Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review #114: The Hobbit

Dad:  What did you think about "The Hobbit"?
Isaac (age 13):  "The Hobbit" is one of my favorite books.
Lily (age 8):  It's the bestest book ever.  Really good.  It should win an award.
Isaac:  I like it because it feels like it could have really happened thousands of years ago.  I like how the author describes everything.  It feels like you could go hiking around outside and find those places.
Lily:  I like it because it's an adventure story.  It's exciting.
Gracie (age 11):  I like this book because it was funny.  The characters are funny.  I like fat old Bombur.
Elijah (age 6):  Everyone should read the book because it's cool.  The coolest book we've ever read.
Dad:  Tell us what the story is about...
Gracie:  There's this Bilbo.  Bilbo Baggins.  And he's a quiet little guy.  He's a REALLY little guy.  He's a hobbit.  Hobbits are baby-sized people with big fuzzy feet.
Isaac:  They're not the size of babies.
Gracie:  Maybe the size of a baby cow.  Bilbo's friend Gandalf -- who he just met -- is a wizard.  He's cool, except he always keeps disappearing at the worst times.  Gandalf tells Bilbo, "You need to go on an adventure."
Lily:  Then a whole bunch of dwarves come.  They want Bilbo to go on an adventure to be a burglar to get gold back from the dragon who stole all the gold from the dwarves.
Dad:  They had lots of adventures along the way...  What was your favorite one?
Isaac:  The spiders.
Lily:  I like spiders...
Gracie:  You like spiders?
Isaac:  The group got completely lost in Mirkwood Forest.
Lily:  They went off the forest path.  They fell asleep and the spiders wrapped them up in their spider webs.  They are huuuuuuge spiders.
Isaac:  I imagine the spiders to be the size of dining room chairs.
Gracie:  Cows.  I think they are as big as full grown cows.
Isaac:  Yeah!  Cows!  That big.
Dad:  Hmmm, spider-cows....  They could squirt webs from their udders.
Lily:  Bilbo Baggins got out of his spider web and saved all the dwarves.
Isaac:  He sees the other dwarves wrapped up in the trees, but there were tons of spiders.  This is the first time Bilbo can't rely on anyone else.  He has to do it himself.  He becomes a hero.
Gracie:  Normally they would all be like, "The wizard saved us."  But Gandalf had disappeared again.  So Bilbo was like "I'll have to stand up and save these dwarves, because apparently, they can't save themselves!"
Isaac:  It's the first time the dwarves start appreciating him.
Elijah:  Bilbo was a warrior.  Bilbo killed practically all of the spiders.
Dad:  Would you be brave enough to do that?
Elijah:  If I was like Bilbo.  But I think Bilbo is braver than me.
Dad:  What if Dad was wrapped up in a spider web, about to be eaten?  Would you come save me?
Elijah:  Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm......
Isaac:  You'd better say yes!
Elijah:  Yeah, I'd do it.
Dad:  Thank-you!
Gracie:  What about me?
Elijah:  No.  I would leave you there.
Gracie:  My brother loves me.
Elijah:  I'm just kidding.
Dad:  Tell us about some of the characters and creatures they all met along the way.  How about Elves?
Gracie:  Sometimes elves are like solemn warriors.  But in this book they were like, "Tra-la-la-la-loodle! Tra-da-doo-da-doodle!"  They were jumping around, dancing in the trees, drinking wine.
Dad:  How about Goblins?
Isaac:  They escaped goblins more than once.  Wolves chased everyone up into the trees.  Then the goblins came and started setting the trees on fire so they were trapped.  Then these eagles came and picked the dwarves and Bilbo up off the trees.
Gracie:  The eagles are coming!  The eagles are coming!
Dad:  How about Dragons?
Elijah:  Smaug is the name of a big dragon.  He's cool.
Gracie:  I like Smaug.  Smaug is the bestest.  He's my favorite besides Fili and Kili.  He's the dragon who guards all the treasure.  He's kind of funny and gruesome.  He likes to kill things.
Dad:  Anyone else?
Lily:  My favorite character of the book was Gollum.
Gracie:  What - are you serious?
Lily:  I like Gollum.
Gracie:  You like Gollum?  And you like spiders?  You're just creepy.
Dad:  You didn't like Gollum, Gracie?  I thought you loved that chapter.
Gracie:  I did.  It was my favorite.  I just don't like him.  But he makes a good villain.  Gollum is yucky.  He's evil!  He's creepy!!!  And he liked to eat people.  He became invisible with a magic ring and he ate a baby goblin!  A little squeaker!
Dad:  That's one less goblin in the world.
Gracie:  But it was just a baby squeaker!
Lily:  Gollum is really mischievous.  He likes riddles.
Gracie:  His riddles were tricky.  I don't know how Bilbo solved them.  But I like people who can tell riddles.  So maybe Gollum and I could be friends -- if he wasn't evil, and still had his grandma, and wasn't living down in the caves eating people and little baby squeakers.  Then he might be my friend.

Bilbo and Gollum, by Lily

Bilbo and spiders, by Elijah

Smaug, by Gracie

eagles carrying dwarves and Bilbo, by Isaac

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Published, 1937: Allen & Unwin
Like it?  Here it is

Monday, January 16, 2012

2011 was a great year for books

Last year we Bookie Woogie'd many of our favorite brand new 2011 releases:

Blue ChickenCreepy Monsters Sleepy MonstersZita the Space GirlRain Brings FrogsSidekicksWonderstruckChuckling DucklingsBad IslandThe WatcherRibbit RabbitBack to School TortoiseAll the Way to AmericaFairly Fairy TalesA Pet for PetuniaThe Power of CuteOllie the Purple ElephantAnimals Home Alone

Ahhh... if only we had more time for more reviews.  Here are a dozen additional 2011 titles that our family loved just as much, and we think you should hunt down as well:

Grandpa Green


Follow Me

The Last Dragon

The Umbrella

This Plus That

My Name Is Elizabeth

Sea of Dreams

Thunder Birds

Say What?

Buglette the Messy Sleeper

Hugs from Pearl

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review #113: Bad Island

Gracie (age 11):  "Bad Island" is a good book about a bad island.  And it's a book about a good family with bad kids.
Dad:  Hmmm... any resemblance to our family?
Lily (age 8):  We kids aren't totally bad.
Dad:  What was the family like at the beginning of the book?
Lily:  They didn't spend much time together.  They didn't like to be with each other.  They were whining and they were yelling things like, "Don't touch my petunias!" and "I want Pickles!"
Gracie:  Oh yeah - Pickles!  The little girl in the book is obsessed with animals, and she carries around this dead snake named Pickles.
Dad:  Would you carry around a dead snake?
Gracie:  I wouldn't carry around a dead snake OR a live snake.
Isaac (age 13):  I'd carry around a snake so I could make Gracie kiss it.
Gracie:  And I'd bite your eyeball!
Dad:  You'd bite Isaac's eyeball?
Gracie:  No actually, I wouldn't bite his eyeball.  That's just the first words that came out of my mouth.
Dad:  So tell us what happens to this family...
Isaac:  They go on a boat trip, and they get stuck in a really bad storm.  Their boat smashes on this island, so they are trapped.
Lily:  In the middle of the sea.
Gracie:  It's a bad island that is really creepy.  They have to survive.
Isaac:  The island has lots of aliens and creatures on it.
Gracie:  There are a whole bunch of creepy monsters... which is like, really cool.
Lily:  "Creepy" plus "Islands" equals "Cool."
Isaac:  Something starts tracking the family...
Gracie:  It's a triangle-headed lizard guy.
Elijah (age 6):  He's Gumby.
Gracie:  He looks just like Gumby -- he's green, he's naked, and he has no buns.  Only he's darker green than Gumby, and he's scaly and ugly.
Dad:  Evil Gumby.
Gracie:  The book switches back and forth between telling you about the time of the bad island and the time of the creepy-alien-space-guys.
Elijah:  These big whisker-monster-creatures were fighting these flying-crab-octopuses.
Dad:  Elijah, you love monsters.  I bet your favorite part of the book was all the creatures.
Elijah:  I didn't want you to stop reading, ever.  My favorite creatures were probably those guys with the spear-staffs.  They say "Mo."  Or "Mo-Mo."  Or "Mo-Mo-Mo."
Lily:  The Mo-Mo's are evil.
Elijah:  They look like pancake-pillow-people with horns.
Gracie:  They are creepy little Poptart Men.
Isaac:  Poptart Men?
Gracie:  They remind me of chocolate poptarts with evil brains and spears.  Someday I'm going to draw a Mo-Mo eating a poptart.
Dad:  How about you, Isaac?  Did you have a favorite monster?
Isaac:  The Tree Monster is so cool...  Its mouth is not on the front of the bark -- it rips out from inside the tree... the tree itself rips open in half to make its mouth.  So cool.
Gracie:  Creepsters.  But the creatures aren't all bad.  Not the baby rock creature.
Lily:  The baby rock creature was the adorable of the adorables!
Gracie:  I would want one for a pet.  Then I would have a protector that had grown to love me.  The rock monster can't help it if he looks scary when he grows up.
Dad:  So you said the family had problems at the start of the book.  How about after they went through all the adventures together on the island?
Lily:  Then they felt happy with each other and loving toward each other.
Dad:  So was it a good thing that they went to the bad island?
Gracie:  It was a bad thing, but it happened for a good reason.
Dad:  Isaac, you and I have read lots of other graphic novels by this author as well.  Is there anything you can think of that is similar from book to book?
Isaac:  They're all awesome.
Dad:  Yeah, but are there any elements that you would say define Doug TenNapel's books?
Gracie:  Tentacles???  His last name is Tentacles!?!
Isaac:  "TenNapel."
Dad:  Although "Tentacles" would be pretty appropriate for the kinds of books he makes.
Gracie:  Because he's an octopus?
Dad:  No - because he makes awesome creatures.
Isaac:  That's one of the things I like most about his books.  They all have really cool creatures and robots and aliens.
Dad:  Well, any last words?  Anything you want to say to Mr. TenNapel about his new book?
Gracie:  Sorry I called you an octopus.

Janie, Pickles, and a Mo-Mo, by Lily

creatures, by Elijah

tree monster, by Isaac

the Bad Island bunch, by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Doug TenNapel
Published, 2011: Scholastic
Like it?  Here it is