Archive for the ‘the girl 2009’ Category

“Self worth has no price tag!” That’s the message Deborah Weed wants children to take from her new book, The Luckiest Penny. With warm and vivid illustrations by Ernest Socolov that pop off the page, Weed tells the story of two 1943 pure copper pennies: Allister, a shiny penny who has spent his life all alone in a protective case, and Henry, a penny who has been on several adventures. While Allister sits pristine in his case, Henry has been in the garbage, in a roll with other pennies, and even in a washing machine. The two pennies, despite their different lives, are content, though Henry feels a bit sorry for Allister. Both Allister and Henry end up on the auction block, and I bet you can guess who gets the highest bid!

After reading The Luckiest Penny with my daughter, she and I had a fun time answering the discussion questions in the back of the book. We talked about self-worth, the things in life that are most valuable, things that make us feel lucky, and about living life to the fullest. I thought it was cute when she told me that because I’m her mom, I think she’s perfect even when she’s not. And she said she felt the same way about me.

She was especially interested in reading the blurb in the back of the book about the 40 pure copper pennies minted in the U.S. in 1943 by mistake. They are missing the traditional zinc-coated belly, and this error means these pennies are worth tens of thousands of dollars. Now I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Yup, she grabbed her change container and spent the evening weeding through her pennies. She was a bit disappointed that her oldest penny is from 1951.

Weed’s passion for getting children to understand that we all are special in our own way and we should never undervalue ourselves shines through in The Luckiest Penny. I highly recommend the story for youngsters. Even though The Girl is a bit old for the story, she really enjoyed it.

Here’s what The Girl (age 9) had to say about the book in her own words (mind you, she was really tired from summer camp, but she still insisted on having her say):

The Luckiest Penny is about two pennies who each have a life. One doesn’t mind getting dirty. One wanted to stay clean. I liked this book. I would recommend other people read this story.

Disclosure:  We received a free copy of The Luckiest Penny from the author for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Today is a perfect day for a review by The Girl. She has two books to complete for summer reading, and this is the one chosen by the school. (The other is a book of her choice that must be at least 120 pages.) Since she’ll be tested on the book when she starts 4th grade in the fall, I encouraged her to write a review to help her remember the story. And remembering all the kind words from my blog buddies, she agreed.

I haven’t read Frindle by Andrew Clements, but according to the back cover, it’s about a young boy who decides to call a pen a frindle instead of a pen. Nick becomes popular as the idea catches on in school, then across the country, all the while his teacher wants the madness to end.

Frindle by Andrew Clements, reviewed by The Girl (age 8):

Frindle was about this boy who said why should a pen be called a pen. Why not call it a frindle? This was a slow book. There’s not a lot of action, and I love action books. I liked it, but it was not my favorite. I will read it again maybe.

Well, that’s all I could get out of her. At least she’s honest (and painfully so at times). I’m not sure what book she plans to read for her second summer reading selection, but she’s reading about 5 books right now. Stay tuned.

Disclosure:  The Girl borrowed Frindle from the library. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte tells the story of Paula Becker, a young German girl born deaf, in the form of free verse poems. She learns to cope with her lack of hearing and creates her own sign language. Her mother was exposed to the German measles during her pregnancy, but Paula didn’t lose her hearing completely until she was about a year old. Still, she manages to enjoy her life and her surroundings.

But in 1939, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis roll out Action T4, or Tiergartenstrasse 4, named after its Berlin headquarters. The program calls for the killing of the mentally ill and disabled because they are deemed unfit to live and don’t fit Hitler’s vision of a “perfect” race. Paula quickly understands that the Nazi party hates her and wants her dead. Though she doesn’t want to leave her family, she values her life and understands that saving herself means going into hiding. Her journey begins when Father Josef takes her from her home, and the people she meets along the way, especially the disheveled Poor Kurt, shape who she becomes after the war.

T4 is intended for middle grade readers, and The Girl and I easily finished the 105 pages of free verse in about 30 minutes. But we spent more time discussing the book and the fact that T4 was a real euthanasia program instituted during World War II, then pulled in 1941 when Germany was busy with the Russian campaign. We talked about how Paula must’ve felt to realize that her own country wanted her dead, how her parents must have felt about letting her go, and how horrible it is to understand that the Nazis killed many mentally ill and disabled people during the war.

The book doesn’t provide any graphic details of the killings, but it clearly spells out how terrible the situation was. The simple verse is easy for children to understand, and I think it’s a good book for parents to start a dialogue with their children about discrimination and the need to embrace all people, even if they are different from others.

Here’s what The Girl (age 8) had to say:

T4 is a book about World War II. It’s about a girl who is deaf. Hitler was killing people who were blind, deaf, or had other disabilities. The girl has to hide so she won’t be killed. She has to be taken away from her family to hide. I liked the book because it tells a good story, and it’s in poem form. People should read this book because they’ll learn something.

Disclosure:  We borrowed T4 from the library. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I was scanning The Girl’s book shelves this evening, and I realized she has as many books as I do. And I wonder why we’re running out of space in our small townhouse! Anyway, we wanted to cuddle on the couch before her bedtime, and I suggested we grab a book that could be read in one sitting. Last summer, she received a gift certificate for her birthday and used it to buy books. Almost one year later, I figure it’s time we read some of her purchases.

Princess Katie and the Silver Pony is book 2 in Vivian French’s series The Tiara Club. The Girl was a bit tired this evening from her school walk-a-thon, so she wanted me to read to her, and we breezed through these 70 or so pages in about 30 minutes. French tells the book from the point of view of Princess Katie, one of the girls attending the Princess Academy. There are a couple of introductory pages about the academy, which we found helpful because we hadn’t read the first book. Basically, the books follow 6 friends — Katie, Sophia, Charlotte, Daisy, Emily, and Alice — and their rival Perfecta as they attend various magical classes to earn tiara points. They need these tiara points to reside in the Silver Towers for perfect princesses next year.

In Princess Katie and the Silver Pony, the princesses take a wish class in preparation for the Royal Parade. The girls are asked by the fairy godmother, known as Fairy G., to write down their wish, and the princess whose wish benefits other people before herself will win 100 tiara points and a chance to ride on the Seashell Coach in the parade. Of course, Perfecta is willing to do anything for those tiara points, as she didn’t receive enough the prior year to move ahead in her princess education.

This book is geared toward girls ages 6 to 9, and it was perfect for The Girl. She could have easily read this on her own, though I didn’t mind reading to her, of course. And there was talk of princesses, fancy dresses, and dancing, which she enjoyed. French’s writing makes it seem as though Katie is talking to you, which made the pages fly by. There’s an illustration on nearly every page, which held The Girl’s attention, but best of all was the message French delivers to young girls. The Princess Academy’s school motto is, “A Perfect Princess always thinks of others before herself, and is kind, caring, and truthful.” Those are some good values to promote, and even though the girls in the story aspire to be “perfect” princesses, they stumble but learn from their mistakes. The Girl has another book from The Tiara Club series on her shelf, and I look forward to reading it with her soon.

Here’s what The Girl (age eight) had to say about Princess Katie and the Silver Pony:

This is a magical story about 6 princesses who have to make 1 wish. That 1 wish will have to go or stay, and what do they wish for? There also is a contest about a parade and whoever gets the most tiara points will get to ride in a carriage with 6 horses pulling it. I liked this book because it was very interesting.

Disclosure: The Girl purchased her copy of Princess Katie and the Silver Pony. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Yesterday, The Girl told me she finished Ivy & Bean Break the Fossil Record in two days. Later in the evening, she asked if she could write for a few minutes in bed before lights out, and of course, I agreed. When I went to bed a few hours later, a piece of notebook paper with her review was sitting on my pillow. How cute!

As I haven’t read this one myself, I can’t comment on the book. However, I do know that it’s the third book in the Ivy & Bean series, and The Girl hasn’t yet read the first book, though she owns it. Reading them out of order didn’t seem to affect her enjoyment.

Ivy & Bean Break the Fossil Record
written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Reviewed by The Girl (age eight)

This book is about two little girls named Ivy and Bean. Bean was in class one day. She was bored out of her mind. The teacher gave her a book called “The Amazing Book of World Records.”

Ivy and Bean looked at the book together. They wanted to break a record. They tried many things, only 1 worked. They broke the fossil record. I liked the part when Ivy tried putting straws in Bean’s mouth.

Disclosure:  The Girl received a copy of Ivy & Bean Break the Fossil Record as a gift. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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It sounded like her mother. Coraline went into the kitchen, where the voice had come from. A woman stood in the kitchen with her back to Coraline. She looked a little like Coraline’s mother. Only…

Only her skin was white as paper.

Only she was taller and thinner.

Only her fingers were too long, and they never stopped moving, and her dark red fingernails were curved and sharp.

“Coraline?” the woman asked. “Is that you?”

And then she turned around. Her eyes were big black buttons.

(from Coraline, pages 27-28)

The Girl and I started Neil Gaiman’s Coraline a few months ago, then life got in the way and it sat on the coffee table waiting to be finished. We decided to complete it during the recent Read-a-Thon, and I’m glad we did because I enjoyed it.

Coraline is a young girl adjusting to a new home. Her parents are always working and don’t seem to have any time to entertain her. She visits her neighbors, former actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, and wonders about the old man living in the attic apartment who claims to have a mouse circus. Coraline basically wanders around feeling bored and neglected. While exploring, she finds a door in the drawing room, which opens onto a brick wall. Eventually, as all curious children would do, Coraline opens the door, finds a dark hallway, and walks through it to another home that mirrors her own.

Waiting in this identical home is Coraline’s Other Mother and Other Father, seemingly perfect except for the black button eyes — which they want to sew to Coraline’s face so she can be their daughter and live with them forever. Coraline eventually makes her way back to her real home to discover that her real parents are missing. With the help of a talking cat, Coraline must play the Other Mother’s evil games to find her parents and get her old life back. But the Other Mother has plans, and they don’t involve playing fair.

Coraline is a dark and creepy book, and while The Girl and I wished it had been scarier, we enjoy creepy stories, too. Coraline made me think back to the days when I thought my parents were too busy for me. I know now that wasn’t the case, but it felt that way sometimes as a kid. I thought Coraline was a strong character, as she rose to the challenges presented by the Other Mother despite the fact that she was frightened. The book had enough action to hold our attention until the end, but I wish there had been more about the origins of the Other Mother. Nevertheless, I thought it was a decent book with a unique plot. I definitely plan to read another book by Gaiman in the future.

Here’s what The Girl (age eight) had to say:

I think this book is very good. My favorite part was when Coraline tossed the cat at the Other Mother. Another part I thought was good was when she ran out of the cellar. I thought this book was good because it was kind of scary.

Disclosure:  We purchased our copy of Coraline. I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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The Girl and I had a great time reading four books from Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henry series, illustrated by Tony Ross, which are being re-released by Sourcebooks. Each book features four stories about a horrid little boy and his perfect younger brother. Horrid Henry doesn’t like school, vacations, leaving the house, or his neighbor Moody Margaret. He’s always looking for ways to get what he wants or get out of doing something, usually landing him in some sort of trouble. Here’s a little bit about each of the stories we read.

In Horrid Henry:

“Horrid Henry’s Perfect Day” — Henry wonders what would happen if he acted as perfect as his brother.

“Horrid Henry’s Dance Class” — Let’s just say Horrid Henry would rather take karate lessons.

“Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret” — Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret compete to make (and drink) disgusting “Glop.”

“Horrid Henry’s Holiday” — Picture a couch potato kid forced to go camping, and throw in some rain and a desire to be anywhere but out in the wilderness…

In Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy:

“Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy” — Henry will do anything to lose a tooth, or at least get the tooth fairy to leave him some money.

“Horrid Henry’s Wedding” — Horrid Henry and Perfect Peter are ring bearers in a cousin’s wedding, and disaster results when Horrid Henry tries to shirk his ring-bearing duties.

“Moody Margaret Moves In” — Margaret’s parents leave her with Henry’s family to go on a two-week vacation, and she makes Henry look like an angel. Well, almost.

“Horrid Henry’s New Teacher” — Horrid Henry bets he can get rid of the new teacher permanently by lunch time.

In Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine:

“Horrid Henry’s Hike” — Henry is forced to take a walk in the countryside with his family. Not a good idea.

“Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine” — Henry has a vivid imagination, but he goes too far in teasing his brother.

Perfect Peter’s Revenge” — Peter wants to get back at Henry for all the bad things he’s done, but will it backfire on the perfect brother?

“Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh” — A ritzy French restaurant, a snotty cousin, snails, and a picky eater make this a hilarious story.

In Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb:

“Horrid Henry Reads a Book” — Horrid Henry hates to read, but he’s determined to win a reading competition to get tickets to a theme park.

“Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb” — It’s Henry’s Purple Hand Fort against Margaret’s Secret Club. With the help of traitors, who will get the upper hand?

“Horrid Henry’s School Project” — Disaster ensues when Henry is forced to work on a group project.

“Horrid Henry’s Sleepover” — Henry is never invited to stay over a friend’s house more than once, but Nick’s family gives Henry a run for his money.

Here’s what The Girl (age eight) had to say about the Horrid Henry books:

I loved all of these books because they were hilarious. My favorite stories were “Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb” and “Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh” because they were the funniest. I think Horrid Henry is funny because he’s always doing things to get in trouble. I wouldn’t want to act like him, though, because he’s rude. I think all kids my age would enjoy these books.

I have to agree with The Girl’s assessment: Horrid Henry is a riot. As a parent, I wouldn’t want Horrid Henry as a child, and I wouldn’t want him to set foot in my home. I think his parents should say more than, “Don’t be horrid, Henry,” when he’s acting up. But as a series for children in the age 7 to 10 range, I think they’re entertaining. Don’t expect to find any role models in these books, though. Horrid Henry is the brattiest kid I’ve ever come across in books, and Perfect Peter is a bit over the top. But that’s what makes them funny.

If anyone has ever taken a reluctant child camping, you’ll love “Horrid Henry’s Holiday.” If you’ve every dealt with a picky eater, you’ll get a kick out of “Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh.” Some of the stories end a bit abruptly, and we were both wondering what exactly happened or why the story ended where it did. But we did more laughing out loud than scratching our heads, and you can bet we’ll be checking out more books in the series.

This time around, The Girl didn’t want to read the stories on her own. She enjoyed cuddling on the couch and having me read to her, but they definitely are books she could handle on her own. If you have a reluctant young reader on your hands, these would be great. And I should point out that the illustrations by Tony Ross really bring Horrid Henry to life. He does a great job capturing the character’s expressions. I especially loved the vibrant cover art.

Disclosure:  We received copies of the Horrid Henry books from Sourcebooks for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Too Tall Alice written by Barbara Worton and illustrated by Dom Rodi is about an 8-year-old girl who is the tallest in her class. Alice isn’t happy about towering over all the other kids by four inches, and she isn’t happy to overhear her parents and their friends talking about how tall and thin she is and how she could be a supermodel and make a lot of money. Alice cries herself to sleep, dreams about a world where she isn’t the tallest girl, and learns that her height doesn’t define her.

I thought this was a good book to share with The Girl, as she is the same age as Alice and also the tallest girl in her class. She seemed to identify with Alice right away, especially since someone is always making a comment about her height. (She’s a full head taller than one of her best friends, who’s actually older than she is.) The illustrations are fun and very colorful, and I think Too Tall Alice has a good message about loving yourself as you are.

Here’s what The Girl (age eight) has to say about Too Tall Alice:

Too Tall Alice is about Alice, who’s tall. I’m also the tallest girl in my class. It kind of makes me feel different than kids who aren’t as tall as me. My favorite part was when she [Alice] had a dream and went to where a lot of taller people were. It made me feel good that there are taller kids than me. Also the pictures showed me what the paragraphs were about. When the author showed how tall Alice was in a class photo, that looks like me. I loved the book, and I think if you’re tall, you should read this book.

The Girl was able to ask Barbara Worton, author of Too Tall Alice, a few questions and hopes you will stop by tomorrow to read her very first author interview!

Disclosure:  We received a copy of Too Tall Alice from the author for review purposes. i am an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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The Suburban Dragon written by Garasamo Maccagnone and illustrated by Al Ochsner

Reviewed by The Girl (age eight)

This book is about three kids who want to save their mom when a dragon pops up and kidnaps her. The kids think up ways to rescue their mom. I liked this book because it has action, with the kids pretending to be knights and princesses. The illustrations are colorful and do a good job showing the action. I read this book to my mom, and it was easy for me to read. I enjoyed the book, but I think younger kids would enjoy it even more.

Disclosure:  We received a copy of The Suburban Dragon from the author for review purposes. My mom is an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Let’s Find Pokemon! by Kazunori Aihara
Reviewed by The Girl (age eight)

Let’s Find Pokemon! is one of my favorite books. It is such a cool book because cover to cover, there are 384 Pokemon. It has a few mazes in it. Also, it has some funny pictures in it. My favorite maze is Lost Inside Mt. Moon. That’s my favorite maze because it has funny pictures and is underground. The hardest maze is Diglett’s Cave because it has do not enter signs, and where it has do not enter signs you can’t go that way because the way is blocked.

[Anna:  The Girl has had this book in her collection for some time now. The cover is barely attached, that’s how much she loves it. It’s sort of like a Where’s Waldo? or I Spy but with Pokemon characters. The Girl is crazy about Pokemon; she collects the cards, has a couple Pokemon DS games, and watches the cartoons every now and then. So when she came to me with a piece of paper with a review she wrote during her break at school and begged me to post it here, I just couldn’t refuse.   Though I can’t say I’m a big fan of Pokemon, I enjoy doing the activities with The Girl. They really exercise your eyes with pages of one particular Pokemon in various poses, and you have to pick out certain ones. The illustrations are colorful, and every time she opens the book with me, I see something I’d missed previously.]

Disclosure:  I purchased my copy of Let’s Find Pokemon! My mom is an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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