Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book: Enchanted Glass

Wynne Jones, D. (2010). Enchanted glass. New York, NY: HarperCollins

Genre:  Fantasy, Magic, Family

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10+

Similar Titles: Chronicles of Chrestomancy

Plot: Melstone House was left to Andrew Brandon Hope by his grandfather, a powerful magician who died of old age. Andrew is just getting used to the situation when he is surprised with the arrival of an orphan Aidan Cain. Aidan just lost his grandmother and goes to Melstone House for help when he finds himself in magical trouble. Andrew and Aidan both are inexperienced with magic and need to rely on their creativity to deal with various problems that crop up. The friends they make and other members of the community are all that stand between a great evil and Aidan – will Aidan prevail against the evil threatening him?

Personal Thoughts: I love all of Dianna Wynne Jones' books. I enjoy the humor in this book. This book also manages to send a positive message about believing in yourself and being brave. The book is filled with zany characters like weredogs and giants – the cast is truly amusing.

Book: Northward to the Moon

Horvath, P. (2010). Northward to the moon. New York, NY: Random House

Genre:  Adventure, Family

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 11+

Similar Titles: My One Hundred Adventures, Savvy

Plot: Now thirteen-year-old Jane, is back in the sequel to My One Hundred Adventures. In this book, Jane and her siblings along with her mother and her new husband Ned have moved away from their Massachusetts house to Saskatchewan, Canada. Now another adventure begins as they go on a road trip to find out more about Ned's past. They end up visiting a Native American tribe and then going on an even longer road trip down to Nevada and eventually back to their Massachusetts home. During one part of their adventure, Jane is embarrassed when she overhears Ned ask the ranch hand she has a crush on to just take her riding because it is obvious that she has a crush on him. Jane comes to realize just exactly what she has been looking for when it comes to having adventures.

Personal Thoughts:  The book was an interesting read and goes into the different types of relationship kids have with adults. I think this book is good at showing some of the flaws that adults have and that kids really have no choice in how things turn out – they just need to remain positive. There is a moment where Jane develops a crush on a ranch hand at the horse ranch and overhears him being called "sex-on-a-stick," that may shock some, but overall, this is a book that will leave you thinking.

Book: My One Hundred Adventures

Horvath, P. (2008). My one hundred adventures. New York, NY: Random House

Genre:  Adventure

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 11+

Similar Titles: Olivia Kidney, Savvy

Awards:  Won Sheila A. Egoff Children's Prize (2009), Nominated for West Virginia Children's Book Award (2009)

Plot: Twelve-year-old Jane is the daughter of a Pulitzer winning poet mother. She lives with her mother and siblings in a coastal Massachusetts town. Jane longs for adventures, and during this summer vacation, she gets them. From a wild balloon ride being tricked by an grumpy lady, Jane's summer is looking to be anything but boring. There are also revelations about who Jane and her siblings' fathers may be, which can be both exciting and scary. Throughout the book, Jane learns many things about herself and learns how to deal with different types of adults.

Personal Thoughts: I thought this book was pretty complex and the characters were interesting. The types of situations that Jane gets into and the fact that there are adults that don't pay that much attention makes you wonder how kids will react. This is one of those books that would make children think about the different types of families out there and how they are still families. This book will leave readers thinking.
There are references to drinking and smoking by adults, gin is offered to a child, but fortunately, that child says no. There are references to abuse as well. Also, Jane's siblings all have different fathers and their mom doesn't tell them who they are. 

Web Comic: Copper

Kibuishi, K. (2002-2007). Copper. Retrieved from http://www.boltcity.com/copper/

Genre: Humor, Adventure

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: Amulet

Plot: Copper and his dog Fred live in Bolt City (also Kazu Kibushi's website). Copper and Fred go on many adventures, like when they go fishing. Fred insists that the lake is broken when he isn't able to catch anything. Another amusing tale is when Fred insists that he will keep the bunny he found in the park, well Copper thinks that the bunny has a family… The two also discuss shopping strategies – how it is important to know exactly what you want when you go into a store and not get fooled into purchasing something else. Each of the comics featuring Fred and Copper are funny, read the book or go to the website!

Personal Thoughts: This web comic is also available in print format. I found it nice to be able to preview the panel comics online. I liked the fact that these can be read at your own speed and that you don't need to read them in a certain order. The comic itself is funny and I love the colorful artwork.

Also - you can go to the website and see the process of how this comic is made - from the pencil sketches, to inking to coloring.  - http://www.boltcity.com/workshop/copper_tutorial/index.html  - maybe you want to try making your own comic? See how it's done!

Graphic Novel: Amulet: Book One – The Stonekeepers

Kibuishi, K. (2008). The stonekeepers (Vol. 1). New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.

Genre: Humor, Adventure

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: Copper

Plot: Emily and Navin are two kids who lost their father two years ago; along with their mother, they move into an old house that needs a lot of work. As they explore the house, Emily finds a necklace and insists that Nevin put in on her. Soon after, they are drawn down to the basement by some strange noise, but are surprised by the creature with tentacles that kidnaps their mom. Emily and Navin have no choice but to follow. They end up in a strange world where the necklace gives aid to Emily, guiding her through crazy floating mushrooms and away from danger. They soon learn that the amulet has chosen Emily to inherit its power and that they will receive aid from a pink bunny named Miskit. Could the necklace have power to turn back time - back to when their father was alive? Emily and Navin go on an interesting adventure as they explore the world of Alledia and try to save their mother.

Personal Thoughts: This is an interesting graphic novel. It combines fantasy and a touch of sci-fi. The artwork is amazing and pages are full color. The story starts out a little sad as the father literally falls of a cliff in his car, but somehow there is a positive message throughout the book about the importance of family. The characters go together well and create an interesting cast that makes you want to learn more about their world.

Book: The Chestnut King

Wilson, N.D. (2010). The chestnut King. New York, NY: Random House, Inc

Genre:  Fantasy, Sci-fi

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10+

Similar Titles: 100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire

Plot: This is the third book in the trilogy. Things got rather dicey in the last book, but we at least know that Darius has been defeated…but things are not all rainbows and sunshine yet! The evil witch Nimiane is able to enter Henry's dreams and she has also captured the royal family. His family is captured, and Henry and Henrietta are on the run. Things are looking bad as Nimiane uses her power to send forces after Henry with the intent to capture him – Henry has no choice but to go and ask for the aid of the Chestnut King. Will the Chestnut King be able to help? Or will his price be too high?

Personal Thoughts: This third book gets even darker as things begin to reveal themselves and Henry is forced to make important choices. The book offers a conclusion to all the questions readers may have had about the cupboards. There is still a little humor mixed in with some of the horror, making it an exciting read.

Book: Dandelion Fire

Wilson, N.D. (2009). Dandelion Fire. New York, NY: Random House, Inc

Genre:  Fantasy, Sci-fi

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10+

Similar Titles: 100 Cupboards, The Chesnut King

Plot: In this second book of the 100 Cupboards series, Henry finds himself receiving letters… but where do these letters come from? Why, the cupboards, of course! The letters are addressed to the Whimpering Child, and he figures out that they are for him… how disturbing. To add to the situation, his parents have been found and he will soon be sent back to them…but things get worse rather quickly as his aunt, uncle and cousins all get sucked into one of the cupboards along with his friend Zeke and a policeman to boot! Now Henry has to rescue everyone while keeping away from Darius and Nimiane – two evil beings with their own agendas. More secrets about the cupboards are revealed in this book along with several surprises.

Personal Thoughts: The second book is just as good as the first and continues Henry's story. I thought the character was developing well and clearly growing. The adventures are getting a little more scary and perilous. One of the lessons in this book is that nothing is quite as it seems.

Book: 100 Cupboards

Wilson, N.D. (2007). 100 cupboards. New York, NY: Random House, Inc

Genre:  Fantasy

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10+

Similar Titles: Dandelion Fire, The Chesnut King

Plot: Henry York's life gets interesting when he goes to live with his aunt and uncle in a small Kansas town. He meets his cousins – all girls - Penny, Henrietta, and Anastasia. Usually, Henry is off at boarding school while his parents are traveling around the world – unfortunately, while on a biking trip across South America, his parents have disappeared, which is why he is with family. Henry is put in the attic room and while there he hears some noises coming from the wall… which piques his interest…soon he realizes that there's a knob sticking out of the wall! Since finding a knob in the wall is not a normal occurrence, Henry starts to scrape off more of the plaster wall and finds an assortment of cupboards. His cousin Henrietta catches him in the act and wants to know what he is doing… so what is he doing? Henry has a chance to explore the worlds that are inside the many cupboards in the wall…some are interesting, while others are downright scary! Is what these kids are doing safe? Surely opening all of these cupboards is just inviting something bad to happen.

Personal Thoughts: I thought this book was very original. The story is very well written and includes a little bit of humor. The book shows how Henry learns to make friends and learns about baseball. The relationship between Henry and Henrietta is complicated because of Henrietta's tendency to do things her way, often causing trouble.
There may be some darker fantasy parts that would make kids under ten a little bothered by what they are reading – like the fact that a hand is cut off (off page).

Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Kinney, J. (2007). Diary of a wimpy kid. New York, NY: Abrams

Genre:  Humor, Friendship

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 7-13

Similar Titles: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Awards: Nominated for Quill Awards (2007), Won Original Voices Award (2007), Won Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award (2009), Won Garden State Children's Book Awards (2010)

Plot: It is widely known that girls keep diaries… but boys? Really? Well that's the case in this book… except it is a JOURNAL not a diary. Greg Heffley tells about his life, starting with the misery he faces as being the middle child. His younger brother's antics are labeled "cute" by his parents and yet when Greg does something wrong, he gets in trouble. Then there is his older brother, who picks on him – so not fun. Greg also tells about his adventures in middle school… things start out okay, after all, there is his friend Rowley to keep him company…but soon his friend is gaining popularity while Greg…well, let's just say that Greg realizes that he can tag along on his friend's coat tails… this is where things get a bit interesting… will their friendship be ruined?

Personal Thoughts: This was a funny book. Greg is just slightly clueless about how to stay out of trouble, making the book an amusing read. I thought that the book is good for beginner readers and older kids as well because of the pictures on the pages – it makes things fun and easy too. There aren't any bad words in the book – the worst would be "jerk." The book has also been made into a movie.

 An interesting thing to do - WIMP YOURSELF!! Go to the website below to create your own wimpy self. Here's me!

Book: Cosmic

Cottrell Boyce, F. (2010). Cosmic. New York, NY: Walden Pond Press

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: The Amber Spyglass

Plot: Twelve-year-old Liam is slightly different than the other kids his age… Liam is often mistaken for an adult – why? – well, Liam is really tall…and he has facial hair. In this book, Liam takes advantage of his adult-like looks and along with his friend, Florida, they walk right into places where children would need to be accompanied by an adult! (how cool is that?!) When Liam and Florida go somewhere, they look like father and daughter, allowing them to see all sorts of things they'd technically have to wait until they were old enough to see. Soon, Liam and Florida have an adventure of their own when the Drax Foundation gives him an invite to a space-themed amusement park (really a top secret rocket launch pad!!)  - the guy in charge, Dr. Drax, wants to build a space hotel and he needs Liam (whom he thinks is an adult) to be the chauffer of the rocket taking a bunch of kids to space. Well… let's just say things go wrong and the launch buttons are pushed in the wrong order (oops!)… so now Liam is stuck orbiting around the moon… will he and the kids with him ever get back to Earth?

Personal Thoughts: This was truly a great book. This adventure story is really fun to read – I mean, what kid wouldn't like to be able to "be an adult" to take advantage of all the things they wouldn't need to get permission for?! There are valuable lessons and humor scattered throughout this book that make it all the more interesting. Boys may like this book a little more than girls, but that doesn't mean an adventure-seeking girl wouldn't enjoy it.

Book: The Boneshaker

Milford, K. (2010). The boneshaker. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade

Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Steam Punk

Reading/Interest Level:  Ages 10+

Similar Titles: Hunger Games

Plot: Thirteen-year-old Natalie Minks loves to tinker with machines; she works in her mechanic father's shop. Her main interests are in making automaton – or machines that move, clockwork machines like a small flyer. The town of Arcane, Missouri is a little town where things are very different from the ordinary things you'd expect to happen in the early 1900s. Natalie's mother has told her about the blues musician who had a showdown with the Devil at the crossroads…raised with stories like this Natalie begins to wonder if certain things may be true. When Doctor Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show comes to town she begins having visions; soon she realizes she may be the only one to stop evil from winning. 

Personal Thoughts: I thought that this book was very steam punk/sci-fi as well as a little fantasy. Natalie must problem solve and figure out creative ways to keep everyone safe. There are scary parts in this book, as well as some creepy bits – it is an edge-of-your-seat one minute to a hide-under-the-covers the next, book. The book deals with Natalie's mother's illness, so there are some serious tones to what the author wrote. This book also deals with pacts with the devil, so it may not be a good choice for all. 

On a side note - the boneshaker is also the name of one of the first types of bicycles (^_^)
the name boneshaker was "used from about 1869 up to the present time, to refer to the first type of true bicycle with pedals, which was called "velocipede" (from the Latin for "fast foot") by its manufacturers. "Boneshaker" refers to the extremely uncomfortable ride, which was caused by the stiff wrought-iron frame and wooden wheels surrounded by tires made of iron."  - Wikipedia

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book: Falling In

O'Roark  Dowell, F. (2010). Falling in. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Genre: Fantasy

Reading/Interest Level:Ages  8-12

Similar Titles: Alice in Wonderland

Plot: Living in her own world, sixth grader Isabelle Bean has a hard time fitting in. She has no one in the world but her mother, and that mother has a hard time understanding her daughter. Isabelle longs for a place to belong and she thinks she may have found that when she opens a closet door and falls into a completely different world where there are witches who eat children and other strange things. Isabelle has to work hard at convincing the children that she herself is not a witch and then to help them overcome their fears. 

Personal Thoughts: This is an interesting book about fitting in. The author does a good job in creating a world that seems very real. The read is quick and interesting and the characters help move the story along. Throughout the book, Dowell adds little comments to the reader – which could bother some people. Overall, I liked the book and the message that it sent – about labels and misconceptions.

Book: The 39 Clues: One False Note (Book Two)

Korman, G. (2008). One false note. New York, NY: Scholastic

Genre: Adventure, Mystery

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10+

Similar Titles: Artemis Fowl, The Mysterious Benedict Society

Plot: The race to find more of the 39 clues continues. Amy and Dan are forced to use their brains and creativity to beat the others in getting the clues. This book focuses on music and the famous European composer Mozart. In One False Note, Dan, Amy and their au pair Nelli travelling to Vienna, Salzburg and Venice. During their adventure, they learn about the music Mozart composed and various musical instruments. Many dangerous situations arise as the trio is forced to deal with family members willing to do anything to get the treasure. 

Personal Thoughts: This second installment of the series is centered in music, which I thought was clever, because it is yet another way to learn about something new. The descriptions of Austria will also possibly make readers want to learn about what the country is like. The book has action but to some the choices of the characters may seem predictable.

Book: The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones (Book One)

Riordan, R. (2008). The maze of bones. New York, NY: Scholastic

Genre: Adventure, Mystery

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10+

Similar Titles: Artemis Fowl, The Mysterious Benedict Society

Plot: Amy and Dan are orphans – their family is very powerful and is related to many important people in history. Their grandmother Grace, upon her death, leaves 39 clues scattered across the globe - the clues need to be found before someone bad gets their hands on the hidden treasure. The treasure is rumored to be very powerful. There are many people after this treasure, six teams in all – and Amy and Dan want to be the ones to get there first and with the help of their au pair Nellie they may just have the skills to unravel the mysterious clues. Will Dan's mathematical skills help solve puzzles? Will Amy's knowledge of books get them out of crazy situations?

Personal Thoughts: This is an interesting first book to a series. I thought it was an okay read, though nothing like Riordan's other books – a lot of seems to have been removed/dumbed down – his other books are better. The series is written by different authors, making me wonder how it will fit together.
The book is a little violent at times but its more of a cartoon-type violence.

Book: Half Moon Investigations

Colfer, E. (2007). Half moon investigations. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers

Genre: Adventure, Mystery

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10+

Similar Titles: Artemis Fowl, Encyclopedia Brown

Award: Nominated for Young Reader's Choice Award in 2009 and the Maine Student Book Award in 2007

Plot: Fletcher Moon is different – he's short, earning him the nickname "Half Moon" and he's got a talent for sniffing out mysteries. He is a certified detective, the youngest one in the world, and has a detective's badge to make things official. Fletcher is soon put on a case by a classmate but things start happening that make Fletcher wonder what is going on – first his badge is stolen and then he gets framed for a crime he didn't commit! He has to team up with Red Sharkey, a member of the local criminal family. Is there any way for Fletcher to dig himself out of the hole he is in? And while he is digging himself out, can he manage to find the real criminal? 

Personal Thoughts: This book is an exciting read, the pages end up turning quickly as you get into the adventure that Fletcher ends up going on. The story is funny and the characters are unique. This book teaches that people aren't always what they appear to be. One thing to note is that Fletcher does get beat up in the story, so read at your own risk.

Book: Runaway Ralph

Cleary, B. (1970). Runaway Ralph. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers

Genre: Adventure, Friendship

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Similar Titles: The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Awards: Won Nene Award - 1972

Plot: This sequel to The Mouse and the Motorcycle, brings back everyone's favorite mouse, Ralph. This time, Ralph expresses his annoyance with all of his family members – he is simply sick of brothers, sisters and cousins, not to mention his mother and his uncle Lester. He decides to run away on his motorcycle. As he drives away from the Mountain View Inn, he comes to the Happy Acres Camp, where he is captured by a boy named Garf – soon Ralph is put in a cage; he makes friends with Chum the hamster. Ralph eventually realizes that Garf isn't so bad… but will he ever make it back to the Inn?

Personal Thoughts: This story is a classic that has been read by many generations of kids, myself included. Coming back to reread the story that I read in elementary school was nice – the tale is positive and shows the meaning of friendship. The story becomes more exciting with illustrations by Tracy Dockray – the pictures accompanying Cleary's writing add more to this adventure. Animal lovers will enjoy this book – so fill fans of Cleary's other work.

Book: How to Talk to Moms

Greven, A. (2009). How to talk to moms. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers

Genre: Nonfiction, Advice, Relationships 

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: How to Talk to Dads, How to Talk to Girls

Plot: Alec Greven, a ten-year-old relationship guru offers his advice on dealing with Moms. With seven chapters, there is a lot that can be learned from reading Alec's book. Chapters include what Moms do and don't like, how Mom's bug their kids, how kids bug their Moms, excuses and more. Some sage advice when dealing with Moms – "Sometimes your mom asks you to do something and offers you a bribe. An example of a bribe is when your mom says, 'If you clean up the living room, we can go to the pool.' Maybe you think it isn't worth it and you don't want to go to the pool that bad. But if your mom asks you to do something and offers a bribe, you might as well take it. If you don't, she probably will get mad and make you do it anyway, and then you don't get the treat. Backfire!" (p. 35)

Personal Thoughts: This is the book to read when trying to figure out how to communicate with your dad. A lot of good advice is given that can be applied to any situation by sons and daughters of any age. Kei Acedera's illustrations add even more humor to the book making it an enjoyable read.

Book: How to Talk to Dads

Greven, A. (2009). How to talk to dads. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers

Genre: Nonfiction, Advice, Relationships

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: How to Talk to Moms, How to Talk to Girls

Plot: Ten year old Alec Greven is back to offer more advice, this time on communicating with Dads. Seven chapters include insight into the way Dads are, what Dads do and don't like, how Dads bug their kids, how kids bug their dads and others. Some advice offered by Alec is, "Dads really don't like the 'Mom lets us' trick. Say Dad gives you one scoop of ice cream and you tell him Mom lets you have two. Beware! If it is not true, you are asking for trouble. Also, many kids try asking Dad after Mom tells them no. This never works out well." (p. 29)

Personal Thoughts: This is the book to read when trying to figure out how to communicate with your dad. A lot of good advice is given that can be applied to any situation by sons and daughters of any age. Kei Acedera's illustrations add even more humor to the book making it an enjoyable read.

Book: How to Talk to Girls

Greven, A. (2008). How to talk to girls. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers

Genre: Nonfiction, Advice, Relationships

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: How to Talk to Moms, How to Talk to Dads

Plot: Nine year old author Alec Greven shares his insights into girls – he gives advice, like, "Many boys get crushes on girls. But it can be very hard to get a girl to like you. Sometimes it takes years! Whatever happens, just don't act desperate. Girls don't like desperate boys." (p. 14) The book has seven chapters filled with advice ranging from crushes, getting a girl's attention, what to say to girls, to giving compliments and flowers, the book has a lot to offer for boys who are curious about how to deal with girls and possibly even get them to like you.

Personal Thoughts: This book is a must read for boys looking for insight on how to communicate with girls. Alec Greven wrote the book at the age of nine, hoping to demystify the female species for males everywhere – the book is a cute guide to girls. Illustrations by Kei Acedera make the book much more amusing when combined with the witty musings of a nine year old.

Book: Igraine the Brave

Funke, C. (2007). Igraine the Brave (A. Bell, Trans). New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc. (Originally Published in 1998)

Genre: Adventure, Humor

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: Harry Potter, How to Train Your Dragon, Inkheart

Plot: Igraine's 12th birthday is coming up and she really really really wants to know what her parents are making her in their magical workshop. She tries every trick she knows to try and find out. Her parents and brother are magicians along with her brother – they all are being very secretive about her present. Even her talking cat Sisyphus is unsympathetic about her need to know what she's getting. As Igraine waits until her birthday, she dreams about the adventures she wants to go on – that wish comes true sooner than she expected as her parents accidentally turn themselves into pigs and a greedy neighbor comes to lay siege on the caste. What is Igraine to do? Luckily her parents gave her a magic suit of armor for her birthday… is Igraine ready for the adventure that awaits her?

Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed reading about Igraine's adventures. Funke's storytelling skills are exceptional and the added illustrations make the story more interesting. The story shares a message about being able to do anything as long as you believe in yourself. I thought the cast of characters was perfectly charming and truly enjoyable to read about.

Book Teaser:

Movie: How To Train Your Dragon

DeBlois, D. (Director) & Sanders, C. (Director). (2010). How to train your dragon [DVD]. United States: Paramount.

Plot: A Viking boy named Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is at the age where he is supposed to leave his boyhood behind. On the Isle of Berk, where the Vikings live, is where this story takes place – the town is plagued by dragons on a daily basis and all able members of the town are expected to fight. Hiccup is a little different though… he doesn't want to fight, he'd rather invent things. During one of the dragon attacks, Hiccup manages to down the mysterious Night Fury dragon – when it comes time to kill the dragon, he can't make himself do it. Hiccup names the dragon Toothless and begins working to restore its ability to fly. The two become friends and work to teach everyone about acceptance of dragons. 

Genre: Animated, Comedy, Family Movie

Interest Level: Tween (PG Rating)

Similar Titles: How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, The Incredibles, Scooby Doo

Personal Thoughts: I thought this movie was cute. The movie version of Cressida Cowell's book was very well done. I thought the quality of the movie's animation was excellent – the action scenes were cleverly done and the dragons looked like you'd imagine dragons were supposed look/move. I thought the storyline was cute and I think that both boys and girls will enjoy this movie.

Book: How to Train Your Dragon: The Heroic Misadventures of Hiccup the Viking

Cowell, C. (2003). How to train your dradon: The heroic misadventures of Hiccup the Viking. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company.

Genre: Adventure, Humor

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: Harry Potter

Plot: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third belongs to the Tribe of Hairy Hooligans, a clan of Vikings living on the Isle of Berk. Hiccup is at the cusp of manhood and is expected to participate in the initiation that will make him a man – the killing of a dragon. The Isle of Berk is plagued by dragons and all citizens are expected to fight. Hiccup's father, Stoik the Vast expects Hiccup to join him in the killing of dragons, but keeps on being disappointed by Hiccup's clumsiness and interest in things other than fighting, like inventing. Will Hiccup ever be a fighter? Or will he use his brains and skills to find another way to deal with dragons?

Personal Thoughts: I thought the story of Hiccup was hilarious. The book is a quick read that flows well. The way that "the story was told" to Cressida Cowell definitely made the book a fun read. The illustrations by Cowell added another facet to the memoir of the little Viking boy. This is the first book in a series, I look forward to exploring the others.

Movie: A Dog of Flanders

Brodie, K. (Director). (1999). A dog of Flanders. [DVD]. United States: Warner Bros.

Plot: A boy named Nello adopts a stray dog who becomes his best friend. The dog is a Bouvier de Flandre, and when Nello finds him, he is weak and beaten; Nello and his grandfather nurse him back to health. Nello is an artist; despite being so young, he is quite talented. Unfortunately, he loses an art competition that he'd hoped to win – for the money and for what it would mean for his standing in the community. Soon after, Nello is dealt a tragic blow with the death of his grandfather, leaving Nello a poor orphan. Then he is accused of starting a fire. Yet throughout all of this, Nello has his faithful dog at his side, all the way to the end.

Genre: Family, Drama, Animal Story

Interest Level: Older Children, Tweens (PG Rating)

Similar Titles: Shiloh, Where the Red Fern Grows (all of these, A Dog of Flanders included, are based on books)

Personal Thoughts: I thought this was a well-made movie. The story is a classic and a must see for tweens, teens and any animal lovers. There is a message of perseverance and the will to survive when all seems lost. The relationship between boy and dog is sweet… be ready to sniff into some tissues though…

Friday, November 19, 2010

TV Series: iCarly – iStart a Fan War (Season 4 ep. 6)

Schneider, D. (Writer), & Hoefer, S. (Director). (2010). iStart a fan war [Television series episode]. In Schneider, D. (Producer), iCarly. United States: Nickelodeon.

Plot: In this hour long episode, Carly, Sam, and Freddie get to attend their first Webicon (Web Convention) with Carly's brother, Spencer in attendance. Carly and Sam are super excited at the chance to attend this year (last year Gibby kidnapped them and locked them in the basement, preventing them from going). Carly also faces the potential relationship that begins to bloom between her and Adam, but has to put it off to go to Webicon. Spencer seems resigned to going until he learns that World of Warlords fans will have a STOOM (costume) contest and he means to win. 

During the Webicon panel, tensions arise, as there is an issue about who really is dating Freddie – Carly or Sam? Sam stirs things up claiming that Carly and Freddie are an item… causing Adam to doubt his chances with Carly.

At the Webicon is where they meet Aspartamay, played by comedian Jack Black. Spencer, cosplaying as Aruthor, says that Aruthor is the greatest warrior, but others (Jack Black) insist that Aspartamay is the best. Who will win the competition? It’s a showdown like no other!

Genre: Drama, Real Life, Comedy, Family

Interest Level: All Ages (G Rating)

Website: http://www.nick.com/icarly

Similar Titles: Hannah Montana,

Personal Thoughts: I happen to like iCarly, the show is goofy and yet there's always some sort of message that isn't done in a too over the top way that would turn away slightly older audiences. I like the friendship between Carly, Sam, and Freddie and the dynamics between them. This show is just right for a tween audience… and it isn't all that bad for those of us slightly older who need a little zaney humor every once in a while. For those, like me, who live in the Pacific Northwest, the little snippets of Seattle shown in episodes bring a taste of home. In this episode, a very brief snippet from the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle brought back memories of Sakura-Con, the NW biggest anime convention.

WATCH A CLIP! - http://www.nick.com/videos/clip/istart-a-fan-war-clip-2.html