Monday, August 31, 2009

Review #42: Anne of Green Gables

Dad:  What book did we finish reading the other day?
Lily (age 6):  Anne of Green Gables!
Dad:  Can you tell me how Anne came to live at Green Gables?
Gracie (age 9):  Matthew and Marilla wanted to adopt a little boy.
Lily:  Anne was supposed to be a boy, but things got mixed up and someone brought a girl from the orphanage instead.
Isaac (age 10):  When Matthew came to pick up the person he thought was a boy, Matthew couldn't figure out what was going on.  The train had come a while ago, and there was no boy waiting there.  Only a girl.
Gracie:  Matthew doesn't usually talk to girls.  In the book it says, Matthew had to walk up to a girl and demand of her why she wasn't a boy!  Matthew is not good at talking to girls at all.
Isaac:  That would be impossible for him.
Gracie:  So he just took her!
Isaac:  He took her all the way back home from the train station.
Gracie:  He was planning to just let Marilla take care of it at home.
Lily:  They were going to give her back.
Gracie:  On the trip home Anne started talking way too much.  But it made Matthew like her, and he wanted to keep her.
Dad:  Let's talk about the characters one by one.  Tell me more about Matthew...
Gracie:  Matthew and Anne are kindred spirits.
Isaac:  Matthew always starts his sentences with "Well now..."  And he's very, very, very, very shy.  Matthew doesn't talk much at all.
Lily:  He is quiet.  And he is nice.  And he is a grown man.
Isaac:  Also he's a farmer.
Gracie:  Matthew loves to work.  There's this one part in the book that says, to tell Matthew not to work was like to tell Matthew not to breathe.
Isaac:  And Matthew is nervous when he goes by girls, except his sister Marilla.
Gracie:  He can NOT talk to girls.  One time he went to the store to buy a dress with puffed sleeves for Anne, but then he found out that a girl worked at the store.  He got all shy, so instead he asked for a gardening rake -- in the middle of winter!  Then he asked for hayseed -- in the middle of winter.  Then he asked for 20 pounds of brown sugar!  And Marilla barely ever uses brown sugar.  20 pounds!
Dad:  Isaac, would you be embarrassed to buy a dress for someone?
Isaac:  No.  But if the dress was for me, then yes.
Dad:  Alright, tell me some more about Marilla...
Isaac:  She is the opposite of Matthew.  Matthew is always doing this nice, nice stuff for Anne.  Like getting her anything she wants, and Marilla is horrified.  She doesn't want Anne to have stuff she doesn't need.  She doesn't want to spoil her.
Gracie:  She just wants Anne to grow up to be a proper lady.
Lily:  Marilla is grumpy because she is old.
Gracie:  Marilla never gives compliments.  Like in one part of the book, Anne did something really good and important, and everyone was giving her compliments, but Marilla just said, well I guess you did okay Anne.
Dad:  Tell me about Mrs. Lynde...
Isaac:  She always says, "That's what."  And she's always horrified at Anne.
Gracie:  She always has to know everything that's going on.  Like at the beginning of the book Mrs. Lynde sees Matthew in a tuxedo driving a golf cart...
Isaac:  A golf cart!?!
Dad:  In a suit driving a buggy...
Gracie:  Yeah, whatever.  So Mrs. Lynde runs over to Marilla's house and says, what's going on?  And one time Mrs. Lynde said Anne was skinny and her red hair was horrid.  So Anne said, you waddle like a penguin!  Then Anne apologized and said, what you said about me was true. And even though it hurt my feelings, I had no right to say what I said about you, even though that was true as well.
Dad:  Who wants to tell me something about Gilbert Blythe?
Gracie:  Gilbert Blythe is a boy who was always picking on the girls.
Lily:  He called Anne "Carrots," so Anne whacked Gilbert Blythe with the chalkboard until it broke!
Gracie:  Then she was never friends with him until the end of the book because Anne has red hair and she hates it.  She's very sensitive about the way she looks.
Dad:  Tell me about Diana.
Isaac:  She's Anne's best friend.
Gracie:  Diana is Anne's bosom friend.  One time Anne accidentally sent Diana drunk.  And then she wasn't allowed to talk to her or speak to her or even sit by her.  And they were so sad.
Dad:  Alright, so tell me about Anne.  What kind of girl is she?
Isaac:  Very imaginative.
Gracie:  She's got probably the biggest imagination in the land.
Isaac:  She names every single place and tree.
Gracie:  And she wanted to sleep in a wild cherry tree.
Lily:  She's a happy girl.  Ha ha ha.
Gracie:  And dramatic!  And romantic!
Isaac:  Anne doesn't stop talking for hours.  She was always using these huge words.  And she said people laughed at her because she was too young to be using these words.
Gracie:  When she was young she was like, Oh I will be so overjoyed when I am old enough to use big words and not have people laugh at me.  But then when she got old enough to do that, she never used her big words anymore.
Dad:  Anne finds herself in trouble quite a bit, doesn't she?
Gracie:  She makes mistakes a lot.  But she learns from them.  She learns from every one.  Once the kids were all daring each other, and Josie Pye dared Anne to walk on the roof ridge.  So she did it, and then she fell off and sprained her ankle.  And one time she bought some hair dye to turn her hair raven-black.  But instead it turned it green.  I think now there must be a color called "raven-green" because of Anne.
Dad:  There are so many funny scenes in this book.  Everyone pick just one.  What is your favorite scene?
Lily:  When Matthew bought the 20 pounds of brown sugar!  Because he was embarrassed to get a puffed-sleeve dress for Anne!
Isaac:  My favorite is when Anne accidentally made Diana go drunk.  Dianna was going to come over for tea and Marilla said there was some raspberry cordial in the cupboard.  But Anne got the wrong thing out, and Dianna drank three cups of it and said, I don't feel so good.  And as soon as Dianna's mom smelled Dianna's breath, she was furious and went crazy, angry, madness on Anne.
Gracie:  This is my favorite funny part.  Anne told about a time when she...  well, this is how her story goes:  Once I made some jello -- no, pudding -- and I forgot to put tinfoil on the top.  And when I went to go get it, there was a dead rat floating in it.  I picked the rat out with a spoon, but I forgot to throw the pudding out to the pigs.  Then these really fancy people came to have tea.  Marilla brought out the pudding and I said 'Stop!  Don't eat that pudding!  There was a dead rat swimming in it!'  Marilla was mortified.  And probably flabbergasted.
Dad:  There are lots more Anne books.  Do you think Anne will still be her same old self even when she grows up?
Gracie:  I hope so.

Anne stumbles off the roof, by Gracie

Diana and Anne cannonball onto poor Aunt Josephine,
by Isaac

"It would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry tree
don't you think?"
  by Lily

Author: L. M. Montgomery
Published, 1908
Like it? Find it

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review #41: Lunch Lady

Dad:  Today we are reviewing the first two "Lunch Lady" books.
Gracie (age 9): (singing)  Lunch Lady!  Dun-dun-dunt-dowwww...
Dad:  That's an awesome theme song!
Isaac (age 10):  These are graphic novels.  And the only colors are white, black, and yellow.
Gracie:  It's an action-packed book of yellowy wonder.
Dad:  Why do you think they chose yellow?
Gracie:  Because it's the color of macaroni.  And the color of cheese.
Dad:  Before we even picked these up from the library today -- before you knew about them -- you guys had already been making comic books all morning.
Isaac:  Yes, and to make two pages it took two hours!
Gracie:  Using just 3 colors would make it easier.  I've been using a lot of colors for my comic -- I'm not even done yet!  It's taken the whole day, and I haven't even gotten to the part where my superhero gets to her plane!
Dad:  Who made the Lunch Lady books?
Gracie:  Jarrett J. Krosoczka.  He makes funny movies on his website.
Dad:  You guys like to go his site, don't you?  You used to go on there all the time.
Gracie:  Isn't that where the Baghead game is?  And the Monkey Boy game?
Dad:  Tell me about Lunch Lady.
Lily (age 6):  She is a lunch girl who is a superhero.  She has super-food-stuff.  Like fishsticks with chains that hook them together and they whack - whack - whack - whack!
Dad:  Fishstick nunchucks.
Lily:  And a banana boomerang.  And her motorcycle can shoot out sloppy joes.  And she has chicken nuggets that explode.
Dad:  She has a secret lair behind the refrigerator.
Gracie:  Awesome.
Isaac:  What's behind our refrigerator?
Dad:  Dust and ucky goo.
Gracie:  And she has a spatula-copter.  And whenever she's surprised, Lunch Lady says things like "Cauliflower!" or "Holy Guacamole!"
Isaac:  "Oh, Gravy Train!"
Dad:  Do you guys have a lunch lady?
Gracie:  Yeah, Mommy is our lunch lady.
Dad:  And she's your teacher and substitute and librarian and principal...
Gracie:  A one-woman-band.
Dad:  Do you think your lunch lady fights crime when you guys aren't looking?
Isaac:  No.
Lily:  I don't think Momma fights crime.  She's scared of stuff.
Dad:  What is she scared of?
Lily:  Bears.
Dad:  Well, maybe she doesn't fight bears.  But maybe she fights bad guys.
Lily:  She's even scared of ninjas I think.
Dad:  Let's look at the first book.
Gracie: (singing)  Lunch Lady!  Dun-dun-da-daaah!
Dad: ...and the Cyborg Substitute.
Gracie:  Bum-bum-baaaaawww!
Dad:  Ooo.
Gracie:  I'm the theme-song-girl.
Dad:  Jarrett Krosoczka needs to take you around everywhere to do the soundtrack while he's reading.  Alright, tell me about this book.
Gracie:  Well it's about a lunch lady who is a super-ninja.  And I made a theme song for her.  Lunch Lady - Bum-bum-Bahhhh!
Dad:  Actually there is a theme song for her already.
Gracie:  What.
Dad:  I'll have to play it for you later on the computer.
Gracie:  I'm going to lose my job!
Lily: (singing)  Luuuuunch Lady, I looooove yoooooooou.... La la la...
Dad:  I don't think that's how it goes...
Lily:  Ha ha ha!
Gracie:  The first book is about Lunch Lady.  She's a super-ninja.
Dad:  Who's her little partner?
Lily:  I forgot.
Gracie:  Betty.
Lily:  Betty.  Duh-duh-da-Nah-nahhh!
Gracie:  That is my job!
Dad:  Lily can sing too...
Gracie:  Betty is a sidekick who makes inventions.
Isaac:  There are also these three kids called the Breakfast Bunch - a girl named Dee who is a tomboy, a really smart boy who likes electronics, and another kid.
Dad:  That third kid doesn't really have a personality does he?
Isaac:  Not really.  He's just like every-kid.
Dad:  Who did Lunch Lady have to fight in this first book?
Gracie:  Cyborgs.
Isaac:  Cyborgs of doom.
Gracie:  They were the teachers...  but they were not teachers.  They were cyyyyyyborrrrrrgs.
Isaac:  There is a new substitute math teacher who says the regular math teacher is sick.
Gracie:  He was giving the kids all so much work!
Isaac:  One day the Breakfast Bunch kids are curious about Lunch Lady.  So the kids decide to follow the Lunch Lady to see what she does.
Gracie:  Lunch Lady!  Duhn-duhn-dah!!!
Isaac:  And the Lunch Lady was following...  (beep!  beep!  beep!)  ...what the...?
(Nearby phone receiver starts beeping. Mom enters the room looking for it.)
Dad:  It's our lunch lady -- she does fight crime!  She's being summoned!
Dad:  Someone is calling the Mom-phone.
Gracie:  Mom-Lady!  Dun-dun-daaaaaah!
Isaac:  Anyway, Lunch Lady followed the substitute, and he was really a robot designed by the evil-Mr-scientist-dude.
Gracie:  The science teacher who was not a cyborg was the one behind the plan.
Isaac:  He was going to replace all the other teachers with these cyborg people so the students would like him best.
Dad:  Tell me about the second book in the series...
Gracie: (singing)  Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians - buh-buh-nah-naaah!
Dad:  This is a very musical review today.
Lily:  There were evil librarians.
Dad:  Evil librarians?  I've never heard of such a thing.  All librarians are wonderful people.
Lily:  These weren't.  Mwah-HA-ha-ha-hahhhhhh!  They were going to destroy video games so people would read more.  They were going to smash them!  Bang!  Bam!  Pwow!
Isaac:  With all the money they stole, the librarians got these magical book-things.  They were destroying the video games with them.  Like, if the librarian said, "Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe" then a lion-ghost would come out of the book and attack.  Lunch Lady was going to stop them, but she got caught.  Then the Breakfast Bunch came and saved her.
Gracie:  The Breakfast Bunch thinks they are superheroes too, but they're not.
Dad:  Why do you think there are so many villainous people that turn up at this particular school?
Gracie:  Because it's an evil school.  It's a very good thing that we homeschool.  Mommy and you are the only people who are my teachers, and I KNOW you guys aren't evil because you've raised us to not be evil.
Dad:  Tell me, who are the Lunch Lady books for?
Gracie:  For me.  And for people who like graphic novels and yellow.  And like food.  And for lunch ladies.  All you lunch ladies of the world whose favorite color is yellow -- this is a really good book for you.
Dad:  Are there any new gadgets you think Betty should invent?
Isaac:  A candycane crowbar.
Lily:  A potato powerbeam...
Dad:  A potato what?
Gracie:  A broccoli laser line...
Dad:  What's a laser line?
Gracie:  I don't know.
Isaac:  Mine's the best.
Dad:  Yours is the only one that makes sense.  Alright, can you think of any more missions for Lunch Lady in future books?
Isaac:  Fighting an evil gym teacher.
Lily:  I have one!  They get a classroom pet, and that pet is evil.  And they have to destroy their pet.
Gracie:  An evil robot hamster!
Lily:  Yeah!
Gracie:  I've got one, I've got one!  The principal tries to take over every school...
Dad:  Mr. Hernandez?  He looks so nice though.
Gracie:  Yeah, but he is evil.  And one school is not enough.  So he tries to take over all the schools in the whole world with his giant pencil that shoots into outer space and puts a laser beam on all the principals and turns them into duplicates of him so he can take over the world.
Dad:  Amazing.
Gracie:  I want to grow up to be a lunch lady!
Lily:  Me too.
Isaac:  Could I get those gadgets and stuff?
Gracie:  Actually, I want to grow up to be an artist.  I changed my mind.
Dad:  Then you could just draw pictures of lunch ladies.
Isaac:  They should make this into a cartoon.
Dad:  Guess what.  They're making it into a movie.
Isaac:  What kind of a movie?
Dad:  With live action people.  Not a cartoon.
Gracie:  So they DO have a theme song.
Dad:  Maybe you could do the soundtrack!
Gracie:  Yeah!  Lunch Lady!  Bum-bow-buh-dow!

Lunch Lady and Dee, by Gracie

Lunch Lady and some cyborgs, by Isaac

Lunch Lady and Dee fighting an evil hamster driving a robot, by Lily

Author/Illustrator: Jarrett Krosoczka
Check out the Lunch Lady theme song
Published, 2009: Knopf
Like'em? Find'em

Monday, August 17, 2009

Review #40: Down the Back of the Chair

Dad:  Do you remember a little while ago when a fellow from Hungary wanted us to review a Hungarian book?  We found a Hungarian folktale to review...
Isaac (age 10):  Does someone else want us to do one now?
Dad:  This time someone from New Zealand... actually more than one person from New Zealand, on more than one occasion has asked us to review a book, any book, by Margaret Mahy.  She's from New Zealand, and I gather they all love her over there.
Lily (age 6):  It's time to let them have their wish.
Dad:  Yep.  And people love her here in America too.  So this is a book by Margaret Mahy.  And it's illustrated by Polly Dunbar.
Gracie (age 9):  Dunbar.  That's such a cool name.
Lily: (singing)  Dunbar!  Dun, dun, dun, dunbar!
Gracie:  I want to be called "Dunbar"!
Lily: (still singing)  Dunbar, Dunbar, Duuuunbar...
Dad:  Polly Dunbar is not from New Zealand.  She's from England.
Gracie:  Awesome.
Dad:  The book is called "Down the Back of the Chair."
Lily:  Yes.  "Down the Back of the Chair."  That is what it is called.
Dad:  I looked over lots of Margaret Mahy books, and this was my favorite.
Gracie:  Me too.
Lily: (singing again)  Down the back of the chaaaaairrrrrrr.
Dad:  So, tell us what the book is about...
Gracie:  "Down the Back of the Chair" is about a family that is starting to get poor.  Just - like - us.
Lily:  But they were poor because they lost their keys.  A bird took them.
Dad:  And with no keys, then there's no car... no work... no money.
Gracie:  Then the little two-year-old tells them to reach down the back of the chair.  So they do, and out pops crazy things.
Isaac:  They keep finding more and more stuff down the back of the chair.  Lots of stuff down the chair.  Like some fuzzy string and a spider and a purple eel.
Lily:  That thing that looks like a snake -- that's an eel.
Isaac:  Eels.  That's weird.
Gracie:  And there is a ring, a lion, a dragon, a clown.  And there are elephants with teapots.
Isaac:  You could get zillions and millions of dollars just by showing off the dragon.
Gracie:  And a bandicoot.  What's a bandicoot?  He's cute.
Isaac:  The bandicoot is awesomeness.
Gracie:  And there was a twin!  The baby's twin was down the chair!
Isaac:  The twinless twin became a twinfull twin.  And the twinfull twins ate an icecream cake.
Gracie:  He's happy because he has his long lost twin.
Lily:  The babies get everything.
Gracie:  Like, they get the icecream sundae.
Lily:  They even got the diamond ring.
Isaac:  We gotta get a chair like that.
Lily:  I wish I ate that sundae with the babies.
Gracie:  Then they find Uncle Bill's will.  A will is a thingie that says where someone's money goes.
Isaac:  Where there's a will, there's a way.
Gracie:  They also find money.  Then they are all so rich -- so, so rich.
Isaac:  And their house exploded.
Gracie:  They got so much stuff, their house exploded!  And when they said, "Who needs car keys? Now we could just call a taxi" --then a taxi pops out of the chair!
Isaac:  I want that chair.
Gracie:  It's possible to live down there.  The baby did it.
Dad:  What do you think the baby and the dragon and the lion were doing down there all day?
Isaac:  Boogie-ing.
Gracie:  Having tea with the elephants.
Isaac:  That was a very cramped chair.
Lily:  It was a magical chair.
Gracie:  I think everyone fit because they magically shrunk tiny as ants.
Isaac:  I think the animals never ate all those years, so they got skinnier and skinnier until they were as skinny as paper.
Dad:  So if the chair was magical, does that mean it wouldn't work with our chair?
Lily:  Nope.  We would have to look for that chair.
Dad:  What things do you find in our cushions?
Gracie:  Pencils.
Isaac:  I found two quarters and a penny.
Gracie:  Putting all the money together that I've found in the back of our chair, I probably found two dollars and three cents.  In change.
Dad:  We need to find a better chair.
Gracie:  We need to find the will of Daddy Warbucks.
Isaac:  Why didn't they just pull the whole seat cushion off?
Dad:  You mean instead of reaching behind it over and over?
Isaac:  That would be so much easier.
Dad:  Alright everyone...  what is this called: "...challenging chair, champion chair, cheerful chair..."
Lily:  Chiming.
Dad:  Chiming?  Is that when you're rhyming with a "ch"?
Gracie:  It's called alliteration.
Dad:  We also saw some internal rhymes.  Okay, you tell me if this is internal rhyming or alliteration...
Isaac:  Oh great.
Dad:  "A skink, a skunk, a skate, a ski."
Isaac:  Alliteration.
Dad:  Right.  How about, "There's pleasure and treasure."
Gracie:  Rhyming.
Dad:  But what about, "There's pleasure, treasure, toys, and trash."
Lily:  Alliteration and rhyming.
Dad:  What about the pictures in this book?
Isaac:  The spider has a lot of boots.
Gracie:  The pictures are cute.
Isaac:  The pictures look like cut paper, but they are actually drawings.
Dad:  I think the illustrator drew all the parts separately, cut them out, and then glued them all down into one picture.
Gracie:  They're cool.
Dad:  So what did you think of Margaret Mahy?
Gracie:  Margaret Mahy's marvelous.
Dad:  Ahhh, there's some alliteration.
Isaac:  Magnificent.
Dad:  How about Polly Dunbar?
Gracie:  Polly's perfect.
Dad:  How about Dunbar?
Gracie:  Dunbar...  Dunbar...  Dunbar is an awesome name!
Lily:  Delightful Dunbar.
Gracie:  That could be the name of a candybar.

Dogs and drums and bubble gum, by Isaac

the twins find some cash, by Lily

the chair, by Gracie

Author: Margaret Mahy
Illustrator: Polly Dunbar
Published, 2006: Clarion Books
Like it?  Find it

Monday, August 10, 2009

Review #39: Max Spaniel

Lily (age 6):  This book is about Max Spaniel.  And it is called "Dinosaur Hunt."  And it is made by David Catrow.
Dad:  It's the first book in a series.  David Catrow has illustrated lots of stories, but this is the first one he's written.  Gracie, he did the pictures in that book you just got for your birthday, "I'm Still Here in the Bathtub."
Gracie (age 9): (singing)  "I'm still here in the baaaath-tub."  Yeah, I can tell.  The dogs in that book look like Max.
Lily:  Max looks funny.
Isaac (age 10):  He looks awesome.  He's a crazy dog.
Gracie:  He is awesome.
Isaac:  Awesome!
Dad:  Why?
Gracie:  Because.  He's hairy.  And he's got a pink spot where his bum should be -- he's got a pink belly.
Dad:  Alright, tell me about the book...
Gracie:  The book is about a dog that is black and white, and his name is Max Spaniel.  And he is a spaniel.
Isaac:  He's going hunting for dinosaurs.  First he hunts in the house.
Gracie:  He can't find any dinosaurs there.  So before moving outside, he packs everything he has.
Isaac:  Like golf clubs.
Gracie:  And he's got a bowling ball.
Isaac:  And Bologna.  Bologna?!
Lily:  And a hat.
Isaac:  Why does he need a bowling ball and a golf club to go hunting?  And bologna?  He packs everything except for the kitchen sink.
Dad:  I don't know... that's a pretty big bag.  Maybe the kitchen sink IS in there.
Isaac:  I didn't mean it literally.  I meant the saying.
Gracie:  He packs everything he has.
Isaac:  He had a little too much stuff, including the bologna.
Gracie:  He packs bologna, but then doesn't use the bologna.
Isaac:  He had too much stuff, so instead he just takes the triple-large net.  He may have gotten it from a garage sale.
Elijah (age 3):  A gi-normous net.
Gracie:  So he goes outside to hunt for a dinosaur, and he still can't find any.
Isaac:  Then he started finding all these "dinosaur bones" which was really just stuff around the yard.
Elijah:  He found a branch.  And a ball!  And a shovel!  And a skateboard!  And a freaky glove.
Gracie:  And a hose and a flower and a bottle cap and Lincoln Logs.
Isaac:  I still don't get why there are Lincoln Logs outside.
Lily:  He finds the yard stuff and makes a dinosaur by hooking them together.  He built a dinosaur.  The dog.  Max Spaniel!
Gracie:  He uses bikes for hips.
Lily:  And a hose, which is the tail.  He makes up a rib and toenails.
Elijah:  What's a rib?
Lily:  A football is for the head.  Flowers for lips - which look more like a tongue.
Gracie:  He said those were lips, but it's not.  That's a tongue.
Dad:  Does Max really think he's finding dinosaur parts, or is he just using his imagination?
Isaac:  He's using his imagination.  You can't tell at first if he really thinks they are bones or not, but when you finish the book you figure it out.  It's just his imagination.
Gracie:  Does he end up using this rubber ducky?  Oh, yeah.  There's the duck.
Dad:  Did it really look like a dinosaur?
Gracie:  If I try making my eyes fuzzy on purpose, I can tell it's a dinosaur.
Dad:  If you squint?
Elijah:  (grabbing a Fisher-Price dinosaur toy) This is what a dinosaur looks like.  (Then pointing at the book) But NOT this.  This is a dinosaur.  Look.
Isaac:  The cat ran away from the dinosaur terrified.  That cat is running for his life.  Then Max was happy.
Gracie:  He's a little goof-nugget.
Dad:  This type of book is called a "beginning reader."  Did it have easy words?
Isaac:  Uh-huh.  Except for "Spaniel."  That would be a little difficult.
Dad:  But it never says "spaniel" in the story itself.  Probably the biggest word is "dinosaur," but that's a word little kids like anyway.  You guys love to read now, but can you remember back to when reading was hard work?
Isaac:  When you're first learning, you don't like it one bit.  Then -- when you learn how to read, and you're really good at it -- then you start LOVING reading.  But then after a while you go back to normal... like, you don't love-love-love-love-love-love reading, but you still like it.
Dad:  If you gave this to a kid who is just learning to read and needs easy words, is this the kind of book he or she would enjoy?
Gracie:  Yeah.  Because Max is Awesome.  He looks awesome.  He's an awesome character.  He's the coolest dog ever.
Lily:  He looks weird and funny.  He looks like he would BE funny.
Isaac:  If someone is learning to read, Max Spaniel is one of the best books to read.

Max Spaniel and a big bag of bologna, by Gracie

Max adding a golf club, er, "dinosaur bone" to his creation, by Lily

Max Spaniel, by Elijah

Max and a dino creation, by Isaac -- pieces cut from magazines

(you can click these for a larger view...)

Author/Illustrator: David Catrow
Published, 2009: Scholastic
Like it? Find it

Time for another giveaway!  Scholastic is offering 5 prizes:

• Four runner-up winners will receive a copy of the new book.

• And one Grand Prize Winner will receive a copy of "Max Spaniel" autographed by David Catrow and a jumbo kids magnifying glass.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  To make that comment worth two entries, let us know about a book (other than Max Spaniel) that you hadn't previously heard of but want to find (or did find) after having read one of the other 38 Bookie Woogie reviews.

We'll pick the winners randomly.  Be sure your comment has a way for us to contact you.

Contest runs until August 25th.  Good luck!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Review #38: Abigail Spells

Dad:  Time for another Bookie Woogie review.  And today Elijah is chiming in with us.  Alright, so tell us... what is this book called?
Gracie (age 9):  "Abigail Spells."
Dad:  By...
Lily (age 6):  Anne...  A Letter.
Dad:  A letter?
Lily:  Anne Letter.
Dad:  Try "Anna Alter."
Lily:  This book was about...  um...  how do you spell "Spells"?
Dad:  It's right there on the cover.
Lily:  This book was about S-P-E-L-L-S.
Dad:  About magic?
Isaac (age 10):  No, not that kind of "spells."
Lily:  Aaaaand it was about A-B-I-G-A-I-L.  Abigail.
Dad:  But tell me what happened in the story.
Lily:  S...  H...  um...
Dad:  You don't have to spell the whole review.  Just say it.
Lily:  Um...  S-H stopped spelling.
Dad:  S-H stopped spelling?  You mean "She"?
Lily:  Yes.
Isaac:  S-H-E.
Dad:  Why did she stop spelling?
Lily:  She was...  S...  A...  D.
Dad:  Why was she S-A-D?
Lily:  Because she didn't get to go on to the spelling bee.
Dad:  Who were the characters in this book?
Lily:  S-A-M.
Dad:  Sam?  There was nobody named Sam.  His name was George.
Lily:  G...
Dad:  Although, S-A-M would be a lot easier to spell than "George."
Isaac:  Yeah.
Dad:  Just tell us about the story.  You don't have to keep spelling.
Lily:  George and A...  B...  I...
Dad:  Oh for the love.
Lily:  Abigail.  They are best friends.  They do everything together.
Elijah (age 3):  It is about a bird and spelling.
Gracie:  Abigail loooooves to spell.
Lily:  Spelling is her bestest thing to do.
Isaac:  Favorite thing.
Dad:  We should also point out here, before we go much farther, that Abigail is a bird and George is a bear.
Gracie:  Animals don't talk in real life.  But Abigail can spell.  So that's really weird.
Isaac:  Abigail and - what's the other one?  George?  They did everything together.  George would play the maracas and Abigail would dance.  And she would spell.  They liked to paint portraits.  And Abigail would spell.  Abigail liked to tell George stories.  Stories with spelling in them.  Then one day there's this spelling bee.
Lily:  A spelling bee is a thing where you spell, and if you get the words right, then you win.
Isaac:  When it was Abigail's turn, she got hot in the face and really worried.
Gracie:  Stage fright!
Isaac:  And she spelled "Elephant" wrong.
Gracie:  How DO you spell "Elephant"?
Isaac:  Yeah, and that's not fair.  Someone else got the word "Ship."  "Elephant" is harder than "Ship."  Way harder.  "Ship" is easy.
Lily:  Abigail felt S-A-D.
Isaac:  She got really sad, and she never wanted to do anything.
Elijah:  She didn't spell any more.
Gracie:  Then George tried to cheer her up.  But it didn't work.  And I have a message for George.  George, there is not a "Q" in "Peanut."
Dad:  Do you think George knew that?  Why did he say that in the book?
Isaac:  To cheer her up.
Gracie:  Because he wanted Abigail to spell again.
Dad:  What happened next?
Elijah:  He told her a story.
Lily:  Yeah, so George told Abigail a story, which he has never done before.
Gracie:  A story about a bird and a bear.  And the bird loved to spell.  And the bear loved to see the bird do stuff.  But then the bird stopped spelling and that made the bear sad.
Elijah:  It was that bird and that bear!
Dad:  Right, Buddy!
Lily:  It was a story about them.  And then S-H-E was happy.
Gracie:  You can tell she feels better because she's spelling again.  And then she spelled SO MANY THINGS!
Dad:  What do you think it was about George's story that made Abigail feel better?
Gracie:  It showed her that he looooved her.
Dad:  That he cared about her?
Gracie:  No.  They're in LOVE!
Dad:  I don't think they are in love.
Gracie:  Yeah, they are!
Isaac:  If they got married they would have "Beaird" children.
Dad:  What was your favorite thing about the book?
Elijah:  Pictures.
Gracie:  My favorite thing was the fashion!  All those cool outfits Abigail has.
Dad:  Such as...
Gracie:  Really, really funky socks.
Dad:  What do you call those things she wears on her head?  Do you know?
Isaac:  Bonnet.
Dad:  Kerchief?
Isaac:  Oh, kerchief.
Dad:  No -- I'm asking.  I don't know what they're called.
Gracie: (whispering)  I don't know either.
Dad:  They're not headbands.  Handkerchief?  Kerchief?
Gracie:  Headchief.
Dad:  Then "headchief" it is.
Gracie:  They're bandannas!  It showed a picture of Anna Alter in the back of the book, and she's wearing the same headdress as Abigail, so she and Abigail must dress the same.  Actually everybody in the book has good fashion.
Dad:  Have you ever been nervous before, like Abigail?
Isaac:  Once.  I don't usually get nervous that easily.  But once I was playing in the Awana Games, and I got really nervous.  I was getting worried about if I would do bad in this really long race.
Gracie:  I've never been nervous in my whole life.
Dad:  Are you guys great spellers like Abigail?
Kids:  NOOOO!
Gracie:  I cannot S-P-E-L-L too much.
Dad:  Sorry.  You guys get that from me.  Hey, have your little Spelling Notebooks helped you at all?  Do you know where I got the idea for those notebooks?  I got it from the website Anna Alter set up for "Abigail Spells."
Gracie:  What?
Isaac:  My notebook helps me.
Dad:  Tell everyone about those notebooks.
Isaac:  You take little notebooks...  and you write down words in it...  ones that you might spell wrong...
Gracie:  Oh, what the hoo-ha.  Just go to "Abigail's" site.
Dad:  If there are words you need to write often -- instead of flipping through a whole, big, giant dictionary to check the spelling -- you just put into your notebook the words that you yourself are more likely to need.
Isaac:  Like, my notebook has "Species," "Human," "Circus," "Muscles..."
Gracie:  Hee hee hee hee...
Isaac:  I don't know why I had "Muscles" in here.  "Oceans," "Jail," "Poisonous..."
Gracie:  Here are the words I have in mine:  "People," There," "Their," "Because," "Powerpuff," "Cookie," "Chicken..."
Dad:  Powerpuff?
Isaac:  Chicken?
Gracie:  "Queen," "Butterfly," "Butter," "Fly," "Phone," "Fairy..."
Dad:  Ha ha ha.  So are the words in your two lists similar?
Kids:  Nooo!
Dad:  We can learn a lot about you!  We get to peek inside your brains by looking at the words you've collected in your Spelling Notebooks!  Alright, is there anything else you guys want to say about this book before we sign off?
Gracie:  It is a book of spelling wonderness.
Lily:  And the animals are cute.
Gracie:  Read the B-O-O-K about A-B-I-G-A-I-L   S-P-E-L-L-S.
Elijah:  No!  More!  Spelling!

Abigail and George, by Gracie

cool outfits: what to W-E-A-R?  by Lily

"E-L-E...  psst... what comes next?"  by Isaac

Author/Illustrator: Anna Alter
Published, 2009: Knopf
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