Tag Archives: siblings

Hold on Tight: A Review of ‘The Night Gardener’

“The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.”–Thomas Merton

Reading Level

Grades 5-8

Review and Comments

The story of The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is one of darkness and mystery.  Set in VIctorian England, Molly and Kip have set out looking for work and are accepted by the Windsor family.  The new job is brings on a terror that the two children were not expecting.

When Molly first arrives at the home of the Windsors, she immediately notices how dirty it is and how it looks as though it hasn’t been taken care of in ages.  Slowly, she realizes that something is amiss.  The old pictures of the family show them as younger looking, healthy and vibrant.  Now they look pale, sickly, and their eyes look lifeless. Continue reading Hold on Tight: A Review of ‘The Night Gardener’

Knock. Knock. Who’s There?: A Review of ‘Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China’

“Never trust a stranger-friend; no one knows how it will end.  As you’re pretty, so be wise; wolves may lurk in every guise.” – Charles Perrault, Little Red Riding Hood

Reading Level:  

2.6         [according to Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

K – 1      [according to common core]

3.5         [AR]

Interest Level:    K-2         [Ages  6-8]

A little house…. a basket…. a grandmother….. and a wolf.   These are all familiar elements in the fairy tale Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China. The reader will be intrigued with this version of the story while mentally checking off differences and similarities to the more familiar traditional tale.

The story begins with the customary visit to Grandmother, but this time it is the mother who visits Grandmother while her three children stay home.  As any concerned mother, she warns them to keep the door locked because she will be gone overnight.  This of course is a clue to the discerning reader that they may not follow her instructions and that disobedience will put them in great danger. Continue reading Knock. Knock. Who’s There?: A Review of ‘Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China’

Venture Forth: A Review of ‘The Wishing Spell’ (Land of Stories #1)

 “Every person’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers.” –Hans Christian Anderson

Reading Level:

Grade 5 [The text could likely be read independently by a student whose reading skills are at the level of a typical fifth grader.]

Interest Level: 

Grades of 3-8

Review and Comments:

The Wishing Spell is a story about a brother and sister named Alex and Connor Bailey, twins who are individually quite unique.  Alex is an intelligent and resourceful girl who spends a great deal of time reading alone and isolating herself from those who consider her different.  Connor, on the other hand, is a very popular boy who finds school a challenge and sometimes feels that no matter how hard he tries he just doesn’t measure up. He has trouble staying awake in school because, well, most lessons are just not interesting or relevant. The twins do share two very important things in common however.  They love fairy tales.  Their father and grandmother have been telling them fairy tales since they were very young.  Those family times are some of their best memories.  Alex even wonders what it would be like to live in a fairy tale of her imagination. The twins also share a great sorrow.  Their dad was killed in an accident and even though it was a year ago they still grieve so much that “sometimes they expect their sadness to swell out of their bodies”. Continue reading Venture Forth: A Review of ‘The Wishing Spell’ (Land of Stories #1)