Tag Archives: adventure

Book Review: Summer of the Woods by Steven Smith

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

 
 

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Book Review: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

musketeersThe Three Musketeers

Written by Alexandre Dumas 
Translated by Lowell Bair
Published by Bantam Classics on June 1, 1984 
Originally published in 1844
Genre/Topics: Fiction, Classic, Adventure
635 pages 
 

Three Word Review: Adventure, Revenge, Comradeship

“All for one, one for all.”

The Three Musketeers is an adventure book about four French men, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan, who stick together at any cost. Their motto: “All for one, one for all” is often used even today to describe a close friendship. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are musketeers who fight for the king and d’Artagnan strives to be one of them. They’re not even close friends at the beginning. They come across many enemies, but are always up to the challenge to duel and use their swords. Of course, there’s even a lady in distress that they must fight to rescue. The Three Musketeers has a little everything: adventure, revenge, political conflict, romance, suspense, and humor. The many pages seem to quickly fly by. Dumas wrote in newspaper installments, so each chapter leaves the reader wanting to know what happens next. I highly suggest this book for a fun read. The Three Musketeers is the first book in the d’Artagnan series.

Since I don’t read French, I researched different translations. The translations vary between 600 – 750 pages, so you need to decide which version fits closest to the original text and the style of writing you prefer. Just make sure you do not read the abridged version. I probably could have read a translation that was closer to the text, but this writing flowed for me. Movies based on this book don’t match the thrilling writing. I’m now ready to read Twenty Years After, which is the sequel to The Three Musketeers.

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Book Review: Jack Calhoun and the Perfect Baseball

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.

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Book Review: Among the Enemy (Shadow Children #6)

 

Among the Enemy (Shadow Children #6) 

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix 
Published by Aladdin on May 17, 2005
Genre/Topics: Science Fiction, Adventure, Dystopia
Ages: 10+, 240 pages 
 

In this sixth installment in the Shadow Children series, Matthias from Among the Betrayed (book #3) is the main character. The book begins when the Population Police awaken children at school and take them away where they will work for their country. Matthias, along with his friends Percy and Alia, stay together and attempt to escape. Events occur that causes them to be free from the Population Police, however Percy and Alia are now injured. Matthias witnesses a fight between the Population Police and rebels. Without realizing it, Matthias rescues a Population Police officer who takes Matthias under his wing back to headquarters. Matthias is now in the middle of the place he fears most where he enlists to become a Population Police officer himself. While at headquarters, Matthias discovers that there are hidden individuals secretly planning against the Population Police. Matthias must decide who to trust and how to act in such a threatening environment that without careful steps may lead to disaster.

I enjoyed Among the Enemy, but yet again I was slightly disappointed that there was a new lead character. I really had to refresh my memory, since Matthias was only mentioned in book #3. However, I understand that the Shadow Children series is different from other series, because the problem evolves around an entire society not just one character. The reader gains a new perspective as we learn how different individuals handle the problems. Although, I prefer to follow events through a few constant characters throughout the series. I now have only one book to read in the Shadow Children series.

 

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Book Review: Among the Brave (Shadow Series #5)

Among the Brave (Shadow Children #5) 

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix 
Published by Aladdin on April 27, 2004
Genre/Topics: Adventure, Science Fiction, Dystopia 
Ages: 10+, 240 pages 

*Warning potential spoilers for previous Shadow Children books. *

The tragic end of Among the Barons (book #4) left Luke and his friends with more questions about who to trust and uncertainty about their futures. Luke escaped death when his friend, Trey, safely rescued him from harm. Trey is also a third child who remained hidden until he attended Hendricks School. He never considered himself brave or heroic. However, after his dramatic rescue to save Luke all his friends now view him with increased control and bravery. Trey doesn’t at all feel brave, instead he feels as though he was just lucky in a dangerous situation. After Trey’s friends left him alone at the Talbot’s house his goal is to remain hidden. Soon Trey has the courage to walk to the neighbor’s house that is also Luke’s home. Trey discovers Mark, Luke’s older brother, who is determined to find Luke. Mark and Trey begin an adventure to find and rescue Luke, although it’s hardly an easy task. They find themselves at the Population Police headquarters where Trey impersonates an officer. Even though Trey is at the center of individuals he has feared his entire life, Trey still doesn’t believe that he is brave. What exactly makes a person brave? Does Trey have what it takes to rescue others?

Among the Brave was similar to Among the Betrayed (book #3), because Luke isn’t the main character. Trey is mentioned in previous books, but the reader learns more about the character. I have mixed feelings about this aspect in the Shadow Children series. I enjoy developing a relationship with the lead character and additional characters mixed into the plot. However, the Shadow Children series highlights different individuals each effected by Population Police and laws. So although I don’t feel a strong connection with each character, I still enjoy learning about each individual’s struggles. I enjoyed looking at new aspects to what defines bravery, because Trey’s bravery may not have been the bold ‘standard’ yet events let his characteristics shine.

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Book Review: Among the Barons (Shadow Series #4)

Among the Barons (Shadow Children #4) 

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published by Aladdin June 1, 2003
Genre/Topics: Adventure, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Ages: 10+, 208 pages
 

For the first twelve years of Luke’s life he had always been Luke, until he received the fake I.D. and he became Lee Grant. Soon Luke adjusted to being Lee at Hendricks School for Boys. He never fully wanted to declare himself as Lee, however he was able to no longer remain hidden. Suddenly, Lee’s younger brother, Smits Grant, desires to also attend Hendricks. Luke doesn’t understand why Smits wants to attend the same school, because Smits understands that Lee died. The Grants are barons who are rich and powerful and receive anything they desire. Smits finally attends Hendricks with his personal bodyguard and demands special accommodation, such as his own room and different food from the other students. Luke’s not sure if Smits can keep the secret that Lee has in fact died. Luke must now live in more lies as he pretends to be Smits brother. Can he trust Smits and his bodyguard?

I enjoyed Among the Barons just as much as the other Shadow Children books. This book becomes complex with more characters and new perspectives. Luke’s character evolved as he’s been out of the shadows for a few months. There were story plots that surprised me just as the previous books.

 

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Book Review: Among the Betrayed (Shadow Series #3)

Among the Betrayed (Shadow Children #3) 

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix 
Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing on June 1, 2002 
Genre/Topics: Dystopia, Adventure, Science Fiction 
Ages: 10+, 160 pages 

 

This is the third book in the Shadow Children series and it takes a turn from the previous books. In the first two books, Luke is the central character, but in Among the Betrayed, Nina Idi is the main focus. Nina attended a girl’s school similar to the boy’s school. At the end of book two, Among the Impostors, Nina and Jason were arrested as traitors for falsely turning in third children to the Population Police. Now Nina is in prison and must state exactly what occurred or she faces death. However, the prison guard makes a deal for her to betray other imprisoned third children to learn more information about them. When she meets the children she discovers that they are much younger than her. Nina isn’t sure who to trust and whether she should betray the others.

I enjoyed Among the Betrayed, but I was slightly disappointed that Luke wasn’t the main character. However, I think the series’ theme is complex and additional character perspectives add to the plot. Personally, I thought the book was slow at times. Nina’s prison time is descriptive and harsh at times, so I suggest age ten and up. I’m ready to read book four. (I love when I don’t have to wait for the next book to be published.)

 
 

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Book Review: Among the Impostors (Shadow Series #2)

Among the Impostors (Shadow Children #2) 

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published by Aladdin on December 21, 2001 
Genre/Topics: Science Fiction, Adventure, School Hazing 
Ages: 10+, 172 pages 
 
 

For the first time in Luke’s life he is no longer hiding with the help of a fake I.D. He’s enrolled at Hendricks School for Boys where he must attempt to blend in, because if he’s discovered as a third child the Population Police may kill him. As soon as Luke arrives at Hendricks there is constant teasing and hazing from other classmates. Luke doesn’t know where his classes are, sits alone, and often must follow the orders from others. He begins to get homesick and whispers his name, since now he is Lee Grant. Luke cannot tell the students apart, gets lost in hallways, and doesn’t understand why the school has no windows. One day while wondering the halls Luke notices an unlocked door to the outside. Will Luke have the courage to understand the secrets at Hendricks?

I enjoyed Among the Impostors perhaps even more than Among the Hidden. There are new situations, problems, and characters for the reader to discover. The book surprised me even when I thought I knew what was happening. I’m ready to read the third book in the Shadow series.

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Book Review: Among the Hidden (Shadow Series #1)

Among the Hidden (Shadow Children #1) 

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published by  Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 1, 1998
Genre/Topics: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Adventure
Age: 10+, 153 pages 
Book Awards: Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee (2002),Sunshine State Young Readers Award for Grades 6-8 (2001), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (1999)
 

Luke has never gone to school, left his house, or met any other individual beside his family. He lives in the attic and cannot even look out windows. Luke is a third child who lives in the shadows. He must remain hidden, because he lives in a society where there can only be two children. If a third child or anyone attempting to hide a third child is discovered then the Population Police can punish by death. One day while peeking through the attic vents he notices a face in the neighbor’s window. Is it another third child who must stay hidden? How will Luke respond to the face?

I really enjoyed this book, because it had an interesting and unique plot. It contains government context and perhaps mature ideas. The book ended on a great cliffhanger and I’m ready to read the next book in the series.

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Book Review: Titanic #1: Unsinkable

Titanic #1: Unsinkable 

Written by Gordon  Korman
Published May 1, 2011 by Scholastic Paperbacks
Genre/Topics: Historical Fiction, Titanic, Adventure 
Ages: 8+, 176 pages 
 

This is the first book in a series of three about the Titanic’s maiden voyage. The book switches perspectives to four young characters who eventually all meet abroad the Titanic. Paddy is a stowaway who is running away from danger. Alfie is a junior crew member who lied about his age to work on Titanic. Juliana is travelling with her father, a wealthy Earl, who is often drunk and gambling. Sophie travels with her mother who campaigns for women’s rights and was arrested. In this book, Unsinkable, there is great excitement as the gigantic RMS Titanic Ship is about to set sail for the first time and is supposedly unsinkable. The book is a quick read and ends with a cliff hanger. Luckily, all the books are published so you can read the entire series.

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10,...

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 

Written by C. S. Lewis 
Read by Michael York
Originally published on October 16, 1950
Published by Harper Audio
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy 
Audio Edition: 4 hours, 22 minutes
Ages: 8+, 208 pages 
 

Welcome to the land of Narnia. There are two methods to read The Chronicles of Narnia: either by the date published or chronically order. I decided to read the series in the order C.S. Lewis first published them, so The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe makes it the first book. We meet Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie for the first time.

To avoid bombs during World War II in  London, the four Pevensie children live with a wealthy professor in the country. The house is large and mysterious. It is during a game of hide and seek that Lucy discovers Narnia through the wardrobe. Next Edmund journeys into Narnia and meets the Queen. Soon all four children magical enter the world of Narnia.

The White Witch has cast an evil spell that makes it always winter.  The children begin an adventure quest to remove the Witch. Aslan the brave lion slowly takes back power as winter melts away. The children find themselves in the center of a prophecy when two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve return to Narnia to eliminate the White Witch.

They meet talking animals and mythical creatures in the land of Narnia. I won’t address C.S. Lewis’ Christian themes, but The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a wonderful start for all ages. Please join me as I read the entire series.

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Book Review: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet 

Written by Gary Paulsen 
Read by Peter Coyote 
Originally Published by Aladdin on January 1, 1987 
Ages: 10+, 208 pages 
Audio Review: 3 hours, 42 minutes 
Audio Edition: Published by Listening Library on April 27, 2004
Topics: Survival, Adventure
 

On a trip to visit his recently divorced father, thirteen year old Brian Robeson is the only survivor in the small single engine plane crash after the pilot has a heart attack. After the pilot dies, Brian steers the plane as best as he can and lands inside the Canadian wilderness. The only items he has for survival are his clothes and the newly bought hatchet from his mother. Brian faces many challenges as he braves the wildness alone to survive. In order to survive, Brain must stay physically and emotionally strong. He often has flashbacks about his parent’s recent divorce, which is painful because he feels he wouldn’t be in this situation if his parents were still together. Brian knows that if he is going to survive the wilderness then he needs to think positive. His personality changes as he becomes more patient and corrects previously made mistakes. Brian gains patience as he learns to closely watch and think before making any quick and reckless actions. He learns skills to fish, start a fire, build a shelter, and defend himself. Hatchet is the first book in the Brian Saga series. Gary Paulsen won a Newbery Honor Award for Hatchet.

I enjoyed listening to this audio version of Hatchet. Peter Coyote’s voice was clear and provided emotion during the reading. There was sometimes music and sound effects during suspenseful moments. Some readers may become disinterested, since Brian is the only character for most of the book and there is no real conversation. However, Hatchet kept my interest as Brian encountered challenges for survival.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Ready

This week’s official photo challenge topic is ready. A few summers ago, my family and I went on a cruise to Alaska. The best highlight was our dog sled adventure. We rode in a helicopter and viewed amazing sights of Alaskan mountains and glaciers.  We were all ready for an exciting adventure!

This is a photo from above that shows the many dogs and dog igloos.

The dogs appear somewhat calm in the photo, but they were sooo excited to get ready to pull the sled.

The dogs looked so cute in their little booties.

When everything was ready then the dogs were finally happy and could run. You could either sit in the sled or stand. I tried both. The whole experience on the sled lasted about thirty minutes, but it was awesome! It was so thrilling, I’m ready to do it again!

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Book Review: The 39 Clues Series

The 39 Clues Series
Written by Rick RiordanGordon KormanPeter LerangisJude WatsonPatrick Carman, Linda Sue Park , Margaret Peterson Haddix 
Published: 2008-2010 by Scholastic 
Ages: 9 + Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Suspense 
 

I’m surprised it took me so long to discover the exciting adventures in The 39 Clues. I’ve only read the first book, but I think it has potential for an exciting series. When a relative dies, Dan and Amy Cahill are given the opportunity to take a million dollars or take the first clue that leads them on dangerous hunt to discover the source of the family’s power. Dan and Amy are practically like orphans, since their parents died when they were young and their old aunt hires au pairs. I enjoyed this book for several reasons. The perspectives switch between Dan and Amy, so both boys and girls can view themselves on the hunt for clues. There is a strong and positive sibling connection as they work together, but there’s still humor and normal teasing between brother and sister. The 39 Clues explores secrets and knowledge from the past, since the Cahill family has been powerful throughout history. Readers learn about historic events and important individuals, such as Benjamin Franklin, without being boring. The first book, The Maze of Bonesliterally was a cliff hanger that gets you ready for the next book.

The books themselves are great, but the reader becomes more involved through online interactions and collecting trading cards. You become an agent and attempt to solve clues. One thing I didn’t like was that you needed to put the card’s code that came with the book to gain further access online. Well, I didn’t have a card since I read the book from the library. Individuals sort themselves into the Cahill family with a mini quiz. I’m on the Ekaterina branch. Another great thing about this series is that it’s written by multiple authors. The hope is that readers will discover new authors to enjoy after reading The 39 Clues. 

www.the39clues.com

www.scholastic.com/teachthe39clues

tout

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