Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Title: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Author:  Tom Angleberger
141 pages

Synopsis: Ahhh…..middle school.  This book examines through a series of testimonials and eyewitness accounts whether Dwight’s finger puppet Origami Yoda is “real”.  That is, does a folded piece of paper in the shape of Yoda contain the wisdom of the jedi, and can it provide advice that can help solve a series of middle schoolers’ problems?  Let the facts described in this quick read help you decide for sure.

Why kids would like this book:  It’s hilariously ridiculous, and it has some Star Wars bits. Kellen’s darwings on the sides of the pages are super funny and make me laugh.  If you like Star Wars or funny books about real life school experiences, then you’ll like this book.

Why adults would like this book:  Let me keep it real here…….when Miranda asked me to read this one, I thought it looked fun, and heck, it was only 141 pages!!  As I read the first three quarters of the book, I was prepared to tell you to leave this one to the kids.  I thought it was a somewhat funny and somewhat uncomfortable look back at middle school drama.  (Let’s face it–who wants to re-live those years again–NOBODY!)  However, the last quarter of the book changed my mind in the way that the author ties together all of the testimonials for the blow-by-blow account of the climax.  All together–I’d definitely recommend reading this one with your kids…….but maybe not for your own adult enjoyment.

Miranda’s rating:  10 of 10.  Because it has Star Wars and real-life things that could happen to you.

Todd’s rating: 6 of 10.  Enjoyable and cute, but definitely written for kids.

Miranda’s favorite character: Origami Yoda, because he comes up with the best advice.

Todd’s favorite character: Tommy….maybe because he reminds me too much of myself at that age.

Miranda’s Favorite Part of the Book: The “all about Dwight” list of weird things about Dwight. One of the items on the list has to do with getting “locked” in a locker and calling out to the squirrels to save him.

Todd’s Favorite Part of the Book:  The school dance at the end of the book–it ties it all together in a very amusing way.

Miranda’s recommended age groups for this book: Maybe 9 to whatever? It is about middle school….



Flashback Friday: The Island of the Blue Dolphins

What is a “Flashback Friday?”  On some Fridays, Miranda will provide her opinion of a book I used to like as a child that I am “encouraging” her to read….  Not surprisingly, she hasn’t learned to trust my taste yet, but we’ll see if that changes someday!  I enjoyed The Island of the Blue Dolphins as a child because I was intrigued by the thought of kids having to survive alone in the wild.  Given Miranda’s independent nature (she was previously convinced she should start a solo expedition to the north pole…..), I thought she would benefit from this realistic portrait of a child in the wilderness. AND, this book is a Newbery Medal winner, which is usually a good enough reason to force (I mean encourage) Miranda to read it.  In case you haven’t figured this out yet, the blue bold font introduction means I (Todd) wrote it, and the bold green font introduction means Miranda wrote it, so here is the review in Miranda’s words only:

Title:  The Island of the Blue Dolphins
Author:  Scott O’Dell
184 pages

My reaction when my dad told me to read this: “Blech.” This was because I almost never like to read what my dad suggests I read. Each time, he says I will like it. Each time, I said I wouldn’t. And each time… I was wrong.

Synopsis: Karana is left behind when all of her people leave the island of the blue dolphins. She has to fight her enemies (the wild dogs), make weapons, and hunt food. All by herself. For years, she waits for a boat to land on the island, reuniting her with her family and friends. Will they ever come back for the girl they left to fend for herself?

Miranda’s favorite character: Rontu because he is funny and he was almost always wanting to be by Karana’s side.

Miranda’s favorite part of book: My favorite part is when she talks with her friend, even though they don’t know each other’s  languages. It is a very heart-warming moment, and it shares a message: It’s always good to make new friends.

Miranda’s rating: 7. This book has some sad parts that make you want to cry yourself.

Miranda’s recommended ages: 9+ because it has a few scary parts, and has some words that younger children might not know.

Why kids would like this book: it is sweet and is not historical fiction. It’s just historical. I was reading it one night and stayed up reading WAY past my bedtime! (I was super sleepy the following morning!)

Thoughts on Thursday: Meeting My Favorite Author

My favorite book series is the Warrior cat books. They are written by four different authors all under one name; Erin Hunter. One of the four Erin Hunters, Victoria “Vicki” Holmes, was going on a book signing tour. My friend and I were going to go to a nearby mall to see her, but I got sick. : (  Oh well. You’re probably thinking. Wow. This is going to be a very short story, but I’m not finished yet!

My mom looked at Erin’s (Vicky’s) tour schedule, and she figured out that her next book signing was in Charlotte, NC. We live in Maryland, so there was no way we were driving that far! However, there was another book signing on Monday in another place in North Carolina, closer to where I live. BUT it was 5 hours away and we had to drive. So, early Monday morning we got our suitcase and other stuff, grabbed the map and directions to the bookstore Erin was going to be, hopped in the car, and left. On the way there, my mom and I listened to some music, turned up the bass, turned up the volume to 14 (where it has never been before), and headed for North Carolina. It was great. I brought a stuffed snow tiger named Celine and a small toy cat that moved its tail and head when you pressed the button on its back. My mind was constantly filled with Warrior cat thoughts. Will Dovewing and Tigerheart fall in love? Or will she fall in love with Bumblestripe? Will Cinderheart ever talk to Lionblaze again?

Anyway, we only stopped twice on the way to the bookstore. Once to get gas and then at McDonald’s to satisfy our intense hungering for food. Finally, we got to the bookstore. I met a new friend there. Her name was Casey. She was very nice. It was very nice to have someone to talk to who loved Warriors just as much as I do. We waited for Erin (Vicky) to come out. Then we waited some more. And we waited some more. An employee at the store, a lady named Rosemary, made announcements about two or three times. Then we waited some more. Finally, after three stinkin’ hours, Erin (Vicky) came out. Casey and I held up a sign my mom had made. It said, #1 FANS FROM MARYLAND! WE LOVE WARRIORS! Casey was mostly trying to hide behind the sign.

Erin read a bit from her latest warrior book, The Last Hope. She was wearing a very short dress, so we all giggled when she said, “No one look when I sit down and stand up, or you might see more of my thighs than anyone would ever want to see!” It was also funny when she sat down on the plastic chair while saying, “Great. This chair is plastic. When I stand up, don’t look because I’ll have to peel my thighs off of the chair.”. That was hilarious! Then she started answering questions. I can hardly remember anything of what I asked and what others asked because I was delusional with excitement! Then, she finished her Q/A part of the book signing. Now it was time for the, well, book signing of the book signing! I got a picture with Erin Hunter  (Vicky Holmes), and I had all of my Omen of the Stars series signed.

On the way to the hotel from the book signing, my mom said to me, “Miranda.” I replied with a “What?” Then my mom smiled. “YOU MET ERIN HUNTER!” she exclaimed. I screamed. On the way home the next day she did the same thing. And that’s the story of how I met Victoria Holmes, one of the four Erin Hunters.

Review: “The Gideon Trilogy”

Title: The Gideon Trilogy (The Time Travelers,  The Time Thief, The Time Quake)
Author:  Linda Buckley-Archer
About 400 pages each

Synopsis:  Two kids stumble upon a science experiment that transports them across time, and they find they are stuck between the 18th and 21st centuries. They learn how the 18th century can be a very dangerous place, but with the help of good friends they may survive the pursuits of villains who want to exploit them and the technology that brought them through time.   Across the trilogy, they learn what special abilities time travel has created for them, and how that can help them when they really need it.  What part of modern life would you miss most?  What would it be like for someone from 1763 to live today?  Just how bad could it get if someone evil and power-hungry could go back and change key moments in history?  Find out in this incredible series.

Why kids would like this book: This book is exciting, and has a lot of twists and turns that you will love. This book contains edge of your seat moments where you can’t stop reading. If you’re reading this at night, it’ll make you say: “Just 5 more minutes, mom!”

Why adults would like this book:  Ok, maybe you are saying to yourself right now, “a time travel book–how cliché!”  I hear ya, and I hate predictable story lines, but this series was so riveting that I LOVED it!  Each book took the story in a new direction while trying to answer the main question of whether our heroes will ever make it home to the world and families they left behind.  Book one made me see life in the 18th century in a whole new way while I was trying to catch my breath between all the action.  Book two shows what could happen if someone from 1763 was thrust into modern city life…..and what trouble they can cause if they are EVIL!  Book three plays with what disastrous consequences come from changing the past. The author creates some very relatable and believable main characters that you want to hug and slap at the same time!  ….and the ways that the main characters deal with the voluntary and involuntary ways they can play with time is INGENIOUS and very entertaining.  …and the way that key plot twists can rip your heart out or make you want to scream.  Did I say that I LOVED these books already??

Miranda’s rating: book 1: 9 book 2: 10 book 3: 8

Todd’s rating: 10 of 10 (For books 1 and 2, but maybe an 8 for book 3 just because it got a little chaotic toward the end.)  These three are probably my favorite books from the last year.  Miranda and I would seriously hide the books from each other so we could read without the other stealing them!!

Miranda’s favorite character: Anjali. When my dad and I first read about her in book 2, my dad said: “It’s the girl with the dragon tattoo!”. She’s sneaky, she has a good sense of humor, and it’s always funny to read about how she deals with the Tar Man.

Todd’s favorite character: The adult version of Peter in book 2.  It was so cool to see how someone would become a man in an entirely set of circumstances, and what selfless steps he took from across time for his family’s emotional and physical well-being.

Miranda’s Favorite Part of the Book: Fast forwarding sequences. They’re kind of funny!

Todd’s Favorite Part of the Book: This is really tough……the climax at the end of book one, or any of the “fast forward” sequences in book two.

Miranda’s recommended age groups for this book: 8+. These are pretty big books, but each one is packed with action and adventure.

Have you read the Gideon Trilogy, and what did you think? What other books involving time travel do the kids or adults in your home love?

Review: “A Hero for WondLa”

Title:  A Hero for Wondla
Author: Tony Diterlizzi ( of The Spiderwick Chronicles)
464 pages

Synopsis: This is the second book in the WondLa trilogy which came out just a week or two ago.  We LOVED the first book (The Search for WondLa), so we preordered this one on Amazon so we could read it RIGHT AWAY, and we were not at all disappointed!

The first book is about our heroine, Eva Nine, who is raised in an underground “sanctuary” by a robot and is trained for life on the surface of the earth, only to learn when her peaceful sanctuary is destroyed that the world outside is nothing like earth, and is filled with fantastic plants (we love the wandering trees) and alien life forms of all varieties–some friendly and many not.

In the second book, Eva Nine learns more about other humans living on the planet, why she was raised underground, and what the future holds between the old human civilization and the new alien inhabitants.  As she continues her adventures with her alien creature friends and some new human friends, she also learns more about her own natural abilities, and just how much she can do to help save her friends.  This is a VERY exciting book, and we love the illustration pages at the start of each chapter.

Miranda’s Rating (from 1-10): 11! This is a very exciting book, and I want all of my friends to read it. I love this book because it has sci-fi, fantasy, and nature.
Todd’s Rating (from 1-10): 8   (I admit I have very high standards, so it takes a lot to get a 10 from me.) This book was a great page-turner and a lot of fun for adults.  It sucked me in and had enough twists and turns to keep me interested. I can’t wait for the third book–we’ll definitely pre-order that one too.
Miranda’s Favorite Character and Why: Rovender because he’s wise and helps Eva.

Todd’s Favorite Character and Why: Huxley–he’s good-tempered, a big help in some “tight spots” (wink wink), and faces life-threatening situations with courage and a positive attitude. 

Miranda’s Favorite Part of the Book: My favorite part of the story is when Eva comes into the city and meets everyone because it’s funny and I love it when the three teenage Gens say: “That is sooo rocket!” I also like it when one of the Gens’ omnipods classifies one girl’s hair as a monkey, because of the way she colored and styled it.

Todd’s Favorite Part of the Book: What happens when Eva Nine and Rovender go to Rovender’s home village–I always love a good reconciliation story!!!

Miranda’s recommended age groups for this book: 9+ because it’s stressful, has some sad parts, and it’s a pretty good sized book.

Have you read either of the WondLa books?  What did you think of them?

Welcome to our blog! (from Miranda)

Hey! This is Miranda, and I’m so happy about this blog. If you’re reading this, then I’ll be even happier! Please tell your friends about this and help us make our blog more popular! I wanted to have a blog about books because some books I read are just so great that I want everyone to read them. With this blog, I can suggest books that you never knew existed. I’m also happy because now I can make my mark on the world. In a couple years I might start a blog of my own! I love to read because it gives me good ideas for writing my own books. Reading is so much fun, and it helps you expand your imagination, and it gives you great ideas and inspiration, too!

Welcome to our blog! (from Todd)

It was July 21, 2007.  At 5:30 am I wore a baseball hat and sunglasses hoping not to be recognized as I drove to the store to be there when it opened.  I was a thirty-something who was more than a little embarrassed that I had cleared my schedule, told my wife and daughter I wouldn’t be speaking to them, and planned to spend the day occuppied with someone, or more accurately, something else… Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince which was just released that day.  I read it straight through in eleven hours, and that’s when I started to realize I might have a problem.  I was an adult who still loved children’s literature or ‘kidslit’!

Now I am totally comfortable with the fact that I can say that I prefer kidslit over reading other more “mature” novels or books.  And I think there are many of you out there too who feel the same.  Maybe you are just as excited as your kid for school book fairs to come around.  Maybe you and your kid fight over whose turn it is to read from the latest book you are both enjoying.  Maybe you don’t have kids at home, but love a great children’s book anyway!  If any of these are true, you are welcome here!

We’ll plan to share our thoughts on here of the latest good books we’ve read, and hope they’ll be helpful to you.  If you’ve already read these books, we’d love to see your comments on what you thought of them too.

Oh–and now that you are here….answer our poll on the sidebar about who in your home likes children’s literature.

Thanks for coming and come back soon for more posts!