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review 2018-09-09 05:21
Imagine That
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend - Dan Santat

The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend tells the story of Beekle, an adorable little marshmallow-looking character who is in search of a real child. You see, Beekle comes from a faraway land, where day after day he patiently awaits for a child to imagine him. After waiting for many nights he decides to do the unimaginable: embark on a journey to the real world. This short story is full of bright, beautiful illustrations and will undoubtedly capture the hearts and imaginations of young readers. Many children will be able to connect with the story by relating an imaginary friend that they once had (or have) with Beekle. 

 

After reading the story aloud I would discuss the themes of friendship and bravery. ("Beekle faced many scary things on his quest to find his friend...what are some ways that you show courage?") Another way to follow up the story would be to have students design their own imaginary friend. Since Beekle resembled a cute marshmallow puff, give students marshmallows (both jumbo and small), toothpicks, a sharpie, foil paper, scissors, and tape and let them go to town crafting their new friend! I also love the idea of connecting the story to Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. In what ways are the stories alike? In what ways are they different? Students could draw a Venn Diagram to show the relationship between the two.

 

Recommended for Ages: 5-7

Lexile Level: AD480L 

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review 2018-09-07 16:47
The Adventures of Phatty and Payaso: Central Park
The Adventures of Phatty & Payaso: Central Park - Marie Unanue

 

Phatty is a tabby cat who lives a luxurious life with his brothers Clyde and Stanley in a New York City apartment overlooking Central Park.  Phatty is usually scared and uncoordinated but is friendly and caring.  Every year Phatty looks forward to his friend Payaso visiting for the summer.  Payaso is well traveled, knows different languages and a lot about how things work. One day, an escaped hawk from teh zoo, Crawler comes to visit Phatty's window.  He threatens to hurt Phatty, Clyde and Stanly and steal their mother's jewels.  Phatty decides to overcome his fear and take care of Crawler.  He escapes to Central Park in hopes of finding Crawler's zoo keeper.  Phatty's friends race after him with the help of a boy named Max who can communicate in a different way and understands the animals.  Together, the friends will go on an adventure overcoming their fears.

An exciting adventure through the eyes of animals that revolves around conquering your fears, friendship and being your best self.  In the vein of A Pet's Life, The Adventures of Phatty and Payaso: Central Park focuses on what the pets do when the humans are not around.  I think the middle grade audience would enjoy the variety of characters and their interactions.  Phatty is encouraged by his friends to come up with ideas to fend off Crawler as well as overcome his fears.  When Phatty is exploring Central Park he is able to learn even more about himself through the eyes of the many animals that live there in addition to making some new friends. I loved the addition of Max as well, a boy who seems have autism, though it is never mentioned.  He has trouble communicating with people, but can talk with animals just fine.  He shines as he helps the pets solve a series of problems as they track Phatty through Central Park.  Another important part of the story was the treatment of Crawler's character.  Although he was the bully of the story, the characters were able to realize the deeper reason for his actions and help him rather than retaliate.  Overall, a fun animal adventure with plenty of life lessons for a middle grade reader.


This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2018-09-05 17:49
Power of the Dark Crystal v3
Jim Henson's The Power of the Dark Crystal Volume 3 - Phillip Kennedy Johnson,Nichole Matthews,Kelly Matthews,Simon Spurrier

What a great way to finish the series! I hate that it's over. The art was fantastic, and the plot was so perfect. I am so happy this script was finally put out into the world in some form.

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review 2018-08-14 14:47
Review: The Amazing Adventures of 4¢ Ned by Benjamin Laskin
The Amazing Adventures of 4¢ Ned - Benjamin Laskin

The Amazing Adventures of 4¢ Ned by Benjamin Laskin is the first book in the Coinworld series. Misprinted with a 4 instead of 5, Ned finds that he can be so much more than just your everyday nickel. 

Plot 5/5: This is the most imaginative, creative, clever, and fun book that I have ever read. I have never read anything like it.

Characters 5/5: The characters are a riot! Very believable.

World building 5/5: The world Benjamin Laskin has created is unique, yet familiar.

Pacing 5/5: The pacing is steady with bursts of anticipation throughout the story.

Writing 5/5: Benjamin Laskin's writing is fantastic. He has a way of grabbing your attention, and keeping it.

Overall 5 huge stars for this fun and creative story. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun read. A great series starter for young and young at heart alike.

Purchased from Amazon.

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review 2018-08-09 00:40
The Adventures of Elizabeth in Ruegen
The Adventures of Elizabeth in Ruegen - Elizabeth von Arnim

I can't believe how long it took me to read this book.  It was my second Elizabeth von Arnim book, after reading Elizabeth and Her German Garden, and i have to say it was harder going at first.  Her Adventures in Rügen start off in a much more florid style of writing than she used in German Garden; her verbosity was challenging, to say the least, and I found myself putting the book down and passing it by for days on end.  I was determined though, because I had to believe the writing I loved in German Garden would be in there somewhere.

 

And it was.  By the fourth day (page 87), the Elizabeth I had expected started showing up. Coincidentally it was about this time that her idyllic trip round Rügen started to become less idyllic and more comic.  By the fifth day (page 115) I was pretty well hooked, and where as the first 115 pages took me three weeks to read, the remaining 185 took just a few days.  As the book, and her trip,  progress, the writing becomes more concise and the pace ratchets up higher and higher until it reaches its final, devious, and hilarious conclusion.  I loved the last two chapters, they had me chuckling regularly, and the ending was absolutely perfect.  

 

A few notes about my copy of this book: I was lucky to find a 1904 copy in beautiful condition that includes a pristine pull out map of Elizabeth's trip.  A few things about it made me smile though: the cover title spells the island's name as Ruegen, but everything else in the book uses Rügen.  Both are correct (as ue is the alternate for ü), but the inconsistency left me curious about why.  Also, my edition's copyright is in the USA, but it states that it is strictly intended for circulation in "India and the British Colonies" only, and the publisher is Macmillan, London.  So we have a book written in Germany, printed by a London publisher, copyrighted in the USA, for circulation in India and the colonies.

 

This is why I love old books.  

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