by Eoin Colfer
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
I recently asked my friend, Children’s Librarian Extraordinaire, for suggestions on what to read next. She immediately pulled old Artemis off the shelf and handed it to me. “Oh yeah, this!” I said. “I’ve been meaning to read this.” The next thing she said made me doubt if I actually wanted to read it. She said that there is a fairy code at the bottom of the pages that you have to decipher, but that you can find the key online. Well, I finished the book without knowing the key, and have just finished reading the deciphered text, and I am here to say that I don’t think it made much of a difference. I can see Artemis Fowl being good for kids who were really into the Rainbow Magic books and who are a little older, maybe up for a little adventure and cynicism. My 4-year-old cousin Ben, whose family read-aloud choices are heavily influenced by his pink-loving 7-year-old sister, and who is also into Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons, will I think be a perfect candidate for Artemis Fowl in a few years.
by Sarah Weeks
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Children’s Librarian Extraordinaire also handed me Jumping the Scratch, which I’d never heard of. What a lot of things our hero has going on! Someone in my book club once said that kids who read a lot have more empathy than kids who don’t, because they are constantly in someone else’s shoes. I like to think this book will really help some kids understand the economic impact of suddenly being a single parent, or or suddenly having to deal with a crippling accident on the job (or otherwise). I did like that some things get wrapped up at the end, but not everything. I thought the author did a great job with the imagery and the themes – not too much importance hanging on them, and they don’t klonk you over the head, but they help give the story context and feeling. I also, of course, loved that she’s from Michigan, and the book takes place in Traverse City (with flashbacks to Battle Creek).
But I digress. I also loved the scenes where Jamie interacts with his class’s visiting author. Those kinds of scenes always sound really autobiographical, regardless of the feel of the character other than that, but this one seemed more real somehow. The class dynamics with his mostly evil teacher were perfect too, and I love how Jamie turned her words back on her. Sweet, sweet justice is in the hands of this fifth grader.