ages 9 – 12


Recently I received Greek Mythology’s Twelve Labors of Hercules: A Choose Your Path Book (Can You Survive?), which I read and reviewed over on 5 Minutes for Mom. The publisher was kind enough to send the rest of the set, and while deciding between “Dracula,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and “Sherlock Holmes,” pretty much everyone in my family said I should read Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the next one to review. I’ve always been a fan of vampire stories, but have never read this classic novel, so it didn’t take much for me to agree.

Like the other Choose Your Path books, “Dracula” starts out with you as the main character, beckoned by a classic book. You’re then suddenly in the story as the main character, in this case, Jonathan Harker. As the story progresses you’re faced with choices – some lead to your death, others progress the story. And it’s not always obvious which is the “correct” path.

I really like these books as a way to introduce kids to classic literature. In the case of “Dracula,” as Jonathan Harker, you experience Dracula’s castle in Transylvania firsthand, then return to London where the vampire is wreaking havoc, and finally join Van Helsing  in his chase of Dracula back to Transylvania.  It’s a shortened version, revised to make it accessible to middle graders, but without losing the essence of the story. The adventure is exciting but not overbearing and will keep kids interested.

Jennifer and I have both read a few of these books, so click over to our reviews of Campfire CrisisTreasure Island, and Call of the Wild.

Win a set of 10 Choose Your Path books

Also, make sure to click over to 5 Minutes for Mom to read my review of Hercules and enter to win a set of 10 of these books.


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The Meaning of Maggie #MMGM

On the morning of Maggie’s 12th birthday, her dad won’t stop beeping. She’s sitting in his hospital room writing in her brand new journal that was a birthday gift meant to encourage her gift of writing and reflecting. She decides to tell the story of her 11th year, since it was such a big one. It was filled with the regular things like bickering with her older sister Tiffany, with whom she shares a room and spying on her oldest sister Layla when she’s getting in trouble, but there were also some big changes. Her mother went to work full time when her dad had to stop working. A cute new boy at school catches Maggie’s eye (and maybe he’s looking her way too?). Maggie
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Treasure Island, a Choose Your Path Can You Survive Book #Giveaway

The gold of Captain Flint is buried somewhere on Treasure Island, and only you have the map to find it. You and your friends set sail to gain riches beyond your wildest dreams, but when your crew reveal themselves as pirates, your island adventure becomes a dangerous struggle to survive. Do you have what it takes to locate the hidden treasure, or will Long John Silver and his pirates steal your wealth – and your life? Step into this adventure, and choose your path. But choose wisely, or else… I loved these kinds of books when I was a middle grade reader myself, so when I saw the Can You Survive? series that adapts classic works into this format, I was interested in checking them
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Hilda and the Black Hound #MMGM

Earlier this year, I was introduced to the Hildafolk series by Luke Pearson. My review of Hilda and the Troll emphasized my adoration of this spunky young character and the adventurous tone of the story in this complex comic book.  What I didn’t realize was that the series had continued with three additional books! Hilda and the Black Hound is the latest, and this fourth in the series has Hilda facing another adventure, of course, with just the amount of pluck and heart readers have come to expect from her. Since the first book in the series, Hilda and her mother have moved away from the Fjords and into the small city of Trolberg. It’s clear that Hilda still misses the wide expanse of the natural world, and
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TIME for Kids Big Book of When

Kids and their questions. It seems like my children can come out with questions I never would have thought to ask in a million years! I admire their curiosity, and I’m happy that they still see books as resources for finding answers. A new information book full of “801 Facts Kids Want to Know” has caught their attention, answering questions they’ve wondered and providing information to appeal to a wide variety of interests. TIME for Kids: Big Book of When is the kind of book that children will pull out again and again for entertainment (that is educational, too!). Sized like a traditional classroom textbook, this book is way more engaging than I remember any of my old school books to be. Vivid photographs and illustrative maps,
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The Search for WondLa audiobooks read by Teri Hatcher #Giveaway #audiomonth

The Search for WondLa is a 3-book series by Tony DiTerlizzi (author of The Spiderwick Chronicles). A Hero for WondLa is the finale in the trilogy and has just been published and released on audiobook. I haven’t listened to more than just a sample of the audiobooks, but I actually have had a copy of the first book on my shelf since it first came out, so I finally started reading it aloud with my 10-year-old son. We’re almost finished, and we’re hooked! Click through to read more of my thoughts on this series at 5 Minutes for Mom and enter the giveaway for all 3 books on audio, sponsored by Simon & Schuster audio in honor of Audiobook Month.
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Cool Beans, the Further Adventures of Beanboy #MMGM

At first I wasn’t sure to make of this second book featuring “Beanboy” Tucker MacBean. The book was fine, but I had really enjoyed the humor and heart in the first book, and I felt that this one might not be living up to my expectations. I reviewed the first book here when it was named a Cybils Middle Grade finalist in 2013. The story is different — more of a school story than a sort of coming-of-age story that we got in The Adventures of Beanboy. But there’s nothing like a good school story. Like a novel that draws me in as I see themes of my everyday life — friendship, balance, identity, motherhood — reflected in the pages, such is a school story
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Are You Looking Forward to The Giver? {Books on Screen}

Published in 1993, Lois Lowry’s The Giver has been hailed as the quintessential piece of dystopian children’s literature, winning the Newbery Medal in 1994. (Lowry is one of only a few people to have ever won this prestigious award twice!) I’m guessing that because it was published during the craziness of my own senior year in high school, I somehow missed reading it as a young adult. A friend of mine who is just a few years younger than me had been saying for a long, long time that it was among her favorite books, and on her recommendation, I finally got around to reading it earlier this year. My thirteen-year-old son and I started reading it aloud together, but he got impatient with our limited
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Fact or Fib?: A Challenging Game of True or False

Combine a trivia game and an informational book, and you’ve got Fact or Fib?: A Challenging Game of True or False. Along with its companion, Fact or Fib? 2, these kid-friendly books provide a fun and educational reading experience for all ages. Their small size (about 5″x7″) make them perfect for popping into a purse or backpack as a time-killer when out and about! On each two-page spread, three statements are given about a variety of topics including animals, dinosaurs, bugs, technology, and many more. Two of the statements are absolutely true, while one is a big old lie. With the next page turn, the facts are revealed and the fib is unveiled, along with a little extra context information about each of the statements. While these
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Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival

Though Anne Frank’s personal story is likely the best known tale of hiding from the Nazis during World War II, hers was one of many. Too many to even imagine. Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis have worked to gather and share more accounts from Jewish people who survived this terrible time hiding in the Netherlands, which was occupied by the Germans during the war. Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival is a challenging read, filled with emotion and horror, but with reminders of human kindness and bravery. In the foreword, it is stated that about 28,000 Jews went into hiding in the Netherlands, with about 16,000 ultimately surviving, while the other roughly 12,000 were caught or betrayed. The stories included in this collection tell of
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I loved this book! It did not draw me immediately in, but by page 40 or so, it was an exciting read. I requested it to review because it’s described as Redwall meets the Warriors, and my 4th grade son has been totally into the Warriors series this year, so I hoped he might read it. He didn’t think it “looked good,” but after I finished it, I told him that he definitely needs to read it. I haven’t convinced him yet, but I know that if he gets into the first few chapters, he’ll be hooked. Now to convince him to to open the cover — I’m not above forcing a book that I know is a good fit! This book is exciting —
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5 Awesome Moms in #KidLit {Friday’s Five}

It’s almost Mother’s Day. If you don’t know that, get thee to a greeting card store and a florist or chocolatier or jeweler ASAP. As mothers, we might be campaigning for a whole weekend, not just a day. We thought we’d take this opportunity to honor 5 Awesome Moms who can be found in the pages of some of our favorite children’s books: DAWN If you’ve ever met my kids, it would be no wonder why I identify with moms of feisty kids in children’s literature. Sure, the focus of the story is on the character of the energetic child, but the mom is usually not too far behind in the background, ready to help patch up whatever fiasco is the latest adventure for her
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