August 27, 2013

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge (The Magic School Bus, #12) by Joanna Cole

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge (The Magic School Bus, #12)The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge is the twelfth installment of the original Magic School Bus series that spawned the Emmy Award-winning television series. As such, it maintains the original class of approximately thirty students, most of whom are nameless beyond the children included in the show. The Climate Challenge also adds a new character, a visiting student from South Korea named Joon. (It's obvious from the book's dedication that there was some significant reason behind Joon's inclusion, though the book made no mention of what that might be; it baffled me enough that I tracked down this article, which offers up some background.)

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge, being the first Magic School Bus book to be published in the current decade, addresses a very modern, topical issue: global warming.

I will state up front that the book offers a fairly black and white view of global warming, presenting the mainstream aspects of the issue in a way that children can understand while mostly neglecting other aspects of and contributing factors to climate change (such as desertification, habitat destruction, the difference between natural climate change and anthropogenic climate change, etcetera). So while the book includes a lot of information on "going green", it's not as nuanced as I feel it should have been.

When Ms. Frizzle's class begins a unit on global warming, the Time Lord teacher takes them on a trip around the world to see the effects of climate change in person. They see the melting ice of the Arctic, Greenland, and the Antarctic; they (very briefly) glimpse the melting permafrost of the tundra, the desertification of formerly fertile farmland, rising sea levels, dying coral reefs, intense weather, animal die-outs and migrations, and crop failures.

As they continue to fly around the globe, Ms. Frizzle introduces them to the concepts of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect, fossil fuels and CO2, anthropogenic climate change, and alternative energy sources.

The last several pages also include tips on what children can do to help curb their family's carbon footprints.

All in all, this isn't the most well-put-together Magic School Bus book; obviously, global warming and anthropogenic climate change are massively nuanced issues, and so this book suffers on two fronts. In it, Cole endeavors to teach a lot of information, so much so that most of it is mentioned more than it is explained. And on the other hand, there's a lot that she only alluded to (desertification, habitat destruction, natural climate change) that really deserved to get more in-depth coverage.

So I suppose The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge is a good book for introducing a child to the concepts of climate change and global warming, but I would suggest that it be used in conjunction with other relevant books that can fill in some of the information gaps. Beyond that, children may need a bit of previous familiarity with molecules and atoms to fully understand the pages on greenhouse gases (to familiarize a young child with the concept of molecules, I would suggest the Magic School Bus episode "Meets Molly Cule").

And, of course, I'd highly recommend looking into other Magic School Bus books and the television show. They're a wonderful resource for getting young children interested in science, even if some of the older works may be rather dated.

August 23, 2013

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

Darth Vader and SonDarth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

My rating: ★★★☆☆

In Episode 3½: Darth Vader and Son, Jeffrey Brown presents an amusing alternate reality in which Darth Vader is raising his four-year-old twins himself. (While this book focuses on Luke, there is also one for Leia.)

It's definitely worth a chuckle to watch little Luke ask his father where babies come from, try to steal a cookie jar with the Force, pester his dad about whether the Sith are really the good guys, and just generally be a normal kid... who happens to have a Sith Lord for a father.

Fans and others familiar with the Star Wars universe (the original trilogy, at the very least) should find this a cute, rather funny, and super quick read. And I'll definitely be checking out Vader's Little Princess when I get the chance.

August 20, 2013

Biscuit and the Lost Teddy Bear by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Biscuit and the Lost Teddy BearBiscuit and the Lost Teddy Bear by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Biscuit and the Lost Teddy Bear is a Level 0 ("My First Shared Reading") I Can Read! book that is, according to the back of the book, "ideal for sharing with emergent readers". It is intended for children who aren't yet able to read independently.

In a story aimed at the youngest of children, a puppy named Biscuit and his unnamed human friend stumble across a lost teddy bear. Over the next thirty or so pages, they seek out the child who lost the bear; the story is told through two or three short sentences per page, all of which feature very simple diction and grammar.

The book, and presumably the rest of the Biscuit series, is ideal for parents introducing their infants and toddlers to reading.

August 19, 2013

Tartok The Ice Beast (Beast Quest, #5) by Adam Blade

Tartok The Ice Beast (Beast Quest, #5)Tartok The Ice Beast by Adam Blade

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Tartok the Ice Beast, alternately titled Nanook the Snow Monster, is the fifth installment of the Beast Quest series and the penultimate installment of the original six-book series.

Once again, Tom and Elenna, Beast Quest's two implausibly competent and responsible preteens are on a quest to save a mythical Beast from enslavement by the wizard Malvel. This time, they are seeking a yeti (that is never referred to as such) in Avantia's most implausible landscape, the arctic region.

As usual, the book is a mediocre fantasy endeavor ideal for very young children who are either still reading with their parents or just beginning to read independently.

August 16, 2013

The Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody by Shrill Travesty

The Taking Tree: A Selfish ParodyThe Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody by Shrill Travesty

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Let me start with an anecdote.

When I was a junior in high school, I took a Creative Writing class with a friend of mine. Toward the end of the year, the teacher assigned us a project; we were each to choose a favorite author and one of his or her books to do a short presentation on. (What that has to do with Creative Writing, I don't know. It seems like our time would have been better suited to, you know, writing.) A sophomore acquaintance in the class chose to do her presentation on The Giving Tree, and as part of her presentation, she was going to show an animated adaptation of The Giving Tree that she'd found on YouTube.

She didn't download the video, unfortunately, so she had to go searching for it; the first link she clicked turned out to be a different one than she'd picked. Then she thought she'd found it on the second try. She really hadn't.

Instead, she'd ended up here. And so our class accidentally blasted "GIVE ME ALL YOUR FUCKING APPLES!" down the hall, given that the speakers were so loud and the door was open.

The whole class, teacher included, laughed hysterically for probably five minutes.

So when I sit down to read a Giving Tree parody, that's always on my mind. The parody I'm reading has to compete with the absolute shock and hilarity of that Creative Writing incident.

The Taking Tree didn't have that shock factor, obviously, but it was still amusing. Our premise here is vastly different from The Giving Tree; essentially, the two characters' personalities are entirely opposite the originals. The little boy is an antagonist brat, and the tree isn't putting up with his shit.

Me being me, I certainly enjoyed it. I'm not the kind of person who'll ROFL over a book, but The Taking Tree gave me a chuckle here and there thanks to its frankness and sheer absurdity.

I'd advise fans of adult-targeted picture books to give this one a try, as well as those who individuals who don't like the original Giving Tree (or those who did like, but don't mind someone poking fun at the premise). I would point out, however, that I wouldn't recommend this to parents looking for something to read to their children. Like most parody picture books, it belongs in the humor section--not the kidlit section.

August 15, 2013

I Am a Pole (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

I am a Pole (And So Can You!)I Am a Pole (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

My rating: ★★★☆☆

I Am a Pole (And So Can You!) is a picture book from comedian Stephen Colbert (of the Colbert Report), so it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect it to be.

The cover showcases half-compliment, half-insult quotes from the late Maurice Sendak (whose two-part interview with Stephen Colbert can be seen here and here). The back cover offers snarky advice to those looking to "learn more about poles". The front flap features a list of fictitious upcoming sequels. The back flap features sarcastic biographies of the author, "blurbist" (Sendak), and illustrator and jokes about the possibility of a Pixar film adaptation. It ends with some Colbert-style nationalism.

The thing to remember, of course, is that this is not by any means a children's picture book. In the vein of Go the Fuck to Sleep and The Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody (among others, this is primarily a humor book--and definitely for adults. Because unless you're intending to have a talk with Junior about what a stripper is... you really don't want to read this to your toddler.

I'd recommend the book as a (very) quick read to fans of the Colbert Report or adult-oriented picture books in general. I'd suggest viewing the above-linked interview(s) with Maurice Sendak first, however, as I feel they add quite a bit of humor to the book; alone, the book gets--from me at least--a smirk or a chuckle. With the interview?

View all my reviews

August 14, 2013

Tagus the Night Horse (Beast Quest, #4) by Adam Blade

Tagus the Night Horse (Beast Quest, #4)Tagus the Night Horse by Adam Blade

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

In Targus the Night Horse, the fourth installment of the Beast Quest series, things remain strictly formula. Citizens are attacked by Beast → Tom and Elenna meet/help citizens → miscellaneous hardships are overcome → rather simple epic battle against the Beast → Congratulations, it's the end.

In this particular installment, Tom and Elenna spend seventy-six pages finding and battling the fourth Beast under Malvel's spell, a centuar named Tagus... who is never once referred to as a centaur. Only a "night horse".

Seriously, it's kind of weird. I thought it was odd in the previous book that the Cyclops was referred to only as a "Mountain Giant", but now I'm starting to think it's a trend. From what I can tell from the covers of the later installments, the children are going to battle a yeti referred to as an "ice beast", a phoenix only referred to as a "winged flame", and a naga referred to as a "snake man".

...and I will admit I don't quite get it. Why are dragon, sea serpent, minotaur, and gorgon acceptable, while Cyclops, centaur, yeti, phoenix, and naga given euphemisms? Color me confused.

Regardless, Targus the Night Horse is another mediocre-to-good installment in the Beast Quest series. I'm finding that the books are slightly improving as I delve further into the series, though I believe that might simply be because Blade has gotten the exposition out of the way (for the most part) while I'm getting more invested in the characters and their quest. I hope to see the plots improve over the next few novels, and I'm longing for the rigid formula of these first few books to be broken soon.

In the meantime, though, Beast Quest is proving itself to be a consistent fantasy series ideal for young readers of (very short) chapter books.

August 13, 2013

Cypher The Mountain Giant (Beast Quest, #3) by Adam Blade

Cypher The Mountain Giant (Beast Quest, #3)Cypher The Mountain Giant by Adam Blade

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

By Cyper the Mountain Giant, the Beast Quest series has developed a strict formula (though the first book varied slightly).

Step One: During the prologue, a handful of brand-new characters are attacked by a Beast and narrowly survive.

Step Two: Elenna and Tom reach the approximate area of the next Beast. Conveniently, they run into the survivors, who explain the hardships of the area and their encounter with the Beast.

Step Three: Elenna and Tom start to turn around the lives of the unlucky locals, usually including the prologue's survivors; they'll likely have to deal with a quick crisis or two before they can set out to complete their main task. Why Elenna and Tom are the most competent two individuals in all of Avantia in spite of their pre-pubescent age, I couldn't tell you.

Step Four: Elenna and Tom go to fight the Beast. Tom tends to do all of the work; Elenna either helps or is busy playing damsel in distress (and I really hope to see her get out of that rut in one of the upcoming books).

Step Five: The Beast, now freed, gives Tom's shield a blessing of some kind, and the wizard Aduro shows up for pointless congratulations. The end.

All in all, if you're looking for a series of short, formulaic fantasy novels to help ease a young child into the genre, the Beast Quest series isn't a bad place to start. I can't say I highly recommend it, but it should at least be entertaining to the target audience (RL3, around ages 5-8).

August 12, 2013

Sepron the Sea Serpent (Beast Quest, #2) by Adam Blade

Sepron the Sea Serpent (Beast Quest, #2)Sepron the Sea Serpent (Beast Quest, #2) by Adam Blade

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Sepron the Sea Serpent is the second book in Adam Blade's Beast Quest series, and it's much the same as the first in terms of quality. It's not a bad book by any means, but it's particularly fascinating either.

In Sepron the Sea Serpent, Tom and Elenna have just recently freed Ferno the Fire Dragon from Malvel's spell, and next on their list is the titular sea monster. Like Ferno, he has been magically enslaved by the nefarious wizard, and they'll need to unlock the chain around his neck to free him.

Obvious to the point that it needs no spoiler tags, they do so successfully... and without much hassle, really. I suppose it's to be expected that there won't be a long, exciting battle sequence in a book that's only seventy-six pages, but I admit that I found it quick and unexciting. I'm hoping that over the next few books in the series, the plot gets a least a bit more entertaining; as of right now, I can hardly see anyone older than the target audience (RL3) finding the book particularly entertaining.

As said in my Ferno review, this could be a good first fantasy series for young children. As the books are less than one hundred pages each, they're best suited to children beginning to read chapter books or parents reading to their preschoolers.

Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1) by Kasie West

Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)Pivot Point by Kasie West

My rating: ★★★☆☆

A copy of this book was provided via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

On the surface, the premise of Pivot Point sounds exceptionally intriguing. What would life be like for a girl who could peek into the future to explore the possible consequences of her actions... before she even decides to act?

Of course, when you take a moment to think about that, it kind of falls apart. There's a huge hole in logic there, and I spent the entire book wondering if the author was going to bother to fill it.

What plot hole? Well, it's easy. Say you have Addie's abilities, and you have an extremely important life decision coming up (like Addie). Maybe you want to know whether it's a good idea to get married in, say, your hometown, or if it's worth it to splurge on a super fancy Hawaii wedding-vacation.

So you take a peek into each possible future. While you're Searching, you won't know it, so you'll probably spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not you've made the right decision--never once realizing that you're actually in the middle of pinpointing the right decision. (Why exactly, I don't know... but it's part of the premise of the Search.)

As it turns out, the Hawaii trip is great. Your worries vanish when you're in that wonderful Pacific sun, and you have a great wedding. You, your spouse, and your guests are happy.

But in the hometown future? Your extended family has to squeeze into your childhood home, or they'll have to spring for a rather crappy motel room in a town where there isn't much to do. You hear them squabbling with each other, which stresses you out... which makes you worry. You can't get your mind off your troubles. When the wedding is finally over, your relief that you've gotten through the ordeal is greater than your joy about the occasion itself.

So the obvious choice is the Hawaii trip, right? Well... no, not really. See, knowing--or thinking you know--what's going to happen changes this irrevocably. You don't react--can't react--the way you did during the Search, because now you know what to expect. People react to things differently when they know the outcome (or think they know the outcome) versus when they don't.

Imagine that you chose that Hawaii trip. It sounds like the right choice, easily. The other was stressful and dissatisfying, and the Hawaii trip was sunny, joyous, and worry-free. But not all of it.

See, before you got to your island paradise vacation, you had to deal with the hassle of an airport. It's a stressful experience, and you were as vigilante as a hawk during your Search. But because you know what's going to happen, you know you can relax. Except it's that relaxation that could change everything.

Being confident that everything is going to go well, you're not obsessively double-checking yourself like you were during your search. You fail to notice that you've left one of your suitcases behind. The suitcase that happened to have your wedding dress in it, for example.

And suddenly your stress-free Hawaii vacation is occupied with the panic of realizing your dress is gone. The hassle of shopping for an expensive wedding dress all over again. The additional decision over whether to buy a traditional dress or turn into an unabashed tourist by throwing on a grass skirt and lei.

That's just an example--and a rather silly one at that--but it gets my point across: "knowing" what will happen changes what will happen. You'll always gain some knowledge that will change how you react, either consciously or subconsciously.

To stress my point in the clearest way I possibly can, imagine today has been part of a Search. The alternate path was terrible, so you choose this path (the actual events of today). Do you think you can relive today perfectly, without the luxury of a memory-wipe? Do you think you can replicate every word you spoke today, done to tone and inflection? Do you think you can replicate every gesture that might have affected someone's impression of your attitude?

These might seem like completely inconsequential details, but all it takes to disprove that is to think back on a conversation in which someone got angry at you because they misread your signals (or vice versa). Your tone of voice, your vocal inflection, your completely absent-minded gestures and body language have affects on those around you that you will never know. Change your tone, inflection, or body language without realizing it, and you've ever-so-slightly changed the path. You may never see the consequences of this difference--they may never be substantial enough to be seen, even--but they're there.

Which brings me to the question: Do you think it's possible to live the same day twice, with full memory of the original time, and not make even the most subtle, unaware, seemingly innocuous change?

I really doubt it.

And so I spent most of Pivot Point wondering what exactly Addie's plan was. If she finds out something terrible happens during one or both of the Searches (and--no spoiler tag because I think this should be pretty obvious to everyone--she does, though I won't say what), she's going to have that on her mind for the rest of... well, ever. She's going to try to walk the opposite path of the terrible thing, but she's going to remember it. She's going to constantly worry about the person or people to whom the terrible thing happened. She won't be able to treat them the way she did in the Search, because she can't banish The Thing from her mind just because it would be convenient. And having The Thing on her mind will change her path even if she doesn't intend it to. She'll likely say something vague to the victim of The Thing that will change that person's psyche from its incarnation in the Search. Suddenly that person--and every person whom they affect--is a wild card; they won't react the same was as in the Search because some tiny little detail has changed their psyche in a tiny little way.

Whether or not these alternate details lead to a negative outcome doesn't matter. What matters is that at the end of the day, Searching isn't really very useful. Sure, Addie might manage to prevent The Thing... but she'll never be able to walk the path she chooses, because the Addie who chooses won't be the same person as the Addie from the Search. Experiencing the Search gives her knowledge that changes her the same way that experiencing time normally changes all of us. She's going to have knowledge and experience she didn't have during the Search, and it'll affect her whether she realizes it or not.

That said, Kasie West did attempt to fill this gap. There was something that slipped my mind while reading Pivot Point, something that would have at least partially assuaged my fears that the plot hole would go unfilled; Addie's best friend, Laila, can erase her memories. And Laila does change things... but not as completely as you might think.

When The Thing happens, West attempts to fill the gap in the premise with Laila's exceptionally convenient ability, but ultimately we're right back where we started. While Laila won't know what The Thing is, she'll know that there was a Thing. And she'll worry.

In the original Search futures--fear not, I won't spoil which Addie chooses--Laila wasn't worried. Now she is, and she doesn't know exactly what she should be worrying about. She'll have theories, probably a lot of theories. And if she changes even one single thing, one single word in a conversation that she thought was inconsequential, one failure to smile as she walks past a person she doesn't realize was dangerous, one single gesture in the hall... she will change the path. She might change it a terrible way.

Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to say that Pivot Point isn't a good book. Ultimately, I did enjoy the story. The premise is fascinating, even if it does fall apart upon close inspection. If you can look past the gaps in the logic, Pivot Point is still an interesting, intriguing story. In any case, most of the story is spent exploring the two alternate paths anyway, and each was enjoyable in its own right (though the alternating chapters took some getting used to, I must admit).

I'd definitely recommend Pivot Point to fans of YA fantasy who don't think they'll mind (or notice!) the flaw in the premise. As for me, the sequel has a definite place on my "eventually" shelf.

The Magic School Bus Flies With The Dinosaurs by Martin Schwabacher

The Magic School Bus Flies With The DinosaursThe Magic School Bus Flies With The Dinosaurs by Martin Schwabacher

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a paleontologist. I could not be further from being a paleontologist. I am not excruciatingly uninformed about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals--and would even dare say that I know ever so slightly more than the average person--but bear in mind that it is entirely plausible that this book could contain outdated theories, misconceptions, or other forms of misinformation or mistakes that I, being reasonably ignorant on the subject of dinosaurs, would not be able to spot. That said, here's my best shot at a review for this.

The Magic School Bus Flies with the Dinosaurs, being a Level 2 Scholastic Reader, features "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers" and is intended for very young children. According to the acknowledgements in the book, Carl Mehlina and Sean Mortha of the American Museum of Natural History in NYC supplied "their expert advice in preparing this manuscript". So it is reasonable to assume that this book was scientifically accurate when it was published in 2005.

However, as I'm sure anyone can imagine, the progression of science didn't exactly halt in 2005, and I'd hazard a guess that by now, something mentioned in this book has likely been affected by research newer than the book itself. If you're terribly concerned about teaching your child only the most up-to-date dinosaur-related information, you would likely be better served by looking into books published more recently.

Anyway, the specific subject of The Magic School Bus Flies with the Dinosaurs is dinosaurs in relation to birds. When Ms. Frizzle's class does reports on various dinosaurs, Dorothy Ann chooses to bring in her pet parrot; this sets the class on a time-traveling, prehistorical adventure to examine the link between a parrot and a dinosaur.

Dinosaurs and prehistoric birds mentioned or featured in the book are Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Jinzhousaurus, Triceratops, Pterosaur, Mei, and Caudipteryx, Sinornithosaurus, Microraptor, Jeholornis, and Confuciusornis.

I'd tentatively recommend this book to parents reading to their children and/or children interested in dinosaurs or paleontology, as long as one bears in mind the potential for outdated information.

August 9, 2013

The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled by Anne Capeci

The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled (Scholastic Reader)The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled by Anne Capeci

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled is a Level 2 Scholastic Reader, featuring "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers". It features the characters from the award-winning 90's television program The Magic School Bus and endeavors to teach children about recycling. It particularly focuses on the sorting of materials at recycling plants and the process through which paper is recycled.

In The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled, Ms. Frizzle's class is recycling their school's used bottles, paper, and other recyclable refuse when Phoebe realizes that she's lost the necklace her grandmother gave her. So the class heads off to the recycling to search for it; as they do so, Anne Capeci presents illustrations and factoids that teach the concept of recycling, the various processes that plants use to sort recyclable materials, and the process that recycled paper must go through in order to be used again.

The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled is a wonderful way to introduce young children to the idea of recycling and might even be enlightening to those parents who don't know much about the subject themselves. As such, I highly recommend it to parents reading to their toddlers or children in the early stages of learning to read; it should be particularly entertaining to fans of the Magic School Bus franchise and particularly useful to those interested in learning or teaching their children about recycles processes. It would also serve as a great companion to The Magic School Bus Holiday Special*, an episode of the television show that explores the importance of recycling and guest stars Dolly Parton as "Murph", a recycling center employee.

*And it is genuinely a holiday special, not just a Christmas special by another name; Christmas plays a minor role in Wanda's plotline, and Arnold's subplot revolves around Hanukkah. At the very end, the cast wishes the viewers a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and happy Kwanzaa.

August 8, 2013

The Magic School Bus Rides The Wind by Anne Capeci

The Magic School Bus Rides The Wind (Science Reader)The Magic School Bus Rides The Wind by Anne Capeci

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The Magic School Bus Rides the Wind is a Scholastic Level 2 Reader, featuring "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers", according to the back cover of the book. It features the characters of the hit television show The Magic School Bus and endeavors to teach young children about wind.

In the story, Ms. Frizzle's class are building kites in class... but Wanda's flies away when they go outside to test them. As Ms. Frizzle takes her kids on a kite rescue mission, Anne Capeci uses illustration, narration, and factoids to teach about the nature of wind, weather balloons, how the wind spreads seeds, and wind energy and turbines.

I'd recommend The Magic School Bus Rides the Wind to parents reading to their toddlers or young children in the early stages of learning to read. It might be particularly entertaining to fans of the Magic School Bus television show, and I'd suggest it as a good opportunity to present the idea of alternative/clean energy to young children.

August 7, 2013

The Wild Leaf Ride by Judith Bauer Stamper

Magic School Bus Science ReaderThe Wild Leaf Ride by Judith Bauer Stamper

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The Wild Leaf Ride is a Level 2 Scholastic Reader that ties into the Magic School Bus franchise. Level 2 Scholastic Readers feature "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers", as stated on the back of the book.

In The Wild Leaf Ride, the cast of the Emmy award winning television show, The Magic School Bus, are learning about leaves with a game they call "Leaf Hunt". They have already gathered and identified a leaf from each of the seven trees on their school property--except for one. As they go searching for this elusive seventh leaf, Judith Stamper presents factoids on various kinds of leaves.

The Wild Leaf Ride is light on actual information, compared to what I'd expect from a Magic School Bus Science Reader; while leaf facts are presented, they're supplemental to the plot of the book and not a part of the main narrative. As such, I wouldn't advise anyone to attempt to teach their children about leaves with this book; it might serve as a good companion to another book about trees or leaves (or perhaps to the The Magic School Bus Gets Planted episode of the show), but I hardly think the book has enough information to serve as a lesson unto itself.

Nevertheless, I would recommend The Wild Leaf Ride to parents reading to their toddlers or children in the early stages of learning to read (particularly those who are already fans of the Magic School Bus franchise).

August 6, 2013

Magic School Bus And The Missing Tooth by Jeanette Lane

Magic School Bus And The Missing Tooth (Magic School Bus)Magic School Bus And The Missing Tooth by Jeanette Lane

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The Magic School Bus and the Missing Tooth is a Level 2 Scholastic Reader, and is written with "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers", as per the information on the back cover of the book. It's an educational picture book, and stars the cast of the Emmy award winning television show, The Magic School Bus (which I highly recommend to anyone teaching or raising young children).

The book begins when Wanda brings a small, sharp tooth in for show-and-tell, and the class sets out to find out to what species the tooth belongs. Ultimately, the book examines human, horse, mouse, and cat teeth and features helpful diagrams and factoids.

I would recommend The Magic School Bus and the Missing Tooth to parents reading to their toddlers or young children just learning to read; the book could be particularly interesting to those with a preexisting interest in the Magic School Bus franchise and particularly useful to parents whose children will soon be attending their first dental visit.

August 5, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic children's book, and it serves its audience well. In very simple sentences, it tells the story of a caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly; it's perfect for parents reading to their toddlers or young children just learning how to read independently.

It's not the most enchanting story, nor will family, librarians, or teachers reading it find it particularly entertaining (barring nostalgia), but it's a wonderful first stepping stone into reading.

Goodreads Shelf Challenge #3

Since January 2013, I've practically quit my GR shelf challenge. That said, I'd like to get back to it, so I'm going to be doing some catching up over the next few months. And as my original plan only extends to September 2013--which is swiftly approaching--I'm also going to be adding my intended reads through September 2014.

What I've Already Read

October 2012 (To-Read Shelf): To Kill a Mockingbird
November 2012 (Currently Reading Shelf): A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
December 2012 (Favorites Shelf): Pride and Prejudice

What I Failed to Read

January 2012 (Fiction Shelf): The Great Gatsby
February 2013 (Fantasy Shelf): A Clash of Kings
March 2013 (Own Shelf): 1984
April 2013 (2013 Shelf): The Fault in Our Stars
May 2013 (Romance Shelf): The Notebook
June 2013 (Wishlist Shelf): The Book Thief
July 2013 (Owned Shelf): The Catcher in the Rye

What I Intend to Read

August 2013 (Young Adult Shelf): Divergent
September 2013 (Non-Fiction Shelf): The Diary of a Young Girl
October 2013 (Kindle Shelf): Gone Girl
November 2013 (Books I Own Shelf): Wuthering Heights
December 2013 (Series Shelf): Insurgent
January 2014 (Mystery Shelf): The Girl Who Played with Fire
February 2014 (Classics Shelf): Little Women
March 2014 (To Buy Shelf): Allegiant
April 2014 (Library Shelf): The Night Circus
May 2014 (Wish-list Shelf): Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
June 2014 (ebook Shelf): The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
July 2014 (Historical Fiction Shelf): The Help

August 1, 2013

Keeper of Reign by Emma Right

Update 6/1/2014

As of today, Emma Right has found a place on my DNR list after two almost cartoonishly rude posts targeting reviewers in general--and particularly those of us who have posted negative reviews of her books.

The first was a blog post from September 11, 2013. It contains a thinly veiled attack on this specific review from another author; she names no names, but the context clues are more than enough to figure out that this is the Dutch-speaking individual whose review she's bemoaning. It's pathetically rude, and while I documented the post, I did not yet add her to my DNR list.

Today, I have. I was pointed in the direction of the Amazon page of her newest book, Dead Dreams, and it contains the most hilariously confrontational, offensive, and self-defeating "description" I've ever seen in my life.

So, yes. Emma Right can rest assured that I, for one, will never consider reading another of her books.