Guest Reviewer! Matthew, age 7, Talks About His Trip to Whimsic Alley

We have a special surprise, a guest reviewer!  Matthew (a friend of Mason and Camille’s) has visited Whimisic Alley in Los Angeles, as mentioned in Mason’s Harry Potter review, and was nice enough to write a description of the place.  If you are interested in visiting Whimsic Alley, check out the website HERE.  Enjoy the review!

Hi, my name is Matthew and I am going to tell you about Whimsic Alley. I got to go there as a reward because I finished all seven Harry Potter books. It was like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.

Whimsic Alley is a Harry Potter store. It is very cool! You can get a bunch of stuff there like wands, hats, scarves and other things. When you first walk in, you see a room on the right that has all the clothes from the different houses like Griffondor and Ravenclaw. On the left, there are a bunch of other things like a horcrux from book 7 and posters. If you go farther into the store, you’ll see the great hall with mirrors and these portraits of people that when you look at them from different directions they change and look scary, sort of like a hologram.

My favorite room was the wand room. All the wands from all the Harry Potter books are in there. I bought the elder wand. When you choose a wand to buy, the salesperson will take it out and tell you to inspect to make sure it’s not chipped. There is also a lamp and if you wave your wand and say, “Lumos!” it will turn on and if you say, “Nox!” then it will turn off.

At the counter when you buy stuff they have things like Harry Potter Legos. Next to it, there is a phone booth like the one that is used to go to the Ministry of Magic in book five. Oh, the bathroom was funny because it looked like there were a million elder wands in the mirror.

I would recommend going to Whimsic Alley if you like Harry Potter. Even if you haven’t read any of the books or seen any of the movies, it would still be really cool to go. I want to go back and maybe even have a birthday party there.


Filed under Book Related Field Trips, Uncategorized

Camille Reviews Horton Halfpott, by Tom Angleberger

Hi, my name is Camille, and I am going to tell you about a book called Horton Halfpott.  Horton Halfpott is a book about a lot of mysteries.  Horton is a kitchen boy in Smugwick Manor.  The kitchen owner, Miss Neversly, gets mad because she thinks that Horton gets into troubles, like going out and meeting his friends.

There is a woman named M’Lady Luggertuck, and she is the owner of Smugwick Manor.  She has a son named Luther Luggertuck, and there is a girl named Celia.  Luther and a guy named Montgomery both want to marry Celia. Celia likes Horton better than Luther or Montgomery.

Luther takes this thing called The Lump, which is like a crystal, because it is very valuable.  He also takes a statue of Napoleon, and he took one of M’Lady Luggertuck’s wigs.  He steals everything because he wants to get money, and he’s evil.  He gets the money from pirates.

Everyone thinks that Horton is stealing everything because Miss Neversly told everybody that he did it.  Horton and his three friends try to solve the mystery.  They go out at night and they see that Luther is stealing everything.  So they told a detective that Luther was stealing.  At the end, Celia and Horton liked each other and Luther got stuck inside of a mud puddle.

I liked when they had a Halloween party, because M’Lady Luggertuck was dressed up in fancy clothes, and they put perfume on her, and it smelled so stinky!  I liked this book because it was really funny, and there were a lot of details, and it has a glow-in-the-dark cover!  I didn’t like the pirates because they were mean, especially Old Bart.

I think people who are funny and like funny books should have this book.  The rating for this book is an 8 out of 10 because it was funny and cute.

I saw the author, Tom Angleberger, at LA Festival of Books, and he signed our books!  He was funny, he kept on calling me and Mason “Larry.”  Here’s a video of when we met him.

Camille and Mason meet Tom Angleberger


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Mason Talks About Harry Potter for Kids

Hi, this is Mason and I’m writing about the first four Harry Potter books.

The first one is called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  It’s not that scary.  The book is about Ron, Harry, and Hermione trying to get this stone that makes them never die.  This is my second favorite Harry Potter book because it’s not as violent as the other books.  I liked it because Harry made a lot of friends.  Sometimes it was kind of interesting when they were talking about the wands, like when the wands choose you and you don’t choose the wand.

The second book is my favorite.  It’s called Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets.  It’s about Ron’s sister, Ginny Weasley, trying to get into the Chamber of Secrets.  The Chamber of Secrets is where Voldemort lives.  Voldemort is a bad guy.  Ginny wanted to go there because Voldemort told her to in his diary.  She didn’t know it was Voldemort’s diary.  This one was a LITTLE more scary, but the best part is that Harry made more friends, like Neville Longbottom.

The third book is a little scarier than the second book.  It is called Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  It’s about Harry’s godfather, who is not a murderer.  But the Ministry of Magic thinks he is because he was standing right next to Harry’s mother and father’s house when it blew up, so they put him in jail.  But he got out and went to the school to get the real murderer.  I didn’t like it because there are these things called dementors, and they suck up the good feelings.  It made me scared.  I liked this book because Harry Potter saved his godfather and it had a nice ending.


The fourth book is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I don’t want to write about the Voldemart part because then I’ll get more scared.  This book is my least favorite.  I didn’t want to read it anymore because it was too scary.  People that are like twelve or up could read it.  I read to page 326 maybe, I’m not sure, because it was about two weeks ago that I stopped reading.

I think kids who are seven and up could read number one, two, and three.   The fourth one should be twelve and up, unless you like scary things.

ImageI found out something cool that people should do if they like Harry Potter, at least books one – three.  They should do this game called Pottermore, there are different levels.  I’m at Diagon Alley where I get my wand, my books, and my robes.  You have to find things to help you get to the next level.  You have to do a lot of levels before you get to the level I’m on.  It’s free, and the address is  You have to sign up with your parents’ email.


I also want to go to Whimsic Alley.  It’s in Los Angeles.  You can get your own wands and stuff.  You can have a birthday there too.  My friend Matthew went to Whimsic Alley, and I looked on the computer, it looked awesome.  Matthew is going to write a review for our blog, which you can look on our website to find out about it.

I hope you liked reading my blog.


Filed under Book Reviews for Kids, Uncategorized

Camille Reviews Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker

Clementine is a girl who goes to school with this bossy little girl named Margaret.  In the beginning of the story, Margaret went into the bathroom because she got glue in her hair, and she brought along scissors.  Then, Clementine went inside to see what was going on.  Margaret was crying inside the bathroom because she got glue in her hair.  She asked Clementine to cut the part with glue off, but Clementine accidently cut most of her hair off.  Then she cried even more, and Clementine got sent to the principal’s office.

Clementine lived in the same apartment building as Margaret.  Margaret’s mom got mad at Clementine, and when she went up to say sorry, Margaret’s mom got so mad at her and she said “Go home and think of what you have done!”

The next day, Clementine went to school and got in trouble AGAIN and got sent to the principal’s office AGAIN because she had colored Margaret’s hair red.  Margaret wanted it to look like Clementine’s, so Margaret asked Clementine to color her hair with an unwashable marker.

After Clementine went to the principal’s office, she cut her own hair and colored it green because she didn’t want it to look like Margaret’s, because she was mad at Margaret for getting her in trouble.

At the end, she got a big surprise party, and Margaret got her another kitten since Clementine’s kitten had died.

I think this book is very funny.  I really like it, it is really like Junie B. Jones because she does funny stuff, like she named her cat Deodorant.  I do like Clementine (the girl) because she is crazy, but I don’t like her because she gets in trouble a lot.  It makes me feel not very happy because she gets in trouble and doesn’t really pay attention a lot.

I would recommend this book to girls who don’t get in trouble a lot, so they don’t get ideas to do bad stuff.  I rate this a 5 out of 10 because I like it and I don’t like it.

If you are interested in Clementine, go to this website and you find out all about Clementine and Sara Pennypacker.  You will find books made by Sara Pennypacker and how to write to Sara Pennypacker.  Cross Country Clementine shows cardboard Clementines in different states that kids took pictures with, like Oklahoma, Connecticut, and Kansas.  I’m going to take a picture with Clementine at Somerset Park and put it on the website.



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Filed under Book Reviews, Book Reviews for Kids

LA Times Festival of Books!

We’ve been a little lax about posting lately since the kids have been wrapped up in their science fair projects, which are due next Monday. But I had to take some time to post about one of my favorite events: The LA Times Festival of Books, which is this coming weekend (April 21-22) at USC! This event is amazing…superstar authors, music, crafts, food, tons and tons of books, and it’s all FREE.  Parking is $10.

I don’t even want to look at all the panels I would LOVE to see because it would just bum me out. Since I am taking the kids, we will be hanging out mainly at the Target Childrens’ Stage…which is a good time too. Since three of the panels that our kids  would love all fall on Saturday, we will be heading there then…despite Mason’s 11:30 baseball game.  :-/  Here’s who we want to see:

12:55:  Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Cabin Fever

1:30:  Ozokidz (I’m a huge Ozomatli fan!)

2:45:  Tom Angleberger, Fake Mustache

There are a lot more authors too.  Check out the schedule here.
Hope you can check it out if you live in the area.  It is really a great vibe, all about books, and the kids can’t help but get in the book-loving spirit.


Filed under Book Related Field Trips, Raising a Reader

Fun Reading Website for Kids

I stumbled across this great website while browsing the web:

It’s great fun because it incentivizes kids to read.  After they finish a book, kids can log on and answer a 5-10 question quiz (depending on the age level of the book).  If they get a certain amount correct, they win points that can be accumulated and used to “purchase” real prizes!  There are actually some great prizes available, for example:

Camille just saw the picture of the hamster on an e-book prize, and that’s what she’s working toward.

Of course it’s great to provide yet another incentive to read, but what I also really like about this site is that it tests comprehension and prepares them for similar tests in school…all in a fun way, of course.  The kids just think it’s a fun game and a way to win prizes!  Teachers can also put together class groups and create specialized quizzes and incentives and track student progress.

It’s fairly easy to accumulate prizes.  Camille took three quizzes of books she’s recently read and earned 420 points, and it took only maybe 10 minutes.

The one downside to the site is that, although there are 8,000 books available, most of the more recent books that the kids have read (and actually, every book they’ve reviewed on this blog except Stuart Little) do not have quizzes.  You can help your kids find books to read on the site, but it is fairly limiting.  They are trying to expand the library and parents/teachers can be approved to submit quizzes for new books, but in the meantime…Camille and I spent more time looking for quizzes on books that she’s read recently than it took her to actually complete the quizzes.  She is going to choose her next book (Sarah, Plain and Tall) based on the fact that there is a quiz available (it was on her list anyway).

Check it out, let us know what you think!


Filed under Raising a Reader

Camille reviews Invisible Inkling, by Emily Jenkins

I like Emily Jenkins’ books.  She’s a very good and funny author.  I like Toys Go Out and Invisible Inkling.  I like Invisible Inkling because it about an animal that is invisible, and I love invisible animals.

Invisible Inkling is a book about a boy named Hank.  He is a boy who found Invisible Inkling.  Invisible Inkling is an invisible animal who Hank found one day in his mother and father’s ice cream shop.  Invisible Inkling took a cone and ate it, but Hank thought, “What in the world is taking that cone!?  The cone is moving on its own!”  Then Invisible Inkling went for a walk, and so did Hank.  Hank went back to their apartment and went for a walk with one of their neighbor’s dogs.  While they were walking, the dog that they were walking kept on barking and barking at midair.  Then Invisible Inkling ran, and the dog ran after him.  That’s how Hank found the invisible animal.

Then he went to school with Invisible Inkling, and Invisible Inkling kept on jumping on people’s heads and hurting them.  People said, “Hank, stop putting things on top of our heads!”  Hank said, “Invisible Inkling, you have to go.”  At the end, finally Hank said, “OK, Invisible Inkling, you may stay,” because Invisible Inkling helped him.  There was a boy named Gilllicut at the school who was hurting Hank, so Invisible Inkling jumped on his head and hurt him, and Gillicut never went back to Hank ever again.

I think the part where Hank said no to Invisible Inkling was bad in the book, because he helped Hank.  I liked how Invisible Inkling jumped on people’s heads, and that he took the pizza away from Hank because he wanted cheesy goodness.  I think seven- and six-year-old kids would like this book.  Teenage kids, not really, because there’s a teenage girl in this book and she’s kind of coo-coo.  She wouldn’t let Hank touch any of her stuff, not even her helicopter book.

I would rate this book a 7 because I love invisible animals, but it wasn’t a really great book because I don’t like Gillicut because he scared me. Here is a video about Invisible Inkling that you can watch. It shows Emily Jenkins and Invisible Inkling, so you can hear how he sounds for real.

Thank you for reading my review!

Love, your friend Camille

NOTE FROM MOM:  This is a great book for kids like my daughter, whose reading skills sometimes surpass her ability (or maybe willingness) to relate to mature content.  The book is thematically written for young kids but is challenging for strong readers.  Emily Jenkins’ other books are among our favorites also.  Both kids love the Toys Go Out books (three in the series), and I recently read the adult book Mr. Posterior and the Genius Child, an entertaining book which I greatly enjoyed.  I related to Mr. Posterior on two levels:  from the viewpoint of the main character (Vanessa, a young girl growing up in the 70’s) and her mother, whose parental ambiguity is a timeless topic.  Check out Emily Jenkins’ site and try some of her books for both kids and adults:


Filed under Book Reviews, Book Reviews for Kids, Book Reviews for Moms, Uncategorized