Archive for October, 2010
Did you ever wonder how bumbling Amelia Bedelia managed to hold down a job? It’s the cooking, of course. This new book shows young Amelia learning to bake with her grandparents.
Watch Out For: Some children might not get the puns , which are far fewer than in the classic Amelia Bedelia books. The whole family learns a lesson in sharing, with each other and with the birds. The book includes an apple pie recipe.
As if high school isn’t tough enough, Rachel also has to deal with the discovery that her little sister is a witch. Not one to miss an opportunity, Rachel is quick to manipulate the situation for her own benefit: she makes the team, gets the guy, and almost cancels her dad’s wedding.
Watch Out For: Witchcraft, obviously, is a plot point. The consequences of casting spells to get what you want is the main theme, however. Rachel must learn about the qualities of real friends, the virtues of hard work, and that her ‘evil step mother’ really isn’t that bad. Rachel makes some very bad decisions and has to live with disappointment and the guilt of having hurt others.
Harry is worried about his Aunt Rose getting married, especially after hearing horror stories from friends. But even after his dog interrupts the ceremony, Harry realizes that weddings, and his new uncle, can be a lot of fun.
Watch Out For:
If you are reading this book to help a nervous child prepare for an upcoming family wedding, this book may introduce some new fears. Tales of pinched cheeks, lost rings and intruding cats complicate things, but the wedding turns out fine.
Merliah goes on a fast-paced generic mermaid adventure with glaring plot holes! This book is adapted from a full-length video, and the story does not survive the translation.
Watch Out For: Merliah must go against her evil Aunt who is holding her mother in prison.
A field trip to learn about American History turns into an adventure for Arthur as he attempts to find the restroom.
Watch Out For: The picture on the cover shows Arthur running from a scary looking T Rex, but Arthur never sees the dinosaurs in the book. Arthur ends up lost in the back hallways on the museum and wanders into a few exhibits. Especially adventurous kids may not need this encouragement!
Why anyone would want Amelia Bedelia to babysit is beyond me, but here we have the silly Amelia in charge. Young readers may relate to these puns and misunderstood directions better than in some of the classic Amelia Bedelia books.
Watch Out For: Missy, the poor baby left with Amelia, starts out frustrated and hungry until someone shows Amelia how to fix a baby bottle. Amelia makes several messes, but always cleans them up with good cheer.
Poor Donald Zinkoff doesn’t realize at first that he’s different from the other kids. Follow Zinkoff from the first day of school through to the end of middle school as he learns who he is.
Watch Out For: This book is brutally honest about the awkwardness and difficulties of growing up. There is no magically happy ending here – but Zinkoff learns to live with his own odd personality. The book touches on competition, teasing, bullies, making friends, school life and how each of these things changes as you grow.
What boy wouldn’t love to be a viking and have his own dragon? Hiccup Horrendous Haddock, the cheif’s son, doesn’t want to, if being a viking means being a dumb bully. But Hiccup’s smarts earn him a place in the tribe when he finds a way to save the tribe from being eaten.
Watch Out For: Hiccup is placed in some scary situations, but always does the right thing, noting that true bravery comes not from marching blindly into danger, but from knowing all about the risks and still doing what you have to do. Hiccup is teased by the larger boys, but he always deals with it well. The various dragon fights might bother some, but the silly tone should let kids know not to take it too seriously.
Greg Heffley is wimpy, and his diary does nothing to defy that description. His long-suffering friend Rowley certainly comes across as a much better kid. This book reads more like a comic book, with lots of illustrations, but the reading level is higher than you might expect.
Watch Out For: Every 7th grade stereotype, including bullying, girls, school work, fear of older kids and siblings. Greg acts very badly to his friend, and does not seem to learn from his errors.
The story of a dentist mouse who compassionately treats a toothache-plagued fox, Doctor De Soto is a delightful book that holds the attention of both toddlers and independent readers. The plot is relatively complex for a childrens’ book, and the characters rather nuanced. Recommended.
Watch out for: There are a wealth of themes addressed by Doctor De Soto, including: honor, compassion, trickery, and (of course) dental hygiene.