Holiday Gift Guide: Older Kid Book Edition

December 4th, 2007

A Dangerous Boy

The Dangerous Book for Boys.

I wrote a review of this book a while back. It is still just as well loved as ever in my house.

The Daring Book for Girls, by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. I haven’t written a full review of this book yet. Probably because my sons took the book and ran off with it. They didn’t seem to care that the title has “girl” in it. They thought it was a cool book regardless.

Most of the sections are pretty gender neutral. I was worried that it was going to be filled with things like “Getting a Perfect Manicure” or “Sewing Your Own Menstrual Pads” or “How to Make the Boy Notice You” But I needn’t have worried. It is the perfect mix of things that might not appeal to boys, like “Putting Your Hair Up With a Pencil,” “Modern Women Leaders” or “Princesses,” but at the same time the book is just chock-full of cool fun things to do and trivia.

I say buy both of these books for the kids in your life, whether they are boys or girls. Kids like to have things at this age that are “special” to their sex. That is why this is the age when kids gravitate toward clubs like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. But they will also love the book for the opposite sex, I mean what boy doesn’t want to know how to build a campfire or make the perfect cootie catcher?

The Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini

Only the first two books of the series have been published and both have become instant bestsellers. I believe the final book is due out this spring. My oldest two sons have loved these books. Just a few days ago my 13 year old said he can’t wait for the third book. Don’t base your opinion of this book on the movie, the movie was disappointing.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

My 11.5 yr old son just finished reading this book last night and loved it. He already has Book 2 and 3 on his bedside table. The main character is a 21st century kid in NYC with ADHD who is a social outcast and learns that he is really the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman. It is a new modern twist on the adventure quest type of series.

Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want To Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser.

This is the young adult version of the book Fast Food Nation by the same author. After reading this book two of my children have sworn off fast food. They absolutely refuse to eat any and all fast food and have for over a year now. A great informational read.

The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke

This was Cornelia Funke’s first novel. It is about two bys who run away from their mean aunt to the city of Venice. My older kids immediately fell in love with the book and went searching for other books by the same author.

Inkheart and Inkspell are two more books by author. Originally Inkheart was supposed to be a stand alone book, but the popularity of it encouraged the author to write a second book in what will now be a trilogy. The main character in these books is a girl, if you have a daughter who would like a girl as a main character.

My children are all voracious readers, so this is really just a small sample of books they remember that they enjoyed. When pressed I got the, “I liked all the books I read, otherwise I would not have read them,” as a response.

Feel free to leave some suggestions in the comments below. We are always on the look out for more books.

Let’s Talk Traditions

December 4th, 2007

Whatever holiday it is that you celebrate.

What sort of traditions do you have in your family?

We have several that the children enjoy. Occasionally we will try something new, add it into the mix and sometimes they stick and sometimes they don’t. The Advent calendar is one of those things. If I buy one the kids like it, but they don’t really miss it if I forget, like I did this year. I am going to spend the next week talking about the various traditions that we have established for our family during the holidays.

We are a family of readers. it only makes sense that the first tradition I write about is about books.

Christmas Books

Basket of Chrismas books

Every year I wrap all of our Christmas story books in wrapping paper and put them in a basket. Each day the younger children take turns picking out and unwrapping a book for us to read. And yes, we have over 25 of them. (Advent varies slightly in length from year to year– this year it began December 2nd, so we will double up on a day when one of the children happens to pick a short book.)

The books vary from the tried and true old classics like, Twas the Night before Christmas

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to the modern classic, Polar Express

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to books like the Berenstain Bears visit Santa Bear, I’m not posting a picture of this one.

Every year I try to buy a few more books to add to the mix to replace some of the lesser loved (usually by me) or too juvenile ones in our collection. I look for rich quality pictures and an engaging storyline that appeals to both grown-ups and children.

Today we read The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey

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This book is a perfect example of the sort I try to find. The story is deep enough that a twelve year old can listen to it and discuss it afterward, but the beautifully detailed illustrations keep the interest of an almost 2yr old while I am reading.

So tell me what are your holiday traditions? Do you do something unique or fun that your family enjoys? Or did you do something as a child that you hope to continue as an adult?

Write about it on your own blog if you like and leave a link to the post in the comments.

(Originally posted Dec. 8, 2006. Reposted by request.)

Holiday Gift Guide: Castle Blocks

November 28th, 2007


You need something to shoot your catapult at, don’t you?

I don’t have this exact set either. But we have a set of hand made castle blocks we got about 10 years ago. Truth be told the set pictured above is even nicer than the one we have.

Handcrafted in California out of Ponderossa Pine.

AND the set is on sale right now for $99 for all 133 pieces.

Holiday Gift Guide: Spinning Tops for Stuffing the Stocking

November 28th, 2007

spinning tops

I don’t actually own these little tops. But I found them today while I was doing my work for and thought they were adorable.

Completely hand made and sold at etsy, the hand made mecca, as a set of three for $15

Holiday Gift Guide: Catapult

November 28th, 2007

I know, I can hear you now. But they will shoot their eyes out! It hasn’t happened here yet and I think I have rather rowdy children. We do have basic ground rules like not using it for shooting hard objects– not so much for eye protection but for my windows. Ping pong balls or bean bags are ideal and still have enough force to knock down little castles, stacked tin cans, empty soda bottles.

Lots of fun for ages 3 to 93. We have had this exact one for 7 years and aside from replacing the elastic bands it is still in perfect working condition.

Holiday Gift Guide: Wooden Picture Squares

November 27th, 2007


80 wooden picture squares that can be put together in different ways. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this puzzle.

Varialand is made in Germany

Holiday Gift Guide: Fun for a Girl or a Boy

November 26th, 2007


The classic Slinky. The metal kind, for the love of all things holy not the plastic kind.

I bought several of these to use as stocking stuffers.

Holiday Gift Guide: Digital Cameras for Kids

November 26th, 2007

Taking a picture of me taking a picture of them

I am putting this here for those of you who are coming just for the gift guide and not regular readers of my other blog. Which, why aren’t you?

Those of you who have already read the review can carry on. Or you can read it again!

I reviewed these four cameras here.

I have no idea where they are manufactured. So if you are looking for items that are solely China free, you might be out of luck.

Holiday Gift Guide: Blocks and Marbles

November 24th, 2007


Winner of Dr Toys 100 Best Children’s Products Awards

This is a set of 45 blocks and 14 marbles. Build marble runs from your own imagination. It came with a canvas drawstring bag to store all of the pieces. My marble obsessed son loves it.


Made entirely in the U.S.A