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annalovesbooks has commented on (81) products.

annalovesbooks, October 29, 2008

ISBN 0590493027 - This review is for this specific title, all by itself. As an individual book, I fail to find it much use at all but it is possible that, in conjunction with other materials, it serves a purpose. The problem is that nowhere on the book does it point you to that material - which clearly does exist, since it's part of a series.

Portions of the journals of Christopher Columbus, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne Frank make up the entire book. While their stories are interesting, the snippets don't add up to enough to make them worth reading in place of the full book. As a homeschool or classroom tool, this is bound to be useful - it's just doesn't stand alone well.

- AnnaLovesBooks
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The Wish in the Bottle by Morna Macleod

annalovesbooks, October 28, 2008

ISBN 0590629700 - While the multitude of kids' series books are nice, it is always fun to come across the periodic stand-alone story. That The Wish in the Bottle is likely to appeal to both boys and girls is an added plus in my eyes.

Lani, Laurie and Mark are siblings: Lani is the oldest, then Mark and, last but not least, Laurie. Their family is spending the summer at Lincoln Pond and today, finally, the children have been allowed to row across the pond alone to picnic. While the older children bird watch, Laurie slinks off with Mark's butterfly net and spots a very unusual looking butterfly. Capturing it and putting it in a jar, Laurie keeps her catch hidden from her siblings until that night, when the glow from the jar keeps her awake. The three children find that Laurie hasn't caught a butterfly at all - she's captured a fairy! Not just any fairy, either. Ocavia is Queen of Avia and she must get home to protect her people from the bats who have been eating them, so a deal is struck: the children will get three wishes and Ocavia will get her freedom. Simple enough? Sure, if things had gone that smoothly!

The only real negative for me was the similarity of Lani's and Laurie's names, which - since I just met these characters - sometimes made it difficult for me to remember which was the oldest and which was the baby of the family. There's nothing particularly novel in the "three wishes" story, of course, but MacLeod does a great job of weaving the ongoing story of the fairies and the bats into the story of the children who (aside from an early slip) plan to think very carefully before wasting their wishes. What they learn, the reader learns, so there's a message in here, for parents who look for those, and a fantasy adventure for the kids who look for those. The illustrations (no illustrator listed) are nice pencil sketches, not numerous enough to make an older child feel like he or she is reading a "baby book", but enough to please the younger ones. The back cover says RL5, ages 7-12.

-AnnaLovesBooks
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Five True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson
Five True Dog Stories

annalovesbooks, October 26, 2008

ISBN 0590424017 - A fan of James Herriot and Lassie (among others!), I was excited to read true dog stories for children. And the inclusion of a talented "bad" dog, in Grip the thief, was a pleasant surprise.

Five very short dog stories, each told in a few pages. Dox, a police dog in Italy, is bought by a policeman who just happened to pass a pet store. He'd had no thought of buying a dog at all - but he did it, and then he turned him into a superb detective. Grip, owned by a thief and a successful thief himself, leads a life of crime until his owner is caught and Grip gets a surprising new owner. Author Alfred Payson Terhune's dog, Wolf, lives with many other dogs at Sunnybank Farm. He isn't very sociable, but he does watch out for the other dogs, right up to the very end. Barry is one of the very special St Bernards living at a monastery in Switzerland. The dogs are trained to rescue people, and Barry is even a little more special than the others. Balto is a sled dog in Alaska when Nome calls out to the outside world for help. They need medicine and the only way in is by sled. The town is in terrible trouble, but Balto comes to their rescue.

The stories are all true, and the reader can follow up most of them by reading longer books and stories about these dogs. That's a nice thing, a way to encourage reading, and answer some questions that the book leaves unanswered - like why there's a statue of Balto in New York, when his heroic actions were in Alaska. Not superbly written, but the author is hampered by the attempt to keep the stories short. The back cover says RL2, ages 7-9, and that's the only thing I have to disagree there. The stories seem to me to be better suited for younger children.

- AnnaLovesBooks
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Manatee Winter with Toy
Manatee Winter with Toy

annalovesbooks, October 4, 2008

ISBN 1568990782 - While not exactly non-fiction, Manatee Winter is educational, which is always a plus. The involvement of the Smithsonian Institution is a good thing, too, but not quite good enough.

A mother manatee and her calf head to warmer waters for the winter, encountering the dangerous propellers of fishing boats along the way. One specific encounter separates the two, scaring Little Calf into weeds which he can't escape on his own. Mother must help him and continue encouraging him so that they can reach the safety of a warm spring, where Little Calf will meet other baby manatees for the first time.

Illustrator Steven James Petruccio did a very nice job; the problem isn't his work but the general boring-ness of the relatively accurate images. A manatee under water looks like a manatee under water and there are few images including anything else. In the back of the book, there is a list of "Points of Interest" that name pages where you can find specific things. For pages 22-23, it says "egret, red mangrove trees", but the egret's head is mostly cut off at the top of the page and the trees are represented only by roots. Author Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld did a very nice job, as well, and the book is best, in my opinion, as a vaguely educational text. As a storybook for young children, it's a little boring.

- AnnaLovesBooks
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Darwin & the Great Beasts

annalovesbooks, October 4, 2008

ISBN 0688100309 - A book about dinosaurs, featuring a kid named Darwin, might just be enough to explode the heads of some Christian parents, so I found the choice to be both brave and unwise. Still, those parents aren't likely customers here anyway, so I guess author Kin Platt thought it worth the gamble.

Darwin and his class visit the La Brea Tar Pit and the nearby museum to learn about dinosaurs. In alternating chapters, Darwin slips from the museum tour into a world in his own imagination. During the tour, Miss Tell, their teacher, tells them about the dinosaurs - when they lived, what they ate, how much they weighed and some information about how they died. Darwin daydreams about saving each of them from the death Miss Tell tells them about.

The book doesn't specifically say, but I think this book is most appropriate to the 9 to 12 age group. There are few illustrations, just small black and white drawings at the top of each chapter; they add nothing to the story. The story itself is all right, nothing spectacular and not terribly well-written; the best thing it has going for it is the information it provides. The alternating chapters doesn't really work particularly well, but kids might enjoy the kid-as-hero aspect.

For the parents who worry about messages, Darwin tells several lies - to a pack of dire wolves and a saber-tooth - and, when his classmate, Amy, complains that no one ever believes HER fibs, he suggests that she should practice more. Since the book is overall really average, it might not be worthwhile to get it, only to send your child the "practice makes perfect, even when it comes to lying" message.

- AnnaLovesBooks
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