In this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the fem...moreIn this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the female penguins and instead form their own little family.
What an adorable little book! The illustrations by Henry Cole are charming. The story of Roy and Silo is sensitively written for the young ones. I was sad as they tried to nest and then uplifted when little Tango came along. All in the space of 30 or so pages. And I just love that the story is completely true.
Much as I wish this world were more accepting, this book is not going to be for all families. If your family can handle it, I do recommend the book. It's a good introduction for children to the concept of families that are a little different but that are still built on love.(less)
Wayside school is just a little different. The builder built the school sideways, so it's 30 classrooms stacked on top of each other. Mrs. Jewls's cla...moreWayside school is just a little different. The builder built the school sideways, so it's 30 classrooms stacked on top of each other. Mrs. Jewls's class is on the 30th floor. That makes for a long hike for her students. The students at Wayside are a little different as well. One boy has a literal compulsion to pull a girl's braids. One student sleeps all the time. Everyone calls a new kid by the wrong name and he never corrects anyone. One new kid shows up wearing a raincoat and there's a huge surprise when he takes it off. The teachers at Wayside are a little different too. The first teacher is horrible and when she disappears, the students get a teacher who is just as wacky as they are. Yes, life's a little different at Wayside, but that's the way they like it.
I can remember my 4th grade teacher reading the first book to my class. We thought this was the funniest thing ever! I had high expectations going into it, and I wasn't really let down. It wasn't as funny to me now as it was to my 9-year-old self, but I can definitely see why I loved it back then. Don't get me wrong--it was still hilarious, but I found myself giggling or smiling instead of laughing out loud.
I wasn't too sure about Louis Sachar as the narrator at first. He's not terribly exciting but he grew on me. He has an earnest voice that perfectly set up the crazy things these kids did in all seriousness.
I felt the first book was the best but the other two were worth checking out as well. The end of the second one got waaaay weird and ended in a not-very-happy place. I was surprised. But readers will have to pick up the third book to see how things work out for the Wayside Schoolers, so I guess it was effective marketing.
I think the books work so well because, well, kids are weird. For real. They start learning pretty early on what is and isn't acceptable, so they don't do half the weird things they want to do. The Wayside Schoolers have no inhibitions. They just go for it and it's fun to live vicariously through them.
The books, especially the first, don't really have one big plot. Each chapter is more like a short story about a kid in the class. I happen to like short stories so this worked for me. I think kids will enjoy dipping in and out of it as well. Others might consider it choppy.
I don't really know what most adults will think of it unless they remember it fondly from their elementary school days. Kids with a kid's sense of humor should love it. A great read for both girls and boys.(less)
I listened to this ages and ages ago, but I remember that I loved it. I don't even recall the sisters' names, but as I listened they each had a distin...moreI listened to this ages and ages ago, but I remember that I loved it. I don't even recall the sisters' names, but as I listened they each had a distinct personality and I was easily able to differentiate between them. There is no big plot here, it's just a series of little adventures that these sisters have on their summer vacation with a couple of new friends, but it took me right back to my own childhood. My childhood stories are similar, and the book itself reminded me of books I loved as a child--Anne of Green Gables, the Betsy-Tacy books, and another series about a little family that I cannot remember the name of. They're all charming and timeless, exactly as the Penderwicks are. The narrator, Susan Denaker, read appropriately for children without making me feel, as an adult, that I was being condescended to. I listened all the way through just beaming from ear to ear as I drove around.
I highly recommend this for the innocent little girls in your life. If you're still in touch with your own inner little girl, give it a listen for old time's sake.(less)
George Beard and Harold Hutchins are the 4th grade pranksters at their school. They change school signs around to say funny things, they fill cheerlea...moreGeorge Beard and Harold Hutchins are the 4th grade pranksters at their school. They change school signs around to say funny things, they fill cheerleader pom poms with black pepper, and they fill footballs with helium. Perhaps their favorite pastime, though, is writing comic books. They steal into the school office and make copies to sell when the secretary's back is turned, then sell their comics to the other kids at the school. Their best superhero is Captain Underpants, who fights with Wedgie Power. "Tra-la-laaa!"
Their mean school principal, Mr. Krupp, really dislikes Harold and George for all the chaos they cause in his school. He blackmails them into behaving, but George and Harold find a way to fight back. Mr. Krupp never knows what hits him.
Oh my goodness. What a fun book! I was giggling away reading this by myself at the age of 33. I would have laughed to the point of tears as a child. But then, I've always loved a good fart joke. Unsophisticated, I know, but farts happen. Might as well get a laugh out of them.
George and Harold are a couple of comic geniuses. They have a talent for getting into trouble but their real talents lie in getting out of trouble. Their imagination and creativity seems to be limitless!
And what they do to Mr. Krupp... I loved it! What kid, no matter how well-behaved, doesn't dream of rebelling against some authority figure? If we're honest, we never lose those dreams. It feels so good to see someone acting out like that, even if it is just in the pages of a book.
There is one chapter that features flip-o-rama. I had such a good time with this! The book has reached a crashing climax and all of a sudden you get to sort of activate it yourself and watch the action take place. It was a lot of fun and I played around with it longer than I should probably admit to. When my husband got home, I made him watch as I flipped the pages to make the illustrations look animated. He even had to chuckle a little and admit that it was "pretty good."
I really, really enjoyed this and recommend it for parents who don't mind the potty humor. For parents struggling to find books for their sons to read, this would be a great one to try. (less)
I loved the Frog and Toad books when I was little. My mom bought this previously-unpublished collection for me a couple of years ago. It's not really...moreI loved the Frog and Toad books when I was little. My mom bought this previously-unpublished collection for me a couple of years ago. It's not really an official Frog and Toad book, but you can see how those developed from this earlier, private work. The poetry is cute and fun, as are the drawings. Families should enjoy reading this together.(less)
The old woman who lives in a shoe is overwhelmed. Her children are hungry. She decides to pay a visit to Razzlewitch and ask for help. Razzlewitch agr...moreThe old woman who lives in a shoe is overwhelmed. Her children are hungry. She decides to pay a visit to Razzlewitch and ask for help. Razzlewitch agrees to help in exchange for the old woman's oldest daughter, Lisa. If Lisa will come cook and clean for Razzlewitch, the other children will be fed and clothed. Lisa agrees but wonders what she's gotten into when she finds herself in a strange new world.
This was a lovely little fairy tale. It starts with the old woman woman who lived in a shoe, but then it becomes its own story.
Like all good fairy tale heroines, Lisa grows and comes into her own throughout the book. She has surprising talents that she must learn to use. She must also learn to trust herself.
She meets a whole host of magical beings who, for the most part, end up being gentle teachers for her.
There's an element of darkness too. Lisa, and her new neighbors, learn that appearances aren't everything. They must work together to overcome the threat of darkness in their fairy tale land.
There's a very sweet love story at the heart of the book also. I just loved how this played out.
I recommend this for those who are fond of their happily ever afters and who are in search of a gentle, lovely read.
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review.(less)
Sure, you know all about the fairy tale princesses. There's that Cinderella chick and her pumpkin coach. Another fell asleep for a hundred years or so...moreSure, you know all about the fairy tale princesses. There's that Cinderella chick and her pumpkin coach. Another fell asleep for a hundred years or so. And wasn't there one who had crazy-long hair? Sure, you know them.
You don't know these princesses.
Covering a gamut of traits, from Princess Hot-Head to Princess Eelizabeth (not a typo), you will learn all about princesses that you didn't know existed. Each princess has a lovely full-color, full-page portrait and a brief biography. Two of my favorites were Princess Paige--"She reads everything she can find: novels, poetry, philosophy, and tall tales"--and Princess of the Disorient--"Her kingdom fits her image: wacky, filled with fools, and complete with nutty celebrations." You know you're intrigued now!
There are more than princesses in this book. There are all kinds of tips on princess behavior and style. Every princess needs a confidante. And exactly how does the fashionable princess outfit her elephant for traveling? This book comes complete with a diagram.
Seriously, I saw a review for this and knew I had to have it. My husband obliged and got it for me for my birthday. Even though I was in the middle of a scavenger hunt for my gifts, I had to stop and pore over this book for a while. And, trust me, nothing comes between me and my presents. I put it down after a few minutes (a lifetime in between gifts!) and went off to finish looking for everything else. When I had time that night, I picked this back up and started reading it again. I was surprised that it was so long. It's 92 fully-illustrated pages! I loved reading everything in it. It was just whimsically perfect for me. I adore the illustrations. At least pick it up if you see it in a bookstore and take a look. I bet you'll fall in love with it too.
Buy this for the princess in your life, whether it's a young daughter, niece, a friend who needs a pick-me-up, or yourself! I just loved it and can't recommend it highly enough.(less)
A very dark, very brilliant girl, probably about twelve- or thirteen-years-old, comes to on a park bench one day. She doesn't know who she is, where s...moreA very dark, very brilliant girl, probably about twelve- or thirteen-years-old, comes to on a park bench one day. She doesn't know who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Being resourceful, she sets out to find the answers to these questions and stumbles onto a huge mystery.
Strange isn't the word. It's more like weird. I liked Emily a lot, and I liked all the other characters she met. Talk about an eccentric group of people. But this was just a little...too much.
It's so very, completely, utterly random that there was no telling what was going on. This is written in a world that seems to have no rules, so anything went. Stuff just happened out of nowhere, but that was the way it was supposed to work. Emily has no idea what's going on throughout most of the book, and neither do we.
I like the idea, I just didn't necessarily like the book all that much.
I'll pick up the graphic novel and give it a try, but I don't know if my mind is flexible enough for Emily the Strange. Younger readers might love her and her unpredictability.(less)
This is Neil Gaiman's poem, "Instructions" bound as a picture book and illustrated by Charles Vess.
I love this.
I have to admit that when I first came...moreThis is Neil Gaiman's poem, "Instructions" bound as a picture book and illustrated by Charles Vess.
I love this.
I have to admit that when I first came across Gaiman's poem in Fragile Things, I read it, thought it was pretty cool, and moved on, both in the book and in my head. It wasn't until I met Charles Vess at a book signing for Drawing Down the Moon and he told us about this project that I really got excited about the whole thing. He had prints of his artwork for us to look at. As I flipped through them, I knew this was going to be something special.
And it is.
Basically instructions for surviving a fairy tale, Gaiman weaves many themes into this short-ish poem. Help who you can. Don't trust those who seem untrustworthy. Trust yourself. Come home at the end.
And suddenly you realize that he could be (is?) talking about how to live your life well. And you are reminded again what a master Gaiman is.
As for the illustrations--perfection.
I love Vess's artwork. It has such a perfect fairy tale feel to it. And when you sit down to really look at just one of these illustrations, you are blown away by the amount of subtle detail worked in.
I highly, highly recommend this. Children will love it, and so will readers of any age who understand that the truest advice can be found in "children's books."(less)
************SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK, FOUND*****************
Found ended with Jonah and Katherine latching onto Chip and Alex as the two boys were...more************SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK, FOUND*****************
Found ended with Jonah and Katherine latching onto Chip and Alex as the two boys were sent back into their own time period. Sent picks up there. The kids find themselves in fifteenth century England, where Chip and Alex find out that they're royalty. Many plots are afoot and the boys' lives are in danger. Jonah and Katherine, with JB's help, try to keep them safe.
Eh. I think Found was so good because I was interested to find out what exactly was going on. Now that I know, the sequel wasn't that great. I saw potential when I found out that the boys were The Princes in the Tower, but really the book just fell a little flat. Jonah was dense and annoying. He would overhear subtle, barbed conversations and then had to get someone else to give him a recap of what had been said in plain English. I know this book is written for the pre-teen crowd, but I think they would have gotten it without the "translation." There are ghostly "tracers" roaming around, showing what was supposed to happen if time hadn't been messed with. I actually followed that pretty well, but then Jonah got confused thinking about it and took me right along with him. Confusion might have been a normal reaction, but it wasn't worth it at the risk of confusing the readers.
It might just be me. I'm much older than the target age group. I'll probably read the next one, just to see if this one was the exception rather than the rule in the series. I am left thinking that there were 36 kids on that plane. How many books are there going to be?(less)
It's very hard to summarize this book without giving anything away. Let's see.... Jonah Skidmore was adopted when he was three months old. Just before...moreIt's very hard to summarize this book without giving anything away. Let's see.... Jonah Skidmore was adopted when he was three months old. Just before his thirteenth birthday, he receives a cryptic message in the mail and he starts questioning the little that he knows about his past.
Very, very bare bones there. After getting hooked by the fantastic prologue, I had a little bit of an idea as to where this might be going. I was right to an extent, but mostly I was hugely surprised by the time the ending rolled around. I woke up, started this as I ate breakfast, kept reading, and finished it in about three hours. Sure, it's an older kids' book and I'm a pretty fast reader, but I could not put this down. The action and discoveries didn't stop and I just kept frantically turning pages to find out more.
Jonah is an engaging character. Not too good, not too bad--just your average seventh-grader. His actions, reactions, and interactions all felt real to me. Even his sister Katherine and his friend Chip are believable and well fleshed-out. I will say that the Skidmore parents felt a little too perfect.
Really, there are only two things keeping this from being a five-star book for me. One, it's science fiction and I'm not really a fan of the genre. Two, by the time I got to the ending, I felt like this was mostly set up for the following book(s). There's nothing wrong with that, and there's nothing really wrong with this book, but I feel like there's room for the sequel to be even better and I just want to leave some wiggle room in my ratings. If I were the author, I would feel cheated, but there you go. Four stars.
Highly recommended as a surprising page-turner for young teenagers and even those older folks who don't allow the age of a protagonist to keep them from enjoying a great story.(less)
My seven-year-old cousin and fellow lover-of-all-things-fairy, Natalie, convinced me to read this by reciting the cover blurb to me: "Part comedy, par...moreMy seven-year-old cousin and fellow lover-of-all-things-fairy, Natalie, convinced me to read this by reciting the cover blurb to me: "Part comedy, part love story, part everything-but-the-kitchen-sink." What fairy tale fan could resist that? Not this one!
I loved that the defining characteristics of the characters weren't their beauty or lack thereof. Chris is intelligent, kind, and loyal. He's also an inventor. He's the first in the kingdom to use p-mail (pigeon mail). Princess Marigold is a reader, also intelligent and kind, and very concerned with making sure that she becomes a good strong ruler of her kingdom. She even asks commoners' opinions on the qualities that a good ruler should have! Even the minor characters are generally defined by their personalities, good or bad. Looks really didn't come into play at all. I found that a little refreshing.
The story was a little predictable. We first meet Chris when he's a six-year-old runaway living in the woods. As he grows older, he starts to notice Princess Marigold, who he can watch as she reads on her terrace in the castle. He wants to be her friend, and he wants to know why she frequently looks unhappy. You can probably guess the general outline of the story, beginning to end, just from that. But there were still several surprises along the way that kept the story fresh.
Ed the troll might have been my favorite character. Oh, I really liked Chris and Marigold, but Ed made me laugh. He loves to use common sayings, but he can never get them right. Here's one: "But now that you have your act on the ball, you can do better...All you have to do is keep your shoulder to the grindstone and your nose to the wheel." Too funny! And he's working hard to break a certain fairy creature's monopoly. I won't say who, but that whole little subplot was really cute.
I'm not sure exactly what set the villain off at this point in time. That's probably the biggest thing that knocked this down a star. He or she (I won't say who!) has had years to act. Why now?
If you read the epilogue, there's a huge cliffhanger. I'll be picking up the next one. As Natalie would quote at me, "Part comedy, part tragedy, part two!" Again, who could resist?(less)