Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good books, February--July 2010

It's been a long time since I posted any book reviews, but I have kept track of some of the good ones I've read. Since I don't have hours and hours to look up all the publishing information and write coherent and meaningful reviews, I'll just make a quick list (in no particular order) and a few comments.

100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson. Young adult fiction about a boy who discovers hidden doors to cupboards in his attic room -- cupboards that go to other worlds. A very fun read, fairly intense with some violence.

Magyk by Angie Sage (first in a series). I expected this children's fantasy book to be kind of dumb, but it was actually very well written and interesting, as were the several sequels. My kids liked them too.

Vanishing Girl by Shane Peacock. The newest one in the Young Sherlock Holmes series, and as good as the others. I liked the character development as Sherlock has to decide whether to seek fame at the expense of others or give his help anonymously.

Cartoon Introduction to Economics by Grady Klein. I've never been interested in economics before, but this book left me wanting to learn more. It's told through cartoons, in a humorous style, but is packed with real information. My kids enjoyed it a lot too.

Little by Little: A Writer's Education by Jean Little. Fascinating autobiography, written for older children, of an author from Canada.

Miss Potter (DVD). My oldest daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed this, although I'm sure its depiction of Beatrix Potter's life is not completely factual.

My Antonia by Willa Cather. Touching story about an immigrant girl in a small town. It's sad but I love the ending, where Antonia has overcome her past and has a happy and loving family.

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is an amazing book about making change happen. I love its analogy of the rider, the elephant, and the path, and I keep thinking about it when I need to make a personal change or when I see a change that needs to be made in an organization. This is one I'm going to buy sometime.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell. I finally read this book I had heard so much about. It's very interesting, with lots of stories and examples showing how societal changes can hinge on certain people.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. Again, very interesting look at how we make decisions.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. This may have been my favorite of the three Gladwell books I read. He talks about people who have achieved huge success and looks at how this happened. Then he suggests that we could help more people become amazing successes by doing certain things.

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-li Jiang. Young adult autobiography that makes you feel like you are there. Definitely sobering.

G Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book by David M. Schwartz. This picture book was a hit with all my kids, and they asked a lot of questions about concepts they might otherwise never have encountered.

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac. A great children's book (older children) about the Navajo Marines who used their language as a secret code during World War II.

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones. Anytime she has a new book, we leap upon it and have a fervent discussion about who will get to read it first. I won this time. It's not related to any of her previous books, but is wonderful on its own. If you like fantasy and haven't read Diana Wynne Jones, please take care of this problem immediately! (Good ones to start with are Charmed Life, The Ogre Downstairs, or Archer's Goon.)

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan. Very nice little book about a school class that inspires several children to be writers.

How to Build Your Own Country by Valerie Wyatt. Short but fun book that walks young kids through the process of making up a country with a name, governmental system, economy, etc., while talking about countries that people really have made up. My kids want me to buy this book.

The Bishop's Bride by Elizabeth W. Watkins. LDS romance, better written and less fluffy than most. The lead characters are in their 40s or 50s, when dating is a whole different thing!

The 10 Things All Future Mathematicians and Scientists Must Know (But Are Rarely Taught) by Edward Zaccaro. I originally assumed this would be a dry essay-type book for parents, but it's written for about a junior-high reading level, full of cartoon illustrations, and best of all, it's fascinating. It has lots of real-world examples of mistakes or good decisions related to the 10 things. My kids talked about the stories for days.

All in a Day by Mitsumasa Anno and 9 other children's illustrators. This is a great picture book about time zones. It covers 24 hours of time in 9 different places in the world, showing what time it is in each location and what a child or family there is doing. Each location is illustrated by a different artist.

Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder. A fun children's fantasy book about four children who find a magic wall that can take them anywhere there is another wall. They find their wishes don't always work out as they'd planned. It reminded me of an Edward Eager book (like Half Magic) and in fact, the author says it is somewhat of a homage to Eager's books.


During this time we read Measure for Measure, The Tempest, All's Well that Ends Well, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It. Some of the comedies blend together in my mind, so I'm not going to embarrass myself by trying to write what each one is about! If I ever reach my goal of reading all of Shakespeare's plays, I'll have to go back and re-read a few of these and try to get them straight.


Deborah Raymond said...

Thanks for your reviews. Often times I choose my next book to read from your reviews and I appreciate the information that helped me find some great reads!

Harmony said...

I appreciate these reviews too. Just added a bunch of them to my "to read" list. I know I can count on you to give me book ideas for myself and my kids. Thanks!