Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Fourteenth Goldfish (Thing 2)

We read The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm. It's about a girl named Ellie who brings home a goldfish for a school assignment about the life cycle. All of the other kids' goldfish die, but Ellie's doesn't. After this, her mom brings home a strange boy who acts like Ellie's grandfather. It is her grandfather . . . Only in a 13-year old's body.

I would give this book
because I really enjoyed all of the characters and it was funny.

Here are 14 things I collected from the book.

  1. Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine.
  2. J. Robert Oppenheimer invented the atomic bomb.
  3. You should always believe in the possible.
  4. Jellyfish should be left alone in the ocean.
  5. Hiroshima might drop a bomb on us!
  6. Marie Curie discovered radiation.
  7. Marie Curie later died of radiation poisoning.
  8. Isaac Newton played a BIG part in discovering gravity.
  9. The life cycle is natural and shouldn't be altered.
  10. Galileo played a HUGE part in astronomy.
  11. Goldfish make bad pets.
  12. J. Robert Oppenheimer said "The world may never be the same again" after inventing the atomic bomb.
  13. Scientists like pizza.
  14. The ear piercing place at malls are NOT good business opportunities.

The Fourteenth Goldfish (Thing 1)

We read The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm. It's a middle-grade book about a girl named Ellie who loves science. One day, her mom comes home with a thirteen-year-old boy. But it's not just any old boy. This is her Grandpa Melvin. And it looks like he's discovered the secret to eternal youth.

14 things I learned from The Fourteenth Goldfish:

1. The idea of immortality is a whole lot better than the reality.
2. Change isn't always bad.
3. Science and art are equally important.
4. You can't judge a book by its cover.
5. You have to live life to its fullest. You only get one shot at it.
6. It's good to believe in the possible.
7. If you let fear hold you back, you'll always be stuck.
8. Sometimes kids are more capable than grownups.
9. Sometimes grownups are more capable than kids.
10. Curiosity is the key to discovery.
11. Not all failures are dead-ends.
12. Cooking is a little bit like science.
13. Every top-secret mission needs a ridiculous name like the "Burrito Project."
14. A happy ending is just the beginning.

I would rate this book
It's a super cute, quick read for the whole family. It's guaranteed to keep your interest the whole way through.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gone With The Wind (Thing 2)

We watched "Gone With The Wind." It is a movie that took place during the Civil War. We have been studying a lot about the Civil War lately, so we knew about it before we watched. "Gone With The Wind" is a movie about a girl named Scarlett, all of the boys like her but she only likes one of them, Ashley. She soon finds out that Ashley is going to marry Melanie, Scarlett's friend. She then becomes relentless in trying to get Ashley to love her. This all takes place in the south.

 I would give this movie

because the music was very good, and I enjoyed the story. I would have given this movie 5 stars, but I didn't really enjoy the beginning.

"Gone With the Wind" (Thing 1)

Our family watched "Gone With the Wind" (over several days, as the movie is four hours long). It's about a young woman named Scarlett O'Hara living in Georgia during the Civil War. Scarlett's best friend, Melanie, is betrothed to Ashley Wilkes, who Scarlett is desperately in love with. As we've been learning about the Civil War recently, we thought this would be a good movie to watch.

What I liked: Despite being a behemoth, "Gone With the Wind" manages to keep your interest and is very character driven. Scarlett is feisty and doesn't hesitate to get her hands dirty, something I didn't expect from her at first. Melanie and Prissy are probably my favorite characters; Melanie because she's incredibly sweet and kind to everyone around her, and Prissy because her dingy-ness and breathy voice provides comic relief.

What I didn't like: The first hour of the movie is a little slow and didn't grab my attention like the rest of it did. Scarlett, while very driven and willing to work hard, is cruel. She spends years pining after Ashley, even though he's happily married to her best friend. She even tries to make a move on him a few times. I have a very hard time watching a movie or reading a book where the main character is unlikeable. And while I liked Rhett as a character okay, I found him to be very pushy and inappropriate towards Scarlett, like when he forces her to kiss him multiple times throughout the movie.

I would give this movie

(actual rating: 3.5). It's a great movie to watch as a family, especially if you're learning about the Civil War, but make sure you have plenty of time set aside to devote your attention to it!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Because of Mr. Terupt (Thing 2)

We read Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. It's about a bunch of kids in a school who all have different personalities and challenges. Their teacher, Mr. Terupt, is the only one who seems to know how to deal with all of the kids. The teacher does tons of cool projects, and all of the kids seem to enjoy him. Then one day in the winter, accident strikes.

I would give this book
because it was a sweet story, I enjoyed the characters, and it was funny.

P.S. In the book they did a math challenge called dollar words. You calculate the letters as numbers. For example, A=1 cent, Z=26 cents, etc., and you need to create a word that equals a dollar!! My word I figured out is: problems.

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (Thing 1)

We read Because of Mr. Terupt (dollar word) by Rob Buyea. It's about seven kids starting fifth grade with their new teacher, Mr. Terupt. They all have their insecurities, their fears, but Mr. Terupt helps them to overcome them and to make new friends. Until an accident changes everything.

What I liked: The changing perspectives, getting to see the same scene through every kid's eyes without it repeating itself. The characters, Mr. Terupt, the dollar-word game*, the simplicity, the ending. Everything about this book was wonderful, right down to the different fonts when there was a new narrator.

What I didn't like: At first I was uneasy about reading a book where there were seven kids to keep track of. I don't like having to keep track of too many characters at once, especially when they're all narrating. But it didn't take long to get used to it, and in the end it made all the difference. The story wouldn't have been the same if they hadn't all played a part.

I give this book

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good family read, especially for those who love the books Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper.

(After finishing the book, our family did the dollar-word challenge. My word: Sherlocked.)

*The dollar-word game is a math project Mr. Terupt had the kids do where they attempt to find a word that equals one dollar exactly. Each letter is worth a certain amount to make up the dollar. For example, a = 1, b = 2, c =3, and so on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Flora and Ulysses (Thing 1)

We read Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. Self-proclaimed cynic, Flora Belle Buckman, befriends a squirrel, Ulysses, who has turned into a superhero after getting sucked up a vacuum. Now he can fly, has super strength, and can write poetry. What Flora didn't expect, though, was for Ulysses' archnemesis to be her own mother.

What I liked: Everything! The characters were quirky, Ulysses was adorable, and we laughed out loud several times. It was simple and sweet, and it ended far too quickly.

What I didn't like: ...

I give this book

It's a great book to read as a family, because anyone--boy or girl, no matter what age--will enjoy this book. Guaranteed.

Flora and Ulysses (Thing 2)

We read Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo. It's about a girl named Flora who has divorced parents and lives with her mom. One day a squirrel got vacuumed up by a . . . vacuum. "HOLY BAGUMBA!" Said Flora.

I would give this book

because it was funny, clever, and just plain awesome!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Nancy Drew: The Secret of The Old Clock (Thing 2)

We read Nancy Drew: The Secret of The Old Clock by Carolyn Keene. It's about a girl named Nancy who is trying to solve a mystery. She is trying to discover if a later will was created by Josiah Crowley, who wrote an earlier will leaving money to a snobby family the Tophams. Nancy meets friends along the way and would like to help them. She believes that there is a later will created by Mr. Crowley and is trying to find it for her new friends.

I would give this book

because there was suspense and mystery. I would give this book 5 stars, but sometimes it seemed like it wasn't written as well as it could be.

The Secret of the Old Clock (Thing 1)

We read The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene. A girl named Nancy Drew finds out that a man who died had promised a bunch of people money, but never gave them any in his will. Convinced that there was a later will, Nancy sets out to find it.

What I liked: I liked solving the mystery as I read it, though it wasn't too difficult to figure out. I also liked Nancy. She was never mean and always looked out for other people.

What I didn't like: The book is very simple, which I'm okay with, but it was to the point where all of the characters had the same personalities (except for the antagonists). The dialogue was very formal and seemed unnatural to me. I've heard the later books are better, so I'm willing to give it another chance, but it was only okay for me.

I give this book

.  I recommend reading this with your kids/younger siblings/younger friends. It's a great book to read with younger kids, especially if you're introducing them to reading or mysteries.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Young@Heart (Thing 2)

We watched "Young@Heart." It's a movie about some elderly people who sing in a group called Young@Heart. They sing a variety of pop and rock music. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry.

I would give this movie

because it was funny and I LOVE music. I would have given it 5 stars, but I didn't like how it dragged out a little bit.

Young@Heart (Thing 1)

Our family watched the movie "Young@Heart." It's a documentary about a chorus of senior citizens (averaging the age of 80) who go around the world and sing rock and roll songs.

What I liked: Everything! :) They all had so much personality and energy. Watching them work hard to get everything about every song right was inspirational, especially when most of the members had health issues such as breathing problems or even cancer. You'll laugh and cry the entire way through. Some of my favorite parts were the music videos they made, such as "Road To Nowhere" by Talking Heads. and "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones. Though my absolute favorite performance that they did was "Fix You" by Coldplay. You can see it HERE, though I think the performance holds much more meaning once you've seen all the leadup to the show.

What I didn't like: Honestly, I don't think there's anything that could make this movie better. It's already so perfect.

I give this movie

The Giver (Thing 2)

Currently Reading

We read The Giver by Lois Lowry. It is set in a "utopian" society where there are no wars and everything is GREAT!! But after Jonas turns 12 that is about to change. The story will make you feel like you are there. Don't miss it!!

I would give this book

because it is exciting and enjoyable. 

The Giver (Thing 1)

We read The Giver by Lois Lowry. It's about a boy named Jonas who lives in a seemingly perfect world without pain or fear. When Jonas turns twelve, he's chosen to receive special training from the Giver, the only person who holds memories of what life is really like.

What I liked: I loved how this book made me think. A world without pain or fear? It seems pretty great at first (no wars, no fighting, perfect harmony, etc.) But you also don't get the good stuff, like colors and music. Nobody, except for Jonas and the Giver, feels anything: no love, no anger, no joy, no sadness. They only get dulled down versions of emotions. As a result, no one is able to love except for Jonas and the Giver. I'm so excited to see the movie!

What I didn't like: It takes a little bit to get into the book. There are a lot of long-winded descriptions and it takes a long time to get to the action. But once you get past the first half or so, there's a great payoff.

I give this book

.  I recommend it to lovers of dystopian, though I can assure you it's nothing like The Hunger Games.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Apollo 13 (Thing 2)

We watched the movie "Apollo 13." It's about some astronauts who go into space to land on the moon, but something happens. . . . Something breaks on their ship and they have to survive in space. Everyone at Mission Control is trying to save them. Will they be saved? Will they not? You should watch it!

I would give this movie

because even though I knew the ending, it always kept me on the edge of my seat. I would have given this movie five stars but it felt like it dragged on a little bit.

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Thing 2)

We read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by

Apollo 13 (Thing 1)

We watched "Apollo 13." It's about an astronaut (Jim Lovell) who ends up on a rocket to the moon (Apollo 13). Something breaks on the rocket, and the astronauts are forced to survive with only the supplies they have in the rocket with them and get back to Earth safely.

What I liked: The intensity of the situation, getting to see not only what was happening on the rocket, but what was happening back at the space station and at the astronauts' homes. The movie is based off of a true story, so if you know what happens in the end, it might not be as exciting for you as it was for me (I didn't know what actually happened until the movie ended).

What I didn't like: The technology of the rocket and trying to fix everything on it could be very confusing at times. I didn't get all of the terms they used, and I felt like we were pausing the movie a lot to say, "What? Why is everything so cold? How is that going to help them?"

A little bonus fact for you, towards the end of the movie when Jim Lovell and the other two astronauts are strapped in the rocket, a cameraman is visible in the corner of the screen. Somehow nobody caught that until the movie was released!

I give this movie

. It was a great way to teach history and had you on the edge of your seat the whole time.

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Thing 1)

We read Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. It's about a boy named Kyle Keeley who loves games: board games, video games, any kind. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, is the most famous game maker in the world. So when he finds out that Mr. Lemoncello is the one behind the building of the new town library lock-in event, he knows he just has to enter. Kyle is one of the lucky twelve kids that get to go to the library and participate in the game that Mr. Lemoncello has created. The game is simple: Be the first one to escape the library and win tons of games, all designed by Mr. Lemoncello.

What I liked: I loved the whole concept. The plot was unique and the riddles weren't so tricky that they baffled me to the point where I felt exhausted, but they were just hard enough that I felt energized to figure them out myself. Mr. Lemoncello was hilarious, and after meeting the author at a local book event, it was pretty obvious that he based the character after himself.

What I didn't like: The characters were pretty cliched. You had your jocks, your video game heads, your bookworms, your awkward nerds, the rich snobs, the ditzy cheerleaders, etc. Admittedly, Haley Daley didn't fit the stereotypical cheerleader mold in the end. She actually proved to be very clever and crucial to the plot.

I give this book
. (My actual rating would be 4.5, but I can't give halves with the star graphics). It's a great family read for kids of all ages. If you love games and riddles, this book is for you!