Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'It's Hilarious' and Other Insights of Guest Reviewers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'It's Hilarious' and Other Insights of Guest Reviewers

Article excerpt

Byline: BRANDY HILBOLDT ALLPORT

Like most everyone else, I got away for a few days this summer. While visiting my parents and sister in Alabama, I noticed that a litter of kittens, preparations for a 10-day trip to Florida and swimming lessons kept the children next door busy. Still, they were eager to save time during the late afternoon to talk about books. Anna Cait, 10 3/4, Sam Harrison, 9 1/2, and Mamie, 4 1/4, perused some review copies I left on their porch. They delved into stacks of books from the library, and consulted their family collection, which fills baskets and shelves in almost all rooms of their home. We met at their dining room table before supper one evening, and they graciously performed the duties of Guest Book Columnists. I offer their recommendations.

Sam Harrison insisted anyone who likes adventure, suspense, science and outer space should not miss "George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt." It is by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking ("A Brief History of Time") and his daughter, Lucy Hawking, who is a journalist and a writer of novels for adults.

"It's got eco-warriors (people who live green) ... you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next," Sam Harrison said. "I like the friendships the characters have ... and there are parts about life on Mars ... and aliens ... and this huge computer ... oh, and a robotic hamster named Pooky."

With a publication date of May 2009, "Cosmic Treasure Hunt" is an up-to-the-minute recommendation. The first book in the series, "George's Secret Key to the Universe," came out in 2007. Sam Harrison spoke of it in glowing terms, too. He and other fans of the series will be thrilled to know a third book is scheduled for release in summer 2010.

After laughing about the name of Pooky and looking over his shoulders at the illustrations in the George books, Mamie offered her suggestion. "Jamberry" by Bruce Degen is a well-known book that was first published in 1995. As Mamie flipped the well-worn pages, her mother, sister and brother recited the text from memory, bolstering Mamie's choice as a timeless and best-all-around recommendation.

"One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry" reads the book as a boy and a bear set off for a trip to Berryland. …

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