Archive for December, 2008

The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan

The Battle for SkandiaThis is the fourth book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Will and Evanlyn have escaped from the Skandians and are waiting for the snow to melt from the mountains so that they can make their way back to Araluen. In the meantime, Holt has angered the king so that he can be released from his duties and he and Horace are making their way to Skandia to try to rescue Will and Evanlyn. Unfortunately, complicating their escape and or rescue are the Temujai, fierce, mounted warriors who are invading Skandia. They want to conquer the country and then attack Araluen.

If you have never read any of the Ranger’s Apprentice books then you are in for a treat. Although, I do recommend reading them in order, you can read any one of them by itself and still enjoy the book. This one is full of battle and heroics. The maiden is saved and then she becomes a crucial link in the well-thought-out battle strategy to save Skandia. There is also a lot of amusing political philosophy from Holt as he skillfully negotiates with the Skandian leaders who would rather just wade into battle and start swinging rather than carefully consider strategies and options. It was a pleasure to read and had lots of battle strategy, combat, political intrigue, and heroism. You will love the characters.

Posted by: Fran W.

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Hush Little Polar Bear by Jeff Mack

Hush Little Polar Bear

Where do polar bears go when they dream?  This beautifully illustrated picture book  helps you remember looking at clouds as a child and seeing imaginary animals.   It makes you think of cuddling up with your favorite stuffed animal.  In his dreams, this sweet polar bear sails the high seas on the back of whale and then lands on a beach and then follows a trail.  The rhymes flow in a sing songy way and makes this a wonderful story to read to young and old alike.  A really sweet story.

Posted by: Mary

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The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo by Jonathan Allen

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say MooThis new book stars a small rabbit with a big voice that starts a barnyard chorus line.  Since rabbits don’t have a big noise, little rabbit tries out different animal sounds. While trying out the various barnyard sounds, other animals join in the fun.  In the end, all the animals decide they like their own sound.  But you’ll never guess what sound the little rabbit likes to make best. The adorable, expressive drawings make the book even more fun.

Posted by: Liz

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Rescue Josh McGuire by Ben Mikaelsen

Rescue Josh McGuireAdventure abounds when a boy, a bear cub, and a dog try to avoid authorities and survive in the mountains of Montana. Thirteen year old Josh’s complicated family situation pushes Josh to run away to save an orphaned bear cub from dying alone or being killed by governmental intervention.

The author lives in Montana with his wife and a black bear which he raised from a cub, so his descriptions of Montana wilderness and bears are quite realistic.  Middle  school readers who like the action and suspense of this rescue story may want to read more of Ben Mikselsen’s adventure novels .  Check his website www.benmikaelsen.com, to learn more about his adventurous travels and the other books he has written.

Posted by: Iris

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Trophy Kid by Steve Atinsky

Trophy KidI knew I was going to like this book, but it still surprised me with how good it was.  Joe is adopted by a rich and famous Hollywood couple after his family is killed in a war.  He is the poster child for many causes (usually ones his parents are interested in). He is given scripted lines to say at events to make him look funny and cute, but doesn’t really let him be himself.  When his dad comes up with the idea of having him write a biography, Joe thinks he will finally get to tell things his way.  But a ghost writer is going to be doing the actual writing and Joe has a feeling that it will be another fake story.  Soon however, Joe realizes that he may still get to tell things his way when the ghost writer turns out to understand Joe better than anyone he has ever met.  In a coming of age story, we see how Joe learns to live with his family and the trials and tribulations that come with being the adopted son of the rich and famous.  Heartwarming with a hint of mystery, this will be a favorite of many.

Posted by: Kate

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Peter Spier’s Christmas by Peter Spier

Peter Spier's ChristmasThe delightful illustrations in this wordless book take us through the Christmas season by highlighting the traditions of one family. The first page starts out with Christmas decorations appearing throughout the town’s shops and streets.  As the pages turn, we watch a family’s preparations and excitement for the coming holiday.  The house to decorate, cookies to bake, presents to hide, cards to make.  All of this and more, much more, can be found in the detailed drawings within this book. 

My children enjoyed poring over this book when they were young, and now that they are grown we find that this holiday book is still one of our favorites.  It certainly evokes warm feelings of all those moments and memories of one of the most wonderful times of the year.

Posted by: Wendy

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Double or Die a James Bond Adventure by Charlie Higson

Double or DieThe first two books of this young James Bond Adventure series reveal to us the teenage title character, a student at Eton College, as a  young man needing the thrill of danger in his life to not be bored and to feel really alive.  So far, the books guarantee plenty of that danger and adventure, with this third one not disappointing.

Double or Die opens in a London cemetery as an Eton professor is being kidnapped at gunpoint.  Then, an odd letter crammed with cryptic clues arrives at the school for one of the students.  Teenage James Bond and several of his school chums work feverishly to decode the clues, save the professor from those kidnappers who plan him and the boys deadly harm, and save the world from a powerful weapon being prepared and soon-to-be-used.

James is a real danger-magnet, always attracting trouble, yet that’s when he seems to be at his best.  He moves through each improbable situation with intelligence, speed, athletic ability, ‘just-in-the-nick-of-time’ luck, sometimes friends coming to the rescue, and sometimes even the attention of a girl or two.  This is all definitely fiction, but what a whirlwind of fun to be part of  James’ team throughout it all.  Boys, especially, grades 6 and up, might enjoy these lengthy (371pp), but exciting exploits.

Posted by: Fran D.

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