100 Chapter Books Project: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

wherethemountainIt’s strange but I happened to queue up two Newbery Honor books in a row even though I’m skipping around the Top 100 list. This has made for a summer of fantastic chapter book reads so far. This time it was Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (2009).

What it’s about: Based on many different Chinese folktales, it’s the story of Minli and her mom and her dad who live in a very small home with few possessions and just enough food to survive. Minli’s father, Ba, is happy with his family and loves telling stories while they eat their daily rice but Ma is extremely grumpy and dissatisfied. Her dissatisfaction eventually infects Minli and the young girl sets off to find the Old Man of the Moon in an attempt to change their fortunes. She meets many interesting characters along the way and has tons of adventures. She also learns something about what true fortunes are made of.

Age level: Grade 4-6

Best part: I loved the way that so many different folktales were woven together and formed into a single story.

Worst part: The only bad part of my reading experience was that my library copy was missing a few pages about two thirds of the way in. I had to wait two days to see what happened when Minli was attacked by a tiger!

Verdict: Buy

This is one of those books with a girl protagonist that isn’t a girly book at all. I thought it was fantastic. It has gorgeous illustrations and is a great introduction to Chinese folktales. There was one character personality change in the story too that was completely unexpected and very heartwarming. I will probably see if Z wants to read it next because I think he would enjoy it too.

I’m pretty excited to finally read Holes next. I’ve seen the movie version a few times over the years and, if tradition holds, the book will be better, right? And yes, it’s a Newbery Medal winner!

*****

Schedule – July through October

note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after

July 31 – #6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)

August 15 – #74 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (1970)

August 30 – #66 The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (2009)

September 15 – #14 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938)

September 30 – Project Update – Two Years In!

October 15 – #79 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1967)

100 Chapter Books Project: A Long Way from Chicago

A_Long_Way_from_ChicagoA few months ago, I was looking for a historical fiction book for Z and one of the suggestions I got was A Long Way from Chicago (1998) by Richard Peck. I didn’t end up choosing it for him but I did move it up in my own reading queue since it was #67 on the Top 100 list. It would have been a great choice though because it’s funny and crazy and yet still an educational glimpse at rural America’s past. It’s also a Newbery Honor book.

What it’s about: Joey and his younger sister Mary Alice spend summers in rural Illinois with their Grandma Dowdel, a larger-than-life woman who makes some questionable (but entertaining) decisions. This is a book of stories, one for each summer from 1929 to 1935.

Age level: Grade 4-6

Best part: The adventures. From feeding the elderly and the homeless during the Great Depression to dishing out a bit of revenge to some local hooligans, the adventures that Joey and his sister had with their grandma were certainly memorable but also taught some fantastic life lessons.

Worst part (not really): The ending. It wasn’t actually bad in anyway. It was very touching and a perfect punctuation to all of the crazy stories about Grandma. It just made me cry (and still makes me tear up even thinking about it).

Verdict: Buy

This was the perfect book to get me through the end of the school year. It was a hectic time but I would just stick in my headphones, call up the audiobook and start walking around the neighborhood. By the time I got back home, I was fully distracted and also able to put my own stresses in perspective. This is definitely what a good book should do, right?

Next is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a fantasy-adventure that seems perfect for summer reading. Feel free to join me!

*****

Schedule – July through September

note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after

July 15 – #72 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (2009)

July 31 – #6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)

August 15 – #74 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (1970)

August 30 – #66 The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (2009)

September 15 – #14 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938)

September 30 – Project Update – Two Years In!

100 Chapter Books Project: Ella Enchanted

ellaenchanted

Number 85 on the Top 100 Chapter Books list is Ella Enchanted (1997) by Gail Carson Levine. As you can probably guess from the title, it’s a loose take on the Cinderella fairy tale.

What it’s about: Ella is cursed as a baby by the fairy Lucinda with “the gift of obedience”. Any time she is given an order, she must obey. This makes life (and love) rough for her but, with the help of her mother and fairy godmother, she works toward breaking her curse and finding happiness.

Age level: Grade 4-6

Best characters: Ella and Prince Charmont. They both are smart and kind and try to do what is right while still having fun.

Worst characters: Hattie and Olive, evil stepsisters naturally. They are unbelievably awful. I couldn’t believe some of the things they said in front of others.

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

I really liked this story at the beginning when it was only very loosely based on Cinderella but got annoyed by the end when it relied more heavily on the original fairy tale. Now when I think about the story, I feel like it was just okay overall. I think it might have been better if it hadn’t been based on Cinderella at all. It didn’t need to be. It had great ideas and would have been a strong and original story on its own but the obvious “Cinderella”ness of it at the end just made it predictable and, to be honest, a bit stale. However, it was still an engaging story for the most part. In fact, Z and I had to drive for about an hour to and from a birthday party and I had the audiobook on in the car and he became totally engrossed. So, I have to say I would still recommend it.

This read counts for the Once Upon a Time VIII Challenge as a fantasy title.

The next book I’ve chosen is actually a reread for me. Z and I read Half Magic together for the first time a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I’m hoping to enjoy it again this time through as an audiobook.

*****
Schedule – June through August
note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after
June 15 – #54 Half Magic by Edward Eager (1954)
June 30 – #67 A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck (1998)
July 15 – #72 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (2009)
July 31 – #6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)
August 15 – #74 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (1970)
August 30 – #66 The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (2009)