Thursday, February 28, 2013
Frindle by Andrew Clements
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Everyone knows that Mrs. Granger, Nicholas Allen's fifth-grade teacher, has X-ray vision, and nobody gets away with anything in her classroom. To make matters worse, she's also a fanatic about the dictionary, which is hopelessly boring to Nick. But when Nick learns an interesting tidbit about words and where they come from, it inspires a great plan: to invent a new word. From now on, a pen is no longer a pen--it's a frindle. It doesn't take long for frindle to take root, and soon the excitement spreads well beyond his school and town. His parents and Mrs. Granger would like Nick to put an end to all this nonsense. But frindle doesn't belong to Nick anymore. All he can do now is sit back and watch what happens."
I had never heard of this book before, and then my friend reviewed in on goodreads. I thought it would be great for my boys (4th and 5th grades), and when I asked them if they had read it, they both said, "Yes!" That doesn't usually happen. I had no idea. Anyway, they had both read it, so I picked it up and started reading. It is so cute and fun! I read it in one sitting, so it's a very fast and easy read. It's very imaginative, and I think it teaches kids a great lesson about words, about using your imagination, and also about how one person can make a difference. I love Nick's character. He is witty, imaginative, and funny. I also liked Mrs. Granger because of the teacher in me. I loved how the word just took off, and it reminded me of when I was in high school and "like" was just beginning to be used more, and how my drama teacher pounded it into our heads not to use it. Unfortunately, she was not able to stop the "like" movement, but that's okay. The word frindle took off in the same way. What a fun idea! This woud be a great read-aloud, but it's also great for a silent read.
It's a clean read, so it's great for everyone, which I like!
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: 5 years and up (I have a four-year-old, and I don't know if she would quite understand it yet.) as a read-aloud. I think it's about a third grade reading level for a silent read.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Emma by Jane Austen
(Summary taken from inside the front cover) "Pretty, rich Emma Woodhouse loves to meddle and is sure she knows best when it comes to love. So why not play cupid and bring couples together? But Emma sometimes interferes too much in her friends' lives. And none of the men Emma knows meet her own high standards for a husband. Will her good intentions ruin other people's chance for love? Is there a man who can truly understand Emma and win her heart?"
I love Jane Austen! I love the language, the flow, the characters, and the stories. I get sucked into the time period and find myself living in a world very different from our own. This book is no different. I read it when I was in junior high, so it has been awhile. It did take a few pages to get back into the language, but then I really enjoyed it. Emma drove me crazy because she always had her nose in someone else's business, but she was adorable at the same time. Her father seemed old and cranky, but she loved him and took good care of him. The characters are so fun. I could just picture the neighborhood and each individual personality living there. I thought a lot about what they do with all their time. They don't speak a whole lot about work, and yet they can afford big estates and servants. What did they do for work? What did they do with all their time? Sometimes I wish we could go back to a more quiet time like that. No tv or video games, no texting or soccer/dance/basketball/piano lessons. Just living and enjoying the moment. That would be nice. Then again, maybe not. I love most of our modern day conveniences. The story is somewhat slow moving, but that is what I like about Jane Austen books. I love that I can read and get caught up in her world.
The reason I read this particular edition of Emma was to showcase the new artwork on the cover. I really like it, and think it embodies the time period well. It is published by Splinter New York, and illustrated by Sara Singh.
The book is clean besides some brief kissing and flirting.
Rating: PG (Only brief kissing and flirting)
Recommendation: 13 and up (I think I read it about age 13, and I loved it.)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The Light Bridge Legacy (#1) Destiny's Call by Elayne G. James
(Summary taken from an email the publisher sent me) " [Destiny's Call] is book one in a YA series that chronicles the adventures of an American girl who learns just before her twelfth birthday that she has been chosen by a race of ancients in Peru to inherit the most powerful magical object in the world. Her move from the Mojave Desert to NYC in book one, parallels her inner journey from sheltered little girl to self-assured young woman, and her growing magical abilities intermittently aid her and get her in trouble. The underlining themes of overcoming fear and embracing who you really are, will resonate with anyone who has had to overcome adversity while trying to find their place in the world."
I really enjoyed this book. It took me by surprise and hooked me from the beginning. I liked Ms. James' writing style. I thought it flowed well, was easy to read and understand, and had just enough mystery to keep me reading. It was a little confusing, at times, because some of the characters have unusual names, and there are some fantastical words introduced. It took me awhile to get the hang of some of it, but once I did, I read it quickly. It is fantasy, which I like, and there are some different worlds that brush paths. Not alien-like. I don't do aliens, usually, but this is different than that. I liked the characters a lot. I especially liked Ani and Kahete. I liked the parents at the beginning, but didn't like the dad at all towards the end of the book. I'm still not sure what I think of CJ. Sometimes I liked her and sometimes I didn't. I felt bad for her and her circumstances, but didn't approve of a lot of what she did. I found Kahete intriguing and wished there had been more about him. Sophia also intrigued me. I wanted to know more about her, and her magic, as well. I liked the story and thought the lesson of finding yourself in a big world was very pertinent to today. I didn't like the decision that Ani made without her father's permission. I hope that doesn't give any young adults reason to make similar decisions. I worried about it when I read it, but then when I started to think of other books I have enjoyed where younger characters make similar decisions, I felt better about it. Still, when my children read this we will definitely chat about not making that choice.
This book is fairly clean. There is some language, some stealing, and a domestic violence scene. A man attacks a 13 year-old girl. It is violent, but it is not a rape, and the girl gets out okay. She is injured, but heals fine. There are also a few sketchy choices made by Ani and CJ: disobedience, lying, that kind of thing.
The ending of this book definitely leaves you hanging. I am excited to read book #2, and I would recommend this book, with the previous warnings.
Rating: PG-13 (some language, stealing, a domestic violence scene, and some sketchy choices)
Recommendation: 13 years and up. I think a 13 year-old will be able to handle everything that happens. I would recommend that parents read it first to make sure it is appropriate for their child. Each child is different.
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
(Summary taken from the back cover) "Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk."
If you are looking for a light-hearted, fun read, this book is not for you. Wow. It's a very interesting look into the lives of slaves, and the family, on a tobacco plantation. I found it very intriguing that not only was there a class system between the white people and the slaves, but also amongst the slaves themselves. The slaves who worked in "the big house" were treated better than those who worked the fields. They received different food rations and better living conditions. I found the treatment of all the slaves detestable. It surprised me that the women of the house were not treated much better than the slaves were. It seemed that they, too, felt like prisoners in their own homes. I felt bad for Lavinia. She was put in a very difficult position because of her circumstances. One day they treat her like a slave and the next day they expect her to be a "lady" and know everything about that. They also expect her to forget any relationship she may have had with the people around her. Ugh. I did not like Marshall. He is evil. And so is Rankin. And so is Mr. Waters. I loved Belle, Mama, Papa, Dory, Uncle, and Lavinia. I also liked Mr. and Mrs. Madden. Ben was an interesting character. He definitely had his faults, but he seemed to do the best that he knew how. I didn't realize that drug addiction was so prevalent in the 1800's. And, just be prepared for a very depressing ending. Sorry, it is what it is. I don't think a happy ending really would have fit with the rest of the book, but oh my, did it need to be that sad???
This book is well written. The character development is really good. I did get confused with all the characters, but I figured it out by the end. I liked the writing style and read it quite easily and quickly. There is language in this book along with many other atrocities. I don't know if everything that happened was typical of slave/plantation life, but if it was, I'm very glad I didn't live during that time. There were rapes, murders, and beatings along with domestic violence, drug addiction, and death. Sounds happy, right?
I liked the book, but did not love it. It was a lot to take in. I'm glad I read it because it helped me see a different point of view of our country's history. I would recommend it with the previous warnings.
Rating: R (This does not follow the movie ratings, exactly, it is just my way of saying that it is NOT appropriate for younger readers.) Rape, murder, domestic violence, abuse, beatings, language, intimacy.
Recommendation: 18 and up. I would recommend that parents read it first, because each child is different.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "If you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in--and that's exactly what happens to one very lucky boy on the beach. The boy and his dragon brave the waves, roast marshmallows, roam the shore, and have a perfectly amazing time together. but when the boy tries to share the news of his magnificent dragon, no one believes him. That's when the mischief begins. The dragon devours every last sandwich, blows bubbles in the lemonade, and leaves claw prints in the brownies. Is there really a dragon running around on the beach, or is someone's imagination running wild?"
My daughter brought this book home from the school library a few days ago, and I was hooked from the first page. The illustrations are amazing! Brightly colored pages draw you in, and you stare, captivated, until the end. And, then you want more. It's a really cute story, and it hit home for me because my sons loved dragons when they were little. I could totally see this happening to my oldest. And, I could understand each and every reaction from the parents. I could also see myself in the sister. Hahaha. I know it's hard to believe, but I have been accused of being a bit too serious at times. I need a few more dragons in my castles sometimes! I may need to purchase this book! I just want to read it over and over.
Yes, I love this book, and yes, I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Rating: G (Clean!!!)
Recommendation: Great for everyone 0 to 125!