Saturday, July 28, 2007

a couple more reviews

Mysteries of History, by historian Robert Stewart,explains some of the greatest mysteries of the world's past. The book starts with mysteries from prehistory and ends with modern times. A few examples include Stonehenge, Marco Polo, El Dorado, and J.F.K.'s assassination. Stewart goes into great detail and includes vivid, interesting pictures in each chapter. If you are particularly interested in a certain chapter, there are recommendations of good history books at the end.

I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it for anyone who is curious about the unexplained or anyone who is interested in history.

Shadow of a Bull, by Maia Wojciechowska, is the story of Manolo Olivar, the son of the famous bullfighter, Juan Olivar. The entire Spanish town of Arcangel is waiting for the day Manolo will fulfill his destiny and enter the ring. But Manolo has a secret he can't risk sharing with anyone: he is a coward and dreads the day he must start his bullfighting career. When the fateful day finally comes, Manolo must decide whether he wants to follow in his father's footsteps or live the life he truly wants.

This book was the sad and moving story of a boy coming of age and pursuing his destiny. If you are interested in Spanish culture or bullfighting, I highly recommend this book to you. The characters were interesting and you could easily believe they were real people.

Also read in the last two weeks:

*Flyte by Angie Sage (9 stars)
*Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Hatchling by Kathryn Lasky (8 stars)
*Ida B by Katherine Hannigan (8 stars)
*The Children of the Lamp: The Cobra King of Kathmandu by P.B. Kerr (8 stars)
*Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (9 stars)
*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (10 stars)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

and pictures by Annie, too

(Annie--I hope you don't mind that I snuck onto your blog and posted your drawing. Just really loved this one. Love you! --Mom)

Monday, July 16, 2007

first 3 for the Book Awards Challenge

King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian, by Marguerite Henry, is the story of a stable boy, Agba, and his prized horse Sham. Together with a spunky cat, they have many adventures together and face many dangers.

This book was interesting, but sad. Sham lived with many cruel owners and no one except Agba appreciated his speed. It is a classic story that horse-lovers should definitely read. (7 out of 10 stars)

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink, is the true story of the author's own grandmother. Caddie is not like other pioneer girls. She likes plowing, gathering nuts, and going on adventures rather than sewing and baking. Caddie gets in lots of interesting situations. Come along with her and explore the frontier!

This book was a humorous story of courage and coming-of-age. Caddie is only 11 in the book, but when she gets older, she knows she'll have to learn about being a housewife. Though the characters were real, the author changed Caddie's story a little. It still has a very authentic feel. (7 out of 10 stars)

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer, is the story of a boy named Matteo Alacran who doesn't know why everyone else looks at him with scorn. That is, until the fateful day when Matt finds out that he is not a human...he is a clone. Matt is the clone of the lord of the country Opium, a monster named El Patron. Matt thinks he is safe, until the horrible day when he finds out what clones are really used for. His only chance is to escape across the border into Aztlan, what was once called Mexico. It is dangerous though. Will Matt make it?

This was a suspenseful fantasy about coming-of-age and destiny. The characters were interesting and very believable. The book moved along at a smooth pace. There were sad parts and happy parts, and I'd say this book was just right. In fact, this was my favorite book of the three. (8.5 out of 10 stars)

Also read since the previous post:
*Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (9 stars)
*First Kisses: Puppy Love by Jenny Collins (7 stars)
*The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (8.5 stars)
*Whittington by Alan Armstrong (7 stars)
*Wolf Moon by Charles De Lint (8.5 stars)
*The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford (9 stars)
*Children of the Lamp: The Blue Djinn of Babylon (8 stars)
*Varjak Paw by S.F. Said (9 stars)
*Sixth Grade Secrets by Louis Sachar (8.5 stars)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

3 from the Newbery Challenge (book reviews)

Over the last couple weeks, I read the first three of my Newbery Challenge books (as well as several non-challenge books). The first of these was The Tale of Despereaux...

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo is the story of a mouse with remarkably big ears named Despereaux. Despereaux does something that sends him deep into the dungeons of his home castle: he lets a human touch him! It's true that Despereaux has fallen in love with the human princess and he will do anything for her. So when she disappears, what will Despereaux do?

This was a heartwarming story that would be a wonderful book for families to read together. Despereaux is an unlikely, but courageous hero. This book will be sure to leave you with a smile on your face.

I give this book 8.5 out of 10 stars.

The next book from this challenge that I read was Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes...

Jerry Pye has always wanted a dog, so when he saves up enough for Ginger Pye, he is so excited. Ginger knows all sorts of tricks and he can track Jerry down wherever he is. Ginger is soon the talk of the town. Ginger lives a pretty good life...until he is stolen!

Ginger Pye is a funny, yet sad animal story with another unlikely hero. I thought this book was very enjoyable and I want to read the other books by this author as well.

I give this book 8.5 out of 10 stars.

The next book in the challenge I read was Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech...

Salamanca Tree Hiddle is excited when she gets a chance to see her mom again. Sal hasn't seen her since she moved away. On the trip, Sal's grandparents are entertained by Sal's story about her friend Phoebe, Phoebe's disappearing mother, and a lunatic. Although they enjoy their trip, nothing can prepare Sal for the tragedy that awaits them at the end of their journey.

This story was actually two separate stories interconnected: Pheobe's which is funny, and Sal's which is tragic. This is a good family story and one that adults and kids would enjoy.

I give this book 9 out of 10 stars, my favorite of the Newbery Challenge books so far.

Other books read in the last couple weeks include:
*Warriors: The Sight by Erin Hunter (my favorite series) -10 stars-
*The Horse Charmers by Terri Farley -8 stars-
*Letters from Wolfie by Patti Sherlock -7 stars-
*The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein -9 stars-
*Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin -9 stars-
*MayBird: Among the Stars by Jodi Lynn Anderson -9 stars-