Ages 8-10

Book Review: Summer of the Woods by Steven Smith

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SOTW Kindle Cover v1

 Summer of the Woods

Written by Steven Smith 
Illustrations by Melissa Rose 
Published by MyBoys3 Press on May 11, 2013
Genre/Topics: Adventure, Mystery
Ages 7-10, 154 pages 

Two brothers, eight-year-old Sam and ten-year-old Derek, recently moved to Virginia at the start of summer. They are excited and anxious to explore their new backyard, which happens to be the woods. Their parents trust them to explore the woods alone and the summer they won’t forget begins. Sam discovers an old, worn down coin in the creek and pockets it. After showing their dad the coin and talking with the neighbors they discover that there was a rare coin collection stolen from a local museum. Derek and Sam believe they can discover where the coin collection now hides. However, they don’t often know what to expect within the dark woods and mysteries behind the coin collection. What dangers await the brothers in the woods? Will Sam and Derek discover the old coin collection?

I really enjoyed Summer of the Woods. The story was well written with good descriptions. I could really visualize the brothers’ quest into the woods. It reminded me of the film, The Goonies. The brothers are young explorers who are determined that there is more within the woods. Besides showing their dad the coin, the treasure hunt remains a secret between the two. This is Steven Smith’s first book and I’m excited to read what he writes next. I recommend Summer of the Woods for a fun adventure read.

chapter 5

 
 

Book Review: The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

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swanThe Trumpet of the Swan 

Written by E.B. White
Illustrated by Edward Frascino
Published by HarperCollins Publishers in 1970
Genre/Topics: Animals, Friendship
Ages: 6+, 210 pages 

 

Louis is a Trumpet Swan, however he was born without a voice. His father and mother are concerned, because without a voice he will have difficulty finding a mate in the Spring. Louis is also worried because he doesn’t want to be different from his siblings. Louis’ father takes a risk and steals a trumpet from a music shop, so that Louis will now have a voice. The problem is that his father is in debt from stealing a trumpet and smashing the shop. Louis is grateful for the trumpet, but knows he must help his father repay the debt. As a young swan, Louis met Sam Beaver who is a kind boy and loves animals. Sam takes Louis to school and helps him learn to read and write. With Sam’s help Louis gets paying jobs to play his trumpet and becomes quite famous to repay his father. More importantly, Louis now has a voice and can woo the swan he loves. Although Louis was born different he is determined to be his best and never gives up his dreams.

E.B. White is most famous for Charlotte’s Web, so The Trumpet of the Swan may get overlooked. The Trumpet of the Swan is a sweet book with many powerful messages. There is a fantasy element, since the animals have human-like characteristics and people communicate with Louis however it can still be used as a tool for discussion. Some possible discussions may include being different, never give up, love what you do, friendship, and animal care.

Book Review: The BFG by Roald Dahl

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BFGThe BFG

Written by Roald Dahl 
Illustrated by Quentin Blake 
Published in 1982
Genre/Topics: Humor, Fantasy
Ages: 6+, 212 pages 

 

Most people don’t even think giants exist and those that do are usually very afraid of them. However, the Big Friendly Giant or the BFG doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Sophie is an orphan who first meets the BFG while looking out her window at night. The BFG notices and reaches through her window to take her away, since nobody would believe her if she said she saw a giant. Soon Sophie realizes that the BFG is friendly and has no plans to eat her, instead he was out at night putting dreams with his long trumpet into children’s ears. It’s not always pleasant, because the BFG is the smallest among other giants who desire to eat human beans every night. When the large and revolting giants are out eating human beans, the BFG captures dreams and stores thousands into jars. Sophie learns where the giants plan to find their next meal and the BFG and her form a plan to stop them before it’s too late. 

The BFG has all the standard humor, fun, and zany words that are unique to Roald Dahl. So far I haven’t been disappointed by one of his books. I’m sure you’ll wish you also knew a giant, well at least a friendly one.

Book Review: Because of Mr. Terupt

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Because of Mr. Terupt 

Written by Rob Buyea
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on October 6, 2010
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, School, Peer Relations 
Ages: 8+, 288 pages 

 

Mr. Terupt is the new fifth grade teacher at Snow Hill Elementary School. The book takes the perspective of seven unique classmates in Mr. Terupt’s class. Jessica is the smart new girl; Alexia is your bully or friend; Peter is the troublemaker; Luke is the class brain; Danielle lacks confidence; Anna has a difficult home life; and Jeffrey dislikes school. Each student has his or her own problems and joys about everyday events and classroom situations told from their perspective. Mr. Terupt is a fresh and new teacher who connects with each student. He tries new things and lets the students think for themselves. Until the awful day when an accident occurs that changes everyone.

I really enjoyed Because of Mr. Terupt. We’ve all had that one special teacher that made a difference in our life. (Hopefully, more than one teacher.) The teacher that made us feel special or we tried something new and exciting for the first time. The students in Mr. Terupt’s class changed because of him. It almost made me cry. It’s a heartfelt book that can spark conversation. I recommend this book.

 

Book Review: Jack Calhoun and the Perfect Baseball

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Jack Calhoun and the Perfect Baseball: A Boy’s Baseball Adventure during the Civil War 

Written by P.A. Kernan
Published August 8, 2012
Genre/Topics: Historical, Adventure, Sports
Ages: 8+, 100 pages 
 

Jack Calhoun is a typical 10-year-old boy who lives in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, during the early 1860s. Baseball is Jack’s passion. Jack and his friends simply played casual ‘townball’ until a Confederate solider explained the official rules of baseball. Jack’s days are not always filled with fun baseball games. The Civil War has begun and Jack faces bullies on a daily basis from ‘Scrat the Rat’ and his gang. Jack’s father is a Quaker who doesn’t believe that war is the right choice, so he goes away into the mountains. Before Pa leaves he gives Jack a homemade hog skin baseball that Jack treasures and always keeps with him.  Now Jack must be strong with his Ma and younger siblings on the farm. While Pa is away Jack deals with the Home Guard who visit each house to demand all capable men fight against the Yankees and confrontations with his bullies. Jack even plans a humorous revenge on the bullies. Finally, Pa returns when the Exemption Act is passed which allows individuals with religious beliefs against fighting to avoid being in service. Jack’s life is somewhat back to normal with his Pa back and fewer bully situations. Baseball is always in Jack’s heart through all his hardships.

I thought Jack Calhoun and the Perfect Baseball was wholesome, humorous at times, and educational without being boring. Children won’t realize that they’re actually learning about the daily life during the Civil War, instead they’ll gain pleasure as they read about baseball and typical bully pranks. This book can be used to spark children’s interest while teaching about the Civil War.

Visit the author’s Goodreads blog and on Smashwords.

Book Review: The Witches

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The Witches

Written by Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Published by Puffin Books on January 1, 1983
Genre/Topics: Humorous, Fantasy
Ages: 8+, 208 pages 

 

The Witches is another wonderful book by Roald Dahl that is sure to delight many readers. The story begins with a young boy who is orphaned when his parents die in a terrible car accident. In their will, the boy is to be cared for by his Norwegian grandmother who is an expert at how to identify witches. She explains that witches are not what people typically think, such as they don’t wear black hats or ride broomsticks. His grandmother states that witches instead appear like ordinary women with ordinary jobs. This is a witch’s motto: One child a week is fifty-two a year, Squish them and squiggle them and make them disappear. Throughout the book, the boy learns more about how to distinguish a witch from a normal woman. His grandmother and him stay at a hotel during the summer and this is when the fun really begins. He had a pet mouse that he tried to teach tricks well the hotel manager was very upset to have a mouse running around. The boy sneaked into an empty room that stated ‘Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’, so it must be a safe place to train his pet mouse. Suddenly women enter the room and he soon learns that they are actually not normal women at all, but witches. I’ll let you discover what happens next.

I highly enjoyed this Roald Dahl book. I believe even adults will get a laugh. The book had me guessing what would happen next and if the boy could save the day.

Book Review: Tua and the Elephant

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Tua and the Elephant 

Written by R. P. Harris
Illustrated by Taeun Yoo
Published by Chronicle Books on April 18, 2012
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Thailand, Animal Rescue 
Age: 8+, 204 pages 
 

Tua and the Elephant is the story of a young and curious girl who lives in Thailand. She visits the local night market where she often goes and enjoys the tastes, sights, and familiar people. On one market outing she discovers an elephant who is being treated badly. She sets the elephant free and takes it with her. Although, she’s not sure where to take the elephant that she rescued. Men who owned the elephant chase Tua throughout the town as she does whatever it takes to hopefully keep the elephant safe.

The book’s setting is Thailand, so of course Thai is spoken. There are words and expressions that I understood after carefully reading. It doesn’t explicitly state what it means. I enjoyed this aspect, because it made it seem that I was actually there. An illustration is at the start of each chapter. Tua and the Elephant is a sweet book with a girl who doesn’t give up even though she’s small. The book also teaches the importance to take care of animals. The author visited Thailand himself and explains his contact with elephants. I’ll admit, the main reason I picked up this book was because elephants are my favorite animal.