Monday, February 17, 2014

Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes are just plain funny.

The story

there are a lot of stories in this book, so I can not tell you the story. Sorry! :(

this is a comic book and Philip started reading At age 6. There are several book we have many and love them all.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Warriors, Into the Wild

There are a lot of these. wonderful,wonderful series.

The story
Into the wild is the first of a lot of heroic tales of Rusty the flame colored kittypet. He wanders into the woods despite his friend Smudge's warning of wild cats that eat cats like him. There he meets Graypaw, who is a warrior apprentice. intrigued, the next day he returns to meet Bluestar ,the leader, and that is where his life goes to the woods. He meets the cats Ravenpaw, Tigerclaw, and Spottedleaf.  He gets called a kittypet by Sandpaw and Dustpaw.  

Warriors is my favorite series in the universe, and Into the Wild is the first book. I got my brother,age 7 ,to pick this up. you must read these in order. The series is by Erin Hunter.


Hello World!

Hi! I'm Evalina, your new blogger! I am so sorry about my mom. She just ran out of time. I on the other hand, will post regularly. If you are going to read my blog, I'd better tell you about myself and the changes to this blog. I am a total bookwormMy favorite color is pink. I have three gerbils, three cats.I love the forest. see you!!!

                                                    this is Zeus. he is fat.also orange. Ha!
                                                                                                             This is my favorite forest.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Red Planet

I picked up Red Planet for Evalina for Christmas with much nostalgia on my mind.  It was my first Heinlein.  I remember when I was 9, and my father brought me into a used bookstore and presented it to me with triumph in his face, knowing that he was introducing me to something wonderful.  I had the same thought as I began reading it to Evalina, and I have to say, I was not disappointed.

The Story:  Jim Marlowe has grown up on Mars, in a human colony.  The humans co-exist on Mars with the natives, and they are there under contract from The Company, which is working to further terraform Mars.  Jim has made a "friend," not quite a pet, of a Martian creature the humans call Bouncers.  His name is Willis, and he resembles a soccer ball, but with protrusions (eye stalks, etc) he can use if he desires.  He is also a perfect mimic - much better than a parrot - and sometimes repeats what he hears at inappropriate times.  Jim begs to take Willis with him when he goes off to the colony's boarding school, and though there are some objections, he is finally allowed to do so.  On the journey to the school, Jim, Willis, and his friend take a small excursion into the Martian city near a human base during a lay-over, and they encounter the elusive native Martians, and amazingly, befriend them.  They even take part in a sacred "Water Ceremony," which binds them to the Martians like blood brothers.  Once at the school, they find that there is a new headmaster, who, unlike the benevolent previous headmaster, seeks to turn the school into something akin to a military school, and among other things, he has outlawed pets.  Willis is deemed a pet and confiscated.  Jim and his buddy risk themselves to free Willis from his prison in the nefarious headmaster's office, and Willis (though his mimicking-playback ways) alerts them to a scheme that will threaten the very fabric of colonial life on Mars.  Jim, his buddy, and Willis take their lives into their hands to escape the school and return to their home, halfway across Mars, to try to let their families know about the threat, and attempt to stop it.

The Good:  Jim is a strong character, and you get to know him right away.  Evalina wants to get an "I Heart Willis" t-shirt printed and wear it all the time.  Immediately, you fall for that little guy.  He's like a tribble x 1000.  The Martians are well-described (and are the very same Martians from Stranger in a Strange Land, a non-juvenille Heinlein, so that's cool) and mysterious as they are interesting.  The Martian landscape is described well (though we know it now to be speculative fiction.. Heinlein had no way of knowing when he wrote this), and you really get the feel of what it might be like to live on Mars.  The loyalty of Jim to his colony, and to Willis, is truly something to admire.  The story is exciting and fun to read.

The Bad:  I don't think it's bad necessarily, but foreign from our modern sensibilities.  Boys on Mars are trained and licenced to use and carry guns.  It is a huge deal when the new headmaster wants to ban guns.  It makes sense in the Martian environment to have guns, if for no other reason than to protect yourself from the horrible water seekers, like crocodiles in their viciousness.  Sometimes, there are tense moments in the book where it is unsure what is going to happen to Willis and the boys, but that's just good storytelling to me.

The Verdict:  I liked this just as much reading it to Evalina as I liked it when I was her age.  I can't wait to get some more Heinlein for us to enjoy together, and I can fully recommend this one to anyone interested in exploring some great science fiction.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena

I hate when you finish a book and realize the series isn't done yet, and not only that, that the author hasn't finished the next book!  Oh, Rick Riordon... *sigh*

Such was the case with The Mark of Athena.  I thought it was the final book, but the closer I got the the end, I realized there was another one coming... *oh well* It's bittersweet, because we don't want to wait, but it will be good to have another book with the characters that we love.  Eventually.  Anyhow... on with the review.

The Story: The demigods at Camp Jupiter and Camp Half-Blood have to work together to defeat Gaea and her forces of Giants.  This is easier said than done, given the traditional animosity between the two groups. The schizophrenic nature of the Gods, torn between their two versions, is not helpful to them.  Neither is the fact that evil possessing spirits took over Leo, as he was at the controls of the warship The Argo II, and caused him to open fire on the Roman camp, starting an all-out war.  The seven demigods from the two camps chosen for the prophecy have to escape the Roman forces that are chasing them, and make their way to the original seat of the gods in Rome, and defeat the forces of Gaea all along the way.  Gaea isn't going to make it easy for them, and sometimes working together isn't the easiest thing in the world, even for friends.  As if that wasn't hard enough, Annabeth has the task of facing her deepest fears to follow the Mark of Athena to try to restore an ancient treasure stolen from a temple to her mother Athena in ancient times.  It may just hold the key to the success of their mission.

The Good:  These are the characters we've come to know and love over the previous books. The story feels familiar, but not stale.  The friends have to learn to work together as a group, while working on their personal relationships (with three sets of couples and Leo as the seventh wheel, things can get sticky).  The battles are exciting and the journey is riveting.  It is neat to see the group traveling to Rome, and how they view the ancient land.  Gaea is a really menacing presence.  The giants all have their distinct personalities and make good adversaries, too.  And the cliffhanger... oh, the cliffhanger is so good, we can't wait for the next book to be published!

The Bad:  Because there are so many characters, sometimes the story can feel a bit scattered.  There are a lot of subplots.  Some of them are really interesting, and some feel a bit forced.  As the demigods are older than in the earlier books, some of the interpersonal relationships can get a bit serious for perhaps a 9-year old like Evalina to appreciate.  There is a lot of kissing and declarations of love.  This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but it's something to be aware of.  The book was quite long, just over 600 pages, and while that's not a bad thing, it feels like it was pretty packed with story, and some of it wasn't really pertinent to the main plot.

The Verdict:  If you have read the rest of the series (and you should), absolutely read this one.  It's really good, even if it can be a bit long and winding.  Evalina LOVED it.  Amazon recommends it for 10+ and I say that's appropriate for solo reading.  We love Rick Riordan's books and will be reading the Egyptian mythology series soon.  Because of this series, Evalina has become a crazy Greek (and now Roman) mythology buff, and that's something I love to see.  Read this series, with or without your kids.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Incredible Journey

While waiting for the final book in the Rick Riordan Heroes of Olympus series, we delved into another classic that has been hanging around in our bookcase - The Incredible Journey.  I don't think I've ever read it, but I had seen the movie as a child.

The Story:  A young lab, an old bull terrier, and a Siamese cat are being watched by a friend of their family, while their family is off in England for months and months.  While they like their temporary master, when he goes away on a hunting trip, the lab takes the initiative in heading westward towards their original home, miles and miles across the forbidding Canadian wilderness.  Through a series of unlikely circumstances, no one knows that they are gone for weeks, not even the kindly lady who was watching over the house (and them, too, supposedly), while their temporary master is gone.  The going is not easy, and the old dog especially has a hard time with it, especially in the beginning, but the intrepid trio doesn't give up, and look after and encourage each other through it all.

The Good:   This is not your typical "the animals start talking as soon as their owners leave the room" kind of story.  The story is all told as if you were watching the animals, and it is very exciting.  You really get the feel of each animal through their actions and the way the author writes them.  The cat is loyal to his friends (particularly the old bull terrier, whom he hunts for occasionally), but is also a typical cat, disappearing to go stalk something, fiercely independent, smart as a whip.  The bull terrier is a sweet old thing, who doesn't understand when people they meet don't automatically fall in love with him all the time, and who is determined to keep up with his friends, even when his old body is having troubles with it.  The lab is wary of people who are not his beloved family, and is single-minded about his westward journey. Their way is not without significant troubles, but some of the people they meet along the way are kind and wonderful, and in the end (spoiler!), they all make it home!

The Bad:  There are parts when each animal is injured and you aren't entirely sure they are going to make it.  The bull terrier has his troubles because he is so old and unused to such effort, and he has a run in with a bear cub that ends with some injuries.  The cat is convinced to cross a river and a dam bursts, sweeping him away and nearly drowning him.  The lab has a run-in with a porcupine that ends with him severely quilled.  They are hungry, and it isn't easy going.  Some people are not kind to them, especially when the bull terrier kills some chickens, and they get shot at for stealing garbage.  The more sensitive child might be put off by these troubles.

The Verdict:  Totally worth being the classic it is.  I hope we can get our hands on the movie, to see how it holds up (I haven't seen it since I was a kid).  It is recommended for ages 8+, and I think that's about right.  It was captivating and you really root for the animal trio. It was not a very long read, which is nice after some of the beasts we've been tackling.  Overall, I can recommend this highly.

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel

Finally, her first Heinlein!  I am a complete Heinlein fan (I've read most of his books, juvenille and adult fiction), and love all of them.  I started when I was 9 years old, when my dad brought me into a used book store, found Red Planet, and started my obsession.

I decided Evalina was ready.

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel is a classic, and for good reason.  A problem with many Heinlein novels is that they seem to be discontinued, so it can be trickier finding them, but I got my hot little hands on a couple, joyfully.

The Story:  Kip, like many regular teenage boys, dreams of going to the moon.  His chance comes in the form of a contest from the SkyWay Soap company - come up with a winning slogan, and get a trip to the moon base!  He is obsessed, and enters the contest methodically countless times.  The day finally comes and... he doesn't win.  As a consolation prize, he gets a used spacesuit.  It's a total fixer-upper, and instead of just let it sit as a curiousity, Kip restores it.  He names the suit Oscar, and learns to work in it, buys parts from all over, wanders around his family farm in it.. and gets kidnapped by a passing alien spaceship!  There, he meets a spunky young girl named Peewee, who has also been kidnapped, and he gets his wish - they go to the moon!  However, it isn't all that he could ever want, because he gets to go to the moon as a hostage of the evil alien "wormfaces," who operate from a hidden base on the moon and are about to try to take over the world.  He manages to free his spacesuit, Oscar, from the clutches of the aliens, and get Peewee and her friendly alien companion, The Mother Thing, free, but they are still not out of harm's way.  Still they have to traverse treacherous lunar terrain with less air than they need, towards the lunar station, and that's only the beginning of their adventures.

The Good: This is sci-fi gold.  It is chock full of real facts and figures (which sometimes can get overwhelming, but it's still nice to have them there), and Kip's plight is something you can relate to.  He has a dream and he sets about making it happen.  That's commendable.  Though the outcome is not what he might have expected, the journey is certainly exciting, and what teenaged kid from a small town wouldn't want to save the entirety of humanity, all before figuring out where he is going to go to college, and how he's going to pay for it?  Peewee is lively and likeable, though sometimes she can be a brat, but you still root for her.  The Wormfaces are as despicable and terrifying as The Mother Thing and her kind are fair and just (at least to their own thinking), and Kip is not without flaws.  His trusty space suit, Oscar, is with him through thick and thin, and is essentially another character.  I remember liking this book when I was 9 or 10, and I certainly enjoyed it the second time around!

The Bad:  Sometimes the technical details get a bit dense.  Heinlein doesn't shy away from math and physics, and trying to explain that to a 9-year old can sometimes get a bit challenging, but that's a minor complaint.  If nothing else, it reaffirmed how math is important, and could even save your life (!) if you get into a desperate situation.  The writing holds up surprisingly well for something written in 1958, though there are certainly parts which could be a bit more modern.  Minor complaint.

The Verdict: Evalina was begging for more Heinlein!  (That's my girl)  She loved it all.  It was a relatively quick read, and I loved reading it with her about as much as she liked reading it (and sometimes, Philip was listening from his bed, having finished his own reading...)  Read this.  Classic sci-fi, made none the worse for it's age.  Amazon has it recommended for grades 7+, which is a possibility if you are trying to understand all the math and such, but the rest of the subject matter was not too much over Evalina's 4th grade head (as a read-together book).  Can't wait to get her some more Heinlein!