Archives for August, 2012
Iceland is an amazing island filled with bubbling volcanoes and icy glaciers. One actually erupted just two years ago leaving many towns under ashes.
As we were getting ready for London my cousin was chosen to play on a professional soccer (or, as they say, “futball”) team in Iceland so we did what any good family would do and took a slight detour to The Land of Fire and Ice.
BOOK NAME: Atherton: House of Power
AUTHOR: Patrick Carman
Atherton: House of Power is the first book in a trilogy by Patrick Carmen and takes place in the mysterious three tiered world of Atherton. There is the top layer, or the Highlands, where the water for the whole world originates and the high society and leaders of the world reside. Directly below that, there is Tabletop, where eleven year old Edgar lives with the rest of the working class. This is also where the groves are, which is where Edgar works under the evil Mr. Ratikan. If he puts one toe out of line, Mr. Ratikan will end up taking away meals and increasing work as punishment. At the bottom of the world is the Flatlands, where all the horrors of the entire world reside, waiting to eat any leftovers that fall from Tabletop. While tending to the fig trees in the Groves, Edgar daydreams about what could possibly be in the Highlands. He finally decides to climb there during the night, even though it is completely forbidden. While climbing up, he discovers a mysterious book that he believes contains secrets to his past and might contain information on the origin of his world. There’s only one problem though; he can’t read. So when he finally climbs up and manages to locate somebody who can read, he has to repeat his forbidden climbing night after night. In doing this, he discovers that certain handholds are lower than the previous night; meaning that the Highlands are sinking into Tabletop. And in all this chaos, he has to worry about Mr. Ratikan’s punishments. He must travel all over this world to find a way to save all three layers, including the dreaded Flatlands.
This book is an amazing introduction to the trilogy and will keep you reading to find out how this world was created and for what purpose. It is full of action and shows how each of the inhabitants of the layers must work together to save their world. I absolutely loved the character of Edgar because he could climb like a maniac. I like climbing, am not very good at it, and definitely envy his superior skills. I would like to commend the author on creating an intriguing, complex world. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone interested in a good series who likes science fiction and fantasy.
BOOK NAME: Toliver’s Secret
AUTHOR: Esther Wood Brady
Ellen Toliver lives in New York with her mom and grandfather during the American Revolution.
She leads the normal life of a young girl, except for the fact that her house is filled with
redcoats (British soldiers). Her grandfather is a barber, and all of the soldiers come to his shop.
One day, Ellen catches her mother baking a snuffbox inside a loaf of bread. When she asks what
the purpose of this mysterious bread is, her mother merely dismisses the question. Ellen gets
suspicious. Why would her mother be baking a loaf of bread with a snuffbox hidden inside?
When her grandfather is injured on the ice, Ellen finds out the story. Her grandfather is a spy for
the Americans, and in that snuffbox is an important message for General Washington. Ellen’s
grandfather was going to deliver the message, but now he can’t!
Suddenly, it’s all up to Ellen. She will deliver the message. The instructions sound simple
enough: Disguise yourself as a boy, cut your hair, go to the harbor, get a boat ride to Elizabeth-
town, and give the loaf of bread to a man named Mr. Shannon. Ellen agrees to take the
message for her grandfather. Yet everything goes wrong! First, she ends up on a ship filled with
British soldiers, and then she ends up ten miles away from where she has to be! At times, Ellen
feels like turning back and going home, but she doesn’t give up. The entire country is depending
I really enjoyed this book. It may be easy for kids ages 10 and up, but is still definitely a great
read! Ellen’s display of courage and determination is something we can all learn from. I would
definitely recommend this book to anyone.
BOOK NAME: Boomtown
AUTHOR: Nowen N. Particular
In the state of Washington, one can find the not-so-quiet little town known simply as Boomtown. The town isn’t named for springing up in a few weeks during a gold rush, the meaning is quite literal. In Boomtown, the home of Chang’s Famous Fireworks Factory, exploding just about anything is everyone’s favorite pastime.
Reverend Arthur Button and his family have moved to Boomtown for the peacefulness of small-town life. They did not quite get what they expected. Right from the start, Boomtown, and its wacky citizens, turn out to be much more than the Buttons bargained for. Upon stopping for a quick view of the fireworks factory that is Boomtown’s heart and soul, Reverend Button finds himself nearly beheaded by a rocket being tested by the factory employees. The rocket, which was unintentionally launched by his accident-prone daughter, eventually blasted a research building to smithereens. But perhaps the thing that bewildered the new pastor of the local church most was the town’s reaction, people congratulating him left and right for his family’s part in the destruction.
The oddities don’t stop there. The Button family is given a huge box of fireworks as a welcoming gift, a container with enough explosives to level a house. Even something as simple and ordinary as a haircut turns crazy when Mr. Button is almost smashed by a barber chair flung by the local barber, a massive man with severe anger management issues. The most unusual, and troubling, discovery is made on Mr. Button’s first Sunday as pastor. It seems that all of Boomtown’s 24 previous pastors died from freak accidents, almost as if a curse looms over the ministry. That would explain why Reverend Button was almost killed twice already.
As Reverend Button continues to preach, all the while having near brushes with death, citizen’s belongings start disappearing all over Boomtown. The robberies are the start of a mystery that will add to the excitement, and the insanity, of Boomtown.
Boomtown was a decent book. The main problems I had were some slow parts, such as most of Mr. Button’s first Sunday of preaching. Other than that, there are plenty of wild adventures the Button family experiences, enough to keep a reader interested. The most unique thing about this book is the pictures, drawn to look like actual photographs. The illustrator’s life-like renditions of the events in the book made them seem more real. The pictures also helped me get a general understanding of what the characters and the events looked like. Some even matched the images I had formed in my head of the events. This book is part of a series, so if you like it enough, you may want to read the other books, which should be coming soon.
Budding photographers can enter pictures in a contest to raise awareness of environmental issues. Kids ages 17 and under can enter the Children’s Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest 2012! This contest was created by IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) along with the photographer and National Geographic photographer and humanitarian Reza.
Entries must be received by September 15.
We ended our days in Michigan with a fabulous family wedding and hopped on a train to Chicago, another amazing city surrounded by lakes. We saw friends and enjoyed a few more days of midwestern summer fun. Then it was on to London for the 2012 Olympic Games.
We stayed with our friend Joanna who has a beautiful flat in West London. We loved staying with her and living like a local. She gave us the scoop on riding the underground and the classic red double-decker buses. We did sooooooooo many fun things, I couldn’t help but think I am the luckiest girl in the world! We had a picnic in Hyde Park which is one of London’s many huge parks. They put up big screens to watch the Olympics and there were venders and activities happening all around us.
The 2012 BioBlitz is coming! The event will be held on August 24 and 25 in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Teams of volunteers will help scientists identify as many different species of plants, animals, and other organisms as they can during the 24-hour event. If you’re interested in signing up with a parent, click the link below to get more information.
Photograph by Richard Hahn, My Shot
Book Name: Ashtown Burials: The Drowned Vault
Author: N. D. Wilson
For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.
Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world’s secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.
N. D. Wilson, author of Leepike Ridge and 100 Cupboards, returns with an imagination-capturing adventure that inventively combines the contemporary and the legendary.
BOOK NAME: The Glory Field
AUTHOR: Walter Dean Myers
The Glory Field, a realistic historical fiction book by Walter Dean Myers, is a story of many generations of an African-American family. It shows that struggle can often lead to success.
In 1753, Muhammad Bilal is captured from Africa, put on a slave ship, and brought to a plantation in Curry, South Carolina. During the 1860′s, some of his descendants secretly run away and go off to fight for the Unions in the Civil War. Soon after in 1900, the descendants of this African-American Lewis family are free and work on the small plot of land that they own. Luvenia Lewis accomplishes her goals to succeed in a segregated country in the 1930′s. Soon after, in 1964, Tommy Lewis shows his inner courage by helping in the fight for equality. Malcolm Lewis is born in the modern equal world, but struggles to get his cousin off drugs. The whole family sticks together with family reunions in their original land on Curry–the Glory Field.
This book is well written and others should read it. The author ties in all of the important historical times for African-Americans helping me get a deeper understanding. For example, the 1860′s describes slavery and the Civil War, and the 1930′s section develops on the idea of the Great Migration of African-Americans from the South to the North. The characters change in some of the sections, but this is not confusing, because there is a timeline in the beginning to show the relationships between the characters.