Book Review: Ghosts

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I saw on quite a few blogs a while back, and I’ll admit, I was intrigued by it. My son also showed interest in this book, so we decided to get it in order to read it.

I didn’t really know what to expect with this one. I decided to go in as blind as possible, knowing only that it involved sisters and ghosts. I have to say, this was the first book that I have read that had a character with cystic fibrosis. I know very little about the disease, besides what the book told me, so it was kind of refreshing to get to see a character affected by it. I do feel that not enough books have characters who are affected by diseases and disabilities. This is also the first book that I have read that had the Day of The Dead as a part of the story. So those two aspects along made me enjoy it.

The sisters relationship reminded me a lot of the one I had with my sister. We fought at times, got along at others and were even inconvenienced by each others presence from time to time. All in all, it was a great representation of how siblings act around one another.

The art in this book was also very enjoyable. And the overall flow of the story was pretty good, a little slow at times, but not too bad.

One thing that I didn’t understand, and it wasn’t explained in the book, was why the ghosts were offered orange soda. I get that it is some sort of offering, but it seemed to be a key component to the Day of The Dead celebration, but there was no explanation as to why it was that particular item and not something else offered to the ghosts. Honestly, for someone who knows next to nothing about Day of the Dead, I was left wanting to know more about it and I do feel like there should have been a bit more information put in the book about it and cystic fibrosis as a whole. I understand you can only put so much in a book, especially one meant for middle grade kids, but I feel like it left me with more questions than it answered.

My son also read this one, and while he liked, he said he didn’t really understand the story completely.

Overall, this was a good book. I’d recommend it to other to read and I’m sure there are many people out there who would enjoy this one.

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Book Review: The Incredible Journey

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Way back when, when I was a kid, I vaguely remember reading this book. I’m sure I would have stumbled upon it during a Scholastic Book Fair and bought it. The problem is, that was many, many years ago, and I honestly couldn’t remember the story. I know this story has also been turned into several different variations of movies, some of which I have seen more recently, but I wanted to read the original source. So as it would happen, this book was available to order through the Scholastic book order from my sons school, and thus I took the opportunity to get it so that him and I could read it.

Having remembered many of the details of the movie Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, I was expecting the story to be similar to that and it was, in a couple of ways. The essense of the story is still there, three beloved pets trying to make their way home, crossing vast wilderness and encountering various humans and wild creadures along the way, but that’s about where the similarities ended.

One thing I found pleasantly surprising was that the book is set in Northern Ontario, near Thunder Bay to be specific. Well that’s only a few hours away from where I live, so seeing those local areas mentioned, along with the description of those areas was a nice little bonus to this book. Getting to see the pets traverse these lands, but also struggle and triumph with the various obstacles in their way was really great. It’s also nice to see a book where the focus is on animals, and humans are merely an addition to the story.

Overall, I thought this was a good little book. I’m glad I revisited the story and got to see the original content. I have since passed the book on to my son and he really enjoyed it.

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Way back when in grade 8, or perhaps grade 6, I read The Phantom Tollbooth. This book was one of the many options we were given to read and write a book report on. I don’t remember why I chose this one, but I’m glad that I did.

Fast forward 20 some years, and I have thought about this book many times, and had always wanted to reread it again. Eventually I found a copy in a used book store and was happy to have it. Of all the books I read in elementary school, this is the only one that stuck with me all these years. I have read this one a couple of times in the last few years and loved it every time. My most recent reread was a couple of months ago and once again I found myself loving this book.

The story is simple enough and yet it takes the reader on such an adventure. I love the fact that it teaches along the way, pointing out how easy it is to confused words that sound the same but have totally different meanings. It is a fun way to learn the difference between these words, such as witch and which, among many others. I shows the importance of paying attention to the world around you, knowing the meaning behind what you and others are saying, and that opinions will differ between people but it’s okay, as long as you respect that persons opinion.

Milo, the main character, grows a lot in this story, as he discovers the world is not just black and white and that his previous life was filled with all kinds of wonders, he just wasn’t paying enough attention to see or appreciate them.

I feel like this is a story I will return to many times in the future. I also look forward to seeing my son read it, and hopefully he will enjoy it as much as I have. If you haven’t read this one, then I would recommend checking it out. If you have read it before, then perhaps it’s time to revisit this story.

Movie Review: Mars Needs Moms

Wanting to add some variety to my SciFi movies this year, I decided to include some kid friendly movies because why should scifi be restricted to adults only. A quick internet search led me to a long list of kid friendly SciFi movies and my biggest problem then became picking which ones to watch. Among these many movies listed, I spotted Mars Needs Mom and thought what the heck, why not start with this one.

I honestly had no idea what to expect. I remember seeing it advertised a few years ago when it first came out, but back then I didn’t really have any interest in seeing it. So I went into this one only knowing that it involved aliens from Mars kidnapping moms from Earth. It seemed like a pretty straight forward idea.

To be perfectly honest, I figured this would be a silly movie, as so many kids movies tend to be regardless of genre, but to my surprise I really enjoyed this one.

The overall story as a whole was an interesting one. I was curious as to why exactly the martians were stealing moms. I mean, obviously it was because the needed moms, as the title of the movie states. But why? How could an entire alien society need moms? Were there no alien moms? And if so, why as that? So many questions to be answered and the movie does a great job of explaining all of it. It takes a little while to get to this answer, but if it happened too quickly then there wouldn’t be enough left to show to have a full length movie.

I thought the animation in this movie was pretty good. Motion capture is definitely one of those great animation tools that I don’t feel is used often enough, though I realize plenty of movies do take advantage of it. Getting to see the actors in their motion capture suits acting out certain scenes was a nice bonus at the end of the movie.

I found it interesting to have mars aliens living underground and thus the rovers never find evidence of their existence.

There is plenty of humor scattered throughout the movie, especially whenever Gribble was involved.I found myself laughing at several points and it just made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. But it wasn’t all humor, as there were a number of serious moments as well.

 

I did have a couple of issues with this movie. First was the many scenes where Milo, and one occasion Gribble, end up falling a really long way down and then land in a pile that basically consists of metal and not a single injury was seen. No scratches, bumps or bruises. Even with the lesser gravity on mars, there should still have been some negative repercussion from these drops, especially since they happened a number of times.

Secondly, I had a slight issue with the whole alien falls in love with a human thing. I felt it was completely unnecessary to the movie. I didn’t care that Gribble decided to return to mars, but why did it have to be because he’s in love with Key, the female rebel of the aliens.

Overall a great little movie that would be perfect to watch as a family, as kids and adults are sure to enjoy it.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is the Top Ten Books I Want My Child to Read.

Now that my son is finally starting to find his love of reading, I am busy filling his bookshelf with books I read and loved as a kid, along with books that he has shown interest in. So here are the books I want my son to read.

  1. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. This is one of my favorite books that I read in public school and I’m really excited to see him read it. He has it on his shelf and says he will read it soon.
  2. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. This and the rest of her books were my favorite book growing up and I read them so much as a kid that the books fell apart. A couple years ago I bought them all again and now I’m ready to have my son read them.
  3. The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley. Another series that was a big part of my childhood and I want to share that with my son and see what he thinks of them.
  4. Roald Dahl’s books. The boy has read some of these books already, but I want him to read them all, and he wants to read them all as well. We have the box set of all of Dahl’s books, so it’s just a matter of time before he gets to all of them.
  5. Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. We own about 40 of these books, mostly the older ones, and recently added them to the boys bookshelves, they were too full previous to put them there, but now that he has cleared space he is eager to read them.
  6. The Borrowers Series by Mary Norton. I don’t remember reading these as a kid, though I probably did, but I want my son to read them and it was the main reason I bought the box set a couple years ago.
  7. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. This is a must read, though I’m sure he will read it in school, I definitely want him to read the entire series. Then we can watch the original movies and the remakes.
  8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. A children’s classic that is a must read. I know he has seen the old cartoon movie as well as the newer live action movie, but I want him to read the book to see the story that inspired those movies.

Alright, so I didn’t quite make it to ten, but it’s close. I know there are other books I want him to read, but I just can’t think of them at this moment. What books would you recommend for him to read? And no, I didn’t forget to put Harry Potter on the list, to be honest he has zero interest in that series.

Book Series Review: Bird & Squirrel

                                                                        

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Back in January, my son got Bird & Squirrel On The Edge from one of his friends on his birthday. My son is not a reader, so seeing the excitement over the book told me this was something special. Then the fact that he read this book as soon as we got home from the party, instead of playing with the toys he got, I knew this was a great book. That same day we went online and ordered the other three books. A week later, we had the full series and my son eagerly started reading them as soon as he got home from school. Then as soon as he was down he brought them to me and asked if I wanted to read them. Seeing how much he loved these books, I knew I had to, plus I was curious about the books.

I read all four in one sitting. They were fast, fun reads. I can certainly see why my son enjoyed them so much. I have to say that between the friend heavy story line and the artwork, this was a wonderful collection of books. I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that I think these are excellent books for kids, that show the value of friendship and the joys of adventuring with that friend, even if it is very unexpected.

Like my son, I do hope that there are more books coming out in this series, because it would be great to continue to see the friendship of Bird and Squirrel evolve with each book.

Book Review: The BFG

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the newer releases and read an old book, especially when that book is one that you read and loved as a child. I read all of Roald Dahl’s books growing up and I loved them all, though admittedly The Witches is my favorite.

I have been wanting to reread all of his books lately, but what spurred me into reading The BFG was the new movie coming out. I had planned to read it before the movie, but that didn’t work out, so I got to enjoy it after seeing the movie.

This story is great. I think the reason why I enjoyed it so much as a kid was seeing the giant struggle with his words, which all kids have similar experiences at some point in their lives. Heck even now my words get all jumbly  and squiggly in my head – as the giant would say. But it also shows that even thought you don’t know the correct words, you can still get your point across.

The journey that Sophie and the BFG make together is quite fantastic as well. They form an unlikely friendship and work well together to see not only the BFG is able to capture and sent out the dreams that he does each night, but also to free the giant from the other giants.

Speaking of the other giants, I always got a kick out of their names. Fleshlumpeater, Bonecruncher and Bloodbottler are just a few of the aptly named giants. These giants are not only a menace to the BFG but to mankind as well.

Some parts of the story are a little unbelievable, especially when reading the book as an adult, such as the Queen of England getting involved and accepting the giant with open arms with the help fo a dream and a few words from Sophie. Although the part where they all have breakfast together, and they partake in a bit of frobscottle and then all the whizzpopping happens. That scene is especially entertaining in the movie.

While I enjoyed the book more when I was younger, it was certainly great to visit the story once again. Dahl certainly had a way of bringing a story to like and making it appealing to both kids and adults. If you haven’t read any of his books, I could suggest you make time to do so, as they are quick and fun reads, and if you have read them before, then go ahead and read them again.