Tag Archives: wendy mass

Books We Read on the Road

One of the most wonderful things about our trip was how completely unplugged we were for so long.  There were several long stretches of time with little to do but sit around and enjoy the various scenery.  The Husband and I sat and read and amazingly the kids joined in.  In fact, BalletBoy had to be stopped from reading too long before bed several times!

BalletBoy, Mushroom and the Husband tore through

 Two more books in the Bone series by Jeff Smith.  This is a classic series of graphic novels about some characters who happen to be bones living in an epic fantasy backdrop of princesses, dragons and various adventures.  The books weren’t originally targeted to kids (though they are now), so there are some adult themes, but it’s pretty mild on the whole.  BalletBoy reread the fourth book so many times in the car that it began to fall apart.  Then he and Mushroom discussed and discussed and discussed these books and characters endlessly as we hiked and drove and lazed by pools.

BalletBoy also devoured

 The rest of the Beastologist series by R.L. Lafevers.  In fact, I had only brought the second book and had to download more on my Kindle for him then wait patiently to get my Kindle back!  This series is about a young boy named Nate, who is training to be a “beastologist” with his great-aunt, which means learning to deal with all sorts of creatures like gremlins, wyverns and unicorns.  It takes place in the 1920’s and has a sort of Indiana Jones feel as Nate and his aunt traverse the globe from Arabia and northern Africa to Wales.

As a side note, seeing BalletBoy read on the Kindle made me want to get him one.  He used the dictionary feature quite often and very naturally.  Plus, the ability to resize the text to be the large size of a beginning chapter book seemed to please him.  However, he lamented that the illustrations to the book weren’t as clear and told me he was eager to go back to paper.  Oh well…  Christmas next year he’ll be ready for it, I’ll wager.

Mushroom read

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell!  I actually brought this for BalletBoy, but he had no interest (ew, worms!).  Instead, despite the small font and the fact that he was stumbling over a word or two a page at least, Mushroom picked it up and tore through the first half while sitting in an airport for two hours.  It was amazing.  In case you’re not familiar with the book, it’s about a boy who eats 15 worms for fifty dollars.  The chapters are extremely short and it’s sort of a classic “boy book” from the 1970’s that has held up over the years.

I read

Well, honestly, I mostly read grown-up books (let me highly recommend The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern!).  However, I did have a few YA’s and middle grades novels in my Kindle pile.  First up, I read a few books by the middle grades writer Wendy Mass, who I had read before, but not really gotten to know.  Her book Every Soul a Star has a homeschool theme, for those not in the know.  Her most common theme, however, is probably birthdays, as she has a book for turning 11, 12 and 13.  However, I found that I just adored A Mango Shaped Space.  This book follows a character with synesthesia, a condition where the brain is full of crossed wires for the senses, making people “see” colors or “smell” letters.  It was fascinating just for that aspect, but the plot, which also deals with friendships, family and dealing with death and mourning, was very sweet and touching.  The writing is so strong and compelling in all her works.

Also, I read Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium, which just came out.  This is the sequel to Delirium, which I wrote briefly about in my post on Dystopian YA books.  In this volume, Lena has escaped being lobotimized out of falling in love, but has to deal with a new life in the wilds and then participate in a government resistance.  Oliver does some clever plotting in that she jumps the story around in time so that the reader doesn’t get bogged down in Lena’s period of depression after her escape.  However, overall, it suffered from the same strengths and weaknesses as Delirium.  Even with the time jumps, I could see every plot twist coming a mile away.  However, the writing and the characters remained strong.  There is some amazing descriptive writing in there about Lena’s emotional state and her world, which really kept my interest even if the plot was a bit predictable.