April 24, 2008
Not only was this my first exposure to the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer but also to the typical style of graphic novels. Colfer creates a fascinating world of reality and fantasy where fairies, dwarves, goblins, and centaurs exist. However, I was most surprised by the human main character Artemis. He’s a 12-year-old boy genius, rich, extremely knowledgeable of technology, smart-alecky, and generally not a good guy. In this first book of the series, Artemis (and his private bodyguard, Butler) manipulate, threaten, even kidnap a fairy for gold. Another surprise for me in this book was the shift in point of view. Even though the series is about Artemis, readers are still able to hear the thoughts of the secondary characters, which, for me, created even less loyalty for Artemis. Still, the book is plot-driven with a lot of action, which I enjoy. Fans of Artemis Fowl would probably enjoy the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, and vice versa.
Although I didn’t wholeheartedly enjoy the story, I did like the graphic novel version of it. Sometimes I have a difficult time visualizing as I read, so the graphic novel allowed me to give my brain a break, especially since the graphic novel is not very text heavy. Reading this has inspired me to check out other series in graphic-novel form, including Nancy Drew and The Baby-sitter’s Club. I’ll review those soon.
April 22, 2008
The first book in this series by Megan McDonald begins as Judy is about to enter the third grade. She is a typical third-grader, who lives with her family in Washington, D.C. She has an annoying little brother nicknamed Stink, a best friend named Rocky, and a few classmates she would rather not talk to. Judy’s last name is Moody, which suits her as she is often in a bad mood “…or something.” Judy is sarcastic, excitable, and creative. Kids reading the books should not have a hard time identifying with her. The books are extremely fun to read. I really enjoy them. You can see a taste of McDonald’s fun writing style from the cover of the first book that says “Judy Moody was in a mood. Not a good mood. A bad mood.”
Judy Moody is an extremely fascinating and fun character to read. So far there are seven books in the Judy Moody series. Since they are short chapter books, they are perfect for transitional readers…or older ages looking for a fun, quick read.
April 17, 2008
The first book in this series by Donald J. Sobol was released in 1963 but reissued in 1982, which allowed for a new generation of readers to meet the famous boy sleuth. The books center around a young boy who solves crimes in his hometown for customers during the summer when he runs a detective agency (only 25¢!) or for his father, the chief of police. Each book features 10 short mysteries for Encyclopedia and readers to solve and has a few reoccurring characters – Bugs Meany, the neighborhood bully who is often the reason for Encyclopedia’s many cases; and Sally Kimball, Encyclopedia’s feisty partner who has knocked out Bugs and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
I used to read this series when I was younger, and they are still enjoyable as an adult. Since the books were written in the ’60s, the language can be dated, but this usually just adds to the charm and humor. This series is definitely worth a try for fans of mysteries.
April 16, 2008
This book by Lynne Cheney is filled with interesting information about all 50 states. The book has a loose plot of a family traveling throughout the entire country, but with each page dedicated to a state and jam-packed with pictures and trivia, the book certainly does not read like a story. The family vacation concept does pop up on each page though; if you’re paying attention you will find the two kids sending their grandma or friends emails and text messages about the exciting things they see or learn. Our 50 States is a great way to learn about geography and the diverse culture of the United States. With so much information on each page, this is definitely a book where each look may provide you with something new.
Mrs. Cheney has also written four other books for children, including A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women. Each of her books for children includes an aspect of American history, and most, including Our 50 States and A is for Abigail are illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and feature fun, colorful illustrations.
April 10, 2008
This book by Lane Smith was easily my favorite from the selection for class last week. It combines history, Beatles references, and humor to create a very entertaining book. I highly, highly recommend it. Actually, the more I read Lane Smith books, whether they are his own or an effort with Jon Scieszka, the more I love his work. Not only are these books fun for kids, but also for adults who read with kids (or just for the fun of it on their own). This story shows a look at five American leaders as children and how their actions as children may have impacted them as adults.
Like with Martin’s Big Words, Scholastic also put out a video for this book. The video is definitely just as good as the book. It works in some new animation as well as includes music that sounds very similar to Beatles songs. James Earl Jones also narrates. The video is great to watch if you have the opportunity, otherwise check out the book. It will absolutely make you laugh.
Here’s an advertisement for the book and video.
April 9, 2008
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. last week, I thought I’d revisit Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Scholastic released a video version of the book, which I think contains different aspects. Instead of adding new animation for the video, Scholastic decided to give movement to the pictures from the book. The video zooms and pans across a page to make it appear as if the pictures are actually moving. This gives more detail to the pictures. The video also uses a narrator (actor Michael Clarke Duncan) but occasionally includes text that moves quite a bit on the page. Some kids who are learning to read may find this distracting.
Overall, I think the video is a good adaptation of the book, and it’s nice that Scholastic released it as part of their video collection. It includes a portion of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in his own words. If you want to view, listen, or read the entire speech (which I highly recommend), go here.