Monthly Archives: December 2012

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

Category: Video Games

Personal Evaluation: I love puzzles and riddles, and I loved that these were individual puzzles within the greater puzzle. Some of the puzzles are classic ones (move one matchstick, get all the animals to the other side of the river) so I just knew the answer, but some were really hard. You get three hints which you have to pay for with coins you find on your adventure, and some of the puzzle hints did not help at all.

What might interest children: I think most kids would find this game pretty challenging. It takes a long time – I played for hours and was nowhere near the end – so you definitely get your money’s worth. It’s educational without banging you over the head with it. I would recommend this game to any kid, and you never know, it might turn into parent-child bonding time if they need an adult’s help! They could also collaborate with a friend, which would also be fun.

FIFA Soccer

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

Category: Video Game

Personal Evaluation: It took me forever to learn how to manipulate the little players on the screen but that probably has more to do with my lack of video game skills than this game in particular. I am not a huge soccer fan but one of the children’s librarians I work with said this one was popular so I thought I’d see what it was all about. On the rare occasion I managed to kick the ball, it was kind of thrilling.

What might interest children: I could see kids who are not athletically inclined be excited about having athletic success with this game, especially if they like to watch soccer. Due to its popularity, it should probably get 4 out of 5 stars.

Charlotte’s Web

by E.B. White
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Category: Movie

Personal Evaluation: I thought this was a pretty faithful, entertaining rendition of the classic book. The last time I read Charlotte’s Web was a long time ago, so I had to go back to my disintegrating copy for a refresher, but there was only one surprising thing in the movie: Fern running around at the fair holding hands with a boy. (I just made sure, and that part is definitely NOT in the book!)

What might interest children: The story is enough of a draw, it’s a timeless classic that kids are still picking up on their own or being read to by a parent.

Howl’s Moving Castle

by Diana Wynne Jones
Overall: 2 out of 5 stars

Category: Movie

Personal Evaluation: I really enjoyed the book but the movie was absolutely awful. I understand that the scriptwriters needed to cut things from the story to make it fit, but usually they are able to do so in a way that still makes sense. Not only did they cut essential parts, they also changed a lot so that none of it made any sense! It was very frustrating to watch, even if you had read the book and knew where it was supposed to be going.

What might interest children: It’s anime, and there’s magic and adventure. Beyond that, the story is so confusing I can’t see what else kids would find appealing.

Holes

by Louis Sachar
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

Category: Movie

Personal Evaluation: I read this book (and its sequel) a few years ago and loved it. I knew that there was a twist and remembered the general resolution but was still pleasantly surprised at the connection between two of the characters. I actually thought the movie added a lot to the story – you really get a feel for the desolation of the desert setting, and the flashbacks were well-done. My cousin uses this book and movie in her 4th-grade classroom and finds the kids riveted.

What might interest children: There is plenty of adventure and high scare factor in the yellow-spotted lizards and rattlesnakes, as well as the idea of surviving on onions. This is another puzzle story that is well-executed and has a nicely tied up ending.

The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Category: Movie

Personal Evaluation: For the most part, the movie stayed pretty true to the book. One part that bothered me was that Annabeth said she wasn’t sure if she liked Percy or not, and in the next scene she was ready to leave camp with him and go find the lightning bolt. It seemed like there was an extra scene there that had gotten cut. I did like seeing how the director imagined the story playing out in terms of setting, though.

What might interest children: The book bugged me at first when I read it a few years ago because it smacked of Harry Potter wannabe. It still does, but I can appreciate it for what it is, and that it helps a lot of kids embrace Greek mythology. There is tons of adventure and action and danger and cool stunts like Percy healing himself with water, and learning to control water.

Garfield Goes Bananas

by Jim Davis
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Category: Comics

Personal Evaluation: I remember loving Garfield as a kid. I thought he was hilarious. It’s because of my love of Garfield that I get such a kick out of newer comics like Get Fuzzy, which take the evil cat / dumb dog / bachelor human dynamic to a whole new level.

What might interest children: Garfield is sarcastic, funny, and in charge of his home environment. The books are simple, quick reads, a great way to unwind and kill an hour or so.

Here Comes Spider-Man

by Kitty Fross
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

Category: Comics

Personal Evaluation: My first thought was, “at least it’s short.” But then I got into the story a little. I have seen the movie which helped. It seemed like there was a little bit of detail left out but overall pretty clear and surprisingly a little bit interesting.

What might interest children: Spider-Man has fascinated kids and adults for years, which perplexes me. I’m guessing it’s all the action and the superpowers that suddenly happens to a nerdy, friendless teenager.

Sports Illustrated for Kids

Sports Illustrated for Kids
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Category: Magazine

Personal Evaluation: Wow, I thought Kids Discover was busy! This is packed with information in a different way – more of a “read what jumps out at you and then go back for more” way. I was happy to see two out of the 9 athlete trading cards were women, though the majority of the features focuses on men and the magazine in general seemed geared toward boys.

What might interest children: Kids would probably rather get this as a subscription if they can because there are posters and athlete trading cards to pull out that you *should* leave in the library’s copy, but it can be a good way for a kid or their parent to give the magazine a trial run to see if it’s something they’re interested in. This is a monthly magazine and I wonder if it’s becoming obsolete as sports change minute-by-minute and lots more information is available online.

Muse

Muse Magazine
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

Category: Magazine

Personal Evaluation: I actually had to go on the magazine’s web page to find out what it was supposed to be about because to me it seemed all over the place. Apparently its “focus” is on science. Reading the letters to the editor gave me a headache – what a difference from the articulate compositions found in Stone Soup!

What might interest children: Probably the random nature of the magazine. It seems to teach about science indirectly, which is definitely not boring.