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I'm catching up on books I read over the summer so bear with me.
It's completely ridiculous how many times I've read these books. I haven't kept count but I estimate I've read all 7 at least 10 times. I won't review them every time I'm reading them so I'm going to do it once and call it good.
AR level: 5.5
Grade appropriate: 4th grade and up
I feel strongly that kids younger than Harry is in each book should proceed with caution. For example, Harry is 11 in this book (the first in the series) and I feel like a typical 11 year old could probably handle this book fairly well. They do have elements of evil that can be frightening, but good always wins. They do get darker as the books progress and as Harry gets older.
Overall: 5/5-- Fantastic writing. Fantastic story. Loveable characters. I could go on and on.
Creativity: 5/5-- I know that JK Rowling did research traditional fantasy creatures so that she could be consistent with the fantasy world, but other than that her story is completely unlike any other fantasy written before her. (Many have written copy cats since however.)
Characters: 5/5-- I love these kids. Ron is my personal favorite, but I feel such a kinship with them that I just keep reading over and over.
Engrossing: 5/5-- I typically read all 7 books in order every 2 or 3 years if that answers the "engrossing" question for you.
Writing: 5/5-- Fantastic, how does she write so that it seems to effortless to follow? How does she keep all of the different story lines straight? I am amazed every time.
Appeal to kids: 5/5-- The kids love this series. I only have the first 3 in the elementary because I feel that the fourth is when they really start to get dark. But kids request them all constantly. And they're not new anymore. So unusual for something to hold its appeal the way these do.
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5-- They are not short books. They can be intimidating to less experienced readers. However, I love all the detail about the kids lives at school. It's what makes the books so superior to the movies, the time and detail that lets you really get to know the characters.
Language: mild-- I think there are a couple of swear words in this first book. Mostly British things... (bloody, etc.)
Violence: mild-- Harry faces Lord Voldemort in the end and while Harry doesn't perpetrate any of the violence Lord Voldemort is an evil character...
I'm a fan of Blue Balliett. I like how she combines a mystery with art history in such a way that you don't realize how much you are learning about art as you are enjoying her story.
AR level: 5.4
Grade appropriate: 3rd grade and up
Overall: 4/5-- an interesting book and entertaining as well.
Creativity: 5/5-- Balliett is the only author I know of that incorporates art into her children's books.
Characters: 4/5-- In this book Petra and Tommy are so frustrated with each other in the beginning that they are pretty annoying, but as the book goes on and they begin to respect each other more they improve.
Appeal to kids: 3/5-- I have not been able to hook kids on Blue Balliett the way I have been. I think the writing style is a little complex for them to really get into the story. Makes a great audiobook.
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Drugs/Alcohol: mild-- one of the minor character's fathers spends quite a bit of time in a pub and drunkenly chases her away at one point.