Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A Monster Like Me by Wendy Swore

Monster Like Me, A (c) 2019
by Wendy Swore
A Monster Like Me by Wendy Swore is such a great book, not only for kids, but for adults as well. The main character, Sophie, because of a mark on her face, seems to sincerely think that she's a monster, especially after a cruel comment about her mark made by, of all people, an adult, a GROWN UP PERSON in a grocery store as the main character is standing right there! I appreciated the difficulties the main character faced as she went through her trials, and the things she started believing about herself and others around her. Knowing that in real life real people face these same troubles made me very glad for this book. It teaches empathy and compassion for others, and tells a fantastically written story at the same time.

I recommend this story to kids and adults who like strong protagonists who stumble sometimes, but get back up, and learn important lessons along the way.

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

First Girl Child, The (c) 2019
by Amy Harmon
The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon is a skillful blend of Norse mythology and fantasy, creating a well written story about a country cursed with being able to produce no girl children. When a monk finds a dying woman, his own sister, who has just given birth to a baby boy not far from the Temple Mount where he serves, he witnesses her curse the baby's father who rejected both her and her son before dying.  When the women of the country start giving birth only to boy children, he realizes that his sister's curse has become a reality. But when the queen, seemingly, gives birth to a healthy girl after miscarrying several boys, he begins to think the curse is beginning to lift. Or is it? And why does his little nephew that he has been raising feel such a connection to the little baby princess, and who is the mysterious "Ghost", the woman with white hair and skin, and strange colored eyes he finds weeping under the very tree where his sister died?

The First Girl Child is meant for older ages, having a bit of violence and intimate scenes in it not appropriate for young readers.

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Spiderwick Chronicles, The (c) 2013
by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black are a fun set of five books/chapters that make up the story of the Grace children, Jared, Simon, and Mallory, who, with their mom, move into their great Aunt Lucinda's house. When Jared finds a book entitled Arthur Spiderwick's Fieldguide, he starts discovering a lot of things about the woods near his house that he wishes he didn't. And when something he and his family can't see, but can hear, starts to play pranks on them, things really start to get weird.

He, his brother, and his sister get embroiled in the world of the Fae folk, some of them benign, others dangerous. When the elves ask Jared to get the book for them, will Jared be able to do as they ask? But what happens when someone, or something else takes the book?

Read the Spiderwick Chronicles and find out.

Readers who enjoy middle grade fantasy will enjoy this story.

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, first published in 1942, is an insightful book that looks at the world from the view of a devil. Screwtape, the master, is coaching Wormwood, an apprentice tempter as Wormwood works to guide his "patient" toward evil and away from good. It is an interesting look at how not only devils, but mean people as well, think, and how they seek to build themselves up by destroying (sometimes literally, sometimes emotionally) other beings. I liked how Screwtape talked about his and Wormwood’s philosophies of consuming other things to feed themselves made perfect sense to him, and the “Enemy’s” (God’s) philosophy of “filling the universe with tiny copies of himself” didn’t make any sense to their ultimately selfish philosophies, and therefore must have some ulterior motive behind it. It was interesting to see how people whose every thought is focused on self ultimately can’t or won’t understand selflessness, so to comfort themselves, they decide that an act that is selfless by someone else can’t be, and therefore must have a sinister, selfish bent to it since they can’t or won’t, understand anything else. I also found it insightful at the end when *spoiler* Wormwood failed, that Screwtape turned on Wormwood without mercy. It showed how selfishness, by its own nature, inevitably turns on itself. An endnote by Mr. Lewis mentioned how he hadn’t enjoyed writing The Screwtape letters, though it had been easy to do so. For myself, I appreciate that despite the fact that he had not had fun writing it, that he had done so anyway.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
(c) 1997 by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Also titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the U.K.) by J. K. Rowling begins the magical series of Harry Potter and his friends as they go to school at Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry.

Not only does Harry have the usual school troubles of tests, difficult assignments, teachers who don't like him, and bullies, but he also has to worry about Volemort, who wants to find him and finish the job he'd tried to do ten years before, when Harry was a baby. Voldemort killed Harry's parents, but oddly failed at killing Harry, leaving only a scar on his forehead.

Fortunately, Harry has the support of his two best friends, Ron and Hermione, as well as the school's headmaster, Dumbledore.

Hopefully, with their help, he can make it through his first year at
Hogwarts alive!

Magic Treehouse Good Morning, Gorillas by Mary Pope Osborne

Magic Treehouse Good Morning, Gorillas
(c) 2010 by Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Treehouse Good Morning, Gorillas by Mary Pope Osborne is the 26th Magic Treehouse book.

In this book, Jack and Annie travel to the cloud forest of Africa and meet a family of gorillas. The young gorillas seem to like the kids, and the young gorillas' mothers. But the silverback who leads the group is another story. Will he make friends with Jack and Annie too? And what will happen when a dangerous leopard has its hungry eye on the littlest gorilla? Read the book and find out!

Magic Treehouse Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne

Magic Treehouse Dragon of the Red Dawn
(c) 2008 by Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Treehouse Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne is the 37th book of the series.

In this story, Annie and Jack travel back to Old Japan to find the secret to peace, and bring that secret back to cheer Merlin up. But while in Edo (the ancient name for Tokyo) they are questioned by Samurai wanting them to show their passports, and they don't have any! Who will come to Jack and Annie's aid? Read the book and find out!