Review: The Familiars

The FamiliarsTitle:  The Familiars
Author: 
Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Number of Pages:  360

Synopsis:  One day, Aldwyn, a non-magical alley cat, finds himself in a most unusual pet shop full of strange, magical creatures. Jack, a wizard in training, chooses him to be his familiar, an animal companion that can help with his training. He meets two other familiars and tries to act magical, but when their human friends are kidnapped, that will be harder than it seems!

Why kids would like this book:  This book is great for kids because it has characters that you just fall in love with, a perfect mix of exciting parts and suspenseful parts, and so many twists and turns that will keep you turning pages till midnight!

Why adults would like this book:  The concept had a lot of potential, with magical adventures seen through the eyes of animals.  However, for some reason, I could NOT get through this book.  I tried several times to make it past the halfway point of the book without success. The writing seemed tedious and the plot was getting too predictable and formulaic, so it totally lost my interest.  I was very glad that we checked this one out from the library, and hadn’t bought it.  However, this book is a prime example of something that works as kidslit for kids, even if it doesn’t translate well for adults.  I hope your kids like it just as my daughter did……just don’t be tempted to steal this one from your children after they go to sleep!

Miranda’s rating:  I am a lover of cats, and also a lover of magic, so I think I would rate this book a 9 out of 10. I only gave it a nine because some of the parts in the book can be a little unclear, or too fast or slow. But still; overall, I think it is a great book!

Todd’s rating: Sad to say, but to be honest I think I need to say a 4.

Miranda’s favorite character:  Hmm, I can’t decide between Gilbert or Aldwyn. Both of them are funny, and Gilbert is very kind.

Todd’s favorite character:  Kalstaff the wizard.  He refuses to exit without putting up a big fight!

Miranda’s favorite part of book:  I can’t tell you my favorite part without spoiling too much, but I’ll choose another favorite part anyway. One of my OTHER favorite parts is when Aldwyn meets the other two familiars.

Todd’s favorite part of book: Floating “spyballs” down the stream…..creepy, but cool!

Miranda’s recommended age groups:  10+

Thoughts on Thursday: Why I do and do not like E-Readers

Well, my mom suggested this, and I thought it was a pretty good idea. This has information that I found on a news website. Did you know that some E-Readers will tell the company of the E-Reader your reading habits? Things such as what you read, how long it takes you to read things or certain parts of the book, things you highlight, and so on. I don’t want people knowing all that! How I read is my stuff, and I can share that with who I want! Do you want people knowing this stuff? It’s your info, after all. Another reason I don’t like E-Readers is because you can’t just say to a friend, “Oh, I have this book, here, you can borrow it”! This means no book exchanges, people! Do you know how much fun it is to trade books? If you don’t have a bookstore or a library, but you have a friend with a book you’ve always wanted to read, then you can trade! This is so fun, but I always recommend keeping track of which books you’ve lent out and who has them, and also what books that you’ve borrowed and who they belong to. :) A very sad reason I don’t like E-Readers: BOOKSTORES MIGHT GO OUTTA BUISNESS!!! That’s most likely why Borders went out of business. L But I have to say, E-Readers must be pretty light compared to a 500-page book! A lot of the time, when I’m reading upside down or even in my bed, holding up a book can be quite painful. It really makes my arms hurt. If you beg to differ on any of these things, go ahead and comment. I’d love to hear your opinion!

Book Review: The Golden Goblet

Image

Title: Golden Goblet

Author: Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Pages: 248

Synopsis: In ancient Egyptian times, young Ranofer—half brother of the villainous Gebu and slave in the goldsmith’s workshop—finds out his older half brother’s dirty secret. He is stealing gold from the goldsmith workshop, with the help of a Babylonian named Ibiny! But when Ibiny is no longer of any use to Gebu, he takes Ranofer out of the only place he loves, the goldsmith’s workshop, and makes him a stonecutter’s apprentice. Meanwhile, while Gebu is stealing gold from tombs, Ranofer and his friends, an “older” man named Ancient and an energetic goldsmith’s apprentice named Heqet try to come up with a plan to stop Gebu. Can he and his friends succeed in this edge-of-your-seat book?!

Why kids would like this book: I think that kids would like this book because it is exciting and you just fall in love with the characters and when makes you flustrated for them when things don’t work out.

Why adults would like this book:  According to Wikipedia, this book was previously on the CA state curriculum for 6th graders, but was unpopular due to the vocabulary level, and the maturity of the plot involving Ranofer’s enslavement to his half-brother.  I agree that that this book was a good vocabulary stretcher for both Miranda and I, and some themes would be too heavy for young children, but we were totally pulled into this book.  I honestly read the final three chapters a second time because the resolution is so exciting!  I also feel like I now know a lot more about Egyptian culture and the trades of goldsmithing and stonecutting after reading this, so I’d feel totally comfortable forcing a middle schooler to read this book, whether or not they like it as much as I did!

Miranda’s rating: 7 of 10. It has some scary parts, along with some sad ones. It also has a LOT of big words, ones that even grown-ups wouldn’t know!

Todd’s rating:  8 of 10.  The development does drag a little for the second quarter of the book, but that does help reinforce the lack of hope in a positive resolution felt by Ranofer.

Miranda’s favorite character: My favorite character is definitely Heqet! He always comes up with the silliest jokes, and he always finds a way to make you smile.

Todd’s favorite character:  Ranofer, for his strength in enduring what must be endured while working towards changing what seems impossible.

Miranda’s favorite part of book: Oh my StarClan! Too hard to decide… I’ll narrow it down to this one. When Queen Tiye asks Ranofer about what he wants, anything at all, he asks for ……..  I can’t tell you—read the book to find out!

Todd’s favorite part of book:  The final three chapters—you may predict how it all will end, but it still exciting to see it all come together.

Miranda’s recommended age groups: 12+

Thoughts on Thursday: Welcome back!

So… me and my parents have been in California forEVER! I’ve really missed writing for the blog, but between playing with my crazy awesome (stooky, for all the Murky fans out there) cousins and finishing up homeschool, I just haven’t had much time for dad and I to post new things on our blog! Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all of our blog followers. I brought up the fact that we need to update our poll, so keep an eye on that! Sorry we haven’t changed it. At all. In fact, why don’t you comment on it and give us good poll ideas? I’ll have to convince my dad to do his OWN “Welcome Back” post, so then you can hear HIS thoughts, too! In California, I found… guess what. A LIBRARY! In the library, I found lots of great books, such as Charlie Bone and the Beast , Frozen in Time(which I didn’t finish), and 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher, just to name a few. They are ALL great books! Now… I know I am COMPLETLEY changing the subject, but my dad asked me to do a post on buying books vs. library books. Well, why don’t I get started on that! Library books are great. I mean, sure they aren’t in the BEST shape, but going to the library is always such a great way to find books that you’ve never heard of, that might not even be in the store! Sadly, borrowing a book just isn’t as fun as owning one, because then you can’t read it over and over and over again! Also, if a page is torn out, YOUR’E DOOMED. (Especially if the page torn out is the end of the book!!!) Now, about buying books. Buying books is good because then you can find newer titles, and you can read those books over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over (and over) again! BUT sometimes the newer titles can be completely sold out, or they might not sell it at all. And sometimes the books can cost a bucket full of money, and that is always a let-down. Although library books and books at the store both have their pros and cons, I love them both the same! And before I end this post, I would like to have a moment of silence for Borders, the awesome bookstore going out of business. ……………………………….. And now I would like to have a moment of silence for all those librarians out there who would just LOVE a moment of silence. ……………………………………………………………. Thank you! Well, me and my dad would love to hear from you guys! Bye!

Review: Frindle

Title: Frindle
Author: Andrew Clements
105 pages

Synopsis:  Nick Allen is always coming up with plans to liven things up at school. Then, when he finds out some interesting facts about how words are made, he comes up with his best plan yet. A pen is no longer a pen to him, it’s a frindle. Soon, his new word spreads across town. He’s a local hero! But when his teacher wants him to stop, he realizes that his word isn’t his anymore. It belongs to the whole country, and then the whole world!

Why kids would like this book: I think kids would like this book because it can inspire you, and because this book is funny and has great characters.

Why adults would like this book:  I was really surprised at how much I liked this book!  Reading a good “kid vs teacher” book can be entertaining, but this book is more of a “kid vs the world” story.  The way the plot evolves makes you feel just how plausible this scenario really is!

Miranda’s rating: 10 of 10. This book is hilarious, and the nicknames that the students come up with for their teacher, Mrs. Granger, are ridiculous. Also, the things Nick does in this book reminds me of something I would do.

Todd’s rating: 9 of 10. I honestly laughed out loud at several points in this book. At 105 pages, it is also a very entertaining fast read.

Miranda’s favorite character:  Nick. He is funny and clever, and very smart, too. I also like Mrs. Granger, aka The Lone Granger and Dangerous Grangerous!

Todd’s favorite character:  I agree with Miranda on this one–it is a toss-up between the clever Nick and the villainous (or is she?) Mrs. Granger.

Miranda’s favorite part of book:  When grown-up Nick sees the word frindle in the dictionary.

Todd’s favorite part of book:  What we learn about Mrs. Granger when Nick finally receives her sealed letter….

Miranda’s recommended age groups: 8+

Flashback Friday: How to Eat Like A Child

Todd: When I was a freshman in High School, I was cast in the musical “How to Eat Like a Child,” based on the book by the same title by Delia Ephron. I think the director cast me because I looked about 10 years old at the time, and acted about 11! The play and book are a humorous set of step-by-step instructions for how to do all of things that make children childish. It was a blast to be in the musical, and I later acquired a copy of the book and have held onto it through the years as a memento of my High School experience. I was excited when Miranda told me she found and read this book……until it started to sink in what bad habits she might learn from its contents!! Overall, I don’t have any regrets that she read and enjoyed the book, and hope you and your kids can enjoy it too! (But no…..I’m not lending out the VHS tape of the performance!)

**p.s. In preparation for this review I looked at the Amazon.com site only to discover that the reviews claimed that the book has 4 instances of vulgar language. I don’t personally remember there being questionable language, but this is your fair warning.

Title:How to Eat Like A Child

Author: Delia Ephron
104 pages

My reaction when my dad told me to read this book: This should be called “My reaction when I found this book” because I found it, I never really had it suggested to me. My reaction was nothing short of happiness. I opened it up and I was immediately absorbed within the pages of this book.

Why kids should read this book: This perfectly written book is great for kids and adults alike; however, why I think kids would like this book is because it can help them drive their parents completely crazy!

Miranda’s favorite part: The whole thing. … Okay, okay! That’s against the rules. My favorite part is probably the chapter on how to eat school and/or home-brought lunches.

Miranda’s rating: 9 of 10: It is sooo funny, but can give kids devious ideas on how to be bad!

Thoughts on Thursday: Miranda’s Reading Technique Tips

Today on Thoughts on Thursday, I’m going to be sharing my top ten list of great ways to read a book!

  1. If a character is in a life or death situation, skim through the end of the book to see if the character lives.
  2. Whenever I read, I usually shift into some bizarre yoga pose, or just hang upside-down and let all of the blood rush to my head.
  3. If you’re reading a scary part at night and you’re brave, then keep on reading. If you’re not brave, wait until morning to read.
  4. If it’s late, I try to read as long as possible. You should try this, too! If your eyelids close and you didn’t even notice, then it’s time to give up.
  5. If the book gets boring, read faster. You would be wasting time– time that you could spend reading about action.
  6. If someone says they aren’t going to read a book that you’ve already read, don’t waste your time trying to convince them to read it. Just spoil it! Tell them the ending, who dies, who is in love with who; and if they end up reading it anyway, then at least they don’t have to cry when somebody dies!
  7. If you need to stop reading, and there isn’t a real bookmark next to you, grab the closest object such as a Kleenex, an old band-aid, a napkin, action figures, candy wrappers, junk mail, stuffed animals, or even another book. I use things like that even if there is a bookmark next to me!
  8. If you’re reading one series of books, but you see another great series, don’t wait till you’re finished with the first series. Never do that; just start the other series anyway. I’ve lost count of how many series I’m reading!
  9. If you’re reading a book, then have to stop, then go to number 7 on my list. But if you’re rushed, then just close your book. Look at the page number, remember it, and then search for it next time you read that book.
  10. If you’re just rereading a book, why read it all the way through when you can just skip to the best parts and read those instead? Rereading it thoroughly would just take too long.