Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World

by Candice RansomIva Honeysuckle Discovers the World

152 pages of family adventures for middle readers

Iva longs for adventure.  Iva wants to do amazing things, but Iva is in the middle and that makes achieving greatness a challenge.  You see her mom and her aunt married brothers and planned to have children (double- first cousins) who would grow up to be best friends and neighbors.  That worked for her older sister, Arden and cousin, Hunter.  It worked for little sister, Lily Pearl and cousin, Howard.  But it did not work for Iva and her bossy, rule-following, perfect cousin, Heaven. Summer is here and Iva has decided this is her opportunity to make important discoveries.  Recently while her dad was cleaning out the attic he found some interesting artifacts:  a small black journal containing tire pressure records, a geography bee medal dated 1923 and a stack of magazines.  These things had once belonged to her great grandfather and reading through the old National Geographic magazines, Iva discovered a map.  It seems to show where General Braddock had stopped in Uncertain, Virginia (the very town Iva lives in now) and had buried a cannon full of gold.  The weight needed to be left behind so his troops could move more quickly to battle.  That treasure has been waiting in the ground for over two hundred years and Iva is determined it will be found. Iva’s plans for the summer are set, but things don’t go as smoothly as planned.  It’s hard to discover things on your own.  It takes time to avoid people – Iva will do most anything to keep away from Heaven.  Iva’s mom thinks she should be nicer to her cousin.  She thinks she should do things with her so she has a friend, but Heaven is always in the way and she never wants to do anything of interest.  First there is the yard sale, then there’s the kitten and then Iva’s only friend, Mrs. Compton becomes Heaven’s friend too.  Iva doesn’t know what to do or how to take Mrs. Compton’s advice, “If you are a friend you’ll have a friend.” You’ll have to read Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World to find out about the discoveries that are made.  There’s more than one, and while they may not surprise you, you’ll be glad to have Iva Honeysuckle as an explorer friend.

American Poets


Ogden Nash was born 110 years and nine days ago, on August 19, 1902. He was a very well known American poet, famous for his humorous poetry and uplifting verses. He lived 68 years, dying in 1971. During his 68 years, he published 14 volumes of poetry and wrote more than 500 pieces of comic verse. He has a house in North Hampton, NH by the beach, and was buried in that town as well. The house has a plaque dedicating him to it. Ogden Nash’s poems will always be fun to read.

A Caution To Everybody

by Ogden Nash

Consider the auk;
Becoming extinct because he forgot how to fly, and could only walk.
Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot how to walk and learned how to fly before he thinked.

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874. He is VERY well known for his poems about nature, New Hampshire, New England and how inspirational and thought-provoking his poems are. He lived in a lot of places in his 88 years, but he lived in Derry, New Hampshire in a farmhouse for the majority of his life. Now it is owned by the state and you can now tour it for a very little fee. I did it once, because I studied him in fourth grade, and it was very interesting. I saw the kitchen that the Frost family ate most of their meals in and sat in the chair that Robert Frost sat in almost every day, reading the paper. It is a good experience to have, since Robert Frost will always be one of the best known poets in America. One of his most famous poems is called,  “The Road Not Taken,” and it is deeply inspirational.

Click here to hear Robert Frost read to you, “The Road Not Taken”.


 Shel Silverstein was a lot of things. An American poet for sure, but he was also a singer-songwriter, cartoonist, musician, screenwriter, composer and author of children’s books. His black and white cartoon style of drawing always intrigued me and the story/poem that went along with it was always great as his poetry makes you think about things that don’t exist, but the problems that they have very much exist. My favorite one of his works is entitled The Missing Piece and it is about a ball/circle, looking for it’s missing piece that is shaped like a wedge. He has so many speacial accomplishments. Shel Silverstein died on May 8, 1999, aged 68.

This is a sad poem that Shel Silverstein wrote, about Cloony the Clown. Here is the link: http://100.best-poems.net/cloony-clown.html

Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventureby Lissa Evans

270 pages of prestidigitation, puzzles and illusion – an entertaining middle grade read

Stuart Horten is an only child.  His parents, though clever, are not fully involved in Stuart’s comings and goings.  His mom is a scientist and his dad creates crosswords.  They have their things and Stuart has his – lots of friends, a great yard, a bike, a tree house, and a pond to explore. Life was pretty good until his mom got a new job, his dad discovered that the job was near his old hometown and it being the end of the school year the Hortens could easily move.  Suddenly the boy who had everything with the whole summer ahead of him, found he had nothing with the whole summer ahead of him.

Stuart did still have his bike, but he had nowhere to go, no friends to be with and nothing at all to do.  Out of boredom Stuart went for a walk with his dad.  That walk was the beginning of journey into history, into magic and into a different dimension of time and space. On that walk Stuart learned of a great uncle who had disappeared.  He learned that this man had been an accomplished magician – not the have fun at a birthday party kind, but the amaze and dazzle a full theater kind.  And he learned that he had left his father one last present. It was a money box that was MUCH more than it seemed.

Not long after Stuart had made those first discoveries, he got a call on a phone, no longer connected,  leaving him with a cryptic message.  He couldn’t resist and decided to follow up on it going as far as he could.  This begins Stuart’s amazing adventure.  It gets more mysterious and dangerous with each step.  It is exciting and fun.  Read Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms – Magic, Mystery and a Very Strange Adventure to find out if Stuart is the right sort of boy to unravel a fifty year old mystery and discover the difference between illusion and true magic before it is all lost forever.

Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage

Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage (Clover Twig, #1)by Kaye Umansky

about 250 pages of magical gadgets, interesting characters and exciting adventures for middle grade readers and everyone who appreciates good friends

Clover Twig is sensible.  She is dependable, thoughtful and unflappable – important qualities if you are going to work for a witch.  That is what Clover, the eldest daughter of the Twig family, does in Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage.  She answers  Mrs. Eckles ad, and though she does not seem to fit all the qualifications (she doesn’t look all that strong), she is hired.  From that day on Clover lives and works at the magical cottage six days a week.  Clover is unfazed by the oddities around her.  She has a cottage to clean, food to purchase in town and meals to prepare.  She has eggs to collect, gates to grease and a yard to tend.  Wilf, the delivery boy from the town and Neville, the large, rather smelly, ugly cat become her friends and companions

Clover settles into life at the cottage easily.  She gets used to the strange things going on around her and she learns there are witches who use magic for good and witches who use magic for ill.  Mrs. Eckles is an ethical witch.  She uses her magic when necessary and she accepts her responsibility for keeping the magic content.  She cares for the cottage and makes sure it’s pleased with its place.  Her sister, Mesmeranza, is just the opposite sort of witch.  She wants everything and she wants it all for herself no matter what or who is hurt.  In fact she doesn’t care about that at all, she just wants everything.

When Mrs. Eckles plans to go to the May Fayre and leave the cottage in Clover’s care, Mezmeranza launches her plan.  It has one flaw – Mezmeranza doesn’t know about Clover.  She thinks Wilf is going to be at the cottage so she has misdirected her energies there.  Clover Twig is undisturbed by the unusual happenings surrounding the magical things she finds herself confronted with.  She isn’t scared or cowed  and Mesmeranza doesn’t expect that.  Clover is a force to be reckoned with – even if much happens by accident – which sends Mesmeranza into a fury.

You’ll smile at the outrageous shoes, allergies and antics that surround those who live at Castle Coldiron.  You’ll appreciate how those from the Magical Cottage takes things in stride and are satisfied by who they are and what they do – flaws and all.  Clover Twig is a great friend, loving sister and loyal employee, plus she knows what is right and just.  It all works out in the end but it takes a lot of effort, ingenuity and cleaning.

Mesmeranza doesn’t get her way and she is not happy!  She has a new plan and this time it is directed straight at Clover.  Read Clover Clover Twig and the Perilous PathTwig and the Perilous Path to see how the second tale unfolds.  Magic is challenging but those who are true at heart come through unscathed in the end.

The Best of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl had so many great books! I will share a few of his that I liked so much that I have read so many times. Boy and Going Solo I have already reviewed, but the ones that I’m going to review are shorter reads and are just as great.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

5 Golden Tickets are released into 5 Wonka candy bars all around the world. After 4 tickets our found, Charlie’s parents, struggling to ‘make end’s meat’, give him a chocolate bar and as expected, no ticket. But by some miraculous stroke of luck, Charlie gets a golden ticket. The spectacular adventure that awaits him is far more than anything that he could have imagined. But meeting Mr. Wonka himself is one of the unimaginable adventures in itself. This has two movie takes on it and again, is one of Roald Dahl’s Ultimate Classics.

The Magic Finger

The Greggs are a normal family. They live in their normal house, go about their daily activities. The dad and his sons hunt. But this makes their eight year old neighbor very cross. And being cross is the thing that activates her ‘magic finger.’ Her magic finger punishes people for the things that make her cross. For example, the magic finger turned her teacher into a cat because the teacher called her stupid. And now the magic finger has done something horrendous to the Greggs, without the girl being able to control it. This is a quick read, but so not underestimate this book at all.

The Enormous Crocodile

The Enormous Crocodile is a VERY ENORMOUS CROCODILE! And he wants to dine on some “sweet, juicy” children. But all of his animal friends try to talk him out of committing this “dastardly deed”. The jungle animals cannot convince him not to do it, but they are not giving up. Read The Enormous Crocodile to find out what happens.

Click here to access the Official Roald Dahl Website.

To view other Roald Dahl Book Reviews, go to the “Book Review List” page (link found about book picture at top of screen) and find his books.

Deadweather and Sunrise

Deadweather and Sunrise (The Chronicles of Egg, #1)by Geoff Rodkey

296 pages of danger, suspense and adventure – it’ll surprise you

Deadweather Island is miserable; hot and humid, desolate and dull.  It sits to the west of Sunrise, totally cut off from the rest of the world by the pirate-infested waters of the Blue Sea.  Egg is acutely aware of the oppressive weather and landscape.  He knows nothing but the dreary life on the island, the endless work on the ugly fruit plantation and the constant fear of attack by his brother, sister, tutor or pirates who work the plantation too.  On the day of his thirteenth birthday Egg’s father mysteriously decides to sail the whole family to Sunrise Island on errand. Egg’s father meets with his lawyer and then heading into the fancy island inn for lunch, meets the wealthy and powerful, Mr. Pembroke.  Mr. Pembroke feigns interest in the plantation and brings the family to his hilltop home full luxurious comforts and delights.  As a highlight to the trip he treats them to a hot air balloon ride that unfortunately ends in terrible accident leaving Egg alone in the world.

With the loss of his family the Pembrokes take Egg in.  They treat him to the best weeks of his life.  He is never hungry.  He has all the books he could wish to read.  He becomes friends with Millicent, the Pembroke daughter.  It seems as though his life might be turning around and then Egg discovers Mr. Pembroke is not all he claims to be.  His generosity is not because he feels responsibility for the loss of his family, but because Egg has something he wants – the Deadweather plantation.  Egg knows that Pembroke will stop at nothing to get what he wants.  Egg must run for his life.  He must get back to Deadweather and that seems impossible.  How can a boy who has nothing escape from a man who has everything – wealth, power, and authority.

Read The Chronicles of Egg – Deadweather and Sunrise to discover how the first leg to the journey unfolds as one disaster leads to the next adventure that leads to the next challenge only to begin again.  Egg is caught in the race of his life, or rather the race for his life.  It is uncertain whether he can survive.

I have to say it took me a while to get into the book.  It was hard for me to like the characters at first.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend time with them, but by the end I wanted them to stay a little longer.  I like resourceful, kind Egg a lot.  I wonder how Millicent will cope. I even have a soft spot for Guts.  I’ll be looking for the next Chronicle of Egg and will be ready to reading the moment I open the cover.

The Lemonade War

The Lemonade Warby Jacqueline Davies

After the first glass you’ll want another.

With the start of school just around the corner The Lemonade Wars by Jacqueline Davies is a perfect reading fit.  What would you do if you discovered that your little sister was going to skip into your grade at school next year?  Not only your grade, but also your exact classroom because there is only one 4th grade in the school?  That is the news the letter from school had to share.   Jessie is good at school.  She is smart.  She has great ideas.  She loves to get things done and to solve problems.  She does things, but she’s not that good at understanding people.  She doesn’t have many friends.  Other kids think she’s weird.  Evan’s not so great at school.  He is athletic and active.  He has friends.  Will that be the case now… now that everything has changed?

That’s the dilemma.  Evan and Jessie get along just great at home.  They like being together and since their dad has left the family they have made a pact never to fight and argue, especially in front of mom.  But now Evan is angry.  He doesn’t want to be shown up by his little sister.  She’s good at reading.  She’s GREAT at math, but she’s awkward.  Now everyone he knows will know too and it’s just too much to bear.

There’s a heat wave and Evan sets up a lemonade stand (one of Jessie’s favorite things to do) with Scott?!?  He purposefully excludes Jessie.  She’s hurt.  “Good,” thinks Evan.  “But Scott,” wonders Jessie.  He’s not nice and he’s not really Evan’s great friend.  One thing leads to another and before you know it that last dog days of summer have turned into an all out war – winner takes all!  When the final summer fireworks explode who will be the winner, Jessie or Evan?

Read The Lemonade War to find out.  You’ll be glad you did!

The story continues in The Lemonade Crime and you can discover more about the family in The Bell Bandit.  This is the third of the five books in the series full of great characters, relationships and genuine understanding of how things change no matter how much you wish they would stay the same.The Lemonade CrimeThe Bell Bandit

Three Times Lucky

Three Times Luckyby Sheila Turnage

256 pages of serious fun for middle grade readers

Right from the start-“Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt.” – you know that Three Times Lucky is something good to read.  Mo LaBeau is a “rising sixth grader” with an interest in uncovering the truth.  She was washed into Tupelo Landing in the middle of a hurricane 11 years ago and she has been searching for her “up-stream mother” ever since.  In the meantime she has found her home with the café-owning, Colonel and hostess/cook extraordinaire, Miss Lana.  And that is where badge-wearing, Jack Starr stops to begin his investigation.

Nothing seems to be staying the same.  One minute Mo is planning on fishing with her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, the next she can’t because she is needed to serve at the café.  Miss Lana is gone.  The three-day rule – you can’t be gone from the family without calling by the third day – is stretched.  And then there is a murderer around town.  Miss Lana returns, but the Colonel leaves.  Lavender crashes in the race and Dale is implicated in the murder.  Mo has so many questions and confusing connections that discovering the truth is a real challenge.  In that challenge Desperado Detectives is born.  Mo and Dale want to solve the murder before Starr and with the help of some first-rate informants, courage and determination their investigation progresses.  It doesn’t always go smoothly, easily or without danger but a much is uncovered.

How will the murder get solved?  What will happen when Hurricane Amy hits? What is it that the Colonel can’t remember?  How do all these pieces fit together? Three Times Lucky is full of amazing characters, wit and charm.   You’ll read to find out how the Macon’s deal with his often-drunk dad, to find out if Anna Celeste Simpson will always remain Mo’s “sworn enemy for life” and to discover how life has changed in Tupelo Landing once the investigation is complete.

If you liked Turtle in Paradise, Moon Over Manifest or Dead-End in Norvelt then you’ll certainly enjoy Three Times Lucky.  Read it and let us know what you think.


Tuesdays at the Castle

Tuesdays at the CastleJessica Day George

225 pages of middle grade magic and pluck

“Whenever Castle Glower became bored, it would grow a new room or two.”  From the first line you know that Castle Glower is not like any other.  But neither is the royal family who resides within it.  King Glower the seventy-ninth and Queen Celina are thoughtful rulers.  They have four wonderful children – Bran, Liliah, Rolf and Celie, and as they watched them grow they noticed their different talents.  They realized Bran, though oldest and technically heir, was not meant to be a king.  He was destined for something different.  They could see the magic in him and they sent him off to the College of Wizardry.  Rolf, though younger, was able to mediate, discuss and decide justly.  When the time came, it was decided, he would be king.  Certainly that was a long way off, but Rolf would be ready when the time came.  Princess Celie was bouncy and energetic, determined and true.  She was trying to map the castle and record all its changes in an atlas.  Celie knows many of its secrets but not all.  She loves the castle and everything about its gentle living magic.  She pays very close attention to its shifts and changes.  The castle pays close attention to her.

Two weeks ago Bran graduated and the king and queen had gone to the ceremony.  They were due back any minute and the prince and princesses were eager for their return.  While waiting Celie found a mysterious tower.  It had a table, a rope, a tin of biscuits, a book and a spyglass mounted on the windowsill.  Looking through the glass she saw something strange – her parents’ carriage with no soldiers or guard.  Celie showed Rolf and before they could wonder more, the carriage and a sergeant arrived reporting the terrible news; their family had been ambushed by bandits and murdered.  Could this be true?  Before they could be certain, Lord Feen declared Rolf, King.  He and the other Lords of the Council stepped in to assist.  They closed any investigation into the disappearance of the King and Queen and now, Wizard Bran.  They invited the neighboring royalty to the castle for a hasty coronation and worked to make certain that Rolf, Lilah and Celie are cared for in their grief.  Things were not as they should be.  Rolf, though young, knew decisions being made were not correct.  Something strange, even sinister, was happening, but what?  With the castle on their side Rolf, Lilah and Celie have a chance of clearing away the murky intrigue surrounding them.  But what will happen if the Lords succeed in ending the castle magic?  What will that mean for all of Glower?

Tuesdays at the Castle is full of great characters, interesting twists and turns ( to say nothing of the tunnels, secret passageways and spy holes) and crafty plots and plans that surprise and satisfy.  I was excited to learn that this is a first book in a series.  I can’t wait to find out how royal family of Glower changes along with its amazing castle.  I’m interested in knowing what happens to Prince Lulath of Grath, Pogue and Rufus.  When I visit the castle, I wonder what my room will be like?

Here Lies Linc

Here Lies Lincby Delia Ray

306 pages for readers looking to discover an unusual story that looks into the past

It’s the end of one life and the start of a new one for Lincoln Raintree Crenshaw.  The old life had two parents, each with a passion to share and teach; a small basement homeschool where lots of the other professors’ children went; and a friend, Jeeter, who maintained the cemetery next door.  It might have been a bit different, but it was happy, interesting and safe.  The new life has one parent now that Linc’s dad had passed away; a public middle school full of ordinary classes and ordinary kids; and no friends – yet, or maybe never.  Linc wasn’t sure, but he knew he was anxious, still and scared.

Day one of the new life was going okay.  In his old school, a friend had described middle school like living in ancient Egypt.  When you looked at the kids he said you’d see the pharaoh, next the high priests and nobles and after them the peasants and slaves. Linc could see that was true.  He thought he was peasant and he could live with that until American Studies class when Mr. Oliver announced THE project.  They were going on a field trip to the Oakland Cemetery and while there they were going to meet with “one of the nation’s premier cemetery experts…to lead our tour.  Charlotte Landers.”

First of all the cemetery was next door to Linc’s house.  Second of all the “expert” was his mom.  Third of all Linc knew his mom was rather unconventional, but he didn’t need his entire class to know that.  And after that day, Linc was certain they would and now he wondered why he had ever thought his life could change…

One thing leads to another and by the end of the book Linc’s life has changed – in some good ways and some not so good ways; some predictable and some totally unforeseeable.  Here Lies Linc  helps you appreciate what you have and helps you realize there is probably more to a person or a situation than you think…even when you’ve known those people and truths your whole life.  It is an interesting look at families, friends, people, history and burial rites.  How would you like your epitaph to read?