Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Kane Chronicles #1: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

This book is the first in a series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Brother and sister, Carter and Sadie, discover they are descendants in a long line of Egyptian magicians and pharaohs. Their father releases five gods, and the children must discover their powers and stop the gods from unleashing chaos into the world. The House of Life, an organization of mortal magicians, are fighting to keep the gods imprisoned. They see Carter and Sadie as serious threats, because Carter is partially possessed by the god Horus, and Sadie is partially possessed by the goddess Isis. The children struggle to control their own minds with these supreme beings even as they battle other magicians, giant alligators, swarms of bats, and other gods. The children meet many friends and enemies, almost all of them magical, and discover that they're never sure who they can trust.

The idea of the book is that it was created based on a tape recorded by Carter and Sadie, so the chapters were written from each of their points of view. I enjoyed how the children needed to learn about their own powers, and I thought the internal conflict of the gods in their heads was unique. The conflict and plot created a great deal of suspense, and there was quite a bit of action. The main thing that bothered me was the number of different characters introduced and the number of terms from Egyptian mythology. It might just be a pet peeve of mine, but I thought it made things a little confusing at times. However, the book is very popular among our students.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Savvy by Ingrid Law

This book is a Newberry Honor book, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Mibs Beaumont can't wait until her thirteenth birthday in just couple of days to learn her savvy. Her mother's savvy is being perfect, Rocket's savvy is that he can give off electricity, and Fish's savvy is that he can influence the weather. However, Mibs' father goes into a coma after a car accident the day before her birthday. Mibs believes her savvy is that she can heal injuries, so she plans to find some way to travel sixty miles to see her father in the hospital. She sneaks onto a bus driven by a traveling bible salesman along with three of her brothers and the preacher's son and daughter. The bus ends up going the wrong direction, so the children encounter many detours and obstacles as they try to convince the driver to take them to the city of Salina. The savvies of Mibs' and Fish create unforeseen events, some good and some not so good. Mibs' sole mission and focus is to get to Salina and save her father's life.

I enjoyed the interaction of the characters as they learned about each other. Mibs needed to learn about her new savvy, and the preachers son had a crush on her. His sister, Bobbi, was a snooty sixteen-year-old, but Mibs uses her savvy to learn about her hidden feelings. The plot itself was okay. There were some interesting events, but the focus of the book was on the characters.

Peter and the Starcatchers By Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry

This book is a prelude to Peter Pan, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Peter and several other orphans are being taken by boat to become slaves for an evil king. However, the ship is holding a secret chest of stardust that has magical powers. Peter discovers that Molly is a starcatcher, a group of people whose sole mission is to return the stardust to where it came before their enemies get a hold of it. Their ship is sunk by pirates, and the setting changes to an uncharted island. Throughout the book, the chest is sought by the starcatchers, their enemies, pirates, mermaids, and natives on the island. Peter and Molly band together to get the chest back from the others and return it to a safe location.

I wouldn't say this book is a must-read, but I enjoyed it very much. It was exciting when the chest was taken by all of the various groups, because it complicated a fairly obvious conflict. I also liked predicting in my own mind the different ways that this book would explain things from the Peter Pan story. The book explains Peter's eternal life as a boy, his flying ability, the reason the pirate is obsessed with catching Peter, how the pirate lost his hand, the crocodile that is hunting the captain, and the origin of Neverland.