The third in Jonell's Emmy series, Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry details the continuing adventures of Emmy and her rodent friends. This time, the ev...moreThe third in Jonell's Emmy series, Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry details the continuing adventures of Emmy and her rodent friends. This time, the evil Miss Barmy has arranged for Emmy to be sent away to her aunts' house as part of a scheme to get her hands on Sissy rat, whose special powers Miss Barmy wishes to harness.
Dependable Jonell continues in the same style as the first two books and produces another fun, interesting story with quirky characters and good action. Honestly, there's nothing WRONG with the story. It's just not GREAT. I definitely liked it a lot, but I always feel like Jonell's work could be even better, though I couldn't tell you how. Still, I highly recommend this series and hope she continues it. She also has a fourth unrelated novel, which my ten year old and I will be checking out next.
Also worth noting: Jonathan Bean does lovely illustrations for this whole series, consisting of beautiful covers with flip-n-move pictures in the margins of each page. (less)
The first in Cowell's popular series, How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, future leader of the Viking tribe the...moreThe first in Cowell's popular series, How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, future leader of the Viking tribe the Hairy Hooligans, when he is still a scrawny youngun new to dragon ownership.
I had originally decided not to read this book with my ten year old, but then we got our hands on the second in the series without realizing that's what it was, and we rather enjoyed it, so we decided to give this one a chance. I'm glad we did.
'Charming' is not quite the right descriptor here, but it's close. Amusing, definitely. Borderline rude and crude? For me, yes. Some parents are going to think it's too much, and some are going to think it's fine. I would only say that parents ought to flip through it themselves first - and read reviews, and the accompanying comments, and take them all with a large grain of salt - and form their own opinions.
There is definitely a lot of crudeness here, and meanness between characters, and violence - hey, they're Vikings after all. But it's so outlandish, so clearly fiction, that you can largely enjoy it as being all in good fun. Importance is given to intelligence, sensitivity, and succeeding by using your wits, while the brutish, cruel bullies in Hiccup's class are obvious antagonists. I like that there is a lot of adversity in the book, but the protagonist triumphs in the end. Throw in a lot of goofy humor ("Limpets are a bit like worms and a bit like snot and a lot less tasty than either.") and good pacing, and the result is something young readers can sink their teeth into, while the parents call also enjoy the ride and perhaps be drawn to the unexpected wholesomeness lurking between the pages.
Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls picks up where its predecessor, Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, left off. All Emmy Addison wants is to be...moreEmmy and the Home for Troubled Girls picks up where its predecessor, Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, left off. All Emmy Addison wants is to be a normal girl, but how normal can she be with the ability to converse with rodents? At least she's finally seen the last of Miss Barmy, the evil nanny she and her friends defeated mere weeks ago. After all, how much damage can Miss Barmy cause as a rat?
Reading this, the second in the series, is an experience very similar to the first, which is largely a good thing. The book starts off a bit slow, but quickly gathers speed and manages to draw the reader in quite neatly. The writing is fun and interesting, the characters come to life, and there's a nice morality to it all - people aren't perfect and often make mistakes, but in the end, good triumphs over bad. Well-done action scenes lead up to a satisfying ending, but the hard parts may be a bit much for sensitive young souls. (less)
How to Be a Pirate is the second book in the How to Train Your Dragon series and follows our protagonist, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, and his tribe...moreHow to Be a Pirate is the second book in the How to Train Your Dragon series and follows our protagonist, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, and his tribe, the Hairy Hooligans, on a mission to find treasure on the Isle of the Skullions.
I was worried I wasn't going to care for this book at first because of the violence and insults (they are Vikings after all, a very violent and rude lot who take courses in school on how to insult others). However, Cowell won me over with her sense of humor, a well-paced plot, and an ending I can feel good about. Yes, there is violence, but it's more goofy than gory. The author does a good job of making it very clearly fiction. Ditto the insults, for the most part, although I did have to have a talk with my son about why it's idiotic to try to insult someone by calling them a girl.
I will say I wish Hiccup's dragon wasn't so whiny, as that got annoying. But all in all, this is quite a good little book, and my son and I are going to check out the rest of the series. (less)
Ever since her parents inherited a fortune from a distant relative, eleven-year-old Emmy has had it rough. Her once-loving parents have become selfish...moreEver since her parents inherited a fortune from a distant relative, eleven-year-old Emmy has had it rough. Her once-loving parents have become selfish and largely absent, her classmates ignore her, and her nanny Miss Barmy is mean, nasty, and clearly up to something. But things are about to change, starting with the classroom rat Emmy swears she can hear talking...
This book started out okay, and grew on me from there. Although the verbiage is a BIT on the plain side, it's still fairly good. What makes it really roll is the story and, to a lesser degree, the characters.
The story is so much fun! It's a little slow in the beginning but quickly picks up speed. The world of the rodents is wonderfully inventive, the action is exciting, and Miss Barmy is so scheming and villainous the reader just wants to keep reading and reading to see what will happen next.
As for the characters, Emmy was a great little heroine, Miss Barmy was deliciously evil, and there were enjoyable supporting characters all around, although some more character development would have been welcome, especially for The Rat.
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat definitely would have benefited from being tidied up a bit. Miss Barmy's fate was something of a letdown. What happened to the children on her cane? (She has, in her view, a solid reason for going after Emmy, but where do the other families tie in?) And the whittling gentleman with his flower-pot-throwing wife were included rather haphazardly.
But all in all, it was a great book, and my 10 year old and I are looking forward to reading the sequel!(less)
George's mean, horrible, awful Grandma gets her medicine every day, and today it's George's responsibility to give it to her. But George wonders if ma...moreGeorge's mean, horrible, awful Grandma gets her medicine every day, and today it's George's responsibility to give it to her. But George wonders if maybe he could come up with something... different for Grandma. Something... special. Something... marvelous.
I remembered loving this book at a child, so as a grown-up I wanted to share it with my son. I still enjoyed it, but it was a very different experience to read it as an adult!
Roald Dahl has quite a way with words and story lines, and he's in high form here with this whimsical yet dark tale. Classic Dahl. The descriptions are particularly fine. The brew as it nears completion, Grandma's transformation. Excellent.
However, I ran into two big problems reading it as a parent. First, the language specifically and the way the characters treat each other more generally. Grandma is a really terrible person and treats George horribly. Honestly, I can accept that as part of the story. But the words she uses, and the words used to describe her... jeez, I really do not want to be showing my son that it's OK to describe someone as an old hag. As a reviewer on Amazon wrote, this book is full of "characters who lack character". And in the end, there's certainly no moral about treating others well, despite Grandma's fate.
My second problem - and I expect frequently people can only appreciate this if they're parents themselves - is that George's medicine IS FULL OF POISON THAT WILL KILL WHOEVER TAKES IT. Not only that, but it's completely glorified. The magic! The power! The glory! I'm REALLY glad my son and I read this when he was 9 and not any younger. It's not hard to imagine a child reading this and then going on to create his own 'Marvelous Medicine'. Hopefully he will not actually try to feed it to anyone. Antifreeze... *shudder*.(less)
Whimsical, clever, thoroughly entertaining. A departure from the norm, and tons of fun to read aloud. Highly recommended! My 9 year old and I are look...moreWhimsical, clever, thoroughly entertaining. A departure from the norm, and tons of fun to read aloud. Highly recommended! My 9 year old and I are looking forward to more work from Jason Carter Eaton!(less)
The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, but he's run into a problem - no one at court can agree on a definition of 'delicious', so the King send...moreThe Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, but he's run into a problem - no one at court can agree on a definition of 'delicious', so the King sends 12 year old Gaylen out to poll the people.
I found the premise of this story to be quite delightful, whimsical and clever, but the follow-through was less than I had hoped for. There was a certain curious emptiness to the characters that I find typical of books written in this time period - a flatness in their emotions and reactions. That's my personal opinion though; plenty of readers aren't bothered by it at all.
I also felt like the various aspects of this story weren't fleshed out individually or tied together well. Such a bummer, because the book could have been so much richer and encompassing. The ending fell a little flat as well.
It's been a year since the aliens left, and the National Time Capsule committee is collecting essays on The True Meaning of Smekday, one of which will...moreIt's been a year since the aliens left, and the National Time Capsule committee is collecting essays on The True Meaning of Smekday, one of which will be chosen to go into the capsule and unearthed in one year.
What aliens? What is Smekday? We're about to find out, through the essay of (then) 11-year-old Gratuity Tucci, who lived through the invasion.
The True Meaning of Smekday has been described as "truly wonderful" and "snappy". I was really hoping for a story like that, but I try to keep my expectations neutral as reviews are just personal opinions, after all.
In my experience, this book was only occasionally wonderful and infrequently snappy. It started out promisingly but never really delivered. My ten-year-old son and I laughed out loud a few times (mostly in the very first section), and I was sometimes struck by a well-written and vivid scene or sentence (eg "So we watched the storm, watched the wind push the rain around in billowing sheets like the ghosts of old oceans.") but I wanted the whole book to be like that. It was a shame and a frustration to catch these glimpses of laugh-out-loud humor and lovely prose but to most of the time be stuck in average writing and meandering plot work.
This is not to say it was all bad, just that it could and should have been so much better. There was a thread of fun running throughout, most especially because of Gratuity's partner in crime, a Boov named J.Lo who is very fun to read aloud if you're one of those parents who does the voices. It's also peppered with well-done illustrations, including some cartoon-strip-esque narratives in which J.Lo explains things about Boovish culture and history.
A note about the cussing - there is cussing, and it's not (just) 'turd' or 'oh my God'. It's 'ass' and 'hell' and the like. Appropriate words for an 8 year old? That's up to the parents of course, but for that reason and because it was sometimes intensely wrenching (I'm thinking particularly of the scene where Tip's mom gets abducted [the second time]) I felt like it was only borderline appropriate for my ten year old and better suited for 11 or 12 and up. (less)
My 9 year old and I read this book together and we both loved it! In his words: "This...book...is...AMAZING!" It started off a little slow but quickly...moreMy 9 year old and I read this book together and we both loved it! In his words: "This...book...is...AMAZING!" It started off a little slow but quickly picked up pace. As a grown-up I would have appreciated a little more flushing out of the plot but I think that might have been superfluous for the intended age group. Overall it was an excellent book. An intriguing mystery with colorful characters, well executed. Just darn good writing. And lots of fun to read out loud! We're looking forward to more from K.A. Holt! (less)