Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Keys to the Demon Prison

Keys to the Demon Prison is the fifth and final installment in Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series.

The Sphinx has been gathering artifacts necessary to open the demon prison Zzyzx. Kendra and Seth, working with the Knights of the Dawn, are in a desperate race to keep him from opening the prison.

Alliances the Kendra and Seth have developed in previous novels upset the Sphinx's plans. Seth learns there is a price to be paid for trusting demons and Kendra's past with the fairies provides unexpected assistance.

Mull did a great job resolving the mysteries and questions raised during the series. The final book does cram quite a bit of action into one novel. New characters emerge, one very important to Kendra's future.

Fablehaven was a series that lived up to the promise of the first novel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Problem Child

The Problem Child is the third book in the Sister's Grimm Series. The story continues with the girls believing that they have lost their Grandmother's dear friend Mr. Canis. The children are introduced to a new family member who has intimate knowledge of the challenges they face and helps Sabrina understand her own personal issues.

Puck's entertaining character disappears early in this book and he and Sabrina's relationship will need to await the future books for progress.

Prince Charming is facing a tough political campaign from the Queen of Hearts. His reign as mayor is at risk because of his reluctant support of the Grimms. The outcome of the race will have an impact on the future of Ferryport Landing.

The Grimms learn more about Red Riding Hood's twisted involvement in the Red Hand and there is more to the story than they believed.

Buckley introduces the sisters to more interesting characters during their adventures. Daphne learns the Little Mermaid is nothing like the movie. The Jabberwocky terrorizes the children as they struggle to find a weapon that can defeat it. Sabrina realizes the danger of crossing Baba Yaga.

While some series lose their appeal and strength as the series continues, Buckley has to balance mystery and humor in his Sisters Grimm novels. I have the Once Upon a Crime (The Sisters Grimm, Book 4) on reserve at the library. I am looking forward to continuing to review this series.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Discovery Museums

If you live in Massachusetts or will be visiting the area with children and have not discovered the Discovery Museums in Acton, you should add them to your list of places to visit.

The museums are focused on child-centered hands on learning. The picture above is of the Children's Discovery Museum. When you arrive, you will see this building first. The museum is an old Victorian building that focuses on younger children providing age appropriate activities. One ticket price provides admission to both museums so there is no need to decide which museum is better suited to your child. You can explore both and decide where to focus your time.

Library passes are available at many Massachusetts libraries. The Discovery Museum website even provides a list of the participating libraries for visitors to check when planning your visit. AAA members can also receive a $1.00 discount off admission for the member and up to three guests. While I usually do not usually promote membership, if you live in the area, the extra hours for members can make considering museum membership a possibility. If you visit frequently and your children enjoy a place to play during the cold winter months, the memberships can pay off. I would suggest taking your children a few times to see if you would visit often enough to make membership worth the cost.

The Chain Reaction Room was an early favorite at the Museum and it has returned to the delight of many of the guests.

This is the Science Discovery Museum. It was built after the Children's Museum opened and is focused on hands on science discovery for children. The rooms are larger and a bit more accessible than those found in the old Victorian house. The additional space allows the Museum to provide special programs and activities that the Children's Museum does not have the space to offer.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

No Place for Magic

No Place for Magic is the fourth book in the Tales of the Frog Princess Series.

After reading the third book I was concerned that the series had resolved most of the conflicts established in The Frog Princess. This story introduces Eadric's family and the conflicts that arise because Eadric's family has issues with magic. When trolls take Eadric's younger brother Emma has mixed feelings about how to manage her magical gifts. She does not want to offend his family, but she also does not want to put Eadric at risk by not using magic.

While Eadric's father comes to accept magic after his younger son is saved, his mother continues to resist Emma's charm. Emma is worried when the parents move up the wedding date and faires from both kingdoms are invited. She fears that an offended fairy could bring a curse to one or both families.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I had not read James Howe's books in some time, but decided to pick them up at the library to review for my blog. The story of Bunnicula is told by a dog named Harold. Harold and Chester the cat are surprised when the family adopts a bunny they found at the movie theater. Based on the title of the film, Dracula the bunny is named Bunnicula.

Chester is a literate cat and become suspicious of Bunnicula's schedule of sleeping during the day and being up at night. When vegetables start turning white as if drained of all their juice, Chester suspects Bunnicula might not be a normal bunny.

Harold thinks Chester is taking things too far and sets out to get help for Bunnicula.

The animal storytellers are wonderful in this story. While Bunnicula never speaks in this story, his story is fun. This story is a great way to engage readers in chapter books and because there are multiple books in the series, it encourages kids to keep reading.

Teacher Resources:

Chapter Reviews

Family Education

Howe Biography Scholastic

Teacher Vision


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Unusual Suspects

The Unusual Suspects is the second book in the Sister Grimm series.

Things are starting to heat up in Ferryport Landing. Sabrina and Daphne are forced to return to school despite the kidnapping of their parents and they are removed from their grandmother's care by a mysterious social worker. While settling into school the detectives are called to action when one of the teachers is killed.

The author set up a cast of characters that are expected to be a part of the Red Hand's plot. However as the plot unfolds there are more twists than expected. The detectives are not the only ones who will want to review their children's fairytales and literature to keep up with the plot twists.

We have mixtures of Wonderland, Hans Christian Anderson, along with the Grimm’s characters we have come to expect from Ferryport landing. Buckley ends the story with a cliffhanger leaving readers wanting to grab the next novel to discover the fate of the detectives, their friends, and family. I have The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3) on reserve at the library so I will have to wait until it comes in to discover their fate.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Secret Kingdom Chronicles of the Red King

Chronicles of the Red King: The Secret Kingdom is the first book in Jenny Nimmo's new series. This series is a prequel series to her successful Charlie Bone series.

For Charlie Bone readers the story finally begins to reveal the origins of the Red King. We are introduced to Prince Timoken and his sister Zobayda. We learn of a magical cloak bestowed on Timoken by a jinn made from the last moon spider. His sister is given a ring and both are provided with a potion that prevents them from aging until they choose to begin the process.

The children are forced to leave their kingdom and eventually, after many years are separated.

The story connects to the original Charlie Bone series as the King's history is presented as research done using the special gifts the decedents of the King possess. Readers begin to understand the connections the gifts have to the King and we are left hoping that this series will explain how the gifts were passed on to the current generation found in Nimmo's original series.

I had been looking forward to the release of this book and I was not disappointed with the direction it has taken. I look forward to the additional books in the series.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Free Discovery Day at Drumlin Farm

Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, Massachusetts is hosting a Free Discovery Day Saturday August 6th from 10AM-3PM. Print out a free admission coupon on the Drumlin Farm website. You only need one per house. Information on the event can be found here.

Event offerings include free admission, hayrides, wildlife presentations, an obstacle course, and a hay play area. The theme is old fashioned play.

Organizers suggest bringing a picnic lunch, but they are offering ice cream, slushies, and drinks for sale at the event.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Minute Boys of Bunker Hill

I finally got around to finishing the library's copy of The Minute Boys of Bunker Hill (w/glossary)I found the library copy through the state's regional system. Our local regional system did not have a copy to borrow.

This is one of the few children's historical novels I have found that covers the time period between the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill. From what I read when researching Stratemeyer, he originally considered a longer series that would see his hero Roger through the Revolution. However, it is clear as he was writing this book that idea had been dropped. This book clears up all loose ends and gives the reader a glimpse into the adult life of all the characters.

Threads from the first book are drawn into the second novel. The Tories who made Roger's life challenging in the first book are back to cause him danger in the second. He continues to pursue his promise to the dead British officer and realizes the issue is even more urgent than he previously realized.

This would be a great historical fiction novel to read along with historical accounts of the Battle of Bunker Hill and the occupation of Boston. It would also explain the question of why Boston celebrates St. Patrick's Day for students who seem to miss this lesson in standard American history instruction.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Concord Museum's Free Fun Friday Event

Friday August 6th, the Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts will be participating in Free Fun Fridays. Not only is the Museum admission free, but they have a special program planned for the day that highlights their current exhibition When Duty Whispers: Concord and the Civil War.

The reenactors from the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the Irish Brigade, will be setting up a Civil War camp on the front lawn of the Museum from 10AM-3PM. Visitors can ask questions and find out about life in the camp. There are musket demonstrations planned for 11AM and 1PM and a visit from Fredrick Douglas at 2PM at no cost to the visitors. Check with the Museum to confirm all details. I am just passing along what I have learned to date.

This is a great free chance for families to experience a bit of living history in the area. Unfortunately, do to some scheduling conflicts I do not think I will be able to make this trip. We are hoping to make it to the Concord Museum as part of our history tour this summer.