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    #52724 - 08/16/09 10:21 PM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: Austin]
    minniemarx Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/31/08
    Posts: 466
    A couple more ideas:

    --"Fattypuffs and Thinifers" by Andre Maurois (originally Patapoufs et Filifers, pub. 1941, repr. Jane Nissen in 2001, w/illustrations by Fritz Wegner; 96 pp.). Two brothers, Edmund and Terry, find themselves in the Country Under the Earth, where the two nations of inhabitants, the Fattypuffs and the Thinifers, are at war, over differing philosophies of, shall we say, personal avoirdupois. The boys are forced to take sides in this silly conflict, which escalates into something rather serious, but they help the principals find a way towards mutual understanding and peace. Pointed satire, very funny.

    --"My Friend Mr. Leakey," by JBS Haldane, pictures by Quentin Blake (first publ. 1937, repr. by Jane Nissen 2004; 150 pp.). More a collection of short stories (though several of them are linked) than a novel, this book is highly inventive, and just the thing for precocious science-lovers (many of the characters are botanists or physicists or chemists, etc.--my favourite is the physicist Dobbs, who made thousands of pounds yearly from the British railways for carrying underweight luggage--he hooked up hydrogen jets inside his suitcases, which made his suitcases float; an attached electromagnet pulled up the metal plate on the scales, so great piles of weights had to be added to his baggage to get it up to zero. He successfully sued to be compensated for the weight he was not bringing on in his luggage, at the same rate people with overweight bags were charged.)

    Several of the stories feature the magician Mr. Leakey, and the utterly logical treatment of the many fantastical happenings gives the book a unique tone. Mr. Leakey has a magic carpet, a pet dragon who breathes fire to grill fish for his dinner, an octopus who waits at the table, and other interesting characters as servants or friends. At one point, he has a costume party at which he magically changes everyone into their costumes: people become an atom of caesium, a comet, a fire engine, an icosahedron, a yak, a tortoise, Shakespeare, etc. Original and fun!

    peace
    minnie

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    #53112 - 08/20/09 07:02 PM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: minniemarx]
    minniemarx Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/31/08
    Posts: 466
    I read a great book this week (prereading to see if it were suitable for the lads, but not yet unfortunately.) Susan Cooper's "King of Shadows" (Margaret McElderry Books, 1999, 186 pp, no illustrations) is the story of a gifted child actor named Nat Field, who has been selected for a prestigious summer theatre programme, in which he'll be playing Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. He and the rest of the company have gone to London to put on the play at the New Globe; Nat becomes ill, and finds himself transported back to 1599, where he is suddenly playing Puck in the original Globe, costarring with Richard Burbage and Shakespeare himself.

    My kids are keen Shakespeareans, and one of them is very enthusiastic about acting, so I had high hopes for this one, and indeed, in a couple years, this is definitely a book I'll look to again. It's too dark for my particular kids right now (Nat has had a difficult childhood, which encompasses the early death of his mother and the suicide of his father, compounded by his having been the person to discover his father's body); the level of detail about Elizabethan England is fascinating, but some of that would be a bit much for my guys too (the bear-baiting for instance). The story is very well-told, though, and there's lots of lovely Shakespeare throughout (especially Dream, of course, but quite a lot of Henry V, too, and some sonnets); another nice feature from our perspective is the extent to which the young people in the story are treated as professionals, always taken seriously and never patronized.

    The book says 10 and up, which seems about right to me.

    peace
    minnie

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    #53889 - 08/29/09 04:43 PM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: minniemarx]
    JBDad Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/15/08
    Posts: 639
    Loc: Phila 'burbs
    I have not been following this thread that closely, but I did want to mention that our DS6 (who is completely fascinated with chess at the moment) is in love with "Through the Looking Glass". DW suggested it to DS because the chess game plays a major part of the book. I have not read it myself, but it's part of the Alice in Wonderland books. At any rate, DS is really enjoying it to the point of laughing out loud.

    Just thought I'd mention it.

    JB

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    #54009 - 08/30/09 09:59 PM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: JBDad]
    minniemarx Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/31/08
    Posts: 466
    Oh, isn't it great? This has been one of Harpo's most beloved books for the last three years--he's read it over and over. I'm so glad your son is loving it! Isn't it fun when they find something that just speaks to them?

    A very good chess-related book for adults is "The Flanders Panel" by Arturo Perez-Reverte.

    peace
    minnie

    PS--JBDad, has your son read Norton Juster's "Phantom Tollbooth" or "The Dot and the Line"? Both fun books for math-loving little ones...

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    #55203 - 09/12/09 09:22 AM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: minniemarx]
    minniemarx Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/31/08
    Posts: 466
    "Warrior Scarlet" by Rosemary Sutcliff (1957; repr. Farrar Straus Giroux 1994; 207 pp., black and white illustrations) was a terrific read. It's the coming-of-age story of Drem, a boy in Bronze Age Britain; he has only one usable arm, which obviously has profound implications in a hunting culture. He has both failures and successes, very movingly told, as he grows to manhood; the author skilfully weaves much historical detail into the story.

    Harpo (8) enjoyed it on his own; it also made an exciting read-aloud for Groucho (6) and Chico (4). I gather from various sources that some of Sutcliff's other books are more suitable for teens (this is the first one we've read; we're a few chapters into Eagle of the Ninth now), but this one was just fine for elementary-aged children.

    At the risk of sounding sexist, I think it might grab boys more than girls (though I suppose you never know); gender roles are very starkly delineated, as you might expect, and there is only one female character of much importance to the story.

    peace
    minnie

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    #55208 - 09/12/09 10:10 AM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: minniemarx]
    JBDad Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/15/08
    Posts: 639
    Loc: Phila 'burbs
    Originally Posted By: minniemarx

    A very good chess-related book for adults is "The Flanders Panel" by Arturo Perez-Reverte.

    peace
    minnie

    PS--JBDad, has your son read Norton Juster's "Phantom Tollbooth" or "The Dot and the Line"? Both fun books for math-loving little ones...


    somehow I missed this post! I'll check out those books for DS.

    JB

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    #55267 - 09/13/09 03:33 PM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: JBDad]
    S-T Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/28/08
    Posts: 207
    I would include "The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger" and also "Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School" by Louis Sachar for those with interest in Math. smile

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    #55283 - 09/14/09 04:00 AM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: S-T]
    chris1234 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/27/08
    Posts: 1897
    Something fun for Halloween, or anytime - Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich

    Great book of poems that are really funny and clever; most can be sung or are reminiscent of familiar tunes. Written for 6-8yr olds, these had the entire family really laughing! And the illustrations are excellent, too.

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    #55689 - 09/17/09 11:10 AM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: chris1234]
    onthegomom Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/28/09
    Posts: 1743
    I am working on updating my at home library for my gifted DS9. We get most of the everday reading stories from the libary. I'm looking to build more on reference books like math dictionary, enclopedia of animals, ect. I was thinking some of you homeschoolers could give some of your top essentials. I thinking of putting together a box for Xmas. My son has lots of interests-science, math, nature, space, sports, inventions, legos, art, animals, parks, how it is made, how it works, ect.

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    #55753 - 09/17/09 10:02 PM Re: The Ultimate Book Thread? [Re: onthegomom]
    minniemarx Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/31/08
    Posts: 466
    He may be too old for these, possibly, but we like having a selection of the DK Eyewitness books on the shelves; they're nice for an initial survey of a topic, and the pictures are terrific--but the books aren't great for kids craving real depth in a subject.

    The Kingfisher Encyclopedias (of Geography, History, Science, etc.) are also nice to have around.

    You can't go wrong with a really good atlas or two, I'd say.

    David Macaulay books are always good (The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Cathedral, City, Pyramid, Mill, etc. etc.). In a similar vein is Bill Slavin's "Transformations: How Ordinary Things are Made."

    There are lots of nice art history series for kids: Colleen Carroll's "How Artists See" (animals, heroes, families, etc.--there are twelve of them, I think); the old Metropolitan Museum series of "What Makes a ____ a _____" (Degas, Renoir, etc.--ten all told, I believe); the "Art Fraud Scandal" and "Art Auction Detective" books (there's one more, whose name slips my mind right this minute); Two Can Press has a history through art series that is only three books so far: Knights and Castles, Transportation, and Trails West.

    Maybe a couple of fun magazine subscriptions, too? My kids like the science mags "Yes" and "Know", and I am tempted by "Dig" and "Kayak," too.

    Anyway, just a couple of ideas for now...

    peace
    minnie

    PS Another thing we've found really invaluable is a series of field guides for our region: trees, rocks, plants, insects, seashore life, pond life, birds, etc. These are heavily used--they were a good investment!


    Edited by minniemarx (09/17/09 10:04 PM)
    Edit Reason: added ps

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