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Archive for the ‘the girl 2011’ Category

The Girl (age 11) just finished reading The Trouble With Being a Horse by Emily Edwards.  She wanted to share her thoughts with all of you, but she wanted me to ask her questions about the book, rather than write up a review.

First, here’s a little teaser passage:

Olivia shook her head violently to help clear it, but all that happened was that her hair fell in her face.  “Funny,” she thought, “I don’t remember having such long hair.”  She tried to brush it out of her face with her hand, but discovered she couldn’t lift her arms more than a few inches off the ground.  Shock was an understatement for how Olivia felt when she looked down at herself to see not arms, but legs!  With hooves!  She was so surprised, she jumped straight up from where she had been lying.  She did so very clumsily, which of course may be expected, now having twice as many legs as she used to have.  Olivia couldn’t understand what was going on.  (page 25)

Tell us about The Trouble With Being a Horse in 5 sentences or less.

Olivia, who’s 11 years old, wants her parents to get her a horse, but after her father loses his job, she can’t even go to the farm where she works and takes lessons.  She sneaks away to the farm and goes for a ride on Trouble.  After an accident, she finds that she has turned into a horse.  As a horse, Olivia has a lot of problems, but she meets new friends and takes part in competitions.

Why did you want to read this book?

I’m interested in horses, and I had a fun time with my best friend at the horse farm where she works and takes lessons.  After reading the sample chapter online, I thought it sounded good.

Tell us about the main character, her personality, conflicts, etc.

Olivia seems nice and exciting and someone who I’d be friends with.  She has to deal with her father losing his job and not being able to communicate when she’s a horse.

What did you think of the author’s writing style?

I liked it.  It kept me interested, but there could have been less about the competitions.

Did you learn anything from the story or the main character?

I learned a lot of vocabulary about horses and that horses are scared of fire.  I learned some moves that horses do in competitions.  I learned that not all of the things you wish for turn out to be good.

Did you like the book?  Would you recommend it to your friends?  Would you recommend it to adults?

Yes, I liked it.  I would recommend it, but mostly to horse lovers who know a lot of vocabulary about horses when it comes to riding and taking care of them.

Have any of you read the book? What did you think?

Disclosure: The Girl received a copy of The Trouble With Being a Horse from The Cadence Group for review purposes. I am an IndieBound affiliate and 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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The Girl (age 11) read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for her assigned summer reading.  She wanted to share her thoughts with you all, but she wanted me to ask her questions about the book, rather than write up a review.

Tell us about Hatchet in 5 sentences or less.

A 13-year-old boy named Brian is on a small plane with just him and the pilot on the way to visit his father.  The pilot has a heart attack, and the plane crashes.  He has to figure out a way to survive with just the stuff in his pockets and the hatchet on his belt that his mother gave him before he left.

Tell us about the main character, his personality, conflicts, etc.

Brian is upset about “the secret” that broke up his parents’ marriage.  He has to stay alive in the wilderness, with bad weather, no food, and wild animals.  I think he’s a smart boy.  He takes time to think about his situation before acting.

What 3 words best describe the book?

Suspenseful, interesting, action

What did you think of the author’s writing style?

It could have been more exciting.  It was descriptive, but I really didn’t like how it was so repetitive.

Divorce.

Secrets.

No, not secrets so much as just the Secret.  What he knew and had not told anybody, what he knew about his mother that had caused the divorce, what he knew, what he knew — the Secret.

Divorce.

The Secret.  (page 3)

There were some more parts like that.

Did you learn anything from the story or the main character?

I learned that you can start a fire with a hatchet and a stone.

Did you like the book?  Would you recommend it to your friends?  Would you recommend it to adults?

It was the best book the school has chosen for summer reading so far, but it’s definitely not one of my favorites.  It was a bit slow, and I think the author spent too much time having the character find food over and over again.  But when the action happened, it was pretty good.  I guess I would recommend it to a friend if they were interested in survivor stories.  I guess adults could find it interesting, too.

Have any of you read the book?  What did you think?

Disclosure: I purchased The Girl’s copy of Hatchet. I am an IndieBound affiliate and 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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Recipe for disaster:
4 parties.
Add 2 friends and 1 crush.
Divide by 1 mean girl out to RUIN Nikki.
Mix well, put fingers over eyes, and cringe! (publisher’s summary)

Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl by Rachel Renée Russell

Reviewed by The Girl (age 11)

Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl (book 2 in the Dork Diaries series) is about a girl named Nikki, who is facing middle school and has to deal with a mean girl, MacKenzie.  The book is Nikki’s diary for the month of October, with lined pages that look like real handwriting and drawings.  Nikki really, really wants Brandon (her crush) to ask her out to the Halloween dance.  But then she hears that Brandon is going to ask MacKenzie to the dance.  Things get out of control when Nikki has to deal with two events and planning the big dance.  Will Brandon go with MacKenzie?  Will the dance be a success?

This was an AWESOME book.  It starts off amazing, and it didn’t end like I expected it to.  It ends with excitement.  I think Nikki is a great character.  She’s funny, especially when she says things about MacKenzie in her head.  I know what it’s like to have a mean girl in my class, and I like to write in a journal, too.  I really like this series, though Diary of a Wimpy Kid is still my favorite of the diary books. I think you all should read this book!

Disclosure: My mom won Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl in a blog contest. She is an IndieBound affiliate and 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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Roy Eberhardt has recently, and unhappily, arrived in Florida.  “Disney World is an armpit,” he states flatly, “compared to Montana.”

Roy’s family moves a lot, so he’s used to the new-kid drill.  Florida bullies are pretty much like bullies everywhere.  But Roy finds himself oddly indebted to the hulking Dana Matherson.  If Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy.  And the running boy is the first interesting thing Roy’s seen in Florida.

The boy was about Roy’s age, but he was running away from the school bus.  He had no books, no backpack, and, here’s the odd part, no shoes.

Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail.  The chase will introduce him to some other intriguing Floridan creatures:  potty-trained alligators, a beleaguered construction foreman, some burrowing owls, a fake-fart champion, a renegade eco-avenger, some slippery fish, a sinister pancake PR man, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparking tails.

But Florida is looking up.  (publisher’s summary)

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Reviewed by The Girl (age 10)

I give Hoot 4 out of 5 stars.  The book taught me a lot about burrowing owls and the need to protect endangered animals.  Hoot is also about bullying, how hard it is to keep moving because of a parent’s job, and making friends at a new school.  The part about saving the owls was the most interesting.  My favorite character was the police officer, Officer Delinko; I thought he was funny.

However, some parts of the book were confusing because I had to follow five characters’ stories.  I was also a little upset because the summary said there would be “potty-trained alligators,” but those weren’t what I thought they would be and weren’t as funny.  But I thought the book was interesting, and I hope you feel the same if you read it.

Disclosure: I borrowed Hoot from my local library. My mom is an IndieBound affiliate and 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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Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Reviewed by The Girl (age 10)

The train and my new pretend brother got farther and farther away, chugging to Chicago.  Man, I’d found some family and he was gone before we could really get to know each other.

There were six or seven other people who didn’t make the train, so we all walked back toward Hooverville.  They must’ve lit the big fire again, the sky in that direction was glowing orange.

The cop that first threw down his billy club walked over to us and said, “He wasn’t lying about the Flint police coming, but they’re coming to bust up the shantytown, you all should get out of here.”  (page 85)

Bud, Not Buddy takes place during the Great Depression.  A kid named Bud lives at a home, and he is transferred to the Anderson’s house.  Mr. and Mrs. Anderson’s son is cruel.  When Bud’s asleep, he sticks a “Ticonderoga” pencil up his nose all the way to the R!!!  Bud doesn’t just sit there and take it; he starts to fight, but Mrs. Anderson catches him and makes him sleep in the shed.  Bud gets away.

Bud’s mother always looked at a flyer with Herman E. Calloway’s picture on it.  He thinks his mother was giving him a hint, that he was his father.  Will Bud find Herman E. Calloway?  Is Herman E. Calloway really his father?  Find out in Bud, Not Buddy.

I absolutely loved Bud, Not Buddy.  Right when you open the cover, it feels like you and Bud are friends.  You set out on a stunning, suspenseful, and fabulous read.  I give this book 5 out 5 stars because the author lets you feel what Bud feels, and what I really liked was the mystery about his father.  I was so sad when I was finished reading, and I hated to have to put the book down to go to school.  I think every kid, young adult, and adult would like this book.

Disclosure: I borrowed Bud, Not Buddy from my local library. My mom is an IndieBound affiliate and 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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It feels like my whole life’s about to change.  Moving into junior high is like stepping out of childhood, whether you want to or not.  And I keep worrying about how much longer my brother will be around, and maybe my father, too, and wondering why they can’t see eye to eye about anything this summer. 

(from War & Watermelon, pages 28-29)

Rich Wallace remembers what it’s like to be young and straddling the line between childhood and adolescence.  In War & Watermelon, Wallace tells the story of Brody Winslow, a 12-year-old boy getting ready to start 7th grade in a new school.  Besides the usual worries about fitting in with the school crowd, Brody is preoccupied with making the football team and trying to figure out girls.  But it’s the summer of 1969, and Brody has other, more important things on his mind, namely the prospect of his brother, Ryan, being sent to Vietnam.

War & Watermelon is intended for middle grade readers ages 10 and up, so I read this book with my 10-year-old daughter.  She and I discussed the book together a lot over the past week or so, but she is too busy with her art and summer reading to write a review.  She told me I could let you all know her thoughts, and since we pretty much felt the same way about this book, it should be fairly easy.

Wallace’s writing is solid.  His use of the first person viewpoint is perfect for this story because readers get to know Brody’s fear and anxiety about all the changes going on in his life.  The book starts off with a bang; Ryan convinces his parents to allow him to drive from their home in New Jersey to upstate New York for a major concert.  Readers get to see Woodstock through Brody’s eyes, which proved to be a bit much for The Girl.  While there isn’t anything graphic, parents should be aware that there are some swears, drug use (not by Brody), and topless women in this book.  These made The Girl a bit uncomfortable, and not just because she was reading with her mother; she doesn’t like to read that kind of stuff on her own either and thinks words like “idiot” and “jerk” are inappropriate.  Even so, the Woodstock scenes were exciting, but they comprised just a chapter or two of the book.  They also give parents and children something to discuss while reading.

From there, Brody’s days are spent thinking about and playing football, listening to his brother and father argue, going to the swim club with his friend, Tony, watching the Mets as they begin to actually win games, and trying to figure out whether Janet and Patty like Tony and him.  Wallace’s target audience is young boys, especially with all the talk about girls and detailed descriptions of football plays, and even though The Girl and I were able to appreciate these things despite not being able to relate, each chapter started feeling like the one before, making for some slow reading.

However, where War & Watermelon really shines is in its focus on the Vietnam War.  Brody’s brother, Ryan, is soon to be 18, and he’s in limbo.  He doesn’t know what to do with his life and doesn’t want to be forced into making a decision.  His father doesn’t want to lose his son, so he wants Ryan to apply for college and avoid the draft.  Ryan wants to go to college on his own terms, yet at the same time, he doesn’t want to fight what he believes is an immoral war.  The Girl wanted me to include her favorite passage from the book, which highlights the tensions in the Winslow home.

I can hear them glaring at each other.  “You don’t get it,” Ryan says for about the hundredth time this summer.

“Listen,” Dad says.  “What I get is that it’s very easy to think big when you’re seventeen and you imagine that your future is unlimited.  But you’re in total denial, Ryan.  September ninth is four days away.  The government has a nice birthday present waiting for you.  It’s called a draft card.”

“You think I don’t know that?”

“There’s been no evidence that you do.”

“I’m not buying into their fascist system, Dad.”  (page 140)

Wallace does a great job showing the tough decisions young men had to make about their future during the war and how these decisions affected their families.  There’s a tenderness in the scenes with Brody and Ryan, with Brody saying more than once that Ryan has been there for him, and now it’s time for him to be there for Ryan.  Brody has a good head on his shoulders, and he felt real to us as he agonized over his fumbles on the football field, the life-or-death decision his brother had to make, and his inability to understand girls.

War & Watermelon is a good book to introduce young readers to the Vietnam War and the protest movement from the eyes of someone their own age, someone who is going through the same awkwardness and confusion in transitioning to junior high.  The Girl thinks it would make a good summer reading selection, especially for readers who like football.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to participate in the blog tour for War & Watermelon. To follow the tour, click here.

Courtesy of the publisher, I have a copy of War & Watermelon to offer my readers.  To enter, leave a comment with your e-mail address and let me know what makes you want to read this book.  Because the publisher is shipping the book, this giveaway is open to readers with addresses in the U.S. and Canada only.  You have until 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, July 10, 2011, to enter.

**Please note that this giveaway has ended**

Disclosure: I received a copy of War & Watermelon from Viking for review purposes. I am an IndieBound affiliate and 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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My Rotten Life (Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie: Book 1) by David Lubar
Reviewed by The Girl (age 10)

In My Rotten Life, Nathan Abercrombie and Mookie are best friends.  They meet a girl named Abigail, whose uncle wants to test the Hurt-Be-Gone potion.  Nathan has been having hard times.  He’s bullied in school, his crush makes fun of him in front of everyone in the lunchroom, and he’s bad at video games.  So Abigail says they should test the potion on him.  Mookie trips in the lab, and the potion spills on Nathan.

Then weird things start to happen to Nathan.  He can’t eat, he can’t feel pain, he stays up all night, and gross things start to happen to his body.  Nathan wants to go back to normal, but Abigail’s uncle is running from the police, so he and his friends have to figure it out on their own.

My Rotten Life was a good book.  It took me 4 days to read it, and I was so sad when it was over.  It’s funny, and the gross parts are hilarious.  My favorite character was Mookie because all he did was think about eating.  I liked Abigail, too, because she likes science like me.  Nathan wasn’t my favorite character, but his troubles added suspense to the story.  I recommend this book to everyone!  If you read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Disclosure: My mom bought My Rotten Life for me. She is an IndieBound affiliate and 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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In Spaceheadz, or as they say in the book, SPHDZ, Michael K., a fifth grader new to the school and worried about fitting in, is followed by two weird kids named Jennifer and Bob.  They say they are SPHDZ from another planet, and the class hamster is their leader.  They want Michael K. to become a SPHDZ and help them get 3.14 million people to become SPHDZ so that Earth doesn’t get turned off.

I thought Spaceheadz was hilarious, especially how the SPHDZ say things from commercials.

Standing in the cleaning-products aisle, Michael K. realized that he was in deep trouble.  This morning he had only been worried about fitting in at his new school.  Now he was worried that three Spaceheadz were going to use him to take over the world.  With paper towels and detergent.

“Yes!” Bob called.  “Charmin!  We must also use this.  It is ultrastrong!  And it also makes bears very happy.”

Michael K. took the Charmin from Bob.  “What?  No.  This is toilet paper!  What are you talking about?”

“It makes bears happy,” said Bob.  “We will use it to make Earth persons happy and want to be Spaceheadz.”  (pages 74-75 in the ARC)

My favorite character was Jennifer because she would pick up pencils and eat them.  My favorite chapter was the one where Major Fluffy, the hamster, talks because he can’t really talk.  I would give this book 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who wants to laugh.  I just took Book #2 out of the library.

Disclosure: We received a copy of Spaceheadz (SPHDZ Book #1) from Simon & Schuster for review purposes. My mom is an IndieBound affiliate and 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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Inkblots are not only useful in psychoanalysis, but they also can help get the creative juices flowing.  Victor Hugo used inkblots to get inspiration for his writing, and ordinary people can make inkblots to get through whatever creative block they are experiencing.  So says Margaret Peot in Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity.

Inkblot shows readers how to create single-fold and multi-fold inkblots, inkblots with different colored inks and blown ink, landscapes, and more.  After listing the various supplies needed to create an inkblot and different techniques for moving the ink on the paper, Peot explains how to draw into the inkblots, or turn them into works of art.  Various objects and scenes can be found in a single inkblot, and Peot teaches readers how to turn their inkblots upside down, look at the negative shapes, and trace what they see.

If readers don’t see something right away, Peot provides tips for looking at inkblots and asks amusing, thought-provoking questions to help them see things differently.  She even provides advice on how to create a sketchbook full of inkblots.  Inkblot is full of colorful illustrations of inkblots and the objects found within them.

After reading the book, The Girl (age 10) and I wanted to create our own inkblots.  We didn’t have all the supplies listed in the book, but we decided to improvise, believing that our improvisation was creative in and of itself.  We took two small squares of paper and folded them in half.  I took apart a pen and cut the ink cartridge in half, and we dabbed the ink on one side of our papers.  I used a cotton swab to move the ink around.  Then we folded the papers over, smoothed them out, opened them back up, and let them dry.  After they were dry, we looked closely at our inkblots, and used markers to outline and color what we saw in them.

I bet they would have come out better had there been better supplies on hand, but they were fun to make.  Mine is on top.  I saw a butterfly in my inkblot, but I guess if you turned it sideways, you could see snails.  The Girl’s is on the bottom.  She saw an alien crying.  She colored only one side, partly because her left-handedness was streaking the ink everywhere and partly because she wanted to show a “before” image of her inkblot.

Inkblot is a book that will provide hours of entertainment and creativity.  The idea behind the book is not to just create inkblots for the sake of creating inkblots, though that would be fine and fun; it’s to get your mind working and thinking about other creative endeavors.  As Peot says in the book, “Many creative people say that it is important to cultivate playfulness and to do so regularly.”  (page 8)  Peot says creative people work on a schedule, which helps avoid creative blocks, and by making inkblots during moments when they don’t have any other ideas, they will teach themselves to see the world differently on a daily basis.  We can’t say Inkblot has changed our lives or made us more creative after a single reading and a single inkblot, but it’s definitely an idea and a book that I can see us revisiting in the future.

Courtesy of the publisher, we have 1 copy of Inkblot to give away to our readers.  To enter, simply leave a comment with your e-mail address and tell us what you normally do to get the creative juices flowing.  This giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada, as the publisher is shipping the book, and will end on Sunday, March 27, 2011, at 11:59 pm.

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

Disclosure: We received a copy of Inkblot from publicist Diane Saarinen and Boyds Mills Press for review purposes. I am an IndieBound affiliate and 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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Courtney is a total show-off.  She thinks she’s so brave, and she’s always making Eddie and his friends look like wimps.  But Eddie’s had enough.  He’s going to scare Courtney once and for all.  And he’s just come up with the perfect plan.  He’s going to lure her down to Muddy Creek.  Courtney believes that silly rumor about Mud Monsters that live in the creek.

Too bad Eddie doesn’t believe the rumors.  Because it just might be true… (publisher’s summary)

Here’s what The Girl (age 10) thought about R.L. Stine’s You Can’t Scare Me! (IndieBound, Amazon):

This book was okay.  It was a little slow for my tastes.  But I did like the end.  It had a nice strong ending.  It was only okay because I didn’t find it scary.  My favorite scene was when Eddie and his friends tried to drop a tarantula on Courtney’s head.  My least favorite scene was when Eddie and Herbie were trapped in the science room.  The scene had suspense, but it was a little long.  If you’re looking for a creepy story, I would choose a different Goosebumps book.

Disclosure: We received a copy of You Can’t Scare Me! from Scholastic. My mom is an an IndieBound affiliate and 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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