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.

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.

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

 

“And Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce.” – William Shakespeare

My friends will tell you I am a Pinterest lover. I find it useful and inspirational for cooking, decorating, parenting, and travel. It’s great for Type A planners like me. Recently I have stared following the pinboards of several library groups. This helps me stay on top of new books for the kids and me. Recently it led me to a website called A Mighty Girl, which catalogs “the world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident and courageous young girls.” My favorite page on this site is The Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess, where I discovered the two books I want to review today.

Last week I picked Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure and Dangerously Ever After from the library.

Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure by Robert D. Souci and Sally Wern Comport is a classic folktale with a strong female lead. Margaret seeks adventure and finds love and courage in this beautiful book. The illustrations gorgeous and the pacing of the story makes for a great read-aloud. Halfway through reading this to Maegan I had to flip back and check the date of publication; the story is obviously meant to sound archaic but the language is almost forced. Still, my six year old listened with wide eyes and delighted squeals while I read this exciting story. Seafaring adventure, an old hag, dragons and giants – Brave Margaret has it all!

Meanwhile, back in another kingdom, we read Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater and Valeria Docampo, which is the adorable story of Princess Amanita and all the unpleasant things she loves. Amanita is not made of sugar and spice at all, but much fiercer stuff. Amanita’s garden is filled with “prickles and stickles,” plants that sting and plants that stink.

The delightful story of Araminta and her new friend Prince Florian shows that although not all people are necessarily drawn to mainstream interests, we can usually find a common connection if we try. It also highlights some of the dangers of wandering off on your own; having a friend by your side might be the better way to go. Even if you love the scent of a good compost pile, who could not help but be drawn to a place that smells like “sleeping in the sun, staying up late, secrets and summer?” Nice alliterations, and charming illustrations, too. You will hear many giggles from your mighty princes and princesses when they read or hear this story.

This review was written by Robin.

Maegan’s Summer Reading Log #3: the Araminta Spookie series

Araminta Spookie #’s 1 & 2, My Haunted House and The Sword in the Grotto by Angie Sage

Hope you had a great holiday! It rained all day on the 4th but we celebrated on the 5th.

Araminta Spookie is a little girl who lives with her Aunt Tabby and her Uncle Drac in a haunted house. The house is haunted by two ghosts: Sir Horace and his page, Edmund.

In the first book, My Haunted House, you learn about the family living together in a haunted castle. Araminta finds Sir Horace’s secret room. It has a balcony! There is another family, The Wizards, who want to buy their house, but Araminta plans an awful ambush to try to stop this from happening. In the middle of the awful ambush, Aunt Tabby catches Araminta and stops her. Intead, Aunt Tabby agrees with Mrs. Wizard to share the house. Wanda Wizard can turn drinks blue and make them fizz!

In the second book, The Sword in the Grotto, it is about to be Sir Horace’s 500th birthday, and Araminta wants to get him a present. Wanda Wizard, who has become Araminta’s friend, helps Araminta to find Sir Horace’s sword in the grotto. A grotto is a cave and this one is located near the castle.

There is a really exciting part in this story. When Araminta and Wanda are in the grotto, they get trapped inside! The sea comes up and is about to fill to the top of the grotto. Edmund comes in and saves them by showing them another way out through a gap in a rock. Sir Horace’s birthday party turns out great and he loves his present because his father gave the sword to him a long time ago and he had lost it.

This series is not spooky or scary. It is adventurous and sometimes funny. Now I am reading the third book in the series, called Frognapped. I’ll report back in about it when I’m done but in the meantime I recommend Araminta Spookie to anyone who likes a little adventure.

Mom’s note: for older readers who also like a little adventure, fun characters, spells and charms, Ryan and Mr. Horrigan recommend Angie Sage’s middle grade series about a character called Septimus Heap. In this post, I asked questions, Maegan talked, and I typed.

 

Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader

Over the past few years my family has become involved with a wonderful nonprofit group called Catching Joy, which provides age-appropriate community service activities for children and families. One organization we support that is near and dear to my heart is Reach Out and Read, which has an amazing partnership with primary care providers to make reading materials available to children from all types of backgrounds. Their mission is meaningful to Ryan and Maegan as well, as they simply cannot imagine a life that is not filled with books.

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Earlier this year I assisted the Canton Girl Scout Service Unit in a day of service. We made Valentines to be delivered to February Meals on Wheels clients, centerpieces to cheer up the dining room of the local nursing home, dog toys for the animal shelter, joke cards to cheer up children in hospitals, and upcycled book marks to accompany the donations of new books, which were the price of admission to participate in the activities. During the winter the rest of the materials were delivered to their receiving organizations, but it suffices to say that it took me a while to get organized on a major delivery to Charlestown.

poster group bookmarks

Today Jim helped me deliver the four cartons of books and bookmarks to the Reach Out and Read headquarters, where we were very warmly received. Flat Stanley made his first trip into Boston to visit the wonderful staff.

stanley

 

This post was written by Robin.

Maegan’s Summer Reading Log #2

The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport by Laura Lee Hope

The Bobbsey twins are actually two sets of twins that are all brothers and sisters. There is a boy and a girl in each set of twins. The older set of twins’ names are Nan and Bert. The younger set of twins’ names are Flossie and Freddie. I really like the name Flossie.

This story is about the twins helping an old lady named Mrs. Marden to find her valuables before her house was going to be smashed down. It was going to be smashed down because it was so old. So this story is a mystery, which is my favorite kind. I think all the Bobbsey Twins books will be mysteries.

Mrs. Marden used to have a cat, and she had to give it away to a friend named Mr. Ryan. The cat runs away and goes back into Mrs. Marden’s house. It gets into the chimney. When Freddie and Flossie rescue the kitty out of the chimney, they discover a metal box with Mrs. Marden’s valuables inside.

There is another boy named Danny who plays tricks on all the twins. So they decided to play a trick on him! The twins took a stuffed kangaroo of Flossie’s and then put a hot water bottle that was filled with hot water into the kangaroo’s pouch. When Danny opened his desk at school, he thought there was a real kangaroo inside. It was so funny.

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

Robin’s Top Ten Early & Middle Grade Chapter Books

#1 Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant

This book was introduced to me earlier this year by my friend Jenn Ryan, who recommended it as a wonderful read aloud. She was spot on. Maegan and I loved the unlikely friendship between a dog, a squirrel, and a hermit crab.

#2 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

All of the Ramona books are wonderful and I read them over and over again as a child, but this one is my favorite. Life isn’t easy for Ramona, but you grow and change with her as she learns that although things don’t always go your way, they turn out all right in the end.

#3 The BFG (The Big Friendly Giant) by Roald Dahl

It’s hard to choose just one Roald Dahl novel for a top ten list, and I had a particularly tough time deciding between this one and Matilda. I feel better having mentioned them both. My husband would select a third title: Danny, Champion of the World. There, now he feels better, too. Dahl’s humor is a little dark but his language is wonderful and the storytelling is without equal. In The BFG, a little orphan named Sophie is snatched from the window of her orphanage in the middle of the night by a big, friendly giant. Their adventures will delight the whole family. Makes a great read-aloud.

#4 Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

This series changed the world of children’s literature more than fifteen years ago, and it is easy to see why. Rowling’s magical world leaps off the pages and creates a stunning landscape for the imagination. It’s tempting to allow advanced early readers slip through the walls at Platform 9 ¾, but this is really best saved for ages 9 & up. I cried through the last pages of the final book, not only because they were sad, but because this series that I love so much was coming to a close. The Boy Who Lived will live in your heart if you let him in.

#5 Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume

This book is tangentially related to the popular Fudge series. Sheila the Great is tough as nails on the outside but really, she’s afraid of her own shadow. When she goes to spend a summer in a town away from her comfort zone, she makes new friends but will she be brave enough to show them her true colors?

#6 Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade by Barthe deClements

This was one of my favorites as a kid; I read it over and over and feel like the characters are real kids from my childhood. Barthe deClements tells it like it is – how kids can be cruel to one another as well as how they can be true friends. If you like the character of Elsie Edwards, stick with this author and find out how she grows up with How Do You Lose Those Ninth Grade Blues? as a young adult selection, followed by Seventeen and In-between.

#7 The Babysitter’s Club: Kristy’s Great Idea

I read the entire series in grade school, and of course all the super special editions as well! As a 2014 parent it is interesting to think about how much independence and responsibility Kristy Thomas and her friends take on as they start their babysitting business together.

#8 The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White

Louis is a trumpeter swan, but not only is he not able to trumpet joyfully, he can’t make a sound. The sweet story of how he overcomes this handicap is a must-read, especially for Bostonians.

#9 Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

This delightful story of Mr. Popper the housepainter and his house full of penguins will delight children of all ages.

#10 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Misselthwaite Manor, a secret garden, and a boy locked behind closed doors. Need I say more? Dive into this wonderful, enchanting classic.

Maegan’s Summer Reading Log

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

Stanley Lambchop is a regular boy until one day a bulletin board falls on top of him and makes him flat. He is about my size except he is only one inch thick! He learns there are a lot of things you can do when you are flat, like slip under doors, be a kite for someone, and mail yourself in a giant envelope.

I have my own Flat Stanley I can take around with me this summer. I wonder where we should take him?

Grimmtastic Girls: Cinderella Stays Late  by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Cinderella is just starting at Grimm Academy. She finds out that the lockers they have are actually trunks that stand up the tall way!  She makes three new friends: Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood, and Snow White. Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater’s pumpkin gets lost, but the friends find a map that shows where the pumpkin is going. If it jumps over a certain wall, it would be in “our” world and not the Grimm Academy world. The mystery is continued to the next book, which is called Red Riding Hood Gets Lost. I can’t wait to read it.

Ivy & Bean Take the Case (#10) by Annie Barrows

I love Ivy & Bean. They didn’t like each other at first but now they are friends. In this story Bean watches a mystery TV show and the girls decide they want to make their own mystery TV show. They do not make a TV show in the end but they are happy anyway because they thought it was fun just pretending to have their own show.

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