Thursday, June 25, 2015

Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest *****
by Clare Vanderpool

Overview: A young girl is sent by her vagabond father to live for a summer in the small town of Manifest. During that summer she tries to discover more about her history and what tie this town has to her past. She has adventures with the local kids, an unusual friendship with a "fortune teller", and much more. The story is also a mystery because part of the tale takes place in the past and part in the present. You don't know until the end how the past has affected the present.
Themes: friendship, family, redemption, prejudice
Positive elements: The story shows how people can come alongside each other and help each other out. It shows the terrible effects of prejudice on a generation. It talks about being free from your past and having hope for the future.
Negative elements: There is a "fortune teller," but she isn't really practicing magic. One of the characters dies in war. There is illegal alcohol being made. A father abandons his daughter. There is a murder. There are definitely some mature themes, but the story is beautifully crafted.
Conclusion: This is one of my favorite books I've read lately. I love how the characters change through the story and how they are all related and influence each other. There is such powerful imagery throughout the book as well.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wheel on the School

Wheel on the School  *****
by Meindert DeJong

Overview: This is a delightful story about a Dutch seaside town with no storks nesting there and some school children who want to bring storks to town. The book follows the adventures of each of the children in the small town. This quest to get storks ends up bringing the whole town together.
Themes: friendship, community, restoration, courage, teamwork
Positive elements: This book shows the amazing power of working together, especially what can be learned when the young and old work together as a community. The young find friendship with the elderly, and the elderly find new life and purpose. The characters learn about hard work and what courage is.
Negative elements: The beginning of the book is slow so don't give up.
Conclusion: A wonderful family read-aloud book! It is sweet, touching, funny, and full of great characters who you really get to know. 5 stars.

By Leeann Staples

Fancy Nancy Super Sleuth

Fancy Nancy Super Sleuth  *****
by Jane O'Connor 

Fancy Nancy Super Sleuth is an exiting book. The main people are Fancy Nancy and her friend Bree. At her school they have a Show off day. At the end of Show Off, a marble is missing. Fancy Nancy and Bree have to find out the mystery of who took it. 
Theme: Team Work and Friendship
Positive Elements: The characters talk nicely to each other. 
Negative Elements: None
Conclusion:  In conclusion, I recommend it as a great book because there are a lot of mysteries and action.

By: Summer Staples, age 9 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Princess and the Goblin

Princess and the Goblin *****
by George MacDonald

Princess and the Goblin is a good story about a princess, a boy Curdie and a beautiful grandmother. In the middle of the story, the goblins who live underground have an idea to flood the miners who work underground. The princess' brave friend Curdie, who is a miner boy, goes and spies on the goblins.  
Theme: Friendship
Positive Elements: The characters are very brave.
Negative Elements: There is not enough action.
My favorite part was when he spied on the goblins because he sang funny songs about them. However, I thought parts of the story were boring because it had a lot of big words.In conclusion, I don't recommend it because the vocabulary is hard.     
By: Summer Staples, age 9


All-of-a-Kind Family

ŒŽAll of a Kind Family  *****
by Sydney Taylor

     What a sweet story of a family of five little Jewish girls living in the lower East side of New York City at the turn of the twentieth century. This isn't an action book, but it plods along with the daily troubles and joys of little girls. Someone loses a library book...the girls visit their dad at work...scarlet fever comes...decisions on how to spend a penny are made...the oldest has a crush...and you'll have to read to find out what else!
     We are a family of five girls so our girls thought this was just too fun! It's amazing because our lives are in so many ways so different from these girls. We have so many possessions for one. It was hard for our girls to imagine not owning a single book. The story also does a wonderful job of showing the different Jewish celebrations throughout the year along with the daily life of the people in that place at that time.
     I gave the book 4/5 stars just because it was a bit slow for my husband. A five start family book is one that we can all thoroughly enjoy together.


Among the Hidden

Among the Hidden  *****
by Margaret Peterson Haddix 

     One of my husband's fifth grade students lent us this book to read. It is the first book in the Shadow Children series. It reminded me of the book The Giver. Like in The Giver, families are only allowed to have two children. Luke, the hero, is the third child in his family. He has to stay hidden inside his house at all times for fear of being discovered. Eventually, he has to decide if he is going to risk death to have something he's never had...a friend. And if he is willing to risk his life to help out other third children.
The book is fast paced and kept my attention. It isn't a literary work of art, but it is well-written and brings up a lot of good topics of discussion for kids including discrimination against these third children, self-sacrifice for others, fear, friendship, death, etc. 


Cinder  *****
by Marissa Meyer

We found this book through a middle school book club that my husband and I are participating in. I was pleasantly surprised by how much we both enjoyed it. It is a very creative retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg, which is part robot, part human. The story takes place way in the future in China. We both felt like the setting was a bit unbelievable. The author was trying to place us in China along with the characters, but it just didn't work. Besides that, the story was fast paced and interesting. You didn't want to put down the book. The story had some great twists and turns, too. Near the end I could guess what was going to happen, but I was enjoying the story so I didn't mind being able to guess the end. This book is the beginning of a series, and I look forward to reading more. It is perfect, carefree reading for the beach in the summer. 
We didn't read this one to our young children. It's a clean book, but the subject matter is more appropriate for middle schoolers and up with a few sappy love moments, deaths of family and friends, and general family dysfunction.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

One Year Bible

The One Year Bible
     I guess the first book to review should probably be the only book that can truly change your life...the Bible. I earned this particular Bible through the Tyndale Rewards program. I've already read through it once last year and now am going through it again. The Bible is broken into short readings for each day. You read from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs each day. It's an easy way to pace yourself so you can read through the whole Bible every year. Sometimes it is hard to jump to so many different passages each day. Especially in the Old Testament narratives I miss just reading the whole story straight through in a day and not breaking it into little bites. But overall, I've really enjoyed reading through it.

You can read books, do surveys, and earn points to get free books through Tyndale Rewards. Here's a link to it...