The Scary Good Mini-Challenge

Scary Good

Welcome to the April 2016 Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon! This is the SCARY GOOD challenge, and it’s pretty simple. While we may not all be into horror, perhaps we pick up a book that sends a shiver up our spines even if we aren’t really expecting it. Or perhaps the book makes us think about a “confronting” topic. That’s scary enough for us.

The Task:

Tell us about a book you’ve loved that has scared you in some regard. Leave a comment below OR link up a social media post via the linky widget. Don’t forget to leave contact information if you’re not easily reached!

The Prize: 

A book from BookDepository.com worth $15 or less. This is giveaway is open to international participants.

The winner will be announced and contacted once the event wraps up!

100 Chapter Books Project: The Ruins of Gorlan

ruinsofgorlan

Some of the votes for the Top 100 Chapter Books list came from students and I’m guessing that The Ruins of Gorlan (2006) by John Flanagan was one of the ones that they voted in. This isn’t a literary wonder or an instant classic but it was sure a fun start to a series!

What it’s about: Will is an orphan, and for all of his life he has been a ward of the castle of Baron Arald. He’s now fifteen and of an age to become apprentice to one of the Craftmasters and he’s hoping to attend Battleschool, to train as a warrior and become a knight. However, his skills uniquely qualify him to apprentice as a Ranger, a spy/scout. Whether this path will be fulfilling and if he will be successful is up to him.

Age level: Grades 4-6

Best part: I actually loved the hints of The Lord of the Rings in the story and I also enjoyed the way the relationships between Will and the other wards changed through time. Also, nobody (and no horses) died, which was refreshing.

Worst part: I now have 11 books ahead of me to find out what happens in the war and beyond to Will and his friends!

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

This series was written by the author for his own reluctant reader son so it’s heavy on plot and emotion. I definitely found myself reading it faster and faster to find out what was going to happen. It was definitely derivative of a lot of different adventure series but it was still compelling. I really didn’t expect to like is as much as I did. I do hope that the rest of the series is as engaging because I’ll be recommending it to some of the reluctant readers at Z’s school.

Now, I don’t know why I never read Island of the Blue Dolphins but I’m finally getting my chance. I’ll admit that I still don’t know what it is about but I think it’s based on a true story? I guess I’ll find out!

*****
Schedule – May through July
May 15 – #45 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (1960)
May 31 – #30 Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)
June 15 – #37 The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (2007)
June 30 – #27 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)
July 15 – #94 Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary (1977)
July 31 – #44 Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt (2011)

100 Chapter Books Project: Ramona the Pest

Ramona1

So, I had my post for this book all written, blithely telling you all about how I didn’t think readers had actually read Ramona the Pest (1968) recently and that their fond memories didn’t necessarily translate into this actually being a good book, especially for today’s kids. But then Beverly Cleary had to go and have an interview about turning 100 next month and now I feel like a big jerk! There’s tons of BC love out there and obviously there are people who still find value in the Ramona books. So, although I’m still going to share my thoughts, I’m sure there will be those who disagree.

There are three Cleary books on the Top 100 Chapter Books list, two of which are Ramona Quimby books, but I’m going to stick to my cranky-pants guns here and say that I’m not sure the world that these stories are set in is one that teaches kids the right things about how to behave today.

What it’s about: It’s time for Ramona Quimby to start kindergarten and she is both pleased and upset by the workings of school and new relationships.

Age level: Grades 2-4

Best part: I did really like the teacher, Miss Binney. She handled the quirky kindergarteners in just the right way, staying calm and praising even their smallest victories. She would still be most kindergarteners’ favorite teacher.

Worst part: This book is simply from a different age. If a kindergartener was constantly trying to kiss another student, pulling another girl’s hair, and messing around at the street crossing instead of following the rules, that kid would be in quite a bit of trouble, regardless of intent. The things that Ramona does are no longer cute or quirky. She is more than just a pest. When things don’t go her way, she plans to throw a tantrum. Blech. And Ramona’s mom isn’t the best example either. She leaves her kindergartener to walk to school on her own without even bothering to find out if she can tell time properly. This might have seemed cute in the 60s but now there would probably be a CPS call!

Verdict: Borrow/Skip

I just couldn’t get on board with finding Ramona’s behavior cute or silly. She got on my nerves and never got in trouble. She was consistently let off the hook and her only lessons learned were indirect. No adult sat her down and told her to shape up. I haven’t read any of the other Ramona books lately so I’m hoping that this year was just a bad one for Ramona and that the rest of the series is okay. In the meantime, I’m going to stick to Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle, which Z and I read when he was a kindergartener and both thought was still really fun!

I’m looking forward to my next read, The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan. I know that many of the boys at Z’s school like Flanagan’s books and I’m in the mood for something newer and less realistic.

*****
Schedule – April through June
April 15 – #69 The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan (2006)
April 30 – Spring Break
May 15 – #45 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (1960)
May 31 – #30 Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)
June 15 – #37 The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (2007)
June 30 – #27 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)