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)

Museum of Thieves

Museum of ThievesMuseum of Thieves (The Keepers, #1)

by Lian Tanner

312 pages of survival in dystopian Jewel

Museum of Thieves takes places in the renamed city of Jewel, a fearful, depraved society where young children are kept on short leashes for their safety. The city is run by a Grand Protector who knows more about the past and the present than the rest of her people. She is working to bring balance back to the city, but know she must move slowly to maintain calm.  The corrupt Fugleman (willing to gain power and control at all cost) and the Blessed Guardians will have none of that.  The Blessed Guardians, supposedly kind and gentle souls, are anything but. They enforce the cruel laws stating that chain children to the authorities at all times. Care is a jail for children. The citizens have been brainwashed into thinking that all children must never be exposed to the dangers of the world and so they allow this lesser of two evils to define their lives.

Goldie Roth is twelve. It is her Separation Day.  Her guardchain is about to be severed.  Her life is upon her and she will be free to walk through the city alone for the first time.  Just before her ceremonial release, the Fugleman halts the proceedings with news of the unthinkable – the murder of children, an attack from outside.  He claims no one is safe and that the children cannot be freed. Goldie is faced with a choice: remain tied to her childhood, or cut the chain herself and run. Fuelled by desperation, she cuts and runs.

Goldie flees through the dark and daunting streets.  At first she regrets her decision; she sees nowhere to go and winds up at the mysterious Museum of Dunt.  This museum houses the records of her city.  Why was the name changed?  What happened to bring on so much fear?  What does it mean to have past and present collide?  Once in the museum, Goldie discovers it is alive. The rooms are ever-changing and maintained by an odd group. Goldie joins them and to learn the ways of the Museum.  There is trouble brewing beneath the surface, as there always is when power is abused and dishonesty prevails. This trouble could destroy the entire city.  Goldie, with the other keepers must find a way to save it…if it’s not too late.

The Museum of Thieves is the first book in the Keepers Trilogy. It is cleverly crafted and well written. When I finished I had so many questions I can’t wait to get the second, The City of Lies.  I need to find out how Goldie’s story continues with the Keepers and if Jewel is able to become morally secure and trustingly productive city…that may not happen yet because the evil still lurks.  It seems it has only temporarily been washed away.  The Keeper Trilogy is definitely one to read – you won’t be able to put it down once you begin.

 

Ranger’s Apprentice Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan

256 pages…a good, solid read!

Will, a member of the “orphanage” in Redmont fief, always dreams about being a knight enrolled in Battleschool. When Choosing Day comes, and he requests Battleschool, the battlemaster refuses and it looks like Will will be a farmer, the most boring job in the world. But there is hope! Will sees the ranger, Halt give the Baron of Redmont a note about him. And one way or another, Will finds out that he has been chosen as a ranger’s apprentice. What does a ranger do? Does he have weapons? Will Halt be nice? These are all questions floating around in Will’s head. Read Ranger’s Apprentice Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan.

Read all of the Ranger’s Apprentice books, 10  in total!

MOVIE ALERT! This book is 50% go for a movie! Last I heard was that the director, Paul Haggis, was having trouble with the funds for the movie…but we can hope!

Buy this book from Amazon.com!

Here’s the Ranger’s Apprentice Site: www.rangersapprentice.com.

Winterling

WinterlingWinterling (Winterling, #1)

by Sarah Prineas

245 pages of magical adventure – can you set evil magic right?

Since I finished reading Winterling last night it is growing on me.  I love books that keep coming back to make you wonder.  Fer lives with Grand Jane.  She is different and doesn’t fit in.  She is teased and taunted and nowhere feels right.  Being on the bus makes her feel sick.  Being in the woods feels glorious and there is so much to be curious about.  With kids her own age, she is always fighting.  In the woods she is always discovering and wondering.

It is during one of these escapes into the woods that she find a creature, a dog maybe, being attacked by wolves – something that doesn’t belong in her woods at all.  Of course she attempts to save the creature, there is no question about that – she fights the wolves back, discoveries an injured boy and thus binds his life to hers through the saving.  Through this one selfless act she discovers The Way, an opening to a world that makes Fer tingle with anticipation and excitement.  Somehow it feels right for her to be there – on the Other side.  All the things that made her so odd in our world help her in this.  The herb lore Grand Jane taught her, the talismans for safety and the art of questioning through the power of the glamorie work and help her here.  They help her help others, and though, she feels right she knows something is wrong.  Spring can’t or won’t come and, what’s worse, now that The Way has been opened the evil is spilling into Grand Jane’s world as well.  It’s up to Fer to make it right, and she doesn’t know how.

I appreciated the notion that caring and kindness wins the day.  I found the idea that there is a place for everyone that feel right comforting – I look for that place all the time.  I find the idea of glamories and glam intriguing and I want to learn out more.  I first came across that in Runemark by Joanne Harris, a story based in Norse legends.  Winterling has leanings in that direction too so I am curious.  What would you do in land that was forever waiting for spring?  Would you have the courage to question and the bravery to take action? Read Winterling to find out what Fer does and then let us know.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic EyesPeter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

by Jonathan Auxier

380 pages of exciting adventure, fantasy and determination

A great middle grade read

What a grand adventure; funny, scary, prophetic and imaginative.  Peter Nimble has been blind all his life.  Because he is blind, his other senses provide information the rest of us don’t even notice – the smells of stones and of wealth, the sound of beating hearts and of friendship.  These abilities lead him to becoming an extraordinary thief; perhaps the best thief in all the world.  He can pick any lock.  At the end of one particularly difficult lock-picking challenge he discovers a box containing six amazing eggs.  The yolks of these eggs turn out to be three sets of fantastic eyes that launch Peter on a journey.  From gold, to onyx to emerald, Peter moves from world to world and shape to shape on a quest to help the writer of the note that may have come from the Vanished Kingdom.

“Kings aplenty, princes few,

The ravens scattered and seas withdrew.

Only a stranger may bring relief,

But darkness will reign, unless he’s …”

Each step of the way is hard but Peter knows he has a friend, Sir Tode.  He has the fantastic eyes which will be all that he needs if he uses them only when the time is right.  And he knows the person he is now is the reason this quest is part of his destiny.  It is his true nature that will lead him through  each problem he encounters.

One page will lead you to the next and the next and the next.  You won’t be able to put this adventure down – enjoy this unique story from cover to cover


The Hunger Games

North America has split into 12 districts. When the number gets higher the poorer the district gets. A girl in district 12 named Katniss Everdeen is having a tough time getting food for her familiy, on top of her father dying, and having her mother in the house since the tragedy happened. But with her extreme skill in archery she manages to get by. The Hunger Games are approaching and the picking of the contestants is about to begin. The  hunger games is where one person from each district is choosen to compete in an arena in the capital where the contestants are to fight for their lives. The last one to live is the winner and gets to live in one of the Victor’s Mansions in their district. When the hunger games picks her sister, Primrose, Katniss takes her sisters place to be in the hunger games. Along with her teammate Peta Melark they head to the arena where Katniss uses her extreme archery skill to battle for her life.

READ IT!!!!

A movie of The Hunger Games is coming out in March!

Review by Jenny

Kidnapped by Gordon Korman

The Abduction,The Search and The Rescue

from the Kidnapped trilogy by Gordon Korman

Abduction (Kidnapped, #1)The Rescue (Kidnapped, #3)The Search (Kidnapped, #2)

 

adventure +action= page-turning excitement

Even though the Falconers have been proven innocent and their name has been cleared, their story isn’t over.   Aiden and Meg are walking home from school, Aiden’s worst fear becomes a reality.  A van pulls over and Meg is kidnapped. He tries to stop it, of course, but then barely escapes himself.  Aiden’s the only witness to his sister’s disappearance.  What should he do?  Why has Meg been kidnapped? Is it for ransom? Is it as a vendetta against the family? Is there an even bigger conspiracy at work?

Aiden knows he must work fast to figure out how to save her.  After all their time together working to clear their family name, Aiden knows Meg better than anyone else.  He knows she will leave clues whenever and however she can.  Meg, a fearless fighter, fends off her kidnappers and plans an escape.  Aiden, away from her,  must team up with the FBI – the very same agent who caused his family so much trouble before – to try to find her–tracking down clues only a brother could recognize.

Read The Abduction, The Search and The Rescue for a thrilling adventure complete with  unexpected twists and turns.  Which Falconer are you more like?  Or who would you like to be like if the situation ever arose?  I’d wish to be fearless but I don’t know if that could be true.  If it’s not that, what could be true…what would I do?  What would you do?

The post-script at the end of the third book shares how Meg has changed after her kidnapping and how she has realized what a gift freedom is.  It makes me question… in how many ways do we limit and enslave our actions and thoughts.  What happens when we take freedom for granted?

 

PS – thanks for the recomendation Maddie! – this isn’t a genre I’d pick up on my own.  Thanks for stretching me.

 

Going Solo

224 page fun read!

When I was younger, I saw my brother reading Boy, and all that appealed to me was the front cover illustrations. Then, a few years later, I was sifting through the bookshelf when I noticed the book Boy. The cover art still caught my eye, which made me start it, and for a few days, I couldn’t the book down. After I was finished with that, I asked my brother what the next one was called. “No idea,” I remember he said. I eventually found it and it may be even better than the first book!

In this sequel to Boy, Roald Dahl writes about his adult life and his experiences. As a World War II fighter pilot, he travels all over the world and meets tons of different people. From servants to snake charmers, from East Africa to Libya, he does it all. Funny, Adventure, Action, I don’t know what to call this book! His irresistible writing technique and wry sense of humor bring you straight into the action packed adult life of Roald Dahl. I promise, you will not be disappointed when you finish this book!

Click here to buy the book on Amazon.com!

Here is RoaldDahlFans.com’s take on Going Solo.

Click here for the Roald Dahl website.

The Yound Man and the Sea

Young Man And The SeaThe Young Man and the Sea

by Rodman Philbrick

192 pages of resourceful problem solving and skill (abilities I admire and wish I had!)

This year I have a group of students who love nature and everything about being outside.  They are interested in tracking and birding, fishing and falconry.  They have a great deal of knowledge and expertise.  These things are an exciting and important part of their lives.  I began to look for books that might compliment their interests.  Because of that search I was reminded of this book.  When it was published years ago, I was working with 6 year olds and I didn’t get entered on my “to read list” – but I loved Freak the Mighty so it stuck in my mind.  This year I wondered how 9 year olds would like it  – only maybe.  There are social situations that will be better understood by an older reader.  If you’re in 5th or 6th grade and think this is an interesting topic, I’m sure it’s for you.  Other middle grade readers could like it too.  I did and I like how Rodman Philbrick moderenized an old tale.  I also like how he looked at social class and and get you to question, “What makes a “classy” person?”

Living in a coastal fishing town, twelve-year old Skiff Beaman is struggling to survive.  Ever since his mother died, Skiff’s father has done nothing but lie on the “TV couch” and drink beer. He used to make his living fishing, but he hasn’t stepped foot onto his boat since his wife’s death. Skiff realizes that it is going to be totally up to him to earn money if they are to survive.

Arriving home at the end of the school day, at the end of the school year, Skiff discovers the Mary Rose, their boat, has sunk at the dock. Skiff decides that if he can raise and fix the boat he might be able to raise his dad off the couch and bring him back to life and back into Skiff’s life.  He takes it upon himself to raise the boat and with the help of ancient boat-builder, Mr. Woodwell and supportive, retired Captain Keelson figures out what has to be done each step along the way to repair the boat and rebuild the engine.

Skiff is determined.  He needs his dad back.  His work is cut out for him if he is to get the Mary Rose back on the water – back fishing and lobstering and earning a living for them. Not only must Skiff raise the sunken boat and earn money for the supplies to repair the boat, but he must also deal with the hostility of the rich brat Tyler Croft. Skiff works hard and is determination to succeed.  After numerous set backs, Skiff decides the only way he will be able to accomplish his goal is to set out to sea in his plywood skiff  (one of the last great things his dad had done when he made the boat for his birthday three years ago) to try to harpoon the bluefin tuna.

The second half of the book strongly parallels to Hemingway’s classic,  The Old Man and the Sea.  Read and enjoy.