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Home School Book Review has commented on (420) products.

Banished: The Riddled Stone, Book One by Teresa Gaskins

Home School Book Review, June 29, 2015

Christopher Fredrico is the nineteen-year-old son of a nobleman, Earl Diard Fredrico, in the kingdom of North Raec, ruled over by King Miles. Chris’s oldest brother Anthony is a knight in service with the Duke of Grith, and his twin sister Trillory seems to have some magical abilities. Formerly a united realm, the kingdom of Raec was divided into North Raec and South Raec following the Great Reac War. During the war King Miles had followed a series of cryptic clues that led him to the magical Riddled Stone, surrounded by hard, black rock which split into five Shards. This enabled him to make peace. For the past four years, Chris, who is planning to become a scholar, has been in school with his three friends: Arnold, who is training to become a knight; Nora, from the city of North Yorc; and Terrin, of the forest people of Xell.

At a party for Crown Prince Tyler Coric, a man named Darwin, who is the caretaker for one of the Shards, announces that it has been stolen and shows a brooch marked with the seal of Earl Diard’s house which was found at the scene. Chris’s brother Anthony then comes forward to accuse Chris of the crime. Because of the evidence and Chris’s inability to prove his innocence, he is banished by Prince Tyler from North Raec and given one month to get out of the country or forfeit his life. Arnold, Nora, and Terrin decide to go with him, but on the way to the Diamond Isles, Chris changes his mind and determines to start looking for evidence that might prove him innocent. But before they get very far, they are attacked and captured by a group of savage Harpies. Will they survive the attack and be able to escape? Will Chris ever find anything that will help to show his innocence? And what is his brother Anthony’s motive for accusing him?

Banished is a captivating fantasy story with a well-thought-out plot that would be a credit to any writer. But it is especially remarkable coming from a thirteen-year-old student who has been homeschooled all her life. Teresa Gaskins actually wrote this book as a project for the National Novel Writing Month program. One noteworthy thing about the book is that there is no sexuality or bad language (the euphemistic interjection “Blasted” is used once), so, other than those who object to the presence of any kind of magic in books, parents can let their kids read the novel with no reservations. However, be forewarned. When you reach the final page and find the words, “Not the End…,” you will cry, “Oh! No!” The story does not resolve itself at the end and then pick up in a sequel. Rather, the plot is left hanging at the end and will continue in another book. I for one feel as if I simply can’t wait to read the next installment to find out what happens to Chris and his friends. It’s that good!
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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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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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