Fall 2014 book search for Timmy and Nora (Part 1 – books for Nora)

I’ve spent the last few months listening to audio books in search of gems to put on Timmy and Nora’s Christmas wish lists. Here is what I came up with for Nora.

The Dragonet Prophecy – Wings of Fire Book 1

This is a wonderful book about a group of five young dragons, a Mudwing, a Seawing, a Sandwing, a Nightwing, and a Rainwing, all raised together in captivity and rigorously trained by the Talons of Peace to fulfill a prophecy and end the dragon war.

This series is unique in that the main characters are dragons, and while humans exist in the world, the dragons don’t interact with them much except to hunt and eat them. It can be a bit gruesome in this respect, but if I read the foreshadowing correctly, I believe that the dragonets may team up with the humans (called scavengers) in a future book.

The Mysterious Howling – The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book 1

This book is reminiscent of the classic, Jane Eyre, but geared for children. Miss Penelope Lumley, age 15, has just been hired as the new governess at Ashton Place. Her charges are three young children who were found in the woods, apparently raised by wolves. Miss Lumley has her work cut out for her, since the children are completely uncivilized, and she’s expected to get them presentable in time for the upcoming Christmas party. Fun, mysterious, exciting, and shocking. I heartily recommend this one.

The Frog Princess

This was a fun read. It’s similar in concept to the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog in that the princess kisses a frog who claims to be a prince, but instead of changing him back, she changes into a frog as well. Now they must learn to live with each other (and to stay alive) while they try to figure out how to reverse the enchantment. My opinion on this book: mostly harmless.

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

I have many problems with this book. My biggest complaint being that the adults are terrible. They constantly threaten the children, but never make good on their threats, and generally let the kids get away with whatever they want to do, which includes blatant disobedience, lying, stealing, vandalism, bullying, and performing horrifyingly dangerous stunts.

This might (maybe) be acceptable if it was done humorously. Instead, this book tries to position itself as a coming-of-age story in which the protagonists learn nothing, and everything works out beautifully for them in the end. I recommend you avoid this one.

Sophie Simon Solves Them All

This book has a lot going for it. It’s witty, charming, humorous, and short. Admittedly, the characters are rather flat, and don’t learn much. Also, the adults in the story are complete imbeciles, but in a cute, funny way. The book teaches just a little bit about diverse topics such as calculus, lemurs, and French culture, never sounding like it’s lecturing, even when it is.

The best aspect of Sophie Simon Solves Them All is its phraseology. It uses clever language, and strategic repetition to excellent effect, making even the most mundane of happenings incredibly enjoyable to read.

Aliens on Vacation – The Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast Book 1

Scrub (David) is spending summer vacation with his eccentric grandmother in a tiny hick town in Washington state. She is apparently some strange combination between new-age hippy and 60s sci-fi nerd. Scrub is convinced she’s crazy… until he discovers that all of the customers of her bed and breakfast are actually aliens in disguise.

I’m not sure who this book is for: Timmy or Nora. I decided to put it onto Nora’s list because it’s short, and it’s sort of a silly romance, which is definitely her thing. But it certainly would work well for Timmy too. The protagonist is a teenage boy, and much of the subject matter (basketball, male bonding, girl confusion) is definitely of the teenage boy flavor. Bottom line: I think they both would enjoy it.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

This is a bizarre, whimsical story about a girl named Ophelia who meets a boy in a locked room at the museum. They can converse through the keyhole, and the boy divulges to Ophelia a wonderful and fantastical tale about kings and wizards, witches and swords. At first they are just fun and interesting stories, but soon Ophelia begins to realize that the boy’s words are all true, and that she is in terrible danger.

This book makes very little sense, nor does it need to. Things happen without much rationale, in a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland way, but it’s not obnoxious. It actually works quite well. It’s well-written, engaging, and just plain fun. I think Nora would love it.

A Snicker of Magic

This book is spectacular. Absolutely fabulous! I can’t say enough good about it. There is magic in it, but only a little. For the most part, it’s a pretty mundane type of magic. One person can make incredible ice cream. Another person is a very good musician. Felicity Pickle sees words. Words are everywhere for her: hovering around people and objects. She collects these words and writes them in her notebook, or on her shoe if her notebook isn’t handy.

The story in A Snicker of Magic is engaging, but it’s certainly not the star of the show. Even the wonderful characters (and they are very good) take back stage to the writing. Natalie Lloyd paints with words the way artists use pigments. Just about every single paragraph in the entire book is a work of art. For some, the writing may seem over-flowery and annoying, but I found it a pure joy, from start to finish. Highly recommended.

Half a Chance

This is a very challenging book. It’s not the vocabulary that is so challenging, though, but the situations. The protagonist, Lucy, is faced with some very difficult social and moral dilemmas that she must work through.

Lucy is an amateur photographer, and her most profound problem comes in the form of a photograph. Her best friend (Nate)’s grandmother is suffering from the early stages of dementia, and Lucy accidentally captures a photo of the poor lady in a moment of complete fear and misery, over a teacup of all things.

After seeing the picture, Lucy knows that it’s the best photo she has ever taken, and she is sure that it would win a prize if she were to send it in to a photography contest. Nate doesn’t want her to, though. He hates the picture. What should Lucy do?

While I think this is a well-written and interesting book, I don’t think it’s a good match for my family at this time.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Ummm… Wow. Seriously, wow. What did I just read? Ulysses was a squirrel who accidentally got sucked into a vacuum cleaner, and when he came out he had super powers. He could understand human speech, he had super strength, he could fly… and he could type. In fact, he typed poetry, of all things.

This book is silly, ridiculous, and totally unbelievable. I often found myself wondering, did I just read what I think I read? And yet, it is frequently surprising in its depth and empathy. Take a look at some quotes from the book to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

“All things are possible. When I was a girl in Blundermeecen, the miraculous happened every day. Or every other day. Or every third day. Actually, sometimes it did not happen at all, even on the third day. But still, we expected it. You see what I’m saying? Even when it didn’t happen, we were expecting it. We knew the miraculous would come.”

Sky Jumpers – Book 1

Hope lives in the small village of White Rock, nestled among mountains, protected from the rest of the world. It has been a couple generations since the end of World War III, and the entire planet is in the process of recovering from the fallout.

Life is hard. There is very little technology to speak of, and everyone must pull their own weight. The survival of the entire community depends on it. Yet, life is peaceful for Hope and her friends, until the bandits arrive.

They take the entire village hostage, and it’s up to Hope and her comrades to hike over the mountains to the neighboring town and recruit help. This story and the characters in it, are likeable and fun. I think Sky Jumpers is right up Nora’s alley.

– danBhentschel

One thought on “Fall 2014 book search for Timmy and Nora (Part 1 – books for Nora)”

  1. Nora – Dad, I think the Frog Princess one and the Snicker of Magic one sound really good. Oh yeah and the one about the squirrel, and the dragon one too. I really like books that don’t seem like they could really happen in real life.Read more …

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