Monday, December 19, 2011

Mr Finnegan's Giving Chest

Friday was the last day of school before Christmas Break for the middle schoolers, so it was a pretty laid-back day. In one of the sixth grade classes they were listening to this book: Mr Finnegan's Giving Chest with Mr Finnegan based on Dick van Dyke, who also read the story. I loooove Dick van Dyke, and it was a great Christmas story! I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been at school I totally would have cried. It was super cute and true-meaning-of-Chirstmas-y! Read it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress was definitely not the book I thought it would be. Rhoda Janzen is no Elna Baker or Chelsea Handler, which is what I was expecting. Everything I had heard, and even the cover and title, was misleading. It was not the tale of a sheltered Mennonite trying to navigate life with the gentiles. It was a tale of going home in your 40s after a bitter divorce. 
Really, it just hadn't been pitched well to me. I was expecting something different than I got, which led me to not really enjoy this book as much as I would have otherwise. I really hate it when something get so worked up you can't enjoy it in its own right. Case in point. Read on! (but read this before you read Elna or Chelsea! They're funnier.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Willoughbys

In a cute throwback to books I'm sure Lowry read as a child, The Willoughbys tells the story of four children who want to be orphans. And it turns out, their parents don't  like them very much either. It's really a cute little story; I enjoyed it and I think kids really would too! Read on!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Prince Across the Water

Also in the Stuart Series is Prince Across the Water. It takes place in Scotland, of course, and tells the tale of a young boy who sneaks off and joins their equivalent of an army to fight for the "Bonnie Prince Charlie" in order to restore his father, James Stuart III "The Old Pretender" to the joint English and Scottish throne. He had been replaced by his sister, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange. 
Unfortunately, I hadn't read anything about this throne/succession problem before, and Yolen didn't really explain it well enough for me. So heaven knows a (pre)teen would have no clue what the Scots were fighting for in the first place. Same as Queen's Own Fool, I enjoyed the book, albeit less than others, but would not recommend it to non-nerdy youth. And how many youth are historical fiction nerdy? So while it did make me want to read about the royal Stuart family and the Orange succession, I didn't really find Prince Across the Water to be a complete success. However, the story of the prince was background to the story of the young boy, so from that perspective, it was pretty good. So, mixed feelings. I don't regret reading it, but I'm not certain I would recommend it.

Queen's Own Fool

As ya'll know, I'm a fool for historical fiction, and I'm kind of on a YA FIC kick.
Also, I love Jane Yolen. 
The Devil's Arithmetic? My favorite Passover book.
Briar Rose? So creative! I love the mix of fairy tale with the Holocaust.
I used to read a lot of Holocaust novels.
Turns out, I've actually read this book before. I still enjoyed it though.
I wouldn't really recommend it to a kid who struggles with reading, but it's a great  book for a nerd like me. Mary Queen of Scots? She's a total powerhouse. I've read non-fiction about her! So yeah, Queen's Own Fool was great. Not my favorite Yolen, but still a good read!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Revolution is not a Dinner Party

Ya know, this was a pretty interesting read about Mao & the Chinese Revolution from the perspective of an upper-class young girl. Not the best book ever, but worth a quick read. Again, it's YA Fiction, so keep that in mind. But I liked it well enough. Read on, Revolutionaries!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Gregory Maguire writes weird books. I'm not sure why I continue to read them. Lost is no exception, which I unwittingly keep looking for. So yeah. Weird. A little too vague at parts. It's like he's trying to be deep, but he isn't. Or else I'm a bigger idiot than I thought. . . And that is all. Read on kiddos!

Cleopatra Confesses

The sixth graders at CMS have been doing an Egypt unit for the past few weeks, which inspired me to read about Egypt, ie: Cleopatra Confesses  by Carolyn Meyer. I've read about Cleopatra before, but not as the main character, and not in her youth. This starts with Cleopatra at age 11 and continues throughout her life. I'd rate this novel about in the middle. It was interesting and historical, but there were definitely some dry parts. For a young adult novel, I didn't find it quite interesting enough. I'm not sure teenagers would really enjoy it and might give up halfway through. So, eh, meh. If you're into Cleopatra, it might be worth a go. Otherwise, I'm not sure. Read on, stalkers!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


My Margaret Peterson Haddix addiction must soon come to end, I fear, for there are only so many novels left! But Turnabout was definitely an enjoyable read with a nice sci-fi angle. Scientists approach the nearly-dead at a nursing home and ask them if they'd like to live forever, without quite expressing all the nitty-gritty details. Yet they take these elderly folks, fake their deaths, and give them an injection to reverse their aging. There is supposed to be a second injection, a "cure", to be injected when they want to stop un-aging. But everyone who takes it dies. 

I enjoyed this book as well. I stayed up one night reading it while Cass played a game on my iPod. We're super cool like that. But it's great! Read on!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Escape from Memory

I may have an addiction. Her name is Margaret Peterson Haddix. In this novel we meet a girl named Kira, who, at a sleepover, is hypnotized and regains some strange memories. Memories of a foreign language, a war, and strange women she called "Mama." Kira asks her mother about these memories, and her mom clams up. So what's Kira to do but snoop? All she finds is a key to a safety deposit box, which she couldn't access without her mom anyway. And then she comes home from school and her mom is missing. Unusual, but not suspicious. Until Kira sees the key to the car on the ground, with a note from her mom: "Take the car, go to Lynne's." But Kira doesn't. A strange women shows up at her house, claiming to be her Aunt Memory and saying her mother is a kidnapper and has also been kidnapped. Kira must go with this stranger to save her kidnapper/mother, as well as her home country from war. 

I really enjoyed Escape from Memory. It was a great mystery and had a nice ending. And it was nice and short; I read it while doing laundry. Read on!