Archives for January, 2012
BOOK NAME: Tall Story
AUTHOR: Candy Gourlay
This book is about a boy named Bernardo who was very short for much of his childhood and then magically grew to be eight feet tall when he was teenager. When he suddenly grew that tall, the earthquakes mysteriously stopped on the island in the Philippines where he lived with his aunt and uncle. When he was told he could move to England to live with his mother, step-father and half-sister, Andi (who are all pretty short), the people on the island begged him to stay because they were afraid the earthquakes would return with him not there. Bernardo’s sister was both surprised and disturbed by how tall he was. She was an exceptional basketball player, and wouldn’t let her below-average height bother her because she never missed a single shot. Meanwhile, Bernardo could just stand there and tip the ball into the hoop without trying. Life became very hard for Bernardo in school and at home, including his relationship with his sister. He eventually told her the story of how he became so tall and she found it very thrilling. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out how he grew so fast.
I liked how the book was written from both Bernardo’s and Andi’s perspectives. Every other chapter was from the other’s perspective, which gave it a lot more voice than if the author hadn’t done this. It was better than just writing it in the third person.
BOOK NAME: Toys Come Home
AUTHOR: Emily Jenkins
Toys Come Home by Emily Jenkins is a story all about the adventures of a few soft toy animals. The soft toys teach you important morals about friendship and taking responsibility.
Stingray is a blue friendly soft toy who arrives at a little girl’s house as her birthday gift. Stingray is learning all about the house and trying to make friends with the other toys, Sheep and Bobby Dot, the walrus. However, Stingray does not like their personalities as Sheep is lazy and sleepy and Bobby Dot is mean and brags. But, Stingray is a true hero for she rescues Sheep from a thorny bush he gets stuck on. When Bobby Dot dies in the dryer, the girl buys Lumphy, the buffalo to take his place. Stingray and Lumphy become good friends and enjoy playing games together. They are soon joined by a playful intelligent ball named Plastic. The three of them realize that they along with the girl are a true family.
This book is a perfect read when you want to enjoy some simple adventure. It’s amazing how each toy has an individual personality that is reflected by their acts. For example, Plastic is intelligent as she reads lots of books and Lumphy is brave for he saves a mouse from a cat. Also, I could picture the toys so easily because of the detailed descriptions. This book reminds me about little children interacting with each other. I cannot wait to read more about the toy’s adventures in the sequels, Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
A strong solar flare from an active region of the sun caused a dramatic display of the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights). The solar flare sent a cloud of gas and charged particles called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, at the Earth. The flare’s collision with the Earth’s magnetic field causes the brilliant light displays.
The sun has a cycle 11 years long. We are now in the part of the cycle where the sun’s activity is higher. Scientists predict that we will continue to see this kind of intense auroras as the sun’s activity increases, reaching what is known as solar maximum next year.
Photograph by Thilo Bubek
BOOK NAME: The Unknown Spy
AUTHOR: Eoin McNamee
Hi again, blog readers! I’m glad to be back but not glad to tell you that I’m reviewing a book that I most definitely did not love. It’s The Unknown Spy by Eoin McNamee.
The book is about a spy named Danny and all his friends going on a quest to save the treaty stone, a stone that makes it impossible for the Lower World to invade Danny’s world, the Upper World. Right before the quest begins, two of the four quest members get stuck at the spy school. Now only Danny and one other quest member are going on the quest. It’s crazy how much double-crossing and lying they go through to get the stone back safely so they can save the world!
I think the main reason I didn’t like it was because I thought it was full of negative stuff. For instance, my favorite character, Les was really funny and a good sport but he was excluded from all his friends’ quests. Who would exclude a nice guy like Les? The guy who excluded him was a big jerk named Bruneholm. He was my least favorite character because he was kind of an adult bully. He was the assistant headmaster of the spy school that Les and his friends attended.
Anyway, this book is a bit scary so I wouldn’t try reading it at night. It freaked me out a couple of times when I was up late with it! It’s a book that is full of surprises, traitors, hatred and war, so if you’re into that kind of stuff, you might just like it. I didn’t though. Sorry!
Scientists have been taking a closer look at the “dance” that dung beetles perform on top of their dung balls. So why do the beetles dance? They’re using the sun to figure out which direction to travel. As the beetle moves on top of the dung ball, it is checking the position of the sun to help it navigate.
Photograph by Chris Johns, National Geographic
We are back on the road again in South America. Our first stop is Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. The town was full of excitement and so were we. Our first night we went to soccer game or, as they call it, futbol. It was a rivalry game so it was extra crazy. There were people in the stadium lighting off fireworks and chanting anthems. The crowd was filled with black and yellow bumble bee jerseys and red, white and blue jerseys. They were the most energetic fans I had ever seen.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
T’was Christmas Day and all through the house all the creatures were stirring, even a mouse. For Christmas I got a kindle fire and a lot of pretty clothes. Everest got a spy set, a remote controlled car that is insanely fast, a life size stuffed tiger, and a lot of logos. We spent the day lounging around the house and playing with our new toys. We had a delicious family dinner that night. Everyone obviously over ate but it was the perfect way to end a wonderful Christmas.
That next morning we left for the Potawatomi Lodge, our home away from home. I have been going there since I was born. My parents have shared a family reunion there for the past 30 years. During the winter they have a toboggan run (it is kind of like a sled going down an steep icy hill). It was super fun and super fast.
I love spending time with my family, especially because we only get to see them two times a year. We spend hours sitting by the fire, play card games, and building snowmen. This year my eleven year old cousin Kayla and her sister came and we got to hang out together.
After three great days we went back to grandma and grandpa’s to ring in the New Year. We went to an exciting hockey game with Olivia (my friend who helped me raise money for the orphans in Nepal). Her older brother JD is an amazing player. We also went to an arcade with my aunts and uncles and won 2666 tickets!!! Last time I played at an arcade in Santa Barbara I won enough tickets for a lava lamp. Have you ever won so many tickets?
A few days later Uncle BJ came to Michigan and shared dinner with us and played at the park.
On our last night we went to a Mavericks Pistons basketball game that was awesome! The Mavericks won and we got free shirts, pizza and lottery tickets. Our holiday season was awesome, but I am super excited for South America!
Today is Friday the 13th. Some people believe that the number 13 is unlucky. In fact, there’s even a word for fear of the number 13: Triskaidekaphobia. Some people believe that Friday the 13th is an especially unlucky day. If you are afraid of Friday the 13th, you have paraskevidekatriaphobia.
This is the first of three Friday the 13ths in 2012. The other two are in April and July. We won’t have three in one year again until 2015, and not again after that until 2026!
Photograph by SuperStock, Inc.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
BOOK NAME: Penny From Heaven
AUTHOR: Jennifer L. Holm
Twelve year old Penny Falucci doesn’t have a father, but she doesn’t mind because she has more than enough of the rest of her crazy, wacky family to fill her time. In fact, sometimes she feels like she has too much love to know what to do with it all. Penny is sick of her mom being overprotective, so to pass the time she usually gets into trouble with her cousin, Frankie. And when Penny has a question, she just goes to her Uncle Dominic who lives in a car and is full of strange wisdom. But living in the 1950s is no easy task when Penny’s mother won’t let her go to the movies or the pool because of the polio scare. Penny feels like she has a lot of responsibilities, especially when her dog, Scarlett O’Hara, thinks the world is her bathroom.
The summer is passing by at a leisurely pace when a tragic event occurs; her mom is dating again! But not just with anyone, she is dating the milkman! How embarrassing is that? This book is one filled with wonderful wackiness, with Penny just riding through her very different life. I loved this book because it was a very light, comforting read all about family and how Penny fits in. I love all the quirky characters that make up Penny’s colorful family with their individual traits. Look for it next time you go to the bookstore or library.
Today is the start of the 2012 Google Science Fair! This competition is for curious kids ages 13 to 18. If you have a great idea for a project, you can register for the fair. The grand prize winner will receive cool prizes including a National Geographic Expedition trip to the Galapagos Archipelago!
BOOK NAME: Belly Up
AUTHOR: Stuart Gibbs
Hippos may not be the cutest and cuddliest of creatures. They rank second behind the Cape buffalo on the list of the most dangerous African animals. They are often ill-tempered and messy beasts. Henry the Hippo was no exception, but Henry’s special title was mascot for Funjungle, a brand-new and extremely popular zoo/theme park. Shortly after arriving at Funjungle, Henry mysteriously died.
12-year-old Teddy is determined to find the cause of Henry’s sudden and unexpected demise. Teddy is the son of a renowned gorilla researcher and expert wildlife photographer. He spent 10 years of his life in the Congo, so he knows his animals. Henry’s death may not have been from natural causes. When Teddy secretly attends Henry’s autopsy, he discovers that Henry was murdered! A small, sharp object was placed in his food, and it poked holes in his digestive tract, eventually killing him. Teddy decides to try and apprehend the perpetrator of this heinous crime. However, the case quickly gets complicated. It turns out that Henry was not well liked by many people, all of whom are possible suspects in Henry’s murder. Not only that, the real murderer wants Teddy off his/her case, immediately! If Teddy does not solve the mystery soon, he might be the next casualty!
I have high praise for Belly Up. The element of mystery regarding Henry’s death kept my interest. As the story unfolded and new clues were discovered, I kept trying to guess the culprit. In a startling twist, the real murder was someone I had never guessed. The book was also very suspenseful. The killer made several attempts on Teddy’s life throughout the story. Those parts were very exciting. I liked how the book included an element of humor. Teddy often uses sarcasm and makes many funny comparisons and points. For example, he compares one security guard’s physique to that of a rhinoceros. The story was told in first person point-of-view, which added depth to the plot. Seeing the events through Teddy’s eyes, and knowing what he heard, smelled, saw, felt, and thought made it seem as if I was experiencing the story myself.
The 2012 Hands-On Explorer Contest is now closed. No new entries will
be accepted by the judges. It’s time to wait to find out who won!
BOOK NAME: Fever 1793
AUTHOR: Laurie Halse Anderson
An epidemic in the United States, yellow fever, is brought to life in the book Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Matilda is a young girl growing up in 1793 in the town of Philadelphia with her mother and grandfather. In the coffeehouse that her family runs, all the talk is that Yellow Fever is spreading in the city and taking lots of lives. Soon, her mother is infected with fever and there is no good cure. Yellow fever is contagious; hence Grandfather and Matilda flee from the town. However, Matilda contracts the disease and is cured by knowledgeable French doctors. The two of them head home and are shocked to find the city of Philadelphia deserted. Facing such hard times, Matilda wonders when the epidemic will end and life will be normal.
Fever 1793 is a very intriguing historical fiction book. It brings out a tragic time in America’s history through an interesting story. The story weaves in facts about the Yellow Fever like symptoms such as yellow skin and black vomit and treatments for the disease such as bleeding and the drinking of mercury. It is inspiring how a care-free girl like Matilda learns to help others and take on responsibilities in difficult times. At the end of some chapters, there was a lot of suspense, which made the book really fun to read.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
BOOK NAME: The Battle of the Labyrinth
AUTHOR: Rick Riordan
Hi people! As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of fantasy literature. This time I’m reviewing The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. It’s the fourth book in the Percy Jackson series.
The Battle of the Labyrinth is basically about how Percy, Grover, Annabeth and Tyson go on a quest through the labyrinth, an endless maze of paths. The labyrinth has lots of tricky twists and dangerous turns. The quest involves stopping Luke who is trying to get to the labyrinth entrance and Camp Half-Blood. It’s a suspenseful story for sure!
Annabeth is probably my favorite character in the book. She’s this strong, outspoken person who knows exactly how to communicate her point which makes her cool to ‘listen’ to. She is one of the regular characters in the series, and has to face her used-to-be-best-friend, Luke, in this book. It’s exciting how she deals with the situation. She used to kind of like Luke, and still does a little bit, but she is actually starting to like Percy also. The book isn’t exactly mushy but you can tell there’s some girlfriend and boyfriend feelings going on. Anyway, the Annabeth scenes in the book are very interesting and really made me want to read more and more.
The Battle of the Labyrinth was definitely not my favorite book in the series, but absolutely worth reading. The cliffhanger ending in the book is amazing. I mean, I can’t tell you about it, but when you get to the end of the book you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Read it and see!
Which superhero would you be and why? That’s the question that nine-year-old Ari Garnick asked the Republican candidates this summer. Ari took some time away from books and LEGOs to talk to the candidates as they criss-crossed his home state of New Hampshire. He met Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman at a Fourth of July parade in Amherst, New Hampshire. He also got to see Romney hand out coffee and sandwiches at a local diner. Ari braved a massive crowd at the opening of Herman Cain’s headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire. “If you have claustrophobia, you’d want to stay away from there,” but Ari squeezed his way through to talk to Cain. He met Rick Perry at a house party, Rick Santorum at a Greek festival, and Newt Gingrich at a “meet and greet.” He and his dad took a long drive to see Ron Paul at Keene State College, but Paul seemed “more interested in talking to adults,” said Ari. As a consolation, Ari’s dad took him for some pizza and ice cream. He and his dad were not able to talk to Michele Bachmann, but they hope to when she is back in New Hampshire.
Today, people in Iowa gather in the Iowa caucuses, the first election event and chance for people in Iowa to pick the Republican they want on the ballot to face off against President Barack Obama this fall. The 2012 presidential election is many months away and will be held on November 6, but the Republican candidates have already spent a lot of time on the campaign trail in 2011.
Ari thinks the election process is interesting, but he doesn’t think kids should be allowed to vote. “Kids don’t know anything about the candidates and might just like their name,” he said. Most of his friends aren’t interested in the election.
BOOK NAME: The Egypt Game
AUTHOR: Zilpha Keatley Snyder
April comes to live with her grandmother, while her famous mother is on a tour. She moves in to her grandmother’s house, at the Casa Rosada. Also in the Casa Rosada building lives the Ross family. Melanie Ross, who is April’s age, quickly becomes her friend. They share their interests with each other, and discover that they both love ancient Egypt. They find a yard behind a store, owned by the Professor, and decide to create a secret Egypt game there, based on the customs of ancient Egypt.
Soon enough, the Egypt game has six members. They make their own hieroglyphic alphabet, and have Egyptian names. Then, when a little girl is murdered in their community and the police can’t find the criminal, all kids are told not to play outside, and the members of the Egypt game are afraid that they will never be able to return to Egypt (the yard behind the store). Soon, though, the talk dies down, the kids slowly return to play outside, and the members of the Egypt game return to Egypt.
One night, April and Marshall go to Egypt to get April’s math book. Someone grabs April, covers her mouth, and tries to drag her away. Finally, the strange person runs off. People think the criminal is the Professor, because no one really knows anything about him. Can they affirm their suspicion? Can the Egypt game continue?
I really loved this book! I love ancient cultures. My favorite character is April. She seems stuck up in the beginning of the book, but she really is nice. I recommend this book to everyone! It is definitely worth reading!