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Saturday, March 17, 2012


Want a real mom's opinion about what your kids are reading?  Post your suggestions below or email them to readingformykids@gmail.com.  I'll read the books and give you my honest opinion about what it's really gonna teach your kids.

Happy Reading!

You Are Special by Max Lucado Review

You Are Special by Max Lucado

In this tale, wooden puppets are rated  by how many gold star stickers or how many grey dot stickers they have.  Lots of gold stars and you are a good puppet, lots of grey dots and you're worthless.  The puppets rate each other.  Puchinello is the main character and he always gets the most grey dots and this makes him very sad.  One day, he goes to visit the puppet maker, Eli, and learns that it only matters what Eli thinks of him. When he learns this, the stickers don't stick to him any more.
I love the idea of using stickers and kids seeing that they shouldn't let things others say stick with them.  It's a very cute story with beautiful illustrations. Kids will definitely get the message with this one.  I found myself wishing the story would go on and wanting to know more about what Puchinello did after his visit to Eli.  Does he go tell all the other puppets? Do they notice the stickers not sticking?  I guess that's the sign of a good book-wanting to know more.
This story reminds me of the VeggieTales episode-A Snoodle's Tale.  The two would go well together in a lesson.

RFMK Stats

Rating: * * * * *

Age Level: 3- 6

RFMK Stamp of Approval:  YES!

Sneakers, the Seaside Cat by Margaret Wise Brown Review

Sneakers, the Seaside Cat by Margaret Wise Brown

I found myself desperately wanting to love this book.  After all, Margaret Wise Brown did write the classic, Goodnight Moon. I guess I built it up too much because at the end, I found myself asking, "What's the point?"  I know it's just a children's book, but I still think there needs to be some purpose.  I hated her choices of onomatopoeia. I can think of a thousand other ones for the sound of a seagull other than "Ha-ha-ha" or a million different ones for a wave other than "boom."  I don't think this is gonna be a childhood favorite.  The illustrations are nice in this though, thanks to Anne Mortimer.  Other than that, I call this one a dud.

RFMK Stats

Rating: * * * * *

Age Level: 3-6

RFMK Stamp of Approval: Nope, not worth the $6.99

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling Review

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

I have to say I've been surprised how much I have been enjoying forcing myself to read these last few days.  If you missed my first post, I started this blog in an attempt to read books before my children to see if they get Mom's stamp of approval.  And, as mentioned before, I'm not keen on reading (extremely impatient), but I'm making myself do it for them.So here's a summary of Rowling's second of the series:

The story begins with Harry on summer break after his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Harry has continued to be treated horribly by the Dursley's, but he has been moved to a small bedroom upstairs.  After the Dursley's had enough of him, they locked him in the room only to be rescued by the Weasley boys and taken to live with Ron and the rest of his family for the remainder of the summer.  During his second year at Hogwart's, the old gang of Harry, Ron and Hermione get into more mischief while trying to investigate a series of attacks that have left petrified victims.  Throughout all this, Harry learns he has a very rare talent of being able to speak to snakes.  This talent helps him solve the mystery of the attacks and come face to face with the evil wizard Voldemort...again.  A lot happens in between, but I'll spare you all the details.

As with the first book, most of the spells that the children are learning are harmless things (and clever I might add).  For example, they have to turn rabbits into house slippers and buttons into beetles.  There's a little more grown up magic going on in this one, like disarming another person or petrifying someone.  As I said in my review of the first book, I don't really have a problem with this if you just raise the age level recommended.  Yes, it will be an easy read, but I'm basing this one on content.   An older child is going to enjoy delving into Rowling's imaginary world, but they aren't going to get so caught up in pretending it's real as a younger child.  And Rowling has a clear line between good and evil spells unlike many other video games and books in the same genre.  Something else I like about her stories is that the professors and adults (other than Professor Lockhart and the Dursley's) are respected and wise.  A lot of children's stories and TV shows these days always portray parents and adults as stupid and ignorant, one factor I think contributes to so much disrespect these days.  This book did not have the cursing in it like the first book, instead Rowling would write "Ron cursed as he stubbed his toe" or something to this affect. I guess I don't need to add any ink blots to this one because this, in my child's mind, would read, "Ron said "aww, man" as he stubbed his toe.""  The gang does receive punishment whenever they break rules, which I also like. As with the first book, Rowling gets Mom's stamp of approval again on this one.

RFMK Stats

Rating: * * * * *

Age Level: 14- adult

RMFK Stamp of Approval: Yeppers

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Book vs. Movie Challenge

I found myself laughing several times throughout this book thinking "ooooh, that's what they were saying!"  We may not want to admit it, but sometimes things do get lost in the translation from..um...well English to English.  The book had so many more back stories on characters like; Argus Filch, Arthur Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Fred and George Weasley, Percy Weasley, Nearly Headless Nic, Moaning Myrtle and Lucius Malfoy just to name a few.  I think you get my point about that.  Not to mention entire characters are left out like Professor Binns.  I don't even think Professor Binns is in any of the movies, at least I don't remember him at all. 

I can't totally bash the movie though.  It's amazing to watch how well the movie matches Rowling's descriptions.  It really brings it alive, not to mention the special effects. I loved watching the whomping tree come to life, the phoenix living/dying and the moving portraits (also in the first movie).  I especially loved reading about and watching Professor Lockhart.  I once had a teacher just like this, wavy hair and all.  Professor Lockhart was hilarious!  He is my favorite character from this one, probably because I was reliving so many moments I had with my own Professor Lockhart.

For this challenge, BOOK DEFINITELY WINS. You just can't beat knowing all those other stories and funny moments with characters that are missed in the movie.  I laughed out loud picturing ginger head Ron Weasley fully dressed in orange standing in an orange bedroom. It would be like standing inside a radioactive pumpkin, ha! I felt they did a better job following the book with the first movie, but to their defense a lot more happened in this book than the first and you just can't fit all that into a two hour movie.  On to year three.

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Belly Button Book! by Sandra Boynton Review

Belly Button Book! by Sandra Boynton

This is a rhyming book about hippos' bellybuttons.  They show their bellybuttons in the summer and they hide them in the winter.  The basis of the book is cute, but there is a song in the middle of the book that they sing about their belly buttons that really bothers me.  It doesn't rhyme or have meter, which I just find irritating.  Also, I come from the perspective that belly buttons are private. Gasp! I said it.  We don't allow our kids to show their mid-section, so the fact that the hippos are showing off their belly buttons doesn't really work for me.  It's never too early to start teaching modesty and I'm sure there are better books out there to teach baby about their belly button than this.

RFMK Stats

Rating: * * * * *

Age Level: Infant- 3

RFMK Stamp of Approval: Nope

Upcoming List- March 16, 2012

Here's my upcoming list of reviews as of March 16, 2012.  If you have suggestions for books you want me to read, post below or send them to readingformykids@gmail.com

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Sneakers, the Seaside Cat by Margaret Wise Brown
Belly Button Book! by Sandra Boynton
Just In Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado
The Tallest of Smalls by Max Lucado
Hermie A Common Caterpillar by Max Lucado
You Are Special by Max Lucado

Chapter Books:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
The Chronicles of Narnia- The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling Review

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K Rowling

Okay, here we go.  I finished the first of the series in one day.  It's a quick read.  For those of you that missed the boat, or express train I should say, here is a brief summary of the book.  Harry is an orphaned boy that is sent to live with his horrible aunt and uncle.  He isn't any old orphan though. His parents were wizards, something his normal (muggle) aunt and uncle find repulsive.  Because of this, he is treated horribly. He is either their slave or doesn't exist.  Sound familiar, Cinderella?  On his eleventh birthday, an ogre of a man, Hagrid, comes to tell Harry that he too is a wizard and has been accepted to the best wizarding school, Hogwarts.  This sends him on an adventure into a wizard world that coexists with the normal world.  It is full of goblins that run bank vaults deep into the earth, witches, wizards, ghosts, unicorns and centaurs.  Anyone getting a Narnia/Middle-Earth vibe yet?  Okay, okay back to the story. At Hogwarts, Harry befriends Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom.  Together they discover something hidden at Hogwarts that leads Harry to come face to face with the evil wizard that killed his parents, Voldemort.  I won't ruin any more for you.

So Rowling definitely has the whole Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings vibe going on.  There are elements of her story that you could say came from other stories we've heard before.  But I think what makes her storytelling so great is that, as Emma Watson once put it, it is complete.  She totally creates a new magical world down to the smallest details.  Wondering what type of money they use in the wizarding world?  Don't have to Rowling tells you.  Wonder what the kids eat for fun? Don't have to, Rowling tells you.  Wonder if they play sports?  Yep, she's got that covered to.  Everything a normal kid would do at that age is transformed into something fantastical and crazy.  Her book exudes the sounds, tastes, sights and even smells that Harry experienced.  She's an excellent writer for sure.

Now down to the nitty gritty.  There is a small amount of cursing in the book.  I actually plan on just scribbling them out with an ink pen. GASP!  I know I'll get hate mail for tampering with Rowling's work.  They aren't necessary to the story line and won't change a thing if they're gone.  There is a little bit of name calling, but nothing horrible and help you empathize with Harry.  Now for the whole witchcraft/wizardry thing.  The children at Hogwart's are mostly learning simple, nice tricks such as turning an animal into a cup or making a feather float.  Not unlike what we would see in Narnia.  The wizards in the book that do things like killing or putting a curse on another are almost always considered an evil wizard.  They've gone to the dark side of things  I don't think that this book is going to make a kid start pretending to put evil spells on their sibling.  They may, however, pretend to make a book move or act like they are flying on the Nimbus 2000 broomstick, but hey didn't we all jump of the couch and pretend to be Peter Pan at one point.  I think as long as the parents keep the kids in touch with the fact that this is just a story, they should be okay.

I don't really have a problem with the whole wizard thing in this particular book.  I do have a problem with the age level recommended for this book and here's why.  This book is recommended for ages 9- 12.  Now for this book, cursing aside (and blotted out), that's probably okay.  But remember that when Rowling first started writing these it was over a span of ten years.  So that 9- 12 year old was 19- 22 years old by the time the last book came out, which judging by the movies is a lot darker.  19- 22 is probably okay for this, but I don't think it is appropriate for a 9- 12 to be reading the final books.  Now I haven't gotten to read them yet, but for now this is what I think. So here's what I would say for this book, either space out letting your children read them year by year or let them read them when their a little older.  The later is probably the better choice since the books are already published and their going to keep pestering you to get it to find out what happens on Harry's next adventure.

Want to hear my book vs. movie review? Scroll past the stats.  Don't care what else I have to say?  End here.

RFMK Stats

Rating: * * * * *

Age Level:  13- adult

RMFK Stamp of Approval:  Yes, with a few strategically placed ink blots.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Book vs. Movie Challenge

It was interesting reading the book after I had seen all the movies.  I didn't know whether I would be surprised or disappointed.   I think in the end there was a little of both.  In some parts I was surprised by the book and disappointed by the movie and others surprised by the movie and disappointed by the book.  The director and cast did an amazing job at being true to the original words that Rowling wrote. I was actually surprised by how many lines from the movie come straight out of the book.  So many times they are changed and morphed into something sort of like the book, but not really.  Just like Rowling is so detailed in her descriptions of Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, so too is the movie.  I felt like the actors did justice to their characters, for the most part, although I find Hermione much less annoying in the book, Ron and Harry smarter, and Hagrid much more loveable.  There is only one thing that drives me absolutely insane now that I've read the book.   Harry is described as having bright green eyes in the book and in the movies their blue.  I mean really couldn't they have put some colored contacts in?  And worst of all Harry is described countless times as "having his mother's eyes."  Hello? Casting agent?  Didn't you realize that the actress that played Lily Potter, Harry's mum has BROWN eyes?!! And that his dad, James, actually has blue eyes- the same as Harry. It's all a lie!!  Okay back to reality and off of my soapbox.  This is the one big oops of the film I feel.  The movie however hardly misses a beat and there are really only two or three very minute things that are missed in the film from the book.  Because of this I'd say: MOVIE WINS. The book is still very good and will only enhance what you have already read, so don't just skip the book because of this; but if you do, you're not missing that much of the story.