Tiger Lily#1: A Heroine in the Making!

Oct 26, 2012

A Heroine in the Making (Tiger Lily, #1)
Synopsis and picture from Goodreads:

Tiger Lily is not just fond of reading, she's obsessed! Her head is full-to-bursting with stories of pirates, wonderlands, daring deeds and buried treasure. And now she's had one of her ingenious ideas – she’s going to be a heroine and roam the world in search of adventure!

There's just one problem. Tiger Lily lives in the Middle of Nowhere where NOTHING EVER HAPPENS! How will she ever escape…?
  • It was utterly unconvincing when Tiger Lily’s mum said, “Reading is making you mad… do anything you like, but DO NOT READ!”
  • A more convincing idea might be to use a device, such as saying, “Or else no pocket money for a week,” etc.

    • I had a problem with the town being named "the Middle of Nowhere." I mean, I know this must be the author's way of reaching out to get more giggles, but to me it just sounds fake and a bit desperate, too. I would certainly NOT have this issue had the town been named, for example, Peace Falls, and Tiger Lily CALLED it "The Middle of Nowhere."

    • I loved the mini book reviews scattered throughout the book, and they even introduced me to "The Story of Romulus and Remus"!

    • I was a bit unnerved by how Tiger Lily seems not to have been bothered by a guilty conscience, such as when she breaks into Sweetness and Light's shop. I really do wonder if she believes or half-believes the fantasies she invents about the people living in her village?

Recommend A... Author similar to an author you love

Oct 15, 2012

Okay, here's the deal:

I wanted to participate in today's Recommend A...., and so I am. Ta-da!

Recommend A

That being said, I also can't bear to choose only one author. So I am going to make a group of Readalike authors for the book 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass.

I would recommend:

  • Sarah Mlynowski, author of the Whatever After series
  • Jenny Lundquist, author of the book Seeing Cinderella
  • Maya Gold, author of the Cinderella Cleaners series
  • Marissa Moss, author of the book The Pharaoh's Secret
  • Michael Biel, author of the Red Blazer Girls series
 So there you have it. Have a nice week!

Lost in the Woods

Lost in the Woods, Fun London (2011)
Length: 32 pages
Genre: Children's Books
Started: 1 September 2012
Finished: 3 September 2012
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
{Image source: here}

This story is about Jack, a boy whose father has died fighting a fire. Jack is very angry and sad because of this, and at the beginning of the story he is not in control of his emotions. However, he soon has an adventure that will change his way of looking at life forever.

There are many characters introduced throughout the book that may be confusing, such as the oddball Marvin, unfriendly leader of the pack of dogs, who refers to himself in the third person; however, the adventure aspect grabs the reader, especially halfway into the book.

I love Allen's peculiar logic, because his trail of thinking does make sense, in a way, though it may be unreasonable. However, I dislike his "and so forth and so on," although it does show a lot about Allen's personality: He's a very composed squirrel, a perfectionist, one who always talks formally; "I must object". Although he has good intention, he also is very indecisive.

The 'army of ants' mentioned in the book reminded me a lot of the book The Survivors.

In the end the story left me hanging as to where Jack has been. Was it all in his mind or did he really go there, and no time passed?

I loved how they all came together to fight the fire -- Boris the groundhog and Angel the eagle and Jack and Allen-- I love how they all understand the consequences if they don't work together. And how Angel was wise and cautious enough to not celebrate immediately, tempting as it might have been, for the welfare of all. Jack was the main character, but if not for Angel's wisdom all would have burned, for if she had not countered Allen's logic that "a rock does not burn," then maybe the whole forest would have burned and a great many animals would have lost their homes.

Give this to fans of Robyn Hill's GRUM!, they will go crazy for it.

Memorable Quotes~~~

  • The piece of bark he grabbed peeled from the tree, and he windmilled his arms desperately. Just when he regained his balance, the branch he stood on cracked and tipped downward, spilling Jack outward into the air.
  • Soon after Jack and Allen disappeared into the sea of golden stalks, the rustling sounds they had heard on the way to Blueback Mountain started up again. As their tension grew, their conversation died, leaving only the strange noises to fill the air. When the rustling suddenly got louder and closer, they both stopped walking. Any doubt Jack had as to the dogs’ intention evaporated when they bared their fangs and began to growl. One large gray and tan dog stepped forward from the others.

Lost in the Woods Author Interview: Fun London

Sep 30, 2012

Here is an interview from Fun London, author of "Lost in the Woods". Stay tuned for the review later on in the week (hopefully) !!!

What inspired you to write "Lost in the Woods?"
As a child, I had the unfortunate opportunity to experience the sudden loss of a parent. I know first hand what kind of a trauma this can be and how hard it is for a child to understand and to readjust to the new circumstances. I remember spending a great deal of time out in the woods, trying to lose myself in nature.
I only wish I had had the benefit of a fantasy like Lost in the Woods to help me sort things out in my life.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes. A friend of mine rushed over to me at a party and asked me to tell a story I had told her. By the time I finished, everyone was in tears laughing. I loved being able to create that kind of impact with words.
Also, in my tutoring of students, I noticed a decided absence of reading material that was positive, and a glut of depressing works that no sane child would enjoy. If I had been forced to read such work in school, I would have given up reading altogether. And that is exactly what many of those students had done. I decided they deserved better.

Do you have a specific writing style?
Good question. I'm not sure I know how to answer that. I write to communicate and to engage and entertain the reader through the characters I create. I do not like to waste words, so perhaps "lean" might describe my style. I believe in writing in a way that allows the reader to participate in the creation, not just sit back and idly watch. Most of all, I try to write true to the characters in my stories--the way they would think or talk.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
I see a part of myself in each of my characters. I think that helps me create characters that are real.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Although life can sometimes be dark or disappointing, there is always a way through to the light.

If your book was made into a film, would you have real actors portray it with voices for the animals, or would you have it done as an animation?
Although it could be done either way, I think that the Disney animation is currently such a high quality, I prefer that.

Tea or coffee?

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate -- LOVE it :)

Do you use a pen and pencil or laptop to write your stories? What environment (Quiet room, or music etc.)?
I use a laptop for most of the writing and a pencil for notes. I prefer the quiet cabin environment for writing. I've tried listening to music but that doesn't really work for me. I get too engaged in the music.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Say what you want to say, not what you think you are supposed to. Write, write, write. And by all means have fun doing it. I certainly am. :)

Stay tuned for the review of "Lost in the Woods"!!

Princess of the Wild Swans

Aug 21, 2012

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler (2012)
Length: 212 pages
Genre: Children's Books
Started: 16 August 2012
Finished: 16 August 2012
Where did it come from? The local library
Why do I have it? The idea of a princess who ruled over wild swans interested me (title)
Reading Challenges: back-to-school readathon
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars LOOVED it!! 

{Image from HERE}

Recommend A.... Book by a Debut Author

 Recommend A... is hosted by Shanyn at Chick Loves Lit and this week's theme is Recommend A.... Book by a Debut Author. Which, according to my sources, is a book that has been published this year, 2012.

Recommend A

 Seeing Cinderella, by Jenny Lundquist.

Summary adapted from author's website: Calliope Meadow Anderson is terrified to start seventh grade. Life hasn't been going too smoothly-- her best friend, Ellen, is slipping away, her parents’ marriage is falling apart, and to top it all off, she receives a pair of super ugly glasses the day before school starts. But pretty soon, Callie discovers her glasses can read people’s thoughts.Callie uses her new glasses to navigate middle school life and learns things she never knew about the people around her. Overachieving Ellen isn’t so super confident, after all. But when the glasses show Callie that Ana Garcia—a new student from Mexico and Callie’s Spanish tutor—has become a real-life Cinderella in her uncle’s house, she has to make a choice. Will she stay in the shadows and hide behind her magic glasses, or step out of the background and stand up for her friend?

Image from HERE

Seriously, I loved the book, but I thought that the author could have done a little better on the cover. I mean, come on! The shoes, socks and glittery things-- okay, acceptable. But the very design of the glasses look really, erm, fake. Plus, no effort was made to make them look really ugly! I mean, they're just some regular rectangular thick frames.

 Sorry for ranting guys, but I really thought that those socks were creative (lol). Anyway, I never understood why Callie (in Cinderella's glass slippers) has to accidentally-on-purpose step on those glasses. Maybe it stands for a chance that the play could help her lose the glasses? Or that the play could help her see without the glasses, so she doesn't need them anymore? Maybe that's it.

That probably didn't make any sense, that's because you didn't read the book. Go on, it's not half bad anyway. I was really thankful for Callie's glasses when Scott's haiku secret was revealed to her through them.


Young Fredle

Aug 18, 2012

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt (2011)
Length: 227 pages
Genre: Children's Books
Started: 16 August 2012
Finished: 16 August 2012
Where did it come from? The local library
Why do I have it? The idea of a mouse being enchanted by the moon thrilled me. (cover picture)
Reading Challenges: back-to-school readathon
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

{Image source: HERE}

Next Time Won't You Sing With Me?

Aug 17, 2012

Okey-doke, so I got this idea from the fabulous Somer over at A Bird's Eye Review (what a clever name!) and I will try to list the books that I have recently read that begin with each letter of the alphabet. The books which I would like to read yet haven't started are in red.

P.S. I definitely recommend you go to Somer's blog. Her list is SO much better than mine, because mine doesn't have any pictures. Okay, so I got lazy. But anyway, besides for X and Z, I think I did a pretty good job (just kidding).


Aug 16, 2012

It seems I am behind the times on everything, but luckily not this! Today Katie at Katie's Book Blog put up a linky for a readathon, and I am definitely hooked! You, my faithful reader, will absolutely see more updates in the few days to come as the readathon kicks off!

Now in case you are wondering what the heck a read-a-thon is:

A Readathon is where you set a goal for yourself to read more books that is beyond your average number of books you read. There is no minimum, it's all up to you! Push yourself to get some of those books read that have been sitting on your shelves for awhile! You can read any type of book you choose!

(Definition taken from Angela at Reading Angel!)

Here are my books for the readathon:

1. The Redheaded Princess
2. Princess of the Wild Swans
3. Young Fredle
(4. A Writer's Notebook)
(5. It's Like This, Cat)
(6. GRUM!)
(7. Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers)

Update 1:
Okay, so undoubtedly I read much, much faster than I expected. Now I'm thinking it will take pretty long to actually post the reviews but I did already finish Young Fredle and Princess of the Wild Swans (Of the two, I enjoyed Princess of the Wild Swans more, though). As you can see I have added another book because I am almost certain I will be done with the books before the time limit is up. But then again I have the reviews to consider and then I am not so sure. Okey-doke, I am off to start my first review. But I have read the first pages of The Redheaded Princess and so far I think it's a snore. But that's my opinion, and I'm hoping it will change, or else I will be sorely disappointed. :-(

Update 2:
I completely ditched The Redheaded Princess (a novel about Elizabeth I) but good news! I am very close to finishing Young Fredle's review and I have finished another book, It's Like This, Cat, by Emily Neville, on my Kindle. 5 books in 5 days! Oh boy, but I can definitely do it. But soon I may be facing 6 books, and then 7.... oh well. Anyway, today is Day 2, and I wish everyone good luck! I'm going to go and try to get into the Redheaded Princess.

Update 3:
I am sorry for all I have ever said against The Redheaded Princess. But I would not recommend it as a read aloud. It is merely controversial in the way that makes Julie of the Wolves controversial; but you should know why (Otherwise, please go and read it up.)
For that reason, I will not be able to write the review within the timeframe of the readathon. (Very sorry for any disappointments.)

Update 4:
Today is the last day because I forgot to update yesterday and I have finished each and every book on my list. I will try to do a maximum of 6/7 reviews on my list. That means that today I'll have to do 5/7. It's a stretch, and so probably I'll only manage 4/7 or 3/7, but oh well. Can't stop to talk today! Plus, it's time for Recommend A so look out for that later on!

Day 1:
Books finished: 2

Day 2:
Books finished: 1

Day 3:
Books finished: 2

Day 4:
Books finished: 2

Day 5:
Books finished: 0 :'(

Recommend A.... First Book In a Series

Recommend A… is a great weekly feature hosted by Shanyn at Chick Loves Lit. Each Monday there is a different prompt starting with Recommend A… Once you post your response you can link up over at Chick Loves Lit.

Okay, okay. I know it's Wednesday. But I particularly like the subject of this weekly feature, so I shall participate, though it was planned for July 30 (lol).
Love this series! I waited forever for book 9 and now it is finally OUT!!!! For all you Sister-Eight- lovers this is a HUGE deal! I read it on my Kindle in about half an hour and it was definitely amazing!

Front Cover
But wait, backtrack a little. You know that you have to read the first book first, right? That's why it's called the first book!

Okay, go ahead now and read it! Enough said.

Morning Girl

Aug 12, 2012

 Recently I saw on another blog (So Many Books So Little Time) a different format to review so I guess I'll try it here today.

Michael Dorris, published in 1992. 74 pages.
Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction
First sentence:

The name my family calls me is Morning Girl because I wake up early, always with something on my mind.

Last sentence: I knew they were real.

Marie-Grace & Cecile Series

Aug 3, 2012

Now I've inevitably gotten a little bit lazy so I decided to kill two birds with one stone (rather, kill 6 birds with one stone) and do a joint review of all six books in the relatively new American Girl series starring Cecile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner. 

"Foreword": I want to say a few words about the structure of the series. The entire series, like the rest of the American Girl books, is told in third-person limited narrative, but depending on the title of the book, each has a different PoV (e.g. Troubles for Cecile, book #4, is told in Cecile's point of view).

Also, the first two books, Meet Marie-Grace and Meet Cecile tell the same story from different point of views. For example (the first passage is from Meet Marie-Grace):

Cecile had warm brown skin, and Marie-Grace guessed that she was a free person of color. What should I say to her? Marie-Grace wondered. Then she remembered how Papa always said that all people should be treated the same. So Marie-Grace followed Mademoiselle Oceane's example. "I'm pleased to meet you," she said as she held out her hand to the other girl.

The Doll Shop Downstairs

Jul 22, 2012

This is a super sweet chapter book (I wouldn't venture to say novel) for kids ages 8~11. I would recommend it to girls, mostly, because the only male characters are adults and do not show up much in the story. The main characters are the three children of a Russian immigrant New York doll repair shop owner: Sophie, Anna, and Trudie Breittlemann.

This story is told through the point of view of Anna, the middle child. Sometimes she feels annoyed because her younger sister can still cry for attention and her older sister shines at everything she does, like a star, yet she, the middle child, can't manage to stand out.

Whenever the three girls feel lonely or bored, they would go downstairs from their apartment to the doll shop. There are three dolls on the shelf that the girls frequently take down to play with, and pretend that they are "their" dolls, although they can't afford any and the dolls actually belong to some wealthy people. Whenever life's trials take a turn for better or worse, Bernadette Louise, Anna's doll, always "hears" about it. Because of various reasons, the dolls have stayed on the shelf for a long, long time.

Then World War I breaks out in Europe and suddenly the doll parts, which are bought in Germany, are out of stock. Mama and Papa worry all the time, and the girls secretly whisper about it at night.
"Maybe we could get jobs," I say.
"What kinds of jobs?"
"We could help out some of the ladies Mama sews for. Wash the dishes or run errands. Mrs. Kornblatt has a baby. We could watch her sometimes." I have seen the baby with her white bonnet, white booties and plump, pink cheeks. It would be fun to look after her for a little while.
"Anna, that is not going to help," Sophie says in that I'm-so-much-smarter-than-you tone that always stings. "We need to make some real money, not pocket change."
"It was just an idea," I say, feeling snubbed.
"Well, it's not a very good one, so keep thinking."
Then Anna comes up with the best idea of all: Instead of repairing dolls, how about making them out of inexpensive materials?

Thoughts: I find this and it's sequel, The Cats In the Doll Shop, very similar to the Doll Hospital series, but only because they both are about repairing dolls. In addition, I do find one critic's comments spot-on:

Mix one part Rumer Godden’s The Story of Holly and Ivy and many parts Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family and you create a standout family-and-doll story.
I have not read The Story of Holly and Ivy but I am familiar with Rumer Godden's work as I have read Tottie: The Story of the Dollhouse which is also by the author.


As Simple as it Seems

As Simple as it Seems by Sarah Weeks (2010) 
Length: 181 pages
Genre: Children's Books
Started: 12 July 2012
Finished: 12 July 2012
Where did it come from? The local library
Why do I have it? Read the excerpt in So B. It and wanted to read it for a long time.
Reading Challenges: Dream Big. READ
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One Crazy Summer

I, for one, do not want to rant on and on about how good this book is. All I want is for you to go and...


Then, if you have the patience, come back and enjoy my book review. But maybe you just want to go and read a little bit first. And that's fine with me. (So long as you come back, of course :D )

For this post I have followed the very helpful book guide that you may find here. Whether you are a teacher or a student you may want to check it out.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Length: 215 pages
Genre: Children's Books, Young Adult

Age Level: Grades 4~7.

Started: 15 July 2012
Finished: 16 July 2012
Where did it come from? The local library
Why do I have it? Been wanting to read it for a long time, finally got around to it; it's a Newbery Book
Reading Challenges: Dream Big. READ
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary

Jul 19, 2012

This is a book report about Dear Mr. Henshaw, a book full of Leigh Bott's letters to Mr. Henshaw and pages of Leigh's diary.

Leigh's second-grade teacher read Mr. Boyd Henshaw's Ways to Amuse a Dog to her class. Since then. Leigh's favorite author has been Mr. Henshaw. Leigh loves writing letters to Mr. Henshaw. Once, for an interview project, Leigh sent Mr. Henshaw a list of questions to answer. When he gets the response, though, he is pretty mad, because Mr. Henshaw sent him a list of questions in return. Throughout the years, Mr. Henshaw helped Leigh realize his gift for writing. One day, Leigh submits a story about a ride with his divorced dad in his big hauling truck. In the school's yearbook, Leigh gets a "Honorable Mention" for it. At first, he is mad that he didn't get to place and meet a Famous Author, which was the prize. But then, surprise! The winning poem was actually copied from a book! Leigh gets the 4th place and is also complimented by the Famous Author, who has met Mr. Henshaw personally.

I like how this book is arranged into a Letters section and a Diary section. Sometimes, it changes right from real letters to Mr. Henshaw to pages of Leigh's diary, which is named "Mr. Pretend Henshaw." I like how the author, Beverly Cleary, cleverly manages to include enough information so that this book could easily become a story, not just letters and pages of Leigh's diary. It sounds like a first-person story in the Diary section, but it also tells how Leigh feels: angry, happy, mad, or sad.

I don't like how his parents got divorced. Couldn't they just be living separately, like his father living on the road in his hauling truck while his mother was at home with Leigh?

I suggest that the Famous Author, who was the prize for winning the story competition, should have been Mr. Henshaw. That way, at first, Leigh would be really sad that he didn't win. But then, he'd be very surprised and happy at getting the chance to meet his hero and penpal.

Feed me a comment please!

-- Dana

Great Books: Girls 9-12 category

Jul 8, 2012

YAH! I recently discovered the Scholastic kids' blog Ink Splot 26 and I ADORE it! Ever since I started reading it, I have updated my "Want-to-Reads" book list to over 30 books! I want to inspire some other children to read this blog and discover very interesting books; I know how that feels because I have taken pride in sharing my favorites with my friends. I will try to post often if I find any especially good ones.

The Doll With the Yellow Star

As you may be able to tell, I am currently starting a new "way" to review; let's see how it goes, we'll play it by ear. I did get the inspiration from the blogging site,

I have also started made changes to the blog. Can you figure out what they are?


The Doll with the Yellow Star The Doll with the Yellow Star by Yona Zeldis McDonough (2005)
Length: 96 pages
Genre: Children's Books
Started: 3 July 2012
Finished: 3 July 2012
Where did it come from? The local library
Why do I have it? Thought it looks interesting, browsed the library shelves and found it
Reading Challenges: Dream Big. READ; Barnes and Noble reading challenge; TD Bank Young Savers Challenge
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Wish for Tomorrow

Jun 16, 2012

What a heartfelt collection of words from boys and girls all over the world, accompanied by such a variety of pictures and paintings. This book is the microphone which will let these children's voices to be heard by the grown-ups. This is the book which will broadcast a tender message, yet is elegant and charming in its own, unique simplicity. Below I will share my favorite passages and although there are many I shall pick only the best.

If your child loves the Muppets, please don't be fooled by Kermit the Frog on the cover. Actually, this book has nothing to do with the Muppets, but the "author" is the creator of the Muppets. Though this book has a strong message, it will not be perfect for every child until he is ready. Otherwise, he will not absorb any of the simple text written from children all over the world.
If a wall falls down cranes can build it up again; but if a friendship wall falls, it's you that has to do the building. Stop fighting and be friends.
I wish that every bomb, every shot, every death would be replaced by the smile of a child.
In my new world all must speak little, but speak the truth.
From today on, even a crumb of bread mustn't be thrown away... As long as a single child is hungry we must sympathize with him. Let's say no to starvation.
In conclusion...
I wish the world would be happy forever after.
 Comments please,

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

Eleanor's life is falling apart. She's already going into third grade, but since her beloved, special babysitter, Bibi Bholasing moved away, she has been sad and angry. Her parents have hired a new babysitter, Nancy, but the way Nancy does things is very different from Bibi's way. Eleanor refuses to do anything that reminds her of Bibi, and many things remind her of Bibi.

We could not call Grandma Sadie, either.
Because Grandma Sadie
Would ask me about Bibi.
We could not go to Roma Pizza.
Because Bibi loved Roma Pizza.
So Roma Pizza reminded me of Bibi.
We could not ride my bike.
Because Bibi helped pick out my bike.
So my bike reminded me of Bibi.
We could not go swimming at the gym.
Because Bibi was scared of swimming.
So swimming reminded me of Bibi. 

Entering third grade serves as a transition into her acceptance of Nancy's ways. At school, she writes a poem entitled "Love Is..." Her definition of "love" centers around Bibi and Nancy.

Her third grade teacher indirectly, unknowingly helps Eleanor realize that she is able to move on, and the book closes with her best friend, Pearl, meeting Nancy and all of them having a great time.

Leave me a comment!


Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

May 24, 2012

In this truly heartwarming-- and heartbreaking-- story by Eleanor Coerr, a young Japanese girl awakes one morning to find all her dreams crushed because of the terrifying atom bomb disease, leukemia. Her hopes of becoming a track star on the junior high school's running team are in ruins-- but out of this misery there arises a fresh new hope: If only Sadako could fold one thousand paper cranes, all would be well.

It was her best friend, Chizuko, who had first brought news-- and hope, with the arrival of the first crane. Just the year before, Sadako had been frightened by the grotesque faces of the atom bomb victims. She had not known that hardly a year later, she would belong to a class of them: victims of the "aftereffects" of the atom bomb-- victims of leukemia. Sadako tried hard to believe in the cranes, but when a little boy, a fellow leukemia victim, Kenji, dies, her hope began to waver.

The hardest race of Sadako's life... the race against time.
As literary critic Anita Silvey put it,
This slim book of 80 pages, written in very simple language, presents [Sadako's] heart-wrenching story...A three-handkerchief story, it will always work for those readers who request a sad book. By showing the effect of a war on the life of a vibrant and attractive child, Eleanor Coerr wrote a powerful book that advocates for peace."
Eleanor CoerrI recently read an article that made me very sad. Eleanor Coerr, the author of this much-loved book, passed away in 2010, two years ago. If she had been alive, this year she would have celebrated her 90th birthday, just like Mrs. White in the popular series The Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant. Anyway, I leave you with this thought.

Oh, river (from Moon over Manifest), Dana

In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen

I am sorry to say that this post will be short because of the book's length. However, it is a wonderful series for young girls. I adored Lily, because she was a poet, and I aspired to become a writer. I am not sure about Lily's beautiful sister Rosie's character, because she enjoys a seemingly wide variety of things-- from stained glass to paper dolls to a little cottage with flowers by the door. However, there is no doubt that all three girls, including the two girls' outgoing cousin, Tess, are very sweet and kind.

As a child, I fantasized about living a grand life like Lily. Her wicker bed and long lacy yellow curtains were beautiful and glamorous to me. However, it is not like I do not have any "Tess" genes, for in fact, I do. I enjoy singing and dancing a lot, and am very fond of acting.

Lily, Rosie, and Tess are nine years old. Since there is nothing to do over the summer, they decide to start a cookie company. They sell Cinnamon Crinkle and other kinds of various cookies.
They deliver fresh-baked cookies and meet a customer who has a crush on Aunt Lucy. But he's too shy to tell her. How will these two ever get together? It's up to the cousins to make romance bloom on Cobble Street!
If you're new to the series, you probably have a head full of questions by now, so I will further explain. Aunt Lucy is the relative that the three girl cousins are staying with since they did not want to go to boarding school while their parents traveled around the world on a tour with the ballet. Aunt Lucy owned a flower shop nearby her home on Cobble Street. And just in case you were wondering, that old, old, lady on the cover page with almost zinc white hair is called Mrs. White. The girls had met her because she had ordered cookies to celebrate her 90th birthday. Later, she was invited to the girls' "A Collection of Classics by Comely Cousins" show.

The drawings are absolutely precious, especially the detailed flowered stenciling on the edges of the covers! They simply radiate a kind of childlike whimsy, a kind of charm that any girl is sure to fall in love with.

Cheers, Dana.

Shakespeare's Secret

May 18, 2012

Twelve year old Hero Netherfield and popular 8th grader Danny Cordova are on a mission to find the missing Murphy Diamond. The Murphy Diamond is a 17 Karat pendant in a necklace that traces back to the English nobility. All of the police believe it is hidden in Hero's house! On the way to finding the diamond, they befriended Mrs. Roth, who was Arthur Murphy's ex-wife. Arthur Murphy's second wife is the woman who inherited the diamond. Therefore making it known as the Murphy Diamond.

There is a really interesting point that I really enjoyed. It is a bit of a coincidence, however, and it contains a completely happy ending. However, the next paragraph will contain spoilers, and you will seriously regret it if you read the next paragraph-- that is, if you plan on reading the book, and enjoying it. 

Interesting points: Mrs. Roth has a daughter named Anna, who ran away when she was 17. Once, Anna sent Mrs. Roth a postcard to say that she had married and had a baby. Danny Cordova's mother ran away when he was 5. When Danny went to Mrs. Roth's house, he saw a picture of his mother and Mrs. Roth. It was then that Danny and his grandmother were reunited.

All of my friends who have read this agree this was an interesting read. I have read it more than once.

At Emma Clark Library's system, you can grade the books out of 5 "bookmarks", or stars. Because of its popularity and plot, I give this book 5 out of 5 bookmarks!

Tara's Essay

May 16, 2012

I'm getting kind of worried that I won't be able to write the Thirteen Gifts review in time before I have to return them. So, I'm going to share my favorite selection of quotes from Tara, the main character. I had really high hopes for this one because the plot was very good. Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed because it became "modernized" and there are several references to texting which I highly dislike. It could've been wonderful. Instead, it was written to sell. That said, I did not purposely tell you this so you wouldn't buy it, I loved it. It's such a thick novel that there's a generous amount of room for error. Lovely, just lovely.

I have learned that doing something for the wrong reason will likely backfire on you. It may also backfire on you if you do it for the right reason.

Thanks to Google I have learned that even though a hawk can fly over 250 miles a day, it's not fast enough to beat a train.

I have learned that some people love math because either the equation works or it doesn't. There is no gray area. If everything in life was clearly wrong or clearly right, I would be much happier.

I have learned that there are some towns where special forces are at work, and you can't tell if you live in one of these towns until strange things start to happen to you.

I've learned that the universe doesn't care what our motives are, only our actions. So we should do things that will bring about good, even if there is an element of selfishness involved. Like the kids at my school might join Key Club or Future Business Leaders of America, because it's a social thing and looks good on their record, not because they really want to volunteer at the nursing home. But the people at the nursing home still benefit from it, so it's better that the kids do it than not do it. And if they never did it, then they wouldn't find out that they actually liked it.

I have learned that almost anyone will help you if you ask for it.

I have learned that everyone should be allowed to keep their secrets. But if they eat away at you with guilt, or make you move your family to a different town every year, you should not keep them.

I've learned that if you wait long enough, you might get a second chance at something you gave up on. And sometimes you'll be the one to give the second chance to someone else.

I've learned that everyone can do their part to repair the world, and that the more you look for them, the easier it becomes to spot all the little pieces.

And most of all, I've learned that the sidelines may be safer, but life is played on the field.

When You Reach Me

Author: Rebecca Stead
Rating: 5
When You Reach Me is an amazing book. I bought it when the Scholastic Book Order came around and there it was, on the front page: Rebecca Stead's Newbery-Award winning book!

It was such a good buy I absolutely could not put it down until I finished it. All I have to say is good work Newbery Commitee! This was last last year's book (2011's books was the illustrious Moon Over Manifest, and this year's was Dead End in Norvelt, not as good as I had expected, since over the past two years I have been spoiled into thinking all years have good Newbery winners!) and I was absolutely thrilled with it.

 It's so good that if you haven't read it yet, you're really missing out! It's really gripping and has a really neat twist, not to mention a really confused-mysterious tone (as opposed to a suspense-mysterious tone, e.g. a genie comes out and says, spookily, "You will die!")

It's about a girl named Miranda who receives mysterious notes that say things no one should know. Her best friend since kindergarten, Sal, is completely ignoring her after a kid punched him on the street. It's a little confusing, and it all gets wrapped up in the end. However, it's REALLY gripping. This is the main reason I liked it--- it's confusing!

This book seems like realistic fiction (one of my personal favorites), but it's science fiction-- it's not really clear until the end. That's okay, for me it set two personal records-- "Read a science fiction book and enjoyed it THOROUGHLY" (Madame L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time didn't impress me much when I read, I being much too small to understand anything..) and "Reread and reread again a science fiction book".

As Gram in Walk Two Moons would say, "Huzzah, huzzah!"

If you've already read it, I'd like to know your personal thoughts and opinions on this book (very much obliged, sir!). This is a very complicated, jumbled-up book, and it may take a couple of rereads to fully understand the story. That's okay, we have all the time in the world! :) But my favorite chapter, if I had to name one, would be the one titled "Magic Thread".

The whole book is very abstract, depending on scientific theory and things like that. I'm not really into that but now I have some questions about time travel that I'd like any Julias out there to be able to explain to me.

 1) Say every single point in time is happening at the same time, like Marcus explains it, "like a drawer full of pictures." Okay. Bob from 2080 AD went back in time to, say, 2056 AD, during his childhood which took place in wartime. Now let's suppose that while he was in 2056 AD, adult Bob was able to change something really significant. Like prevent a war or something. When he went back to 2080 AD, what would happen? Did he prevent the war or not? Because it really happened, but then it didn't. Or is this the exact reason why time travel isn't possible, as of now?

Very sorry that the above is confusing.

Hope you read it and like it!

John Philip Duck

May 3, 2012

By Patricia Polacco

Edward Pembroke is a little African-American boy with big dreams of days when he can wear a shiny uniform and march to John Philip Sousa's music. For now, though, he's only a small-town farmboy who works with his father at the strictly-run Peabody Hotel. One day, Edward finds a small duckling at the edge of the bullrushes by the pond and convinces his parents to let him keep his newfound friend as a pet and bring him to work at the hotel.
"Well, I guess we could give it a try, but you have to keep him hidden or we could both lose our jobs," Pa said.
Find out what happens to Edward's pet, John Philip Duck, when the strict but fair manager of the hotel finds out his secret!

In America, teachers are big fans of read-alouds, and do them often, although it is different in South Africa as well as Canada. This is partly (or shall I say mainly?) due to the fact that in Canada and S. Africa, teachers expect you to be able to do this kind of reading individually. Yes, however, it is true; that kids everywhere enjoy a good story read-aloud. And Patricia Polacco book is super-duper suitable for this purpose alone, and it might appear that this book is for younger children, grades kindergarten through third.

But however fluently a child can read the words upon the pages of this and another, Chicken Sunday, he cannot decipher the deeper, hidden meaning of these seemingly few words. That will not come until later, unless the child in question is a precocious one.

The Boy Who Loved Words

Apr 28, 2012

This was my absolute favorite picture book from the time my third-grade teacher read it to our class. It deals with a lonely boy named Selig whose hobby is to collect-- not baseball cards, nor tiny teaspoons, but words. As a boy, he never participated in social activities or sports, and classmates began mocking and teasing and bullying him.

One night, Selig has a dream that a genie visited him, and told him that he had a passion, and what he needed next was a "purpose, a mission". So young Selig packed a knapsack and "took to the road, determined to find his purpose."

But when he had been on the road for many days, his collection of words began to feel to heavy for him.

"In front of Selig stood a large and lovely tree. He removed his jacket, stuffed, like his mama's strudel, with words. Tenderly, he hung each word on its own separate branch, as if putting it to bed for the night."
That night, as Selig slept in the large and lovely tree, a poet was wandering about, trying to find the right words to describe the moon, when Selig's words floated down to him. He read every word, then exclaimed, "My stars! That's it!"

The poet thanked him heartily, and dedicated his new poem to Selig, who now called himself Wordsworth. He had figured out his purpose-- to share his words with others!

But in time, Wordsworth became a man. He was lonely, yet again. But he heard:

"A single, pulsing, marvelous note floated through the air and found its way straight into his heart. "Mellifluous!" he exclaimed."

He followed the note, which led him to a pretty girl of around his age. "What is your name?" he asked. She replied that her name is called Melody, and soon they were married. "Upon my stars!" you may exclaim. "How lucky they are!" And you will know that it's true.

Magic Kitten: Firelight Friends

I was really excited to start a Magic Kitten book and decided to start with the tenth book, Firelight Friends, because the title intrigued me.(The first one wasn't available at our library).

Flame is a majestic young white lion who can disguise himself as a kitty. He "often appears in a variety of fluffy kitten colours" but he has huge green emerald eyes. In the story, he must hide from his evil uncle called Ebony, because he has spies everywhere trying to track him down so that Ebony can kill him and become the heir to the Lion Throne, which is in the world that Flame is from.

Because he needs to hide, Flame travels to Earth, even though he knows his uncle has spies even there on Earth. He searches for a young human friend whom he can trust with his secret and rely on for protection. In the end, he ends up in England, at the camp 'TH Adventure Holidays', and reveals himself to Kara Parkes, a camper there for 2 weeks. He cast a spell on himself so that only Kara could see and hear him, because pets were not permitted on camp grounds.

With his magic, Flame frequently helps Kara and her bunkmates Felicity and Cherry because the boys at the camp are bullying her. For example, some throw biscuits at them, while others steal precious toys.

On the day of the group pony trek, Flame tells Kara that today would be the day his enemies would come, but he would find her if he could. When they get lost in a thick foggy mist, Flame reappears at Kara's side and direct them to a cosy house for the night. However, a large grey lion soon appears at the doorstep and Kara knows she must say goodbye to her dear friend.

When Kara gets back to camp, she learns from the counselor that her beloved pony, Amber, whose leg was badly strained, was almost well, like magic. Kara believes that this is Flame's final parting gift to her.

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much.

Magic Kitten: Firelight Friends, Sue Bentley Copyright 2007, Puffin Books

Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 19 - Summary

Mar 23, 2012

19 - The Fall of Troy

All day the Trojans celebrated. But at nighttime, Sinon signaled the leaders inside the horse. The leaders killed and killed and destroyed the city of Troy. But Odysseus went to Helen and killed Deiphobus. Menelaus went around, looking for Helen and then Odysseus saved Helen’s life. Finally the war was over and the Greeks went home.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 18 - Summary

18 - The Wooden Horse

Athene gave Odysseus an idea to build a big wooden horse in which men could hide, and everyone helped make it. Finally they chose a man called Sinon to act as a foolish man. Then all the leaders got into the horse. A Trojan priest warned against the horse, but after Sinon told his “story” all the Trojans cheered and believed him. Suddenly two serpents came up and killed two people. Everyone was scared but they forgot about it when they remembered the horse.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 17 - Summary

17 - Poisoned Arrow
Calchas said that the Greeks needed Philoctetes who lived on the island of Lemnos. When he came, he taught the Greeks how to make poisoned arrows. He went outside and shot Paris, and soon Paris was dying. Paris was carried to Oenone, his previous lover (before Helen) who had healing powers, but she refused to help him because of Helen. When she changed her mind, Paris was already dead, so Oenone committed suicide.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 16 - Summary

16 - The Death of Achilles

The Ethiopians came to help Troy. King Memnon slew a lot of people, including Nestor’s son. Then he injured Achilles’s arm, but Achilles killed Memnon. Finally Paris shot Achilles from faraway and he died, and his ashes were put with Patroclus’s ashes just like he said. At the end of the funeral games Thetis said the best one would get Achilles’s armor. Odysseus won and Ajax was being mind controlled so he went and killed himself.
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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 15 - Summary

15 - Warrior Women

Penthesilea and her Amazon spearmaidens arrived to the aid of Troy and immediately charged the Greeks. The Trojans were winning when Ajax and Achilles came in and killed all of the maidens. Finally Achilles slew the Amazon Queen and her horse.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 14 - Summary

14 - The Luck of Troy

Odysseus pretended he was a beggar and he got kicked out of the Greek camp, because he kept bullying all the Greek leaders by spreading false rumors. Then Helen found the “beggar” and cleaned him up, revealing his true identity. Odysseus left because he was in Troy now and he went to sleep in Athena’s temple. He put magic potion on the ground and the priestess drank it and went to sleep and Odysseus stole the Luck of Troy.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 13 - Summary

13 - Ransom for Hector

The gods told Thetis to tell her son that he should give back Hector’s body. King Priam put a lot of ransom in a cart and traded it for Hector’s body. Then Andromache, Hecuba, and Helen cried for Hector. Finally they took nine or ten days to build a pyre, and on the eleventh day they buried him.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 12 - Summary

12 - Funeral Games

Hector’s friends sobbed for him, because he was worse than dead. Achilles built a funeral pyre for Patroclus and poured the remains into a special cup, saying that when HE died his remains ought to be put in there too. Then there was chariot racing, boxing, wrestling, foot racing, and spear fighting. Then Achilles dragged Hector’s body behind his chariot for 12 days.
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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 11 - Summary

11 - Vengeance for Patroclus

When Achilles heard that Patroclus died, he wanted to battle right away. But Thetis said he had no armor and he would get armor tomorrow, so he waited. Hector was not afraid when he was waiting for Achilles, but when Achilles came he was very scared so he ran and ran. Then he was not afraid anymore and threw a spear at Achilles and missed. Achilles killed him and then tortured his body.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 10 - Summary

10 - The Armor of Achilles

Achilles let Patroclus borrow his war gear and lead the Myrmidons in his place pretending to be his lord. After Patroclus left, Achilles prayed to Zeus and offered wine. Then Patroclus had a great victory. Suddenly, Apollo secretly took off his helmet, and seeing that it wasn’t Achilles, the Trojans killed him. While he was near death, Patroclus predicted that Hector will be killed by Achilles soon.
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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 9 - Summary

9 - Battle for the Ships

The Trojans separated into five groups to try to break into the Greek camp but Hector’s group had a bad omen in the form of a red snake. Soon Hector got a big rock and smashed the gate with help from Zeus. Then Ajax, with help from Poseidon, injured Hector badly with another big rock. Zeus sent Apollo to make Hector even more powerful than he was before, and when he awoke he started burning the Greek ships.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 8 - Summary

8 - Red Rain

The Greeks woke up in a good mood even though there was red rain, which was a bad omen. In battle, Agamemnon, Diomedes, and Odysseus were all wounded and then their chief healer Machaon got wounded. Nestor told Patroclus that there should be a replacement for Achilles.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 7 - Summary

7 - The Horses of King Rhesus

Odysseus and Diomedes went to spy on the Trojans, but then they saw an enemy spy named Dolon. The Greeks listened to his information and then killed him. Then they secretly went to the Thracian {an ally of Troy} camp, where they killed the King and his 12 bodyguards, and then stole the best horses. Since the King was dead, the Thracians would probably go home and stop helping the Trojans.

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Black Ships Before Troy - Chapter 6 - Summary

Mar 6, 2012

6 - The High King’s Embassy

Paris and Hector went to battle, and now war was really going strong. Athene stopped the fighting for the day by letting Hector and Ajax (a Greek) challenge each other. After fighting they gave each other gifts, to show their respect to each other. The Greeks strengthened their camp, but on the next battle-day they were still defeated. The High King suggested going home, but wise old Nestor, a soothsayer, said they only need Achilles back. An embassy was sent to meet Achilles, but he said that he wouldn’t come back.

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