Tag Archives: children’s books

The Magic Tree House – Review

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The Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne

Ages: 6-9 years old

On their way home from school, Jack and Annie stumble across a mysterious tree house in the tallest tree in the woods. Inside the tree house are old books, and new books. And books that can take you into new worlds with new adventures. For Jack and Annie, they are taken into the long lost land the dinosaurs.

Jack is the older brother at 8 and a half years old. Annie is the rambunctious, and curious 7 year old. In the first installment in a series of over 70 books in the span of a decade, Jack and Annie explore the land of the dinosaurs, making friends and trying to find a way home before they become dinosaur dinner. The Magic Tree House series began in 1992, and I feel like that the last children’s librarian to read this title. The series incredibly popular with kids. I would highly recommend this book to young readers that enjoy either adventure or fantasy books. Jack and Annie are very simple characters, and there are no greater themes underlying the story. It is a simple adventure story of a boy who loves to learn and a girl with a world of imagination at her disposal. I think these two kids are very lucky. Who wouldn’t want to find a mysterious tree house filled with books that can take you anywhere in space or time?

The Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark
by Mary Pope Osborne
Random House, 1992
ISBN 0679824111
68 pages

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Find this book at your local library

The Mysterious Benedict Society – Review

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Age Group: 4th-9th grade

Reny, Sticky, Kate and Constance are four highly intelligent children that who have been selected to be a part of the Mysterious Benedict Society after taking a series of cryptic tests. The challenge for the group is to infiltrate  the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, a special school located on an island. Their mental and physical strengths are pushed to the limit as they go deep undercover to uncover a most corrupt plot by the headmaster, Mr. Curtain.

I listened to this book on Audiocd, and it was a lot of fun. The four children are smart, funny and each has their own personality. Reny is the automatic leader, the quick thinker. Sticky memorizes everything he reads in an instant, but is shy and fidgety. Kate is a girl who carries around a bucket of tools and has a keen sense of perception when it comes to judging distances. Constance is incredibly short, stubborn and falls asleep a lot. The four of them work together well as they navigate their way through the LIVE and try to uncover the truth. They survive through the infamous waiting room, discover the whisperer and still have to deal with bullies at their school, all the while transmitting their findings in morse code to their partners on the shore.

This book is filled with puzzles and riddles that would make for a fun read for any child. They can test themselves against the characters. There are important themes of loyalty and friendship. This book makes learning and being smart fun because of all the fun ways the kids can use their intellect.

The Mysterious Benedict Society
by Trenton Lee Stewart
Read by Del Roy
Little, Brown, 2007
Listening Library Audio-cd
11 discs

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Find this book at your local library

Living in a graphic novel world

Browsing through the Juvenile books section at the library today, I came across the J Graphic Novel section. I’m surprised to see so many of my favorite childhood classics transformed into newer, edgier versions. When I was little, there was only Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes. Now it seems like any book that was popular with kids is now a graphic novel.  Not that I’m complaining. I like comic books and graphic novels. Its just interesting how reading is evolving for kids. First there were no children’s books, then slowly children’s books began to evolve and develop. They were broken up into sections: picture books, easy readers, chapter books. And now they all seems to merge into comic book form.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea The Demon of River Heights (Nancy Drew Graphic Novels: Girl Detective #1)


Mad House (Hardy Boys Graphic Novels: Undercover Brothers #3) (No. 3)

Favorites

I know I’m not the only person that has a set of books that you keep around because you love, adore and want to read and reread for the rest of your life. Some books are wonderful, but like fads, their appeal wans after time. Some books just hit so close to home that no matter what happens, that book will always be a part of your life.

I read much more as a minor than I did once I got to college and lost a good chunk of my free time. Most of my favorite books are from my childhood, but I was an advanced reader. I read Interview with the Vampire when I was 11 because my parents wouldn’t let me watch the movie. I couldn’t get into the rest of Anne Rice’s books. The rest of the books seemed like mockaries of the Interview with the Vampire, so I after Queen of the Damned I stopped reading the rest of the books in the series.

My favorite Children’s book:

Most people would expect me to say Harry Potter, but alas, this topic goes to a children’s book of my childhood. The Princess and the Goblin. I read this book when I was in 4th grade, and it was such a wonderful little fairy tale, written so sarcastically by George MacDonald originally published in 1872. I may have read it at least 5 times between the ages of 7-10. This book was pretty influential in my life, as most of the books I went on to read had a fair amount of sarcasm and adult humor to it. I didn’t watch Sesame Street growing up. I did watch a few cartoons, but mostly I was raised by talk shows and soap operas (All My Children), and YA books.

Favorite Love Story:

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffengger. This book is just amazing. The main character is a librarian in Chicago with a genetic disease that allows him to time travel, although not voluntarily. Every time he travels, he shows up somewhere naked and is constantly struggling to survive. To survive against natural elements, against society, even against himself. Then only things that keep him stationary are his love for Claire, a girl he’s known since her childhood when he would go back in time, and running. I could gush about this book forever. I read it at a time when my boyfriend and I had just started a long distance relationship, and I could relate to the characters. Seeing your loved one in little spurts of time, not sure when you would see them again, and trying to make the best and most of each visit. I’m very nervous about the movie version of this book. I can only hope it does justice to the book.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Almost anything by Neil Gaiman, and George R.R. Martin’s Saga of Fire and Ice series. Masters in their own rights, able to create detailed worlds that rival Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I can’t pick out specific books to talk about with Neil Gaiman, because each thing he has written and published is so different from the rest of his work. He has his foot in nearly every field of creativity except for music. My favorites include American Gods and Neverwhere (Neverwhere was the first Gaiman book I read).  Stardust I am not particularly fond of, but Anansi Boys is hilarious.

William Saroyan.

A very popular Armenian-American author that is close to my heart because popular Armenian anything is so hard to find outside of Glendale, CA. His book The Human Comedy is very much like Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat, but deals with rural life in Fresno, CA. It tells the story of two brothers in Fresno and their lives. That sentence sounds so bland. But its a story about family and optimism and loyalty.