Friday, June 19, 2009

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

O.k. This one I'm doing from memory. I read this book in May of 2007. It had been talked about on t.v. and even Al Roker had endorsed it. I listed to a lot of it on CD on a 16 hour bus trip. It was great entertainment then and I've recommended it to several students since then. A good blend of mystery, adventure, kid-power, coincidence and heart, The Mysterious Benedict Society is the type of book that I would have devoured when I was a kid. The story centers around a group of gifted kids who all have issues on their plate. With their intelligence and special talents, they become part of a mysterious society that has a goal of fighting evil. With creative characters and many ups and downs, the story propels the reader to the end. The only complaint (not from me) is that the story is very long. To that end, I'm disappointed that the book is on the State Awards nominee lists simply because many students won't even try to read a book that long. But if students do attempt the read, they will be rewarded with a great story and even little extra mysteries for them to solve.

To read about the second book in the series, see this entry on my blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Last Olympian and Beyond the Grave

I finished The Last Olympian. It was an enjoyable, satisfying ending. There's plenty of room for Riordan to bring back the series if he so desires. I can't imagine that those five books are going to satisfy the fans of the series, but we'll see.

I also read the newest 39 Clues: Beyond the Grave. It was much stronger than the last two books and I really enjoyed it. I do have an affinity to the topic of Egypt, so perhaps that is why it struck me as so interesting. But I do think that it was better paced and had a stronger storyline than the last one. There are glimpses of real heart in characters we maybe weren't expecting. I'm very intrigued to see how this series is going to progress. Just how are we going to end up with 39 Clues in 10 books? We have about a year left to find out!

I also picked up The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket. For some reason, my book company said the publisher was out of stock indefinitely, but I had been seeing it on the shelves in the stores. So I bought it at a book store. I sort of wish I had read it first. While I think the way the information about each instrument is presented is neat and enjoyable the message in the last several pages just kills the whole book for me. I guess for a children's book I would prefer a message about enjoying playing music even if you are not very good. This seemed to say that butchering music is not o.k. (even though we have to put up with it to get to good music). I'm not quite sure....I was left pretty underwhelmed by it.

I still have several state awards books to read, so look for more updates soon!

Friday, June 5, 2009

13 Cemetery Road & The Homework Machine

I was lucky enough to have Kate Klise come and visit our school this year. She is smart and fun and very down to earth. I really enjoyed our time together. I was lucky enough to receive an autographed copy of her next new book. Klise has a new series called "13 Cemetery Road". It's very cute and follows Klise's typical epistolary style. While I think the story in some of her other series are a little stronger, I think this one is cute and fun and has the potential to really develop. If you enjoy her other stories, this one will certainly be enjoyable as well.

Dan Gutman is a perennial favorite for our state children's choice award. I think this year will be no different. This year, Gutman was nominated for "The Homework Machine". Certainly appealing to intermediate school students, the variety of characters and realistic story line drives the book all the way to the end. When a group of students ends up together and shares a secret about an unbelievable machine, events start to happen that no one sees coming. An enjoyable and quick read, "The Homework Machine" will, I'm sure, receive lots of votes from our students this year.

I'm also reading the last in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, "The Last Olympian". It's a good read so far. Of course, I've loved the series since it first came out. Before it started getting a lot of press, I found "The Lightning Thief" on the shelf at Borders. I'm sad that it will be ending, but enjoying the final book so far.