The Singing Green

Eve Merriam - Author of "The Singing Green"

The Singing Green

by Eve Merriam

This is an inspiring collection of poems that will make you think about nature and the seasons like never before. The creativity and description in all these poems is incredible! When you read the stanza,

Like salt on your nose,
Like stars on your toes,
Tingles the tangy rain.

from the poem “Summer Rain”, you can almost feel the salt on your nose and you can almost see the stars on your toes. It is a great feeling to connect with poetry in such a deep way! When you read the poems that you can connect to, you think about the subject of the poem more and you realize things you didn’t realize.

For a school project, I had to complete a poetry anthology with a theme (mine was nature) with poems written by me and other authors. I chose two of these poems and I think that they are the best two in the whole collection because of the (again) creativity and description.

I am not usually a huge poetry fan, but when I came across this poem book, I formed a new opinion too. Even if you do like poetry, I think you will too!

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I am Number Four

I am Number Four

by Pittacus Lore

10 years ago the Mogadorians invaded the planet Loriens because they were running out of resources for food and water. All of the Loriens fought gallantly but the Mogadorians took them down without a fight. If the Loriens didn’t do something their race would become extinct. They managed to get 9 garde and nine cepan off of the planet and onto a rocketship that would fly to the land that was closest, Earth. Before leaving each of the gardes was assigned a number so if the Mogadorians were to try to kill the last of the Loriens in fear they would get theirlegacies and restore the planet that is rightfully theirs they would have to be killed in the order of their number. With only their cepans to guide them, the young and powerless gardes have to spread out and go into hiding. Even though they look like all the other humans in the world, they can tell who they are so they will never be safe.


Number four has just got 3rd scar. He is next in line. He will be killed next. Number Four must relocate and go into hiding immediately. He knows that he must develop his legacies fast in order to protect himself, his cepan and most importantly his race. To find out if he can do this before the Mogadorians track him and find him read I Am Number Four.


The ages that are recommended for this book are for 6th graders and any age above because of the tiny bit of romance. I loved reading this book because there was action that never ended. I also enjoyed reading the sequel; The Power Of Six were I learned more about the Loriens and some other events that tie perfectly into the story. These were great adventures that have you getting to know and like the characters, feel the suspense and have you wanting more. I am looking forward to reading the third book. READ IT!

~Jenny Long “READ IT!” Review

The Unseen Guest

The Unseen Guest (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, #3)the 3rd in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

by Maryrose Wood

340 pages of mysterious adventure

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place grow on you from book to book, as does their tutor, Miss Penelope Lumley – trained at Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females.  They are smart, resourceful, brave and fun.

In this book we meet Bertha, Admiral Faucet (fah-say – not to be confused with the plumbing) and Lord Frederick’s mother.  We learn that she remains in mourning after the tragic loss of her husband in the medicinal tar pits while on a spa holiday many years before.  We also learn that Lord Edward (as that was his name) suffered an affliction that befell him at each full moon – he would scratch and howl and bark and yip.  This ceased upon Frederick’s birth, though it seems that Frederick acquired the symptoms.  His mother knows this.   His wife, Lady Constance, does not. He did not want to bore her with the details.  Miss Lumley, of course, has had her suspicions.

Lord Frederick’s mother has returned to the manor to ask for her son’s blessing on her marriage to the Admiral.  She is struggling to decide whether to follow her head or her heart in this matter.  The Admiral plans to use her money to establish ostrich (that is what Bertha is) racing in England and to produce all the accoutrements needed to support the venture.  He sees millions in his future, but first he must track down his bird.  Bertha has escaped into the woods of Ashton Place and the children are needed to help track her down.  Once in the woods their animal side is more pronounced and Miss Lumley fears she may have lost them.  After all why not stay in the woods when there is a dry, comfortable cave supplied all the quilts and feather pillows you need along with candles, art supplies, all you desire for learning, AND a picnic hamper full of delicious sandwiches – your exact favorite kinds!

Simon Harley-Dickinson comes back to help, as well as Madame Ionesco.  Old Timothy, the groom, again seems to mysteriously appear in all the right places at all the right times.  Things happen because he knows – ALL that he knows remains a mystery.

I am looking forward to the next book.  Until then I will enjoy the notions of never thinking about ELKS and the image of Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia tossing their peas into the air to catch each time the raven calls, “nevermore” as Poe’s poem The Raven is read (Professional educator that she was, Penelope was proud to have devised a way to combine the study of poetry and the eating of vegetables into a single enjoyable lesson.) and Lady Constance’s attempts at hide and seek.

Who is Judge Quinzey?

Three Books with a “turn-of-the-century” setting

Maggie and Oliver by Valerie Hobbs – an okay read

The Doll Shop Downstairs and Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough – wonderful books that will make you wish for more and keep you thinking after the last page is turned.

three books for especially for 3rd and 4th grade girls who appreciate gentle, but honest stories

Maggie and Oliver or A Bone of One's OwnSet in Boston at the turn of the century, Maggie and Oliver, gives readers a glance at what it might have been like to live as a child in poverty at that time.  Readers learn of the time when school wasn’t available to all and children were taken advantage of as cheap labor in the mills.

Oliver’s owner has passed away and when her family comes to divide the property, he is left behind.  Maggie, never having had a family, is let go from her maid position when she speaks out of turn – she asks entirely too many questions and that is not good if you are to be seen, but never heard.  Both Oliver and Maggie find themselves on the streets of Boston at the end of winter – they both need food and shelter; they both need to find some way to ease the ache of the dark feeling of loneliness that has settled upon them.

They do, but not without many trials along the way.  Maggie and Oliver has been sitting in my “to read” pile for a few months.  It was okay, but I wished for more.  I decided to dig deeper into that pile to find  The Doll Shop Downstairs and its sequel, The Cats in the Doll Shop.  Set in the same time period, these books are full of rich descriptive language that washes over you with care and honesty.  The main character  is a girl I can fully understand.  If she could step off the page, we would immediately be friends.  From reading I know that much about her but I still want to know more.

The Doll Shop DownstairsAnna is in the middle.  Sophie is two years older and always knows more.  Trudie is two years younger.  She is always babied, and worst of all, adores everything Sophie says and does.  They live in a small apartment above their doll shop.  Papa repairs dolls and Mama sews clothes for them.  Working together they make a fine living until the war breaks out.

World War I has begun so there will be no more trade with Germany and that means no more parts for fixing dolls.  The family wonders about what they will do to make a living until Anna comes up with an idea – rather than repair dolls, perhaps they can make them.  They all work together to create a limited edition doll, Nurse Nora.  She is beautiful and brave and is discovered by Mr. Greenfield, the buyer for FAO Schwartz.  The Doll Shop will survive the war.

This is a wonderful story of family life in the city in the early 1900’s.  Anna’s parents are immigrants for Russia.  They have family in the old country and they are bridge the old and new ways by making sure their children have schooling and opportunities.  The girls work with their parents doing the chores they need to do so they can also have time for dolls and tea parties, penny candy treats and ice cream cones.

Anna struggles with her feelings of never being old enough or young enough.  She knows she mustn’t whine as little Trudie does, but sometimes it is challenging not too.  She knows she must not feel jealous of Sophie when she gets A’s and gold stars on everything.  She knows she must just work harder, but it is a challenge.  Caught in the middle she takes time for watching and knowing.  She takes time to be alone, to wonder and question.  Because of this, she has some pretty amazing things to share.

The Cats in the Doll ShopIn the second book a year has passed and the Doll Shop continues doing a good business. Nurse Nora dolls are sold at F.A.O. Schwartz and other toy stores too.  As the war continues and letters from the “old country” come more frequently.  Sometimes they seem happy news but not always.  At last Mama tells them that Tania, their cousin – born on the exact same day in the exact same year as Anna – is making “the crossing.”  She is leaving her mother and her country behind to stay with Anna’s family until her mother can save enough to join her.

While waiting and planning for Tania’s arrival Anna observes the continuing life and work of the city and shop. She notices a ginger cat, fat with babies.  She listens to the lilting voices and whistling of Kathleen and Michael who have joined Papa and Mama in the busier than ever doll shop.  She sees the cruelty of the man sweeping the ginger cat and her new babies off his fire escape to fall into the yard below.  Only peachy-colored Pluckie survives, though his leg dangles helplessly behind.

There is schoolwork to be done, planning and hard work for the holiday orders coming to the shop.  Anna tries to imagine what Tania is feeling.  She tries to figure out how to help the hurting cats.  At last an idea comes to her and in a moment of free time Anna designs and makes Tania a new doll.  It is a special doll.  A school-girl, whom Anna calls Shannon. Anna hopes she will be, a friend for Tania while she learns what it is like in this new country.

When Tania finally arrives it is nothing like Anna imagined.  It is hard for this poor, frightened, lonely girl.  It is hard for Sophie, Anna and Trudie too.  Though she is their cousin, Tania is quiet, shy and strange.  She is challenging to understand, but Anna tries.  To Anna, Tania seems as afraid and sad as Pluckie.  It is that sameness that brings them together and allows that family to see how change can be good, especially when it happens for the right reasons.

Again I admire the courage, honesty and bravery of Anna.  Though caught in the middle, she seems to know what to do.  The writing wraps around you and comes to life in your mind.  What a wonderful family to be a part of and what a wonderful friend Anna is for her readers.  I am hoping there is another books to share soon.


Fake Mustache

Fake Mustacheby Tom Angleberger

196 pages of laugh-out-loud fun

You know from the cover, the subtitle (or, how Jodie O’Rodeo and her wonder horse (and some nerdy kid) saved the U.S. presidential election from a mad genius criminal mastermind), the end pages and the title page that this book will make you snicker – at least.

Lenny Junior (the nerdy kid) begins his story with a warning. “Don’t ever buy a fake mustache as Sven’s Fair Price Store.”  He goes on to explain that is an awesome place for fake noses or thumbs or fake laughter machines, but not mustaches.  They are TOO good because they’re made from real Belgian mustache hair (apparently men grow their mustaches for a year before cutting them off to sell to the Heidelberg Novelty Company) and being real hair are expensive.  “But they’re worth it…if you really want a good fake mustache – which you don’t!  It’ll only lead to trouble.  That’s what I’m trying to tell you.”

Just after Lenny Junior and his only friend, Casper, go to Sven’s strange things happen in Hairsprinkle.  There are bank robberies, corporate takeovers and fixed elections.  Lenny knows Casper is the culprit.  The bank security camera clearly show that the ringleader is dressed as a “man-about-town” and is sporting a spectacular handlebar mustache.  Those at the exact two things Casper spent his birthday money on the day before.  Lenny tries to get help and because of this he is named the “Evil One” and becomes most wanted while Casper’s (newly elected Mayor, Fako Mustacho) evil takeover plans unfold.

Fortunately for Lenny Junior it is Halloween so being in disguise is acceptable and by some twist of trolley car fate, Lenny meets the real live person he is dressed up as, Jodie O’Rodeo.  She seems genuinely nice and both soon realize the future of Hairsprinkle, in fact the world, is in their hands.  With only booger shooting nasal guns, electric shock gum and the ultra-sticky-stretchy grabber hand along with their wits they must work together to save the world.  Can they stop Fako Mustacho before it is too late?

You’ll have to smile your way to the ending to find out.  Really, who doesn’t love a good “slappy hand?”

The Council of Mirrors

The Council of Mirrorsthe ninth and final book in The Sisters Grimm Series

by Michael Buckley

Four years ago I began reading the Sisters Grimm. The series had begun awhile earlier so I read from book one to two to three and on with the dreaded words “to be continued” at the end. I found myself looking at the last words first just to see what the ending would bring.  At first that was fine, I had books to read through.  Later I would wait a year before continuing the tale … now the waiting is over.  Readers may consume this series ravenously or in savory morsels; whatever suits them best.

This year I have a group of students reading the series – “Mrs. Eaves, I couldn’t believe it when I got to the end ‘to be continued.’ How could they!”  “I know,” I nod. ” It is an exciting story.  You really want to know what happens to the character.”  “Yyyyeeesss,” they sigh.   I went to the bookstore yesterday in search of the newly published, The Council of Mirrors. I knew it was supposed to be “the end” but I must confess I looked at the final words just to be sure. There I read, “THE END” and so I began. The twists and turns of exciting challenges and adventure continue in this volume. The pain of arrogance and pride remain, and so does the joy of devotion and friendship. Trust, self-confidence, commitment and determination are what it takes to win an epic battle.  It is always that way.

The end is very satisfying along with the years of after story. The Grimms and Everafters will be with us for a long time – in their orginal tales and in the rewritings. They have a lot to show us about ourselves and what it means to live well in our world.

Read it and let us know what you think.  You can find out lots about the books and about the author at the Sisters Grimm website here.  Enjoy!

The City of Lies

City of Lies (The Keepers, #2)by Lian Turner

278 pages of adventure fantasy

I’m going to work to see if the Imitation of Nothingness works – it would be very handy!

After I finished the Museum of Thieves I had so many questions that I was uncertain of how I felt about the book.  I wasn’t sure of the main message – was it freedom, was it being wary of the cruelty that comes from lust for power, was it listening to the voice within and acting on what you know in your heart to be right?  Why was the museum alive with wildness?  Is wildness good?

Some of those questions still remain now that I have completed the second in the Keeper Trilogy, The City of Lies, but I am not bothered by the wondering.  I am looking forward to the Path of Beasts to see if I will find the answers. (I hope so.)  The city of Jewel is still troubled but is recovering from the floods and the warped greed of the Fugleman and the Blessed Guardians.  Goldie is trying to decide if she is needed more by her parents or the museum.  She has been asked to become the 5th keeper and she would dearly like to take her place with Sinew, Herro Dan, Olga Ciavolga and Toadspit – Morg and Broo too.  The challenge is that her parents have not recovered from their sentence in the House of Repentence when she first ran away.  They are ill and frightened.  They depend on her and she feels the guilt and shame of having brought on their frailties.

While trying to make her decision, Goldie visits Toadspit, Bonnie his brave sister follows and is kidnapped.  Goldie and Toadspit follow to rescue her and Toadspit is caught.  Now it is up to Goldie to rescue them both in the wild city of Spoke during the Festival of Lies when everything is backward and upside down and only the opposite is true.

The magic that surrounds the lives of those who live in these books add a touch of mystery that makes you wonder – true or not.  No- it might be – well, maybe a little.  What will happen to Mouse?  How does he tell fortunes?  What doesn’t he talk?  What about Pounce?  What about the cat?  Why are animals, long thought to be extinct returning?  How is that part of the overall plan?  The new villains are not so new, but still just sinister as ever. At the end there may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon.  We’ll have to wait until October to see.  Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Another fun twist for me was learning that semaphore, margrave and margravine, bombardon and skerrick are real words.  The first means communicating messages with a flag system.  The second and third words on my list are the male and female titles given in medieval times to the families of the king’s protectors. The fourth is an instrument like a tuba.  And the last means a very small piece of shred.  I’m glad I looked to see if they were real or not – they were!

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More

  “The whole of the Indian’s head was now swathed in thick white bandage, and the only thing you could see was the end of the nose sticking out. He looked like a man who had some terrible brain operation.

  “How does that feel?” Dr. Marshall asked him.

  “It feels good,” the Indian said. “I must compliment you gentlemen on doing a fine job.”

  “Off you go, then,” Dr. Marshall said grinning at me. “Show us how clever you are at seeing things now.”

The Indian got off the bed and walked strait to the door. He opened the door and went out.

“Great Scott!” I said. “Did you see that? He put his hand right on the doorknob!””

This is an excerpt of a book Henry Sugar is reading after he drew the unlucky card to play a game for four with five people. You see, Henry Sugar loves gambling, and he is annoyingly good at it too. He goes to a casino one night, and comes home the same night with thousands and thousands of dollars. (And he never passes off the opportunity to cheat.) So when Henry reads this book about Imraht Khan, the man who sees without his eyes, he is inspired and thinks that he will be able to do this to win at gambling. After three years of training with playing cards, he finally masters the art of seeing through things or seeing things with his eyes closed. But has his personality changed through that hard core training process. Read The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar to find out.

That’s not all! Read other stories like “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The Boy who Talks with Animals”. Read them now in the collection of short stories called The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More.

The Hidden Gallery

The Hidden Gallery (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2) Book 2 of Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

By Maryrose Wood

313 pages of curious mystery and adventure

just fun!

Why is it that some people judge and never see, while others accept and look to understand?  I know it is that way in life, (well at least in life at school) and it is like that in The Hidden Gallery.  Lady Ashton has judged the children are ruinous animals and that is all she finds.  Simon has found them curious and intelligent so he finds artists, writers and actors.

In this second book more pieces are coming together to reveal why the wolf children were found in the woods behind Ashton Manor, why Miss Lumley was selected to be their nanny and why the “hunt” always seems planned for the full moon – but the instigator remains unknown.

There are lots of questions to wonder about – why must Miss Lumley use hair poultice to dull and darken her hair?  When she doesn’t use it her hair is rich and auburn…just like the three Incourrigibles.  Why does Lord Ashton consistently maintain an almanac, disappearing on the night of the full moon while yips and barks are mysteriously heard?  Where is Agatha Swanburne the wise founder of Miss Lumley’s alma mater and why is her portrait found in the British Museum?

Agatha Swanburne’s advice guides Miss Lumley while also offering readers words to live by as well.  “When a big leap is required, a running start makes all the difference – so get moving.”  “You care for children and protect them by having faith in them, seeing the best in them, and teaching them to see the best in themselves.” “ You’re not where you were, and you’re not where you’re going.  You’re here, so pay attention!”

I appreciate the notions of the “fickle fulcrum of fate” – the seesaw balance of your life and the feelings of being “optoomuchtic”

I really enjoyed this book – perhaps even more than the first and I am looking forward to reading the third right way.  I hope some of my questions will be answered and that I will find more wise words to live by.

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

by Trenton Lee Stewart

470 pages of mysterious action – you’ll be glad you read everyone

Nine-year old Nicholas Benedict is a force to be reckoned with.  Coming to  a new orphanage, “Child’s End”, or the Manor, opens up a whole new world for Nicholas.  Of course there are The Spiders to deal with and the rules to follow and the chores to do, but there are also one or two friendships to be made and a real mystery to be solved.  Somewhere in the Manor is the lost inheritance of the late Mrs. Rothschild – it’s “a real mystery” It is said to be a vast treasure worth millions of dollars and Nicholas is sure he will be able to find it.  He knows if he can see the ledger closely guarded by director, Mr. Collum, he will be able to find the clues.  He is sure that with the assistance of all the books he can reach in the library he will be learn all that he needs to find the treasure and leave the orphanage,once and for all, behind.

And so Nicholas sets out to do just that  – he will overcome all obstacles to achieve his goal.  One of my favorite passages is the description of his love for reading.  “Oh, how he read!  He seemed to read faster with every book and he was reading books by the dozens.  He has long since finished the encyclopedia and moved on to books about physics and mathematics, engines and mechanics, chemistry and biology.  The sciences compelled him most, but everything interested him and he followed his whims from shelf to shelf.  Last night, for instance he had read a book of nonsense poetry (which tickled his fancy) as well as a history of scientific exploration (which inspired him) before diving into a three-volume atlas of the world.  When at last he’d ordered himself to bed his mind was so aglow with new ideas and new knowledge, he almost expected beams of light to shine from his eyes.”

Nicholas learns much from the Manor’s library, and he also learns how to be with people. He comes to understand who he will be when he grows up – well maybe not who he will be, but how he will be and how he will treat all others in the world.  That just might be the greatest treasure there is.

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict may be the best to the Mysterious Benedict Society books yet. Read it and let us know what you think!  Enjoy.

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Here is an AWESOME trailer for the book. Enjoy very much!!

(Updated 5-14-12)