Book Review: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 9.48.12 AMI recently finished reading Jonathan Auxier‘s Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes aloud to Larrabee. It’s a long fantasy adventure–just right for lazy summer evenings.

When the story begins, ten-year-old Peter Nimble is a blind orphan forced into a life of thievery by his cruel master. One day he steals a box from a mysterious haberdasher. The box contains three pairs of magical eyes: gold, onyx, and emerald.

The gold eyes transport him to the Troublesome Lake of Professor Cake. There, he learns that he’s been chosen for a quest. Sir Tode, a knight trapped in the body of a cat and a horse, is to be his companion. His only clue is a message in a bottle–a call for help that may come from the Vanished Kingdom.

So, the two sail away into a marvelous adventure. Larrabee enjoyed trying to predict the plot’s many twists and turns. He also appreciated the battle scenes.

Thank you to Anne-Marie for the recommendation!

Book Review: Ghost

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 3.19.42 PMGhost by Jason Reynolds is a great book. I raced through it in a single sitting. But I haven’t convinced either of my boys to read it…yet.

They should read it, though. They’d like the narrator and main character, 7th grader Castle Cranshaw (aka Ghost). He’s funny, flawed, observant, and big-hearted. His father is in prison. His mother works long hours in the hospital cafeteria while also studying to be a nurse. Despite his best efforts, he often gets into trouble at school. He loves sunflower seeds and world records. He can tell a compelling tale. And he can run.

They’d also like it because they like sports stories. Even though the sport in question is track (and not baseball), they’d enjoy the descriptions of the practices and the interactions between Ghost and his teammates and coach. Like the best sports stories, this one has its inspirational moments.

At one point, Ghost asks his coach what he hoped track would do for him. His coach replies: “Show you that you can’t run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be.”

Book Review: Timmy Failure

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 1.52.38 PMMistakes Were Made is the first in a six-book series about Timmy Failure by cartoonist Stephan Pastis. Larrabee and I like books that make us laugh and this one definitely did.

Timmy is a middle schooler and the CEO of his own detective agency, Total Failure, Inc. His business partner is a polar bear who loves chicken nuggets. And his nemesis is rival detective Corrina Corrina, also known as something that rhymes with Weevil Bun.

The first few lines of the prologue will give you a sense of the witty tone of the book: “It’s harder to drive a polar bear into someone’s living room than you’d think. You need a living-room window that’s big enough to fit a car. You need a car that’s big enough to fit a polar bear. And you need a polar bear that’s big enough to not point out your errors.”

Larrabee and I took turns reading this book aloud to each other, sitting side by side on the couch so that we could both see the illustrations. I’m glad we read it together for several reasons:

  1. Timmy is an imaginative and unreliable narrator, and Larrabee’s not used to having to question a narrator’s version of events. For example, Timmy says that he eats alone at lunch recess so that he can do global strategic planning for his detective agency without the other kids committing an act of industrial sabotage.
  2. The book has some big words–mendacity, subterfuge, surveillance, hypocritical, citadel. For a kid who doesn’t always excel in school, Timmy has an extensive vocabulary and knows how to use it.
  3. Timmy doesn’t always make good choices. Although Larrabee and I read mostly for fun, if we find the occasional life lesson, so much the better.

 

Book Review: The Toilet Paper Tigers

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 9.53.57 AMWe love baseball in our house, so we’re always on the lookout for a good baseball book. One our recent favorites is a used bookstore find: The Toilet Paper Tigers by Gordon Korman.

Corey Johnson’s Tigers might be the worst Little League team in Spooner, Texas. They have a picture of a toilet paper roll on their uniform, thanks to their sponsor, Feather-Soft Bathroom Tissue Inc. Their coach is an absent-minded physicist who knows nothing about baseball. Their catcher’s afraid of the ball, their right fielder falls asleep in the field, and their first baseman might have to go to summer school and miss the whole season. Worst of all, the coach’s granddaughter, a fast-talking girl from New York, thinks she’s in charge.

This book is sweet and funny — and it features the old hidden ball trick. Larrabee enjoyed it thoroughly. A good summer read.

Book Review: How to Be a Supervillain

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 12.51.38 PMHow to Be a Supervillain by Michael Fry is a fun summer vacation read — just right for a long car trip. It’s fast-paced and silly with lots of comic-style illustrations.

Twelve-year-old Victor Spoil has two supervillains for parents. They want him to grow up to be evil, but Victor just can’t seem to be bad. He doesn’t even like to make a mess. So they apprentice him to a supervillain named The Smear and send him on a road trip to learn to battle superheroes.

Larrabee flew through this book in the first weekend of the summer and then lent it to me.

Book Review: Beetle Boy

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 1.44.37 PMWhether or not your young reader is fascinated with beetles, he or she will like Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard. Set in London, it’s the story of 12-year-old Darkus Cuttle, who rescues his father from the clutches of the no-good Lucretia Cutter with the help of his good friends, his archeologist uncle, and some very special beetles.

Larrabee and I read this book aloud together and found it entertaining. The characters are engaging (especially the beetles!), and there is plenty of action. We also learned quite a bit about different types of beetles and their elytra (hard protective sheath wings).

In fact, it’s the kind of book that makes you want to befriend a beetle. We’re looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy.

Book Review: The Imaginary

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 9.53.18 PMYou won’t be surprised to learn that I liked The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold. It’s a book about imaginary friends, after all.

This book came highly recommended by Larrabee, and I agree that it’s a perfect summer vacation read (or read aloud). It’s a British book about an imaginative girl named Amanda Shuffleup, her best (and imaginary) friend Rudger, and the sinister Mr. Bunting, who eats imaginaries. I found it both entertaining and profound.

As you can see from the cover, the illustrations by Emily Gravett are amazing too.

Thank you to Aunt Kay and Uncle Christian who gave this book to Larrabee for his birthday.

And thank you to my own imaginary friends, Little Wolf and Annie, for joining me on many a childhood adventure. I still remember you.