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Home School Book Review has commented on (419) products.

Magic Tree House #50: Hurry Up, Houdini! by Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Tree House #50: Hurry Up, Houdini!

Home School Book Review, March 23, 2015

Jack and Annie of Frog Creek, PA, are traveling in the Magic Tree House doing missions for Merlin to find secrets of greatness from four historic figures. Having visited Alexander the Great as a boy in ancient Macedonia, they must now go see the master illusionist and escape artist, Harry Houdini, at Coney Island, NY, in the early 1900s. Along the way, they enjoy the sights and sounds of the great amusement park.

However, can they find Harry? Will they learn his secret of greatness? And what is it? Other than a couple of common euphemisms (darn, heck), there is really nothing objectionable in this book, except for those who dislike reference to any form of “magic” in books. For everyone else, author Mary Pope Osborne cleverly combines history, mystery, adventure, some fantasy, and a little bit of trouble for the time-traveling brother-and-sister team.
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Magic Tree House #50: Hurry Up, Houdini! by Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Tree House #50: Hurry Up, Houdini!

Home School Book Review, March 23, 2015

Jack and Annie of Frog Creek, PA, are traveling in the Magic Tree House doing missions for Merlin to find secrets of greatness from four historic figures. Having visited Alexander the Great as a boy in ancient Macedonia, they must now go see the master illusionist and escape artist, Harry Houdini, at Coney Island, NY, in the early 1900s. Along the way, they enjoy the sights and sounds of the great amusement park.

However, can they find Harry? Will they learn his secret of greatness? And what is it? Other than a couple of common euphemisms (darn, heck), there is really nothing objectionable in this book, except for those who dislike reference to any form of “magic” in books. For everyone else, author Mary Pope Osborne cleverly combines history, mystery, adventure, some fantasy, and a little bit of trouble for the time-traveling brother-and-sister team.
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The Monkey and the Bee (Monkey Goes Bananas) by C P Bloom
The Monkey and the Bee (Monkey Goes Bananas)

Home School Book Review, March 15, 2015

First there was The Monkey Goes Bananas (2014), a vividly illustrated, nearly wordless picture book which tells the story of a determined monkey’s attempt to grab a snack when he spies a banana tree across the shark infested waters from where he sits, resulting in an inventive romp with some hilarious consequences. The story continues in The Monkey and the Bee as the silly monkey finally has his bananas but doesn’t want to share them when a playful bumblebee seeks a bite. The monkey tries to swat the bee away and enjoy his bananas in peace,

However, what will the two of them do when their antics awaken an angry lion? Will they be able to work together to escape the king of the jungle? Will anyone ever get to eat a banana? There is not much text in this book, but it does exhibit a highly visual form of storytelling in which children will enjoy guessing what will happen next. Young readers and listeners will find it full of energy and surprise with its fast-paced humor and high jinks. The monkey’s facial expressions are deliciously funny. C. P. Bloom is actually the creative team of Carly Dempsey, Ed Bloom, and illustrator Peter Raymundo, who started his career as an animator for Walt Disney Studios and now works as a storyboard artist for independent films and commercials in Florida.
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Life with Father by Clarence Day

Home School Book Review, March 2, 2015

Clarence Shepard Day Jr. (November 18, 1874��"December 28, 1935) grew up in New York City, NY in the 1890s and early 1900's. His father, Clarence S. “Clare” Day Sr., was a Wall Street broker. The son attended St. Paul's School and graduated from Yale University in 1896, where he edited campus humor magazine The Yale Record. The following year, he joined the New York Stock Exchange, and became a partner in his father's Wall Street brokerage firm. Day enlisted in the Navy in 1898, but developed crippling arthritis and spent the remainder of his life as a semi-invalid, making his living as a writer and long-time contributor to The New Yorker magazine. His first book, This Simian World (1920), was a collection of humorous essays and illustrations. He is best known for his 1935 autobiographical work Life With Father which detailed humorous episodes in his family's life, centering on his rather domineering but still lovable father.

Day's comic stories of his father are taken from his serialized articles in the The New Yorker magazine. Drawn from his own family experiences, these were pleasant and gently satirical portraits of a late Victorian household dominated by a gruff, opinionated father who demands that everything from his family should be just so, and a warm, charming mother. Some people don’t like them because they feel that Mr. Day was vulgar, disrespectful, and obnoxious. I tend to agree with others who point out that, yes, the father is somewhat rude, maybe even intolerant and tyrannical, but following his antics is still very humorous. Remember, the author is describing real events and real people. The book does paint an accurate picture of life in that time for a middle class family. And it is evident that “Clare” loved his wife and family, and while he blustered and yelled at times, they loved him. There are references to smoking tobacco, drinking alcoholic beverages, and dancing.

My biggest complaint is the sheer amount of profanity and cursing Mr. Day used. Thus, I would suggest that the best use of this book would be as a family read aloud so that the bad language could be eliminated. Aside from this problem, I found the book very amusing. Scenes from the book, along with its 1932 predecessor, God and My Father, and its 1937 sequel, Life with Mother, published posthumously, were the basis for the 1939 play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, which became one of Broadway's longest-running non-musical hits. In 1947, the year the play ended on Broadway, William Powell and Irene Dunne portrayed Day's parents in the film of the same name. Life with Father also became a popular 1953��"1955 television sitcom.
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Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War by Sam R Watkins
Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War

Home School Book Review, February 27, 2015

Samuel "Sam" Rush Watkins was born on June 26, 1839, near Columbia, Maury County, TN, and received his formal education at Jackson College in Columbia. Early in May 1861, the twenty-one-year-old Watkins joined the First Tennessee Regiment, Company H (the "Maury Greys,” or Co. Aytch as he calls it), to fight for the Confederacy. He faithfully served throughout the duration of the War, participating in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville, Murfreesboro (Stones River), Shelbyville, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Adairsville, Kennesaw Mountain (Cheatham Hill), New Hope Church, Zion Church, Kingston, Cassville, Atlanta, Jonesboro, Franklin, and Nashville. Of the 120 original recruits in his company, Watkins was one of only seven to survive every one of its battles when General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman in April, 1865.

Soon after the war ended, Watkins began writing his memoir, entitled "Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show," which was originally serialized in the Columbia, TN, Herald newspaper. Some twenty years later, with a “house full of young ‘rebels’ clustering around my knees and bumping about my elbows,” Co. Aytch was published in book form as a first edition of 2,000 in 1882. This remarkable account is a classic Civil War memoir of a humble “private soldier” fighting in the American Civil War which balances the horror of war with a sense of humor at the lighter side of battle. It is filled with tales of marches, commanders, Yankee enemies, victories, and defeats. Watkins did not set out to write “history.” For that we must read history books. His aim was simply to record his personal observations, and Co. Aytch is heralded by many historians as one of the best the best primary sources about the Civil War experience of a common soldier in the field.

Of course, as you can imagine, there are graphic descriptions of fighting and killing. Some references to smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and gambling occur. Also, the “d” and “h” words and the name of God are occasionally used as exclamations. But remember that all this falls within the historical context. When writing about the war, Watkins says that he “was not a Christian then,” but evidently later became one, and his account contains a number of religious observations. Watkins, who was often featured and quoted in Ken Burns' 1990 documentary titled The Civil War, died on July 20, 1901, at the age of 62.
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