Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-8-54-49-pmThis year’s Newbery award winner is Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Larrabee and I just finished reading it aloud.

The Newbery Medal is awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Recent winners include other favorites of mine, such as The Crossover and The One and Only Ivan.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is an unusual book with a lyrical, fairytale quality. Larrabee and I loved the characters, especially Fyrian, the Perfectly Tiny Dragon who thinks he’s Simply Enormous, and Xan, the fearsome Witch in the forest who’s actually kind. We were also intrigued by the magic.

I recommend reading this book aloud. It’s a long, complex story with several threads that all come together at the end, and its mysteries are revealed slowly. I think Larrabee might have had trouble following the story if he’d tried reading it to himself. It would make a better independent read for grades 5 and up.

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Book Review: Double Down

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When my kids rave about a book, I usually read it too. I’m curious to know what captures their imagination. But when my kids go on to devour a whole series, I usually don’t. After all, there are so many good books in the world (including books written for adults).

Except for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney. This series now has eleven (yes, eleven!) books, and I’ve read every single one. Double Down (#11) is not my favorite. That honor goes to either Diary of a Wimpy Kid (#1) or Dog Days (#4). Blaine is partial to Rodrick Rules (#2), while Larrabee thinks Double Down is the best book yet.

But I’ll agree that the latest book has its share of laugh-out-loud moments. Jeff Kinney has a talent for noticing the funny details of school and family life. For example, this book has an episode with a Halloween decoration, a witch that cackles when you make a noise–or even when you don’t–and sometimes even when you take its batteries out. It kind of reminded me of Blaine’s spooky electronic toothbrush. But that’s another story…

Book Review: Bomb

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-11-36-57-amI’ll confess that I usually prefer fiction to non-fiction. But I’m willing to make an exception for Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. It’s a history of the atomic bomb told with thriller pacing.

Starting with the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938, the book follows three interrelated stories: the American efforts to build a bomb, the Soviet spies’ efforts to steal the bomb design, and the Allies’ efforts to prevent Germany from developing the bomb. Sheinkin does an amazing job of weaving in quotations from primary sources to create an informative and readable narrative.

Blaine enjoyed this book too. More than once, I overheard him telling his dad about something he learned from it. His concise review: Bomb is bomb.

Book Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-11-01-55-amWhen Larrabee came home from the library last week with a copy of Tom Angleberger‘s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, it brought back memories of a time when my purse was full of folded paper Star Wars characters. When Blaine and his classmates discovered this series four years ago, there were only three books. Now there are six (all with great titles, including my favorite-The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee).

After hearing Larrabee chuckling in the backseat while he read the first book, I had to read it too.

Tommy starts with an important question: Is Origami Yoda real? In other words, even though it’s just a paper finger puppet worn by the weirdest kid in the sixth grade, can he trust its advice? The book consists of the investigative case file that he’s put together by asking his classmates about their interactions with Origami Yoda.

Like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, this book is aimed at a middle school audience but is easy enough for younger kids to read. It’s sweet and funny, though, and Larrabee didn’t seem to mind reading about middle school dances. And the Cheeto Hog and Soapy the Monkey have universal appeal.

The book includes instructions for folding your own Origami Yoda. I’m sure I’ll soon have one or two in my purse, in case you need any advice.

Read this book you must. Laugh you will.