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Monday, January 27, 2014

Things I've Read Recently (9) - Juvenile Fiction Edition

Boy, I sure hope you guys like these posts. Anyways, Things I've Read Recently is a series of blog posts I do of mini-reviews, basically, when I'm too lazy or have too many books or not enough thoughts or too many library fees to do real reviews. Or, in this case, a bit of a theme! Run with me here for a little, okay? I promise this will eventually make some sort of sense. Maybe. Kind of?

Dragons Don't Cook Pizza by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones (The Adventures of The Bailey School Kids #24)

Published: 1997 by Scholastic
Genre: Um. Middle Grade, I think. Chapter books? Children's Mystery? Sort of Fantasy but sort of not? I am terrible at this!
Binding: Paperback.
Page Count: 58
Part of a series? Yeah, seriously. There are something like 50 in this line, a joke book, like a dozen Super Special books, and a handful of holiday books. Plus there are Bailey School Kids Jr. chapter books, and the Bailey City Monsters series. THERE ARE A LOT OF THESE. The last book was published in 2007 as far as I can tell. I don't know if they're putting out more?
Oh and they're totally fine to read out of order.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Summary (from goodreads): There's a hot new pizza joint in Bailey City and Mrs. Jeepers brings the kids there for a special treat. The castle-shaped building and medieval-style costumes on the waiters are fun, but when a rumble from the kitchen shakes the restaurant's foundations, the kids get suspicious. George, the owner, says his cook is temperamental and the earth-shaking fits he has are nothing unusual, but the kids are pretty sure the owner is St. George the dragon slayer and that his cook is a captive dragon. Can the kids uncover the truth before the disgruntled cook becomes a real problem?

Thoughts: I got this one for the kid I baby-sit, but we ran out of time to do anything with it, but I wanted to reread it to see how they'd aged and if I'd still be okay recommending them to people. That would be a yes. This one in particular is a RL3 and I honestly think these are great for reluctant readers. They're largely dialogue, which can be a bit tedious as an adult reader, but works for kids. The premises are GREAT. Dragons, vampires, werewolves, zombies, Frankenstein, sea monsters, how could you go wrong? These would have been great if I'd gotten this post up for Halloween but I'm not that smooth!

I'm pretty sure most libraries will have a bunch of them. They also released a chunk of them with new covers some time in the 2000s which is neat. And I don't know about where you guys live, but these seem to come up as used books for sale for cheap a lot because of how popular they are/were, so it should be easy to get them. This one was quick to read for me, too, which is good if you want to pre-read books, like if your kids are sensitive to scary stuff or they're not yours so you need to make sure things are all appropriate. In general, I'm recommending these.

Also, I almost wish I had read the mummy one because that would fit so much better with the rest of the books in this post!

Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House #3)

Genre: Chapter Book/MG Fantasy
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 65
Part of a series? Yes. There are currently 50 books in the Magic Tree House series currently out. After book 29, they become "Merlin Missions" which are longer and have a higher reading level. They do have over-all series arcs which would make more sense if you read them in order, but they're okay as standalones. Better in order, though! There are also 28 non-fiction companions I'll talk about later in this review.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Summary (from goodreads): Jack and Annie don't need another mummy.

But that's what they get when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to ancient Egypt. There they meet a long-dead queen who needs their help. Will Jack and Annie be able to solve the puzzle, or will they end up as mummies themselves?

Thoughts: So. Once upon a time, I was a tiny little Laina who had never gotten in trouble in school basically ever. Well, besides the kindergarten teacher who hated me but I maintain that was not my fault because she mean and I'm not exagerating with that, she used to punish me for not eating. Seriously. Anyways, I made it through kindergarten and first grade without really getting into trouble. And then at some point in second grade, I found this book and absolutely fell in love with it instantly and decided I needed to finish it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. And because I was seven and I sat at the FRONT of the class, I got caught reading during class almost immediately.

My teacher was probably somewhat amused (I mean, could you not be as a teacher?) but of course I don't remember it that way. And then I had to stare at it sitting on the chalk shelf thing under the blackboard for the next forever.

One more bit of nostalgia, okay? And then I'll actually talk about the book.

The new cover is fine. It's got a lot of life and kids would probably like it a lot. But I read that one and that's the one I will remember forever :P

Anyways! I was planning a mummy thing with the kid that ended up not working out. (My hours got cut. It sucks.) Hence the books in the post. I decided to reread this one because why not?

I was surprised by how well these aged. As an adult, I liked this better than the Bailey School Kids book. I think these would be a lot easier to read out loud, too. I like that there are little facts about the subject of the book and that the author shows Jack's note-taking as something that he does for fun because it's interesting to him and not just like a homework type thing. The problem solving aspect is lovely and the more magic parts of the book is lots of fun. I loved this series as a kid and I'd highly recommend these. This one is a RL2.0, by the way, but I think they'd also be great for reluctant readers. The pictures are very appealing as well.

Mummies and Pyramids by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House Research Guide series/Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #3)

Published: February 2001 by Scholastic
Genre: Juvenile Non-Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 120
Part of a series? Yes. This is a companion series to the Magic Tree House series.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Summary (from goodreads): Unwrap the answers to questions about the pyramids and mummies with Jack and Annie's very own guide to the secrets of ancient Egypt. This companion to "Mummies in the Morning" includes information on hieroglyphics, how mummies were made, tomb treasures and robbers, Egyptian gods and goddesses, and much more.

Thoughts: I've never read this one before but I love this idea. There's lots of information that's presented in simple terms that are very kid appropriate. They're a really good starting place for researching/learning about stuff. I love the research tips and the resources provided to learn more. Very solid. The illustrations are black and white and I don't think they'd be frightening for kids in any way, even more sensitive kids.

Oh, also, you can get kindle books of these! Which is very neat.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb by R. L. Stine (Goosebumps #5, Classic Goosebumps #6)

Published: 1993 by Scholastic
Genre: MG Horror
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 144
Part of a series: Yes. There are tons of them and I am not listening them all.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Summary (from goodreads): Gabe just got lost - in a pyramid. One minute, his crazy cousin Sari was right ahead of him in the pyramid tunnel. The next minute, she'd disappeared.

But Gabe isn't alone. Someone else is in the pyramid, too.

Someone. Or some thing.

Gabe doesn't believe in the curse of the mummy's tomb.

But that doesn't mean that the curse isn't real.

Does it?

Thoughts: I'm actually surprised by how well these have aged. It's obviously not Shakespeare or anything, but a lot of kids would really enjoy these. They're RL4 and I think they would be amazing for reluctant readers partly because of the premise (lots of kids love the spooky stuff and these aren't SUPER scary) and also because so many of the chapters end on cliffhangers. Like, every chapter. And if you want to pre-read, they don't take hardly any time.

They've recently updated a bunch of these with new covers, and also extra features. This one has facts about Egypt, hieroglyphs, mummifictation, and an interview with R. L. Stine. Some of the references in the book itself can get a bit dated, like Nintendo/Super Nintendo, but this one at least isn't terribly dated. I've gotten a ton of these at yardsales and I know kids would enjoy them still.

Also I didn't have this one exactly, but I had this:

Which was the novelization of the television adaptation of the sequel. And does anyone else think it's weird that they put out novelization of a show based on a book??

Okay, indulge me for a minute because I don't get to talk about the stuff that often. In addition to these books, I also ordered some juvenile non-fiction books. They were:

Mummy Lairs by Michael Burgan

This one looks like it'd be more on the fantasy side of things, but this is all about real-life mummies. The neat thing is it featured a lot of natural mummies and mummies from different countries, not just from Egypt.

I would caution to maybe have this one be for older kids as some of the pictures are of real life mummies/bodies and that could be a bit disturbing for younger/more sensitive kids.

Mummies: The Newest, Coolest, and Creepiest From Around the World by Shelley Tanaka

Same as the last one, this is a lot about real-life mummies around the world, and also features natural mummies and ones from other places than strictly Egypty.

I would also caution that this one would be for older kids for the same reason as the last one. Lots of really interesting information, though.

Ancient Egypt by George Hard

DK Eyewitness books in my experience are generally very good. The language could be a bit advanced but I think you could break it up and make it work for younger kids. This book is more about Ancient Egypt life in general than mummies specifically and that's a neat thing to have, too. There's also a mmummy book, I'm seeing in the back of this one, but I dont have that one. There's a pyramid book. Using those at the same time as this one would be very cool.

I very much like how these books give you a lot of information but in small doses and the amount of gorgeous pictures is really, really neat.

Don't Know Much About Mummies by Kenneth C. Davis

I've never read anything from this series before, but this one is definitely aimed at a younger audience. It has no real photos, just illustrations, and a lot of the pictures are very bright and funny. There are jokes as well and the tone in general seems like it's for younger kids.

This one reminded me a bit of the "I Wonder Why" series that the kid and I read the pirate edition of (and there is a mummy edition, but I haven't read it) where they're funny but informative at the same time.

Now I realize that most of you aren't here for this, but I think you could put together a great study unit/summer project with all of these (minus the pizza book, that was for a different thing). And you could make a mummy of your own alongside it. Or a mummy for younger kids if you have different age groups going on or mummify a piece of apple. FOR SCIENCE.

*cough* Yeah, okay, so maybe I'm a bit of a dork.

Okay, okay, I'm done.

Hope this was even remotely interesting!

Oh, and, um, welcome to 2014.

Peace and cookies,