The Tail of Emily Windsnap By Liz Kessler
Fantasy , Fiction , Series / October 4, 2016

I really liked this book.  Emily is a normal girl in the beginning of the book who really wants to find out about her father.   Her mother never talks about him and Emily suspects there is a mystery there.  Her desire to find him becomes even stronger when she discovers she is a mermaid.   She starts to suspect something is unusual about her neighbor, Mr Beeson,  who is the lighthouse keeper.  He may know more than he lets on.  Soon Emily starts spending more and more time by the ocean where she makes a friend who  helps her along the way.   Emily discovers more than just the identity of her father.   The author is very descriptive creating a world you can picture in your mind.  Sometimes Emily sounds more like a little girl written by a grown up than like a normal girl but she is still a fun character to read about. There is a second book (I also enjoyed) please see my next review on book2. Bye for now, Rosie (age 6) AR Points 6  Lexile level 600  

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep By Liz Kessler
Fantasy , Fiction , Series / October 4, 2016

Emily is back and this time we find out all about life as a mermaid.  Her mother now lives in a boat over her father’s part of the ocean, near the Bermuda Triangle.  Emily can now spend time with both of her parents.  She eats breakfast on the boat then can jump down through a trap door straight into the ocean.  Emily is very happy to have her family together. She is joined again by her mermaid friend Shawna and she makes many new friends.  We find out about mermaid school and life under the ocean.  Everything is going great for Emily until she accidentally awakens an ancient sea beast called the Krakin.  ITs really fun finding out what she does next. I like this book more than the first book.  It is more fun and has a more colorful setting.  I’ve heard there is another book but mom hasn’t found it yet.  Stay tuned and I will write a review when I get it. Bye, Rosie (age 6) AR points 6 Lexile Level level 570

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Fiction , Mystery / July 24, 2016

I believe this book was originally a stand alone book that has since been made into a series. This book is a bit unusual.   The main two characters are a boy and girl who find themselves in the middle of a mystery involving secret correspondence and stolen paintings.   The boy has a set of pentominoes that he always keeps in his pocket.  Each time he pulls out a pentomino the letter it represents becomes the first letter of a clue that the kids follow to solve the mystery.  (My brother got a set of pentominoes with this book and they are really fun!) Some parts of the story seem really far fetched but somehow the author makes it believable in the end.  I like that the book brings in real information about Vermeer and his work.  I also like how the characters in the story are forced to think out of the box to consider the idea that just because something is unlikely does not mean it is not true.  The book takes a little while to really draw you in.  For at least part of the story I was reading it more because I wanted to see…

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Fiction / July 22, 2016

Reviewed as a mother, A retired teacher suggested this book to me several years ago.  It was originally published in 1961 and while the few people I have met who have read it loved it the vast majority had never heard of it.  I read it aloud to the kids when they were 5,6 and 8.  They loved the story and still recall parts of it, reciting it at the oddest times.   The book jacket describes a story about a boy who gets into his toy car and drives to an imaginary land.  If you are like me you may be thinking that the story is too “childish” for your growing reader however just like me you’d be wrong.  This book is written in an extremely clever way using and introducing literary devices in so many different and creative ways.  The word play is exceptional and the kids enjoyed the humorous characters all the more as they discovered the double entendre and hidden meanings.  From the “watch”dog named Tick that could only tock to the lost princesses “Rhyme” and “Reason” every word is thoughtfully chosen and vital to the story.   This is one of those books that feels…

The Hobbit- By J R R Tolkien
Fantasy , Fiction , Series / July 22, 2016

Reviewed as a mother, We have read this book twice as a read aloud. The first time when the kids were 4, 6 & 7 and again recently at 6, 8 & 9.  They loved the tale both times.  The story has a large cast of characters each having a distinct personality and point of view.  It is a classic adventure story with unlikely heroes, that make mistakes, and dark bad guys.  The first time I read it I had to tone down the descriptions of some of the nastier characters because they are very detailed and were too intense for my youngest however this year she was unfazed but it.  Some people are drawn to this story because of its extreme fan fare where others are turned off by.  I say, it is just a book.  It should be judged on the same criteria as any other book.  The overall theme is one highlighting friendship, camaraderie and the ability of one small person to make a significant impact on those around them.  The language and voice are rich but not too complex for young listeners.  There were only a few times which further description was needed to help a…

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
Fiction , Science Fiction / July 22, 2016

I wasn’t sure if I would like this book at first.  It was one of the books my mom got for me for my summer reading goal.   I have to admit that the story got me interested right away with the way the author introduces the knight.  We normally think of king Author’s knights as being serious and honorable but Twain’s knights are ridiculous in the way they exagerate their tales.  Merlin is an attention seeking showman who believes he has powers but really he doesn’t.  The main character is an extremely thoughtful man who finds himself transported back to midivil times with no real explanation as to how it happened.   The first thing that happens to him is that he is sentenced to death.  He has to figure out how to get out of the charges against him and out how to survive in this foreign place.  The man’s thoughts are really funny, sometimes his thinking goes off on tangents, which at times are interesting and at others become a bit boring.  The main idea of the story is about him using his knowledge from the future to modernize Camelot.  I like the way he has to…

Queste by Angie Sage
Fantasy , Fiction , Series / June 29, 2016

This is the fourth book in the Septimus Heap series. My favorite thing about this book series is that the author gives each book an interesting storyline with a beginning, middle and end.  Each book is interesting on its own but is so much better because of how she ties in different details from the last books and carries them forward.  I love the plot of this book with Septimus being sent on a quest that no one has ever returned from but some parts of the story were kind of strange.  I didn’t like the way the book began, it doesn’t flow as well as the rest of the books and the concept is odd.  I’m not a fan of the reoccurring use of evil ghosts interfering with our characters but it works and it is becoming a bigger part of the larger story.  I did enjoy this book, even though there were things I didn’t like about it. Ms Sage has some interesting ideas about a place where all times (past, present and future) converge and she uses this to send Septimus and his friends on an exciting adventure.  There is more talk about boys and girls liking each…

Physik by Angie Sage
Fantasy , Fiction , Series / June 29, 2016

This is the third book in the Septimus Heap series In this third installment Ms Sage adds some new twists including traveling back in time and an evil ghosts who is trying to return to the world of the living.  Now, before you decide to stop reading this series here let me say that at first I didn’t really like the direction she took in this book however the more I read the more sucked in I got and by the end of the book I thought her approach was really smart.  The author creates an opportunity for Septimus to learn long forgotten magical skills and she lays foundations in the past for story elements she uses in the future (and continues to use in the other books).  This book is a little bit darker and more ominous than the last two with some, scary or at least anxiously suspenseful parts. The book has a satisfying ending but leaves you wondering what will happen to Septimus and his friends next. AR Points 17.0 Lexile Level – not rated Percy age 9

Flyte By Angie Sage
Fantasy , Fiction , Series / June 28, 2016

This is the second book in the Septimus Heap series This story picks up right where the last left off with young Septimus Heap beginning his apprenticeship with the Extraordinary Wizard.  In this story we learn a lot more about magic and the life of a wizard as well as life in the castle.  This story introduces even more characters to the already large cast including a dragon, a wolf boy and a funny scribe.  This story takes you on a wild ride that includes kidnappings, sibling rivalry and witches.  Mom says there is some boy/girl stuff in this book with the witches but I just thought they were weird, its not like there is a bunch of kissing or romance.  This book was almost as good as the first with a great storyline of its own.  Make sure you keep reading at the end to find out fun tidbits about each character.   Overall this is another really great book! AR Points 16.0 Lexile Level 950 Percy age 9

Magyk By Angie Sage
Fantasy , Fiction , Series / June 28, 2016

This is the first book in the seven book Septimus Heap series. First let me say that I love this series.  There are so many great characters that anyone should find one that they identify with.  The author has a great ability to give each character a distinct voice and backstory.  She is able to keep many points of view and individual story lines going simultaneously without the story feeling strained.  The author takes a new approach to magic in this series making it almost scientific.  Magic must first be discovered before it can be used.  The story takes place in a time where magic is still part of daily life but so much of its secrets have been lost.  The bad guys are ruthless and pursue our heroes through many different settings making the story exciting and fast paced.  There is some killing and violence but it is not detailed.  The story progresses well leaving enough clues for you to have some insight into the climax however there is still an exciting reveal at the end.  Ms Sage must have a vivid imagination because she paints a storyline that is so rich in detail that you feel like you’re…