Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summer Reading--August

August reading....

  1. The Lord of Opium Nancy Farmer This book takes up where its sequel, The House of the Scorpion, left, and the action doesn't stop!! Matt is now the Lord of Opium (it's not just the name of the book!) and he needs to establish his power--now. It's probably at least a fourth grade reading/content level.
  2. No Passengers Beyond This Point Gennifer Choldenko India, Finn, and Mouse aren't thrilled when they learn they must leave their house, but the plot takes a wild twist when the plane to Uncle Red's lands them in a strange world. There they must work together to escape. The only problem is that they are three very diverse siblings. Anyone old enough to read could read this (including first graders--one of the protagonists is six!)
  3. The People of Sparks Jeanne DuPrau The citizens of Ember find themselves with strange new people in a strange new world. When they don't have any other choice, they stay in a village, but the people aren't too happy. It doesn't take long before the mutterings of "intruders" spark into something bigger.... Can Doon and Lina save their city again? Third grade up reading level. 
  4. The Prophet of Yonwood Jeanne DuPrau The third book in the Ember quartet, The Prophet of Yonwood steps away from Ember into the time during the Crisis. Nickie is a girl with a mission in the secluded town of Yonwood: keep Greenhaven, her late great-grandfather's house. With the war looming over the people's heads, she struggles to decipher many things about the town, from the lady everyone listens to called the Prophet to her father's strange postcards, while completing this.
  5. The Diamond of Darkhold Jeanne DuPrau Doon and Lina are back with Ember where they try to uncover their city's secrets. The journey back leads them to some clues which they try to decipher, for the good of the villagers as well as their own curiosity.
  6. Every Soul a Star Wendy Mass I. Love. This. Book!!! Ally has loved living at Moon Shadow Camp almost her whole life, preparing for this eclipse. Bree is being dragged out to Moon Shadow Camp for it. And Jack comes as a way to escape the world and summer school. All three stories become intertwined with the eclipse forewarning the end/beginning of many adventures the whole time. I. Just. Love. It!!! (It's not a hard book to read, as with all Wendy Mass books, but I suggest third grade on up.)
  7. Doll Bones Holly Black When the Queen of their games comes to life in Poppy's dreams, she and her best friends Zach and Alice embark on a quest to put the old china doll to rest. Or will the doll's mysterious past get in the way? Slightly spooky, but not too much, it would be a good book for fourth or fifth or sixth graders.
  8. Ghost Hawk Susan Cooper Another greeeeeeeat book!!!!! Little Hawk must survive the winter on his own to prove he is a man, but that is just the start of his troubles! The white men are taking his peoples' land and giving them lethal diseases. But what can he do? Then he meets John, a young English boy who changes his life. Little Hawk and John are an unlikely pair, but their unique friendship and story give an amazing story! (Hint/Suggestion/Not Really A Spoiler: There's a point in the story where you will want to stop reading, but you. Must. Not!)
  9. The Chicago World's Fair JoAnne Grote This is a short book featuring the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and Esther and Ted, two cousins distraught about their city's poverty. While the Fair is the center of the book, when they return to Minneapolis they come up with a plan to help others. Can two twelve-year-olds really make a difference?
  10. Fair Weather Richard Peck Rosie has never been much farther off her family's farm than the town, until a letter from her city-dwelling aunt comes inviting the family to the Chicago World's Fair. The plot is well-written and the Fair described well, but my favorite aspect is her eccentric Granddad! Most likely a fourth grade reading level and up, but my mom enjoyed it, too.
  11. Stealing Magic Marianne Malone Sequel to The Sixty-Eight Rooms, Ruthie and Jack are back. While they are exploring the rooms, they realize that some of the pieces are missing! Who could it be.... Same reading level as The Sixty-Eight Rooms.

Shorter chapter books:
  1. Judy Moody Goes to College Megan McDonald Second-third grade level (explains why my sister was reading it too, I guess.)
  2. Drangonbreath Ursula Vernon Apart from being a "mythical" dragon that can't breathe fire, Danny Dragonbreath also has terrible grades and no fear. The latter comes in handy when he visits his uncle for an essay about the ocean! This is a total read-aloud book--it's very funny!
  3. My Weird School Daze: Mrs. Dole is Out of Control! Dan Gutman Another great read aloud with crazy characters!
  4. My Weird School: Mr. Carbles is Losing his Marbles! Dan Gutman The superintendent and the principal are in a "war"! What can A.J. do?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Summer Reading--July

Here's what I read in July that's kind of my grade-level:
  1. Warriors: The Power of Three: Sunrise Erin Hunter An... interesting conclusion to the series/introduction to the next. 
  2. Jake and Lily Jerry Spinelli I've heard a lot about this book, so I decided to read it. It really gave me a new look on how being a twin can be difficult! All in all, I enjoyed it. Again, my first-going-into-second grade sister is reading it; the reading is easy, but I think it's geared more towards fifth-ish grade.
  3. Warriors Super Edition: Firestar's Quest Erin Hunter Taking place between the first and second Warriors series, this book follows Firestar and Sandstorm as they attempt to bring back SkyClan. The plot is very good for a stand-alone, and the SkyClan cats have very unique characteristics! Probably the same grade-level as the rest of Warriors.
  4. Spy School Stuart Gibbs I discovered this book through the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program, and LOVED it! The characters, the plot, the details, and the style of writing all appealed to me; it's a fourth-fifth-six grade book.
  5. The Sixty-Eight Rooms Marianne Malone When Ruthie and Jack discover a key in the Thorne Rooms, they find a puzzling mystery that takes them back in time.... Fourth grade level, but my mom enjoyed it, too. :)
  6. All the Wrong Questions: When Did You See Her Last? Lemony Snicket As with most books by the same author, this book was confusing and had a surprising ending--but in a good way! Anyone who can read it could read it, but it takes some deciphering! 
  7. Loser Jerry Spinelli A fantastic book about a boy who doesn't quite seem to fit in, and yet sees others in a way only he can. The climax comes when he is in fifth grade, so fifth graders could probably relate the best.
  8. Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library Chris Gabenstein This seemed to be a zany/cool cross between different books--from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to The Westing Game to The Candy Makers--that had interesting characters. I loved the creativity the author used to think of the library itself and the clues integrated within. While everyone can enjoy this, the one downside was that it was really hard to figure out the clues for yourself....
  9. Poached Stuart Gibbs After reading Spy School, I decided to try another Gibbs book, and once again loved it! Poached is about Teddy, a boy who lives at a giant zoo in Texas, and the kidnapping of a koala. I made the mistake of reading it BEFORE Poached, as it actually comes after. Probably the same reading level as Spy School.
  10. The City of Ember Jeanne Duprau I can't really describe anything without giving the ending away, but let's just say Lina and Doon's city is falling apart, and they seem to be the only ones who notice or care.... Probably upper-elementary school level.
  11. Schooled Gordon Korman Capricorn Anderson is a middle-school hippie, and when his grandmother falls out of a tree, he must learn how to survive amidst bullies. Probably middle school reading level.
  12. The Sixty-Eight Rooms Marianne Malone Yes, I read it twice.

Other shorter kids' books:
  1. My Weirder School: Miss Child has Gone Wild! Dan Gutman These are funny, with oddball characters, including the protagonist who happens to hate school. I think first-second grade on up would be fine reading this series. 
  2. Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid Megan McDonald Two words: Poor salamander!
  3. Stink and The Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker Megan McDonald Second-grade level....

Notable picture books:
  1. Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard Annette LeBlanc Cate This was very informative, and kept my attention--mostly because the birds had a ton of funny comments!
  2. The Road to Oz Kathleen Krull This is about L. Frank Baum and how he came to write The Wizard of Oz. It, too, is informative, and the illustrations are beautiful.
  3. I'm in Charge of Celebrations Byrd Baylor I happened to see this at my grandma's house, decided to read it, and found it VERY different than what I expected! A girl throws celebrations for "ordinary" desert wonders, explaining them in poetry-type stanzas. The style of writing was my favorite here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Reading -- June

Hello again!!

For this summer, I'm keeping track of all the books I read, or at least the chapter books, because I read a gazillion picture books, too. :)

Here's what I read in June that is or is slightly below a sixth grade reading level:

  1. Warriors: The New Prophecy: Starlight Erin Hunter This is a great series; I'm not quite sure why I never read Warriors before. I'm not an It's probably at a fourth to sixth grade reading level, although younger kids (like my first grade sister) can read and enjoy them, as are most other Warriors books.
  2. Warriors: The New Prophecy: Twilight Erin Hunter Same series....
  3. Stones in Water Donna Jo Napoli A FANTASTIC historical fiction about a non-Jewish boy in World War II. The reading level could easily be fourth grade, but some of the content is more of a fifth or sixth grade level.
  4. Warriors: The New Prophecy: Sunset Erin Hunter Same as before....
  5. Warriors: The Power of Three: The Sight Erin Hunter This is a well-written hook to the next Warriors series; I like the way the new characters are introduced. (A note on the entire Warriors series: you MUST read the books in order, or else nothing will make sense! [This is more true for the different series than the stand alone books.])
  6. Warriors: The Power of Three: Dark River Erin Hunter The plot in this one is AWESOME!!
  7. Warriors: The Power of Three: Outcast Erin Hunter Same series....
  8. Warriors: The Power of Three: Eclipse Erin Hunter There are very mysterious characters in this book!
  9. Masterpiece Elise Broach I'll admit, when I first started this I didn't love it. But you MUST keep reading because I loved everything about it: from the way the main character is a beetle to the deceptive twists in the plot! I think most fourth graders would have no problem reading it; but it is something art enthusiasts of all ages would enjoy.
  10. Warriors: The Power of Three: Long Shadows Erin Hunter I think this was my favorite book in the series because the perspective switch is very important here and many puzzling enigmas are revealed.

This is what else I read (excluding picture books) in June:
  1. The Lemonade War Series: The Bell Bandit Jacqueline Davies A good series with vocabulary words at the start of each chapter based on the books' topic/theme, although it's definitely aimed toward lower elementary school (first-fourth grade). (Note: This isn't the first book in the series.)
  2. The Lemonade War Series: The Candy Smash Jacqueline Davies Same series....
  3. Geronimo Stilton: Paws Off, Cheddarface! Elisabetta Dami Another humorous series where the main characters are mice. (Note: This isn't the first book in the series.)
  4. Kit: Kit Learns a Lesson: A School Story Valerie Tripp An American Girl book; it tells the reader interesting facts about life in the Great Depression. (I read this back in first grade, but now my sister is reading the series so I just picked it up one day.)
  5. Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake Barbara Park No comment. 
  6. The Lemonade War Series: The Magic Trap Jacqueline Davies Same as before....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Penderwicks, Jeoanne Birdsall, 262 pages

Forty-fourth grade...

I mean, fourth grade.

This was the second time I read The Penderwicks, and again I thought it was awesome. What's The Penderwicks? It is a very exciting "summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy," as it says on the cover, and I must agree. The author did an excellent job making pictures in my mind as well as using good descriptive words. I like many of them, but I don't remember to use them often... Here are the ones I liked best: fate, glare, discussion, cozy, exhausted, dwelling, swampy, creamiest, glorious. I like them because all of them have a synonym, but they are all better at describing than their synonyms. An example is discussion: you could say conversation, but a discussion is more of a lively, interactive, exciting conversation then just.. a conversation. I hope you get the idea. And of course, if you want to see more, you can read it yourself!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White, 252 pages, WARNING: this also spoils a tiny bit

Fourth grade (but it could be anywhere between third and fifth grade)...

The Trumpet of the Swan is truly a different book than you might expect. It involves way more than you would think from the cover and title. It also involves a problem and a solution. The problem is that a trumpeter swan, Lois, is born dumb, not being able to speak. When he and his family migrate, he falls in love with a young swam, and his heart is broken when she ignores him because he is unable to call to her. The cob, Lois' father, decides he must find one of the "brass things that is called a trumpet and teach Lois how to play it so he can be able to call to that good-for-nothing young swan!" And so he sets out and manages to steal a trumpet from an instrument shop for Lois. So after having a visit with Sam, his friend, and learning how to read and write and acquires a chalkboard and chalk to communicate with humans, Lois sets out to earn some money. Sam says his camp is in need of a bugler. Lois finds his first job, which leads him to more. Once he has earned over $5000, Lois returns to his home, meets the swan he loves, and manages to catch her attention. Then Lois gives the money to his father, who returns it to the store, and comes home safely again. Lois is overjoyed and thanks his father.

I know, I know. It's long. Sorry. And it spoils some parts. Sorry. But it's a summary. And you can't exactly summarize without either spoiling or cliffhanging. Sorry.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Year of Mrs. Agnes, Kirkpatrick Hill, 113 pages

Again, fourth grade (though it's more like a third grade level)...

This book, The Year of Mrs. Agnes, is told by Frederika (Fred for short) and how their fish-smelling village never holds more one teacher for long. That's until Mrs. Agnes comes. Maybe it's because she can't smell, but for whatever reason, she stays.She goes away, and Fred is afraid that she is just like the other teachers, but in the end, she comes back to teach for another school year.

At the end, it kind of leaves me hanging, wanting to know more about what happens the next school year. Does she change at all? Does the school change at all? Do the pupils change at all? Does anything change? I suggest the author write a sequel, and tell about how this year was different from the first, or make the book longer, as it's just a little more than 100 pages or so. However, overall, I liked this book and (I know you know what I'm going to say:) I recommend it!

The Witches, Roald Dahl, 208 pages; WARNING: This slightly spoils the book!

From fourth grade as well...

Our entire fourth grade recently (not so recent not that I am almost in sixth grade) just read one of Roald Dahl's best books, The Witches. It is about a boy whose parents dies and his adventures with his grandmamma in the Hotel Magnificent, where they are staying for the summer. The boy's grandmamma prepares him for any encounter with a witch, but he isn't ready when he comes face-to-face with the Grand High Witch of All the World. Along with this encounter, he overhears the witches' masterplan (how do rid the world of children) and gets turned into a mouse by the Grand High Witch herself. The boy finds Grandmamma and together they think of a plan to stop the witches' plan in several ways, all to be able to complete in eight years time, when the boy, now a mouse with a short life, and his grandmamma, at an old age, will die together knowing that they have done a good deed.

I modified this because the actual version ruined the entire plot and excitement of the whole book, so it would actually be four sentences longer, but I changed it to one...