September 30, 2013

[Book Review] Epos The Winged Flame (Beast Quest, #6) by Adam Blade


One boy's journey to help his village becomes a quest to save the kingdom.

The entire Beast Quest has been leading up to the final battle. Tom is ready to defeat the last of Malvel's Beasts: the Winged Flame, a phoenix living inside a volcano! And though his friends have been there to help him along his Quest, he must ultimately go forward to face the final Beast alone.

But Tom has more to worry about than Epos. As he struggles to free the Beast and defeat the dark wizard Malvel, Tom learns more about his mysterious father--and his own destiny as well.

September 29, 2013

September 19, 2013

The Magic School Bus Weathers The Storm by Kristin Earhart


CRASH! BOOM! FLASH! There are stormy skies ahead for Ms. Frizzle and her class. What happens when the Magic School Bus turns into a weather balloon? Take off with the Magic School Bus and learn all about what happens during a thunderstorm.

September 18, 2013

The Magic School Bus In The Rain Forest by Eva Moore


Ms. Frizzle and the kids are off on an adventure to the wet and wonderful rain forest. Their mission: to find out why Ms. Frizzle's cocoa tree has stopped growing cocoa beans. (Without cocoa beans there wouldn't be any chocolate!) Could there be a cocoa bean thief in the rain forest? Or is there some other reason the healthy tree has suddenly lost its beans?

September 17, 2013

[Book Review] Down the Rabbit Hole by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

The Magic School Bus Gets Crabby by Kristin Earhart

The Magic School Bus Gets CrabbyThe Magic School Bus Gets Crabby by Kristin Earhart

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

The Magic School Bus Gets Crabby is a Level 2 Scholastic Reader, featuring "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers"; it's based on the Magic School Bus series of picture books by Joanna Cole and stars the characters of the Magic School Bus television show.

In the story, Ms. Frizzle's class is going on a field trip to the pool; little do they realize that when Ms. Frizzle says "pool", she means tidal pool, and the class's lesson for the day is on their local tidal pools and the creatures that live there. They learn about barnacles and hermit crabs, and the illustrations point out many other tidal pool lifeforms (mussels, anemones, starfish, etcetera). There is also some information about the impact of the tides on the lifeforms that live in the pools.

Ultimately, The Magic School Bus Gets Crabby is a good way to introduce young children to tidal pools, though I feel that children (and adults) who live in areas where there are no tidal pools (me, for example) won't quite get the full effect. If you're planning on taking your child on a trip to a beach that has tidal pools, however, this is a wonderful way to introduce them to the concept, or even something to read during the beach visit. I'd also recommend accompanying this book with the Magic School Bus television episode "Goes to Mussel Beach", which explores tidal zones and how they affect sea life.

Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

September 16, 2013

The Magic School Bus at the First Thanksgiving by Joanna Cole

Magic School Bus At the First ThanksgivingThe Magic School Bus at the First Thanksgiving by Joanna Cole

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The Magic School Bus at the First Thanksgiving is a Level 2 Scholastic Reader, featuring "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers". It's based on Joanna's Cole's original Magic School Bus book series and stars the characters of the Magic School Bus television show in a trip to the "first Thanksgiving".

As far as Thanksgiving books go, there are three main categories. The first category tells the story of a modern U.S. Thanksgiving and mostly or completely ignores the origins of the holiday. The second tells the mythical version of the "first" Thanksgiving that elementary school students throughout the United States "reenact" every year. The third kind attempts to teach children the truth behind the nonsense. I'm happy to say that The Magic School Bus at the First Thanksgiving is an example of the third case.

In the book, Ms. Frizzle is teaching her class about the Thanksgiving holiday; on her blackboard, she has written a menu of what the English emigrants and Wampanoag may actually have eaten at the celebration that eventually came to be referred to as "the first Thanksgiving". Upon seeing this menu, the students insist that pumpkin pie should be listed--they have it every year!--but Dorothy Ann's book says otherwise. To get to the bottom of it, Ms. Frizzle ushers her class into the bus for a field trip through time.

On their trip, the class gets to witness the Mayflower's journey to and arrival in North America and the first winter the emigrants endured in their new home (complete with a mention of the many deaths that occurred during this period). Then the story gets into the "Thanksgiving" itself, explaining Tisquantum /Squanto's role in the story (mention is made of his being kidnapped and taken to England, but not of his enslavement; presumably the subject was considered a tad too mature for a book aimed at toddlers), the duties the Europeans performed during the harvest season, and the recreation that may have been indulged in during the three-celebration. Notably, the book also points out that there were more Native Americans than Europeans at the celebration, that the celebration was not called a "Thanksgiving", and that Thanksgiving was not a national holiday until 1863; it also alludes to the fact that the Wampanoag people's arrival at the celebration was a surprise and not the result of a previously extended invitation.

All in all, I'd say The Magic School Bus at the First Thanksgiving is a wonderful way to teach children about the reality (to the best of modern historians' knowledge) of the "first Thanksgiving", and I highly recommend it to those children interested in learning about the background of the holiday--especially those children whose schools perpetuate the mythical version of the historical event.

September 12, 2013

A City Tossed and Broken by Judy Blundell

A City Tossed and Broken: The Diary of Minnie Bonner, San Francisco, California, 1906 (Dear America)A City Tossed and Broken: The Diary of Minnie Bonner, San Francisco, California, 1906 by Judy Blundell

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Dear America is a middle grade series from Scholastic that explores in diary form the lives of young women and girls at important points in United States history. In A City Tossed and Broken, the young woman in question is Minnie Bonner, a young woman who is forced to take a position as a maid after her father gambles away almost everything the family owns. But when her employers are killed in the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Minnie faces dual dilemmas; as she grapples with the moral dilemma of using a young woman's death to her advantage, she must escape the flames that are consuming San Francisco.

All in all, A City Tossed and Broken is both a reasonably educational glimpse at a historical disaster and an entertaining story that manages to be extraordinary without breaking one's suspension of disbelief, and its fourteen-year-old female protagonist is both clever and competent in the face of extreme circumstances. After the epilogue of Minnie's story, there is also a helpful section that elaborates on the historical disaster and features photographs of the damage done to the city.

I'd recommend the book to fans of MG and historical fiction, especially those with an interest in natural disasters and/or San Francisco. For children with an interest in natural disasters and/or San Francisco who can't yet handle a book this size, I would recommend checking out Earthquake in the Early Morning by Mary Pope Osborne; for those interested in a nonfiction take on the 1906 disaster, I'd recommend the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast's 2011 episode, History's Unforgettable Fires.

And I will definitely be reading more of the Dear America series in the future.

A copy of this book was provided via Netgalley for the purpose of review.

September 11, 2013

The Magic School Bus Fights Germs by Kate Egan

The Magic School Bus Fights GermsThe Magic School Bus Fights Germs by Kate Egan

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

The Magic School Bus Fights Germs is a Level 2 Scholastic Reader (featuring "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers") based on the Magic School Bus franchise created by Joanna Cole and starring the characters of the Magic School Bus television show.

When Wanda gets sent home from school with strep throat, Ms. Frizzle's class takes the opportunity to learn about how the human body fights germs. The class learns about germs, red and white blood cells, and antibodies; essentially, it's the same plot as the television episode, Inside Ralphie.

I'd recommend the book to parents of young children, especially those who are currently fighting off or have recently recovered from an illness such as strep throat, a flu, etcetera. However, I would also point out that I believe Inside Ralphie does a better job of covering the immune system, so I'd advise anyone who can get their hands on that episode to supplement this book with it (or substitute it entirely).

September 10, 2013

The Magic School Bus Lost in the Snow by Joanna Cole

The Magic School Bus Lost in the Snow  (Scholastic Reader, Level 2)The Magic School Bus Lost in the Snow by Joanna Cole

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Lost in the Snow is a Level 2 Scholastic Reader (featuring "vocabulary and sentence length for beginning readers) that ties in to the Magic School Bus television show (and the books upon which it was based). In it, Ms. Frizzle and her familiar class of eight students--Arnold, Keisha, Wanda, Tim, Ralphie, Dorothy Ann, Phoebe, and Carlos--learn about snow.

Compared to other books in this series, there isn't much information presented, mostly because snow is a far simpler subject than, say, the paleontology and the connect between dinosaurs and birds. It's still a short, educational read suited toward young children, though, so I'd recommend it to anyone with with toddlers, especially those who are about to see (or play in!) their first snowfall.

Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.