Tag Archives: New York

The Dodsworth Adventures

The Dodsworth Adventures Series

By Tim Egan

Published by Houghton Mifflin

Dodsworth in New York © 2007

Dodsworth in Paris © 2008

Dodsworth in London © 2009


A Ducky little set of books that take children on a whirlwind trek from New York to Paris, and from Paris to London. Children will be captivated by this Mouse and Duck comedy team.

Dodsworth is getting ready to go on an adventure to Europe, but before he does he needs a hot breakfast. He stops at Hodges’ Cafe to have some of the best pancakes in the world; here he meets Hodges’ crazy duck. This duck is going to give Dodsworth more of an adventure than he ever planned for.

In “Dodsworth in New York” the duck hitches a ride with Dodsworth to New York City and he ends up chasing the duck all over the city. He runs up Wall Street and down Fifth Avenue, past Yankee Stadium and into the Statue of Liberty. In the end they both end up on a boat bound for Europe. “In Paris” Dodsworth and the Duck stay in the Chateau de Paris, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, and visit the Eifel tower all the while participating in some very French activities like eating, painting, and riding a bicycle. And finally, “in London” Dodsworth and the duck get separated and Dodsworth confuses the Queen’s royal duck for Hodges’ duck and follows her around London on a big red bus learning things about London Bridge and Big Ben. In the end Dodsworth and the Duck get the immeasurable privilege of meeting the Queen of England.

The Dodsworth Adventures are a fun way to introduce children 6 and up to the cultural and geographic landmarks of New York, Paris, and London. In addition Egan does a wonderful job of weaving different forms of transportation in to these stories which will make for even more conversation. Egan’s illustrations match the stories with there simple, cute, and quirky characters and images. Each book features that crazy duck creating some comic situation for the straight man, Dodsworth, to navigate, and in each book the mouse and the duck grow closer together.

One thing that stands out most in these books though, is that while travel can be fun, it is even more enjoyable when there is someone to share it with, even if that someone is a crazy, troublesome duck. I can’t wait to see what these to do when they get to Rome.


Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure, Children's Picture Books, Friends, Geography, I Can Read/Young Chapter Books, Nature/Animals, People & Places, Transportation, Travel

The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

By Meg Wolitzer

Published by Dutton Children’s Books

Copyright © 2011

I enjoy playing Scrabble®, but I never would have thought that they actually held Scrabble tournaments. I also didn’t think that I would ever be reading a novel about Scrabble, never mind being completely sucked in by it, but Meg Wolitzer has done just that.

Duncan Dorfman and his mom have moved fromMichiganback toDrilling Falls,PAwhere his mom is originally from. She lost her job inMichiganand her Aunt Djuna has invited them to come stay with her, and has lined up a job for her at Thrifty Mike’s Warehouse. Soon after he arrives at his new school, as is so common with new kids, he becomes the target of the resident jerks.Duncanjust can’t take it anymore, so he decides to show them his power. This gets him and automatic invitation to the Scrabble team.

April Blunt lives inPortland,Oregonwith her sports crazy family. All of her siblings are large and athletic, while she is small and brainy. Her family just can’t understand her enjoyment of Scrabble, and she can’t understand why they don’t see her chosen game as real sport; a sport of the mind.

Nate Saviano is a skater boy fromNew York City. All he wants to do is ride his skateboard, listen to his music, and go to public school like a regular kid. His dad, Larry, has decided that he wants him to be homeschooled so that he can spend every waking hour training him to win the Youth Scrabble Tournament; the same tournament which haunts him to this day, because he lost there so many years ago.

These three, and their partners, will come together for a competitive and fun filled weekend inYakamee,Floridafor the National Youth Scrabble Tournament. They all have different reason for wanting to win, but no matter what happens their lives will change forever after this event.

In this book Meg Wolitzer emphasizes the need to be honest in all of our dealings, because it will inevitably come back to haunt us somehow. In that vein, one of the few things I would change about this book is that Meg doesn’t go all the way in makingDuncancome clean about his dealings. All in all though, she really does emphasize honesty. I also appreciated how she highlighted the theme of acceptance. Each of our three main characters, and even some peripheral characters, are seeking acceptance in some way from family, schoolmates, or tournament acquaintances. It really carries a subdued anti-bullying message which is so important today.

In the way of criticism – In the beginning the author seems to be telling separate stories that seem a bit disconnected, even when you realize that they are bound to culminate in these characters meeting at the Scrabble tournament. She does meld them together fairly well though. I also feel that there are places in the book that the author builds the reader up for conflict that never really comes to fruition. However, Wolitzer did such a good job of creating hanging questions and of accumulating likeable and less-than-likeable characters that nearly anyone could relate to, that it kept me wanting to know their answers and outcomes.

Wolitzer has written a very engaging book for children ages 10 and up. If it were merely about Scrabble it would bore me out of my mind. However, she has really written us a book about family, friendship, honesty, and acceptance that everyone should enjoy. If you are a diehard Scrabble Gamer you love this book all the more for its description of game scenarios and its useful Scrabble word lists.

Leave a comment

Filed under Elementary/Middle School, Families, Friendship, Games/Hobbies, Junior Fiction, Single Parents

My Side of the Mountain (must read)

My Side of the Mountain

by Jean Craighead George

Published by Dutton

Copyright 1959, 1988

Sam Gribley is tired of being crowded. Crowded by living with his family of 11 people in a New York City apartment. So Sam decides that he is going to runaway and live off the land on the old Gribley farm in the Catskill Mountains. Sam uses many things that he learned in school and in books, and he learns many more things while in the wilderness, that help him survive for a year in the woods all by himself. Near the end though Sam begins to sense his own loneliness, having only occasional human visitors he speaks mainly to himself and the animals. So something has to give.

This is a wonderful story of survival that celebrates the beauty of quiet, uncrowded, wild spaces and the spirit of self-sufficiency which has been lost more and more since the writing of this book in 1959. This is a book that all young children should read to rekindle that spirit. Also the resolution to his conflict between his desire for wilderness and his loneliness is so simple, yet so perfect and pure. There are illustrations in this book which are hardly worth mentioning since they look mostly like chicken scratch. It is the story itself, not the illustrations, which are enduring. Absolutely loved this book and will probably read it again soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure, Junior Fiction, Nature/Animals, Survival