Monday, February 25, 2013

Miscellaneous Madness: Kane's Winter Book Reviews

It's pretty obvious by now, but we've spent A LOT of time indoors this winter. Cami has been waffling back and forth on her afternoon nap and mom has been trying to keep me quiet in an effort to keep the nap alive. So we've been reading a lot of books. My Grammie B got me the Boxcar Children bookshelf set for my birthday last fall and ever since we started reading those, I've been very into the concept of chapter books. In any event, I thought I'd share my likes and dislikes about the batch of books we finished recently. The weather doesn't look like it's improving any time soon, so I think we'll keep on reading ....

These are organized in order from my most favorite to least favorite (although, I didn't really dislike any of them) and mom's notes are highlighted, too. AND most of my reviews reveal the plot, so don't be surprised by some spoilers! 

Usborne Greek Myths
- Liked: When Perseus knocked off the head of Medusa. When Hades took Persephone - I thought it was funny. It was crazy. When Pandora opened the box - it was crazy. When Heracles killed the man-eating lion.

- Didn't Like: When Athene appeared and tore Arachne's weaving. When Heracles tried to catch the golden stag. When the Centaur tried to attack the feast.

- Mom's notes: We bought this book because we started reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and it was a bit too scary (even skipping over parts). But Kane seemed to really like the concept of Greek mythology and the idea that the Greeks used gods to explain what was going on in the world. So I looked for a children's version of basic Greek myths. The Usborne book is great -- it's small in size (so can be easily tucked in a bag, which I did and we read it all over the place this winter), the illustrations are pretty, and the stories are each only a few pages (some are a series of stories, such as Odysseus' journeys). 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)
- Liked: When Hermione became friends with Harry. I liked the whole thing, actually.

- Didn't Like: When they found the sorcerer's stone because I wanted to follow Hagrid, not the kids. They were so curious about the stone.

- Mom's notes: I knew Kane's imagination would love this book, but I was worried about it being too violent/scary/emotionally advanced (a lot of it is about his dead parents, FGS). I definitely skimmed over things that I thought fell into that category (although we've already talked some about the concept of death, so that seemed to be OK with him). His review is pretty thin, but in reality, he LOVES this book. He and Cami (who loves Hermione) regularly play "Harry Potter" and both received Gryffindor robes for the holidays. I haven't bought any more in the series -- I think we need to wait a bit as I remember them getting pretty scary quickly. But he seems satisfied with this one for now.

How to Train Your Dragon (Book 1)
- Liked: All the things in this book. Toothless [the main dragon] was so funny.

- Didn't Like: When they killed Green Death because he was cool -- I liked sharped teeth dragons. It's good to guard. In fact, I have a Green Death -- I got him before he was extinct.

- Mom's notes: We purchased this book upon recommendation of a clerk at Barston's Child's Play in D.C. after I told her I was looking for a beginning chapter book that was very imaginative, but not so violent. This is actually still violent, but not in a super scary way and there's not a lot of people fighting people. But more importantly, it's hysterical. Kane about peed his pants at several points in the story. And, at a parent level, it's about a kid trying to "train" a very, very stubborn dragon. He has to get creative when the "authority book" on the issue falls thin on advice. All of which is hilarious for a parent having tried to follow numerous parenting books on how to deal with a very, very stubborn kid. We are about to start the second in this series, How to be a Pirate.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Liked: Charlie and when Violet Beauregarde got purple. When grandpa jumped out of the bed.

- Didn't Like: Veruca Salt -- she was bratty.

- Mom's notes: This was the other Child's Play recommendation and Kane (and Cami) loved it. The humor is very British and I love that I can use the various characters as warnings for them -- Cami routinely tell's Kane that he is "being Veruca Salt." Pretty funny. I remember thinking the oompa loompas were scary when I was young, but they didn't seem to think so. 

Fly Guy Series #3 & 7
- Liked (#7): When they were playing hide and seek. 

- Didn't Like (#7): When Buzz was making so much noise. 

- Liked (#3): I liked the cover, it was green. I didn't like anything else.

- Mom's notes: These are funny, short little stories about a boy's pet fly and I think they'll be good for basic word recognition (we aren't there yet).

Magic Treehouse Series #1 - 4
- Liked: In the pirate book, I like when they go aboard the ship. I liked everything about the other books. 

- Didn't Like: In the pirate book, I don't like when it starts raining. 

- Mom's notes: This popular series follows the adventures of a brother and sister as they visit various places and time periods through books they find in a magic treehouse.  The stories are creative and have pictures scattered throughout, which both of my kids liked. I don't think they were enough drama for Kane though -- he seems to prefer books like Harry Potter and How to Train Your Dragon. Also, because I am the one reading them to him, we go through these rather quickly. I think these will be great beginner reading books though, once we get there. 

Boxcar Children #1 - 4
- Liked: I liked when the children found Watch. That's all I like about this story. I didn't like anything else about it. 

- Didn't Like: When the kids ran away from the bakers. 

- Mom's notes: This series about a family of runaway children was one of my favorites when I was little. Kane actually liked all of the Boxcar Children stories we've read so far, but only commented on the first book. I think his favorite was actually #2, Surprise Island -- the kids uncover Indian artifacts and build their own museum. Kane thought that was the bees knees. Overall, the stories are easy to read and suspenseful, but a little outdated and required some skipping of words/phrases that I thought were a little offensive/stereotypical. Also, the little girls outschool me in homemaking any day of the week and really appear to LOVE cleaning, cooking and baking. 

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