Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Emily Windsnap & the Monster from the Deep (book review)

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep is a fantasy story by Liz Kessler. Emily Windsnap has always felt alone in the world; she is half mermaid and half human. When on land, she's human, in the water, she's a mermaid. During her old life on the pier, she felt lonely living with humans. Now, on the magical Allpoints Island, a safe haven for mermaids, she feels like an outcast. All she wants is to show her mermaid friends that she is just as good as they are. Instead, she wakes up the bloodthirsty kraken, an octopus-like monster who is only supposed to be woken every hundred years. Now, eight years before the next scheduled awakening, the kraken is angry for revenge. The only way the mermaids can bring peace is to give the kraken the person who woke it up. Can Emily find a way to fix this mess?

This was a super fast read...I read it in one sitting. The characters were interesting and very different from one another. I think it would be fun to meet most of them--if they were real, of course! It was a fun read, as was the first in the series, and I'm definitely going to get the rest!

I give this book 8 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 11 books down, 4 to go.

The Book of Three : Book One of the Chronicles of Prydain(book review)

The Book of Three is a fantasy story by Lloyd Alexander. In the village of Caer Dallben, Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran dreams of doing something heroic. Instead he looks after a pig, though his charge is Hen Wen, Prydain's one and only oracular pig. When Hen Wen runs away, Taran gets his chance to be a hero. But he finds himself lost in the dark woods. And with the dreaded Horned King on the loose and the lord of Annuvin, land of the dead, gathering evil forces, Taran finds that it isn't easy to be a hero.

I didn't really like this book. Although it contained interesting characters, the book overall lacked a lot of action and failed to pull me in. I don't think I'll read the next books in the series.

I give this book 5 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 10 books down, 5 to go.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Twinkling Fire

by Annie (age 10)

Twinkling fire in my eye
Twinkling fire in the sky

Twinkling fire, a mischievous glint
Twinkling fire, a sun distant

Twinkling fire, what do you ask?
Twinkling fire, what is your task?

Twinkling fire of death and despair?
Or twinkling fire of joy to be shared?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Wind in the Door (book review)

A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L'Engle, is the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time. In this story, Meg Murry is afraid for her brother Charles Wallace. He is being bullied by the other first-graders at his school, and he has also fallen prey to a strange disease called mitochondritis. To save him, Meg and her friend Calvin O'Keefe must go inside one of Charles Wallace's mitochondria to stop an evil entity called Echthroi from destroying Charles Wallace...as well as the world. But they are not alone on their quest- accompanying them are the cherubim Proginoskes, a tall, dark man named Blajeny, a mysterious snake named Louise the Larger, Meg and Calvin's former teacher Mr. Jenkins, and one of Charles Wallace's very own farandolae, Sporos. Can they all save Charles together?

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was definitely as wonderful as Wrinkle in Time, and I can't wait to read the next one, A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Thanks Jean!

I give this book 10 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 9 books down, 6 to go.

Charlie Bone-first 3 books in series (book review)

Midnight for Charlie Bone, by Jenny Nimmo is the story of a boy who discovers that he has magical powers--he can hear people talking in photographs and he can also go inside the photographs. Charlie is dismayed and wishes more than anything that he had no powers, but his evil Yewbeam aunts are delighted. They send him to Bloor's Academy for Gifted Children, where he discovers that some of his classmates' powers are equally mysterious. Soon Charlie is involved in uncovering the past of one of these classmates, the mysterious Emilia Moon.

In Charlie Bone and the Time Twister, Charlie and his friends discover a boy who has traveled through time from the icy winter of 1916. His name is Henry Yewbeam, and he needs the help of Charlie and his friends to return home. But things are not what they seem. Not only is something is haunting the tower of Bloor's where they have hid Henry, but there are also people after him. One of Charlie's own friends turns out to be a spy, so who can he trust?

In Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy, Charlie and his friend Emma Tolly discover an invisible boy in the attic of Bloor's. His name is Ollie Sparks, and he needs help to find his long-lost brother, who is also hiding. A mysterious new student has arrived at Bloor's, and strange things seem to be going on to the people she hangs out with. Can she have something to do with Ollie? Can she help him? Will she?

I loved reading these books and I can't wait for the next ones! They're fast readers, but great ones! Like many of my Spring Reading Thing books, they also could have gone on my Once Upon a Time Challenge list.

I give all of these books 8.5 out of 10 stars.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 22 books down, 8 to go.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Magyk (book review)

Magyk is a suspenseful fantasy story by Angie Sage. In this story, Silas and Sarah Heap are celebrating the arrival of their seventh son, Septimus Heap. Septimus is special and Magykal, as he is the seventh son of the seventh son. When Septimus is taken from them by the Matron Midwife, a servant of the dark and powerful wizard, DomDaniel, the Necromancer, Silas and Sarah lament. But then a baby girl is found in the woods. The Heaps take her in and name her Jenna. But this girl holds a dark secret...a secret that, ten years later, will send Silas to a place he never imagined he would ever have to go, with people he never thought he'd meet, on a mission he never thought he would embark on. Is Jenna the key to finding Septimus and restoring peace?

It took me five days to read this book, but I enjoyed every minute of it! I can't wait to read the next book in the series!

I give this book 10 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 8 books down, 7 to go.

Ragweed (book review)

Ragweed is a fantasy story by Avi, the first in the Poppy series. Ragweed is a young mouse who leaves his home early to explore the world. He heads to the big city, where he meets a bunch of city mice--Clutch the guitar playing, skateboarding mouse and her band, Lugnut and Dipstick, as well as the mysterious albino Blinker. Blinker's previous life still haunts him. He was formerly kept in a cage in a human home. The human wasn't so bad, but this home was also inhabited by the evil feline Silversides. Now Silversides and her pal Graybar are back, and determined to destroy the mouse population. Can Ragweed, Clutch, Dipstick, Lugnut,and Blinker save the day?

I really enjoyed this story. It was a fast read, but Ragweed was action-packed and suspenseful!

I give this book 10 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 7 books down, 8 to go.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Little People: Stories of Fairies, Pixies, and Other Small Folk (book review)

Little People is a collection of fairy stories translated by Neil Philips. (He also wrote short descriptions and explanations about the stories throughout the book.) Each of the six chapters contains a collection of stories from around Europe. There are stories from France, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Holland, and many other places. It was very interesting to see how the stories and fairies differ in each country.

This book was very interesting. The author talks about each story in a descriptive voice and he translates the stories in a way that is easy to understand.

I give this book 9 out of 10.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 18 books down, 12 to go.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Clara Barton and the American Red Cross (book review)

Clara Barton and the American Red Cross, written by Eve Marko, tells the story of Clara Barton and how she founded the American Red Cross. Clara started her nursing career with her own pets. She then went on to nurse her sick brother and finally to nursing soldiers in the Civil War! When Clara went to Europe for vacation, she heard about the International Red Cross. Thinking about how wonderful this would be in America, she headed back home and persuaded the president to join. And now, we are not only part of the International Red Cross, but we also have the American Red Cross as well, all thanks to Clara Barton!

This was a really good book, and it made me want to learn more about Clara Barton! It was a fast read and didn't go into that much detail, but I still enjoyed reading it!

This book gets 8.5 out of 10 stars.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 17 books down, 13 to go.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just Jane (book review)

Just Jane is a historical novel by William Lavender. As the story begins, Lady Jane Prentice is newly arrived in the American Colonies from England. She keeps hearing about some sort of problem going on between England and the Colonies, but everyone she asks is elusive. Jane feels they're hiding something from her. When her own family splits into two sides, Jane must face a huge choice: is she still a daughter of England or is she an American now?

This is a wonderful story, and I didn't want it to end. I think I'd like to read others in this series (entitled Great Episodes).

I give this book 10 out of 10 stars.

(This book was read for school, not for one of the challenges.)

One For Sorrow, Two For Joy (book review)

One For Sorrow, Two For Joy is a fantasy story by Clive Woodall. In the story, a brave robin named Kirrick is standing up against the evil magpies. He is trying to find a way to destroy their rule in the bird kingdom. He is not without allies--his mate Portia, who is also a robin, Darreal the red kite, Tomar and Isidris the snowy owls, Kraken the gull, and Storne the golden eagle are all on his side. And little do the birds know it, but the creature they fear and hate most--Man, is going to pay a vital part in destroying the magpies' rule.

This book was very good, but GORY! Apparently the magpies like inflicting pain...seriously, you don't want hear more. The book would be perfect if not for the gore! Yuck!

I give this book 7 out of 10 stars.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 16 books down, 14 to go.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Naked Mole Rat Letters (book review)

The Naked Mole-Rat Letters is a coming of age story by Mary Amato.

In this story, Francine is a twelve-year-old girl who, after suffering when her mother died, learns that her father is talking to another girl online! Her name: Ayanna Bayo. She is a Kenyan biologist studying naked mole-rats. In secret, Frankie sends her a series of e-mails warning her to stay away! But Frankie is so caught up in e-mailing Ratlady, as she calls Ayanna, that she forgets the more important things in life, such as friends and family.

This is a very good story, but a sort of strange one. I enjoyed it, though it was somewhat sad.

I give this book 7 out of 10 stars.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 15 books down, 15 to go! Half-way there!

The Nancy Drew Files (book review)

The Nancy Drew Files by Carolyn Keene is actually three books in one: The Wrong Chemistry, Out of Bounds, and Flirting With Danger.

In The Wrong Chemistry, Nancy Drew, female detective, goes undercover at a college to investigate the disappearance of a possibly dangerous chemical. But it's clear someone doesn't want her there. Will Nancy pull through and solve this mystery?

In Out of Bounds, Nancy and her friends investigate the strange behavior of some professional football players. Are they just worn out, or is something more going on?

In the final story, Flirting with Danger, a rich movie star's daughter is kidnapped. Nancy discovers some secrets about the girl's past that were best left undiscovered...

All three of these books were suspensful, funny, and frightening. I loved them, and I can't wait to read more Nancy Drew books!

All three of these books were 9 out of 10.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 14 books down, 16 to go.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Shiva's Fire (book review)

Shiva's Fire is by Suzanne Fisher Staples. It tells the story of Parvati, a little Indian girl who is one with nature. Her destiny is to become a devadasi, a legendary dancer. Or at least this is what she believes, until she meets a kind boy who captures her heart. Parvati is faced with a choice: should she continue dancing or run off with this gentle-eyed boy? Through this choice, Parvati will discover that destiny can be elusive.

This book started out being somewhat slow and maybe even a bit boring, but it got better as it went along. Overall, not one of the best books I've ever read, but I did enjoy it.

I give this book 7 out of 10 stars.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 11 books down, 19 to go.

Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man (book review)

Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man is by Wendelin Van Draanen. Sammy Keyes is a twelve-year-old detective. Her Grams is always warning her not to look for trouble, but it seems like trouble is always looking for her. When Sammy and her friends Marissa and Dot go trick-or-treating, trouble knocks on her door. Well, actually, Sammy knocks on trouble's door. She does something no 7th Grader has done before. She knocks on the door of the Bush House. As if the spooky old mansion surrounded by bushes isn't scary enough on its own, it's even creepier once Sammy and her friends discover a skeleton and Frankenstein hiding inside! Something is definitely going on here, and Sammy is determined to find out what.

I really enjoyed this book. It was suspenseful, scary, and funny. This is the third Sammy Keyes book I've read, and I've enjoyed every one of them.

I give this book 8 stars out of 10.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 10 books down, 20 to go. Yeah...1/3 of the way there!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pendragon Book 5: Black Water (book review)

Black Water, by DJ MacHale, is the 5th book in the exciting series, Pendragon. In the story, 15-year-old Bobby Pendragon travels through a magical portal to the jungle world of Eelong to save it from destruction. Eelong is the 5th territory of Halla, the universe. And it is Bobby's job to save it, because he was born as a Traveler, someone destined to protect Halla from evil. On Eelong, the jungle territory, a group of cat people rules supreme over humans. But an evil demon is about to turn things topsy-turvy on Eelong and lead it to destruction by spreading an awful plague. Only Bobby and his friends can stop him, but if they choose to save Eelong, their choice might destroy every other being in Halla.

This was a very good story, as are all the others in this series! I can't wait to read the next one!

I give this book 9.5 out of 10 stars.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 9 books down, 21 to go.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Blue Jasmine (book review)

Blue Jasmine is a captivating life story by Kashmira Sheth. It tells the tale of twelve-year-old Seema Trivedi, an Indian girl moving to a new home far away from her relatives. She is moving to America. Seema meets friends and enemies and discovers many surprises in this new country, but the biggest surprise of all will be at her old home in India, the very place she never imagined she would see again.

This was a really good story, the kind of book you don't find very often. It was very interesting and very sad, too. It makes you wonder how you would feel going to a new country far, far away with different customs and traditions.

This book was a 10 out of 10, definitely!

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 8 books down, 22 to go.

Swordbird (book review)

Swordbird is a fantasy by twelve-year-old author Nancy Yi Fan. It is the story of a war between the cardinals and the bluejays of Stone-Run Forest. Legend has it that only Wind-Voice, a dove with great powers and a flashing sword, can restore the peace. But can Wind-Voice come in time to save the forest's birds?

I really liked this story! It was a fast read, but a really good one. The only problem that I had with the story was that it was woven together a little bit fast. Overall, I'd have to say that it was a really great story though.

I give this book a nine out of ten!

(This wasn't for one of the reading challenges.)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Worst Hard Time (book review)

The Worst Hard Time is an amazing book by Timothy Egan that tells the story of the people who survived the Dust Bowl. This book even won the National Book Award! I can certainly understand why. (My grandpa lent this book to me, and I can see why he liked it so much!)

The Dust Bowl was a series of terrible dust storms that caused many people to suffocate or die from diseases like dust pneumonia and laryngitis. It swept through the mid-west during the Great Depression, which was already causing great suffering. The story is told in three parts: the first part tells how the mid-west flourished during the Roaring 20s, the next talks about the Depression and about when the dust storms began, and the final part tells the tale of the worst of the dust storms, as well as about the beginning of the end of this terrible time. This deeply moving story makes me thankful I didn't live through those frightening times!

This is definitely a 10 out of 10!

Non-Fiction Five Reading Challenge: 1 book down, 4 to go.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 7 books down, 23 to go.

Friday, May 04, 2007


by Annie (age 10)

I feel the morning sun shining on my face,
I open up and welcome it.

It makes my body feel whole,
With warmth spreading down to my tail.

But I crawl away from the midday sun,
(and come out when it is setting),

Because it is not kind and gentle like the morning sun,
It burns and scratches me 'till I leave.

I am a reptile.

The Golden Compass (book review)

The Golden Compass is a fantasy story by Philip Pullman. The story takes place in a parallel world where every human is accompanied by a daemon, a creature in the form of an animal. A daemon can shapeshift until you grow up, when it takes its final form. The main character is Lyra Belacqua, with her daemon Pantalaimon. She roams Jordan College as an orphan, until the sinister villian Mrs. Coulter captures her heart. When Lyra learns Mrs. Coulter's terrible secret, she runs away to the North, accompanied by some unusual companions, and Pantalaimon, of course. What she doesn't know is that she alone is destined to save her world.

I really enjoyed this book! I was sucked right in, imagining I was living in Lyra's world. I can't wait to read the next one in the series!

I give this book a 10 out of 10!

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 6 books down, 9 to go.

By the way, I found out just yesterday that this book is being made into a movie. Hooray! And they have a website where you can take a quiz and find out about your own personal daemon. Here's mine:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Time Cat (book review)

Time Cat was written by Lloyd Alexander.

Jason isn't surprised at all when his cat Gareth speaks to him. He was sure Gareth could if he tried. However, he is surprised when he learns Gareth's secret: he can travel to any time and any place in the world! So Gareth takes Jason on an around the world adventure, with the surprises never ending!

It was a very fast read, but a good one! It's funny, scary, and educational!

I give this book 9.5 out of 10 stars!

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 6 books down, 24 to go.