Books for Kids

Along Came A Dog, by Meindert DeJong
review by Jackson & Mom; 4 out of 5 stars

The main character is a dog who returns to the same house despite not being wanted.  The dog meets a man and a chicken with no toes.   These three characters are really looking for somewhere to belong and they become a family of their own.

We read this book aloud and the kids really like it.   The book really got Mom & I dreaming about our own chicken house and outdoor animals.  We even drew up plans.

I would recommend this book to others who enjoy reading about animals. 

Born in the Year of Courage, by Emily Crofford
review by Jackson, 4 out of 5
assigned school reading, fall 2012

This book takes place in the times of Japanese seclusion from the world. 

There are some Japanese fisherman who get ship wrecked on a small rocky island.  They must survive about a year until an American ship rescues them.  They live an American life until Manjiro, the main character, raises enough money by gold mining in California to return to Japan.  He tries to open up his home country to the rest of the world. 

I would recommend this book to people who like adventure stories. 

The Box Car Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
review by Lena, 3 out of 5 stars

This book is about some kids whose parents die.  They are trying to stay away from their grandfather who did not like their mother (they think).  They find an old box car and make it into their home with old stuff they find from the dump.

I liked this book because they made so much cool stuff.  One boy, Benny, really loves the pink cup he finds and uses.

I would recommend this book to a friend.  It would give them good ideas to make play stuff from old junk.

The CandyMakers, by Wendy Mass
review by Mom, 3 out of 5 stars
July 2012

The point of view from this book is told from 4 different characters.  They are each entered into a very exclusive candy making contest.  As the kids learn to make their dream candy, they find out each others true motives for entering the contest.

This book was an exciting read, but it wrapped up a little too neatly for me in the end.  The characters have sort of "predictable" personalities.

The setting of a candy factory, though, and the different mysterious motives of the contestants provided good suspense.

Detective in Togas, by Henry Winterfeld
review by Jackson; 4.5 stars

A temple is desecrated and there is a mystery about "who done it".  A classroom's teacher is badly injured and it is connected to the crime.

I thought the mystery of this book was pretty good.  The plot was good, though the setting in Rome was just okay.

Diary of an Early American Boy, by Eric Slaone
reivew by Jackson, 3 out of 5 stars
Required reading, August 2012

This book is basically a diary of the life of a boy over the course of one year in 1805.

It read like non-fiction and detailed description of his daily life.  There were lot of explanations of things.  I read a few chapters a week and it took a while to finish.

Fever, by Lauire Halse Anderson
review by Jenny, 4 out of 5 stars
July 2012

This historical novel is a fictional account of a Philadelphia outbreak of  yellow fever several years after the birth of our nation.

It has very intriguing characters, and suspenseful situations.  I loved it and read it in just a few short hours.

I picked it up at the library (on a Barnes & Noble recommendation) for Jack, and though I think he would enjoy the book, without having contextual information about the fever or general health conditions at that time period, it would not be quite as richly enjoyed.  But I will keep this book in mind for when we study post American Revolution time period again.

The Great Turkey Walk, by Kathleen Karr
review by Jackson; 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is a book about a guy who is sort of down on his luck.  He meets a team of friends who help him grow up.  They take a journey from Missouri to the great out west. 

We read this book aloud and it had some funny parts.  It was exciting and we wanted Mom to read more than a chapter every day.

I recommend this book for you to read alone or outloud.

*Mom's note: As a read aloud, there were some words/phrases that I skipped over.  Some of the language regarding the way the circus girls were dressed was a bit showy.

George's Marevelous Medicine, by Roald Dahl
review by Lena; 1 out of 5 stars

George makes marvelous medicine.  Then grandma grows.  They make the chickens different sizes, too. 

I liked the book a little, but it is kind of crazy.  There is a little bit of magic in the book.  I wouldn't recommend it to a friend.

*Mom's note: Lena really hit it on the head with this one.  It's a well written book, and the character of George is likeable.  But the Grandma is mean, and the family is mean back to her.  We can't just make the people in our lives "disappear" because they are a "nuisance".  We had some good discussion regarding this at the book's end.
*Jack's note: I kind of liked it.

Here's a Penny, by Carolyn Haywood
review by Lena; 5 out of 5 stars
Read Aloud with Mom

A boy named William is nicknamed Penny by the parents who adopt him.  My favorite part was when he gets two kitten without expecting two kittens.  He doesn't know what to name them.  He wants one of them to be his forever kitten, so he names them BOTH "Really" & "Truly".

The Hobbit, by J.R. Tolkien
review by Jackson; 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book is about a little hobbit who goes on a HUGE adventure.  His name is Bilbo Baggins and he is a home body type of hobbit. 

The plot thickens when Biblo's group goes searching for treasure.  They are captured by a bunch of crazy wood elves.  Eventually they escape. 

I would recommend this book for others to read because it is a nice long adventure story.  I like adventure stories because they usually have mystery in them.    This book had a good ending, despite it not being a happy ending.

Homesick: My Own Story, by Jean Fritz
review by Jackson; 4.5 out of 5 stars
Required reading, September 2012

This book is about a girl who always writes to her Grandmother in America.  The girl was born in China.

This book is really about her small adventures while she spent almost 10 years in China.  There are some sad parts of the book.

I enjoyed this book because it had some action, and though sad, you can really get in touch with the character.

I have assigned this book for Mom to read, and I think she will really like it.

James & the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
review by Jackson, 3 out of 5 stars
July 2012

James is a boy who lives with two mean Aunts.  They are really, really mean!  James accidentally makes a giant peach with a magic spell.  He makes a family of his own on this adventure in the peach.

I would recommend this book to other kids.  It is a silly, magical book.  I like some of this author's other books as well.

The Kite Fighers, by Linda Sue Park
review by Jackson; 3.5 out of 5 stars
Assigned reading, fall 2012

The Kite Fighters is based in Japan and centered around the Japanese Kite Festival of the New Year.  Young-sup and his older brother Kee-sup get a kite one new year.  Young-sup falls in love with the sport.  Eventually he ends up flying for the King (who is actually a small boy).  You'll have to read it yourself to find out who wins the competition.

This book of just over 100 pages was a quick read and is good for people who like kites!

The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan
review by Jackson, 5 out of 5 stars
2011 and again July 2012

In this last book of the Percy series, our hero fights his enemy in a battle for the ages.  Kronos wages war against the Greek gods.

I like this book because Percy is one of my favorite characters.  I also like learning about the Greek myths right now.  There are intense parts in this book, but also very funny parts.

The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies
review by Jackson, 5 out of 5 stars
July 2012

A brother is very worried that his smarty pants sister will embarass him in their math class.  They work it out by having a lemonade stand contest where the winner takes all the money at the end.

I would recommend this book to someone who likes summer!  It's a good book to read while you're in the back yard!

The Light at Tern Rock, by Julia Sauers
review by Mom! 3 out of 5 stars
June, 2012

This is a sweet book.  It has been on our reading list for a while. 

I should have gone with my first instinct, though, when after having it on reserve at the library, we got the book and I read on the cover it was about the Christmas season.  Reading a Christmas book in June?  I just don't think the kids and I were able to make that connection during the equally wonderful season of summer!

As a read aloud, the story moves quickly and is really just a handful of chapters.  It's well written and an interesting/unusual story about a young boy and his aunt who are tricked into caring for an island lighthouse over Christmas.

Had I saved it as a short story read aloud closer to Christmas; I think we all would have enjoyed it more!

The Master Puppeteer, by Katerine Paterson
review by Jackson & Mom; 4 out of 5 stars
read aloud fall 2012

Jiro commits himself to the ownership of Yoshida at the Hanaza, which is an ancient theater.  He works hard and makes friends on the inside of the compound despite the chaos that controls the majority of the population on the outside.

Jiro confronts adulthood by making difficult decisions regarding his own future, his family, and even the fate of friends. 

This is an exciting book.  We finished reading it a week ahead of schedule, because we couldn't put it down!

The end of the book left Mom wanting a little more, though.  The middle part of the book was so enjoyable, the end was a bit anti-climatic.

Mission to Cathay, by Madeleine Polland
review by Jackson & Mom; 4 out of 5 stars
read aloud fall 2012

An orphan boy finds himself in the service of two Jesuit Priests.  They travel to China where they are considered "foreign devils".  Slowly they work their way into the trust of the people and succeed in their mission of creating a church as well as getting the people to know and trust them.

This book had a mystery which the reader quickly can figure out.  That made it exciting to read kept the book moving along at a good pace.

Misty, by Marguerite Henry
review by Lena; 3 out 5 stars

This book was about two horses.  My favorite part was when Misty seems to say "Hey, I'm Misty, I'm still here."  This is after Phantom runs back to the ocean (spoiler alert).

I would recommend this book to kids that like horses, like I do.  This book was funny and cute.  I wish this book would have had more farm animals in it.

*Mom's note: We all enjoyed this as a read aloud.  It was an exciting book to read, though the Grandpa's accent often flumoxed me!  Lena is a horse lover, and I was suprised she wasn't more generous with the stars!

Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
review by Jackson, 4 out of 5 stars
August 2012

This book is about a Momma Mouse who goes on a very big adventure to save her son, Timothy, from the farmer's plow. 

I would recommend this book to kids who like wildlife.  I liked the story of the rats and how they came to be.

My Father's Dragon
review by Lena, 3 out of 5 stars
October 2012
Read Aloud with Mom

A baby dragon gets to a mysterious island by falling from a cloud.  A boy goes on an adventure to save the baby dragon.  He has many tasks to complete.  He helps the baby dragon and saves him. 

I did like this book and would recommend to a friend.  It was a funny book.

No Talking, by Andrew Clements
review by Jack, 4 out of 5 stars
July 2012

A boy and a girl convince their whole group called "The Un-shush-ables" to begin a contest where the ones who talk the least win the game.  You'll have to read yourself to find out who wins!

I would recommend this book to kids who really like talking!!!!

Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates
review by Jack, 3 out of 5 stars
June, 2012

This is a book about a boy and a runt lamb, named Biddy.  The lamb eventually turns into the leader of the sheep yard.  The boy is a shepherd for the sheep.

This book does have suspenseful parts with wild animals and also the shearing of the sheep.  The runt, Biddy, eventually gives her wool to cloth the boy.
I would recommend this book to adults or kids age 10 and over.  It reads like a classic book.

No Dogs Allowed, by Bill Wallace
review by Jackson; 3 out of 5 stars
August 2012

This is a cute story about a girl who gets a dog she doesn't really want.  Recovering, still, from the loss of a beloved horse, she is afraid she will begin to love the dog and then it will die.

This isn't my favorite kind of book because it didn't really have any adventure. 

Owls in the Family, byFarley Mowat
review by Jackson; 4 out of 5 stars

This book is about two owls who get found by a boy named Billy.  The owls grow up in a family of humans and other animals, not in the wild.  My favorite was when Wol (one of the owls) scares some bullies by looking like a ghost.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes nature.  Also, it was funny.

Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry
review by Lena; 5 out of 5 stars
May/June 2012

A colt is found on a beach by Paul & Maureen.  They adopt the colt and name it Sea Star because of the markings on the colt's face.

They keep the colt because they really want another pony, even though they had to buy it from the fire chief. 

They give Misty's stall to Sea Star because she is on an American tour.

Mom's note; I've really enjoyed reading this whole series with Lena!  The antics of the ponies become like real personalities to us!

The Serpent's Shadow, by Rick Riordan
review by Jack; 5 out of 5 stars
July 2012
Stormy, Misty's Colt, by Marguerite Henry
review by Lena; 5 out of 5 stars

In this true story, a horse named Misty gives birth to Stormy, after a storm!  The mother and daughter are famous!  Kids from all over the world know them.
I would recommend this book to my friend, or any one who likes horses!

Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt, Geronimo Stilton
review by Jackson; 4.5 out of 5 stars
June 2012

In thisThea book, she and her friends hunt down an Egyptian treasure.  The adventure continues when they are attacked by robbers seeking the same treasure!

I would recommend this book to any kids who like the Stilton series of books.

Time Warp Trio; Marco Polo, Jon Scieszka
review by Jackson; 4 out of 5 stars
June, 2012

Time Warp Trio is a series of books I would recommend to kids who like history.

In this book, three boys have a magical book (similar to Magic Tree House) which transports them to the time of Marco Polo.  The boys have to find the book, without interrupting history, to get back to their own time.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin
review by Jackson; 3 out of 5 stars
September 2012  required read aloud

This is a book about a young girl who wants to change the fortune of her family.  She runs away and meets a dragon who travels with her. 

I liked that this story is similar to a traditional American tale, even though it is a Chinese story.  My favorite part comes at the end, when Min Li finds the fortune she seeks.

Mom's note: I LOVED this book!  It was funny, sentimental and exciting!  It definitely merits 5 out of 5 stars. 


Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
review by Jackson; 5 out of 5 stars
August 2012 family read aloud

This book is about a boy who really really wants two hunting dogs.  He finally earns enough money to buy the pups.  He and his pups go on many hunting adventures.

I liked the adventure of this book.  I can see myself in this boy's life a bit, especially the hunting alone at night parts!

It's a good book to read aloud with the family on a nice rainy day.

Lena remembers the funny parts of the book.  The tradgedies of the book didn't resonate as much with her.  The last chapter of the book, we all had to keep passing it around to finish reading.  Paul & I couldn't finish a page without crying!!!

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, by Elizabeth Lewis
review by Jack & Mom; 5 out of 5 stars
Read aloud, late summer 2012

This book is over 300 pages of an interesting, coming of age story of a young country boy, now surviving in the city.  He is luckily apprenticed at a copper making shop where he is taken under the wing of the shop owner.

It was exciting as Young Fu learned to trust his own instincts rather than be led by the gods of China.  He grows to be a man with a humble spirit and strong mind.  While not a suspenseful book, the action kept moving through the story.

We enjoyed reading this book together very much.