The Case of the Stolen Sixpence
Mystery / July 24, 2016

This is the first in the Maisie Hitchins series.  These books take place in London a long time ago.  They are about a girl who loves to pretend she is a detective.  She wants to be like Sherlock Holmes when she grows up.  One day as she is walking home from the market she finds a puppy in a bag that has narrowly escaped from being drowned.   The puppy soon becomes her sidekick as Maisie travels through London looking for mysteries. Soon enough a mystery finds her when one of her friends is accused of stealing a Sixpence.   Maisie has to follow the clues to prove her friend is innocent.  Maisie has to not only figure out who really committed the crime but also how to prove it.  I like Maisie because she is smart and brave.  This book was a fast easy read without any difficult words.  I’ve already asked my mom to get the next one. Rosie age 6 Lexie level 770 AR points 3

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 Fellowship of The Ring- By JRR Tolkien
Fantasy , Series / July 22, 2016

Reviewed as a mother, I had already read The Hobbit as a read aloud to my three children twice and they loved that story and were more than capable of retaining their attention for the duration.  At age 6, 8 & 9 they asked if I would read the Fellowship of The Ring.  I have seen the reviews of other parents saying that the story was way over their children’s heads however my children are exceptionally good readers and have a long history of enjoying complicated books.  I knew that this story line moves into a much darker direction than the Hobbit but I was prepared to deal with that so we began to read.  The main idea of the story hooked them in immediately.  They were already imagining another Hobbit like adventure, this time with a seemingly less uptight hero and merrier companions.  Immediately the differences between the two books began to become evident.  It had been many many years since I had read these books and I had forgotten much of the lesser details of the story.  It feels to me (opinion only, not based on reading historical accounts of Tolkien’s life so do not feel the need…

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…

Fairies and the Quest for Never Land by Gail Carson Levine
Fantasy , Series / July 22, 2016

This is the third book in this series.  All of them had really pretty pictures.  This one was my favorite because it had a little girl named Gwendolyn.  This story brings in some of the Peter Pan story.  Wendy’s kiss necklace has been passed down mother to daughter for generations and Gwendolyn receives it for her birthday.  Unlike her mother and grandmother she is more interested in the fairies than in Peter Pan.  Gwendolyn finds herself in at the home tree at a bad time.   Kyto the dragon has gotten loose and is planning to destroy pixie hollow.  Gwendolyn wants to help but the fairies worry that she might make things worse.  This book is a fun adventure and lets us find out more about my favorite fairies.   There are some sad parts but it works out okay in the end. AR Points 5 Lexile Level 620

The Unseen World of Poppy Malone; A Gaggle of Goblins by Suzanna Harper
Fantasy , Series / July 8, 2016

This is the biggest book I have ever read but it was a good one.  The book starts off slow with Poppy and her family moving into a new house.  Poppy’s parents are ghost hunters but Poppy doesn’t believe in supernatural stuff.  Poppy wants to be a scientist and only believes in things that can be proven.  Poppy’s older sister doesn’t pay much attention to her and her brother is boring.  Her little brother, Rolly, is a real handful until one day he follows the older kids into the woods and when they return he is suddenly quiet and well behaved.  Poppy knows that something is wrong and is determined to figure out what has happened to her little brother.  She goes into the woods and discovers goblins.  She records information about them to prove that they are real.  Finding out what happens to Rolly is very exciting.  There are funny parts in the book and I really like Poppy.  She is very adventurous, smart and interesting.  There are few hard words in this book but not too many.  My mom says there are other Poppy books and I plan to read them all.  Look for my reviews to come….