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Archive for the ‘the girl 2010’ Category

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to share The Girl’s thoughts on a book she read last year, Spell of the Screaming Jokers, part of R.L. Stine’s Ghosts of Fear Street series.  This review originally appeared on Jenn’s Bookshelves last October as part of Jenn’s Fright Fest event.

Do you like to play cards? Yes? Then pick a card. Uh-oh. Brittany picked a joker. And it’s no laughing matter. Because these jokers are deadly.

On your way home from school – riding your bike – even in your hall closet – they attack! Each time, they stamp a card suit on your arm – first a club, then a diamond, then a heart – then a spade. That’s when the game really starts … when you get all four suits. Because that’s when the joker plays for keeps! (publisher’s summary)

Thoughts by The Girl (age 10 at the time):

The book, Spell of the Screaming Jokers, is about 4 kids, Brittany, Frankie, Louisa, and Jeff. Their principal tells them that they have to visit this sick kid named Max. His mother, Mrs. Davidson, takes them to his room. Max wants to play cards. Frankie draws a joker. On the way home, a kid hurts him and gives him a bruise shaped like a club. Then weird things start happening.

I recommend this book for ages 8 and up for kids who like creepy stories. I loved this book and hope to read more from the series.

Disclosure: The Girl bought her copy of Spell of the Screaming Jokers at a library sale.  I am an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Of the 26 books read by me, The Girl (age 10), in 2010, these are the 5 that I enjoyed the most.

1.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney
2.  Big Nate:  In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce
3.  The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
4.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
5.  The Famous Nini by Mary Nethery, illustrated by John Manders

The Girl’s Read in 2010 List (with links to reviews)

1.  Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman by Dav Pilkey
2.  Bone:  Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith
3.  Night in Werewolf Woods by R.L. Stine
4.  Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
5.  Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People by Dav Pilkey
6.  The Bubble by Brian D. McClure, illustrated by Buddy Plumlee
7.  Princess Katie and the Mixed Up Potion by Vivian French
8.  The Famous Nini by Mary Nethery, illustrated by John Manders
9.  Miracle in Sumatra by Jeanne McNaney, illustrated by David Cochard
10.  Room One by Andrew Clements
11.  Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman by Francesca Simon, illustrated by Tony Ross
12.  Art & Max by David Wiesner
13.  Leo the Snow Leopard by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff
14.  Dragonart Evolution by J “NeonDragon” Peffer
15.  How to Raise a Dinosaur by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi
16.  The Fall of Saigon:  The End of the Vietnam War by Michael V. Uschan
17.  Big Nate:  In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce
18.  Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine
19.  Spell of the Screaming Jokers by R.L. Stine
20.  Bone:  The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith
21.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney
22.  Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
23.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
24.  The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
25.  You Can’t Scare Me by R.L. Stine
26.  Slappy New Year! by R.L. Stine

I hope to review more books in 2011, and I appreciate when all of you read my thoughts.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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It is not easy to be a snow leopard who needs his mother and doesn’t have one.  Likewise, it is not easy to be a human who needs to rescue and care for a wild animal.  But Leo and the people who saved him went to extraordinary measures to help one another.  This is their amazing story.

(from Leo the Snow Leopard)

A goat herder in the Karakoram mountains in Pakistan rescued a baby snow leopard whose mother was nowhere to be found.  Leo was hungry and alone, and this goat herder picked him up and carried him home.  When Leo became too big and too active to handle, the goat herder contacted the World Wildlife Fund, whose veterinarians determined that he was just seven weeks old and severely dehydrated.  Ultimately, the Bronx Zoo was chosen for Leo’s home, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, with help from the U.S. Department of State, took steps to bring Leo to New York.

Leo the Snow Leopard: The True Story of an Amazing Rescue by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and their father, Craig Hatkoff, describes the rescue efforts in the steep mountains, where the roads were vulnerable to avalanches and landslides.  There are color photos of Leo from when he is first rescued by the goat herder and when he becomes a resident of the Bronx Zoo.  The Hatkoffs provide some general information about snow leopards, detail Leo’s transition to life in the zoo, and inform readers about the organizations instrumental in his rescue.

The Girl (age 10) and I both loved Leo the Snow Leopard.  It wasn’t hard to fall in love with the adorable Leo and feel great respect for those who helped save him.  I have a hard time reading sad animal stories, and I avoid them like the plague ever since listening to Marley & Me on a car trip a couple of years ago and bawling my eyes out while my husband chuckled.  But I can’t get enough of these hopeful, heart-warming animals stories.  (Another one to check out is Nubs, which The Girl and I reviewed last year.)

Leo the Snow Leopard is a picture book intended for readers ages 4 to 10, but adults will enjoy it, too.  Everything the rescue team endured and Leo’s survival in the harsh mountains make for a fascinating story.  And parents can use the book as an opportunity to discuss the need to protect endangered species, like the snow leopard, whose existence is threatened by poachers, the fact that herders’ animals are grazing on the grass that once was eaten by the wild sheep and goats that serve as the primary source of food for snow leopards, and the herders who kill snow leopards to protect their animals.  Both an educational tool and an uplifting story about the steps taken to protect a helpless animal, Leo the Snow Leopard is highly recommended for animal lovers of all ages.

Disclosure: We received a copy of Leo the Snow Leopard from Scholastic for review purposes. 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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Art & Max is a delightful picture book for young children about the creative process.  Art is a painter, and Max wants to learn to be an artist.  Art makes him promise not to get in the way, but when he can’t figure out what to paint and decides to paint Art (literally), chaos ensues.  When Art becomes a line drawing that unravels into a pile of spaghetti-like strands, Max must put his artistic ability to the test.

The Girl (age 10) was very excited when we unexpectedly received a copy of Art & Max.  While she’s older than the target audience, she loves art and was intrigued by the book when we saw its display at Book Expo America 2010.  We both enjoyed David Wiesner’s story about friendship and creativity and loved his vivid illustrations, with lizards in a variety of colors and the juxtaposition of full color illustrations and simple line drawings.

Children will be entertained by Max’s attempts to recreate Art and will want to paint or draw their own creations afterward.  Wiesner does a good job showing children that anyone can create a work of art, and painting doesn’t only mean a canvas and an easel.

Wiesner uses words sparingly in Art & Max, focusing more on the visual.  This is a book that children will want to hold themselves and just stare at the many illustrations that, in fact, do much of the storytelling.  Wiesner compels children to use their imaginations, to go out and create, which is an important message in an age when computers, video games, and television take up too much of our time.

Disclosure: We received a copy of Art & Max from Clarion Books for review purposes. 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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How to Raise a Dinosaur is an adorable picture book for children between the ages of 4 and 8.  Natasha Wing provides a guide for children who want a pet, with practical advice about selecting a pet of an appropriate size and making sure they walk, feed, and clean up after them.  Well, the advice would be practical if the pet wasn’t a dinosaur, but because the prehistoric creature is the pet in question, Wing advises them to have a bulldozer on hand to pick up its droppings!  (And of course, there’s an illustration for that.)

The Girl (age 10) has loved dinosaurs since she was a toddler.  We have tons of dinosaur picture books, scientific books, figures, puzzles, and paleontologist kits.  So even though she’s a bit old for this book, I thought we’d enjoy it anyway.  And we did.  And of course, she wishes she could have a pet dinosaur…but she’ll have to settle for the goldfish.

Pablo Bernasconi’s illustrations are filled with warm colors that bring the story to life.  We also enjoyed taking turns with the flaps on nearly every page that open various doors and even the dinosaur itself to reveal its skeleton.

How to Raise a Dinosaur is a cute book (so cute that when I told The Girl she should pass it on to her two-year-old cousin, she refused) that will engage children’s imaginations and even set them on the right track toward responsible pet ownership — but hopefully with a more manageable animal.

Disclosure: We received a copy of How to Raise a Dinosaur from Running Press Kids for review purposes. 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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The Girl (age 10) is always taking how-to-draw books out of the school and county libraries.  She absolutely loves writing and drawing, and she spends a lot of her time these days illustrating her own short stories or working on a series of comics about Bob the Penguin.  When I was contacted about reviewing Dragonart Evolution by J “NeonDragon” Peffer, I knew The Girl would kill me if I said no!

As soon as we received the book, she started drawing.  I thought I was going to have to pry the book out of her hands so I could write the review!  After flipping through Dragonart Evolution, I can see why she likes it so much.

Peffer provides more than 60 dragon demonstrations with step-by-step instructions.  There are instructions to create full medieval, fairy, and sea dragons, but what I like best about Dragonart Evolution is that you can create your own dragons as well.  Peffer begins with the five basic shapes that must be mastered to draw anything, along with discussions about shading, 3-D effects, and the use of color and patterns.  The full color drawings that accompany each demonstration are awesome.

There are demonstrations for different types of eyes, jaws, ears, horns, wings, scales, limbs, bridles and saddles, head shapes, and expressions.  With all of the possibilities, children and adults alike could spend hours and hours sketching.  The Girl’s imagination ran wild, and in no time at all, she finished the drawing to the right.

Although many of the drawings in Dragonart Evolution are quite detailed, you don’t have to be an expert artist to have fun with the book.  I might even give it a try myself, but since I’ve barely moved beyond stick figures, I have no plans to give up my day job.

Disclosure: We received a copy of Dragonart Evolution from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. for review purposes. 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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The Girl (age 10) was thrilled to be asked by Jenn to guest review a horror book for her month-long Halloween Fright Fest event.

To read The Girl’s thoughts on R.L. Stine’s Spell of the Screaming Jokers, visit Jenn’s Bookshelves.  (Boy, that’s a creepy book cover!)  Thanks, Jenn!

Disclosure: 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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“So when you die I get all your money!”  Henry beamed.  Wow.  The house would be his!  And the car!  And he’d be the boss of the TV, ’cause it would be his too!!!  And the only shame was —

“Couldn’t you just give it all to me now?” asked Henry.

“Henry!” snapped Mom.  “Don’t be horrid.”

There was no time to lose.  He he had to write a will immediately.

(from “Horrid Henry’s Rainy Day” in Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman, page 37 in the ARC)

The hilariously terrible child known as Horrid Henry is back in the latest four-story collection written by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross.  The Girl (age 10) and I have enjoyed more than a few Horrid Henry books, and Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman was no exception.  The Girl is a bit old for these stories, but she finds them ridiculously funny.  And even though she could read them to me or by herself, she prefers to hear me read them aloud because she says I use funny voices.

In “Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman,” Horrid Henry and his neighbor, Moody Margaret, are competing in a contest to build the best snowman.  Determined to win a year’s worth of free ice cream, Horrid Henry uses the cover of darkness to take drastic measures to ensure a win.

In “Horrid Henry’s Rainy Day,” Henry believes he will die of boredom, but doesn’t want people taking his toys.  So he decides to write a will.

In “Moody Margaret’s Makeover,” Horrid Henry doesn’t want Moody Margaret to be the only one earning money by offering makeovers to the neighborhood kids.  But Henry has an entirely different view about what constitutes a makeover.

And in “Horrid Henry’s Author Visit,” the author of Henry’s favorite series of books is coming to his class, but he is sent to his younger brother Perfect Peter’s classroom instead.  He can’t possible endure the torture of the “Happy Nappy” song and dance and is desperate to escape.

While Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman was quite amusing, the middle two stories about Henry’s will and makeover business caused the most giggles.  The other two stories were somewhat disappointing because Henry just wasn’t as horrid as usual, and it’s his horrid antics that make these books so much fun.  I still think he needs a lot more discipline and wouldn’t want my child mimicking Henry’s actions, but the books are meant to be fun.  Even though it wasn’t my favorite of the series, I bet the book will be a hit with most young readers.

Here are The Girl’s thoughts on Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman:

I thought the book was really, really, really, really funny.  Especially the makeover story.  I laughed when I saw the pictures of what Horrid Henry did to those two girls.  I wouldn’t have let him touch my hair though.

If you’d like to see what makes Henry so horrid, you’re in luck!  Sourcebooks is offering one lucky reader a copy of Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman.  And because it’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week, The Girl would like you to leave a comment with a recommendation for a funny book about a trouble-making child.  If you don’t know of such a book, she’d like you to tell us about the most horrid thing you did as a child.  Please remember to leave your e-mail address.

The publisher is shipping the book, so this giveaway is open to readers with U.S. and Canada addresses only.  You have until Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010, at 11:59 pm EST to enter.  The winner will be chosen randomly.

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: The Girl received a copy of Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman at Book Expo America 2010. 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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I’ve had trouble finding time to blog with all the back-to-school chaos, busy days at work, and hot days that only help to fry my brain.  If I’ve been scarce on the blogs, I apologize and am trying to get back in the swing of things.

In the meantime, The Girl (age 10) would like to share her thoughts on a book she chose as one of her two required summer reading selections:

Night of the Living Dummy is the first book in a three-book series.  Two girls named Kris and Lindy find a ventriloquist dummy in a dumpster near a construction area.  Lindy keeps him and names him Slappy.  Kris is jealous and upset when her father says the dummies are too expensive for him to buy one, but a few days later he finds one in a local shop.  Kris names her dummy Mr. Wood.

Lindy started her ventriloquist talent at kids’ birthday parties.  Kris is jealous, but she gets a job to perform at a summer concert.  Weird things happen, and Mr. Wood makes rude comments to her teacher.  She gets in trouble, and no one believes her when she says Mr. Wood said those things on his own.  Are Mr. Wood and Slappy real?  Will they make Kris and Lindy their slaves?

I really liked this book, but I wish it was scarier.  I also wish it hadn’t taken so long for the action to start.  But I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series.

Disclosure: I bought my copy of Night of the Living Dummy. My mom is 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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The size of what he’d volunteered to do hit Ted like a sack of grain.  And all this was going to take money, too.  Not to mention time.

But he’d said he’d help.  He’d shaken hands with April and he’d said, “See ya later.”  So it wasn’t like he had a choice!

Because a Scout is trustworthy.

And so is a detective.  And a paperboy.

(from Room One, page 49)

Ted Hammond is the only 6th grader at Red Prairie Learning Center in Plattsford, Nebraska.  With many farmers and families moving away, the school expects only five students in the coming year, and there are concerns the school could close completely.  As it is, rooms have been shuttered to save money, there’s only one teacher for the middle schoolers, and Mrs. Mitchell and the students are responsible for keeping the building and grounds clean.  Room One is the only room left open, and Ted has creating a learning space for himself in the middle.  He does a lot of independent work and reads a lot of detective novels — so many that he fancies himself an amateur sleuth.

One day as he’s delivering papers, he sees a face in the window of the vacant farmhouse that once belonged to the Andersons.  After some investigating, he discovers a young girl named April, who has taken up residence in the home with her mother and younger brother.  Circumstances have forced the trio to seek shelter and stay hidden, but they’re running out of food.  Big-hearted Ted agrees to help, as well as keep their secret.

The Girl (age 10) was assigned Room One by Andrew Clements for summer reading, but after reading Clements’ Frindle (read her review) for summer reading last year and not really enjoying it, it was like pulling teeth to get her to read this book.  To make summer reading fun and encourage her to give Clements another try, I suggested that we read Room One together.  Overall, The Girl is glad she gave Clements another chance, though she’s convinced he’ll never rank among her favorite authors, and I’m glad to have finally read something by this author I have heard a lot about from her.

Room One covers a lot of ground.  It’s about a family living in fear, on the run, and in hiding and the young boy who takes it upon himself to help them.  It’s also about the issues facing a struggling small town, and how these economic problems affect local schools, farms, and jobs.  But mainly it’s the story of a struggling small town that pulls together to help a family in need.  The town might have limited financial resources, but it has unlimited compassion, and we all could learn something from Plattsford’s residents.

However, it wasn’t the most engaging middle-grade book we’ve read.  We agree that Clements takes too long to get to the point of the story, and we didn’t like how the point of view would shift several times in a chapter as the story progressed.  We liked Ted, thought he was a kind-hearted, well-meaning boy, and we really felt for April and her family, but the ending was both anti-climactic and too neat given the circumstances.  Still, I have to admire Clements for tackling serious issues in a middle-grade novel and giving younger readers many things to ponder.

Disclosure: We borrowed Room One from the library. 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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