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Viewing Blog: Becky's Book Reviews, Most Recent at Top
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Mainly reviews of children's and young adult literature. Primarily focuses on new literature, 2004-present, but may feature older titles if they are "favorites" of mine. Feel free to leave comments. I always enjoy reading what others have to say!
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26. Dragon Slippers

Dragon Slippers. Jessica Day George. 2007. Bloomsbury USA. 324 pages. [Source: Library]


I'm so glad I decided to revisit all three books in Jessica Day George's dragon series. I remember loving these when they first came out, but, I just haven't made time for a reread. Until now!

In Dragon Slippers, readers meet Creel, our heroine. Her aunt wants to "sacrifice" her to the local dragon, so that she can be "rescued" by a hero--hopefully a wealthy hero who will fall madly in love with her and want to marry her and support his wife's family. Creel doesn't particularly want to be left outside the dragon's cave to wait and see if a dragon or a hero comes her way. She wants to be a dressmaker. But if waiting for a dragon is the first step to her new life, well, she'll take it.

So she meets a dragon who gifts her--for better or worse--with a pair of shoes--slippers. They are blue; they are beautiful. She then goes on her way to her country's capital--the royal city. She's going to do her best to find a job in the dressmaking district. On her way there she may just meet another dragon, and, this dragon will become one of her best, best friends. His name is Shardas, and, I have to admit I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him. His hoard is not shoes--like the previous dragon--it is glass, windows to be precise.

Creel's new life has begun. And it is never dull! On her first day in town, she accidentally meets a foreign princess, and a member of the royal family--though a second son--his name is Luka. Luka and Tobin (his bodyguard) help her find a place to stay and a place to work.

I loved this one. It's a great adventure story with humans and dragons. It was just a joy to rediscover this one.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. Drum Dream Girl (2015)

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music. Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Rafael Lopez. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

On an island of music
in a city of drumbeats
the drum dream girl
dreamed
of pounding tall conga drums
tapping small bongo drums
and boom boom booming
with long, loud sticks
on big, round, silvery
moon-bright timbales.

 Margarita Engle's Drum Dream Girl is a picture book biography of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. Millo and her older sisters formed Cuba's first all-girl dance band. (The historical note adds that she performed at a birthday celebration for FDR.)

She grew up at a time and in a place where women were not allowed to play drums, or professionally play drums. The book highlights her ambitious dreams, her diligence and perseverance. It is a beautifully written biography. I've always been a fan of Margarita Engle's narrative style, her rhythmic way with words. Drum Dream Girl did not disappoint!

I loved the bold, colorful illustrations by Rafael Lopez. This one is easy to recommend!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. The Family Under the Bridge (1958)

The Family Under the Bridge. Natalie Savage Carlson. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1958/1989. HarperCollins. 123 pages.

Once there was an old hobo named Armand who wouldn't have lived anywhere but in Paris. So that is where he lived. Everything that he owned could be pushed around in an old baby buggy without any hood, so he had no worries about rents or burglars. All the ragged clothing he owned was on his back, so he didn't need to bother with trunks or dry-cleaners. It was easy for him to move from  one hidey-hole to another so that is what he was doing one late member in December.

Have you read The Family Under the Bridge?! Why did no one tell me how WONDERFUL it was? I read it and absolutely loved it.

The Family Under the Bridge is set in Paris in December. (So it would be perfect to read around Christmas or New Year's Day). Armand is the hero. As he prepares for winter, he makes plans to go and live under "his" bridge. When he arrives, he discovers that there is a family already living there. At first, he thought he would leave immediately and go find another bridge to live under. But. He lets himself be talked into staying. The family includes two little girls and a little boy and their mother.
"It looks to me like you've already found a new place," said Armand, "and it's my old place. You've put me out of my home just like that landlady did to you."
Suzy was apologetic. She moved the pushcart over and measured Armand with one eye closed. Then she carefully drew a long rectangle on the concrete with a piece of soft coal.
"That's your room," she said. "You can live with us." On second thought, she scrawled a small checkered square at the foot of the rectangle. "There's a window," she said gravely, "so you can look out and see the river."
Armand grumbled to himself and pulled his coat tighter across his chest as if to hide his heart. Oh, this starling was a dangerous one. He'd better move on. Paris was full of bridges, the way the Seine meandered through it. No trouble finding another one. But as he started away, the girl ran over and clutched him by his torn sleeve.
"Please stay," she begged. "We'll pretend you're our grandfather."
Armand snorted. "Little one," he said, "next to a millionaire a grandfather is the last thing I hope to be." But even as he grumbled, he began unpacking his belongings. (11-12)
He claims he doesn't have a heart, and doesn't want a family. But a family is soon what they become...especially when the authorities learn about the children living under the bridge... Can Armand save them all and prevent the family from being split up?!

As I said, I loved, loved, loved this one.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (1952)

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Alice Dalgliesh. Illustrated by Helen Sewell. 1952. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

Jonathan lived in a gray stone farmhouse at the foot of Hemlock Mountain. Now Hemlock Mountain is not a mountain at all, it was a hill, and not a very big one. But someone had started calling it Hemlock Mountain, and the name had stuck. Now everyone talked about "going over Hemlock Mountain." 
It was the year when Jonathan was eight that he went over Hemlock Mountain. He was a fine big boy for his age. That was why his mother could send him over the Mountain all by himself. 

I enjoyed reading Alice Dalgliesh's The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Jonathan, the hero, is sent on a mission by his mother over the mountain. He is to fetch his aunt's biggest iron pot and bring it back to his mother. The family--the whole family--will be coming soon, and she'll need it. The very first signs of spring are just beginning. Will there be bears on the mountain? Will they have woken up yet? Are there bears living on the mountain at all--awake or sleep?

Jonathan and his mother find themselves both dwelling on the same thought: bears. (She at home; Jonathan on his journey). Both repeat to themselves:
There are no bears on
Hemlock Mountain
No bears at all
Of course there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain
No bears, no bears, no bears, no bears at all.
His journey will take him up and down the mountain twice. Once on the way to his aunt's house. Once on the way back to his own house. Can he make it there and back before the sun sets? Or will he get distracted and into some trouble?! Will readers learn if there are bears on the mountain?


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. Week in Review: April 5-11

Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary. 1968. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Ramona the Brave. Beverly Cleary. 1975. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Ramona and Her Father. Beverly Cleary. 1977. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
A Girl from Yamhill. Beverly Cleary. 1988/1996. HarperCollins. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
Seraphina. Rachel Hartman. 2012. Random House. 499 pages. [Source: Library]
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison. Lois Lenski. 1941. HarperCollins. 298 pages. [Source: Bought]
Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime #1) Jasper Fforde. 2005. 383 pages. [Source: Library]
The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime #2) Jasper Fforde. 2006.  382 pages. [Source: Library]
Prince of a Frog. Jackie Urbanovic. 2015. [May] Scholastic.  32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss. 1958/2008. Random House. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Kept for Jesus: What The New Testament Really Teaches About Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security. Sam Storms. 2015. Crossway. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Creole Princess (Gulf Coast Chronicles #2). Beth White. 2015. Revell. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
It is Finished: 365 Days of Good News. Tullian Tchividjian. 2015. David C. Cook. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s):

I read and reviewed three Ramona books this week. (I also reviewed an autobiography by Beverly Cleary.) If I had to choose between the three, it would be tough, but I'd probably go for Ramona the Pest. Maybe. Or else Ramona the Brave. How do I choose between the worm engagement ring and guts, guts, guts?!

I'd definitely recommend Seraphina as well this week.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. Library Loot: Second Trip in April

New Loot:

  • Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
  • A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis
  • Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard G.  Hendricks
  • War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation by Cindy Hval
  • Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
Leftover Loot:
  •  The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
  • Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Seuss
  • Murder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
  • The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, translated and with notes by Christine Donougher
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • The Princess Plot by Kirsten Bole, translated by David Henry Wilson
  • Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary
  • Back to School with Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
  • Betsy and the Boys by Carolyn Haywood
  • Betsy and Billy by Carolyn Haywood
  • Cursed in the Act by Raymond Buckland
  • The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen
  • The Just City by Jo Walton
  • Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  • The Indigo King by James A. Owen


     Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Ramona and Her Father (1977)

Ramona and Her Father. Beverly Cleary. 1977. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Ramona and Her Father is the fourth book in the Ramona series. This wonderful, unforgettable series was written over five decades. The first book, Beezus and Ramona was published in 1955! The fourth book in the series was published in 1977! The last book in the series was published in 1999! Many changes occurred throughout the decades, yet, Ramona remains timeless and just-about-perfect.

In Ramona and Her Father, Ramona is in second grade. (Have you noticed how almost all the books start in the late summer or early fall?!) Ramona's worries in this book mainly relate to her father. He loses his job, and, she's worried about him. She's worried for the family too, in a way, but, she's worried about him specifically. How he's coping, how he's handling it. (Not that she uses those words.) She's also worried about his physical health. She's worried that he's killing himself by smoking. And this fear is very real and very strong. She LOVES her Dad and sincerely cares for him.

"Payday" The family learns that Mr. Quimby lost his job.
"Ramona and the Million Dollars" Ramona gets the idea that she can star in commercials and make a lot of money. It gets her into trouble!
"The Night of the Jack-O'Lantern. The family carves a pumpkin only to have the cat ruin it all.
"Ramona to the Rescue" Ramona and Beezus team up to try to convince their dad to stop smoking.
"Beezus's Creative Writing" Ramona accompanies Beezus on a homework assignment, and a new game is discovered.
"The Sheep Suit" Christmas is a coming. Ramona wants to be a sheep. She volunteers her mom to make her a costume. (At least she didn't volunteer her mom to make all three costumes! So it could always be worse!) But will her mom have time to make the costume?! It doesn't look like it! Will Ramona get to be a sheep?
"Ramona and the Three Wise Persons" Pageant night! Ramona may not be wearing a satisfactory costume, but, will she go on and participate anyway? Three older girls filling in for the wise men may help her out! The book which has had its serious moments ends on a joyful tone.

Do you have a favorite cover?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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33. Seuss on Saturday #15

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss. 1958/2008. Random House. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence of Yertle the Turtle:
 On the far-away island of Sala-ma-Sond, Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond. A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat. The water was warm. There was plenty to eat. The turtles had everything turtles might need. And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed.
First sentence of Gertrude McFuzz:
There once was a girl-bird named Gertrude McFuzz and she had the smallest plain tail ever was. One droopy-droop feather. That's all she had. And, oh! That one feather made Gertrude so sad. 
First sentence of The Big Brag:
The rabbit felt mighty important that day on top of the hill in the sun where he lay. He felt SO important up there on that hill that he started in bragging, as animals will and he boasted out loud, as he threw out his chest, 'Of all the beasts in the world, I'm the best! On land, and on sea...even up in the sky no animal lives who is better than I!'
Premise/plot of Yertle the Turtle: Yertle the Turtle is king, but, he doesn't want to rule supreme over a small pond, so, he starts turtle-stacking to expand his kingdom. After all he "rules" over everything he can see, so the higher the better, right?! But what happens when the turtles below him start to grumble and complain?!

Premise/plot of Gertrude McFuzz: Gertrude McFuzz is jealous and foolish. She wants MORE feathers, beautiful feathers so she can be the most beautiful bird. Her uncle doctor gives her some advice--reluctantly perhaps knowing that she will go too far with her vanity. She starts eating a berry to make her grow tail feathers, and, well, she should have been wiser. Will all end well?

Premise/plot of The Big Brag: A rabbit and bear get into a bragging contest until a worm intervenes.

My thoughts on Yertle the Turtle: I liked Yertle the Turtle. I did. I wouldn't say it's my favorite or best. But it is a good story on selfishness and tyranny. I'm glad the turtles started speaking up and gained their independence!

My thoughts on Gertrude McFuzz: I liked Gertrude McFuzz too. I thought the story was a great lesson in being careful what you wish for and being content with what you have!

My thoughts on The Big Brag: Of the three stories in this collection, this is probably my least favorite. The bear and the rabbit are quite annoying. Of course, that is the point. Bragging won't win you friends and will just make you look foolish.

Have you read Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories? What did you think of it? Of the three stories, which is your favorite?

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Happy Birthday to You.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. Prince of A Frog (2015)

Prince of a Frog. Jackie Urbanovic. 2015. [May] Scholastic.  32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  Once, in a faraway pond, lived a frog named Hopper who loved to play. He crooned tunes, but the fish thought he was off scale. He kicked like a pro, but the ducks thought he was quackers. Even the herons thought he was too odd to eat. Hopper just didn't fit in.

Premise/Plot: Hopper the frog doesn't fit in at the pond. He decides to leave the pond after listening to a turtle's advice. The turtle had spoken of a certain frog who was really a prince in disguise. She had told of a magical kiss that could transform him into someone "charming, brave, and loved." The frog heads off to find the princess. But his journey to his princess, well, it won't be quick and easy. And the turtle never spoke a word about the dangers of life away from the pond. (This book has a fox!) The frog may not have found his princess, but he found something better--a true friend.

My thoughts: Adorable! I loved the dog, Princess. I loved seeing these two become friends. I especially loved the illustration of them singing together. Overall, this is a sweet book that is so easy to love.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Ramona the Brave (1975)

Ramona the Brave. Beverly Cleary. 1975. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Ramona the Brave is the third book in the series. I love it. It has some GREAT moments.

"Trouble in the Park" Ramona can't understand why Beezus is angry with HER for standing up to the big, bad bullies at the park who were teasing her (Beezus). Ramona thought that she was loving her sister by speaking up, but, Beezus is too angry to explain. Readers also learn that Ramona and Howie LOVE to play BRICK FACTORY.

"Mrs. Quimby's Secret" Ramona and Beezus learn that they won't have to share a room together anymore. Their parents have decided to add a room to the house. Mrs. Quimby will WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME to help pay for it.

"The Hole in the House" This chapter has a perfect description of Brick Factory.
They were no longer six-year-olds. They were the strongest people in the world. They were giants. When the driveway was thick with red dust, Ramona dragged out the hose and pretended that a terrible flood was washing away the Brick Factory in a stream of red mud. "Run, Howie! Run before it gets you!" screamed Ramona. She was mighty Ramona, brave and strong. Howie's sneakers left red footprints, but he did not really run away. He only ran to the next driveway and back. Then the two began the game all over again.(38)
"The First Day of School" Ramona doesn't have the best first day experience. She wanted to love first grade as much as kindergarten. (Not that she always loved, loved kindergarten, mind you). She wanted to love her first grade teacher, Mrs. Griggs, as much as the wonderful Miss Binney. It doesn't happen. Sometimes teachers are like that, even Beezus can tell you that. Beezus LOVES her teacher. (Ramona ends up liking him too.)

"Owl Trouble" Poor Ramona! Susan and Ramona have ISSUES over their owls at art time. I feel for Ramona in this situation.

"Parents' Night" The owl-drama continues. And Ramona writes the sweetest heart-felt note to her mom. COME HERE MOTHER. COME HERE TO ME. This chapter is just one reason why I love, love, love Cleary's writing. She KNOWS what it feels like to be a kid.

"Alone in the Dark" Ramona doesn't like her new room. She finds it VERY SCARY. Poor Ramona is FRUSTRATED during the day at school, not liking her teacher and some of her classmates, and she's SCARED to be alone in her room at night. So she's not sleeping all that great either. I believe she mentions how as long as she hears her Dad moving about and knows that he's awake somewhere, it's not too bad, but, then when everyone is asleep but her, it's overwhelming.

"Ramona Says A Bad Word" I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this chapter. I do. Ramona's had a horrible time of it throughout the whole book, and, she's had enough of it. She breaks down. She lets loose. GUTS. GUTS. GUTS. GUTS. But why is everyone laughing at her?! She wasn't trying to be funny! She was doing some serious venting!!!
Then Ramona felt her mother's hand on her back. "Ramona," she said gently, "what are we going to do with you?" With red eyes, a swollen face, and a streaming nose, Ramona sat up and glared at her mother. "Love me!" Her voice was fierce with hurt. Shocked at her own words, she buried her face in the pillow. She had no tears left. "Dear heart," said Mrs. Quimby. "We do love you." Ramona sat up and faced her mother, who looked tired, as if she had been through many scenes with Ramona and knew many more lay ahead. "You do not. You love Beezus." There. She had said it right out loud. For years she had wanted to tell her parents how she felt. (140-1)
"Mr. Quimby's Spunky Gal" Ramona encounters a big, bad dog, loses a shoe, and gains a new friend. Ramona makes her own slipper--with a borrowed stapler from Beezus' teacher--and finally feels a little bit brave.

Do you have a favorite cover?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. Ramona the Pest (1968)

Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary. 1968. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

  Ramona the Pest is the first book in the series from Ramona's own point of view. At last readers get the chance to be inside Ramona's head after witnessing all her pesty ways in previous books. Ramona is in kindergarten. And Ramona's teacher isn't the only one who will find her unforgettable. In my review of Beezus and Ramona, I mentioned how Cleary greatest strength was her ability to capture what it was like to be a kid. That is very true in Ramona the Pest. The writing is PERFECT.
Ramona could not understand why grown-ups always talked about how quickly children grew up. Ramona thought growing up was the slowest thing there was, slower even than waiting for Christmas to come. She had been waiting years just to get to kindergarten, and the last half-hour was the slowest part of all.(7)
"Ramona's Great Day" Ramona's first day of morning kindergarten. Her teacher is Miss Binney. The days has its ups and downs. But Ramona by the end of the day feels good about this thing called school. But will it last?! This is the chapter where Ramona asks Miss Binney HOW DID MIKE MULLIGAN GO TO THE BATHROOM?!
"Boys and girls," she began, and spoke in her clear, distinct way. "The reason the book does not tell us how Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom is that it is not an important part of the story. The story is about digging the basement of the town hall, and that is what the book tells us." Miss Binney spoke as if this explanation ended the matter, but the kindergarten was not convinced. Ramona knew and the rest of the class knew that knowing how to go to the bathroom was important. They were surprised that Miss Binney did not understand, because she had shown them the bathroom the very first thing. Ramona could see there were some things she was not going to learn in school, and along with the rest of the class she stared reproachfully at Miss Binney. (20)
"Show and Tell" Howie and Ramona get into a fight over a ribbon. That's the short version. It's a ribbon that Miss Binney gave Howie for "Howie's bunny" that was really Ramona's bunny. You see, Howie's mom thought Howie was upset that he wasn't bringing anything for show and tell. And Ramona's mother made her go in the house to get something--anything--for Howie to take. She picked a rabbit that was mainly loved by their cat. Ramona thinks it should be HER ribbon because it was tied to her bunny. Howie likes it only because it came from the teacher. That and I think he likes to fight with Ramona. So if she didn't want it, would he?!

"Seatwork" Adventures and misadventures in the classroom. We get lovely descriptions of some of Ramona's classmates. There is Howie, of course, Davy, the boy she chases and tries to kiss, and Susan, her nemesis. This chapter, Ramona decides to go by Ramona Q and decorate the Q like a cat. I love this chapter because we get to overhear Miss Binney interacting with ALL the children.

"Substitute" Ramona is scared of the substitute teacher and doesn't want to be in kindergarten if Miss Binney is absent. She can't go home, or, her mother will know. So where will she go?!

"Ramona's Engagement Ring" This chapter is probably one of my FAVORITE chapters from the whole series. In this chapter, Ramona has issues with her boots. She doesn't want hand-me-down brown "boy" boots. She wants pretty RED boots that are obvious girl boots. She does get them eventually. But can she use them responsibly?! This is the chapter where Henry Huggins becomes Ramona's hero...much to Davy's relief. It has Ramona joyfully shouting that she WILL MARRY HENRY HUGGINS. She has a worm engagement ring and everything.

"The Baddest Witch in the World" The Halloween chapter. Ramona *wants* to be the baddest witch, but, she also wants to be herself. She doesn't want to be unknown. So what will she do when it's costume time?!

"The Day Things Went Wrong" Will Ramona be kicked out of kindergarten because she lacks self-control when it comes to touching or pulling Susan's curly hair?! This one has plenty of drama, including a lost tooth which she leaves at school accidentally.

"Kindergarten Dropout" Ramona still persists that she won't go back to school. Is there anything to be done?!
Ramona despaired. Nobody understood. She wanted to behave herself. Except when banging her heels on the bedroom wall, she had always wanted to behave herself. Why couldn't people understood how she felt? She had only touched Susan's hair in the first place because it was so beautiful, and the last time--well, Susan had been so bossy she deserved to have her hair pulled. (202)
It was a joy to read Ramona the Pest again. 


Do you have a favorite cover?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. Indian Captive (1941)

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison. Lois Lenski. 1941. HarperCollins. 298 pages. [Source: Bought]

I don't remember reading Indian Captive as a child, and that may be a good thing. I'm not sure I would have--could have--appreciated it back then. Not that the book isn't for children, but I was a sensitive reader, and this one would have proved unsettling at times. I should mention that the book is set in the 1750s and 1760s.

Indian Captive is the story of Mary Jemison. (Though she's called Molly throughout the book, I believe.) As a girl, twelve years old, if I recall, she's taken captive along with her family by Indians. The night before the capture, they'd been warned by a frantic neighbor. The neighbor was advising anyone and everyone he came into contact with to run, that danger was imminent. Would it have made a difference if he'd listened? Maybe, but, probably not. Molly is the only survivor from her family. Not that she realizes this until the end of the novel. Though the Indians captured a dozen or so people initially, at the end, it was narrowed down to two. Molly was bought (though I'm not sure if sold/bought are the right words?) by two grieving women. For better or worse, she's been adopted by the tribe, and her new life has begun. While at first she struggles to make peace with all the changes, she does eventually come to accept her new reality and to even embrace it. That doesn't mean that when she comes across a white man (or woman) that she doesn't excitedly start speaking English. But it means that she finds a way to belong and does in fact find her identity within the tribe.

Indian Captive is rich in detail. It's historical fiction that seeks to capture a way of life, a culture (Seneca). Day by day, season by season, year after year. Details are layered throughout.

 
As an adult reader, I must admit I'm skeptical of any book from this time period with Indians as the subject. Is the portrayal of Indian life accurate? fair? insulting? offensive? My guess is that it's better than some perhaps, but, not necessarily great.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Seraphina (2012)

Seraphina. Rachel Hartman. 2012. Random House. 499 pages. [Source: Library]

 From the prologue:
I remember being born. In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart's staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe. Then my world split open, and I was thrust into a cold and silent brightness. I tried to fill the emptiness with my screams, but the space was too vast. I raged, but there was no going back. I remember nothing more; I was a baby, however peculiar. Blood and panic meant little to me. I do not recall the horrified midwife, my father weeping, or the priest's benediction for my mother's soul. My mother left me a complicated and burdensome inheritance.
I loved, loved, LOVED Rachel Hartman's Seraphina. Part of me regrets not having read it before now. The other part is just HAPPY that I don't have to wait for the sequel. Though to be honest, I wouldn't have minded at all rereading this one in 'celebration' of the sequel's release. (If I had read it in 2012, how many times would I have reread it by now?!)

Is Seraphina my favorite dragon fantasy? Perhaps. At least I feel that way now, so soon after reading it.

Can peace be kept in the kingdom between dragons and humans? That is what Seraphina is about, in a way. For forty years, peace has been maintained. That doesn't mean that dragons "like" humans, or, that humans "like" dragons. There's certainly tension--lack of trust--between the two. And it will get worse before it gets better...if it gets better. (I haven't read the sequel yet after all!) Seraphina begins with a funeral--Prince Rufus never returned from the hunt, his decapitated body was found.

But it's also "about" Seraphina coming to terms with WHO she is, the "burdensome inheritance" of her mother.

I love so many things about it. I love the characterization. I love, love, love Seraphina, the heroine. I love the other characters too. Especially Orma and Lucian Kiggs. I love the world-building and the relationship-building. (And I don't just mean romantic relationships). I love the level of suspense and the amount of detail.  


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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39. A Girl from Yamhill (1988)

A Girl from Yamhill. Beverly Cleary. 1988/1996. HarperCollins. 352 pages. [Source: Library]


If you grew up reading Beverly Cleary, you should make time to read her autobiography, A Girl From Yamhill. This first autobiography covers her life from her earliest toddler memories through high school.

In Cleary's books for children, she often focuses on what it's like to BE a kid: to go to school, to spend time with friends, to encounter not-so-friendly kids, to play, to 'get along' or not with your family. But also to THINK like a kid. I thought she was always really good at capturing childhood anxieties and worries. So in A Girl from Yamhill, readers get a chance to find out what Cleary's own childhood was like, what her home life was like, what her school experiences were. Reading A Girl From Yamhill gave me a greater appreciation for the Ramona books. It's not as if you could say that Beverly was Ramona. She wasn't. Though she did play BRICK FACTORY. (Also Beverly had a doll named after a car.) But I could see some correlation between the two certainly. For example, she writes of the financial difficulties, and of the stress her father was under when he was in-between work or out or stuck in a miserable job. So there were certain things that reminded me of the Ramona books. I do feel the Ramona books are timeless.

This one covers so many years. I'm not what the 'perfect' audience age would be. It isn't a light read or a funny one.

So I really enjoyed reading this one. Perhaps I enjoyed it so much because I read and reread Cleary's books so often.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. Meet Jack Spratt and Mary Mary

Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime #1) Jasper Fforde. 2005. 383 pages. [Source: Library]

I really found myself liking the opening chapters of Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy, the first in a series. Inspector Jack Spratt heads the Nursery Crime Division in Reading. He's got a new partner, Sergeant Mary Mary. This case, their first case to work together, is a murder case. Humpty Dumpty has been murdered. Can these two find his killer before he (or she) kills again?! The premise has potential without a doubt. Not this particular case, but, any case. From the start, I found myself liking Jack Spratt and liking Mary Mary. (Though not necessarily liking their scenes together.) I also really liked Jack's mother whom we get to spend just a little time with here and there.
Here's a description of Jack visiting his mother:
She opened the door within two seconds of his pressing the doorbell, letting out a stream of cats that ran around with such rapidity and randomness of motion that they assumed a liquid state of furry purringness. The exact quantity could have been as low as three or as high as one hundred eight; no one could ever tell, as they were all so dangerously hyperactive. (30)
It's a mystery packed with puns and silly twists. While Spratt takes his job seriously, it can be hard for readers to always do the same. The book requires readers to just give into the silliness and the surreal-ness of it all. It's an odd book.

Unfortunately for me, the charm wore off. While I enjoyed the first third of the book, by the end, I was tired of it all. I think if I had read it all in one sitting, if I'd have managed my reading better, it could have worked. But the truth is, I found myself not caring about the characters and not caring about what happened next.

The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime #2) Jasper Fforde. 2006.  382 pages. [Source: Library]

While I didn't enjoy The Big Over Easy, I definitely enjoyed the second in the Nursery Crimes series, The Fourth Bear. (Though I do wish it had a different title!) The book continues the adventures--or misadventures--of Inspector Jack Spratt, Sergeant Mary Mary, and the alien, Ashley. All three, of course, work for the Nursery Crime Division of Reading. Conditionally at least, when they're not on probation or leave of absence. Jack Spratt is initially disappointed that his boss, Briggs, is not assigning him the BIG, BIG CASE that falls within his jurisdiction: The Gingerbread man has escaped, and he's a serial killer. Though it's obvious that the Gingerbread man is not a "real" person, the NCD does not get the case. Instead, Mary Mary and Jack Spratt are looking into a missing person's case. You can probably guess by the title that it might just have a little something to do with Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Though you should expect a few twists, obviously! Jack Spratt and Mary Mary are kept plenty busy with this case, and it's anything but simple or ordinary! It was fun in places. The writing, obviously, tried to pack in as many puns and jokes as possible. But some of them worked well, in my opinion. For example, the controversy over 'the right to arm bears' movement.

While most of the book does focus on the mystery, readers still get a hint of the personal lives of the main characters. (Jack and his wife, their new neighbors Punch and Judy, their daughter's wedding plans, Mary Mary's date with Ashley, meeting Ashley's family, etc.)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. Classics Salon #1

Mangoes and Cherry Blossoms has started a Classics Salon. Here is the first week's question: What are your first impressions of the current classic you are reading?

I'm currently reading the new translation of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables translated by Christine Donougher. I should probably mention that this is not my first time to read Les Miserables. This is the fourth time. Each time I've read the novel, it has been in a different translation.

I found the introduction by Robert Tombs to be intriguing and informative. I hadn't read that much about the author or about how the novel came to be written--when, where, why, etc.

The novel. I love, love, love Les Miserables. And it opens so strong, in my opinion. I love, love, love the character of the Bishop. And, of course, readers meet Jean Valjean, the ex-convict and hero of the novel.

The opening chapters are so beautifully written. Many of my favorite quotes from the novel come from the beginning. (Not all, mind you, but many.)

True or false, what is said about men often figures as large in their lives, and above all in the fate that befalls them, as what they do. (5)
'To be a saint is the exception. To be a good man is the rule. Err, weaken, and sin, but be among the good. To sin as little as possible, that is the law of mankind. Not to sin at all is the angel's dream. Everything earthly is subject to sin. Sin is a gravitational force.' (16)
He thought of the greatness and presence of God; of the strange mystery of eternity to come and, stranger still, the mystery of past eternity; of all the infinities reaching out before his eyes in every direction. And without seeking to comprehend the incomprehensible, he gazed on it. He did not study God, he yielded to the radiance of God. (53)
'Monsieur le cure,' said the man, 'you're good-hearted. You don't treat me with contempt. You invite me into your home. You light your candles for me. Yet I've made no secret of where I come from and what a wretch I am.' The bishop, sitting beside him, gently touched his hand. 'You didn't have to tell me who you were. This isn't my house, it's the house of Jesus Christ. This door does not ask whoever enters whether he has a name but whether he is in distress. You're in distress, you're hungry and thirsty: you're welcome here. And don't thank me, don't say I'm inviting you into my home. No one is at home here except whoever needs a refuge. I tell you, a passing visitor, this is your home more than mine. Everything here is yours. Why should I need to know your name? Besides, even before you told me, I already knew your name.' The man eyes widened in astonishment. 'Really? You knew me by name?' 'Yes,' replied the bishop, 'by the name of "Brother".'(73)
One thing struck me. This man was what I have told you. Well, apart from a few remarks about Jesus when he came in, my brother did not say a single word throughout the whole meal, or the entire evening, that might remind the man of what he was, or impress on him who my brother was. It was certainly an opportunity, on the face of it, for a bit of a sermon and for the bishop to impress himself on the ex-convict and leave his mark. It might have seemed to anyone else that now was the time, when he had the poor wretch right there, to nourish his soul as well as his body, and to voice either some censure leavened with moral instruction and advice, or a little pity with an exhortation to behave better in the future. My brother did not even ask him where he came from or about his past. For in his past lay his wrong-doing, and my brother seemed to avoid anything that might remind him of it... Having reflected on it, I believe I understand what was in my brother's heart. Doubtless he thought this man, who is called Jean Valjean, was only too well aware of his wretchedness. That the best thing was to distract him from it and, by behaving normally towards him, to make him think, if only for a moment, that he was like any other person. Is that not a real understanding of charity? Is there not, dear madame, something truly evangelical in such delicacy that refrains from sermonizing, moralizing, and criticizing? (76)
'Jean Valjean, my brother, you're no longer owned by evil but by good. It's your soul I'm buying. I'm redeeming it from dark thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I'm giving it to God.' (99)
Have you read Les Miserables? Did you like it? love it? want your time back? Do you have a favorite translation? I'd love to hear what you think about the book! Or what you thought about any of the movie adaptations!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. Library Loot: First Trip in April

New Loot:

  • Cursed in the Act by Raymond Buckland
  • Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
  • The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen
  • The Indigo King by James A. Owen
  • Goodbye, Piccadilly by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • Three Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Orangutanka: A Story in Poems by Margarita Engle
  • The Just City by Jo Walton
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Leftover Loot:
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  • 17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-up in History by Andrew Morton
  • Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary
  • Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
  • "B" is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
  • Back to School with Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
  • Betsy and the Boys by Carolyn Haywood
  • Betsy and Billy by Carolyn Haywood
  •  Murder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell
  • Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
  • Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks
  • Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
  •  The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie, translated by David Henry Wilson
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, translated by Christine Donougher
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
  • Game Changer by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Always War by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  •  Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
  • The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
  • Socks by Beverly Cleary
  • Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  • Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
     Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. Week in Review: March 29 - April 4

From March:
 The Rector. Margaret Oliphant. 1863. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]
YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Good Nutrition. Daina Kalnins. 2008. Lobster Press. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Book of Earth (Bradamante Saga #1) Robin Brande. 2015. Ryer Publishing. 395 pages. [Source: Review copy]

From April:
The Cat In the Hat Comes Back. Dr. Seuss. 1958. Random House. 63 pages. [Source: Library]
Number the Stars. Lois Lowry. 1989. (Won Newbery in 1990) 137 pages. [Source: Bought]
Henry and Beezus. Beverly Cleary. 1952. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
 Beezus and Ramona. Beverly Cleary. 1955. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Twice Upon A Time: Rapunzel The One With All The Hair. Wendy Mass. 2006. Scholastic. 205 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Maine Coon's Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers. Michael J. Rosen. Illustrated by Lee White. 2015. Candlewick. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure. Derek Anderson. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Luther on the Christian Life. Carl R. Trueman. 2015. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself. John Piper. 2005. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's recommendation(s):

I love, love, love The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, and Beezus and Ramona.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. Number the Stars (1989)

Number the Stars. Lois Lowry. 1989. (Won Newbery in 1990) 137 pages. [Source: Bought]

Number the Stars was probably one of the first fiction books I read about the Holocaust and World War II. (I know I also read The Hiding Place and The Diary of Anne Frank, but both of those are nonfiction.) What did I remember about Number the Stars after all these years? Well, I remembered that it was about a young girl who had a Jewish best friend. I remembered that the girl's family helped the friend and her family get out of Denmark. I remembered the intense scene where German soldiers come to her house looking for hidden Jews. But most of the details had faded away. So it was definitely time for me to reread.

Annemarie is the heroine of Number the Stars. I loved her. I loved her courage and loyalty. Ellen is Annemarie's best friend. I love that readers get an opportunity to see these two be friends before it gets INTENSE. I also love Annemarie's family. I do. I don't think I properly appreciated them as a child reader. One thing that resonated with me this time around was Annemarie's older sister, her place in the story. The setting. I think the book did a great job at showing what it could have been like to grow up in wartime with enemy soldiers all around. In some ways it was the little things that I loved best. For example, how Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti (Annemarie's little sister) play paper dolls together, how they act out stories, in this case they are acting out scenes from Gone with The Wind. I think all the little things help bring the story to life and make it feel authentic.

For a young audience, Number the Stars has a just-right approach. It is realistic enough to be fair to history. It is certainly sad in places. But it isn't dark and heavy and unbearable. The focus is on hope: there are men and women, boys and girls, who live by their beliefs and will do what is right at great risk even. Yes, there is evil in the world, but, there is also good.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. Rapunzel: The One With All the Hair

Twice Upon A Time: Rapunzel The One With All The Hair. Wendy Mass. 2006. Scholastic. 205 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I wanted to enjoy this adaptation of Rapunzel by Wendy Mass. I'd read Wendy Mass and really enjoyed her work in the past. So my expectations were high, perhaps TOO high.

Both Rapunzel and the Prince are on the young side--around the age of twelve. So this isn't a fairy tale romance that sweeps you away. (Not that the original story is oh-so-romantic. Far from it, as I see it. The Disney movie is another story almost!) Was I reading it FOR romance? Not really. That's not where I was disappointed.

I'll be honest. I didn't enjoy the writing style or narration. The story is narrated by Rapunzel and the Prince. His name is Prince Benjamin. Both narrators are on the childish or immature side. (For example, Rapunzel is EQUALLY concerned about a pimple as being locked away in a tower by a witch.)

I guess what disappointed me the most was how light it was. It wasn't a substantive story in terms of characterization or action. It was almost impossible to take it seriously. Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps I was in the wrong mood for this one. But the writing wasn't wonderful or witty enough for me to see it as a comedic retelling. And it wasn't dramatic enough or action-packed enough for me to take it seriously.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. Henry and Beezus (1952)

Henry and Beezus. Beverly Cleary. 1952. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

I definitely enjoyed rereading Henry and Beezus. Unlike the Ramona series, I've only read the Henry Huggins books once or twice. Henry Huggins, our hero, really, really wants a bicycle. His parents can't afford to give him one, and, he doesn't expect it of them. He doesn't feel entitled to it. If only there was a way to earn enough money to buy it himself.

"Henry and The Roast." Readers meet Henry and Ribsy, learn of his great desire for a bicycle, and witness Ribsy steal a roast from the neighbor's barbecue. Readers also meet Henry's nemesis: Scooter, a boy with a bicycle and a paper route. A boy who happens along just in time to "save the day" or save the roast and save Ribsy from a dog fight.

"Henry Gets Rich." Henry discovers abandoned boxes of gumballs. He needs Beezus' red wagon to carry them back home. But borrowing the wagon means getting Beezus and Ramona to tag along with him.
"Ramona," coaxed Beezus, "can't you play that game some other time?"
"What game?" asked Henry. He couldn't see that Ramona was playing any game.
"She's playing she's waiting for a bus," explained Beezus.
Henry groaned. It was the dumbest game he had ever heard of. "Doesn't she know it isn't any fun just to sit on a box?" he asked, looking nervously up and down the street. If only he could be sure no one else had discovered his gum!
"Sh-h," whispered Beezus. "She thinks it's fun and I don't want her to find out it isn't. It keeps her quiet." Then she said to her little sister, "If you get in the wagon, Henry and I'll pull you and you can pretend you're riding on the bus." (40)
Henry thinks the gum a great discovery. He can even sell it to all his friends and classmates. He can make some money for his bike fund. But the teachers aren't happy about all the gum. (Neither are the janitors). And he finds it increasingly hard to sell gum after the first day or two. Maybe the gum wasn't such a wonderful discovery after all.

"The Untraining of Ribsy" Henry has the opportunity to take over Scooter's paper route for a week. A dollar will help his bike fund that's for sure. But can he stop Ribsy from "stealing" papers on the route? Beezus and Ramona make an appearance in this chapter as well. In fact, it is Ramona who accidentally provides a solution.

"Henry Parks His Dog" and "Beezus Makes A Bid" Henry, Beezus, and Ramona go to a police auction. Henry's trying to buy a bicycle at the auction with his $4.04. (He had to spend a dime to buy Ramona a snack. He didn't want to stop at the store and "park his dog" outside, but, he had to do something to get Ramona to behave.) Will he get a good deal? Or will all the kids tease him?

"The Boy Who Ate Dog Food" Everyone is excited about the grand opening of Colossal Market. There will be prizes and free samples. Henry and his parents go. As do Beezus and her family, I believe. (I think all the neighbors go.) Henry is lucky and unlucky. He wins something. But the prize, at first, feels very unlucky. He won $50 of work at a BEAUTY SALON. He doesn't need manicures, waves, and facials. Everyone is laughing. Which leads him to accept a dare to eat dog food. But then he realizes that he can SELL his prize and get the money for what he wants most...


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. Ten Pigs (2015)

Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure. Derek Anderson. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One pig. One very happy pig. "This bathtub is perfect for just me and you." But along comes Pig Number Two. Two? Two? This tub is too small for a duck, two pigs, and a bouncy ball!

Premise/Plot: One pig's oh-so-perfect bath with his ducky is interrupted multiple times--this is a COUNTING BOOK AFTER ALL--by pigs who insist on joining him in the tub. Each pig has his/her own bath toy. DRAMA is to be had within the pages of Ten Pigs. What will Pig #1 do to get his tub back to himself. He may resort to trickery!

My thoughts: This one is quite cute. I liked it. I liked the text. I liked the illustrations. It's just a fun read.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. Beezus and Ramona (1955)

Beezus and Ramona. Beverly Cleary. 1955. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Unlike other books in the Ramona series, this one is narrated by Beezus. Like all other books in the Ramona series, it has a just-right feel about it. Beverly Cleary's greatest talent may be in her capturing what it feels like to be a kid.

Beezus, as you probably know, is Ramona's big sister. Ramona does steal the show in almost every book in which she appears. There's something unforgettable about her. But though the focus is on Ramona, this is still very much Beezus' book. It captures how she feels about her family, about Ramona.

"Beezus and Her Little Sister." Ramona LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to have The Littlest Steam Shovel read to her. Her parents are unwilling to read it to her--they have come to have no tolerance for it. But Beezus, well, she'll read it to Ramona, not that she likes it, but, she'll give in now and then. She gets the idea to take Ramona to the library to get a brand new book--for two weeks. Ramona picks a new book, but, it is still about steam shovels. She likes it so much, that she does something NAUGHTY so she can keep it for always. What will Beezus do since it was checked out on her card? Just how sympathetic will the librarian be?

"Beezus and Her Imagination" Beezus is in an art class. Ramona isn't supposed to be in the class with her, she's supposed to be playing outside in the sandbox. But on this occasion, Beezus finds Ramona in class with her. Could she get inspired by her sister's imaginary pet?! Could she earn her teacher's attention?!

"Ramona and Ribsy" Beezus invites Henry Huggins (and his dog, Ribsy) to her house to play checkers. It doesn't go well. Both Ribsy and Ramona have fits of sorts. And Ribsy ends up locked in the bathroom?! Beezus wishes Ramona was more like other people's sisters.

"Ramona and the Apples" Beezus is supposed to be watching Ramona while their mother does the grocery shopping. But. Ramona proves too much to handle. She sneaks into the basement and has her way with all the apples...taking one bite and just one bite from each apple. Will Beezus get in trouble? Can anything good come from all those ruined apples?

"A Party at the Quimbys" Ramona decides to have a party and invite other kids over to the house--without permission of course. What will Beezus and their mother do? This one ends in a parade. Among the guests, Howie and Willa Jean.

"Beezus's Birthday" Will Beezus have a cake for her tenth birthday?! It might not be as easy as you might think. Not with Ramona around. But with a little help from Aunt Beatrice, all might be well after all. Hint: If you have a sister like Ramona, don't read the story of Hansel and Gretel to her when your cake is in the oven!

I love the Ramona series. I do. I love, love, love the Ramona books. I think I read them dozens of more times than the Little House books. (I've recently reread these too.) I'm not sure Beezus and Ramona is my favorite of the series, but, it's a great start to a great series.

Do you have a favorite cover?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. Seuss on Saturday #14

The Cat In the Hat Comes Back. Dr. Seuss. 1958. Random House. 63 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
This was no time for play.
This was no time for fun.
This was no time for games.
There was work to be done.
All that deep,
deep, deep snow,
All that snow had to go.
When our mother went
Down to the town for the day,
She said, "Somebody has to
Clean all this away.
Somebody, SOMEBODY
has to, you see."
Then she picked out two Somebodies.
Sally and me. 
Premise/plot: It's a sequel to The Cat in the Hat. The two children have learned a lesson or two since the previous book. Do they invite him in? Do they take joy in his arrival? Hardly!!! They are anxious to be rid of him. While they're HARD at work shoveling snow, the cat arrives and enters their house. They don't want him IN the house, they're afraid of what he might do. But despite their good intentions, they might be a little too late. For the Cat in the Hat takes a bath in their tub--while eating cake--and when the water is drained, they notice something awful: A BIG, LONG PINK CAT RING! How will they get rid of this mess that looks like PINK INK?! They know--though the cat obviously doesn't--that it shouldn't involve ANYTHING that belongs to their mother or father. From cover to cover, this one just SATISFIES.

My thoughts: The Cat in the Hat is probably my favorite and best book by Dr. Seuss. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. It's just so enjoyable, so satisfying, so funny. And it's also so very quotable!!!

Have you read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you think of it! Also, how do you think it compares to The Cat in the Hat? Which of the two is your favorite?

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. The Maine Coon's Haiku (2015)

The Maine Coon's Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers. Michael J. Rosen. Illustrated by Lee White. 2015. Candlewick. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]

If you love cats and poetry, this one may prove quite satisfying. If you merely like cats and poetry, you still might find something to make the book worth your time.

All of the poems are haiku. Each haiku is titled after a particular breed of cat: twenty in all. The book also provides readers with an opportunity to learn a little bit about each of the breeds featured in the book. I liked this back matter.

Which cat breeds are included?
  • Maine Coon
  • Ragdoll
  • Turkish Angora
  • Siamese
  • Russian Blue
  • Bombay
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • British Shorthair
  • American Shorthair
  • Burmese
  • Birman
  • Balinese
  • Himalayan
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Abyssinian
  • Persian
  • Havana Brown
  • Scottish Fold
  • Bengal
  • Manx
I enjoyed this one. I can't say I loved it. I certainly found two or three poems which I LOVED. But I didn't love each and every poem.
Bombay
paired shadows prowling
in nightfall, but just two lights
pierce that darkness
Balinese
on the windowsill's
balance beam, the cat pirouettes
as the kipple pings
Abyssinian
curled up on your book
cat won't care what happens next
now's the only page
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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