The Westing Game

The Westing Game
By Ellen Raskin 
Published: 2004, Dutton Children’s Books
Genre: Children’s Literature, Mystery

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The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!
Sunset Towers faced east and had no towers. This glittery, glassy apartment house stood alone on the Lake Michigan shower, five stories high. Five empty stories high.
Then one day (it happened to e the Fourth of July), a most uncommon-looking delivery boy rode around town slipping letters under the doors of the chosen tenants-to-be. The letters were signed Barney Northrup.

And so the mystery begins……

I will be teaching a literature class next fall at my homeschool co-op for 6th-8th graders and I was in search of some “unknown” books to present; this book came as a recommendation to me by a couple of people, so I thought I would give it a read and see what I thought.

I was a little leery at first about a book that revolved around a murder mystery but I was pleasantly surprised with the plot. Ellen Raskin did a great job and kept everything in the book quite clean. Some of the mystery was predictable to me, as an adult, however I did think that the author kept us guessing in a few ways and did a fabulous job of dropping clues through the pages.

I enjoyed how the author wrote from each suspects perspective throughout the book so that we could delve into each of the characters and make our own conclusions. I loved the word puzzles and “games” throughout the book as well. I felt that she also did a great job of tying up all of the loose ends in the final chapters so that you weren’t left guessing or wondering about the characters or the story.

It was a fun mystery novel to read. I definitely recommend it and I have decided to use it in my literature class next year.

I gave it to my 14 year old son to read and see what he thought and he enjoyed the book as well. He said he would certainly recommend it to people and that I should use it for my class next year.

The Westing Game

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Stone Fox

Stone Fox
By John Reynolds Gardiner
Illustrated by Greg Hargreaves
Published: 1980, Harper Collins
Genre: Children’s Literature

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One day Grandfather wouldn’t get out of bed. He just lay there and stared at he ceiling and looked sad.

Little Willy’s grandfather is ill which leaves 10 year old Willy and his dog, Searchlight, in charge of the farm. When the tax collector stops by and informs Willy that he needs to pay $500 in back taxes or they will lose the farm, he enters the local dogsled race. He needs to win the $500 cash prize to save the farm for his grandfather, but first he must beat Stone Fox, the local Native American who has never lost a race.
It is based on a Rocky Mountain Legend, told through the generations.

This was a read-aloud I did with my 8 year old son; he happens to be my only child who doesn’t particularly enjoy reading. Because of that, I try to find short books to read to him that have enough action to keep him engaged. Stone Fox seemed to fit the bill.

When we made it to the end of the book, his first response was “That was short! There’s no more to read?” So I consider it a win, since he was hoping there was more chapters to read. The book was engaging and told the story quickly and precisely enough to keep him enthralled.
You may want to peruse it yourself first; there are some sensitive topics in the book that may affect some children.

It kept my active, can’t-sit-still 8 year old wanting to read the next pages so we definitely recommend it to everyone.

Stone Fox

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Caroline: Little House, Revisited

Caroline: Little House, Revisited
By Sarah Miller
Published: 2017, William Morrow
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical, Literature

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Caroline’s wrist turned and flicked as the steel tongue of her crochet hook dipped in and out, mirroring the movement of the fiddle’s bow. With each note, the white thread licked a warm line across her finger. Her pattern had just begun to repeat, chorus-like, as the tune ended.

Nostalgia. That is the feeling I experienced while reading this book.
I read the The Little House Books so many times as a young girl that I practically had them memorized. I was pleased to see that there was now a book written from the perspective of the mother. Since I am now a mom myself, I loved getting to read the same story but from Caroline’s point of view.

I thought that Sarah Miller did a wonderful job of staying true to the historical knowledge of the Ingalls family, but adding enough of her own creative elements that we were able to really feel like we were a part of Caroline’s life. She did an impressive job of portraying what a woman would think and how a woman would feel during the troubles and times of the Ingalls family.
I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to be a pregnant mother, leaving behind your entire family and all you have ever known, to travel across the country into the unknown.

Those that she could not bear to leave sat close around her, yet as she looked backward through the keyhole of canvas at the blur of the waving hands, Caroline could not help but wonder whether Charles and the girls would be enough.

The writing in the book was beautiful. The words used, the pictures that the author created, put me right back inside that wagon with the Ingalls family; only this time I was the mom and not Laura.

I really enjoyed this book and reliving the days of Laura and Mary through Caroline’s eyes. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who read and loved the Little House series as a young child (or still does).

Caroline: Little House, Revisited

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Stuart Little

Stuart Little
By E.B. White

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I knew of this classic piece of work, but I have never read it myself. One of the exciting things about being a bibliophile and a mother is that I get to read and share these classics with my own children. This particular one I shared with my youngest son.

Originally written in 1945, this books holds exemplary, poetic language strung together to create a whimsical, light-hearted tale about a mouse born to a human family.

My sport-loving, never-sits-still 8 year old was intrigued and enthralled with this book. He thought it was hilarious that a mouse had human parents an a human brother. He loved the mishaps and adventures that Stuart experienced throughout the story. He was just a little bit disappointed at the ending and felt like the story was not complete; there were unanswered questions in his mind. This is often the mark of a wonderful work of art because it leaves it in the hands of the reader to interpret; but he is a little young for that concept.

He was excited to learn that there was a movie based upon the book so of course we watched it. There were a couple of pieces from the book that were left out of the movie that he commented on. Welcome to the world of books made into movies, son. 🙂

I think that Stuart Little is an incredible piece of classic literature that all children should either read or have read to them. It is a story that has persevered through time that generations have enjoyed and should be exposed to in the future.

Stuart Little

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