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

 

Ryan’s Summer Reading Log #2: Ranger’s Apprentice

Ranger’s Apprentice Book Four: The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan

This is the fourth book in John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series. This story is set in medieval times. It is about a boy named Will, an orphan who wants to be a warrior. When he asks Sir Rodney, the principal of Battle School, if he can be an apprentice in Battle School, he is told he is too small. He ends up becoming an apprentice of a Ranger; this is perfect for Will because he is quick and quiet. The kingdom is split into 50 fiefs; each fief has a Ranger to protect it. The Rangers Corps is a group of people who are expert archers who can blend in with their surroundings.

In book four, The Battle of Skandia, Will and Evanlyn, who is secretly a princess, have just escaped from slavery in the kingdom of Skandia. They are found by friends, but quickly discover that an army from a kingdom to the east is trying to conquer the entire western hemisphere. The four adventurers eventually team up with the people who captured Will and Evanlyn in the first place to defeat this army.

This series is cool because it is set in a different time period, there are a lot of interesting creatures in this world, and there is a lot of action. It is also a tale of friendship between Will and Horace, who are unlikely friends because they are so different.

Another series by John Flanagan is The Brotherband Chronicles, which is also really good, but I recommend starting with the Ranger’s Apprentice series first. I also recently downloaded a Ranger’s Apprentice app for my iPod; it’s a cool archery training game.

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