Flora's stout heart and strong legs help save the day, and she becomes essential to the team's survival. Flora forms an unlikely team with old Oscar, prickly Sophia, and the boy Aleric to help save the day in a heartwarming ending that is not at all saccharine.
The best chapter books for the third-fifth grade crowd feature great friendships, often between unlikely characters. You will find that in spades in this delightful book. Flora seeks adventure and finds it beyond her wildest dreams. Her courage is tremendous. Sophia's begrudging acceptance of the role of team player is well done. The scary and tense situations are just the right level for the target age group. As bizarre as the plot line is, it somehow works: we're rooting for a pig and a cat in the Antarctic and we know they will make it.
This book works on so many levels: plot, characterization, "issues" (survival, friendship, teamwork, etc.), setting (from the farm to the boat to the Antarctic). Illustrations are quirky and effective. But it also works on a sentence level: the text is excellent. A well constructed text can be read aloud easily and to great effect; Kurtz gives us that here. In fact, while this book will delight strong third and fourth grade readers (and younger), I think it's real gift will be as a read aloud so that a group can cheer on Flora together. She would like that; she's a friendly type and a real team player. ...more
I was delighted with how approachable this book still is for today's audiences. Published in 1941, this book is more than 70 years old--how would itsI was delighted with how approachable this book still is for today's audiences. Published in 1941, this book is more than 70 years old--how would its treatment of Native Americans, for one, translate to today's sensibilities and politically correct emphasis? Quite well. This is a wonderful novel based on the true story of a young girl taken captive by Indians the day before her family was killed by the same group of Indians; after two years in captivity with the Seneca Indians, Molly Jemison, aka Corn Tassel, chose to stay with them. She'd learned much from her Indian family, had grown to love them, and realized that she could indeed make a life as a white girl amongst an Indian tribe. They accepted her as their own, even though she'd been technically a captive. The Seneca Indians are shown to be a hard-working, beauty-loving, stern-yet-loving people. I read this from a netgalley ARC from Open Road Media--I believe they're reissuing the book as an e-book. It had a nicely done short biography of Lenski complete with some author photos. All of Lenski's original illustrations are also in the e-book format. I've labeled it historical fiction partly because I think it would be shelved with fiction in a traditional library; it's really closer to a biography covering 2 years of Mary/Molly Jemison's extraordinary life....more
You know you want to read a book with this title: Ghetto Cowboy. I mean, c'mon--doesn't that pique your interest just a teeny tiny bit??
This was a verYou know you want to read a book with this title: Ghetto Cowboy. I mean, c'mon--doesn't that pique your interest just a teeny tiny bit??
This was a very cool book on a number of levels. First, I had no idea that there WERE such things as ghetto cowboys (and, yes, there are!). Cool.
Second, the single-parent-drops-kid-off-with-long-lost-other-parent plot line has gotten old. Until now. Somehow, the setting of an urban stable with ghetto cowboys makes it cool. Really.
Third, the parents are better parents by the end of the book than they are at the beginning, but not so dramatically that it's unbelievable. Cool.
Fourth, kid-finding-himself themes can be trite. Again, that idea works in this book with its terrific setting. Very cool.
Fifth, this novel manages to be very urban in setting, characterization, etc. BUT manages to stay away from some of the messiness of lots of urban street lit (no profanity, no real violence, etc.). That makes it so much more approachable for younger kids, for folks looking for "clean" reads, and the like.
Sixth, the point that teens in particular, but extrapolated to all people in general, need to be productively engaged and, I dare say it, WORKING is a very cool one to make in a middle grade/YA novel.
Finally, I enjoyed the style in which it was written and the illustrations are a terrific complement to the "feel" of the text. This would make a great movie....more
It's hard to improve on the The Random House Book of Poetry for Children edited by Prelutsky and illustrated by Arnold Lobel for a good children's poeIt's hard to improve on the The Random House Book of Poetry for Children edited by Prelutsky and illustrated by Arnold Lobel for a good children's poetry anthology--particularly for preschoolers and early elementary students. But when you need an anthology for those elementary-middle school students (and up!), this is the one to turn to. Muth's watercolor illustrations are gorgeous (as always) and do such an excellent job of capturing the mood and tone of each poem as well as its content. Kennedy's selection of poetry for this volume is wonderful: funny poems, somber poems, classic poems, contemporary poems--it's outstanding. There's even a short section in the back of longer poems for those who like an extra memory challenge. Indeed, this volume is full of poems to learn by heart.
Index of first lines and authors as well as a clear table of contents makes it easy to find particular poems. ...more
I guess this is historical fiction since it is set so specifically in an event which occurred in a specific time and place (although a setting that isI guess this is historical fiction since it is set so specifically in an event which occurred in a specific time and place (although a setting that is only 9 years old isn't usually "historical").
At any rate, I recently read Buddy and it's impossible not to compare these two books: both feature a boy and his dog in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And Zane pales in comparison. Essentially, this book was too unrealistic for me. I get that terrible things were going on in and after the flooding in New Orleans. But really? A crippled old man, a boy, and a young girl managing all that? And then, when all hope is lost, getting miraculously saved in a manner which--not to spoil it too much--was just way, way, way too convenient. And suddenly, after their salvation, we find out the mystery surrounding Zane's dad (which takes all of one paragraph or two), and then Zane is back in New Hampshire. A short chapter functions as an epilogue "one year later." Too tidy, too quick.
Not a bad read, especially if you're looking for something about life after a natural disaster. But there are better books out there....more
This is hilarious--as only a team composed of the likes of Mac Barnett, Mo Willems, Jon Klaasen, and their ilk can be. Witty, clever takes on the clasThis is hilarious--as only a team composed of the likes of Mac Barnett, Mo Willems, Jon Klaasen, and their ilk can be. Witty, clever takes on the classic kids' newspaper fare (think: mazes, word puzzles, drawing directions, secret words, spot the difference and other similar features), this book compiles 44 weekly inserts into one fantastic kid resource. Heavy duty paper, single sided--kids can cut out the random finger puppets and other games without messing up the rest of the book. Need a temporary tattoo? There are some suggestions. Need to fake a shower or an illness? Gotcha covered.
This is going on my gift-giving list for sure for some kids I know! (This is reminiscent of the spirit behind the Wreck This Journal)...more
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 mystI 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
I am giving this book 5 stars partly because it is exemplary in so many ways of what a great middle grades novel can and should be. But I kind of wantI am giving this book 5 stars partly because it is exemplary in so many ways of what a great middle grades novel can and should be. But I kind of want to give it 4.5. I'll round up because the greatness outweighs my (few) issues.
Greats: (1) Shifts in point of view--and I like that they don't happen every chapter. Rather, they occur in clumps of chapters and, with the exception of Auggie--the main character--we don't hear from anyone twice. (2) The humanization of a special needs character--so much that nearly everyone will be able to relate to his story in some small fashion. (3) The representation of how hard middle school can be and how much political intrigue exists amongst the hallways (this is true, whether or not there's a student like Auggie in their midst). (4) Poignancy without "trying to"--you won't find myriad pithy statements about the specialness of Auggie; even his sister gets irritated at him. You WILL find growth in people's characters, you'll tear up with Auggie over things, and you'll get mad--but this is more an outworking of the book rather than an overtly profound statement on every page. (5) The wrapping up of it all in the end. This type of book can be VERY hard to end well, and I think Palacio pulls that off. She ties up loose ends, she offers believable experiences and reasons for the finale, and she offers some nice culminating insights into what the characters may have thought through her collection of statements at the end. (6) Making a somewhat lengthy and "deep" novel (close to 300 pages) quite readable for a middle school audience: short chapters, middle school humor, contemporary references--which may get outdated, but make the novel work so well for now that I'll forgive them, plot/action above profundity and contemplation, ....
Weaknesses: (1) The cover!! I realize it's not supposed to be representational, but a HUGE deal for Auggie is how small and unlike-normal his ears are. If anything, on that cover, they're larger than life and look exactly like "ears" even if they're stylized. Do you people read these novels before you design their covers?? (2) A little more tying in of Via's story to Auggie's--we seem to be really going somewhere with her perceptions and growth, even getting to know her boyfriend, and then we switch back to Auggie and don't really find anything else out.... (3) This is more due to worldview-related issues, but it kind of saddens me to see people emphasizing kindness just because. Kindness IS indeed wonderful, but it's a little shallow with nothing to back it up (i.e. WHY are we to be kind to people?). Admittedly, that's hard to convey in a novel like this without being preachy. It's more a discussion to bring up with those who've read it, so this remains a small quibble.
Odette's Secrets sounded like it was right up my ally: novel in verse, WWII time period, little explored subject within its time frame. And I did enjoOdette's Secrets sounded like it was right up my ally: novel in verse, WWII time period, little explored subject within its time frame. And I did enjoy it. Little Jewish Odette lives in Paris as WWII looms large, and Hitler begins his "cleansing" of Europe. Her father goes to fight for France, and he is soon captured and taken as a prisoner of war. As Paris heats up, her mother hatches a daring plan with other resistance fighters: to send their children to willing strangers in the countryside to keep them safe. The time comes to put this plan into action, and Odette, along with three other girls she's never met before, travel by train to a family they've never met before. They are instructed in all the good Catholic ways, go to a Catholic school, attend a Catholic church, and in general passed off as "good Christians."
A series of events follows this, some heart warming, some heart wrenching. Yet, Odette's Secrets is based on the memories of the real Odette, so we know she survives. And she does.
The story in this short novel in verse is a rich one and worth reading, especially for those who enjoy WWII stories. My one complaint is the format. Although I really enjoy novels in verse, for some reason the format just didn't work for me in this one. I kept realizing I was reading a novel in verse; a really great one will suck you in and the form doesn't keep intruding on your consciousness in such a way as to jerk you back out of the story.
I am clearly in the minority as far as my opinion of this book goes. It's cute, well written, and charming in most of the right ways. I love that PennI am clearly in the minority as far as my opinion of this book goes. It's cute, well written, and charming in most of the right ways. I love that Penny refers to all my favorite books (among them Unfortunate Events, Anne of Green Gables, Penderwicks...). What bugged me more and more as the book progressed, however, were two primary things:
1. the lack of any strong male character. Even Penny's dad, after he's brave enough to quit his major corporate job, still lets Penny's mom call the shots. C'mon, man, have some spunk! All other male characters are wimps, too, without a woman/girl prodding them along. I like to see both strong women/girls AND strong men/boys in books.
2. OK, people, didn't anyone else get annoyed by the "quirky" cast of characters? Charming though some of them are, still, it was a little over the top. I mean, EVERY SINGLE ONE of the Thrush Junction characters is "diverse." (for some reason, what really sealed the deal for me was the sudden awareness that the elderly lawyers in this small mountain town in East Tennessee were women--nothing against women lawyers, but what are the odds that two elderly women in the Appalachias are lawyers? This might have been okay if they weren't just another in a long line of eccentric characters.) Just was a little too much for me as far as buying into the realism.
I would have loved this book had the dad been a bit more of a man and had the characters been balanced out a bit--they seemed to be agenda driven a touch because no one would have collected that many different characters by accident....more
1 part funny and honest memoir + 1 part family friendly recipes following current style of "real foods" = very engaging read. She chronicles her cooki1 part funny and honest memoir + 1 part family friendly recipes following current style of "real foods" = very engaging read. She chronicles her cooking evolution from single to newly wed to mom of two kids under two (I had three under two for a while!!) to mom of two kids in elementary school.
Chicken pot pie with sweet potatoes: awesome
Spicy fries made with sweet potatoes: awesome
Breakfast burritos for dinner: awesome
I think Rosenstrach's budget is a wee bit more generous than mine, but still, I found her recipes worth considering and very doable. I so much appreciated her honesty that sometimes, having a storebought pizza together is the only way you'll actually have dinner together as a family--and that still counts!! It doesn't always have to be from scratch. I also enjoyed her writing style and found myself cracking up on several occasions. I have employed some of the same tips for years on my own and found them to be very helpful in getting everyone to partake of the same meal (deconstructing dinner being one I employ frequently), but I also think children younger than 3 can be expected to eat what the rest of the family's eating. Still, I applaud her for striving to have everyone in her family sit down and enjoy a similar meal together--especially when she and her husband were both holding down demanding full time jobs. Wow....more
I don't get what all the fuss is about: either the folks who are completely opposed to lowly Hank or those rabid fans of his....
These books are funnyI don't get what all the fuss is about: either the folks who are completely opposed to lowly Hank or those rabid fans of his....
These books are funny, but much of the tongue-in-cheek humor no doubt goes over a 9 year old's head (which seems to be roughly the target audience judging from reading level). I found the "voice" in the book (including the dead pan humor) to be DEAD ON with an old Texan looking back on his adventures. If you need corroboration of that, I'll let you read my Texan uncle's hilarious Christmas letters. This "voice" makes them funnier to the adults reading them than to younger kids.
But what's troubling to me revolves around two things: first, the coyotes (enemies of cowdogs the world over) speak in what sounds to me like a remake of those old TV shows that showed Native Americans saying things like, "me go hunt big rabbit." Or something equally dumb. And, furthermore, while what Hank's narrating is supposed to be funny, it's often an outright lie with no acknowledgement of that fact to the receiver. He's often dramatizing his adventures on behalf of his oh, so loyal friend, Drover, but he never lets on to unsuspecting, gullible Drover that he's made up most of the tale.
It makes for a genuinely funny read, but I'm not sure I'd let my kids live on a steady diet of Hank with no discussion and/or nothing else to read. Think of these books as pretzels--a quick pick me up and could be worse (candy or other sugary treat), but won't hold you for long.......more
In her haste one morning, Ava grabs a pencil from the kitchen drawer. During her math test, Ava realizes that the penFirst reviewed on Redeemed Reader
In her haste one morning, Ava grabs a pencil from the kitchen drawer. During her math test, Ava realizes that the pencil can tell her answers to the questions she’s writing down. Obviously this is the sort of thing to tell a best friend, and soon Ava and Sophie are testing the pencil’s knowledge. They move on from homework questions to whether a boy likes a girl, information about their teachers, and questions about the future (which the pencil refuses to answer). They even question the pencil about how to make the folks at the retirement center (including Ava’s grandfather) happier; when Ava and Sophie act on the pencil’s advice, the results are heartwarming. On her own, Ava starts asking heavier questions: Will her parents stay together? Is her grandmother going to be okay? But Ava soon realizes that some things are better left unknown.
Ava Anderson is a very typical middle school girl. And she worries…a lot. While her anxiety drives her to some creative ruses in her attempt to avoid things that frighten her (such as the class field trip to a woodland retreat center), even those who don’t worry to the same extent as Ava will resonate with her fears. After all, most middle schoolers spend some time worrying over their friends, their parents’ marriages or jobs or health, their school situation. Readers will enjoy watching Ava come to grips with some of her fears as well watching Ava interact with her family (which include her grandparents, parents, and sibling). The family interactions and Ava’s character development are wonderfully written. Middle school is a time of anxiety for many students, and they will relate easily to Ava.
Book provided via netgalley in return for a fair review....more
Very conflicted here. Bullet points will have to suffice:
What I liked (4-5 stars): *each individual historical fiction story was engaging, especially tVery conflicted here. Bullet points will have to suffice:
What I liked (4-5 stars): *each individual historical fiction story was engaging, especially the first two *nice, believable diversity (didn't feel like "diversity for the sake of diversity") and a good range (not just ethnic, but physical and socio economic) *harmonica element unique *emphasis on power of music well done *mood throughout book was captivating
What I didn't like (3 stars): *the ending! Um.. WAY, WAY, WAY too convenient. I almost think if we'd started at that concert and then backed up to see how each main character had gotten there, it would have been more believable. Instead, it felt too forced and convenient *the Latina girl's story was a touch weak. I felt that the historical stories started off strong and began to fizzle by the end of the third one *the 3 sisters?? released for what?? to what?? still confused by them and their need to be in the story...more
1. I confess to a great deal of sentimentality here: my two beloved 100+ pound black dogs are no longer with me, but when they were still alive, they1. I confess to a great deal of sentimentality here: my two beloved 100+ pound black dogs are no longer with me, but when they were still alive, they definitely frightened people. In reality, they were HUGE teddy bears who liked nothing better than to sit on your lap and cuddle.
2. The illustrations are amazing in this book: details, rich colors, perspective--it's all here. Every time I read it, I notice something new.
3. The approach: I love that the parents are part of the group that's afraid of the dog and that the little girl is the one who sees past it all. ...more
What a great book!! To sum up why I like it: 1. That dog/the illustrations--he looks JUST like my big old beastie... warm fuzzies all around. 2. The reaWhat a great book!! To sum up why I like it: 1. That dog/the illustrations--he looks JUST like my big old beastie... warm fuzzies all around. 2. The reading level/plot/characterization--a great fit together. This is an early chapter book that will hold young readers' interest with a great story and memorable characters (not least of which is the dog, Tornado). It's not going to feel too "young" for older new readers, but it will still be understandable for young new readers.
I think it will make a good read aloud to the kindergarten crowd, too. ...more
One-Line Summary: In this moving and convicting account, Qureshi recounts his spiritual awakening from devout MuslimReviewed first on Redeemed Reader
One-Line Summary: In this moving and convicting account, Qureshi recounts his spiritual awakening from devout Muslim boy to questioning teenager to zealous young Christian.
Nabeel Qureshi is a refreshing narrator in these confused times as our society attempts to balance fear of extreme Islamic practices with reticence about religious profiling of all professing Muslims. In this well-organized and exciting book, Qureshi spends time walking the reader through his early years in a devout home that professed and practiced the beliefs of the Islamic sect Ahmadiyya. Qureshi’s parents took the religious training of their children very seriously, and by the time Qureshi was a teen, he was well versed in the tenets of his religion. During high school, his best friend was a boy named David, a professing Christian and fellow debate team member. They became roommates in college and began to debate the merits of Islam and Christianity.
The rest, as they say, is history. The Lord used myriad ways to open this young man’s eyes to the truths of the gospel, and Qureshi’s account is simultaneously honest, emotional, and intellectually stimulating. Qureshi’s parents’ devotion to their religion and their training of their children is truly commendable, an example we Christians would do well to emulate. Of particular interest to our teen and college readers is the portrayal of Nabeel and David’s friendship. The two quickly realized that despite their significant religious differences and cultural backgrounds, they actually had more in common with each other than with their secular friends. For instance, both believed in a Creator and disavowed evolution. Their willingness to focus on their similarities and to be honest with each other even when religious debates grew intense proved to be a real means of grace in both of their lives.
Qureshi gives readers a powerful example of life-on-life apologetics and of Peter’s urging for all Christians to have an answer for the hope that is in us. He also paints the Islamic community in sympathetic, but honest terms, and he includes much extra material on his website for readers who wish to pursue the apologetics questions further. His extra resources on the web come from noted Christian thinkers such as Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel. Currently, Qureshi is working with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. This is a must read for any who wish to understand their Muslim friends and neighbors better as well as for any who are interested in apologetics.
Beautiful Moon is a beautiful book illustrated by award-winning illustrator Eric Velasquez. In it, a young boy is kepReviewed first on Redeemed Reader
Beautiful Moon is a beautiful book illustrated by award-winning illustrator Eric Velasquez. In it, a young boy is kept from sleeping by the brilliant full moon outside his window, and he remembers that he forgot to say his goodnight prayers. Instead of the typical prayers for mom or dad, a hurt elbow, or a loose tooth, this young man prays for those in need, those too busy to enjoy the world around them, those hurt by injustice. As he prays each line, the illustrations show people of all nationalities who are caught up in the very struggle for which the boy is praying. While the prayer is not directed specifically at God (nor is it directed at the moon), this is a wonderful tool for us to show our young children the breadth of the needs in our world and to guide our own prayers as we lift up those around us who are suffering....more
This fantasy series is not just for kids/teens! And I liked this book even better than the first. So intricate and tightly written--you can't skip a wThis fantasy series is not just for kids/teens! And I liked this book even better than the first. So intricate and tightly written--you can't skip a word or skim at all. The plot is intricate and comes together so nicely at the end--and I didn't see it coming (well, not all of it--it's hard to surprise me completely these days). Well worth reading....more
A quiet book and one to sit still with. My daughter, in particular, cherished this book as a toddler. In the midst of such bright, bold, and busy pictA quiet book and one to sit still with. My daughter, in particular, cherished this book as a toddler. In the midst of such bright, bold, and busy picture books as are often published these days, it seems that a quiet book about being quiet and still hit just the right note. Don't overlook this one! It's on a young child's level for sure....more
A great read that manages to feel both old-fashioned in all the right ways AND still contemporary in tone. Micah's relationship with his grandfather iA great read that manages to feel both old-fashioned in all the right ways AND still contemporary in tone. Micah's relationship with his grandfather is so well done. Jenny is a terrific foil as Micah's best friend. I figured out the grandfather's "miracle" request before the end, but I don't know that younger readers will--nor did it spoil anything for me. Micah grows immensely in this book and turns out to have some serious spunk and faith in the end. (He always had the faith; it just hadn't been tested yet....).
I think even kids who don't normally like fantasy will enjoy this one--it's not "high fantasy" with dragons/witches and the like. ...more
A mystery = + Boy and girl protagonist = + Traveling the world = + Lackluster writing = - Illustrations in a chapter book = + Illustrations that arEnh....
A mystery = + Boy and girl protagonist = + Traveling the world = + Lackluster writing = - Illustrations in a chapter book = + Illustrations that are not awesome = - Intentionally flipped mom/dad roles that feels a bit forced to me = - Stereotypical characters in the good guys/bad guys = -
Not terrible if you're hoping for some basic fluency-building books, but nothing to seek out in particular.
It's refreshing to read a chapter book that lauds MATH. So many books favor the library, the protagonist who loves to read or write, or other literaryIt's refreshing to read a chapter book that lauds MATH. So many books favor the library, the protagonist who loves to read or write, or other literary pursuits. (Of course, most writers WERE those kids who loved to read/write).)
Annika Riz is a likable character and loves math. Her friends demonstrate great friendship as they cheer her on in the city-wide sudoku contest and bake cookies together for their class's booth at the school carnival. Math's importance is woven into the baking fiascos and solutions nicely.
This is my favorite Penderwick book yet! I think Birdsall is nailing the beginning now (whereas I thought the first one took a wee bit to get going).This is my favorite Penderwick book yet! I think Birdsall is nailing the beginning now (whereas I thought the first one took a wee bit to get going). Characterization is, as always, top notch. I'm impressed with how well she allows the shift in focus (from Rosalind as Oldest Available Penderwick--OAP to Skye) take place as well as with how well she allows Jeffrey to find the answers to some tough questions. It's a gentle book, but definitely not cheesy. I now want to vacation at both Arundel AND Point Mouette (how do you pronounce that?) whilst living on Gardam Street. I do not care to meet any Dominics while I'm at Point Mouette, but I do intend to hang out with the Penderwicks and extended "family", see some baby moose (!), and hang out with spastic Hoover who is clearly, oh so clearly, a Boston Terrier. I'd probably even work a puzzle with Aunt Claire.
One thing I appreciate about these books, and it comes out quite clearly in this book in relation to Jeffrey in particular, is that the adults provide a stabilizing force but never, ever talk down to the kids. (well, the "good adults"). The kids know that Aunt Claire will be wise, but Aunt Claire never acts like the kids aren't wise either. She lets them be kids and expects them to rise to the occasion (which they do!). The grownups respect the kids and vice versa. There is no micromanaging....more
Disney’s popular Frozen is a tale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” Ophelia and the MarvReview originally seen on RedeemedReader
Disney’s popular Frozen is a tale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is also a retelling of “The Snow Queen.” No romance here as in Frozen, and the Snow Queen is back to her frosty, unyielding self. But Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is more than simply a Snow Queen story for middle grade readers; it is broader and more complex than Frozen.
Ophelia herself is a child of today, but the Marvelous Boy she discovers has been hidden away for roughly 300 years by the Snow Queen. Ophelia’s father, newly widowed and an international sword expert, has been summoned by an imperious woman to help with her upcoming sword exhibit which will take place in her old museum. Ophelia and her sister accompany their father in order to spend Christmas in the snowy North with him.
As Ophelia explores the museum, she discovers the Marvelous Boy and her own adventure begins in earnest. Telling too much more will unveil the plot, and that is part of the charm of this book. Foxlee plots the book tightly and, even when readers begin to recognize the ending that’s coming, the journey is still a great trip.
For those who enjoy fantasy that is more like an Arthurian tale with a famous sword, a magical person or two, but no dragons/witches/castles, this will be a great read. Ophelia is a refreshingly honest character; she is quite ordinary, quite stubborn, and immensely curious. Her reticence to even be a heroine is endearing. Good triumphs resoundingly over evil, and all is well just in the nick of time. While the Snow Queen remains a villain, the Marvelous Boy points to the same self-sacrifice we saw in Frozen; this time, the self-sacrifice doesn’t thaw a frosty heart, it saves the world. Both Frozen and Ophelia are great reminders of The Story in which Christ’s self-sacrifice thaws frosty hearts and saves the world....more
I confess that I went into this book with a chip on my shoulder. After all, Z Is for Moose was AWESOME and hilariously funny and clever. This soundedI confess that I went into this book with a chip on my shoulder. After all, Z Is for Moose was AWESOME and hilariously funny and clever. This sounded like a knock off (although both books were independently in production with neither author/illustrator team knowing that the OTHER was happening... weird, huh?).
At any rate, this one is a touch more complex than Z is for Moose. Musk Ox manages to make nearly every letter in the alphabet about himself. And it's hilarious. I love his expressions in this one. You will learn quite a bit about musk oxen which leads me to this stellar curriculum connection: research an animal of choice and write a report using the alphabet as your organizing theme! Fun!
Note: if you're reading this aloud to a group of children, it may be best to have TWO narrators read unless you're really good at voices and keeping them straight. There is no "he said," just dialogue.
So, to sum up: Z is for Moose is a great fit for K5-1st graders, A is for Musk Ox is a good fit for 1st-3rd graders....more
The sequel to Jinx, Jinx’s Magic is definitely a “second” book. Picking up immediately where Jinx left off, the book races to a cliffhanger end! Blackwood’s world building, character development, and plotting are very well done. Jinx is revealed to be the Listener: he can hear the trees talk, see people’s thoughts, and can summon power from the trees of his home country (the Urwald) as well as through others’ knowledge. What this means for the future is unclear, but Jinx is a true hero, sacrificing himself for the good of his adopted father, Simon, and the Urwald. Jinx’s magic turns out to be unique to him, related closely to his identity as the Listener. Jinx is also growing up, and the tension between him and Simon adds emotional heft to the story even while the fantasy elements capture our imagination.
Another tension is at work, too, that is harder to nail down. Essentially, there are those who seek to use people (and trees) to further their own power, showing complete disregard for life. Simon and Jinx are trying to thwart them, and both value life. As is often the case in high fantasy, even the trees and other inhuman characters possess power and lives worth saving. In this complex world, Jinx is only just beginning to figure out how he can do magic and at what level. As the Listener, Jinx is supposedly going to be bring balance—between fire and ice. Between good and evil? I’m not sure. Jinx is poised to unite the Urwald, defeat the sinister Bonemaster, and restore Simon. But at what cost? Series can be hard to predict; how will the ideas of “lifeforce,” power from the trees, and Knowledge is Power (KnIP) mature in the next book?
I wanted a bit more closure at the end. I liked the open ending of the first, but this second feels too much like an in-between book (frustration!). Still, I think the writing is stronger than in the first and I couldn't put it down. ...more