Wilson writes tight, robust fiction. Full of action and depth, there is nary a stray word–despite that page count...moreReview 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.”(less)
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: w...moreI 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.(less)
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 its...moreI 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.(less)
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 ver...moreYou 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.(less)
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 poe...moreIt'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. (less)
1 part funny and honest memoir + 1 part family friendly recipes following current style of "real foods" = very engaging read. She chronicles her cooki...more1 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.(less)
This book came out on my birthday this year (January 8) along with titles such as Hokey Pokey, Navigating Early...moreReview 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. (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
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 want...moreI 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.
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 rea...moreWhat 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. (less)
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 w...moreThis 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.(less)
I'm a fan of Melissa Sweet's artwork, and this book lives up to my expectations. I love, love, love the illustrations--Sweet uses all sorts of sewing...moreI'm a fan of Melissa Sweet's artwork, and this book lives up to my expectations. I love, love, love the illustrations--Sweet uses all sorts of sewing images and techniques in the illustrations: the borders (frames) of many images look stitched, lots of pages look like scraps of fabric have been pieced together for the background of the illustrations, and the perspective is well done (one picture that really stood out to me was the scene of the 300 girls sitting at tables--seen from above).
The storyline isn't quite as strong--not bad, just doesn't stand out as much as Sweet's artwork. A strong bias towards Unions seems to be present, but that could simply be our 21st century eyes looking back; working conditions are SO much better now than they were a century ago, particularly for women and young girls.
All in all, a solid informational text that will work well for elementary school students--an author's note at the end provides more information as does the selected bibliography and resources for further research listed at the back.(less)
Disney’s popular Frozen is a tale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” Ophelia and the Marv...moreReview 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.(less)
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 sounded...moreI 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.(less)
This is a very fun little read. Most books that are written about book lovers tend to be geared just to book lovers in terms of their audience. The Ye...moreThis is a very fun little read. Most books that are written about book lovers tend to be geared just to book lovers in terms of their audience. The Year of the Book comes to mind--a sweet story, but so overloaded with references to books that most kids would feel in the dark.
I don't think I Kill the Mockingbird is like that, though. Obviously, those who've read To Kill a Mockingbird will get more out of it and that eliminates most average middle schoolers. Still, there's enough going on in the book that I think many middle schoolers will still enjoy it. The relationships between the three main characters are well done, the way their small idea grows way beyond their initial expectations is believable, their own maturity over the summer is well done…. I also liked the way Lucy's mom is recovering from cancer--it's so much more upbeat than most "cancer" books and yet the reader gets the seriousness of what she and the family went through the past year.
The voice feels a bit young to me at times for kids who are just about to enter high school. Otherwise, I like this book a lot! (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)
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 funny...moreI 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....(less)
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 Penn...moreI 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.(less)
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 is...moreI 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.(less)
I'm really enjoying this book: lots of simple projects that I actually want to make. Instructions and diagrams are clear and well written. Would be 5...moreI'm really enjoying this book: lots of simple projects that I actually want to make. Instructions and diagrams are clear and well written. Would be 5 stars except for one thing: finished project dimensions are not given. Thus, it's hard to know exactly how big the children's tent will be, or the floral rug, etc. Otherwise, great stuff in here! Time frames seem fairly accurate as well (I've made a couple of things so far). Also, it's worth noting that the variety of projects is great, but all for the home: drawstring stuff bags, small rugs, drapes/valances, duvet covers, placemats and napkins, etc.(less)
I have a soft spot for the Lobel/Prelutsky The Random House Book of Poetry for Children and no book will top that in my mind. Still, this book is char...moreI have a soft spot for the Lobel/Prelutsky The Random House Book of Poetry for Children and no book will top that in my mind. Still, this book is charming and much more colorful/up to date in its illustrations. It doesn't have as many poems, but the collection is solid and well organized. I'm inclined to give it a 4 star rating.
the proof is in the pudding, as they say. My three children (ages 5, 5, and 6) LOVE this book. My 6-year-old has taken it to bed with her nightly while we've had it from the library, has picked out her favorites, and rereads them or quotes them all the time.
SO, that definitely bumps this up in my opinion to a 5*. Especially since this isn't a book of gimmicky princess poems; there are some great ones in this mix.
(updated 7/20/13 to include more shelves; orig read in sept 2012)(less)
I think I might give this one 3.5 stars if that were an option. But it definitely doesn't feel like Newbery quality to me. Maybe I'm reading it more c...moreI think I might give this one 3.5 stars if that were an option. But it definitely doesn't feel like Newbery quality to me. Maybe I'm reading it more critically given that I already knew it won the award when I first read it. Still, it reads like a first novel to me--some of the prose feels like the author's trying too hard, the plot has a few too many elements in it (frankly, the whole "Rattler" hunt could have been left out), the ending is too sweet and tidy, and so forth. I enjoy historical fiction, and I liked the two time periods involved, but there were just a few too many elements. I think Lyddie is a better middle grades novel about unions and being overworked; I think Out of the Dust is a better middle grades work about the Depression; and so forth.
It's a good read overall, but not medal worthy in my book.(less)
As is often the case, I appreciated this book even more in the presence of children than when I first read it by myself. It's funny, has a terrific co...moreAs is often the case, I appreciated this book even more in the presence of children than when I first read it by myself. It's funny, has a terrific combination of words and pictures, and the author "gets" children (along with their slightly irrational fears). Delightful.(less)
What a great read, particularly at this time of year! It took me a chapter or two to fall in love with the Penderwick sisters, but once I did, I was h...moreWhat a great read, particularly at this time of year! It took me a chapter or two to fall in love with the Penderwick sisters, but once I did, I was hooked. Charming, old-fashioned story telling without being dated. There is the briefest of mention of the father's computer, but otherwise, this book is timeless. I love that they are having so, so much fun and so, so many adventures without TV and other technological aids (and no self-conscious mention by the author that those things are not in use either). Just good old-fashioned fun.(less)
Woodson gives us a succinct history of one family's migration from the South to the North and their subsequent life in the North through several gener...moreWoodson gives us a succinct history of one family's migration from the South to the North and their subsequent life in the North through several generations. The rope links the histories and events together as it lends itself to new uses (thus creating new memories). Illustrations are well done and showcase a number of period references (pop culture art on the walls from the 60s, cars changing, clothing changing, etc.).
All in all, a solid historical fiction picture book. The rhythm of the text was ever so slightly off to me, and the illustrations--while excellent--had one or two nagging inconsistencies (such as when the text mentions the mother waving, but she's not). Otherwise, this would be a 5* book for me.(less)
This team's book And Then It's Spring was one of my favorites last year, so I was anxious to get my hands on this one. They've created another lovely...moreThis team's book And Then It's Spring was one of my favorites last year, so I was anxious to get my hands on this one. They've created another lovely quiet book about patience! This one is nearly as marvelous as their other one, but I must confess: the roses page didn't work for me. Something about it just knocked me out of the story each time I read it.
If my children are any indication, though, it's not a problem for them. My little contemplative reader who likes to look at a book, pore over it, notice every little detail... he's read it a lot today :-).(less)
I really enjoyed this sweet story about a girl from 1987 who travels back in time unexpectedly to 1937 and gets to know her grandmother. It's surprisi...moreI really enjoyed this sweet story about a girl from 1987 who travels back in time unexpectedly to 1937 and gets to know her grandmother. It's surprisingly thought-provoking towards the end, bringing up questions about being able to change destiny as well as the impact we can have on our friends, family, and those around us. It feels more like historical fiction than a fantasy time travel novel and will appeal to those who like good, heart-warming stories. It's a middle grade novel that could easily be read by intermediate readers.
*note: some very mild, very seldom occurrences of language may make some of my more conservative friends squirm a bit ("sucks," "god," etc).(less)
I read this book with some trepidation--my memory of the Weigh Down seminar (12 or 13 years ago?) was not terribly complimentary. Scripture taken out...moreI read this book with some trepidation--my memory of the Weigh Down seminar (12 or 13 years ago?) was not terribly complimentary. Scripture taken out of context and all. So, I was pleasantly surprised by the book (and when you read the book, you aren't subjected to Shamblin's Southern accent). 4 Stars because I think most Americans need to be reminded that gluttony is still gluttony--even if we put a different label on it. Shamblin reminds readers over and over that our dependence on food, overwhelming focus on it, overuse of it, and other food-related issues are often sinful at their core. Does it work? Well, I've lost 7 pounds this summer and counting.... :)(less)
Hmm… I read this book over Christmas and today I sat down to finally write a review of it. But I didn't remember ANYTHING about it until after reading...moreHmm… I read this book over Christmas and today I sat down to finally write a review of it. But I didn't remember ANYTHING about it until after reading the summery again. Telling? I think so. It's a fine story, well written, just not memorable for me in the least. I remember thinking I was glad it was over, and I could move on to more interesting fare. No doubt there are some kids out there who will enjoy it, especially those who enjoy stories in which the setting is almost a character in its own right and in which the plot meanders through the book--giving you plenty of time to get to know everyone. But it was not a book that grabbed me.(less)