Monday, December 13, 2010

漫画 MANGA: Chi's Sweet Home



Konami, K. (2010). Chi's Sweet Home (Vol. 2, Ed Chavez, Trans.). New York, NY: Vertical, Inc. (Originally published in 2005)

Plot: Chi is again the center of attention… she steals Youhei's pancake… attacks the toys in bathtub despite hating the water... Chi and Youhei are getting along fabulously – they're very similar – both like to eat, sleep, play and both hog the bed. When it comes to sharing though… well, let's just say that once Chi declares something as hers, well, that she doesn’t like giving it up. Chi enjoys getting her way. Then there's the big black cat hanging around the neighborhood… will he cause trouble for Chi and her family?

Genre: Comedy 

Reading/Interest Level: All Ages

Personal Thoughts: I just read the second volume and I thought it was very funny. Chi is still very cute. I really like how Kanata Konami has captured the essence of "cat." All of Chi's antics really resemble normal kitty adventures and mishaps. The individual stories create can be read all at once or one at a time, allowing the reader to decide how much they want to read.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Audiobook: Marley: A Dog Like No Other



Grogan, J. (Author), & Harris, N.P. (Narrator). (2007). Marley: A dog like no other. [Audiobook on CD]. New York, NY: HarperChildren's Audio.

Genre: Animals, Humor

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: Marley: A Dog Like No Other

Plot: Neil Patrick Harris brings even more hilarity to John Grogan's story of his rambunctious yellow Labrador retriever, Marley. Harris reads with a clear strong voice, which takes Marley's antics and brings them to life. From Marley's obsessive chewing, and his refusal to listen to his master, to the more tender moments spent with Grogan's children, all are made even more exiting with the charismatic voice of Neil Patrick Harris. Marley is clearly a challenging dog to deal with, and yet John Grogan and his wife Jenny manage to train him and despite his many foibles - Marley becomes a great family dog. 

Personal Thoughts: The audiobook version of the book by the same title is unabridged; children can choose to listen and read along silently, or try their hand at reading at reading aloud following Harris' example. I thought Neil Patrick Harris did a great job reading… it makes me want to get any audiobooks read by him… After seeing the movie and reading the book (adult version) I thought this was a very nice version of the story for kids.

Book: Ghost Dog Secrets



Kehret, P. (2010). Ghost dog secrets. New York, NY: Penguin Group, Inc.

Genre:  Animal Fiction, Ghosts

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays 

Plot: Rusty is in the sixth grade in a small town. One day while riding in the car with his mom he notices a tied up dog. The dog has no shelter and no food – the owner didn't even take it inside from the cold, wet weather! Rusty is horrified by the treatment of the dog and decides to help. He gets advice from a teacher at school who encourages the children to try to help solve a problem by getting personally involved instead of waiting until somebody does something. As Rusty learns about animal abuse, he befriends the dog… as well as a ghost dog intent on helping him. Will Rusty be able to save the dog? Or will he get into trouble for taking things into his own hands?

Personal Thoughts: I love all of what Peg Kehret has written. She lives in Washington State… and I wouldn't be surprised if I've driven by her place when exploring Mt. Rainier. I think she manages to write very informative animal stories that make kids think about how animals should be treated. This is a story of a boy and his dog that shows how deep a bond can go.

Book Teaser: 


Book: Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays


Kehret, P. (2004) Shelter dogs: Amazing stories of adopted strays. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company.

Genre:  Nonfiction, Dogs
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12
Similar Titles: Ghost Dog Secrets

Plot: These are the stories of eight dogs that were rescued from shelters and adopted into loving homes. Each story has an accompanying photograph by Greg Farrar that shows each of the canines in their element. The dogs featured are mixed breeds that got a second chance at life and thanked their owners by becoming their companion animal and by giving them their all. From movie-star dogs to service dogs, a common thread is present of someone seeing something in the eyes of the dog behind bars; readers can understand the value of humane societies after reading this book.

Personal Thoughts:  I thought this was a good book to teach kids about how great it is to adopt dogs. After each story, Kehret provides additional information about the type of job the dog has and any associations or organizations where curious readers can get more information.

Book: The Word Eater



Amato, M. (2000). The word eater. New York, NY: Holiday House. 

Genre:  Humor, Friendship

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Similar Titles: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Plot: Sixth grader Lerner Chanse is having a horrible time at Cleveland Park Middle School in Washington, D.C. She doesn’t fit in very well with the other kids and the MPOOE Club just makes things ten times worse. What is MPOOE? Why, a club where the Most Powerful Ones On Earth rules over the SLUGs, or Sorry Losers Under Ground. The only way to get into MPOOE is to agree to a dare and it has been decreed by the leader of the MPOOEs, Reba, that Lerner will get a dare. At the same time this is going on, in another part of the schoolyard, a worm is born, but he is unlike any other worm. Fip is able to eat words…and not dirt. As Fip skinches and scoots across pages, eating up inky words, the things that the words spell disappear from the world. Eventually, Lerner discovers Fip and his amazing powers… will she use his word eating power to rid the world of disease? Or crime? What a big responsibility for a girl in the sixth grade…

Personal Thoughts: I thought this was a very original book. I liked that the book brought issues of bullying into the story and how Lerner was arguing with herself about the right thing to do versus doing what her classmates wanted her to do. It is nice that peer pressure is introduced and readers can see the ways to deal with making smart decisions.

Book Teaser:


 

Mario Kart Wii


Mario Kart Wii. (2008). Nintendo.

Interest Level: All Ages

Mario Kart is back yet again, this game does not get old and is a family favorite. Join Mario and all of his friends Luigi, Peach, Yoshi and Toad and his enemies, Wario, Bowser and Donkey Kong in a race to the finish. The Wii version of this game offers the use of the Wii Wheel, which takes some getting used to for some players, and gives the feel of a real race. There is also the option to plug in Game Cube controllers or just use the Wii controller and nunchuck. Teens will enjoy battling friends and shooting out turtle shells and banana peels in order to slow down opponents. Classic stages like Mario Raceway and Shy Guy Beach appear alongside new stages; fun music accompanies each stage. There is the opportunity to impress friends with tricks and hidden shortcuts as well as choose a variety of vehicles on both four wheels and two. 

Personal Thoughts: Mario Kart provides hours of entertainment and challenges for players of all levels; up to four players can play and another four are added by the computer creating a mad dash for the podium. The opportunity to challenge friends does not end as tweens and teens can battle in stadiums or on the track and improve their race stats, as they get better.This game is fun and quirky, it easily will pull you in. I looove playing this game and sending out red shells as I speed to the front of the pack as Yoshi!




Video Game: Super Smash Bros. Brawl


Super Smash Bros. Brawl. (2008). Nintendo.

Interest Level: Ages 10+

A rousing battle between favorite characters from classic Nintendo games returns, this time with additional characters from other worlds in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This Nintendo Wii game merges the use all four Nintendo controllers; the Wii controller, Wii controller with nunchuck, the Wii classic controller and the Game Cube controller in a way that any player will feel comfortable playing. Super Smash Bros. Brawl allows up to four players to challenge not only themselves, but also the computer in a battle for top position. Players can unlock items by battling and can choose from several stages both familiar and new, as well as create their own. Brawl also allows players to create their own battle rules and decide whether they want to work as a team and who to assign to which team. The fights challenge gravity and the weapons are out of this world, making this game a safe outlet for the infinite energy of teenage boys. 

Personal Thoughts: I have seen tweens and teens play this game for hours on end. I think it is a good game for them to pretend fight with. The game includes some seriously scary moves, but all is set in a make believe world that creates a line between reality and fiction; beating up characters on the screen helps channel energy towards something other than misbehaving or hurting others.


Video Game: Dance Dance Revolution Extreme


Dance Dance Revolution Extreme. (2004). El Segundo, CA: Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.

Interest Level: All Ages

Dance Dance Revolution has had many incarnations, all of which come with the hottest dance music titles. Songs included are from artists like 4 Strings, Pet Shop Boys, Darude, Captain Jack, Duran Duran, Junior Senior, Village People, BT, and others. The game boasts over 100 minutes of music. This version of the game was released for the Playstation2 platform; it requires two dance pads to play. Tweens and players of all ages can test their dancing skills alone or can challenge friends in the multiplayer modes. Observing players dance is also an amusing pastime, as some players can move their feet at the speed of light and others stumble through the game landing them a low rating. The game allows players to choose the level that they feel comfortable with and will not end up tripping when the arrows on the screen starts to move more quickly. DDR Extreme also includes the option to practice the moves in order to learn the patterns and be able to beat opponents. There is a workout mode, which can be used to exercise in single player mode; a good sweat can be worked up during a long cardio session that Dance Dance Revolution Extreme provides.

Personal Thoughts: I love DDR, and so do many tweens and teens. The music is always great and the fact that this game promotes exercise is a plus! This game provides hours of entertainment and exercise disguised as fun and challenging dance moves along to funky music.

Website: Bored.com


Bored.com (1996-2010). Bored.com – Free online games, fun and entertaining sites. Retrieved December 9, 2010, from http://www.bored.com/
Interest Level: Ages 12+
Bored.com is a site that truly cures boredom. There is a section dedicated to online games. Bored.com has many fun games to choose from, like "Sushi Cat the Honeymoon," which can be very addicting as you drop a round fur-ball of a kitty through various stages, all the while trying to eat as much sushi as you can to fill the cat's belly and make him fat. Bored.com also offers many amusing videos to watch, some of which are made and uploaded by users; this feature gives teens an opportunity to share their own content with peers. There is also a section with hilarious images which users can enjoy and comment on, like one depicting a birthday card, with the greeting; "Thank goodness Facebook reminded me that it's your birthday." Bored.com also has blogs to explore and join, links to fun sites, a humor section and a quiz section. With this site one should never achieve the boredom state, there is just too much to explore. 

Personal Thoughts: The site is easy to navigate and allows the user to turn the sound on/off. One of the downsides are the banner adds surrounding the site, some of which start playing automatically and need to be paused to make them stop. Tweens and any human experiencing a state of ennui will find this site a godsend. I would caution against letting some younger tweens access the site - otherwise, I would say that there's nothing truly bad here.

Book: The Crossroads

Grabenstein, C. (2008). The crossroads. New York, NY: Random House

Genre:  Mystery, Horror

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Plot: Eleven-year-old Zack is shy – he has had a lot happen to him, what with his mean mother dying, and then his father moving him along with his new nice stepmother to a new place. Things seem normal in Connecticut, except that Zack thinks his mother is haunting him… he starts seeing other ghosts too. There's a big mystery to solve about a fatal accident involving a bus, car and motorcycle. With all these ghosts haunting the house that they now live in, a house that sits on a paranormal crossroads, Zack can't help but try and solve the mystery, the question is, will the ghosts help him?

Personal Thoughts: This is the book for bored reluctant readers. There are some off-page deaths and things get a bit gruesome and scary at times – all the better to keep you on the edge of your seat. I thought that the story was clever and original. The book starts off a little choppy, revealing bits and pieces of the mystery.

Book: The Castle Corona




Creech, S. (2007). The castle Corona. New York, NY: HarperCollins

Genre:  Fantasy

Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Similar Titles: Ella Enchanted

Plot: The Castle Corona is a place where royals live… but these are not your ordinary royals. For one, the royals are a little spoiled. King Guido, Queen Gabriella, and their children Prince Gianni, Vito and Princes Fabrizia all keep wishing they were somewhere else. Nothing is good enough the way it is. The responsibilities of being noble weigh heavily on their minds. Then there are two children, Pia and her brother Enzio, who are poor and dream of a better life – like the ones royals have at Castle Corona. This is where things get turned around – a pouch is stolen from the castle – this sets off a series of events that lands the peasants Pia and Enzio in the castle as taste testers. Suspicious things are happening at Castle Corona and Pia and Enzio are right in the middle – is wanting what you don't have really worth the trouble that almost always shows up?

Personal Thoughts:  This was a good book. I like fairy tale like stories and this one was on par with Ella Enchanted. The one thing that was interesting was the lessons hidden in this book. The characters had their faults, making them more likable.
I also liked the illustrations by David Diaz, they complimented the story really well. I thought that since the book had a European feel, the illuminations only enhanced the story.