Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Review Set #8

Castle by David Macaulay, published by Houghton Mifflin Company

    Genre: non-fiction, award winner; Age: 8-12; Total Pages: 80

Annotation: Join Master Jim as he builds a new castle in thirteenth century Wales for Lord Kevin, as part of the English plan to conquer the island.

Review: The simple story of Lord Kevin's castle is really a backdrop for showing the process of castle-building and all that it entailed. Macaulay's illustrations are immaculate and the accompanying story wonderfully describes the process of building a castle from start to decay. This is a favorite from my own childhood, and is what instilled my love of the Middle Ages. This would be a great book for boys and girls. It's great.

    Critical Review:

Time Magazine raved about this book, saying, "David Macaulay can draw—churches, cities, pyramids—he does better than any pen-and-ink illustrator in the world. Castle once again goes through a brick-by-brick assembly, employing cross-hatches and thin black lines to evoke a medieval place and period." What better praise is there than this? This book is certainly masterful in its illustrations and it is sure to satisfy any child who loves details. Review had similar praise for the book and recommended it for kids who like to know how things work. But, the art is so exquisite that it is not just for the scientific-minded but for the artistic mind as well.

PBS Kids.

    Genre: kids website, educational; Age: preschool-first grade

Annotation: For parents and children, PBS kids offers coloring options, music, games, information about shows, as well as parenting resources.

Review: This is a great resource for young children. To support children's use of the website, it has audio features so that when you scroll over a tool, it says it out loud. This would be really great for young children who are not yet readers.

The coloring book pages correspond to some of the popular TV shows, and so do the games and music. This would be a great extension for a child who loves the show. This is a great resource.

National Geographic Kids.

    Genre: kids website, educational; Age: kindergarten and up

Annotation: Do you love nature? Science? Hands-on activities? Talking about books? If so, National Geographic Kids is for you. This interactive website features all of the above and more, just for kids. Check it out!

Review: This is a great interactive tool for teaching children a variety of things, including, how to speak Arabic, what happened during the first Thanksgiving, what space-walking is like, and more. But, it's not just educational; there are interactive games and activities as well. This is a great website that should be bookmarked in any parents' kid-friendly bookmarks.

The Harry Potter Lexicon.

    Genre: kids website, just for fun; Age: fourth grade and up

Annotation: A lexicon is a vocabulary of terms associated with a specific subject, and in this case, the subject is the magical world of all things Potter.

Review: I love this website, but I'm a Harry Potter fanatic. You know the kind; the ones who pre-order the books, the ones who talk about it at any moment, the ones who throw theme parties. If you can identify with that descriptor, this is the place for you. The Lexicon defines important terms, collects all the details about characters (everything you could ever want to know about Dumbledore is found on the "Which Wizard" page), magical items, and more. If you love Harry, then visit the Harry Potter Lexicon.

Fairies World.

    Genre: kids website, just for fun; Age: "very young" to "older children"

Annotation: If you love fairies, you'll love this website, with pictures from around the world, coloring pages, puzzles, games and more. Check it out!

Review: This is a really cool site, with many choices for different age groups. Unfortunately, it has prominent ads along the side of the page that look like they could be links within the website that children could mistakenly click on. Because of that (and you don't want your child accidentally installing spyware), adults should visit the website with their children.

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