Tuesday, October 30, 2007


When I picked Ella up from preschool today, I noticed a pamphlet on a table entitled, "Raising Readers". I thought it might be interesting so I picked it up. It is produced by the Mpls St. Paul Magazine. There were several things in it that I thought I would pass along. There was an article about boys and reading. The main point stated many boys lose interest in reading by middle school because its usually their mothers who read or they have female librarians and teachers picking out books for them. So generally, the books are not adventurous enough to entertain boys. The article also pointed out that girls/women are more hardwired to be readers based on neurological and biological differences. Somewhat interesting, but mostly common sense, nothing too earth shattering.

The other main article talked about children's book series and discussed the history of them and 5 classic series that have endured (Nancy Drew, Adventures of Tintin, Cherry Ames, Tom Swift, and Anne of Green Gables). Of course it talked about the blockbuster success of Harry Potter and revealed that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park is slated to open at Universal Orlando Resort in 2010!! I think that sounds like a great place to take the kids! :-) I'm sure it will be sooo overwhelmed with visitors when it opens that it will be a pain in the butt to visit. Maybe by the time Ella and Lily are old enough to read the Potter books on their own, the novelty of the park will have died down.

The last thing I thought was interesting: the digital mark-my-time bookmark (mark-my-time.com). It either counts down or logs your child's reading time. Might be a handy gadget for school-age readers who have to read a certain amount of time each day for class.

Other links listed in the pamphlet: literarychild.com (E-mag Literary Child has puzzles, games, and other activities related to the month's featured kids' book). Also, libarything.com seemed an interesting website. Log what you're reading and find others who are interested in the same books as yourself.

Just thought I would pass along the info! Enjoy the cooler weather by curling up with a book, blanket and a warm drink!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Time Traveler's Wife for TV?

I know this is a book blog and not a television blog. But has anyone been watching the new show on NBC, Journeyman? And have you read The Time Traveler's Wife?

I keep seeing some similiarities to the book and the show when I watch it. I'd really like to know if they were using that book as part of the basis for the show? That is one of my all time favorite books in recent years. And I'm really enjoying the show too.

Just thought I would share. :-)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book received RAVE reviews on both Barnes and Noble and Amazon as well as in my Bookmarks Magazine. It falls into juvenile literature but adults young and old seemed to like it as well. This was our book club pick for October. And only one person finished it. I got to about page 75, others got to page 100, half way and a little beyond that. And no one liked it much. I was extremely disappointed. It was a slow read and lacked flow. I think we all expected it to read much quicker because it was a youth book. One person said it read much better if she could dedicate a longer chunk of time each time she picked it up. This is not one to read in ten minute increments (which is how I tend to read things these days).

The book is narrated by the character of Death set in Germany during World War II. Death encounters a little girl (the Book Thief) several times throughout her life and we hear about her life experience with a foster family and the people who live on her street, including a Jewish man they hide in their basement. We all agreed Death as narrator was a very unique and good idea. But it just didn't captivate us like we had hoped. Perhaps this is a case of having too high expectations going into the book.

Back to deciding what to read next....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lots of reading!

Death at Bishop's Keep by Robin Paige: The first in the Victorian mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert and her husband. This was really fun. American Kate Ardleigh moves to England to live with an aunt. Secret societies devoted to the occult, an archaeological dig, and strangely attractive amateur detective Sir Charles Sheridan make this a fun, engaging read. Kate is a plucky heroine, and I'll be reading more of these.

The Tale of Holly How by Susan Wittig Albert: The second Beatrix Potter mystery. Cozy and charming. I will be reading more of these.

The Boggart and The Boggart and the Monster by Susan Cooper: Fun children's books set in Scotland, where a Canadian brother and sister encounter the Boggart, a troublemaking spirit.

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange: This was surprisingly enjoyable. Quite fluffy, but fun. It's really superfluous, since you can tell in Pride and Prejudice what Darcy was thinking most of the time, but if you're a P&P fan, this might be worth picking up. I zipped through it pretty quickly, and really liked it. There are some conversations with Bingley and comments on Caroline that are entertaining, and we see a bit more of his relationship with Georgiana. And of course, we find out what happened when Darcy went after the eloping couple. Grange has also written Mr. Knightley's Diary, which I will have to pick up!

Molly Moon, Micky Minus, and the Mind Machine by Georgia Byng: This is the fourth in the series about a plucky heroine who discovers she has amazing powers. These are very cute, over-the-top adventures, beginning with Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism.

Key to the Treasure, Pirate Island Adventure, Clues in the Woods, and The Haunted House by Peggy Parish: Four of the six Liza, Bill & Jed mysteries. I've gotten nostalgic about childhood books, and sometimes I have only a dim memory of a book I loved as a kid, without remembering the author, the plot, or the character names. This makes it hard to search for a book! For this one, all I remembered was that there was a "treasure key" or "key to treasure" or something in the title and it had codes in it. Pretty quickly found Key to the Treasure, and I had completely forgotten it was the first in a series. These are good natured adventure-mysteries that are neither too adventurous nor very mysterious. These are really cute, wholesome mysteries. There are no video games or television shows, and the kids play outside and volunteer to do the dinner dishes without being asked, but they're not disgustingly sweet. They carp at each other like real siblings. I wasn't sure if they would still appeal to kids, or if they would be too dated, but they were recently re-released, maybe because people like me who loved them as kids are now having children themselves.

Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg by Gail Carson Levine: This was a fun fairy tale set in Never Land. Prilla, a new fairy, hasn't yet found her talent. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing for the Never fairies. There's not much suspense that Prilla's yet-unknown talent will play a key role in solving the trouble in Never Land, but the story is cute and the illustrations lovely.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Halloween Nostalgia

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the whole month of October with the culmination of Halloween. The (supposedly) crisp Midwestern air, leaves changing colors and falling to the ground, but still nice enough to play outside, apples and pumpkins. LOVE it!

I've started getting Halloween books from the library to read to my daughter at night. And one, Harriet's Halloween Candy by Nancy Carlson, made me think of a book from my childhood that I just loved. I don't think I had a copy of it (I'll have to ask my mom), but I remember the librarian reading it to us at school and I think I probably checked it out a few times too. It was about a bear, a halloween party and popcorn. The whole house fills with popcorn and they have to clean it up. I searhed "halloween popcorn" on the Barnes and Noble website. Turns out it was called Popcorn: A Frank Asch Bear Story by Frank Asch, originally published in 1979, I think, but reprinted several times. Sadly, this wonderful book is out of print, but there are several copies available on ebay. I may need to purchase one for me (and my two girls too, of course). ;-) I even checked with the library and they do not have one copy of it in circulation, at any of the branches. I can't believe that!

If you ever come across this little gem of a book, you should definitely take a look!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Survivor--Real Life

I just finished Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett. A nonfiction book that describes the experiences of castaways on the Auckland Islands circa 1864. The book mostly focuses on the five survivors of the ship Grafton. They were on the island for almost 2 years. As far as I can tell the author pieced the story together through survivor journals, articles and books written by two of the castaways, as well as newspaper accounts.

The book was slightly dry but the story interesting enough to keep me intrigued. I kept wondering how they would finally make it off the island. I was also amazed at the ingenious ways these men devised tools and learned trades such as shoe making to come up with everything they needed to stay alive and stay meagerly comfortable. The Frenchman, by the name of Raynal, was utterly amazing to me in engineering things they needed such as soap, shoes, tools, the chimney of their house, a boat, and killing and hunting seals. It seemed whatever they needed he could come up with. Definitely the right person to get shipwrecked on an island with.

There was also a parallel storyline about another group of sailors of the Invercauld ship where only 3 of 19 survived to be rescued. Basically, the book concludes that the Grafton survivors were able to eventually get off the island because they worked together and lived very democratically with each of them treating the others as equals. The Invercauld crew lived exactly the opposite of the Grafton crew. They remained in their hierarchy of officers vs. crew, did not stick together, didn't bother to work hard, laid around. And miraculously, the three remaining survivors were rescued long before the Grafton survivors.

There were long sections of the book dedicated to the intricacies of seal/sea lion hunting and mating. These were somewhat boring and too in-depth for my tastes. But perhaps someone will find them interesting. I suspect the author used it as filler to make her book longer. While reading this book, and particularly the part describing the differences between the two groups of castaways, I thought of the book Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I haven't read this book since middle school and I believe the movie came out about the same time as I read the book (1990). I decided I was going to get it from the library again and reread/skim it to see what I thought about it now as an adult.

The other thing that kept coming up in my head while reading Island of the Lost, was the reality television show Survivor. Okay, although parts of Survivor are completely contrived and edited to make certain things seem like a bigger deal or more intriguing, you learn that the tribes that work together as a team and stay together or align together get the furthest in the game. If I'm ever stuck on a deserted island, I guess I've learned that I will for sure be a team player. :-)

I think this book might be an interesting book club choice if it seems to be a topic your particular book club would be interested in.

PS. Yay! This is the 100th post to On My Bookshelf!