Saturday, October 08, 2005

Book Review: Drachenreiter

I love reading Cornelia Funke novels and Drachenreiter was my latest indulgence during a weekend at the Jersey shore. Drachenreiter is the story of Lung, a wise and beautiful silver dragon and his search for a home safe from the prying eyes and bull-dozing machines of people. Lung and his loyal friends, Schwefell, a grouchy Kobolde, and Ben, an orphaned human boy, have many narrow escapes as they travel the globe in search of the Der Saum des Himmels, rumored to be the last haven for dragons in the highest part of the Himalayas. Funke's magical creatures practically spring off the page as she describes fairies (beautiful and delicate but mischevious and trouble-making), dwarfs blinded by a lust for gold and jewels, the deadly basilisk serpent, and others that inhabit the earth ignored and unseen by most humans too busy to notice them. I was in constant fear that the dragon would be discovered during his daily stops to rest but somehow he always managed to escape detection.

The ending, which I of course won't betray, was wonderful and satisfying. I always end a Funke novel with such a feeling of affection for her characters and Drachenreiter was no exception. I can't wait to find some time for my next indulgence, the brand-new Tintenblut!

Drachenreiter at Alphabet Garten
By: Funke, Cornelia
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Dimensions: 6.25 in. x 8.5 in.

Book Review: Im Tal der Dinosaurier

We haven't spent a whole lot of time in intensive reading lately (yikes - and we have a bookstore under the same roof?!) but my five-year-old and I greatly enjoyed our latest read, Im Tal der Dinosaurier, the first in the Magische Baumahaus (Magic Treehouse) series.

Dinosaurier explains how the Magic Treehouse came to be and takes us back to prehistoric earth. Siblings Philipp and Anne are magically transported back in time and get to observe living dinosaurs and almost become a bite-sized snack for a maurading T-rex! There's just enough excitement and action for my little thrill-seeker without being too scary.

Niklas' German comprehension is intermediate for his age. This book was great for him because it doesn't skimp on the vocabulary but it does clarify potentially difficult terms through restatement and when Philipp explains something to his younger sister. I love how the ever-rational Philipp enjoys taking notes about what he sees and how the kids often turn to their books to look things up. I supplemented with additional explanation in German where I thought my son might not understand what was being described. Plus the illustrations which appear every 1-2 pages helped Niklas confirm his understanding of the story. Another bonus - dinosaur names are the same in English and in German!

My son got to hear some realistic dialog, learned some great new words (Ungeheuer, Strickleiter), learned some interesting facts about dinosaurs, and spontaneously used deductive reasoning when he volunteered his guess for the ending. This is one hard-working bedtime story!

Das magische Baumhaus - Im Tal der Dinosaurier at Alphabet Garten
By: Osborne, Mary Pope
Format: Hardcover, 80 pages
Dimensions: 5 in. x 8 in