Sunday, February 27, 2011

#60 The Red Pyramid

I know that if I'm going to get to 10o by the end of May I'm going to have to get moving, but I just had to take a little extra time to read Rick Riordan's exciting book The Red Pyramid.

The story is written by Carter and Sadie Kane: a brother and sister who only see each other once a year, due to their Mother's death six years earlier. Carter lives with his Dad, an Egyptian scholar, and they travel around the world. Sadie lives with her Grandparents in London. Their lives have been totally separate, so they have never gotten very close. That all changes in a hurry when Sadie and Carter accompany their father to the British Museum and they watch in horror as he unleashes the Egyptian god Set and becomes trapped. Now they have only each other, Sadie's cat, and Uncle Amos to help them as they set off on a thrilling voyage to try to rescue their father and save the world from Set.

This is the first book in a trilogy, or set of three books. You can read all about the series on the website at I'm guessing that this series will be as popular as the Percy Jackson series.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book, The Throne of Fire. I especially enjoyed hearing how Sadie and Carter argued back and forth (just like most siblings!), and they took turns writing the chapters of the book.

If you like adventures, and particularly if you enjoy stories about the Egyptian gods, then this book is most certainly one that you will want to read!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

#59 The Disappearing Stranger

The Disappearing Stranger is the story of Kate, a Minneapolis girl in the early 1900's, who moves to a farm in northwest Wisconsin when her mother is remarried. This exciting tale is historical fiction, and in reading it, you will learn a lot about what life was like for Swedish families living in this time.

It's difficult for Kate when her mother remarries, and one of the hardest things is getting along with her new brother, Anders, who seems intent on making her life miserable. Eventually, however, Kate and Anders become a team as they try to uncover the mystery of a mysterious man who seems to be sneaking around the area.

This book is the first in the Adventures of the Northwoods series. If you are looking for a good mystery that will keep you guessing, this may just be the book for you!

#58 Saving Zasha

Saving Zasha is a beautifully written story based on the true events of World War II. I had never heard this before, but in Russia following World War II, dogs that were considered to be German dogs were hunted down and destroyed. So many dogs had been killed that it was almost unheard of for a family to have one, so when 13-year-old Mikchail finds one in the woods he is determined to protect it.

But keeping a German shepherd hidden isn't easy for Mikchail and his family, especially with nosy Katia snooping around. As the story progresses however, Mikchail finds out that Katia isn't the only one trying to find out about Zasha. You will be on the edge of your seat as Mikchail and Zasha are chased by armed dog thieves and are barely able to escape. What will happen to Zasha? Will Mikchail and his family be able to protect her and keep her hidden? Or is there a better way?

Mikchail and his brother Nikolai learn about a Russian soldier who loves dogs and is determined to create a new breed of Russian dog. Would he want to steal Zasha too, or is he someone they can trust?

I think this story teaches a lot about war and hate, and also about forgiveness and hope. One of my favorite lines is early in the book, when Mother explains how both the Russians and the Germans used dogs to injure and kill their enemies. Mother says, "People sometimes do heroic things in a war, but everyone does terrible things. No one is only good, or only bad."

You can hear an exerpt from Saving Zasha in the video below, but you will want to check out the book and read the whole story. I'm certain of that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

#57 Big Nate From the Top

This book was recommended to me by a bunch of 4th grade boys: you know who you are! They said it would make me laugh out loud.

It happened on the 12th page, although I had chuckled a little bit prior to that. The entire book is comics. Really! As I continued through it I must admit that I found it quite amusing, especially since most of the jokes had to do with school, and all of the crazy things that happen there.

Other than that, I don't have a lot to say, except that I think you'll enjoy Big Nate. Thanks for the recommendation: now go laugh out loud!

Here are a few more, for your reading enjoyment. And here's Big Nate's web address:

And here's a video about Big Nate. Can you draw Big Nate?

#56 Callie (Kitty Corner series)

Ellen Miles created that adorable Puppy Place series, and now she's following it up with Kitty Corner, "where kitties get the love they need". The big draw for me in this book was that the kitten on the cover looks just like the little kitten we brought home for my daughter when she was only three years old. That kitty was with us for over 15 years - and was my daughter's constant companion.

In the story, Mia thinks a cuddly kitten would be the perfect pet, and her brother Michael would love that too. Of course, their parents don't think they're ready for the responsibility of caring for a pet yet. I think Ellen Miles loves it when a book has a happy ending...especially for the pet!

Did I give away too much of the story? I hope not. And if you want a quick little read, or want to share a book with a younger brother or sister or reading buddy, this may just be the book for you. You might want to share this website on the Puppy Place and Kitty Corner books (and author Ellen Miles) with them too!

#55 Explorers Wanted! at the North Pole

Survive...or die. That's the situation if you accept the challenge to lead an expedition to the Murrelet Island to uncover the mystery of a lost airship. If you are going to take on this challenge there are a lot of dangers you should know about. I'm not sure just anyone would be prepared to go. Although - you can read this book in the comfort of your own warm home and you'll be pretty safe!

If you were exploring in the North Pole you would need to face seriously cold weather: much, much colder than we had a few weeks ago! Of course your travel would be done with a team of dogs pulling a sled, so you'd need to be able to take care of them as well as yourself. You would need to be able to build an igloo to protect yourself from the wind and cold, and you would even have to fight off very dangerous (and big and hungry!) polar bears.

This book is a great story, but includes a lot of information about how to survive in the North Pole. There are pictures throughout the book that give you an idea of how you would have to plan and pack for your own expedition.

This series has several other great adventures: you may want to read them all!

Simon's website is one that you won't want to miss, especially if you're a fan of nature and danger! You can find it at:

#54 I.Q. Book Two: The White House

Well, I certainly did this one backwards! I saw this book in the book fair last week and grabbed it to read, because I really like books by Roland Smith. One page into it I realized that it is book 2 in the series...and I hadn't read book 1.

I wish I had read the first one first. However, throughout the story there are many discussions of what happened in the past, so I felt that I was brought up to speed quite quickly.

As you can probably guess, the story takes place in the White House - which sounds like a fantastic place to visit! Angela and Q meet up with PK (the President's Kid, get it?), who is much wiser than his age (he's 10). Angela's is getting closer to understanding her mother's past, and the events in this story deal with terrorism. Although it seems like it would be a blast to sneak around the hidden tunnels in the White House, this threat of terrorism is a big part of the story and can be pretty scary. If you love danger and mystery, and you like the idea of following the clues and keeping up with the intriguing events of the 24 hours in this book then I think you will find a book to call a new favorite!

You can learn more about Roland Smith and his books at There is a lot of great information there, so enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

#53 Wild Girl

As Wild Girl begins, Lidie is just leaving her home and all she has ever known to go live with her father and brother in the United States. She has waited years for them to have her join them, but it seems they only remember her as a little girl who loves pink and Minnie Mouse and they don't even know that she can ride!

Riding horses is huge in this family. Her father is a trainer, and her brother Rafi is a jockey. Lidie loves horses too, especially the family's new horse Wild Girl, which, in fact, is what Lidie's mother used to call her: wild girl.

But nothing seems to be going right for Lidie. School is terrifying and no one even seems to try to understand her. Everything she does seems to be wrong, and her father is certainly not the man she remembered him to be.

As Lidie makes her way from Brazil to New York, Wild Girl has also been on a journey: from South Carolina. It is the connection between these two, the girl and the horse, that help Lidie begin to feel at home in her new surroundings.

This is a wonderful story of friendship, family...and horses. Now really, what better story could there be?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

#52 Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

It's not every day that you read a book about a troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl, is it? Mirka is not your "every day" book. First of all, it's a graphic novel.

Mirka is a pretty tough girl (just ask her: she'll tell you!) She lives in the town of Hereville, which is a community of Jewish Orthodox families. It's one of those great books where you can learn a lot about the cultural traditions in Mirka's life. Mirka and her little brother, Zindel, have to face some bullies, but they haven't had to face a dragon (or even a troll) yet. Even so, Mirka would love to give it a try.

The story of Mirka actually began as a webpage. You can learn more about it here: Because people were enjoying the cartoons that author/artist Barry Deutsch was drawing, there was a big following, and there's a lot of excitement surrounding this first book.

Mirka is funny, strong-willed and a lot of fun to have an adventure with!