Monday Children’s Book Reviews for February 28, 2011

Children’s Classics, Part 5: Fiction [continued]

Half Magic by Edward Eager

“Faced with a dull summer in the city, Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha suddenly find themselves involved in a series of extraordinary adventures after Jane discovers an ordinary-looking coin that seems to grant wishes.”

“Edward Eager has been delighting young readers for more than 40 years with stories that mix magic and reality. Half Magic, the most popular of his tales about four children who encounter magical coins, time-travel herb gardens, and other unlikely devices, is a warm, funny, original adventure. The title refers to a coin that the children find. Through a comical series of coincidences, they discover that the coin is magic. Well, it’s not totally magic–it’s only (you guessed it) half magic. That means there’s a certain logic to the wishes one must make to generate a desired outcome. Imagine the results emerging from inaccurate efforts: half invisible, half rescued, half everything!”      [J EAGER]

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

“Orphaned Heidi is taken to live with her grandfather, a grumpy hermit. But the bond of love that grows between them is disrupted when Heidi is taken to live in the city as a companion to an invalid girl.”                                    [J SPYRI]

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien


“Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo – alone and unaided – who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside . . .

“This stirring adventure fantasy begins the tale of the hobbits that was continued by J.R.R. Tolkien in his bestselling epic The Lord of the Rings.”         [J TOLKIEN]

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

“”Because of a bet, Billy is in the uncomfortable position of having to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days. A hilarious story that will revolt and delight bumptious, unreachable intermediate-grade boys and any other less particular mortals that read or listen to it.”      [J ROCKWELL]

The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

“Instinct told them that the way home lay to the west. And so the tough young Labrador retriever, the roguish bull terrier and the indomitable Siamese set out through the Canadian wilderness. Separately, they would soon have died. But, together, the three house pets faced starvation, exposure, and wild forest animals to make their way home to the family they love. The Incredible Journey is one of the great children’s stories of all time–and has been popular ever since its debut in 1961.”                  [J BURNFORD]

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks

“A young boy, Omri, receives a cupboard from his brother, Gillon, for his birthday. He uses a “magical” key, that belonged to his great-grandmother, to bring a plastic Native American figurine to life with the cupboard. The now living Indian reveals he is an Iroquois who lived in the 18th century.

“Omri’s best friend, Patrick, finds out about the magic cupboard, and brings a cowboy, Boone, into the present. Despite the fights and rivalries between the two tiny men, Patrick refuses to send them back until it is too late — Little Bear wounds Boone with an arrow.”                 [J BANKS]

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

“In the Pacific, there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea birds abound. Karana is the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Hers is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.”              1961 Newbery Medal winner                [J O’DELL]

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

“The intrepid Professor Lindenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth’s very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet’s primordial secrets, the geologist – together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans – discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions.”                       [J VERNE]

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

“Faced with the prospect of a disagreeable arranged marriage or a journey acoss the barren Alaskan tundra, 13-year-old Miyax chooses the tundra. She finds herself caught between the traditional Eskimo ways and the modern ways of the whites. Miyax, or Julie as her pen pal Amy calls her, sets out alone to visit Amy in San Francisco, a world far away from Eskimo culture and the frozen land of Alaska.

“During her long and arduous journey, Miyax comes to appreciate the value of her Eskimo heritage, learns about herself, and wins the friednship of a pack of wolves. After learning the language of the wolves and slowly earning their trust, Julie becomes a member of the pack.”       1973 Newbery Medal winner                   [J GEORGE]

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

“Saved from the jaws of the evil tiger Shere Khan, young Mowgli is adopted by a wolf pack and taught the law of the jungle by lovable old Baloo the bear and Bhageera the panther. The adventures of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the snake-fighting mongoose, little Toomai and the elephant’s secret dance, and Kotick the white seal are all part of Mowgli’s extraordinary journey with his animal friends.”                                     [J KIPLING]

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

“Drawn from the wondrous tales told to Kipling as a child by his Indian nurses, Just So Stories creates the magical enchantment of the dawn of the world, when animals could talk and think like people.”

How the whale got his throat — How the camel got his hump — How the rhinoceros got his skin — How the leopard got his spots — Elephant’s child — Sing-song of old man kangaroo — Beginning of the armadillos — How the first letter was written — How the alphabet was made — Crab that played with the sea — Cat that walked by himself — Butterfly that stamped                     [J KIPLING]


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Filed under Book Reviews, Children, Reading, Uncategorized, Union City Library

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