Tag Archives: Children’s book reviews
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Liam may only be twelve years old, but he’s a very large twelve-year-old. As in, he looks well older than he is. Stubble, height, the whole nine yards. Although for a long time that made Liam feel like an outcast, he begins to realize that he could use this to his advantage. Did I mention that he is also extremely intelligent? Like too smart for his own good? Well hie is. And when he is sitting at a park with his friend Florida and he realizes that people mistake him for her father, the gears begin to turn. After nearly convincing the Porsche dealer to let him test drive a car, Liam sets his sights higher. Like space higher.
When he finds himself once more confused for an adult, he decides to go for broke on this one, especially because he was selected as one of five dads to take their children to try out the newest, most secretive thrill ride in the world. When the thrill ride turns out to be a rocket? Well, he’s just going to have to be the dadliest of the dads to be selected to take the children on the short trip to orbit.
Okay, so the premise is AWFULLY implausible on this one. But the story itself is still compelling and the underlying theme, about being treated as an adult simply due to his size, is an interesting plot line in itself. Some of the story feels a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but that’s not a bad thing. It’ full of clever humor and interesting, if completely unbelievable, scenes. It’s a fun and entertaining book from the author of Millions which was made into a movie a few years back. Worth a read.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Lockwood & Co., book one: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.
Happy Christmas Eve, Everyone! I know that maybe I should be reading heartwarming books of sharing, caring, and snow. But I ain’t. I’m afraid that the last book I read was NOT about Holiday warmth, or family, or gift-giving. It was a young adult novel about scary ghosts and the children who fight them.
London, some time in the future. The Problem first arose a few decades ago. Ghosts began appearing in huge numbers. And unlike the wispy specters of days gone by, these ghosts are dangerous; just a little ectoplasmic caress and you’ve been “ghost touched” which can be fatal. Interestingly, children are more sensitive to these spectral forces; adults cannot see or hear them. So it is children who work as ghost hunters.
The story surrounds Lucy Carlyle, who has joined the team of Anthony Lockwood and George Cubbins. Unlike most teams, they have no adult supervisor which makes them sometimes a little careless but always exciting. When a wealthy iron worker hires them to rid the most haunted house in England of spirits, they are in way over their heads but eager to prove their worth.
Totally scary and very engaging, this is a great read for older kids or childish adult who enjoy a good shiver. It just occurred to me: A Christmas Carol is totally a ghost story and it’s seasonally appropriate, so maybe I’m not totally off-base on this! Merry Christmas!
Post by Mark T. Locker
Prince Caspian: the return to Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is sequel time around here! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was such a resounding success that we thought we would dust off the follow-up, Prince Caspian. Anyone who tries to follow this series sequentially is in for a challenge. The recommended order and the order in which they were written are not the same. I just went for the sequel the movie empire chose to use as the sequel as well. Note the cover says it is “Book 4” Whatever!
Only one Earth-year has passed since Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter tumbled out of the wardrobe and back into England. On their way back to school they feel a distinct tugging and, next thing they know, they are back in Narnia. Only, everything has changed. Hundreds of years have gone by and the Old Narnians, the talking creatures, the centaurs and fauns, are all in hiding, driven nearly to extinction by men. One man, and true heir to the throne, is a sympathizer and an rallies the Old Narnians to take back their land. When they are clearly losing, Caspian blows the magic horn which once belonged to Susan, which will bring help from anywhere.
Guess who that help is? Guess what caused that mysterious tugging? It’s not a bad book though my son wishes there was more dialog. There’s a ton of these books. I’m not sure if we will read them all or not. If anyone out there has suggestions for chapter books for reading aloud, let me know!
Oh No! Not Again! (or How I Built A Time Machine to save History) (or at Least My History Grade) by Mac Barnett.
How’s THAT for a mouthful of a title? Honestly, the plot is hardly less confusing. I rather enjoyed this book and my son did too, though I suspect he missed what was really happening in the story.
The main character (hardly a heroine) is miffed for having gotten one question wrong on her history test. Rather than just accept it, she uses her genius to build a time machine and change the past to fit her answer. The question was about which country has the earliest known cave paintings. Her wrong answer was “Belgium”. So, with a little trial and error—it is a homemade time machine after all—she finds herself in prehistoric Belgium. Armed with paints and brushes, she proceeds to paint a fantastic cave mural, since the inhabitants of the cave seem disinclined to do it themselves. However, while she is busy drawing robots on the cave wall, the cavemen discover her time machine and proceed to bring all manner of people from all points in history back to the prehistoric era.
Needless to say, history becomes a little more changed than she anticipated. One the bright side, she got that one question right on her test! On the other hand, all the rest of her questions were wrong due to her effect on history. Like I said, the finer plot points are lost on my son, but the book is funny and entertaining nevertheless.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
I love young adult and teen fiction, but I don’t normally go for the harder, darker, more realistic stories. I prefer to read to escape reality. So I was surprised when I picked up Okay For Now and just kept on going. Even when you realize that the dad is a horrible person and that the brother is almost as bad. And most of the teachers are rotten too. Maybe I kept going because I could see the glimmer of hope through the terrible events in his present.
Because although Douglas Swieteck is up against a great deal of adversity and wrangling with a lot of preconceived notions from adults in his new school in Marysville, New York, there are a couple people who know he is not a thug just because his brother is, and maybe he is acting out because his life is rotten. Most important among those who help guide Douglas out of the fog is Mr. Powell, the elderly librarian who recognizes Douglas’s fascination with the Audubon book at the library and encourages him to try drawing the birds himself. Ultimately Douglas discovers a healing through art.
Although it’s difficult to believe the breadth and depth of the story, it doesn’t take away from the beauty of the tale. A lovely, at times dark, story of redemption and discovery.