Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne

Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking: A 14 Day Mystery by Erin Dionne.

“Early in the morning of March 18, 1990, two men dressed as Boston police officers overwhelmed the security guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and then spent over an hour alone in the building, stealing thirteen pieces of priceless art. These masterpieces have yet to be found.”

51WX81hz2gL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Now, if that’s not a set-up for a middle grade mystery adventure novel, I don’t know what is. I read this one just after reading Hold Fast by Blue Balliet, and I had to keep reminding myself that Balliet’s novel was the jewel heist. This one was by another author, Erin Dionne, and took place in Boston, not Chicago. Nevertheless, fans of Balliet’s Chasing Vermeer or The Calder Game would probably be drawn into this tale of Moxie Fleece and her friend Ollie and their dangerous, but exciting, search for the artworks stolen from Gardner museum more than twenty years ago.

I’ve read a couple of other books by Ms. Dionne, and I really think she’s hit her stride with this story. Moxie is a little too sassy for my tastes, but no worse than my own twelve year old gets sometimes. And Moxie’s friend, Ollie, is a delight: a science geek who’s into geo-caching. I wanted to adopt Ollie.

“It’s a race against the clock through downtown Boston as Moxie and Ollie break every rule she’s ever lived by to find the art and save her family.” (from the cover blurb)

516E9eC3peL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Other “art theft” middle grade novels:
Masterpiece by Elise Broach. Marvin the Beetle and his eleven year old human friend, James, work together to foil an attempted art theft and forgery of priceless works by the great artist Albrecht Durer.
Chasing Vermeer and The Calder Game by Blue Balliet.
Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Framed is a kid caper comedy about Fine Art and Mutant Ninja Turtles. And small town life. And slate mines. And insurance fraud. And family unity.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.
Heist Society by Ally Carter. Katarina Bishop is determined to leave the family business behind, but when the family business is art theft, it’s hard to get away–with anything, including a law-abiding life.
Stealing Magic: A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure by Marianne Malone. “Ruthie and Jack thought that their adventures in the Thorne Rooms were over . . . until miniatures from the rooms start to disappear. Is it the work of the art thief who’s on the loose in Chicago?”
The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt. “A never-before-seen Rembrandt painting has been discovered in Amsterdam. The mysterious man that Kari and Lucas observed must have been working on a forgery! Convinced that no one will believe them without more evidence, the teenage sleuths embark on a madcap adventure to find the forger. But is bringing the criminal to justice worth the price of their lives?”
The Mona Lisa Mystery by Pat Hutchins. “Class 3 of Hampstead Primary School takes a school trip to Paris and lands right in the middle of a mystery.”
Vidalia in Paris by Sasha Watson. “Teenage Vidalia’s summer in Paris studying art settles into a stimulating and enjoyable routine until she becomes romantically involved with a mysterious young man who seems to have ties to an art-theft ring.”
(Descriptions of books I have not read or reviewed come from GoodReads.)

A sequel featuring Moxie and her geo-caching friend Ollie is in the works: Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting by Erin Dionne, due out summer of 2014.

Breakfast on Mars, edited by Rebecca Stern and Brad Wolfe

Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays: Your Favorite Authors Take a Stab at the Dreaded Essay Assignment, edited by Rebecca Stern and Brad Wolfe.

These 38 essays by children’s and YA authors such as Elizabeth Winthrop, Rita Williams-Garcia, Kirsten Miller, Laurel Snyder, and Wendy Moss, are not your average English assignment, get it written and turn it in, essays. These essays sparkle. From the introduction to this collection:

“For too long, we have held essays captive in the world’s most boring zoo. We’ve taken all the wild words, elaborate arguments, and big hairy ideas found in essays, and we’ve poached them from their natural habitat. We’ve locked essays in an artificial home.


Essay, we must tame you We must squish you into five paragraphs, and we must give you so much structure that you cower in the corner, scared for your life.

The essay’s fate has long looked bleak. But do not despair, for change is brewing. In the following pages, you’ll catch a glimpse of something most people have never seen in the wild. We’ve let essays out of their cages, and we’ve set them loose. We’ve allowed them to go back to their roots.”

So, in this collection we have a variety of essays, all written with creativity and flair.

How about a personal essay: Ransom Riggs on “Camp Dread, or How to Survive a Shockingly Awful Summer”? It’s a new twist on “What I Did Last Summer.”

Or perhaps a persuasive essay on why we should (Chris Higgins) or shouldn’t (Chris Higgins again) colonize Mars or why the author (Kirsten Miller) believes “Sasquatch Is Out There (And He Wants Us to Leave Him Alone)” or “Why We Need Tails” by Ned Vizzini.

A character analysis essay on Princess Leia (Cecil Castellucci, who is a female, by the way) or Super Mario (Alan Gratz).

The authors take on subjects such as memories (Rita Williams-Garcia), time machines (Steve Almond), life before television (Elizabeth Winthrop), invisibility (Maile Meloy), humpback anglerfish (Michael Hearst) and names (Jennifer Lu).

Did you know you can write graphic essays with pictures (“Penguin Etiquette” by Chris Epting) or cartoons (“On Facing My Fears” by Khalid Birdsong)?

My favorite essay of the bunch, because it spoke to me as a parent, was Lena Roy’s “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll”. I won’t tell you the details of Ms. Roy’s adolescent adventures with being “cool”, but I will refer you to the essay in which her dad makes some very wise parenting decisions and gives the young Lena some very wise words to live by:

“Words matter, Lena. What we say about ourselves matter. The words we use to represent ourselves matter. You know that. We only have so many ways we can express ourselves, and words are the most powerful.”

These essays are examples for teens (and adults) of how words can matter in a good way, how, to use the title of yet another essay in this collection, “A Single Story Can Change Many Lives” (Craig Kielburger). It’s time for us all to start writing those stories— in un-squished, wild, and powerful essays.

What a great tool for teachers and what a great illustration of what the essay can be for students of all ages!

Celebration! Happy Independence Day!

I’m re-posting this list of 55 ways to celebrate the 4th of July–or to celebrate the USA any day.

1. Read the Declaration of Independence. Take a Declaration of Independence quiz. Learn more about American Independence Day at Independence Day on the Net.

2. Sing or learn about The Battle Hymn of the Republic

3. Some picture books for July 4th:
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Paul Revere’s Ride.Illustrated by Ted Rand. Dutton, 1990.
Dalgliesh, Alice.The 4th of July Story. Alladin, 1995. (reprint edition)
Spier, Peter. The Star-Spangled Banner. Dragonfly Books, 1992.
Bates, Katharine Lee. America the Beautiful. Illustrated by Neil Waldman. Atheneum, 1993.
Devlin, Wende. Cranberry Summer.
St. George, Judith. The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence.
Osornio, Catherine. The Declaration of Independence from A to Z.
More picture books for Independence Day.

4. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born July 4, 1804. Advice from Nathaniel Hawthorne on Blogging.

5. Stephen Foster was born on July 4, 1826. The PBS series American Experience has an episode on the life of Stephen Foster, author of songs such as Beautiful Dreamer and Oh! Susanna.

6. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day, July 4, 1826, fifty years after adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Adams’ last words were: “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”
Jefferson’s last words: “Is it the fourth?”
I highly recommend both David McCullough’s biography of John Adams and the PBS minseries based on McCullough’s book.

7. Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872. He is supposed to have said, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it,” and “I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”
Also, “we do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”
Amen to that.
More on Calvin Coolidge and the Fourth of July from A Quiet Simple Life.

8. You could make your own fireworks for the Fourth of July. Engineer Husband really used to do this when he was a young adolescent, and I can’t believe his parents let him. He tried to make nitroglycerine once, but he got scared and made his father take it outside and dispose of it! Maybe you should just read about how fireworks are made and then imagine making your own.

9. On July 4, 1970 Casey Kasem hosted “American Top 40″ on radio for the first time. I cannot tell a lie; in high school I spent every Sunday afternoon listening to Casey Kasem count down the Top 40 hits of the week. Why not make up your own Top 40 All-American Hits List and play it on the fourth for your family?

10. Via Ivy’s Coloring Page Search Engine, I found this page of free coloring sheets for the 4th of July. We liked the fireworks page.

11. Fly your American flag.

12. Read a poem to your children about Leetla Giorgio Washeenton. Or read this biography of George Washington.

13. Read about another president you admire.

14. Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen. Subtitled “The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787,” this book is the one that gave me the story of the US constitution. It’s suitable for older readers, at least middle school age, but it’s historical writing at its best. I loved reading about Luther Martin of Maryland, whom Henry Adams described as “the notorious reprobate genius.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts who was”always satisfied to shoot an arrow without caring about the wound he caused.” (Both Gerry and Martin refused to sign the final version of the Constitution.) Of course, there were Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, George Washington, who presided over the convention in which all present knew that they were creating a presidency for him to fill, and Ben Franklin, the old man and elder statesman who had to be carried to the convention in a sedan chair. Ms. Bowen’s book brings all these characters and more to life and gives the details of the deliberations of the constitutional convention in readable and interesting format.

15. Watch a movie.
Getttysburg is a tragedy within the tragedy that was the Civil War, but it’s also patriotic and inspiring.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington has Jimmy Stewart demonstrating what’s wrong and what’s right about American government and politics.
I like 1776, the musical version of the making of the Declaration Of Independence, but it does have some mildly risque moments.
Other patriotic movies. And a few more.

16. Have yourself some BarBQ.

17. Play a game. Organize a bike parade.

18. Take a virtual tour of Philadelphia’s famous historical sites. Learn more about the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross Home, Valley Forge, Brandywine Battlefield, Independence Hall, and other sites.

19. Host a (cup)cake decorating contest.

20. Download a free Independence Day wallpaper for your computer. More free wallpapers.

21. Photograph some fireworks. Check out some fireworks photographs.

22. Listen to The Midnight Ride from Focus on the Family’s series, Adventures in Odyssey, to be broadcast on Wednesday July 4th.

23. Read aloud the Declaration of Independence.

24. Listen to some marches by John Philip Sousa, performed by the U.S. Marine Band. I played several of these, not very well, on my flute when I was in Homer Anderson’s Bobcat Band.

25. Enjoy A Capitol Fourth, broadcast live on PBS from Washington, D.C.

26. Send an e-card to someone you love.

27. Pledge allegiance with Red Skelton.

28. Bake and decorate a flag cake.

29. When Life sends you an Independence Day, make lemonade.

30. July is National Hot Dog Month and National Baked Bean Month.

31. Fourth of July Crafts and Treats: cupcakes, windsocks, stars, hats, and more.

32. A patriotic pedicure?

33. More Fourth of July crafts.

34. Patriotic parfait.

35. Start an all-American read aloud, such as:
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.
Guns for General Washington by Seymour Reit.
Tolliver’s Secret by Esther Woods Brady.

36. Independence Day printables from Crayola. And more coloring pages from Moms Who Think.

37. Sing the U.S. national anthem, Oh, Say Can You See?, all the way through. Memorize at least the first verse.

38. More Fourth of July recipes.

39. We always attend the Fourth of July parade in Friendswood, Texas, except not this year since some of us will be traveling. Anyway, find a parade and take the kids or grandkids or neighbor kids. A Fourth of July parade is a celebration of American patriotism in a capsule.

40. Free printable patriotic U.S.A. calendars.

41. Fourth of July art projects for preschoolers and the young at heart.

42. Read a version of Patrick Henry’s great Give Me Liberty speech.

43. Check out A Book of Americans by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet. It’s a great book of poems about various famous Americans, and I think lots of kids would enjoy hearing it read aloud, maybe a poem a day in July.

44. Make a pinwheel or other printable craft. Or print some games.

45. Spend some time praying for our nation’s leaders: President Barack Obama, your senators, your representatives, the governor of your state, your state representatives, and others.

46. Wear red, white, and blue. Or put red and blue streaks in your hair. When I was in junior high, flag pins and ponchos were in style. I had a flag pin and a red, white, and blue poncho, both of which I wore together. I was stylin’!

47. On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau went to live near Walden Pond. Thoreau and Sherry on Clothing.

48. Any of the following nonfiction books for children would make a good Fourth of July history lesson:
The Story of the Boston Tea Party by R. Conrad Stein
The Story of Lexington and Concord by R. Conrad Stein
The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence by Dennis Brindell Fradin
The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Norman Richards
The American Revolution (Landmark Books) by Bruce Jr Bliven
The War for Independence: The Story of the American Revolution by Albert Marrin
The Story of Valley Forge by R. Conrad Stein
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz
The Story of the Battle of Yorktown by Anderson
Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen.
The Story of the Constitution by Marilyn Prolman
In Defense of Liberty: The Story of America’s Bill of Rights by Russell Freedman
An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
George Washington and the Founding of a Nation by Albert Marrin
The Story of Old Glory by Mayer

49. Host a block party or potluck dinner.

50. Take a picnic to the park.

51. Read 1776 by David McCullough or the two companion novels, Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson. All three would make great Fourth of July reads. Semicolon thoughts here.

52. Serve a Fourth of July “mocktail”–red, white and blue. (Lots of other ideas on Pinterest.)

53. More Pinterest. And lots more.

54. Host a Fourth of July water balloon fight.

55. Give thanks to the Lord of all nations for the United States of America, that He has made this country, sustained it, and blessed it. Pray that we will be a nation of people that honor Him.

Sunday Salon: Links and Thinks: June 9, 2013

Albert Mohler’s Books for a Summer Season: Some Recommended Reading

'sunset on George R. Brown' photo (c) 2012, Steve - license:

I didn’t know until I saw Mr. Mohler’s tweet that the Southern Baptist Convention is meeting in Houston this week. Welcome, Baptists!

“Praying for the city of Houston tonight. 4th largest in nation. May the #SBC13 be a Gospel blessing to this city.”

Adult/Teen Summer Reading at Redeemed Reader. This read-along looks like fun!

A Handmade Hobbit Hole, Bag End from The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. Take a look at this dollhouse/hobbit home; it’s quite impressive.

Peggy Noonan on government surveillance and data gathering “There is no way a government in the age of metadata, with the growing capacity to listen, trace, tap, track and read, will not eventually, and even in time systematically, use that power wrongly, maliciously, illegally and in areas for which the intelligence gathering was never intended. People are right to fear that the government’s surveillance power will be abused. It will be.”

All I can say is have they read Orwell’s 1984? No, I mean really, have they read it, or have they read these books by Cory Doctorow? Or any of the dozens, nay, hundreds of dystopian novels that have been all the rage in YA fiction for the past several years? Don’t they know that the systematic invasion of everyone’s privacy by the government will come back to bite them in the you-know-what?

How to Discourage Artists in the Church by Phillip Ryken. The church needs artists and needs to affirm artists. If some of the items in Mr. Ryken’s list of “ways to discourage artistic giftedness” make you think of something that your church is doing wrong, maybe you can help to create change in this very important area.

A Summer Reading List for Dancer Daughter

Dancer Daughter is 23 years old and just went away to college in North Texas for the summer. She called this afternoon and asked me for some reading suggestions, so I thought I’d post my list for her so that you all could see it, too.

Some of Dancer Daughter’s favorite authors are Madeleine L’Engle, Robin McKinley, Agatha Christie, and Sarah Dessen. She also likes memoirs and true crime books and books related to biology and forensics. She’s majoring in college in laboratory science/biology.

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow. Jayber Crow is a book about community and about the secret life of a Kentucky bachelor and about love that is love even when it’s unconsummated. And Mr. Jayber Crow is one of the most thoughtful characters I’ve read about in any book. He’s a homespun philosopher, and better yet, a loving man.

Cahalan, Susanah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. A journalist describes her remarkable recovery from a rare and mysterious illness.

Christie, Agatha. Evil Under the Sun. “And from June till September (with a short season at Easter) the Jolly Roger Hotel was usually packed to the attics. . . . There was one very important person (in his own estimation at least) staying at the Jolly Roger. Hercule Poirot, resplendent in a white duck suit, with a panama hat tilted over his eyes, his mustaches magnificently befurled, lay back in an improved type of deck chair and surveyed the bathing beach.”

Dean, Pamela. Tam Lin. Dean’s novelization of the ballad/story Tam Lin is set on a modern day college campus that is “haunted” or maybe invaded by faery folk disguised as professors and students. The students themselves are rather pagan, with very little hint of even the vestiges of Christian thought to inform their decisions.

Godden, Rumer. In This House of Brede. An excellent story about the lives of women within a closed community of nuns. Not only does the reader get to satisfy his curiosity about how nuns live in a convent, but there’s also a a great plot related to contemporary issues such as abortion, the efficacy of prayer, and the morality of absolute obedience.

Lindbergh, Anne Morrow. Bring Me a Unicorn: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1922-1928. Before she was married to famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, Anne Morrow, daughter of the American ambassador to Mexico, kept a journal and wrote a plethora of letters. This book is the first of five volumes of collected letters and journal entries of Anne Morrow soon-to-be Lindbergh. The others are called: Hour of Gold Hour of Lead, Locked Rooms Open Doors, The Flower and the Nettle, and War Within and Without.

Mckay, Lisa. My Hands Came Away Red. Eighteen year old Cori decides to spend her summer in Indonesia, building a church, out of mixed motives. Yes, Cori is a Christian, and she wants to do something meaningful in God’s service. She also wants to get away from her confusing relationship with her boyfriend, Scott, and she just wants to experience her own adventure. She gets a lot more “adventure” than she bargained for.

Verghese, Abraham. Cutting for Stone. Co-joined (Siamese) twins are separated at birth but sustain an unbreakable bond throughout the vicissitudes of life in Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia, and even after one of the twins, Marion, must flee to the United States for political reasons.

Young, Glynn. Dancing Priest and the sequel, A Light Shining. The story of Michael Kent, Olympic cyclist, Edinburgh student, Anglican priest, and orphan with a mysterious past. Of course, it’s also the story of Sarah Hughes, American artist and also a student in Edinburgh, whose lack of faith throws a kink in the developing romance between her and Michael.

Ooooh, let’s play book tag:

“In this game, readers suggest a good book in the category given, then let somebody else be ‘it’ before they offer another suggestion. There is no limit to the number of books a person may suggest, but they need to politely wait their turn with only one book suggestion per comment.”

Only this time, instead of a category, look at Dancer Daughter’s interests and favorites, and suggest one book per comment for her summer reading list.

The Storm Makers by Jennifer E. Smith

I don’t know what they’re paying Brett Helquist to illustrate a book, but if it’s not a lot, he should demand more. I also don’t know if Mr. Helquist has some kind of magical spell that he places on his illustrations, but I’m telling you that his pictures draw me into a story in a way that seems almost bewitched. I’m reading along, thinking how much I’m enjoying the story, glancing at the illustrations, thinking something looks familiar about them. However, I don’t usually pay much attention to pictures. Then, I get to the end of the book, close it with a satisfied sigh, and idly wonder who the illustrator was. I look and see that it was Brett Helquist, and I try to imagine the book without the added dimension of Mr. Helquist’s drawings. It’s just not the same story without the pictures.

The Storm Makers would be a good book even without illustrations, but with Helquist’s talents, it’s a great book. The twins Ruby and Simon McDuff have moved to a farm in Wisconsin from their previous home in Chicago. Dad wants to be an inventor, and Mom wants to become an artist. And since the move, all Simon can think about is baseball and being with other boys. Ruby misses the way she and her brother used to share everything. Now it feels as if everything is changing, and she and Simon are miles apart even though they live in the same house.

The changes that are coming, however, push Ruby and Simon closer and closer together, even if they’re not sure what to do about the drought and storms that are shaking their little world. Could Simon have a special talent that might put him in great danger? Who is the mysterious stranger hiding out in the old barn? Who can Ruby and Simon trust to tell them the truth about the weather and the world?

I really don’t want to tell you too much more about this book because I want you to enjoy all the twists and turns as much as I did. I was a bit frustrated with the “good guys” and how little information they were willing to share with Ruby and Simon. And of course, you know that “door” that you absolutely know as you’re reading the characters shouldn’t open? Ruby and Simon open it, of course.

Still, if you can get past the refusal of adult mentors to share vital information and the stupidity of the main characters in going where they ought not to go, it really is a great story. Readalikes are Savvy by Ingrid Law, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, and perhaps 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson. At least, those are the books I was reminded of as I read The Storm Makers. Some budding young scientists may also want to read more nonfiction about weather and how it works after reading The Storm Makers. I’d suggest:

Reading Out Loud: 55 Favorite Read-Aloud Books from the Semicolon Homeschool

I’m not saying these are THE BEST read-alouds, just some of our favorites.

1. Adams, Richard. Watership Down. Violence and mythology and rabbits. This novel of rabbit communities is long, but worth persevering through.
2. Aiken, Joan. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Deliciously Victorian, and dangerous, and odd, this one is a sort of October-ish book.
3. Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women or Eight Cousins. I prefer Eight Cousins, but of course, Little Women is a classic. Little Women is #47 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
4. Alexander, Lloyd. The Book of Three and all the sequels. Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, Eilonwy the annoyingly intelligent and plain-spoken princess, Gurgi, and Fflewddur Fflam, the truth-stretching harpist are favorite character in our fictional pantheon. #18 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
5. Balliett, Blue. The Wright 3. All of these detective adventures centred on famous works of art are favorites of my youngest two girls. They have listened to Chasing Vermeer, The Calder Game, and The Wright 3 many times in audiobook form.
6. Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan. I like James Barrie’s imaginative story very much, and think the movies Peter Pan (Walt Disney), Hook by Steven Spielberg with Robin williams as grown up Peter), and Finding Neverland (more for adults) are all good follow-up viewing for after you read the book aloud. #86 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
7. Benary-Isbert, Margot. The Ark. Not many people are familiar with this story set in Germany just after World War II. It’s about children surviving the aftermath of war, about animals and animal-lovers, and about family. A good read-aloud for older children.
8. Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks:A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. My children and I love the Penderwick family. In fact, when I started reading this one aloud to some of the younger children, my then-15 year old was entrapped in the story, and picked it up to finish it on her own. #29 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list. Z-baby and I discuss The Penderwicks.
9. Bond, Michael. A Bear Called Paddington. Paddington has been a favorite around here since Eldest Daughter (age 26) was a preschooler.
10. Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Little Princess. From riches to rags and back again, the story of the orphaned Sara Crewe is delightful and richly Victorian. #56 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
11. Carroll, Lewis. Alice in Wonderland. I think Alice is a love-it or ate-it proposition. I love all the word play and sly wit. #31 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
12. Cleary, Beverly. Ramona the Pest. We’ve had to read all of the Ramona books to my youngest, Z-baby,and she’s listened to them on CD. Several times. #24 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
13. DeAngeli, Marguerite. The Door in the Wall. A crippled boy learns to be a strong, courageous man during the Middle Ages. We’ll probably be reading this book this year since Betsy-Bee is studying that time period.
14. DeJong, Meindert. The Wheel on the School. A group of children work together to bring the storks back to Shora in Holland.
15. DiCamillo, Kate. The Tale of Despereaux. A mouse who loves a princess and save her from the rats. Z-baby recommends this one. #51 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
16. Enright, Elizabeth. The Saturdays. If you like The Penderwicks, you should enjoy Enright’s stories about the Melendy famly, or vice-versa. #75 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
17. Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses. Short, poignant story of a group of girls who find out too late that people who are different and perhaps misunderstood should still be treated with care and gentleness.
18. Forbes, Esther. Johnny Tremain. Good accompaniment to a study of American history.
19. Gilbreth, Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. Cheaper by the Dozen. Z-baby says this story about a family with an even dozen children is funny and good to read aloud.
20. Gipson, Fred. Old Yeller. One of those dog stories where the dog, of course, dies, but it’s still a good read aloud for frontier studies or Texas history.
21. Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. Read aloud slowly and carefully and savour the descriptions and the setting and the antics of Mole, Rat, Badger, and especially Toad and his motorcar. Brian Sibley on the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Wind in the Willows (2008).
22. Juster, Norton. The Phantom Tollbooth. Milo is bored until he goes through the tollbooth into a world of word play and numerical delights. #21 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
23. Karr, Kathleen. The Great Turkey Walk. In 1860, big, brawny Simon Green, who’s just completed third grade (for the fourth time), sets out to herd a huge flock of bronze turkeys all the way from his home in eastern Missouri to the boomtown of Denver, where they’ll fetch a big price.
/>24. Kipling, Rudyard. Just So Stories. These stories are good to listen to because Kipling used words in a very poetic, vocabulary-enriching way, even in his prose. The book includes stories such as How the Leopard Got His Spots and How the Camel Got His Hump and others.
25. Konigsburg, E.L. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Z-baby likes it because the children are independent, resourceful, and funny and they visit a real museum in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. #7 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list. Z-baby and I discuss the Mixed-Up Files.
26. L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. Meg, and Calvin, and Charles Wallace rescue Father from IT. #2 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list. More about Madeleine L’Engle and her wonderful books.
27. Lamb, Charles and Mary. Tales from Shakespeare.
28. Lang, Andrew. The Violet Fairy Book. And all the other multi-colored fairy books.
29. Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. What can I say about the Narnia books that hasn’t already been said. Get all seven of them , read them aloud, listen to them, read them again. #5 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
30. Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstocking. I like the edition that came out a coupe of years ago with illustrations by Lauren Child for reading aloud because the pictures are delightful and because it’s large and easy to hold. #91 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
31. Lovelace, Maud Hart. Betsy-Tacy. Eldest Daughter was a huge fan of the books of Maud Hart Lovelace, and in fact they took her from childhood into her late teen years along with Betsy and her friends. #52 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
32. Macdonald, Betty. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. If only I had Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle living near-by in her upside-down house to solve all my parenting problems.
33. MacDonald, George. The Princess and the Goblin. Princess Irene and her stout friend Curdie, the miner’s son, must outwit the goblins who live inside the mountain. “I write, not for children, but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.” ~George Macdonald
34. Milne, A.A. Winnie-the Pooh. Every child should read or hear read this classic story of Christopher Robin and his Bear of Very Little Brain, Pooh. #26 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
35. Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables. Read aloud or listen to the Focus on the Family radio dramatized version. #8 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
36. Nesbit, Edith. Five Children and It. Predecessor to the stories by Edward Eager and other magical tales.
37. Norton, Mary. The Borrowers. Little people live inside the walls and nooks of an English house and only come out at night to “borrow” things that the people don’t use or need anymore. The story in the book(s) is much better than the movie version.
38. O’Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins. Karana, a native American girl, is accidentally left alone on an island off the coast of California, and she must use all her wits and ingenuity to survive. #45 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
39. Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terebithia. Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke become friends and imagine together a land called Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen. #10 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
40. Pyle, Howard. Otto of the Silver Hand. Another tale of the Middle Ages about courage and dealing with suffering and cruelty.
41. Pyle, Howard. The Adventures of Robin Hood.
42. Pyle, Howard. The Story of King Arthur and His Knights.
43. Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows. Another good dog story. #34 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
44. Salten, Felix. Bambi. Bambi. A little fawn grows into a handsome stag. You can a Kindle edition of this translated classic for free.
45. Serrailer, Ian. The Silver Sword, or Escape from Warsaw.Best World War II story for children ever. Pair it with The Ark for a study of refugees during and after the war in Europe.
46. Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty. A horse story told from the point of view of a Victorian working horse.
47. Sidney, Margaret. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. A bit cloyingly sweet for some adult readers, but children love the story of the five little Pepper children and their cheerfulness in the midst of poverty.
48. Speare, Elizabeth. The Bronze Bow. Adventure story that takes place during the time of Jesus’s incarnation. Daniel barJamin and his friends Joel and his twin sister Malthace must choose between rebellion and hatred for the Roman conquerors and the way of following this man Jesus, who preaches love and forgiveness.
49. Streatfeild, Noel. Ballet Shoes. Three sisters—Pauline, Petrova, and Posie— are orphans who must learn to dance to support themselves when their guardian disappears. #78 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
50. Sutcliff, Rosemary. Black Ships before Troy. The story of the Iliad (Trojan War) retold for children with beautiful illustrations by Alan Lee.
51. Tolkien, JRR. The Hobbit. Our read aloud experiences with The Habbit are chronicled here and here and here and here and here and here and here. #14 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
52. Travers, P.L. Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins, the book,isn’t the same as the movie, and you may or may not like both. I do, but in different ways.
53. Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Every boy, at east, should read or listen to Tom Sawyer.
54. White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. #1 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.
55. Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House in the Big Woods. #19 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Children’s Novels list.

Yikes, I left off some really good read aloud books, but I was limited to 55. So check out the Fuse #8 list (not technically a read-aloud list, but still a good place to look), and this list from Jim Trelease, this list of favorites at Hope Is the Word, and this list that I made a few years ago. Whatever, you do, though, read some books out loud as a family. It will change your life (as my next-door neighbor used to say about some discovery or activity about once a week.)

55 Texas Tales: From Galveston to Amarillo to Brownsville to El Paso

I must admit that I’m a proud Texan with a mild Texas accent and a whiff of Texas braggadocio. And I think reading books by Texan authors or books set deep in the heart of Texas is a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

Adams, Andy. The Log of a Cowboy. Semicolon review here.

Anderson, Jessica Lee. Border Crossing. YA novel about an Hispanic teen who is dealing with paranoid schizophrenia. I will be looking for a copy of this novel soon.

Appelt, Kathi. The Underneath. Animal story from the Big Thicket of East Texas. Semicolon review here.

Baker, Betty. Walk the World’s Rim. The tragic story of a Native American boy named Chacko and of Esteban, the slave who accompanied Coronado on his search for the Seven Lost Cities of Cibola.

Beatty, Patricia. Wait for Me, Watch for Me, Eula Bee. Captured-by-Indians fiction set in West Texas, 1860’s. Semicolon review here.

Bertrand, J. Mark. Back on Murder. A murder mystery/police procedural set in Houston. Sequels are Pattern of Wounds and Nothing to Hide. Semicolon review here.

Bissinger, H.G. Friday Night Lights. The book that started it all, led to a movie and then a TV Series. I read that the people of Odessa are still mad at Bissinger for his portrayal of their town. I’m not mad, but I do think he probably misunderstood a few things. Semicolon book review here.

Brammer, Billy Lee. The Gay Place. This novel is supposed to be about LBJ in disguise. I haven’t read it, but I’d like to check it out.

Brett, Jan. Armadillo Rodeo. A picture book about Bo the Armadillo who longs for adventure.

dePaola, Tomie. The Legend of the BLuebonnet. A picture book telling the Native American legend concerning Texas’s state flower, the bluebonnet.

Donovan, James. The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo–and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation. I haven’t read this book yet, but Al Mohler recommends it.

Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Semicolon review here.

Erickson, John. Moonshiner’s Gold. Great action-packed adventure with engaging characters and a lot of history sneaking in through the back door. John Erickson is known for his Hank the Cowdog series, but this stand-alone adventure is just a good as the Hank books and should be just the right reading level for most sixth graders.

Erickson, John. The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog. Early and middle grade readers will enjoy this series of tales about a lovable cowdog.

Ferber, Edna. Giant is really a fantasy. I just don’t know very many people in Texas who live like the Benedicts or who ever did. And Ms. Ferber was from Michigan. But Giant is a fun Texas fantasy, and it does manage to give the sense of how everyone in Texas wants to at least pretend that Texas and all its cultural appendices are bigger than life.

Fritz, Jean. Make Way for Sam Houston. Semicolon review here.

Garland, Sherry. In the Shadow of the Alamo. This YA novel set during the Texas Revolution is different because it’s told from the perspective of a Mexican boy, Lorenzo, who’s conscripted into Santa Anna’s army and forced to fight the Tejanos at the Alamo and at San Jacinto.

Garland, Sherry. A Line in the Sand: The Alamo Diary of Lucinda Lawrence Gonzales, Texas, 1836. A Dear America series book set at the battle of the Alamo.

Gibbs, Stuart. Belly Up! Semicolon review here.

Gipson, Fred. Old Yeller. Classic. (I once had Mr. Gipson’s ex-wife for an English teacher in high school. I think. At least that was the rumor in my high school.)

Graves, John. Goodbye to a River. A story of the author’s canoe trip down the Brazos River.

Greene, A.C. A Personal Country. Memoir/essays about the culture and people of West Texas, Abilene in particular. I want to read this book, too.
Harrigan, Stephen. The Gates of the Alamo. Adult fiction. Semicolon review here.

Hemphill, Helen. The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones. An engaging Western novel about cowboy life for middle school readers. Semicolon review here.

Hoff, Carol. Johnny Texas.

Holt, Kimberly Willis. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. National Book Award winner.

Janke, Katelan. Survival in the Storm: The Dust Bowl Diary of Grace Edwards, Dalhart, Texas 1935. Another Dear America journal-style book for middle grade and young adult girls.

Karr, Kathleen. Oh Those Harper Girls! Semicolon review here.

Karr, Mary. The Liar’s Club: A Memoir. I haven’t read this best-seller from 1995 about the author’s dysfunctional East Texas upbringing. Can anyone else recommend it?

Kelly, Jacqueline. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Middle grade fiction set in 1899. Semicolon review here.

Kelton, Elmer. The Day the Cowboys Quit. Kelton was born in Crane, Texas, and he used to live in San Angelo, my hometown.

Kelton, Elmer. The Time It Never Rained.

Kelton, Elmer. Lone Star Rising: The Texas Rangers Trilogy. The Buckskin Line, Badger Boy and The Way of the Coyote. Semicolon review here.

Lake, Julie. Galveston’s Summer of the Storm. Semicolon review of this children’s fiction book set before and during the Galveston hurricane of 1900. It starts with a very lazy Texas summer with Texas foods and hot weather and front porches and grandmother’s house. Then disaster!

Larson, Eric. Isaac’s Storm. Semicolon review of this nonfiction tome about the man who was the chief weatherman for the U.S. Weather Bureau on Galveston Island in 1900.

Matthews, Sally Reynolds. Interwoven. A memoir by a pioneer woman about life on the Texas frontier.

McMurtrey, Larry. Lonesome Dove. I hated this book, but I’m in the minority.

Meacham, Leila. Roses. Tumbleweeds: A Novel. I haven’t read these “family saga” novels by a Texas author and set in East Texas and Amarillo, respectively, but they sound intriguing.

Meyer, Carolyn. Where the Broken Heart Still Beats. YA historical fiction about Indian captive Cynthia Ann Parker.

Meyer, Carolyn. White Lilacs. Early 1920′s, segregation and racial conflict. Here it is reviewed at Becky’s Book Reviews.

Michener, James A. Texas. Typical Michener, somewhat mythologized, but sprawling and readable.

Moss, Jenny. Winnie’s War. Semicolon thoughts here.

Murphy, Jim. Inside the Alamo. This nonfiction account of the famous Battle of the Alamo is a good introduction for grown-ups, too.

Reading, Amy. The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, A Cunning Revenge, And A Small History Of The Big Con. I haven’t read this nonfiction book either, but I saw it recommended at NPR’s website.

Rinaldi, Ann. Come Juneteenth. Slavery in Texas during and after the Civil War.

Sachar, Louis. Holes. Set in a sort of mythical, contemporary Texas, this Newbery-award winning novel is just right for a sweltering hot Texas afternoon.

Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Yet another book I haven’t read, but it’s recommended at NPR’s summer reading list. Set in El Paso with two young men as protagonists, it sounds wonderful. I just picked it up at the library, so I’ll let you kow.

Shefelman Janice. Comanche Song. Semicolon review here.

Shefelman, Janice. Spirit of Iron. Semicolon review here.

Smith, Sherri. Flygirl. YA WWII fiction about an African-American girl who “passes” for white and becomes a WASP (Women’s Air Force Service Pilot). Semicolon review here.

Stokes, David R. Apparent Danger: The Pastor of America’s First Megachurch and the Texas Murder Trial of the Decade in the 1920′s (aka
The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America) Semicolon review here.

Thomason, John W. Lone Star Preacher. “traces the life and times of a fiery Methodist preacher in East Texas during the Civil War era.” This novel joins my lengthy TBR list.

Tinkle, Lon. 13 Days to Glory: The Siege of the Alamo. You can never read too many books about the Alamo, and this one is classic.

Valby, Karen. Welcome to Utopia: Notes from a Small Town. “The book is a portrait of a small town in transition, a town that is growing globally and perhaps even philosophically, if not physically.” ~Booklist

Wisler, G. Clifton. All for Texas: A Story of Texas Liberation. 13-year old Thomas Jefferson Byrd gets caught up in the War for Texas Independence.

Wisler, G. Clifton. Buffalo Moon. Semicolon review here.

Wisler, G. Clifton. Winter of the Wolf. Semicolon review here.

Wisler, G. Clifton. The Wolf’s Tooth. Semicolon review here.

Wood, Jane Roberts. The Train to Estelline. From this list at Texas Reads.

Saturday Review of Books: July 7, 2012

“The sight of the cover of a book one has previously read retains, woven into the letters of its title, the moonbeams of a far-off summer night.” ~Marcel Proust


Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read. That’s how my own TBR list has become completely unmanageable and the reason I can’t join any reading challenges. I have my own personal challenge that never ends.

Book Tag: Summer Setting, Summer Reading

How would you like to play book tag this summer? The idea for this game originally came from Carmon at her blog Buried Treasure, but since she no longer seems to be keeping a blog, I thought we’d play here.

“In this game, readers suggest a good book in the category given, then let somebody else be ‘it’ before they offer another suggestion. There is no limit to the number of books a person may suggest, but they need to politely wait their turn with only one book suggestion per comment.”

Here are links to some of Carmon’s book tag posts:

Art and Architecture
Big, Happy Families
Crafts, Hobbies and Domestic Arts
Literary Fiction
Time to Laugh

So, the category for today is: Summer Setting, Summer Reading.

What are the best books you’ve read that are set during summer or make you think of summer or seem just right for summertime reading?

I’ll start off with a couple of links to posts here at Semicolon, and a suggestion.

Summer Reading: 52 Picks for the Hols
Death in Summer: Mysteries for Hot Days

And my suggestion to start off this game of book tag is Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome. Three young men and a dog named Montmorency go boating down the Thames to improve their health and disposition. They meet up with angry swans and assertive steam-launches, among other obstacles, but they are nevertheless determined to finish out their “fortnight’s enjoyment on the river.”

It’s funny in a Wodehousian way, and I think it takes place in the summer, at least during some sort of holiday time.

So, ready, set, go! What’s your summer book recommendation?