Sometimes you just need a gentle, whimsical book that makes you feel like a kid again. That's what I needed this week, and that's why I picked up GregSometimes you just need a gentle, whimsical book that makes you feel like a kid again. That's what I needed this week, and that's why I picked up Greg Van Eekhout's book. I bought it at Phoenix Comicon and had it signed to my son.
I would have enjoyed this as a kid, too, even if it gets a little creepy at times. I love how it uses the California coast as a setting (it even mentions Pismo later on, a familiar place for me), with a boy abandoned in his weird uncle's museum of strange things for his summer vacation. The town's tourism season mysteriously starts overnight, and Thatcher discovers things only get weirder from there. Thatcher has a great voice. He babbles, he's not perfect, but he makes a great team with the two strong girls in the book, Shoal and Trudy; I really loved Trudy! It's a solid middle grade book for boys or girls....more
I've had this in my to-read pile for years. The movie is a childhood favorite of mine. Finally, I decided to rad through on an airplane trip. I downedI've had this in my to-read pile for years. The movie is a childhood favorite of mine. Finally, I decided to rad through on an airplane trip. I downed most of it in one sitting.
The most noteworthy thing is that the movie's script only uses about the first 200 pages of the book, so less than half. The screen version is fairly faithful to it. Now, here's the thing: I could never stomach more than a few minutes of the sequel movie. The vibe of it just felt WRONG to me, like it shattered the beautiful dream of the first movie. The latter part of the book felt the same way to me—maybe it's a faithful adaptation, too? I can't say. Bastian in Fantastica just feels weird, and he becomes a worse and worse person on his journey, which is annoying. I found myself skimming more as I was anxious to finish the book and move on.
I think if I read this as a kid, it might have even turned me off of the movie that I loved. Tainted it somehow because of the full plot arc. So I'm glad I read this when I was older, but it's definitely a book that is going back in the trade-in pile. ...more
I received this through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
I don't normally review books of this length--32 pages--but this book is so fantasticI received this through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
I don't normally review books of this length--32 pages--but this book is so fantastic that I'm glad to spread the word. It arrived in the mail yesterday, I skimmed through, and immediately told my husband--the hockey fanatic in the household--"You have to read this. It's the most adorable book ever." So he read it a short time later and came back to me with a grin. "You're right. This is the cutest book ever." My son then grabbed the book to read.
I requested the book because it's on-target for my son, who is age eight; it's about hockey, which my kid loves; it's about numbers in hockey, and my son is autistic and fixates on numbers; and it's by Roy MacGregor. I've read some of his middle-grade Screech Owl series and enjoyed his writing. The guy knows hockey. I expected the book to be good, but I didn't expect to get a little teary-eyed, too. It's a touching book. A little girl obsesses over the number 22 for her hockey jersey because it's the number of her hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser, but her new hockey team gives her the number 9 instead. She hates it. Wants to quit the team. Then her grandma arrives on scene. Grandma wanted to play hockey as a kid and even disguised herself as a boy to do so, and she explains about the great hockey history of number 9. Their relationship is just plain beautiful and real.
The illustrations are fantastic and full of detail--I love the NHL bedding set--and add to the joy. I don't have a single bad thing to say about this book. Really, if you have a child age six to ten, girl or boy, who loves hockey, you need to get this book. Be ready to sniffle and say, 'Awww.'...more
There has been a lot of buzz about this book in recent years, and I know a movie even came out a few years ago. My son checked it out from the schoolThere has been a lot of buzz about this book in recent years, and I know a movie even came out a few years ago. My son checked it out from the school library, so I decided it was time to give it a read.
The storyteller voice is excellent. The illustrations are superb. The story irritated the heck out of me. Very little is about Despereaux. It's a love story, in an odd way, with a mouse falling in love with a girl. I was appalled at how the females were handled in the book, both mouse and human. They most all fainted, were punching bags for abusive men, or were so simpering in the way that they were good that it made me want to scream. The ending. Oh, the ending. I read it in disbelief. It's idealistic and the message of it appalled me. (Yes, make a nice meal for the fellow who attempted to murder you, because you're such a nice and empathetic girl.)
I like it when lead characters are genuinely good people. But here... it really rubbed me the wrong way. And Miggery Sow's character, what she endured, how the story ended for her, made me genuinely angry. ...more
This is a library discard book I've owned for about fifteen years and haven't read through until now. This hardcover, published in 1912, is part of aThis is a library discard book I've owned for about fifteen years and haven't read through until now. This hardcover, published in 1912, is part of a vast series of books by Perkins where she wrote about children from various cultures and time periods (Filipino Twins, Scotch Twins, Eskimo Twins, etc). By today's standards this would be regarded as a middle grade book, though the content could certainly be read to a younger child.
The text is simple and the illustrations, by Perkins, are really quite cute. The content is very much in the context of the time period and the culture. Taro and Take live with their mother, father, granny and the new baby, Bot Chan. They are descended from samurai. Taro is the boy and is taught he has a great legacy to fulfill. His sister, Take, is told that she's just a girl and her goal in life is to marry, bear her husband's children, and eventually become a mother-in-law. Accurate for 1912? Absolutely. Made me cringe to read (and type just now)? Absolutely.
That aside, the book does have its charms. It tells stories about the day the meet Bot Chan, their special journey to the temple for Bot Chan's one month celebration, and how girls and boys celebrate their birthdays all together on certain days of the year. It's not a bad book when it's regarded in the proper context of the time, but I certainly wouldn't read it to a younger child now, especially a girl....more
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. I have actually been considering a purchase in the Screech Owls series for someI received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. I have actually been considering a purchase in the Screech Owls series for some time. My son is almost eight and loves hockey, and is reading at the middle grade level. This was a great opportunity to try out this series that has been on-going for some time.
MacGregor's writing is very kid-friendly but not dumbed-down for adults. Despite not reading any of the previous books, I had no problem keeping track of the wide cast of characters. Each of the players is unique and flawed. The lead character is Travis, and his friends include Nish (star player, and star trouble maker), Data (their computer geek, injured and no longer able to play on the ice), and Sara (star player, and smart). I can see where hinted-at past incidents played into their back-stories, and it's nice to see the series is complicated in that way. The characters get to grow up along with the readers.
The events of the book take the team from Canada to San Antonio. I visited San Antonio a few years ago and went to the Alamo and Riverwalk, all places that MacGregor describes in highly accurate detail. It made me grin as I read. He captured the setting very well. This is something my son will appreciate when he reads the book, as San Antonio was his favorite stop on that family trip.
One other thing that was quite clear: MacGregor knows his hockey. The ice scenes are drenched in terminology. As a casual hockey viewer who watches to support my husband's habit, I recognized what was going on, and appreciated MacGregor's knowledge. Fiction like this would be a great way for kids to strengthen their vocabulary. I also appreciated that he showed the good and bad of hockey--brutish players, bad ref calls, and that teams don't always win.
The thinnest element in the book is a subplot of danger featuring a villainous team manager and drama at the Alamo. A lot of it felt forced in at the end. Mind you, I'm looking at this with the critical eye of an adult. To a kid, it would be a pretty good mix. It's the stuff of daydreams. The book is about hockey players who become heroes, and from the brief synopses of other books in the series, this is something the Screech Owls do on a regular basis.
I'm eager to see what my son thinks of the book, and I would be quite open to buying more in the series....more
My last read was very disappointing, and I really wanted something fun, fluffy, and fast to read and cheer things up. I studied my to-read pile, saw aMy last read was very disappointing, and I really wanted something fun, fluffy, and fast to read and cheer things up. I studied my to-read pile, saw a lot of serious stuff, and decided to go with a a light middle-grade book. I think I chose well.
Powerless isn't going to be one of my top reads of the year, but it was exactly what I needed. I would have loved this book to tatters at around ages nine to eleven. It pays homage to the superhero genre, but I like that it took an unusual twist: the main character is the powerless, normal kid, and all of his friends have superpowers. Sure, it's predictable in some regards, but even I was surprised by some twists at the end. It's 278-pages, but zoomed by. The voice is great and the kids feel real.
This is one I'll be keeping on my shelf for my son to read in a few years....more
This is the second volume in the middle grade-level Carbonel series. I last read it was a library copy about 15 years ago.[return][return]A year afterThis is the second volume in the middle grade-level Carbonel series. I last read it was a library copy about 15 years ago.[return][return]A year after setting Carbonel free from a witch's spell, teenagers Rosemary and John reunite to spend the summer together. To their delight, King Carbonel returns. After going to a pharmacist for a special prescription, the two drink an elixir and can hear Carbonel again--and all the other animals and insects around. Carbonel has a special request. He must leave for a meeting of kings, and he's concerned about the well-being of his two young kittens. Rosemary and John agree to tend them, but soon enough trouble merges. Carbonel's old witch is up to mischief again, this time plotting with the ambitious cat-queen of a neighboring city. The two children must do everything they can to save the kittens and keep Cat Country from falling into outright war.[return][return]This book is as charming as I remembered. It's so delightfully British, full of eccentric characters with magic revealing itself in unexpected ways. I'm so grateful that these books were finally reprinted! Mind you, it does feel dated in some ways (this second book was published in 1960) but that's all part of its charm....more
Long before Harry Potter, the Carbonel series captured that same British magical whimsy. Carbonel and its sequel were among my favorite books at the lLong before Harry Potter, the Carbonel series captured that same British magical whimsy. Carbonel and its sequel were among my favorite books at the library when I was about 9-12. Imagine my delight when this book, originally published in 1955, was re-released... followed by two sequels! I didn't even know it was a trilogy. I completed my set, and now I'm reading through them from the beginning.[return][return]Young Rosemary plans on cleaning houses to make her summer break pass by. However, when she buys a ratty broom from an odd old lady at the market, a black cat is thrown into the bargain. But this cat is no ordinary cat: he is Carbonel, a kidnapped Prince of Royal Blood. He has spent his entire life as the witch's minion. Rosemary's purchase broke part of the curse, but there is still a spell of Silent Magic that holds him in bondage. To make things worse, his now-dead father's kingdom is in disarray with cruel usurping alley cats in charge, and Carbonel cannot take his rightful throne as a human's minion. Rosemary and her new friend John set out to solve the mystery and set the cat free by hunting out the artifacts used in the original spell.[return][return]This book is just as magical as when I first read in twenty years ago. I look forward to reading this with my own son in the coming years....more
Ah, Wink. This is currently one of my son's very favorite books, and we've been reading it four days a week for many weeks now. In all, it's a simpleAh, Wink. This is currently one of my son's very favorite books, and we've been reading it four days a week for many weeks now. In all, it's a simple story. Boy wants to be a ninja, and possesses the talents to e one. However, he can't be stealthy. He loves to perform. However, when his talents are discovered by a visiting circus, Wink finds a place where he truly belongs--performing ninjitsu for a crowd wearing a glittering outfit.
Some people will probably say this book encourages kids to misbehave. That's not the point. The moral of the story is that if you keep on trying, you'll find a place where you can be yourself. It's not the end of the world if you don't belong somewhere.
The illustrations are charming as well, all done in paper and filled with emotion. This is a book I don't mind reading to my son again and again....more
Sammy and Sue are a mother and daughter committed to helping the planet. In this illustrated children's book, they explore ways for children to help tSammy and Sue are a mother and daughter committed to helping the planet. In this illustrated children's book, they explore ways for children to help the earth - ranging from buying organic foods to having their parent drive a hybrid car.[return][return]My feelings on this are mixed. The illustrations are really well done, and the characters really do look like Sammy and Sue - the real people. However, the rhyme scheme is heavily contrived and often awkward. I read the book aloud to my four-year-old son, and the forced rhyme made me wince throughout. The message of the book is also... well, fairly militant, and many of the suggestions are for the parent, not the child. The parent is asked to buy organic everything - food, laundry, cleaning supplies, clothing. When Sammy and Sue ride in a hybrid car, they are in Hollywood and a very handsome actor is driving alongside and offering them support.[return][return]I'm all for teaching my child to be a good steward of the earth, but the tone of this book felt patronizing at times. I'm sorry, I can't afford to buy an all-organic wardrobe, or a hybrid car. What about picking up trash outside, or shopping at a thrift store to buy and reuse goods, or walking or biking instead of driving? What about inspiring the child to start a recycling program at their school or carpool with friends? So many simple - and affordable - ways of helping the earth weren't even mentioned. The back of the ARC featured endorsements from various environmentally-friendly companies and celebrities, including Olympia Dukakis and Jack Hanna. The heart of the book is in the right place, but I think their intended audience is already doing most of these things and can AFFORD to do these things. We can't....more
I have to review this from two perspectives: as an adult and as a kid.
As an adult, I found it rather dry. The book is told through the viewpoint of JoI have to review this from two perspectives: as an adult and as a kid.
As an adult, I found it rather dry. The book is told through the viewpoint of Joey the horse and he doesn't have much voice. He observes World War I and has a peculiar knack of understanding what is spoken in any language. It's not that I wanted Joey to be anthromorphized more... I just wanted more character overall, as in the old Robert Lawson book Mr. Revere and I. That said, this would be an excellent book to teach middle graders about the Great War.
]Now if I had read this during my horse-obsessed childhood, I would have adored the book and probably read it dozens of times.[return][return]The movie based on the book comes out next month and I hope to see it, even though the trailer alone is a tear-jerker. I think the John Williams soundtrack will bring Joey the horse to life in a way the book couldn't quite manage....more
It's 1935, and 12-year-old Moose Flanagan moves onto Alcatraz Island along with his parents and his unusual sister, Natalie. His dad works double shifIt's 1935, and 12-year-old Moose Flanagan moves onto Alcatraz Island along with his parents and his unusual sister, Natalie. His dad works double shifts as a guard and electrician, and his mom devotes all her time to getting Nat into a special school in San Francisco. As for Moose, he's curious about sharing the same island with the famed Al Capone, but most of all he wants to play baseball. As if Natalie's tantrums and social issues weren't bad enough, the warden's pesky daughter concocts scheme after scheme to get access to Capone and the rest of the Alcatraz kids are unwilling pawns in her game--Moose and Nat included.[return][return]This middle grade book is a quick read. The setting and time period are intriguing, but I was especially interested to see how autism was regarded at that time. As the mother of an autistic child... wow. I hurt for Moose's mom and everything she endured to get her child help. There were some annoying aspects for me, mainly the warden's daughter, Piper. I kinda wished that someone would slug her and knock some sense into her. It's rather like an episode of the Flintstones, wherein you know everything is going to go wrong right from the get-go and the innocent is going to get the blame. She did get less annoying by the end, but ugh.[return][return]I'll be keeping this in my library for my son to read it someday, but I'm not going to rush out and buy the sequel....more
This is a childhood favorite that was a gift from relatives in Hawaii. With fantastic illustrations, it tells the story of how the arrogant moon is puThis is a childhood favorite that was a gift from relatives in Hawaii. With fantastic illustrations, it tells the story of how the arrogant moon is put in his place by the other celestial bodies and forced to go through phases to manage his pride. I wasn't aware how rare the book is - most vendors online want an enormous amount of money for it. It makes me thankful my copy is still intact, though very worn and loved!...more