The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

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Title: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman  It’s a 1987 Newbery Medal winner.

Premise:

Jemmy is the unfortunate whipping boy for Prince Brat, spoiled and wayward heir to the throne.  Feeling bored, the Prince decides to run away and takes Jemmy with him.  In the outside world the Prince discovers that he needs Jemmy’s help, and the two boys develop a bond which neither one expected.  Can the boys outwit a couple of cutthroats who are determined to catch them so that they can collect a ransom from the king?

My thoughts:

I’ve loved this book since I was a kid!  It’s very short and ideal for children who are reading beginner chapter books.  There are occasional black and white drawings scattered throughout the book.

I don’t know how Fleischman did it, but he manages to pack a lot of personality and a great lesson into a very short story.  Prince Brat and Jemmy have very nicely developed characters, each one making you either loathe or love them.  The lesson contained in this book is about friendship and giving people second chances.  Jemmy could have easily left Prince Brat to fend for himself, given how much he had already suffered because of the Prince’s mischievous ways.  However, when the boys were truly in need, they had to rely on one another and they formed a bond which defied convention.

The Prince also got a look at life outside of the castle, which he had never been allowed to engage in before.  He meets a couple of thieves, a young lady and her dancing bear, the hot-potato man, and a rat catcher in the sewer.  He also has many first-time experiences such as shaking a commoner’s hand, going to the fair, exploring the sewers, and eating a potato.  The new adventures and relationships he experiences set him up to be a more thoughtful and considerate ruler when his time comes.

I recommend The Whipping Boy to children who are beginning to read chapter books (though older kids would enjoy the story, too).  It also makes a fun, quick family read-aloud.


Possible Objections:

  • Some violence

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Traveling Pants 1

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is the second book I’ve read from my Rainbow Cover Reading Challenge.  It’s a moving and emotionally complicated book which focuses on four friends who are coming of age.

The friends are spending their summer apart, but staying connected through a pair of magical pants.  The pants rotate between the girls, helping them to do whatever needs to be done in that moment.  Some of the girls gain courage, some gain maturity, some take risks.  The point is that the pants help the girls remember their friends’ support and infuse them with extra confidence to do what is necessary in their particular circumstances.

The girls experience everything from work issues to death, complicated family relationships to boy issues.  I like how the situations are not cheapened by coming up with nicely packaged and processed resolutions.  The reader is allowed to sit in some uncertainty about how things will ultimately turn out for the girls (Of course, this could simply be a plot device that sets us up for the next book.)

The narrative skips around to the different girls throughout each chapter, so that can get a little confusing.  There are no headers to alert you to the changes.  The characters were mostly likable, but not complex enough to make me truly attached to them.  It could just be that they were adolescents and their behavior/thought life were a bit erratic.  Goodness knows that would be true to reality.

The one thing that I really loved about this novel was that the story encompassed a lot of different issues and emotions associated with a young girl coming of age.  It’s a complex time of life for young ladies and I feel like this novel would help them to feel a little bit normal.  I don’t know about you, but my middle and high school years were not a piece of cake.  I think I would have benefited from hearing the message that these emotions are normal and it’s okay not to have all your spit together.  We’ll swap excrement for oral secretions, okay?  You might also like to know that I cried towards the end.

A favorite quote from the book:

“Maybe happiness was just a matter of the little upticks–the traffic signal that said ‘Walk’ the second you got there–and downticks–the itchy tag at the back of your collar–that happened to every person in the course of a day.  Maybe everybody had the same allotted measure of happiness within each day.

Maybe it didn’t matter if you were a world-famous heartthrob or a painful geek.  Maybe it didn’t matter if your friend was possibly dying.

Maybe you just got through it.  Maybe that was all you could ask for.” (p.282)

With all that being said, I would recommend this book to teen and preteen girls.  I think they’ll enjoy and identify with it most.

Possible Objections:

  • A bit of bad language
  • One sexual encounter, though it’s extremely vague (I had to read between the lines to understand that it had even occurred)

 Rating: 4 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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Skylanders Universe: The Complete Collection by Cavan Scott & Brandon T. Snider

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Slime recently checked out Skylanders Universe: The Complete Collection from the library.  He and his brother are very into the Skylanders game.  It’s a craze that I don’t get, but I’m not a young person!

This book is fairly simple.  It’s an encyclopedia-style book with entries on all of the Skylanders, though it’s missing the newest ones.  The layout is nice and the illustrations are great!  It also shows you the different swaps you can do with Swap-Force Skylanders.

This isn’t high-quality literature by any means, but it is a nice book for a child who loves Skylanders.

 

Until next time…

Lori

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Yoda in Action by Heather Scott

Yoda Action - w

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Slime wanted to post this book because he really enjoyed it.  Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Yoda in Action! is best for kids who are learning to read alone.  The length is somewhere between a picture book and a chapter book.

The story involves Yoda and Asajj Ventress in an adventure on a moon called Rugosa.  They are meeting with the Toydarians to help establish a treaty that would allow them to build a base in their star system.  However, nasty Dooku tries to ruin their plans by attacking with a bunch of battle droids.  Of course, Yoda wins.

This book isn’t grand literature by any means, but it is a way to get kids reading.  😉

Until next time…

Slime & Lori

The Official Pokemon Handbook by Maria S. Barbo

Pokemon Handbook

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My second son loves all things Pokémon.  He inherited this obsession partially from my niece.  Now that she is older, she is passing on a few of her Pokémon items to my son, including The Official Pokemon Handbook.  It features 151 Pokémon–from Bulbasaur to Mew.  There are also some fun extra sections, like how to care for your Pokémon and information about the trainers and gym leaders.

My son got the book home and proceeded to devour it–over and over and over again.  This is the child who loves reference-type books.  If there is a kid in your life who loves Pokémon and factoids, they will enjoy this book.  It’s older, but there are still quite a few of them on the market.

Until next time…

Lori

Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi: Death on Naboo by Jude Watson

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We also read Death on Naboo, another novel in the Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi series that we thoroughly enjoyed!

Ferus is now in prison, slowly wasting away, but still trying to plan his escape.  He learns that a former acquaintance of his, Clive, is also imprisoned and has been planning an escape for some time.  Together the two of them make a last-ditch effort to gain their freedom.  Meanwhile, Ferus’ accomplices are also planning to break him out of prison.  Their escape and rescue plans happen to overlap and they accidentally meet up and are able to work together to escape.

Naboo, Padmé’s homeworld is in the Empire’s sights as a world to be taken over.  Against the rules of the Senate, the Empire has been stocking weapons in one of Naboo’s main hangars.  Ferus travels to Naboo to keep Malorum from finding out the secret that he so desperately seeks.  He wants to destroy Darth Vader with it, but Obi-Wan warned Ferus that if that is allowed to happen, the future of the galaxy would be in great peril.  Malorum must be stopped!

Malorum makes it to Naboo and coerces the secret of Padmé’s babies from her grandmother.  Because of a staged power-outage he isn’t able to transmit the information and must carry it himself.  During the staged accidental explosion of the hangar (by Ferus’ accomplices and Naboo’s forces), Ferus confronts Malorum and the two duel.  Ferus is the better opponent and defeats Malorum, whose secret goes to the grave with him.

We very highly recommend the books in this series!  They rock!

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi: Underworld by Jude Watson

Underworld-w

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I’ve gotten a little behind on our Star Wars chapter books.  We finished Underworld some time ago, and I didn’t bother to post about it.  We’ve just been enjoying our reading too much.

In Underworld, Ferus attempts to locate other Jedi at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.  It isn’t until he gets inside that he realizes he’s walked into a trap.  The Empire has spread rumors about the Jedi prison, luring free Jedi to their death.  In a sinister scene, Ferus encounters a room full of lightsabers, representing all those who’ve been caught so far.

Ferus and Trever then try their luck at finding a group of people called The Erased, those who’ve shed their identities and gone into hiding on Coruscant from the Empire.  They hear of a place called Solace and make it their goal to find it and see if any other Jedi are left.  In this adventure we encounter Dexter Jettster (diner owner) and a group of various other Erased.  They agree to accompany Ferus and help him with his mission.

The group makes it down to the crust of Coruscant, many levels deep, and finds someone to guide them to Solace.  What will happen next?

Another interesting thread to the story is the relationship and rivalry between Malorum and Darth Vader.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

Until next time…

The Berserker

Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi: Dark Warning by Jude Watson

Dark Warning-w

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The boys and I have finished Dark Warning, the second book in the Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi series.  Book number three is waiting on a library shelf for us to come pick it up.  As usual, the book kept my boys nestled in close, listening spellbound to the action going on in this galaxy far, far away.

In this story, we pick up where we left off with Obi Wan, Ferus, and Trever.  They’re still on the run from the Empire, but learn that there may be other Jedi still alive.  Ferus has to learn how to work with The Force again, and see if he can pass the test to become a full Jedi.  His own doubts are the most difficult thing for him to overcome.  Obi Wan and Ferus have success in finding another Jedi and two more people (Toma & Raina) to join them in their quest to find and harbor fugitive Jedi.  The end of the book finds Obi Wan returning to Tatooine, and Ferus continuing his quest to locate the last remnants of the Jedi and bring them to a safe haven.  Ferus can’t understand why Obi Wan would turn his back on the Jedi, for some secretive mission.  Though the two worked together for a time to help plant the seeds of the rebellion, they must now part ways and pursue their own objectives.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi: The Desperate Mission by Jude Watson

Desperate Mission-w

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The last chapter book that the boys and I read together was Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi: The Desperate Mission. It’s a novel for kids, with the story taking place while Obi-Wan is on Tatooine watching over Luke.  At this point in time Luke is a baby or toddler and Obi-Wan, advised by Qui-Gon Jinn, is able to leave on another mission.  He attempts to track down Ferus Olin, a man who left the Jedi order before he became a full Jedi.  Ferus is living on a planet called Bellassa, and leading an underground group that is fighting against the Empire.  Obi-Wan’s mission is to find Ferus and escort him to safety.  Ferus has a major part to play in the formation of the Rebel Alliance.  What exactly he will do, we’re left to guess.

My boys very much enjoyed the book and were caught up in all the action and intrigue.  You’ll meet some familiar characters, and some you’ve never heard of if you’ve only watched the Star Wars movies.  It’s a fun read-aloud if you have kids who are into Star Wars.  We’ve already started the second book.  Presumably we’ll find out what happens with this Ferus guy.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History by Daniel Lipkowitz with Kathryn Hill, Helen Murray & Rosie Peet

Great Lego Sets

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Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History is a great reference book for LEGO fans, that comes with an exclusive micro-scale space cruiser.  We just checked out our copy from the library, so we didn’t get to try out the set.  😦

This is a very visually striking book that is brimming with awesome LEGO sets through the years.  It goes from the 1950’s through the present time (2010’s).  The beginning of the book contains a timeline, which is followed with a section on how a LEGO set is made.  In each decade’s section you get a bit of information about the direction that LEGO pursued and see some key sets from that time period.  On each set’s page, you learn some interesting information about that particular one.

The thing that I like best about this book is that it’s LEGO, LEGO, LEGO!!!  I recommend this book for LEGO fans of all ages.

Later,

Slime & Lori

LEGO Legends of Chima: Character Encyclopedia by Beth Landis Hester and Heather Seabrook

Chima Encyclopedia

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LEGO Legends of Chima: Character Encyclopedia is a kids reference book with lots of pictures that is all about LEGO Chima.  It has a lot of information that fans would want to know about LEGO Chima characters and vehicles.  This isn’t about all of the Chima sets or the buildings.  The book also comes with an exclusive Firox minifig.  I think Chima fans will really like it!

It’s good for school-age kids and doesn’t have anything objectionable in it.

 

Later,

Slime