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Archive for the ‘the girl 2012’ Category

Source: Public library
The Girl’s Rating: ★★★★★

A review of Smile by Raina Telgemeier by The Girl (age 11)

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader.  But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth.  What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached(!).  And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with:  a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.  Raina’s story takes us from middle school to high school, where she discovers her artistic voice, finds out what true friendship really means, and where she can finally…smile.  (publisher’s summary)

*Smile is a wonderful book.  I wanted to read it because I will be getting braces on June 1.

*I liked the main character, Raina, because she would do the same things in certain situations that I would do, especially when some fake friends do something really embarrassing to her.

*I liked following Raina through a few years of school and getting to know her.

*The illustrations drew me in right away because of the great detail and bright colors.

*The book made me a little nervous about getting braces because it’s going to hurt, but I’m glad to know more about what will happen.

*I hope my parents will do something special for my 12th birthday (in July) like Raina’s parents do for her. [Note from Anna:  Um…I think taking her best friend camping with us for a week counts as something special!]

*I recommend this book and think you should read it right away.  It was so good I read it in one sitting.

Disclosure: The Girl borrowed Smile from the public library.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

Books everywhere!  Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving.  It was barely possible to see the paintwork.  There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the gray, the every-colored books.  It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.

With wonder, she smiled.

That such a room existed!

(from The Book Thief, page 134)

There are very few books that I loved enough to re-read, and as soon as I dried my eyes and turned the last page of The Book Thief back in 2007, I knew that it was a book I could read again and again.  I’m glad that the second time I read this book was aloud to The Girl, as there’s nothing better than sharing one of your favorite books with someone you love and having them enjoy it, too.

The Book Thief is a coming-of-age story set in Nazi Germany.  Liesel Meminger, still grieving her brother’s death, is brought to the home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann on Himmel Street in the fictional town of Molching just outside of Munich.  She arrives with The Gravedigger’s Handbook, a book she stole at her brother’s graveside, but doesn’t know how to read.  Her foster mother, Rosa, comes off a little harsh, but her foster father, Hans, is a kind and gentle man who teaches her to read.  Learning to read opens up a whole new world to Liesel, and while her best friend and partner in crime, Rudy Steiner, is content stealing food, her thievery involves expanding her personal library.

Over the course of World War II, Liesel’s passion for reading grows, at the same time that conditions deteriorate under Hitler’s rule.  Money and food become tight, but Liesel has her books, the love of her parents and Rudy, and her friendship with Max, the Jewish fist fighter hiding in her basement.

What makes The Book Thief unique is its narrator, Death, who is tired of his job — and with the war and the extermination of Jews, he is quite busy.  Death is surprisingly compassionate, haunted by humans, and drawn to the story of the book thief.  How he comes to know Liesel and why her story is so profound are explained over the course of the book.  However, some might think that Death’s narrative style is a bit off-putting, as he often interrupts the mostly linear narrative with a heart-stopping sentence that tells readers what will happen before it actually happens.  For The Girl, it lessened the impact of the book by taking away the element of surprise, but it kept me turning the pages to see how it all played out.

The Book Thief packs a punch by personalizing the experiences of “ordinary” Germans during World War II, Germans who may have belonged to the Nazi Party and dutifully said “Heil Hitler” more out of fear than devotion to the Führer.  Zusak zeroes in on the people of one street in a small town, their squabbles and their hardships.  The novel is even more powerful because of its focus on an innocent young girl who comes of age during all the chaos, a girl who has lost so much already and still has more to lose.

Zusak uses Nazism and book thievery to emphasize the power of words.  Liesel’s most prized possessions are books, particularly the ones made by Max as he comes to terms with his situation and empowers himself through words.  Liesel learns that reading aloud in the bomb shelter during the nightly raids calms the children and adults crammed together, unsure whether they would live or die.  And she comes to understand that without words, Hitler was nothing.

I think I loved this book even more the second time around.  Over the course of 550 pages, you really feel like you know the characters, they feel like your friends and neighbors.  I cried the first time I read it, and I cried even more this time.  I had to stop reading several times to dry my eyes, which provided lots of laughs for The Girl, who insists that books don’t ever make her cry.  (Maybe someday.)

Here’s what The Girl (age 11) had to say about The Book Thief:

*I really liked the book because it was kinda unique to have Death narrate the book.  But I didn’t like how Death gave away big parts before they happened.

*My favorite character was Hans because he was really sweet to Liesel by teaching her to read.  The author gave so much detail on Hans you thought he was your friend.

*I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars.  You think you know all the characters, and the detail drags you into the story.

Have you read The Book Thief?  What did you think?

Book 20 for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Disclosure: The Book Thief is from my personal library.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: The Girl’s personal library
The Girl’s Rating: ★★★★★

The Girl (age 11) recently finished The Loser List by H.N. Kowitt and wanted me to ask her some questions for her review this time around.  First, a little about the book:

My name is Danny Shine, and a lot of people think I’m a geek.  Actually, I’m not.  I have a wide range of interests.

Reading comics.  Drawing comics.  Trading comics.  Buying comics.

But I still ended up on the Loser List — in the girls’ bathroom.  I had to get my name off that list.  I had no idea I’d land in detention, turn into a juvenile delinquent, lose my best friend, get humiliated in front of the whole school…and save the day.  (publisher’s summary)

Me:  Tell us a little about the book.

The Girl:  The book is about Danny getting his name off the Loser List.  But it’s in the GIRLS bathroom.  The book is also about the effects after he “tries.”

Me:  Tell us a little about the main character.  Does Danny have any interests outside of comics?

The Girl:  Yes, but he mostly loves drawing comics in his sketch book.

Me:  Did you like Danny?  Why or why not?

The Girl:  Yes.  In some situations I wouldn’t agree with him, but I love drawing comics and reading.  Sometimes I’m just in the mood to chill and read some comics.

Me:  How does The Loser List stand up to the other diary books you’ve read?

The Girl:  The Loser List is a pretty good book.  I still like Diary of a Wimpy Kid the most, but it ties with Big Nate, Dork Diaries, and Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire because those I just can’t compare.

Me:  Did you have a favorite scene or passage?

The Girl:  Yes.

*FIVE LISTS MY NAME IS NOT ON:

1. Teen People‘s Hottest Guys
2. All-City Basketball Team
3. State Science Fair Semifinalists
4. Explorer Scout’s Canoe Portage Sign-up
5. Asia O’Neill’s Speed Dial (page 6)

Me: Would you recommend this book to other kids your age?

The Girl:  Yes, because I rate it 4.5 and a half out of 5 stars BECAUSE IT WAS SO FUNNY I…can’t even think of the right word, aka awesome does not work!

Me:  You know that adds up to 5 stars, right?

The Girl:  Oh.  I meant just 4.5 stars.

[I jotted down the questions, and she wrote down her answers, but I couldn’t resist including the last two lines from the conversation we had when I was typing this post.  She’s too cute!]

Disclosure: The Loser List is from The Girl’s personal library.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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A review of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers by The Girl (age 11)

[The poem can be read in its entirety here.]

*I think this poem is about a man taking time out of his day to enjoy nature in the woods.

*My favorite lines were “He gives his harness bells a shake/To ask if there is some mistake.”  I like those lines because they give you a really good picture in your mind of what the man’s horse is doing when the man stops to observe nature.

*I thought the illustrations were great, but they were also distracting because I like to make my own pictures in my mind when I read a poem.

*This wasn’t my favorite Robert Frost poem, but it did make my top 10.  [For the record, her favorite Frost poem is “Fire and Ice.”]

Hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit

Disclosure: The Girl borrowed Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening from the local library. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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A review of The Limit by Kristen Landon by The Girl (age 11)

“An eighth-grade girl was taken today.”

With this first sentence, readers are thrust into a fast-paced thriller that doesn’t let up for a moment.

In a world not too far removed from our own, kids are being taken away to special workhouses if their families exceeded the financial debt limit imposed by the government.  Thirteen-year-old Matt briefly wonders if he might be next, but quickly dismisses the thought.  After all, his parents are responsible with their spending, right?

But after Matt’s family unexpectedly goes over their limit, Matt is whisked away to a workhouse where far more serious dangers exist than anyone on the outside realizes — dangers that could change his reality forever.  (publisher’s summary)

*The Limit is a book mostly of thrills and stunning surprises.  By the end you’ll have no fingernails.

*The main character is Matt.  Matt loves basketball.  When his mom goes over the limit at the grocery store, Matt is taken to a workhouse.

*The oldest child in the house is sent to the workhouse when the parents go over the limit.  They go to the workhouse to work off the family’s debt.  The workhouse is not a place you’d want to go, but the public doesn’t know that.

*Once I finished the book, I wanted a part two because it was so good.  This book is 291 pages, and I wish it was longer.

*The author, Kristen Landon, pulls you in on the first page.  Her writing makes you feel like you are with Matt throughout the book.

*I recommend this book for kids and adults who like thrillers and suspense.

Disclosure: The Girl borrowed The Limit from her reading class library. I am an IndieBound affilitate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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A review of Big Nate on a Roll by Lincoln Peirce by The Girl (age 11)

Nate’s a big deal in his scout troop…until Artur — aka Mr. Perfect — joins up.  Now Nate’s stuck in second place.  And Artur means business.

Will Nate take the grand prize?  Or wipe out, big time?  (publisher’s summary)

*Big Nate on a Roll is a humorous book.  Throughout the book you will laugh your pants and souls off.

*Nate is the main character.  He is a trouble-maker who likes to draw comics.  He always gets detention.  He’s funny, but I’m not sure I’d want to be friends with him because he’d get me into trouble.

*His and other scout troops are selling wall hangers, and the scout who sells the most will win a customize-your-own skateboard.  After losing his skateboard in an accident on a bridge, Nate needs to win to get another skateboard.  Artur might give him some competition.

*Lincoln Peirce adds funny illustrations on every page to grab your attention.

*The hilarious comics are the best parts of the book.

*I recommend this book for humorous souls.

*I can’t wait to read the latest Big Nate book, Big Nate Goes for Broke, which my parents got me for Easter.

Disclosure: I bought Big Nate on a Roll for The Girl as a gift. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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A review of Loser by Jerry Spinelli by The Girl (age 11)

Just like other kids, Zinkoff rides his bike, hopes for snow days, and wants to be like his dad when he grows up. But Zinkoff also raises his hand with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet, and falls down with laughter over a word like “Jabip.”

Other kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. He doesn’t know he’s not like everyone else. And one winter night, Zinkoff’s differences show that any name can someday become “hero.” (publisher’s summary)

*I couldn’t put the book down.  I always wanted to know what would happen to Donald.

*There were lots of details in Loser.  You could picture the situation, and you would feel like you were there with Donald.

*Most of the situations (like the Furnace Monster) you know kids would do or believe.

*I like how you follow Donald’s life in grades.  You start at the first day of first grade and so on to middle school.

*I didn’t not like anything.

*All ages would like this book.

Disclosure: The Girl borrowed Loser from her reading class library. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Before I knew it, the vile creatures were jumping on me and scratching me with their tiny claws.  As I ripped them off and threw them to the ground, more came forward.  It was only when I ran out of the park that the foul vermin ceased their attack and returned to standing on their back legs and glaring.

I’ve heard of vampires being attacked by packs of wolves and snakes before, but never a load of mangy squirrels.  Why does it always happen to me?

(from Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire, pages 136-137)

I bought Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire for The Girl (age 11) for Christmas 2010.  She went to the World War II section with my husband to shop for me, so I started browsing on my own.  The title jumped out at me right away, and when I saw that it was written in diary form, I knew I had to get it for her since she loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries books so much.  Never mind that I cracked open the book, read the first page, and laughed aloud, drawing annoyed stares from the teens sharing the aisle with me.

The Girl finished this book the other night, and when she brought me the notebook paper on which she jotted down her thoughts, she insisted that I had to read it.  I took her up on the offer because I definitely needed a laugh and a break from the depressing war-related books I’ve been reading lately.  Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire by Tim Collins (and amusingly illustrated by Andrew Pinder) is 329 pages, but reads quickly and is quite engrossing, so much so that I devoured more than half of it on my morning commute and finished the rest on my lunch break yesterday.

Nigel Mullet is forever trapped in the body of an awkward 15-year-old boy, having been taken out of an orphanage and transformed into a vampire by his “parents.”  He is nearing his 100th birthday and hasn’t yet had a girlfriend.  He’s no Edward Cullen; he doesn’t boast super-human strength or have special powers, and he’s barely average looking according to the popular girls at school.

Instead of sparkling in the sun, he develops rashes and burns.  He hates gym class and is tormented by the teacher, Mr. Jenkins.  He doesn’t feel the need to apply himself in school because he’ll just repeat the same grades over and over again, and his parents don’t want him to showcase his musical talent for fear he will draw too much attention to the family — never mind the fact that they wear clothes from the 19th century.  He’s not even strong enough to hunt for human blood on his own, relying on his parents to bring it home for him.  Moreover, he’s sick of his rebellious younger “sister,” who annoyingly blasts teen pop music and gets everything she wants from their parents, while he is told that they can’t draw too much attention to themselves by spending a lot of money.

Much of the diary involves Nigel whining about his pathetic life and pining away for the new girl in school, Chloe.  Although he likes Chloe as a person, Nigel admits that he thirsts for her blood, and he nearly gives away his secret when the smell of her blood and the sound of her heartbeat cause his fangs to descend.  The romantic poems he writes in his diary that profess his love for her and his thirst for her blood are hilarious.  How can Nigel get her attention without the smoldering good looks that all other vampires have to attract the opposite sex?  Will he ever get the courage to ask her out?  If he has to be a vampire, why can’t he be a normal one?

As you probably guessed, Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire is like Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Twilight.  The jabs at Twilight, Count from Sesame Street, and vampire lore are hilarious.  I’m sure lots of kids can relate to Nigel in that he is unsure of himself, a bit embarrassed about his family, awkward around the opposite sex, frustrated with his younger sibling, and wishing he was stronger and better looking.  Although readers only see Chloe through Nigel’s eyes, we can see that she’s smart, caring, and mature, and we can understand why he likes her.  She’s no Bella Swan, that’s for sure!  The Girl and I are both hoping to read the sequel, Prince of Dorkness: More Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire soon.  This definitely isn’t a book to take seriously and is perfect for a day when you need to laugh…and realize that maybe your own life isn’t half bad.

Here are The Girl’s thoughts on the book:

*Funny all around, but I have to say the funniest part is when he meets Chloe’s parents and has a funny way of getting rid of the dinner since he doesn’t eat “human food.”

*I think the book is well written.  My favorite quote:

My sister has build a snowpire using carrots for fangs and a trash bag for a cape.  I thought my parents would tell her off for exposing our identity, but they seemed to think it was the most adorable thing they’d ever seen.  As ever, it’s one rule for me and one rule for my sister.

Dad said it was the only vampire he’d ever seen that really would be destroyed by sunlight, and then he laughed at his own stupid joke.  (page 83)

*I really like how you feel this book is just days from his “totally lame” life, but the twist is something you wouldn’t guess.

*I think Nigel is funny but sometimes he got annoying when he went on and on.

*I would love to read the sequel to know what happens even though this book doesn’t leave you hanging.

Disclosure: I purchased Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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It was so much fun to watch The Girl (age 11) read this book.  She was so proud of herself when she finished it; it’s the longest book she’s ever read at close to 600 pages.  She was always talking about what she’d read, and it deepened her interest in Greek mythology.  It helped that they were talking about ancient Greece in her history class at the same time she was reading this book.  She says she’s going to read a few different books before continuing the series; she needs a bit of a break.

Below is the latest book talk she presented in her reading class.  I’m proud to say she received another A+ for her efforts.  I better watch out or she’ll take over the blog soon enough!

About The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series:

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she’s his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids.” What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he’s in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn’t recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?

Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What’s troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god.

Rick Riordan, the best-selling author of the Percy Jackson series, pumps up the action and suspense in The Lost Hero, the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series. Fans of demi-gods, prophesies, and quests will be left breathless–and panting for Book Two. (publisher’s summary)

I chose to do my book talk on The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.  The genre of this book is fantasy.

There are 3 main characters.  Piper is the daughter of Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty).  She doesn’t always like to charmspeak people, but sometimes it’s an accident and other times used against her enemy.  She also has a dagger for a weapon.  Leo is the son of Hephaestus (god of blacksmiths).  He can walk through and control fire and also has a magical tool belt.  Jason is the son of Zeus (king of the gods).  Jason can control the winds and sometimes can make lightning.  He also has a coin he flips and then it turns into a sword.

The setting is really all over because they travel most of the book.  My favorite part was when they fought the giant to save Piper’s dad.  If you like fighting, stunning surprises, dragons, and suspense, read this book…NOW!!

Disclosure: The Girl read a friend’s copy of The Lost Hero. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 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) loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick so much that she read it in a little more than a day.  As a budding artist, she loved the combination of illustrations and prose in what she calls an adult-size novel.  She’s looking forward to reading Selznick’s latest book, Wonderstruck, as her choice for our book club meeting in June.  (I was touched that the members of the new book club were happy to welcome her to read any book that we read that’s appropriate for her age and even invited her to nominate books and lead the discussion one month.)  Here are her random thoughts about The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery. (publisher’s summary)

*I learned a new word, automaton, which means self-operating machine.

*I loved the illustrations.  They were beautifully sketched and important to the book.

*The pictures sometimes helped with the scenes, but sometimes the author’s writing was so beautiful you could picture the scene without the illustrations.

*Hugo was my favorite character because you could imagine him exactly without the pictures and better than any other character.  I also like him because he was interesting and always in trouble, which was sometimes funny.

*I can’t wait to see the movie!!

Disclosure: The Girl borrowed The Invention of Hugo Cabret from our local library. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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