Book Review of "In the Amazon With My Pajamas On"

In the Amazon With My Pajamas On is a delightful read for smaller kids. That being said, there was much the author could have done with the book. I was excited thinking that I would get to see a lot of good illustrations and depictions of the amazon, but was a tad disappointed when I came to the end without much of the amazing amazon being touched upon.I would have loved to see more than the bees, snakes and the trees.

The story is that of a little boy who finds himself in the middle of the Amazon in the middle of the night. The author tries to follow a poetic style through the story telling which is mostly soothing but jarring at some places. I bet it would have been an even better read if it was in prose. I felt the author constrained at some places in trying to keep up with the style being poetic rather than prosaic.

The concept of the story was very endearing. I was confused as to why the king of the jungle happens to be a cat, but it clears up in the end. The illustrations were good, but as I touched upon, could have included more of the mighty amazon.

I found some of the passages were extremely well written, with a lot more meaning to them. This one would be a great example:

“If I could have wings,” (he wished for these things),

“Then straight out of here I could fly.”

“I’d fly out of this place with a smile on my face,

And I’d fly ’til I landed in bed.”

But this could not be true, the little boy knew

That he’d just have to walk out instead. “

That conveys a deeper meaning than just the face value of it. Wouldn’t you think? A reader could as well take it as you won’t be able to get out of a bad situation wishing you had wings, you have to walk out of it. Brilliant!

The little boy’s quest to his bed takes him to the king of the jungle who happens to be a cat who is happy by himself as

Alone, it would seem, to be was his dream

For he liked it this way, just because.

Clap! Clap! Nice thought, but some children might find that hard to understand as to why anyone would want to be alone, just because. But we parents know why, don’t we? Just because!

All in all “In the amazon with my Pajamas on” is a great read for your kids. There is drama in it, there is mystery in it, there is the value of friendship in it and most of all there is a little boy in it who wants nothing more than to be asleep in his bed at night. Not to mention that he loves to read before sleeping and dreams this wonderful dreams with his king cat in tow!

The author is this story is Jeff Kauffman who lives in Woostock, IL. You can reach out to him by email: [email protected]

The wonderful illustrations are by: Maycee Ann Reyes.

Loser – A Book Review

Loser, a middle grade novel for ages nine to twelve was published by Harper Trophy in 2003. Jerry Spinelli’s Loser is a special book. The first sentence “You grow up with a kid but you never really notice him” hints that this story may be about a kid with low self esteem. The book is about a kid who really likes himself and accepts himself as he is despite the cruelty of his classmates.

At first he sounds like a kid who has ADD. Donald does not like to wait on anything. He has trouble being still and thinks he runs faster than anybody. He is the first one at school every day. You might think a kid who loves school this much would be a straight A student. Not so for Donald Zinkhoff. His writing is sloppy, he can’t stop giggling in class when the teacher says a funny word, he’s clumsy, can’t play the flute, “Twice during the number Zinkhoff’s flute yips like a pinched sister. …and Zinkhoff never notices.”

It doesn’t take much to make Donald happy. He wants to sit in the front row but because of his last name, Zinkhoff, he is always last in everything until fourth grade when his favorite teacher reverses the seating order. “Yahoo” Donald says!

Donald’s progression from first through sixth grade is a journey of a boy with a lot of social problems. Most of them diminish but never disappear. I kept waiting for Donald to triumph in some way but the author did not have that in mind for Donald. His poor performance at sports makes him an outcast. When he blows a race that costs the school the championship, the other kids name Donald Loser!

This story is more for adult readers because I don’t think many teenagers would want to read about a 12 year old and not many 9 to 12 year olds want to read a slow action story. Middle grade kids will enjoy this book when read with adults. There is some action at the end when Donald gets lost in a snow storm and doesn’t even know it.

Donald is a success in a losing way. He may not measure up to what other kids and adults think he should be but because of the love of his family he will survive in a hard world.

Hideout by Gordon Korman Review

Hideout by Gordon Korman is the 5th and latest publication in the extremely well-known Swindle Series. Gordon Korman is perhaps my favorite author and a rather accomplished one, with over 75 titles to his name. In fact, his book Swindle was not too long ago turned into a movie by Nickelodeon.

In Hideout, Korman keeps the Swindle Series rolling with another enjoyable adventure. In the 1st book, Griffin Bing and his friends confronted an unethical guy they name “Swindle” who stole a baseball card worth $1.2 million from them.

After revealing Swindle and ruining his shop, they also come in possession of his guard dog, Luthor. Luthor is a vicious dog, but Griffin’s good friend Savannah is basically a dog whisperer and becomes close buddies with him.

In Hideout, Swindle is back again, and he wants to get Luthor back. Needless to say, Savannah is not about to let that happen. At the time of this adventure the gang is away for camp, and they have to coordinate an incredibly challenging series of plans in order to keep Swindle’s hired goons from taking back Luthor. There is no one better to organize it than Griffin Bing, the “Man with the Plan.”

Griffin and his buddies are all stationed at three different camps. Palomino sends his goons to all 3, and they have to conceal the mutt from not only the goons but also the rest of the camp. The novel is split up into three separate sections or hideouts, each one focused on in the period that Luthor is being housed at their respective summer camp.

Hideout begins with the mutt stowing away with Griffin and Savannah to their summer camp. Once their whereabouts is known to Swindle, they have to switch Luthor off to Melissa and Logan. Melissa became a member of Griffin’s gang because of her extremely impressive computer knowledge, and Logan because on account of his acting skills.

They eventually hand Luthor to Pitch and Ben. Pitch is a fantastic climber, and Ben is the small spaces guy and Griffin’s best friend. Every member of the gang has their own unique specialty that enables them to succeed well together as a team.

This book is riddled with tons of humor. Despite the fact that the group are being pursued by a criminal and his goons, this novel is constantly interspersed with the very fun personalities of each of the members of the group and tons of jokes. The ending, where Palomino and his hired goons go face to face with Griffin and his friends, is one of the best parts of the book and is filled with tons of humor.

This is an exceptionally well written story and yet another awesome addition for the Swindle Series. It can’t be easy to continue to come up with hit stand-alone books when you get to the fifth book in a series with the same characters. Korman is, amazingly, up to the challenge.

Truthfully, though, I’m not all that excited for the next book in this series, Jackpot. If I was in Korman’s position, I would stop this series at this point, due to the fact that I personally feel that the series is getting to be a little bit long in the tooth. How many times can you get excited reading about the same kids having a variation of basically the same adventure?

Nevertheless, that does little to detract from the strength of this novel. I’d strongly recommend for preteens (around 9-12) to read Hideout. Take a look at the remarkable reviews of this book on Amazon. There is literally not one person who says that they or their kids did not like hideout. Korman’s books are certain to be kid pleasers, and this story is no exception.

Before you read this book, though, I’d advise reading the original Swindle. Despite the fact it is not required to comprehend and appreciate the story, it does help a lot to understand the have an understanding of

history. Besides, Swindle is an awesome story.

By and large, there’s not really very much criticism I can give Hideout. For the majority of his writing days, Korman wrote comedy books. It was only in the late 90’s that he started writing action/adventure. I feel like now he’s managed to merge these two styles together to create a suspenseful but also hilarious book. Hideout is classic Korman at his finest.