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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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