Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eyewitness to Titanic

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You can never have too many Titanic books right?  What I liked about this books was lots of photographs and illustrations and the text was in manageable bits.  For my 3rd and 4th graders who get interested in the Titanic this would fit the bill.  What I didn't like was the repetition of some facts and some jumping around.  There was a sections that talked about following a few passengers to see what happened to them and then it jumped to something else.  Eventually the book touched on those passengers again but not in much depth.  It wasn't bad and I may get it to freshen up my Titanic section...

The Sinkhole

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In this book Cale receives notes and clues from his father - whom he has never met - about places to skateboard in his town.  Cale and "the seven stair crew" who are his group of skateboarding buddies try to solve the clues and find these mysterious spots.  Along the way they also make friends with another skateboarder.

I had no idea this was actually the 3rd book in a series until I finished it can stand alone.  Not knowing much about skateboarding there was a lot of vocabulary about the tricks that I didn't know.  For students into skateboarding this would be a solid choice - decent plot and mystery, action and adventure.


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Twig and her mother live as recluses on their orchard in Massachusetts.  That's because her family has been living under a curse and they hide her brother because he has wings.  But when rumors start flying about a monster in town Twig gets worried that her brother will be discovered.  So Twig and her friend Julia (who is related to the person who gave her family the curse to begin with) search for a way to reverse the curse and give Twig's brother a normal life.

I really enjoyed this book.  Good dynamics, a nice mystery to it, good length, nice language and flow. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dino-Mike and the T-Rex Attack

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This was a fun, beginning chapter book.  At only a little over 100 pages it is perfect for the 2nd and 3rd grade readers.  Mike is traveling with his archeologist dad.  When he gets bored and wanders off he finds a real T-Rex.  He also meets a girl named Shannon who is trying to get the T-Rex back to its own time and Jeff who brought the T-Rex there in the first place.  Together Mike and Shannon outwit Jeff and get Sam the T-Rex home.  But, shortly after Mike finds dinosaur eggs.  Turns out Sam is a Samantha...

So, the book ends with a "cliffhanger" of sorts and you can tell there will be more adventures with Shannon, Mike, and dinosaurs.  Normally I hate that but...I looks like this particular series will roll right out...there are at least 2 more set to be released this year so young readers won't have long to wait.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Witherwood Reform School

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I have said before and I will say again - I do not like series books that just end with no logic and with so many loose ends.  Harry Potter ended pretty logically at the end of each school year (at least until we were all hooked).  Percy Jackson ended with small triumphs (again until we were hooked).  This book - not so much. 

After an unfortunate incident with their nanny Martha and some tadpoles, Tobias and Charlotte are driven by their father to the top of a mesa and left there.  Their father fully intends to go back and get them but is then in a car accident and suffers amnesia.  Tobias and Charlotte soon discover that the Witherwood Reform School is on the top of the mesa and they are "welcomed" as new students or prisoners.  With strange creatures, a mind controlling headmaster, and weird parades this school is not normal. 

While there were some interesting parts the whole thing was discouraging - after all Tobias' hard work they were back to square one at the end of the book with no hope.  Who is Marvin?  What will be extracted?  How was the nanny related to all this?  Too many question left unanswered and the thing is....there was so many questions that I never felt fully invested enough to really want to find out more. 


The Snowbirds

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This was a short story about 2 snowbirds created during an ice sculpture contest in Japan.  One was made by a boy and his family - carefully crafted with cooperation and love.  The other was made by a boy who tried to ruin the first one, stole the idea, and was then selfish.  After the sculptures were done Jack Frost arrived and wanted to take one to the Snow King as a companion but couldn't decide.  He had them both travel together as a test to see which would be the better companion.

In theory it was a good story.  It was weird how it was so focused on the competition the first 20 pages or so and then completely shifted to the Snow King.  While there was some development between the 2 birds it just felt like something was missing and the book as a whole didn't really work for me.