Book Review: Masterminds

Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Masterminds (Masterminds, #1)
by Gordon Korman
3 out of 5 stars

The town of Serenity is not as serene as it seems. Eli and his friends begin to discover that their seemingly perfect town is hiding dark secrets.

I really liked the mystery in this book, and the gradual unravelling of the secrets that the townspeople are hiding. The adventure aspects of the story are exciting and kept my attention, but sometimes felt far-fetched and unrealistic. I was rolling my eyes a couple of times.

The characters are smart and emotional, and they all have such unique personalities. I really enjoyed getting to know each of them, and seeing how their flaws and strengths push the story forward. They each react in different ways when they discover what is really going on in the town, and I can’t wait to see what further character development they might have in the rest of the series.

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Book Review: Mistress Masham’s Repose

Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White

Mistress Masham’s Repose
by T.H. WhiteFritz Eichenberg (Illustrator)
4 out of 5 stars
Delightful book!!
Rereading it for the second or third time, I have enjoyed it just as much as the first time.
Orphaned Maria lives in a crumbling old palace that her ancestors built on an extensive estate full of gardens and obelisks and temples and monuments. But there is no money to repair the palace, and she lives in poverty with her governess and one old cook.

When Maria is exploring around an island in a small lake, she encounters the tiny Lilliputian people who Gulliver brought back to England after his travels. They are in danger of being discovered by Maria’s evil guardians, the vicar and governess, and Maria must use all her ingenuity to save them from being kidnapped and sold as slaves.

I love how imaginative this book is. My favorite parts are the scenes that describe how the Lilliputians make their living on the Mistress Masham’s Repose island. They fish, and hunt, and train mice as their horses. They have their little homes in the roofs and hollow pillars of the Repose cupola, and keep their tiny farm animals in stables built into the steps of the structure.

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Picture Book Review: Hello, Neighbor!

Hello, Neighbor! by Matthew Cordell

Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers
by Matthew Cordell
5 out of 5 stars

This book tells the true story of how Fred Rogers first began to be interested in television production, and how he began broadcasting the show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The story is told in a simple way for children to understand, but it captures the heart of the show through Mr. Rogers personality. He exhibited such a strong kindness and compassion that it reached people personally even through the airwaves of television. I love that this book expresses the true heart of Mr. Rogers and demonstrates just how special and original his TV show really was.

One of the things that is mentioned in this book is that Fred Rogers was a minister, and his faith played a huge role in the type of person he was and how he formed his famous TV show for children. The sincerity and love in every episode are beautifully represented in this book.

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Picture Book Review: Sarah’s Solo

Sarah's Solo by Tracy Brown

Sarah’s Solo
by Tracy Brown (Goodreads Author), Paula Wegman (Illustrator)
4 out of 5 stars
Sarah wishes that she could go to her ballet dance recital instead of attending her cousin’s wedding. When she hears the music at the wedding reception, she is swept into a dance with the bride and discovers that there is beauty in all types of music and dance, not just ballet.

This book teaches young readers about Jewish wedding traditions and the song Hava Nagila. The wedding guests dance the Hora, and the steps are outlined in the story. I love the rich culture and expressive traditions in this book!

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Picture Book Review: I Believe In You!

I Believe in You by Sabrina Moyle

I Believe in You
by Sabrina Moyle (Goodreads Author), Eunice Moyle (Illustrations)
5 out of 5 stars

A unicorn helps a young dragon who wants to learn to fly. First they try a superhero cape, then a rocket ship, and finally a big bunch of balloons tied to the dragon to help him fly. All through their experiments with flying, the unicorn is supportive. The unicorn listens and encourages the dragon every step of the way.

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Picture Book Review: Paris Cat

Paris Cat by Dianne Hofmeyr

Paris Cat
by Dianne Hofmeyr
1 out of 5 stars

Paris Cat is born in a dirty alleyway where her cat relations eat fish bones. She runs into a dressmaker’s shop to get out of the rain, and begins sewing her own wardrobe from the fabric scraps. She visits a theater and dances onstage with Josephine Baker (who is a famous erotic dancer from history known for her skimpy costumes) and Chiquita the leopard. Eventually, she opens her own dancing club and cafe where her cat family and friends can benefit from her fabulous fashion creations and jazz music.

The reason for my low rating is the inclusion of Josephine Baker in this book in her skimpy costume. Paris Cat joins Josephine onstage for some erotic dancing in very revealing clothing.

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Picture Book Review: Teaching Mrs. Muddle

Teaching Mrs. Muddle by Sheryl McFarlane

Teaching Mrs. Muddle
by Sheryl McFarlaneAlice Carter (Illustrations)
5 out of 5 stars

Kayla is anxious on her first day of kindergarten, but she quickly forgets her nerves when she has to help her teacher, Mrs. Muddle. The teacher gives everyone the wrong name tags, and the students have to figure out everyone’s names to give the right name tag to their classmates. Mrs. Muddle can’t find the gym, and takes the students to the library instead. Kayla was worried about getting lost, but discovers she can easily find her way around school when she has to step in to help Mrs. Muddle. At the end of the school day, the children have spent their whole class time teaching Mrs. Muddle, but they have learned more than they realize.

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Picture Book Review: Kindness Grows

Kindness Grows by Britta Teckentrup

Kindness Grows: A Peek-through Picture Book
by Britta Teckentrup (Goodreads Author)
5 out of 5 stars

This book teaches the reader that mean words and arguments cause a crack to form between friends, but kind words and working together makes a tree of friendship grow. Thoughtlessness and selfishness only tear people apart, but forgiving and smiling at one another results in a happy atmosphere of support.

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Picture Book Review: Bea by the Sea

Bea by the Sea by Jo Byatt

Bea by the Sea
by Jo Byatt
5 out of 5 stars

Bea loves lions. She is obsessed with everything to do with lions. But Bea hates going to the beach, because the sand is scratchy and gritty. When she goes to the beach with her mother, Bea meets a Sand Lion who helps her appreciate all the fun you can have with sandcastles and playing in the sand. Sand Lion is afraid of the water, so Bea helps him to not be afraid of the little waves on the shore.

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Picture Book Review: When Pumpkins Fly

When Pumpkins Fly by Margaret   Lawrence

When Pumpkins Fly
by Margaret Lawrence
4 out of 5 stars

Sanikiluaq is a remote town that gets all its supplies through cargo planes. At Halloween, the plane flies in pumpkins for the school children! Each class gets to carve a pumpkin, and they draw names to see who gets to take it home for their front porch. They light candles inside each pumpkin. The children don their costumes and get bags full of candy trick-or-treating at each house. Then the whole community gathers for a Halloween dance. But when they go to bed, the children wonder if the tunnaat spirits will come out and steal the pumpkins. Or will the pumpkins freeze when the candles burn out?

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