What Happened to Me

All I can say is that I’ve been so crazy busy with school, robotics, and after school clubs.  I’ve still been reading but just have been too busy (or lazy as my mom says) to blog.  Plus, we had a family emergency for most of October.  

I now am back on track as I’ve found a wonderful book that I think you’ll like:  Dragonfly Effect by Gordon Korman.   I’ll be posting this as soon as I read it. Let’s just say that I haven’t even asked to play Mindcraft since I started! 

  

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The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone

Hi everyone! This is Gabriel’s mom.  I figured I should write a quick note explaining the extreme tardiness of this post.  First of all, Gabriel really wanted us to do a joint-post, which means I needed to carve out time to read a 400+ page book.  Secondly, even after said book is read and post is written, I need to publish the actual thing, which I forgot.  Don’t worry– here’s the post and we will be back on a weekly blog schedule going forward. 

forbidden_stoneGabriel’s Thoughts:

The Copernicus Legacy: the Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott is about a family who finds these notes from Uncle Henry after he was killed. This leads the family to a treasure hunt around the world. The kids are looking for 12 relics that help put together a special machine that was built by Copernicus. This book has a lot of action. The book isn’t really scary, just exciting. I really like the characters- I feel like they are so well thought out. My favorite character Darrell but I’d say I’m more like Wade. The kids talk like regular kids, even though they are doing things that no normal kid would do.

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Elvis and The Underdogs: Secrets, Secret Service and Room Service by Jenny Lee (plus what I did all summer)

Ok, school has now started and I realize that I have been a very lazy person all summer.  I did actually read, but when it came to finding time to blog, I just couldn’t do it.  Most of my summer was spent relaxing.  However, I did realize that I am what you’d call a “resort person”, after having two separate visits to local resorts.  I can’t imagine staying at a regular hotel anymore (unless you could combine the resort with a hotel like in Floors).

 On to my latest book.  My mom picked up Elvis and the Underdogs: Secrets, Secret Service and Room Service as a book on CD for our drive to the resorts.   This book is actually book 2 of the series (I hadn’t read this, I just jumped into this book).  The story focuses on a boy named Benji who is really missing his original therapy dog, Elvis.  Turns out that there was a mix-up and Elvis was really meant to go to the president of the United States, and Benji was meant to get a different dog named Ripley.  Benji and his friend, Alexander Chang-Cohen are watching YouTube videos of Elvis, when they discover that the dog is sending a Morse code message to Benji asking him to come to DC immediately.

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Book Reviews: Floors Trilogy by Patrick Carman


 It’s summer and I’ve been having a really fun time.  I was able to download a new video game (Titan Fall) and between camps and just relaxing, I’ve been having a relaxing summer.  I have been reading, but I just hadn’t gotten around to blogging about my books.  Sorry if you’ve been waiting.  But I figure you’ve been having fun this summer too.  I’ll won’t be gone this long again- promise!Now, onto some good books to read.  I found this “Floors” series by Patrick Carman the last time I went to the library.  If you remember, I often like to get all the books in a series at once, so I can just read them all.  I’d never heard of this book series or author, so like my mom says, I judged a book by its cover.  I’m glad I did as I think this is a really interesting series.  Patrick Carman is also the author of Skeleton Creek, which I read in second grade and is a very adventurous book (if you like adventure books, I’d recommend that).  He also wrote one of the 39 Clues books, which is also a VERY good series.

So we have Floors, 3 Below, and The Field of Wacky Inventions.  In Floors,  Leo and his father move into the basement of the Whippet Hotel after Leo’s mother dies.  His father is the janitor/handyman/custodian of the hotel.  The hotel is known for its wackiness like the flying farm room, cake room, and pool room, plus a lot more.  The higher you go up the hotel, the wackier it gets. There is an elevator called the Double Helix and is sideways and goes really fast.  Plus the hotel has this whole duck thing going on.  Why can’t we stay at a hotel like this?

You can only access the rooms with a Whippet Hotel key card.  The hotel is really expensive and only the super rich are able to afford it.  There are different cards that let you to different areas of the hotel.  And only the owner can get into all the rooms.   The owner, Merganzer D. Whippet has been gone for 100 days and no one knows where he is.  The manager is going nuts and there is a group that is trying to buy the hotel.

During a duck errand, Leo finds a purple box sets him basically on a treasure hunt.   He also meets Remi who is the son of one of the maids at the hotel.  The adventure then starts.  Together, Leo and Remi find various clues that lead them to other boxes.  Without giving too much away, let’s just say there is a happy ending and a secret villain is discovered and removed.

3 Below: The Whippet is $7M in debt and good ole Ms. Sparks now is a tax agent.  She has arranged for a private auction of the hotel but has sabotaged the invites so that only one person ends up coming.  Wouldn’t you know that Ms. Sparks and the other person are teamed up together to buy and turn it into a big money-making hotel.  I guess Ms. Sparks doesn’t take being fired too well!

Remi’s mom and Leo’s dad get married, making the two kids brothers.  During the wedding the kids find out that there are 3 sub floors that they didn’t know about.    At the end, they kids find a way to save the hotel by paying off the debt.  Let’s just say that Ms. Sparks is NOT pleased about this.  Finally,  Merganzer comes back and “raises the roof” (literally).

The Field of Wacky Inventions.  Merganzer wasn’t just the owner of the Whippet, but 6 hotels other.  The top floors of all these hotels each contain a “secret room”.  Each hotels’ roof has flown off and been put together in one hotel in the Field of Wacky Inventions.  Now, there is a competition among all 6 hotel managers.  Whichever manager wins will own all 6 hotels.  Our heroes Leo and Remi team up with Mr. Alfred with the agreement that if either of them wins, Leo will get the Whippet and Alfred can keep the others.  They end up meeting a meeting a person stuck in one of the rooms and see the secret rooms in the other hotels.  I can’t spoil the ending, but it’s good even if Ms. Sparks tries to ruin it all (what’s with her?).  I read that this was Patrick Carman’s least favorite book.  I would say that it’s the most different from the other two books, but has way more adventure.

I’ve read some people who compare the series to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I can see why- both have this wacky owner, a contest, and what seems to be this really well-thought out way for the owner to find a new owner.  But, that’s really it.  The Floors series is really a good adventurous book and definitely original.  If you are traveling anywhere this summer, it kind of makes you look at hotels in a whole new way.  Have you read it?  Let me know your thoughts.

Review: I Funny Trilogy by James Patterson

 Hi everyone!  I’ve been so busy these last few weeks.  Even though all the testing is over and we hardly have any homework, I had some big events happen.  I was nominated for my class to be in UIL for spelling which meant I had to practice a lot of extra words (which was so annoying).  But, it was actually pretty fun.  Then, we had the 1, 2, 3 places for each grade’s AR points.  My mom and I went to the main library and checked out a lot of books.  I was pretty much doing a book a day plus 2 on the weekends.  Normally, I can do 100 AR points in a month.  I did 150 points in 3 weeks.  But now, I just want to watch some Minecraft on YouTube.

But, my mom says that it’s better if I blog regularly versus just once in a while.  So, I’m going to talk about the I Funny books that I read.  It’s I Funny, I Even Funnier and I Totally Funniest by James Patterson.  As you can guess by the title, these books are funny.

The I Funny series is about a kid, Jamie Grimm who got in a car accident and is paralyzed.  When he was in the hospital, the doctors give him joke books.  His parents died in the accident and leaves him paralyzed.  He lives with his aunt and uncle called the Smileys but all they do is frown.  The school bully becomes his adopted brother and keeps telling mean things like Jamie is only getting a sympathy vote from the judges.

Luckily, he has his uncle Frankie to help him and be nice. One day he was telling jokes at his uncle’s restaurant.  Then his uncle told him to enter the contest.  So now, he enters a joke contest “Planet’s Funniest Kid” .  The three books show his journey in the contest from city, state, country and international. (I don’t want to spoil it for you).  There are some really funny jokes in this.  In I Funny, Jamie is going to compete for the City contest.  In I Even Funnier, he actually quits but then he gets picked as a wildcard and his journey continues.  In the final one, you see where he ends up.  Does he win?  I’m not telling you.  Go read it!

You know how people say LOL meaning “laughing out loud”?  Well, I actually laughed out loud a lot and told my mom one of the jokes.  This was my favorite one:

Two men go hunting in the woods and one collapses.  His friend whips out his cell phone and calls 9-1-1.

Man: My friend is dead, what should I do?

9-1-1:Calm down, I can help.  First, let’s make sure he’s dead.

here’s a silence and then a gunshot.

Man: OK, now what?

This had my mom and I seriously laughing out loud for a long time.  Plus, the third book kept me company for the UIL tournament.

I think anyone would love this book series- it’s funny and is just a story of a kid who had a messed up situation and tries to make the best of it.   He just wants to be normal, even though everyone treats him like a baby since he’s in a wheelchair. I like this book and I think you may too.

Got any good jokes to share?  Write them below.

Gabriel’s Top Ten Tips for Picking Books at the Library

  I was really out of books at my house.  Although I did find this cool book my aunt gave me called Pranklopedia which was all about these non-mean pranks that people have done.  I’ll have to tell you about it later.  But my mom suggested I write this post about going to the library since people always ask her how we find books.

  1. Go to a good library.  This sounds silly but it’s true.  The local branch near my house has like no books.  It’s really hard to find anything because say you have a book series, they will only have book 2 and nothing else.  In 1st grade my mom started taking me to the downtown branch and that is really great.  They have multiple copies of books—it’s so cool.
  2. Know your authors.  I find that if there is a book I’ve read, chances are I’ll like others by that author.  This visit, I ended up taking a lot of books by Andrew Clement (he wrote The Landry News).  In my About section you can see some good authors.
  3. Get a lot of books.  Normally I end up checking out 20-30 books.  My mom tells me to stop or I’d take more.  The limit for my library is 50 books and once we almost reached it (with me, my mom and my brother).  I get a lot of books because sometimes I like to read different things depending on my mood.  Having a lot of books gives me choices.
  4. Go for a series.  My mom says this isn’t fair, but I like book series. This visit I found a few books that I didn’t read yet from 39 Clues, which was really cool.  Usually, if you read one book in the series the others are good too.
  5. Go for a winner.  I don’t know if you know about the Blue Bonnet Awards.  This is given to books in Texas.  There are these nominated books and that means they are good too.  There is a special sticker on the spine and usually the book will be pretty good.
  6. Authors who like each other.  Have you ever seen the back of a book and there will be a quote from an author about how great this other author’s book is?  You may want to look into that author since maybe he is similar to the one you like.  I found Brandon Mull that way since he commented on a Rick Riordan book.
  7. Get recommendations.  If you see someone in class reading a book, ask him or her if it’s good.  Then, try to look for it yourself. Or, try one of the books I recommend!
  8. Bring a list.  This is really important! Sometimes we forget the books after the drive and then I’m just looking around the aisle.  This time my mom emailed herself the books and authors.  It was so much easier.
  9. Ask a librarian.  I sometimes am a bit nervous about asking them, so my mom and I go together.  My mom used to work at a library and said people don’t use librarians enough.  The thing is that the librarian doesn’t know you, so you should tell her what books you like and then she can tell you some others you will like.
  10. Judge a book by its cover.  My mom says you are not supposed to do this, but sometimes I just walk around and look for something that seems interesting.  I’ll grab it and read the back.  If it seems cool, I’ll add it to the pile.

That’s it.  This is how I usually pick books from the library.   I already finished some so I’ll have more reviews coming soon.

What books do you choose at the library?  Do you go to a cool library or one of those small ones?

Evil Spy School- review and author interview

I have some really exciting news for you. For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already know this (and all the kids in my class too). I really love the books of Stuart Gibbs. Actually, a lot of people in my class do too. His books are really interesting and funny and I find that I go through them quickly.
4/21 came and my dad came home really late. Guess my surprise when he came home with this! Yes, he bought me the new, hardcover Evil Spy School. This kept me company on the second day of STAAR testing and I finished it later the next day.
This post is a bit different. I will definitely do a review of this great book. However, I have something even more wonderful. My mom emailed the author, Stuart Gibbs to see if I could interview him. And.He.Said.Yes!  Below is the interview- it’s actually the questions I asked and his answers. By the way, he answered right away which I thought was really cool.

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Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue (for the STAAR test)

This week has been especially tough for me because it was the last days of STAAR (state of Texas assessment of academic readiness) testing.  If you are lucky enough not to have to take standardized tests, like if you live in Finland or something, then I’m so jealous of you and am going to ask my mom to move me to your school.  Just kidding.  The test itself isn’t too bad.  The annoying parts are that you miss specials and recess, and you can’t get regular lunch from the cafeteria.  Last month, I ended up missing pizza day because of it.  Also, the teacher gets really crazy about bubbling perfectly and all those “stray marks”.

After each section of the test you are allowed to read quietly- after you have double or triple checked everything.  I usually bring a big collection of books with me just in case.  Although last time, I discovered The Hero’s Guide and that was good.  But, you never know what books are left on the shelf and I hate to get stuck with a dud, like a princess book.

Because I’m so “brain drained” as my mom says it, I’m not going to do a usual review of Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue.  You may remember that I got to see Origami Yoda (Tom Angleberger) at the meet the author event at the Book People.

Tom Angleberger in actionThe book is really good, and I was waiting for it.  But this time, my mom (who’s never read any of the series) is going to ask me some questions and I’ll answer them.  If they aren’t too annoying that is (ha ha ha).
Q: Is it right to assume that this book series is like the Star Wars movies?

A:  Well the book series talks about this middle school and everyone likes Star Wars.  And one kid makes this origami yoda and everyone else makes origami Star Wars guys.  But in one episode, Dwight (the origami yoda maker), gets expelled because origami is deemed too distracting.  In the last two books, there is this program called “fun time” that is really annoying and makes things difficult.  But the school board thinks it’s good.

[spoiler alert]  In Jabba the Puppet, a teacher joins the rebellion and in Princess Labelmaker the principal joins and that’s when they win.

Q:  Thanks, that’s a big answer.  Do you have to be totally into Star Wars to like this series?

A; No.

Q: What if you don’t know anything about Star Wars? 

A: That’s not good.  You have to know a little bit, at least some bit. What kind of person doesn’t know at least something about Star Wars?

Q; You skipped one of the books, right?  The Art 2 D2 wasn’t available when we were at the bookstore.  Did that affect how you understood the Labelmaker story?

A: No, it didn’t.  It doesn’t matter if you skip books, except you can’t skip the first book. [ The Strange Case of Origami Yoda]

Q: What’s the funniest part of this book?

A: I don’t know.  [mom is getting really annoying here as you can tell]

Q: Ok, [mom didn’t like my tone] what’s your favorite part of the book?
A: The ending, with the conference.

Q: Why is this a good book to take with you to the STAAR test?

A: Well, the book is really enjoyable and it’s not very “learning” and relaxes your brain.

Q: Did you try to make any origami?

A: No, but there are instructions.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

A: Nah.

That’s it for my QA review.  This book really is fun and I highly recommend it.  Like I told my mom, you don’t have to be really into Star Wars to read this book but if you don’t know anything about it, I think you may not like it.  I’d say that maybe you need to go and watch the Star Wars moves first and then read this.

Do you have to take standardized tests?  If so, what’s the most annoying thing about it?  If you have any good books you’d recommend during the test, please share below.  I’d also like to thank Tom Angleberger for making me that cool Origami and signing my book.  

Tom Angleberger and me

signed copy of the  book

Authors In Action

     

 On Wednesday my mom and I went to a very cool meeting at Book People.  We saw Jon Scieszka (Guys Read, Time Warp Trio, True Story of the 3 Pigs), Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda), Mac Barnett, Jory John, and Jonathan Auxier.  I had read books by Jon Scieszka and Tom Angleberger before but wasn’t familiar with the other guys. Mom let me get two books but I wanted to buy about 10.  I already finished Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue, that review is coming next.

At the meeting, each author talked about their new books and answered questions.  At the end, you could meet the authors and have your book signed by them.  I went to one of these in first grade where I got to see Rick Riordan and get his Mark of Athena (really good book, by the way).  That was so crowded, you couldn’t meet the author, just see him talk.  I really liked seeing the authors and hearing about their books. I would definitely recommend going.  Also, Whole Foods is right next door and you can get yourself some delicious gelatin-free marshmallows. (Do you know how they make gelatin?  Once you do, you don’t want to eat it—trust me!) Continue reading

Joint Review: The Landry News

The Landry News by Andrew Clements

Gabriel’s thoughts: I liked The Landry News because I thought it was an interesting thing to have a kid who is kind of shy make her own newspaper that everyone can read.

The story is about a girl, Cara Landry, who makes a newspaper that talks about the classroom.  Cara is a bit of a trouble maker and in her last school she made her own newspaper, but it was really harsh and got her in trouble.  Cara starts the new school by making her own paper and at first it’s a little harsh too.  She wrote an editorial that bad-mouthed her social studies/language arts teacher, Mr. Larson.  To be fair, she was right about what she said about him but she wasn’t very kind.  She was inspired by  her mom that said you should always have truth plus mercy.  She then starts making friends in class and they actually publish the paper.  It was her first time getting help and the paper was really good thanks to all her classmates’ help.  Everyone in the class is really excited about it.

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