Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book Review - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Calpurnia Tate is smack dab in the middle of six brothers, and the only girl. She loves to float in the river and walk through the woods. When she confesses studying the surrounding flora and fauna to her oldest brother, Harry, he gives her a journal to "write down (her) scientific observations." With this she embarks on a whole new journey into scientific discovery. It isn't too long before Callie Vee finds a fellow naturalist in her grandfather. But this is 1899 Texas, where girls are supposed to cook and sew, boys are supposed to hunt and get dirty, and no one is supposed to look at, let alone read, Darwin's The Origin of the Species. With a little help from her grandfather, Calpurnia enters this forbidden world.
Boys and girls alike will enjoy this book, especially if they love nature and discovery. Adults will enjoy seeing the relationship between Calpurnia and her grandfather grow and blossom through the course of the book. The late 1800's and early 1900's was a time of wonder and discovery, with new inventions happening everyday. The telephone, automobile and even a simple window fan are all exciting and new for the characters in this book. Seen through Calpurnia's eyes, the reader get a taste of the wonder and awe that discovering something new inspires.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review - Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner

Skippyjon Jones Skippyjon Jones by Judith Schachner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful book about a small Siamese kitten who imagines he is a chihuahua dog. Not only is he a chichuahua, but he is a great sword fighting chihuahau. Skippyjon Jones will entertain kids and adults alike. The children will like Skippyjon's ability to imagine so completely. Parents will like how his mother deals with Skippyjon's imagination.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Book Review - The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French

The Robe of Skulls: The First Tale from the Five Kingdoms The Robe of Skulls: The First Tale from the Five Kingdoms by Vivian French

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Gracie Gillypot lives with her mean stepfather, Munge, and her even meaner stepsister, Foyce. It was said that Foyce is as mean as Cinderella's two stepsisters rolled into one, she just isn't ugly. Gracie herself is a bit like Cinderella: kind; loving; hard-working; and very, very downtrodden. When we first meet Gracie she is shut in the cellar for being cheerful. But with a little help from a bat friend, Gracie sets out on an adventure that will take her farther than she knows. Add a scruffy prince, an evil sorceress and a troll, and you have the makings for a delightful fairytale.

This book is an interesting retelling of several different fairytales and myths rolled together. There is the princess and the frog; Cinderella; and the myth of the three fates who weave the fabric of life. The characters are enjoyable and you find yourself wondering how their lives went after the end of the book. I think my favorite character is the poor little troll who keeps losing his head, Gubble. Gubble is loyal and only tries to do his best to please the evil sorceress, Lady Lamorna, but never quite manages to do so He just wants to stay in his dark cupboard and sleep. Gubble adds the bit of humor that any good fairytale needs. I recommend this book for lovers of fairytales and for anyone who wants a light read with a little humor and a lot of fun.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review - Ted by Tony DiTerlizzi

Ted Ted by Tony DiTerlizzi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ted is a pink, raspberry loving, game playing creature who might or might not be real. But he is real enough to the little boy he befriends. They play Monopoly Twister and have fun with everything they do. Too bad the boy's father does not believe in "imaginary" friends. Or does he?
I loved this book. It is short and simply but strikes right at your heart. You quickly get the just of the story - a little boy greatly in need of some fun and a friend and whose father is too distant for either.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review - The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman

The Entertainer and the Dybbuk The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Freddie T. Burch, better known as Fredde the Great, is a down-n-out ventriloquist working his way through Europe 3 years after the end of WWII. He is not a very good ventriloquist, his lips keep moving. Then he runs into a dybbuk, a Jewish spirit or ghost who's troubles keep him from moving on. This dybbuk is named Avrom Poliakov and he is a 12 year old boy killed by the Nazis before his bar mitzvah. And now Avrom wants something of Freddie. What Avrom wants just might be the last thing Freddie ever does.
I liked this book. The subject matter is heartwrenching - the killing of Jewish children by the Nazis, often as sport. However, the whole time I was reading the book I felt like it was just skimming the surface. I kept wanting more depth - to the characters and to the plot. I don't know if Fleischman kept it shallow because he was writing for kids, but even so, it only seems to touch the surface of the story.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book Review - So Few of Me by Peter H. Reynolds

So Few of Me So Few of Me by Peter H. Reynolds

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you work and how long, there is always more to do? Well, take some time; sit down and read So Few of Me by Peter H. Reynolds. It will help give you perspective on the overwhelming feelings we often feel in a fast pace world. Leo is a busy lad, and his list of things to do keeps growing and growing. As his work load grows, so do the number of Leos, until there are 10 Leos who each brings more work with him. Does adding more Leos help the original get the work done, or is there truly another solution to the problem? You will just have to read the book to find out, but it is worth the time out to do so!

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book Review - Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson

Applesauce Season Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Step by step a young boy tells us about making applesauce with his grandmother. From bright red apples to golden ones, they buy 6lbs. of apples for the sauce, and more for “eating out of hand.” This is a beautifully illustrated book about family tradition and, of course, how to make home-made applesauce. The delightful and colorful illustrations further the experience and warmth of the story being told. The enjoyment of family, tradition and love is felt as the boy not only tells us of applesauce, but of spending time with his family. The illustrations are done by Caldecott Medal winner Mordicai Gerstein. He and Eden Ross Lipson do not let us down with this beautiful, charming story full of heartfelt warmth. It even includes a recipe readers can follow to start their own family tradition of applesauce making.

View all my reviews >>

Book Review - The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas by Tracy Mack

The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas  (Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars) The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas by Tracy Mack

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Everyone has heard of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective. But not many people know about The Baker Street Irregulars. They are the group of ragtag orphans who live on the streets of London and are often employed by Holmes as his eyes and ears of the city. When the famous trapeze artists, the Amazing Zalindas, fall to their deaths Holmes is called in to investigate. At the same time, he is also investigating a theft from the Royal Palace. Somehow the two crimes are tied together. With the help of the Irregulars, Holmes starts to put the pieces together. But will he be able to solve the puzzle before one of the Irregulars loses his life?
I really enjoyed this book, the first in a promising new Holmes series for children. The boys who make up the Irregulars are smart, witty and loyal. The Irregulars, while being a small reference in the Holmes series, are brought to life in this book. This is a great way to get children introduced to the great detective and try a little bit of detecting themselves.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Review - The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap by Heather Bouwman

The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap by Heather Bouwman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a story of two young girls from different backgrounds: Snowcap is the daughter of the "Anglish" governer and Lucy is the unremarkable daughter of a native fisherman. They both reside on a small chain of islands somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. But the girls have a lot in common: both are unhappy in their lives and are on the run. Snowcap is running away from the regent and her guardian who are trying to kill her; Lucy is running from her island to another to protect her baby brother from turning to stone like the other men and boys in her village. The two girls join together to survive their journey. At first it seems they will never get along, but eventually they learn to work together and care for each other.
While the premise for the story is a good one, I never felt as if I was getting insight into the characters. Most of them were simply surface characters the reader never gets to know. The two main characters, Snowcap and Lucy, were also fairly shallow. It was hard to like either one. The villians in the book never truly gained enough substance to even make them truly "villiany." You learn about their misdeeds mostly through rumor and eavesdropping and not by first hand knowledge or action. In the end, the book was entertaining but not something I will read again and again.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Review - Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue and Carinne J. Naden

Ron's Big Mission Ron's Big Mission by Corinne Naden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ron runs through his neighborhood without stopping - where is he going? To the Library! Ron loves to read but he can only read the books at the library, never take them home. You see Ron is black and only white people can take the books out of the library. But Ron is determined to change things and make a difference!
Wonderful book based on the true life story of Ron McNair (one of the astronauts who lost thier lives on the space shuttle Challenger.) It is a story that tells children not to be afraid to stand up for what they know is right. It lets them know that they can make a difference and, in Ron's own words, "Spread your wings and fly to the sky."

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review - We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"We are the ship; all else the sea."--Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League
This is the story of Negro League baseball. It is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats both on and off the field. Kadir Nelson brings to life all of these things and more through beautiful illustrations and even more beautiful stories.
This book is amazing. The illustrations are like photographs or baseball cards of the players in the Negro league. It brings to life a part of an era that is often left out or just ignored in history. By using the first person narrative, Nelson makes you feel like you are listening to an actually player talk about those things he personally remembers. Top-notch book!

View all my reviews >>

Book Review - Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes Holes by Louis Sachar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Stanley Yelnats comes from a long line of people with nothing but bad luck. Nothing good ever seems to happen to Stanley or his family. Now Stanley is on his way to Camp Green Lake for stealing a pair of shoes that fell from the sky and hit him on the head. But this just might be the turning point for Stanley and his luck. At Camp Green Lake Stanley learns that sometimes what appears as bad luck might just bring you a little good.

This is a wonderful book for a reluctant reader. It has action, humor and a camp full of wonderfully quirky characters. It is not too hard and very fun to read. I highly recommend it to ages 9 to 100.

View all my reviews >>

Book Review - Midnight For Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

Midnight for Charlie Bone (The Children of the Red King, Book 1) Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Charlie Bone has grown up knowing that his family is a little - okay a lot - different than most. Little does he know that his family are descendents of the Red King and that he has passed down his powers to them. Now Charlie Bone has discovered an unusual gift-he can hear people in photographs talking! His scheming aunts decide to send him to Bloor Academy, a school for genius's where he uses his gifts to discover the truth despite all the dangers that lie ahead.
I really liked this book. I think the lack of deadly violence was the part I liked the most. I got very tired of having people die in the Harry Potter series. In this series, they don't die - they are found. I also like the way each character has a different endowment. This makes it interesting to see how their particular endowment works for and against the other characters.

View all my reviews >>

Book Review - Nation by Terry Pratchett

Nation Nation by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After a great wave kills everyone in his island Nation, a young boy/man by the name of Mau must learn to rebuild - both the Nation and his beliefs. Helping him along the way is a young "ghost girl" or English girl named Daphne and a variety of other people who show up on the island looking for survivors. This book is wonderful. It is the type of book that I love to read best - it makes you think, laugh and cry (sometimes all at once.) It is not beautiful in its imagery (Grandfather Birds regurgitate their food all over) but in its philosphy and characters. I am going to recommend this to adults and children alike.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review - All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

All the Lovely Bad Ones All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
As far as "spooky" books go, All the Lovely Bad Ones is very mild. It involves two children, Travis and Corey, who while not hurtful are very mischievous. Their pranks usually end up getting them in hot water. When they are sent to their grandmother's for the summer, their pranking leads to trouble unlike anything they have encountered before. They end up waking up ghosts that have haunted the inn their grandmother owns. I found the ghosts a little unbelievable. Corey and Travis can see the ghosts and converse with them. The ghosts then tell the children what they need to be at peace. I think it would have made for a better story if the children had to figure out on their own why the ghosts were restless. The ending was also quite unclimatic.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Book Review - Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Emma-Jean Lazarus is not your typical seventh-grader. She would rather observe her fellow classmates than talk to them. After all, they are often irrational and their lives are messy and disorderly. She, however, tries to conduct hers logically and without as much fuss as she can. This all changes when Emma-Jean encounters Colleen Pomerantz crying in the girls' bathroom. In trying to help Colleen with her problems, Emma-Jean learns that a little mess in your life is an okay thing to have.

I really liked Emma Jean because she is a quirky and totally unique character. Unlike many of the heroines, she does not moon over a boy and/or engage in random acts of meanness with her friends. You find yourself sympathizing with Emma Jean very quickly and hoping she does not get hurt in the end.

This is also an easy read that I think would appeal to reluctant readers.

View all my reviews.