(Another) Snow Day Roundup of Maegan’s Fall & Winter Reading Adventures

Would you believe I am halfway through the second grade since I last posted about my reading? My teacher is Mrs. Kelly and she does a lot of fun things with us. After school and on the weekends, I have been doing Girl Scouts, playing the piano, and dancing. I also joined the Canton Dolphins swim team with my brother, Ryan. I still have free time and one of the things I still like to do best when I am not busy is to read.

My Mom and Dad finally let me start the Harry Potter series. I am about halfway through the fourth book, the Goblet of Fire. So far this series is my favorite in the entire world. I also love to watch the movies, but my parents won’t let me watch until I have finished each book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

Here’s where we first meet Harry Potter and learn that he is a wizard. We also meet Hagrid and Harry’s two best friends, Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

This story takes place in Harry’s second year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We meet a new character in this story named Dobby. He is a house elf.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

In this story, we meet Sirius Black and learn that he is innocent of the crimes he has been blamed for. He is also Harry’s Godfather!

There is so much more I could tell you about these books, and maybe we will do that another time.

You can read what my brother thinks of Harry Potter by clicking here. And my Mom loves Harry, too! 

At Your Service by Jen Malone

This story takes place at a hotel in New York. The main character is Chloe, and her Dad is a concierge in the hotel. They live there. Royalty comes to the hotel. Chloe is like a junior concierge. She is supposed to take them out and show them around. Princess Ingrid gets lost in New York. The rest of the story is about tracking her down and all the adventures that happen. I went to New York City with my family last April and it was a busy and exciting place. I loved reading this story that took place there.

Lost in London by Cindy Callaghan

This story takes place in London! I have never been there, but I would like to go. When I get to go, I would like to shop in the big stores and have tea. Riding on a double decker red bus would be good. Of course we would need to ride on the top deck.

Jordan and Caroline get trapped in a large store overnight. This sounds really scary to me but kind of fun.

Thea Stilton graphic novels

I have written about these books before. I still love them and like to read new ones all the time.

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes

Oh I just love Ginger Pye! Ginger is the Pye’s dog. Someone steals her and runs away! Ginger Pye breaks free and comes home in the end. I like this story so much that I have been drawing pictures of all the characters in my sketch book.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

Emily Windsnap is a half mermaid. She can walk on land but when she is in the water she has fins. When she finds out she is a mermaid, she makes a mermaid friend. Emily learns that her mother had married a merman and the king merman put him in jail for it! Her mother was a regular human. Emily and her friend get her father back. This is a series with more books and I want to read another one.

The Witches by Roald Dahl

This story is about a boy who stays in a hotel while there a lot of witches staying there at the same time. They talk with Vs instead of Ws. So they call themselves vitches. The witches are plotting to kill all the children in England, because witches hate children and think they are smelly. Of course they do not succeed in the end. There is a movie that goes with this book and I liked both. The movie was a little scary.

American Girl Rebecca series

Rebecca Rubin was a Jewish American girl living in 1914. She moved to the United States from Russia. She has three cousins who have not yet moved, or emigrated, from Russia. I learned that Rebecca is an immigrant. Immigrants emigrate from their home countries. These words are very confusing.

There are many books in the Rebecca series and my favorite is the second book, called Rebecca and Ana.

Usborne Arabian Nights

I just love these big books of short stories. We found this one at the library by accident! The Arabian Nights stories are about people in deserts. The story of Aladdin is one of the Arabian Nights stories. Another is Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. This is a great book. It is mysterious and exciting with pretty pictures.

Celia & the Fairies by Karen McQuestion

I read this book on my Kindle. I like reading regular books made of paper better than e-books.

Celia is a regular girl who meets fairies in the forest. They become friends. The fairies give Celia a magical flute. There is a bad person, Vicky McClutchie, who is going to trample down the forest and some houses nearby. Celia and the fairies uses the flute to make a wish. Her wish is that Vickie will have a good heart. Her wish comes true and the forest and the fairies’ homes are saved.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

The story of Heidi takes place in the mountains and the the city of Frankfurt. Heidi is an orphan girl and she goes to live with her grandfather in the moutains. Nobody likes her grandfather because he is kind of grumpy. Heidi gets to know him and she gets to like him. One day, Heidi’s aunt comes to take Heidi back to Frankfurt to be a friend for a girl named Clara who cannot walk. Heidi gets homesick for the mountains. Clara’s father sees that Heidi is sad and send her back to the mountains. Once Heidi is back in the mountains, in the springtime, Clara comes to visit and while she is there, she learns to walk!

Today on the snow day I am going to watch the movie Heidi! Can’t wait.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Sarah Crewe is a princess living in India, but her father takes her to a school in England, where she has a hard time getting used to the rules. Sarah’s father dies of brain fever while she is at school. Although she is still a princess, now she has no money. Miss Minchen, the headmistress of the school, makes Sarah a maid.

She becomes friends with the other maid, Becky. There is a man living next door who used to be friends with Sarah’s father, and he is sad for her. Hi name is Mr. Carrisford. They become friends. One night, Mr. Carrisford’s pet monkey goes over into Sarah’s attic bedroom. Sarah returns the monkey and in the end, she gets to live with Mr. Carrisford instead of being a maid.

I watched the movie of this book yesterday on the third snow day of the year! I actually liked the movie even better than the book!

Right now I am reading The Secret Garden, which was written by the same author as A Little Princess. I’ll tell you about it when I am done.

Mom and I talked about all these books and she typed up what I said about them.


Ryan’s Snow Day Post: Fall & Winter Reading Roundup

Since school started, life has been a lot busier than it was in the summer. I have been doing swim team and the new robotics club at my school. I earned my brown belt in karate! Even though there has been so much going on, I still managed to read a lot of books this fall and early winter. If you are looking for something new to read, here is a brief synopsis of each book or series.

The Hunger Games Trilogy: This series is about a teenaged girl named Katniss Everdeen, who lives in District 12 of Panem, which is basically North America in the future. Panem is ruled by President Snow in the Capitol, and the society is a dictatorship. To keep order in the districts, every year each district is required to send two teenaged tributes (a boy and a girl) to an event called The Hunger Games. The annual Hunger Games is a reality television show during which there literally can only be one survivor. It is a fight to the death. The only reality television I watch is The Amazing Race. In that show, the contestants are fighting for a million dollars, not their lives. At the end of The Hunger Games, Katniss and her friend Peeta turn out to be two survivors. In the following two books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Katniss and Peeta have to go back to the arena for another terrifying Hunger Games. Uprisings and rebellion lead to a civil war. I read this entire series in less than two weeks. It was a page-turner! I really liked how the author had me guessing about the geography and what part of the current United States different parts were set in. She gave clues about where they were. I enjoyed looking online at some maps artists have drawn about what the boundaries of Panem might look like.

So far I have watched The Hunger Games and Catching Fire movies. I always like to see someone else’s vision of what people and places might look like. It’s fun to compare the movie against the book. The Capitol people in the movies didn’t look quite as weird as I pictured them in my mind. This is an exciting series to read if you don’t think you will be bothered by kids killing each other, which is pretty scary.

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods: I was very excited for this book to come out; we went and bought the first day it was released. It is a large format book which makes it different from Rick Riordan’s other books. This book tells Greek myths from a teenager’s perspective and it is very funny.

The Maze Runner: I have read the three books in this series. There is a prequel called The Kill Order, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. In this series, a boy named Thomas ends up in the midst of a bunch of strangers in a huge glade that is surrounded by a maze. He has no memories at all except for his name. He has no idea how he got there. I picked up context clues that, like The Hunger Games, this book was also set in the future United States. Thomas is basically a prisoner because he can’t escape where he is without going through the maze. There are other teenaged boys with him (no girls) but no one knows who is holding them captive. No one knows how they got there. Spoiler alert: by the end of the story, Thomas and the others do get out. In the next two books, The Scorch Trial and The Death Cure, the boys find out that they were in the maze as a sort of government test. The rest of the world had been hit by sun flares, was scorched, and was therefore uninhabitable. To achieve population control, the government released a disease that killed tons of people. The boys in the maze were immune to the disease and the maze served as a testing facility for other government experiments. It sounds depressing and awful but it is actually a very exciting story, and the ending is hopeful. I need to get my hands on the prequel so I understand more of the back story. There is also a film for this book, which I saw with my Dad and really liked.

Alex Rider: Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

This is the first book in the Alex Rider series. Alex Rider is a teenaged boy. Notice a theme in what I am reading lately? His parents were killed. He lives with his uncle, which isn’t actually a bad thing. Usually when the main character is an orphan and has to live with a relative, the relative is horrible, but that’s not the case in this story. Example: Harry Potter and the Dursleys. So. Ahem. Uncle Ian is a banker like my Dad, or so Alex thinks. Uncle Ian is killed in a “car accident,” and Alex finds out he was actually a spy for the Brisith government. Did I mention they live in England? Alex ends up needing to finish the job Uncle Ian was doing, which was stopping a bad guy from poisoning the entire population of England. He succeeds. I assume in the rest of the series that Alex Rider becomes the spy, but I haven’t gotten to read another one yet. I’m looking forward to another story about Alex Rider. Apparently there was a movie version released in 2006 but I haven’t caught it yet.

The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer

My copy of this book was autographed by the author! I got it at an event last year when I heard him speak. Eoin Colfer is very funny in person. This book is about a teenaged girl (for a change!) named Chevie Savano who works for the F.B.I. This is the first book in a series. Chevie ends up having to guard a broken time machine after messing up another job very badly. She gets up to all kinds of trouble; the time machine somehow ends up working and she sends herself back to Victorian England. There she meets former a magician’s assistant who is running away from the magician, who also happens to be a killer! This is another exciting plot with lots of action and mysterious characters. I recommend it to anyone who likes the Artemis Fowl series, also by Eoin Colfer.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Okay, so this book was good, but I really only read it so I could watch the movie. I could not get into the second book in the series and I gave up. There are too many good books to read for me to waste time on one I don’t like (unless I have to read it for school.) Anyway, Ender’s Game is about a boy around my age named Ender. Even though he is only a kid, he is extremely smart. The story is set in the future. Ender gets chosen for Battle School, which is a training academy for space fighters. Ender is so talented that he is promoted to the Command School within a few short months. Ender stops an alien threat that was advancing for its third attack within a few years. He is a hero. I did watch the movie with my Dad, and in this case, the movie was actually better than the book. I hardly ever say that.

The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale

Usually my Mom picks out books for me to read, and she has an excellent sense of what I will like. I don’t really like to go shopping, but we happened to be in a bookstore in New Hampshire and I actually picked this one out myself! This story is about a boy named Stephen who lives in a zoo in the middle of the Amazon jungle. His father is one of the greatest explorers in the world. People come there for vacations all the time. Stephen finds it hard to communicate with people because he has a terrible stutter and is hard to understand. His special gift is that he can talk to the animals and they understand him. One day his father catches a big, black jaguar. The jaguar gives Stephen the gift of understanding. He could always talk to the animals, but when they talked back to him, he didn’t understand them. Now he does. In the end, the jaguar is saved from being killed and everyone is happy. This book is different from what I have been reading lately, because it’s not related to technology and it is set in present day rather than in the future. I liked this story a lot and need to see if the author has written any other books.

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

Well. This is the first book in a really long time that I have completely disliked. Okay, I hated it. It was an option on my summer reading list and it took me more than a month to get through it. I really only like to be reading one book at a time so that I don’t mix up their plots in my head. Because I disliked this book so much, I didn’t read much during the month of August and early September. This taught me about how important it is to choose my books wisely. My Mom kept telling me I didn’t have to finish it if I didn’t want to (as I had already finished plenty of books on the school list) but I also hate leaving books unfinished. However, this experience taught me that it was okay to quit the Ender’s Game series when I was not enjoying it. (See above).

This story was about a girl named Janie who lives in 1950s England. She moved to England with her family because her father was suspected of communist activity in the United States. When she moved to England, she met a person in school named Benjamin whose father was an apothecary. An apothecary is like an old-fashioned version of a pharmacist. Secretly, the apothecary makes potions. When he gets abducted by Russians, Janie and Benjamin have to use his potions to rescue him and stop a nuclear bomb being launched in the middle of Norway. This sounds like an exciting story that would be right up my alley, don’t you think? But it was just boring and slow and I couldn’t wait to be done with it. Therefore I don’t really recommend The Apothecary.

The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey: Finally! A dragon story! This book is about David, a young man in his 30s, who comes to live with a woman and her daughter. After his first few days with them, David knows something is “up” in their household. One day he goes into the forbidden pottery room. (Should’ve been a clue right there that something weird was up. Forbidden pottery room?) In the forbidden pottery room, David finds a bunch of clay dragons. The woman finds him in there and allows him to keep one of the little guys. He takes it to his room but it keeps disappearing. David soon finds out that the little clay dragon is actually alive and so are the others…he ends up saving the dragons. Something made the dragons sad. When dragons are sad, they cry. When dragons cry, they lose their fire. When they lose their fire, they die. Aaaaw. David catches one of the dragon’s tears and has him drink the tear. It makes that dragon better, so he does it to all the others. And they live happily ever after. There are four more books in the series; I got some for Christmas but haven’t gotten to them yet. This book is a little below my reading level but I love dragon stories. I recommend it for 3rd/4th grade and up.

Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

More dragons! Yay! This story is about John, who (spoiler alert!) is actually J.R.R. Tolkien in the story! In case you didn’t know, Tolkien was a real person and the author of the legendary Lord of the Rings (haven’t read yet because my Mom wants me to wait) and Hobbit stories. The Hobbit is one of my favorite books of all time, so this was an exciting development. One day John comes to England and finds that one of his professors is dead. He also finds out that the dead professor was guarding a special map of the Archipelago of Dreams, aka Avalon, which is a fictional place to us (like Middle Earth or Narnia) but it is real in the story. Another guardian of the map was Bert, and he takes John, Jack (C.S. Lewis in the story) and Charles (Charles Williams in the story) to Avalon. C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams are also famous fantasy authors. They all get to Avalon by taking the Indigo Dragon, which is a living dragon ship. They find that Avalon is in a big mess because their king (Arthur Pendragon) is dead and people are fighting over who should be the new king. One contender for the throne is Mordred, also known as The Winter King. Mordred tries to get the map from Bert because it is the key to summoning the dragons. At the end of the story, John, Jack, and Charles end up defeating Mordred with the help of the dragons and all the dragon ships. This book was awesome! We found it by accident at the library book sale. Anyone who likes Tolkien, Narnia, or fantasy stories should give it a try.

Ranger’s Apprentice books Six thru Nine by John Flanagan

The Siege of MacindawErak’s RansomThe Kings of ClonmelHalt’s Peril

I’m actually reading book nine now, but just wanted to write an update that I am continuing to enjoy this exciting series. You can read about earlier books in the series by clicking here.

Space Encyclopedia by Peter Bond

This book is so cool. I’ve learned a ton of things about space and space exploration that I didn’t know. It has made me more interested in studying astronomy if I can.

TodHunter Moon: Pathfinder by Angie Sage

This is the book I am keeping at school right now for when I have a few minutes to read. It is written by Angie Sage and is related to another series of hers that I follow, about a character named Septimus Heap. Stay tuned…

Just in case you are wondering, I did not type all this. My Mom and I had a long talk about my bookshelf this afternoon and she typed while I talked.

Duck Boots, and a Literary Love

It was a cold, slushy January morning, and my duck boots squeaked their way up the steps of Gasson Hall to a classroom with stained glass windows. Taking stock of the cast of characters in the room, I chose a seat next to a familiar cableknit sweater and friendly smile. The professor bustled in, a tiny figure with a booming voice and just the faintest brogue. As she shrugged out of a plaid scarf and parka she called out “Welcome to Modern Irish Fiction! I hope this room is not filled with a wholelotof Maeve Binchy fans!”

A smart shopper for college courses, I always previewed the books on the corresponding shelves in the bookstore before I registered for a class. If the reading list looked interesting, that was a good sign for me. So I knew that the work was going to be difficult; James Joyce and Kate O’Brien are not light reads. Still, I bristled at this slam of a familiar, bestselling author.

It did turn out to be a satisfactory class, shaping me as a reader in many ways. But I do love Maeve Binchy. She may have been more of an airport author than a truly literary one, but surely there is a place in the canon for escapism, the funny moments of life, tales of lifelong friendship and human kindnesses. Maeve’s characters, both new and recurring, as well as the character of Ireland itself are richly detailed, coming to life on the page and taking up residence in my heart. And I am not alone: Maeve’s husband Gordon Snell has commented that the Irish Tourist Board answers many questions about fictitious places that cannot be visited by her fans. Her narratives are so relatable that we can’t help but want to climb into the pages and live happily ever after.

Maeve Binchy is one of a few authors who helped me bridge the gap between young adult and “grown up” reading. I first read Circle of Friends as a high school senior in 1994, eagerly anticipating the upcoming film starring Minnie Driver and my heartthrob, Chris O’Donnell (BC ’92). Although I matriculated at his alma mater, I did eventually get over Chris. To Maeve I have remained faithful. The 2012 publication of A Week in Winter marked my 18th year of reading her novels and short stories as well as the year of her death. Maeve saw me through hospital stays, long flights, late nights nursing babies, and rainy Sunday afternoons.

On a recent trip to a local bookstore I scanned the new releases table and stopped cold. Chestnut Street. Maeve Binchy. Hardcover. It was as if an old flame walked into my birthday party and the needle scratched across a record playing. Could it be? But how? I approached the book with great caution. If completed by a ghostwriter, I would not scan even one page. I touched the cover, looked inside, and breathed a sigh of relief and joy. It was a treasure trove of previously unpublished short stories written over the course of many years, thoughtfully chosen for a new collection.

Tears pricked the corners of my eyes. I’ll never get another chance to have a chat with my beloved Gram in this life, but the promise of this book felt like that kind of gift: several hundred pages of new stories, funny people to meet and problems that can be solved by a fresh coat of paint, a confidence kept, or a random act of kindness. Contrary to the opinion of my well-meaning professor of Modern Irish Fiction, I’d gladly find myself in a room filled with Maeve Binchy fans. Hearts would be mended, relationships sorted out, and courage found one more time. Since I can find her shelf in the library blindfolded, at least I can always visit her there. I might wear my duck boots to the library, which went out of fashion and are oddly back “in” again. For me, Maeve never left.

Ryan’s Review: Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Although this is the second book in this series, I have not written about it before. The Wildwood Chronicles are about a girl named Prue who lives in Portland. Right next to Portland is the Impassable Wilderness, which is a big forest that people have entered but no one has ever come back out of. One day, when Prue is out taking her baby brother for a walk, a flock of ravens swoops in and steals her brother away from her. The ravens take Mac into the Impassable Wilderness and Prue follows them in with her friend Curtis. They have an adventure together and eventually get Mac back. Curtis decides to stay with the Wildwood Bandits, who are the people who live in the section of the forest called Wildwood.

In Under Wildwood, Prue’s new science teacher, Darla, attacks her while she is walking home from school. Prue manages to fend off the attack because Curtis flies in on the back of an eagle in the nick of time and saves her. They fly into the Bandits’ camp and Curtis tells Prue that someone sent her science teacher as an assassin. Darla comes and attacks the camp with three other assassins. Prue and Curtis are away during this attack and when they return, everybody is gone….missing….poof!

Prue and Curtis are attacked by Darla and they get knocked into a canyon. In the canyon, they find a cave, which leads to Underwood…which is under Wildwood. Prue and Curtis have adventures in Underwood, which include helping a mole army defeat another mole army. They eventually escape Underwood into a small junkyard outside Portland. They manage to get back into Wildwood. We still don’t know why Darla is trying to hurt Prue, but I think that Prue is going to turn out to be a Mystic. The Mystics are a group of people who lead Northwood, which is another part of the Impassable Forest. The Mystics have special powers, such as controlling plants. Prue has some of these powers and I am guessing she is not only a Mystic but probably a special one. I am hoping to find out the truth in the third book.

For this post, Mom asked Ryan questions, Ryan talked, and Mom typed.

Maegan’s Summer Reading Log #5

Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst

So I don’t think Alexander was rich last week. He only had a dollar. To be rich you have to have at least a thousand dollars. If I had a thousand dollars, I would give half of it to charity. Then I would take the other $500 and split it between a Bermuda vacation and buying other stuff, like more books and things from my favorite store, Justice. But it is funny to hear how Alexander spent his one dollar.

A Princess, a Pirate, and One Wild Brother by Cornelia Funke

There are three stories in this book.

One is about a princess named Violet. She has three brothers and their mother died a long time ago. Their father is the king. Her father didn’t know how to raise a girl, so he just treated her the same as his three sons. Later, Violet’s three brothers started to make fun of her because she wasn’t as good at things like using the sword. So Violet practiced in the night in her own, quiet, swift way and became very good. When it was time for her to get married, there was a tournament to see who would be her husband. Violet didn’t like this, so she put herself in as a knight. Her title was “Sir No Name!” Violet’s maid, Emma, stood in as Violet. Violet defeated all the knights and then revealed herself as the true Violet. Violet chose her own prize, to go far away, and she finally married a rose keeper’s son.

The next story is about a pirate girl named Molly. She is going on a little ship to visit her grandmother. The ship runs into some scary pirates. They make her peel the potatoes, scrub their shoes, and srub the deck. Every night, they party on their boat. Molly puts a message in one of the empty rum bottles and sends it out to sea. One night, they partied until dawn and fell asleep on the deck. So Molly stepped through the tangle of arms and legs sleeping on the deck and tossed her message out to sea. One of the pirates heard her and said “Hey, what was that?” But they saw another pirate ship on the horizon. It was her mother, Barbarous Bertha and her scurvy crew. Barbarous Bertha fought and defeated the mean and scurvy pirates. Molly thought up a great punishment for them: they had to peel the potatoes, scrub the boots, and scrub the decks. And Molly was finally able to visit her grandmother.

The third story is called The Wildest Brother. This brother (they don’t tell you his name) has a big sister named Anna. He pretends there are monsters in Anna’s room and she has to hide in the wardrobe until he defeats them. But then he can’t clean up the blood drops on her dresser because there are ghosts moaning in the bathtub again! He makes a lot of messes that he can’t clean up. This brother has to protect Anna from all the wild bears that are going to eat her up while she collects dandelions leaves. He is a wild brother because he pretends all these things and they are not really happening. But the truth is that at night he is scared and crawls into Anna’s bed. And she protects him!

Usborne Book of 100 Illustrated Stories

This book was a surprise for my birthday! I like it as much as my true favorite book, The Usborne Book of Illustrated Fairy Tales. The pictures are very nice. Some of these stories are repeated from my favorite book but there are new ones, too. There are stories of the gods and of fantasy. I love the ribbon book marker.

“My Weird School” series by Dan Guttman, #s 10-13

10 Mr. Docker is Off His Rocker!
11 Mrs. Kormel is Not Normal!
12 Ms. Todd is Odd!
13 Mrs. Patty is Batty!

I still really like reading the “My Weird School” series because it is very funny. It is nothing like my real school. There are very weird teachers that do silly things, like Mr. Docker, who eats bugs, sets his hair on fire, and takes his students on a field trip that is literally a trip to a field. These books are quick and easy to read and I really like the stories.

Isabelle by Lawrence Yep

Isabelle is the American Girl doll of the year for 2014. This book is all about her. Isabelle is a dancer like me and she has blonde hair like me, but hers has pink streaks in it. I do not have pink streaks in my hair. In this story, it is Isabelle’s first year at Anna Heart, a dancing school. It is not an easy year for her because she is falling behind in her dance steps. Her friend Luisa and her teacher help her to catch up. By the end of the story, Isabelle learns that she is a good dancer but she must try her best.

For this post, Mom asked Maegan questions, Maegan talked, and Mom typed.

Ryan’s Summer Reading Log #5

Kingdom Keepers Book Six: Dark Passage by Ridley Pearson

I have written about other books in this series here.

In book six of the Kingdom Keepers series, “Dark Passage,” the Keepers discover a mysterious journal written by Walt Disney that gives directions to waking up the most powerful Overtaker. In case you didn’t know, the Overtakers are all the Disney villains, come to life. As the Keepers try to figure out the mysteries of the journal, the Overtakers are trying to find a way to get the journal from the Keepers. Eventually the Overtakers succeed and awaken Chernabog. He is the main villain from a Disney movie called Fantasia. Finn, leader of the Keepers, confuses Chernabog in an underground maze. When one of the tunnels caves in, Finn thinks Chernabog has drowned, but no one is really sure at the end of the book.

This journal reminds me of Tom Riddle’s diary in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. That diary brought a character back to life and was also very mysterious.

Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper’s Curse

This is the second book in this series of graphic novels. I wrote about the first book here.

In “The Stonekeeper’s Curse,” we find out that Em’s amulet is trying to take control of her when it talks to her and tries to convince her to let it take control of her mind.

When Em and Navin arrive in a very large city in their walking house, they find out that their walking house is not the only walking house! Walking houses are pretty normal things. They’re pretty much like cars in this world. It’s pretty convenient.

In the city, Em and Navin meet a bounty hunter named Leon Redbeard who also happens to have experience in training people with magic amulets. He is a helper for Em and Navin. Leon teaches Em to control the amulet; this helps her defeat some evil elves who also happen to have amulets. Em is the only person in this world with an amulet who is not an elf, and the elves wanted to kill Em for the amulet.

After Em defeats the evil elves, at the end of the book is a scene with a house standing on top of the mountain with its arms ripped off by elf magic. I’m looking forward to the third book in this series because there are still elves left….bum bum bum…cliffhanger!

For this post, Mom asked Ryan questions, Ryan talked, and Mom typed.

Maegan’s Summer Reading Log #4

The Rescue Princesses #s 3, 5, 6: The Snow Jewel, The Moonlight Mystery, The Magic Rings

The Rescue Princesses are Emily, Clarabelle, Lulu and Jaminta. They are from a faraway land and each lives in a different castle. They are all friends. They met for the first time at a ball hosted by Emily’s parents.

These girls save animals from danger and in the third book, The Moonlit Mystery, they are saving tigers: five baby cubs and a mother. In the fifth book, they are saving a kitten from a tree. At the end of the fifth book, the friends leave for a special school for princesses.

In the sixth book, we meet a new group of girls, including Princess Lottie, who is Princess Emily’s little sister. The other princesses in the new group are Isabella, Amina, and Rosalind. They save horses from an evil servant.

I love the Rescue Princesses because I love animals and I love how these girls act toward the animals. The princesses do not have special powers, but they do have magic rings that help them communicate with one another. I would love it if my friends had those special rings!

I haven’t read #4, The Stolen Crystals because I lost it. But then I found it so now I can read it.

Thea Stilton graphic novel: Revenge of the Lizard Club

This is the second Thea Stilton graphic novel. A graphic novel is a book that has comics but it is longer than a comic book. Also, not all graphic novels feature super heroes. My brother writes about some graphic novels here and here.

Revenge of the Lizard Club is about two clubs: the gecko club for the boys and the lizard club for the girls. There are competitions such as a footrace around an island, a brainpower competition, and another one where you have to find your way around with a map and compass. The competitions decide who is the president of each club. Part of this story is about saving seals who are in danger. They are saved by the end of the story by some of the characters.

You can read more about Thea Stilton and Geronimo Stilton by clicking here.

Loveabye Dragon by Barbara Joose

Loveabye Dragon is about a little girl who is lonely for a dragon friend and a dragon who is lonely for a little girl friend. In the end they find each other as friends. It’s a very cute story.

We are always on the lookout for new books featuring dragons for all ages. See Robin & Maegan’s review of The Library Dragon by clicking here. There is also a list of our favorite dragon books in this post.

In this post, Robin asked questions, Maegan talked, and Robin typed.

Maegan’s Summer Reading Log #3

Right now I am going to a camp called College Gate. When my Mom drops me off in the morning I have some time before the day starts. I was very glad when the camp director told me I could bring a book with me!

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer by Megan McDonald and Peter Reynolds

This is one of my choice books for Mrs. Kelly’s second grade. Judy Moody is a series. This book is not the first but it is my first Judy Moody. This book is special because the illustrator (the person who draws the pictures and makes the cover design) is Peter Reynolds, who is one of the owners of our favorite bookstore, Blue Bunny Books & Toys in Dedham Square.

I liked this book because it was funny. Judy is going into fourth grade and she is determined to have an awesome summer. Her plans are smooshed because her friend Amy is going away to a country called Borneo and her friend Rocky is going to circus camp. Frank, who is staying nearby, does things like go on a roller coaster with her, but then he pukes! On top of everything else, Judy’s parents have to go to California to help Judy’s grandparents and Judy and her brother Stink must stay home with their Aunt Opal/Awful. Judy expected Aunt Opal to be Awful, but in the end, Opal was Wonderful.

Judy makes a plan for her and her friends to earn thrill points and she makes a chart. Riding a roller coaster that goes upside down and sideways would earn a lot of thrill points. It has to be something weird or scary. It’s a contest between her and her friends to see who has the most thrill points by the end of the summer. By the end of the summer, Judy does have a good summer even if she doesn’t have the most thrill points.

I liked it when Stink’s friend, Zeke, ran around like he was Bigfoot. That was really funny. I didn’t like it when Judy had to go on the poop picnic…there was poop on her sandwich! I also didn’t like it when Judy and Frank were at the Creature Double Feature movies about zombies. I kind of had to skip that part because it was too scary for me.

I want to read more Judy Moody books because I like Judy and I want to support Peter Reynolds and the Blue Bunny store. I’d also like to see the movie. My Mom is getting it from the library for me.

In this post, Robin asked questions, Maegan talked, and Robin typed.

Ryan’s Summer Reading Log #4

Last week I finished two books. I read the first book in a new “Warriors” series called “Dawn of the Clans” by Erin Hunter. The book itself is called The Sun Trail. The other book I finished was Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier and I’ll tell you about that one first because I have a lot to say!

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is one of my “choice” books for summer reading for 6th grade.

Peter Nimble is a ten year old blind orphan who has learned to be a thief. He is a very good thief and he steals everything: food, jewelry, money, art work. One day he steals a mysterious locked box from a carriage. This is the first lock he has ever come across that he cannot open. It takes him a long time but he eventually opens the box and inside he finds three pairs of eyes. When he tries on the first pair, or the golden pair, he is transported to the last place the golden eyes had been, which happens to be an island on top of the world. There he meets Sir Tode, who is part man, part horse, part cat. Peter Nimble and Sir Tode are sent on a quest by Professor Cake, who owns the island.

All the messages people send out in bottles end up at this island. The most recent message in a bottle came from the Vanished Kingdom on the island itself. Together Peter and Sir Tode must find the mysterious Vanished Kingdom because someone inside the Vanished Kingdom is in serious trouble.

One exciting thing that happens on the quest for the Vanished Kingdom is when Peter finds out he is a prince! He is actually the prince of the Vanished Kingdom. This reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Spaceballs, in which the character Lonestar finds out he is an “honest-to-God prince.”

Peter and Sir Tode become good friends, and they make other friends along their journey. They meet up with Peter’s long-lost sister, Princess Peg. Actually, Peter is kind of the long-lost brother. They also make friends with good old Frederick, the giant dogfish. Unfortunately, they also make some enemies: King Incarnadine, who is Peter and Peg’s uncle, and LongClaw, who is the captain of the King’s Royal Night Patrol.

In about the middle of the story, Peter tries a second pair of eyes, the amethyst eyes, which are purple. The amethyst eyes turn the wearer into the last animal they’ve seen. While wearing the amethyst eyes, Peter turned into a beetle, a sparrow and a sea serpent. This helped him out of several unpleasant situations.

Spoiler alert! By the end of the story, Peter and Peg eventually kill the King and become King and Queen themselves. When Peter puts on the third pair of eyes, the emerald pair, they eventually become his own, normal eyes.

I loved this book. I mean, I didn’t kiss it or anything, but the idea of seeing things with different eyes was really cool.

You can read my overview of Erin Hunter’s “Warriors” series by clicking here.

“Dawn of the Clans” is a prequel series to the other “Warriors” series. In The Sun Trail, the tribe of Rushing Water, who live in the mountains, is starving. Two brother cats named Clear Sky and Gray Wing lead most of the tribe in search of a new land. They are kind of like pioneers. They arrive at a forest where there is a lot of prey available. Some of the cats want to live on a moor nearby instead because those cats are better at hunting in that area. Gray Wing leads the cats that want to live in the moor and they set up their own separate camp. The two groups are separated for so long that they start to become hostile toward one another. Gray Wing and Clear Sky become enemies. Their conflict does not resolve by the end of this story and because I have read the series that come later, I don’t think it ever will. I love the “Warriors” books so I am glad to have another series to read.

In this post, Robin asked questions, Ryan talked, and Robin typed.

The Mother-Daughter Book Club

In this post, Robin shares her thoughts on some books first. Each selection has a “Maegan says” note at the end.

Maegan’s teacher compiled an excellent list of “choice” books for summer reading; she only needs to read one of these but of course she wants to tackle them all. I hope she always keeps this “can do” spirit. Thanks to the fabulous folks at The Blue Bunny Book & Toy Store for ordering us everything on the list. According to the Scholastic Book Wizard, some of these choices are far above her grade level; she wants to read them independently, so I feel compelled to read them when she is finished. Then I can ask her questions and check her comprehension and ability to connect to the story. First up is The Magical Ms. Plum by Bonnie Becker.

I fell in love with Ms. Plum right away. As she anticipated her new class, she thought: “They will be wonderful. Hopers and schemers, helpers and dreamers, jokers and heroes. I can’t wait to meet each and every one.” It would be an amazing gift to children if every classroom teacher considered his or her students in this way.

Tales of magical grown ups just never get old. Ms. Plum probably hangs with Mary Poppins and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. In addition to her unorthodox lessons, over the course of the school year, Ms. Plum chooses different students to get something from her magical supply closet. It doesn’t take long for the students to realize that with the requested item (paper, push pins, etc.) out will also come a small magical animal. Each animal that emerges comes out for a specific reason for that particular child and helps him or her grow or change in some positive way.

Maegan says: My favorite animal that comes out of Ms. Plum’s closet is the little donkey who takes everyone’s notes across the room in little baskets. I liked how the children figured out that their grumpy ideas were making everyone, including the donkey, feel more sad. So they stopped.

I also liked when the monkeys came out and gave everyone candy. Each candy tasted just right to each person. I can’t decide what my perfect candy would taste like. I love candy. I want to go to Ms. Plum’s class! I think you’ll have a lot of fun reading this book. Pig snout! Pig snout!

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary

This one’s not on the summer reading list, but recently I had the pleasure of reading Ramona the Brave to Maegan. I devoured the Ramona books as a child; I felt like she was a friend I knew personally. Although the books trace Ramona as a preschooler all the way up through the middle grades, Ramona the Brave is set in the first grade. Being a passionate, spunky six year old is frustrating when you feel everyone is rushing you to just grow up.

There are so many memorable scenes in this story, but my favorite part is the infamous “owl scene,” in which Ramona’s classroom neighbor copies her art project detail for detail. The teacher doesn’t notice or take the time to understand what really happened, and heartbreaking drama follows suit. Although Ramona reacts to life’s injustices with a bit too much passion, she really is just misunderstood. Beverly Cleary gets the emotions so right.

Details of the story are dated but still charming. If your child enjoys Ramona, she will also probably enjoy Junie B. Jones.

Maegan says: Ramona Quimby reminds me of the song “Naughty” from Matilda: the Musical, which we saw in New York City over April Vacation. Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.

My favorite part of this story was when Ramona had a babysitter on Parents Night at school. She really wanted to talk to her Mom when she got home, so she left her a note on the hall table. The note said “Come here, Mama. Come here to me.” She didn’t even sign her name, but her Mom knew it was from Ramona!

I would like my Mom to read me another Ramona book because I find her so different from me. I also just like my Mom to read to me.

The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy

How would you feel if your school library was guarded by a grouchy dragon? This sweet tale teaches us not to judge one another based on prejudices. Maybe dragons aren’t all bad once you get past the scales, and perhaps small children can look at a book without smudging the pages or ripping the covers. Loaded with puns and groaners, you will laugh out loud if that sort of humor tickles your funny bone. Clever, modern illustrations complete this story about Miss Lotty’s transformation from Miss Lotta Scales to Miss Lotty, Library Goddess.

Maegan says: There is a librarian, but she’s a dragon! She will not even let the children touch the books. Her name is Miss Lotta Scales. A girl named Molly lost her glasses and couldn’t see a thing; she found herself in the library by accident. A book dropped on her head and she put it in her lap. She found her glasses and started to read the book “Snuff the Magic Dragon” out loud. When Miss Lotta Scales heard Molly reading to the children, she decided to take over reading to the children. Her scales fell off and she turned into Miss Lotty! What’s a librarian that’s not at least a little bit or a little part dragon? Who would guard the books?

We love books about dragons. If you do, too, try these picture books:

How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet

There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Puff The Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow (with music cd)

Dragonology by Dugald A. Steer

Ryan’s Picks for Chapter Books Featuring Dragons:

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Beast Quest #1: Ferno the Fire Dragon by Adam Blade

The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey

For more mature readers, grade 5 & up:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Eragon by Christopher Paolini