These days, dystopian novels are all the rage with the kids. Personally, I actually like them, too. Among the Hidden is an older book, so it's one that many kids today have probably not stumbled upon on their own.
In a time when third children are forbidden, Luke tries to live his life with his family out of sight of the public. He has a loving family and lives in a somewhat out of the way place. This allows him to go outside and do chores around the farm with his two older brothers.
But, then, things begin to change when the forest near his home is cut down to make way for new homes. The increase in population forces his family to keep Luke completely hidden inside. This way of life begins to weigh on him, until he catches a glimpse of what he thinks is another forbidden child.
Eventually, Luke meets this other third child, named Jen. He is then exposed to a whole new way of thinking and living. He's taking risks and learning more about the world he lives in.
Luke discovers that there are many more third children than he could have ever imagined, and there is a plot brewing to try to change their situation. Jen, is at the center of it. But, is it too dangerous? Is it worth the risk?
This first book in the series is engaging and moves at a quick pace. Readers who enjoy the idea of dystopian societies, but dislike the violence or graphic scenes that are often in more recent books, like The Hunger Games or Divergent, may find this book more to their liking. Parents can take comfort in the fact that the relationship between Luke and Jen is completely platonic. This book is recommended for grades three and up.
In honor of my June birthday, I'm giving a gift to readers! My children's book, Maisy and the Missing Mice will be free on the Kindle on June 28th and June 29th! Check it out here!
I recently finished the audio book edition of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. As someone who usually prefers to read the fantasy genre, I can say this caught my attention from the first words spoken by the narrator.
The story of a boy with genetic conditions that lead to facial abnormalities is narrated in first person by a variety of characters who know August "Auggie" Pullman, but is mostly narrated by August himself.
The story begins as August learns that his mother wants him to try going to school for the first time. He had previously been taught at home by his mother, somewhat out of necessity, due to his many medical procedures when he was younger. But, August enters middle school as a fifth grader and the audience follows him, and those who know him, through his fifth grade year.
The thing that I enjoyed most about the book was the insight into a variety of characters. We see August's perspective on certain events, and then we see the same events from another's perspective, such as his sister Olivia. Though, sometimes the story moves along in time with one character narrating entirely new plot developments. So, events are not always repeated when there is a new narrator, and when they were, there were new angles to the story so that nothing seemed repetitive. It was refreshing to form certain opinions about characters when viewed from Auggie's perspective, but then to be able to change those opinions when the story was narrated by those characters themselves. I felt that the emotions and motivations of those that know Auggie were portrayed in an authentic manner. Humans are flawed individuals, and the author portrayed that well.
Of course, there are some events that put Auggie in situations that tug at the heartstrings. There were a few times where I was genuinely angered by the actions of some characters. But, for this reader, that is a sign of a good book. Overall, I enjoyed the journey and the chance to spend a year with Auggie and those who know him. I think this is an excellent read and I plan to read it with my students in the Fall.
If you are a fan of audio books, I recommend this one, which I listened to through Audible.com. It features multiple narrators so that as different characters are telling their stories, the narrator changes. I have not read the print version yet, so I cannot offer my opinion on how it is laid out. Some reviewers on Amazon stated that they couldn't get past the grammatical errors. Apparently there are some parts with little to no capitalization. In the audio book, I caught little errors such as things like, "...me and mom..." I let them go because the narrator was fifth grade Auggie at the time, and it fit with the character and what the author was trying to portray.
While, as a language arts teacher, I may eventually find the format of the print version to be a little lacking, I am sure the errors were included to make it be a realistic representation of children sharing their own thoughts. All of the narration is in a first person point of view from one of the characters in the story. It sort of reads like the characters simply sharing their thoughts about and recollections of events for a large majority of the time. I think it makes sense for the story, even though I wouldn't say it should become a trend. I plan to use those errors, as well as the many lessons we can learn from Auggie and his family and friends, as teaching moments in the future.
This weekend I finished the book series called The Selection by Kiera Cass. I recommend it! Here's a quick synopsis. America Singer is chosen as part of The Selection, an event in which the prince of the country meets 35 young women and from which he must choose his future wife. The character development throughout the series is satisfying. America is a strong protagonist, though some of her actions show her young age and naivete`. The relationships are complicated enough to keep things interesting, including those between America and the prince, America and her first love, Aspen, and America and the other girls in The Selection.
It's included in the recent surge of dystopian novels, but it's not as focused on the negative aspects of the society in the same way novels like The Hunger Games or Divergent are. It has more of a romantic theme threaded throughout the story, though the dystopian elements are certainly there. I'd compare it more to the Matched series than The Hunger Games or Divergent. But, it's a good read. One thing that makes a book good for me is if I find myself getting riled up over it. Sometimes it was infuriating because I just wanted to know how it would end and what would become of America, Prince Maxxon, Aspen, and a few of the other characters. But, there were a variety of moments that were funny, intriguing, sad, romantic, and sweet.
The three book series includes The Selection, The Elite, and The One. So, the series is complete. Personally, I hate having to wait for novels in a series to come out! So, this one is a complete series. There are also a couple of novellas called The Prince and The Guard that are told from Prince Maxxon's point of view and Aspen's. But, I haven't read those and can't speak for them. I listened to the audio book, and the narrator is excellent.
Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a free copy of Maisy and the Missing Mice! The winner will be able to choose between an audio book, paperback, or Kindle copy. The winner will be required to provide an email address associated with an Amazon.com account for the Kindle or audio book editions. An Audible.com account is also acceptable for the audio book edition. A valid mailing address will be required for a paperback copy.
Recently, I realized my tennis shoes were getting rather old. I hadn't even noticed when the mesh on top of them had gotten full of holes! How does someone not notice that? Shortly after that, I saw an ad for these shoes from The Animal Rescue Site/Greater Good Network. I love animals and have a dog that I adopted through a local rescue organization. So, I was happy to look into the site's claims that my purchasing a pair of shoes could fund food for shelter dogs.
A little Googling led me to positive stories about The Greater Good Network and its websites that offer merchandise for sale while donating funds to a variety of causes, not just animals.
So, I happily clicked to purchase these shoes and discovered that not only did my purchase fund food for animals in shelters, they also donated a pair of shoes to Soles4Souls, and I had an option to donate vaccines to shelter animals as well.
I can only speak for this product, but the shoes are very well made and comfortable. They appear to be true to size as I normally wear a size six shoe and the size six shoes I ordered fit very well. I've taken my dog for long walks in them for the past week and have no complaints.
So, if you're in need of something practical, like shoes or other clothing items, or just want to purchase a little something fun, check out the website! They have a lot of causes you can contribute to, and a variety of products. You can see the shoes I bought here, and you can get to other causes and other products very easily!
Also, if you're thinking of adding a pet to the family, please look at your local shelters or rescue organizations. My philosophy is always to adopt instead of shop! There are lots of homeless pets that deserve a second chance! My Reese Cup is certainly the best dog I could have chosen for myself, and she came from a rescue organization after being found, either lost or abandoned, as a stray. Check out dogs in your area through sites like www.petfinder.com, which many shelters and rescues use to list pets. It's where I found this adorable little pooch!
Maisy and the Missing Mice is free for the Kindle on Saturday, April 5th! Check it out!
Click here to download your free copy.
This coming week is my school's spring break. I'm looking forward to some relaxing time and also some writing time! But, I think it's safe to say that the dog, Reese Cup, is mostly looking forward to sleeping in. My cute little pup is the inspiration for the character of Maisy's dog in The Maisy Files. So, it's certainly fitting that she would cozy up to me while I attempt to get some writing done for the second book!
Here in Ohio, it's still feeling a bit like winter. I'm hopeful that spring will soon show itself at some point during this break! I find sunshine much more motivational than coldness and gray skies! Here's to putting pen to paper, or at least fingers to keyboard, and cranking out some new adventures for Maisy!
Renee at Mother Daughter Book Reviews has given a great review of Maisy and the Missing Mice! Check it out here or read it below!
My Thoughts: Meet Maisy. She’s a sassy, smart, lollipop-licking (only cherry, please), detective-in-the-making. Her latest case? The mascots of the school, some adorable little mice, have gone missing. And to add insult to injury, the thief also stole her stash of lollipops! It is up to Maisy to find the culprit, rescue the mice, recover her beloved lollipops, and figure out the reason why someone would abduct the pride of West Valley Elementary School.
I read this book aloud to both my kids (my 7 year-old son and my 10 year-old daughter) and we had a riot trying to piece together the clues to solve the mystery. The story brought me back to my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys days, when I couldn’t resist a good mystery. To be clear though, this case was neither as complex nor as “heinous” as some of the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mysteries. A more appropriate comparison would be to the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew mysteries for tweens.
We loved Maisy as the main character. We thought it was funny how her fee for services consisted of cherry lollipops ~ cherry, nothing else will do! The bigger the case, the more lollipops she gets. The author also did a great job of introducing and developing enough secondary characters so that the reader would have a few options for possible suspects. It really could have been more than one person who did it, until the villain was finally revealed. Very well done!
With respect to the plotline, I thought the author excelled at building the suspense, leaving clues, and creating false leads. My kids and I were constantly saying, “Aha! That’s a clue!” and we had many discussions trying to solve the mystery as the story unfolded. The denouement was very well done as well leaving us all feeling satisfied with the ending. I am notorious for stopping in the middle of a movie or reading aloud to point out plot holes, but I didn’t felt that way about Maisy and the Missing Mice. Everything really did come together in the end. It was a great little mystery with just enough tension for children.
Ok, I do have to raise one issue. We all know that I’m not so great at suspending disbelief (you know, like a typical adult) so I will say that I “reacted” when Maisy left the house in the evening, letting her parents think she was walking the dog, but actually going to meet a stranger at the school. Of course, I had to pause in my reading to ask my children, “You know you should never do that, right?” “We know MOM!!!” Yup, just checking… All of that being said, I agree that it was necessary for the story, so I’m willing to let it go!
My Bottom Line: Maisy and the Missing Mice is a fun chapter book featuring a smart and sassy tween girl as the title character; a solid and interesting plot featuring age-appropriate intrigue and suspense; and some terrific writing that carries the reader on a journey as a detective uncovering clues and solving the mystery of who stole the missing mice. I highly recommend this book as a read aloud book for children between the ages of 6 and 10 or for independent readers between the ages of 7 and 12 who love to read mysteries.
Maisy has gotten another great review from the blog Doodles Doodles Everywhere! Check it out below and check out the site here.
Maisy and the Missing Mice turned out to be a short and sweet read. The characters are very adorable, especially Maisy herself, the fourth grader mystery solver with a fetish for cherry lollipops. She loves solving mysteries (she's very serious about it) and good at it too.
The story is short, the right length for elementary school readers. I believe it'll definitely be an enjoyable read for little boys and girls.
I've always loved reading children's books from as far back as I can remember. The inner child in me always goes "Waaaaaa!" *rainbows* every time I enter the children's section in any of my frequently visited bookstores. I think I'd love to see Maisy and the Missing Mice on those shelves too. A recommended read for all brainy little creatures (read 'kids') with an early affinity for some serious mystery solving.
Attention bloggers! I'm participating in a book blast that is being organized by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and a Book Tour that is being organized by Fire & Ice Book Tours. Below are the links to sign up to host a stop for either event. There are perks for bloggers as well! There are review copies of the book available and a Rafflecopter giveaway you can be a part of. Please check out the links below if you're interested in participating!
Book Blast through Mother Daughter Book Review
Book Tour through Fire & Ice Book Tours
This week was Right to Read week at the elementary where I teach fourth grade. One of the week's activity was to dress up as your favorite character for a day. Two of my students who have read my book, Maisy and the Missing Mice, decided to dress up as Maisy. It was such a cute surprise! They made a perfect pair of little detectives, complete with a hat and lollipop that would make Maisy proud!
Image used with parental permission.
Have you ever wondered how teachers spend their snow days? Do we lament the lost day of learning? Do we plan for what we need to do when the schedule gets back to normal? Do we take naps, or perhaps teach our dogs new tricks? The answer to all of these questions on this snow day for this teacher, is yes.
But, I also spent some time working on book two in The Maisy Files, and I spent some time reading a new series that I'm loving. The Maze Runner series by James Dashner is definitely not something that readers of The Maisy Files should be reading. But, it's incredibly addictive.
The narrator is the main character, Thomas, who has woken up in a new place with no memories. The Glade is home to a bunch of boys and some deadly creatures who live in the mysterious maze. We soon learn that the lives of the boys are centered around solving the maze that the "creators" have plopped them into. They hope that solving it will be the key to their release from it.
With no knowledge about their past lives, the boys have created their own community in the Glade. Each boy has a job and Thomas wants to be a runner in the maze. Each day, the runners map the maze and compare it to the previous days' maps, because the walls move and it changes each night. Things seems to be rather routine in the Glade. Every day, each boy does his job, the runners run the maze, and meals are eaten. Until, one day, a new, unexpected person arrives, and everything changes.
Follow Thomas on his journey. You will not be disappointed. The book ends on quite a cliff hanger, though many questions are answered by then. Luckily, book two can be in your hands immediately! Personally, I'm enjoying listening to the audio book versions. If you're a fan of audio books, you should give them a try. The narrator does a great job!
***Update*** I've completed the entire series and I thought the conclusion to the series was written very well. The series consists of The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure. There is a prequel, but I have not read that one. The series takes the reader on such a twisting and winding journey that ensures everyone will be surprised multiple times. Personally, I liked being surprised by multiple events in the story. If you liked books like Divergent or The Hunger Games, you should give these a try!
Elizabeth Woodrum's Blog
Elizabeth Woodrum is the author of the children's book series, The Maisy Files. She is also a full-time teacher and creator of teaching materials that can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. This blog is a mix of teaching and author topics.