6449Hey guys, Aidan here with my latest review on one of the many books I read over the summer.

So, if you’d like to be able to tell your alvarezsaur from your crested hadrosaur, pick up this book – and don’t put it down, as  you realize early on that author, Mr. Greg Leitich-Smith totally knows his stuff and by stuff I mean dinosaurs.

For me, I had no idea there were so many different types of dinosaurs. Sure, I knew my T-Rex from my brontosaurus, but my hadrosaur from my microraptor? Not so much. But the book is not a reference book by any means. What it is, is a rip-roaring adventure through the cretaceous period and all the danger you can imagine that entails.

When Max and his older twin siblings, Kyle and Emma, get dumped at their reclusive grandpa’s house (I’m feeling a connection here) while their mother heads to a remote corner of Mongolia to dig for feathered dinosaurs (even more of a connection), the three Austin siblings are not exactly pleased. Yes there’s a legendary creek bed on the ranch property, containing fossilized dinosaur tracks that Max, a keen amateur paleontologist, is dying to see, but for his older siblings the summer is looking bleak.

Things start to look up when they meet Petra, their Grandfather’s house-keeper’s daughter, but quickly take a turn for the bizarre when their grandfather predicts his own heart-attack, leaving the four with a parting message – go to the creek bed before 8am the following day.

Go they do, becoming instantly plunged into a plot of kidnapping and intrigue as they follow the kidnapper back to the cretaceous period in, of all things, a VW bug using their great-great-grandfather’s time machine.

If you enjoyed Jurassic Park then pick up Chronal Engine for some late summer reading – you won’t be disappointed. Grrrrr!6413

The Great Greene Heist

Hey guys, Aidan here.

I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this fun-packed story, the perks of having an aunt who writes books, and devoured it in a couple of days. See below for, what I hope will be, the first of many reviews, this summer.

“Now wasn’t a time to be normal. Now was a time to be infamous,” states the clever and mischievous Jackson Greene, and so he goes on to prove in Varian Johnson’s new summer read, The Great Greene Heist.

Jackson Greene, an eighth grade pupil at Maplewood Middle School, is far from your ordinary student. With past misdemeanors, such as “ Blitz at the Fritz”, “Shakedown at Shimmering Hill” and “Mid-day PDA” we can only guess at some of the scrapes Greene has previously instigated, as well as wish we all had such a prankster at our school.

However, Jackson is a really likable character and, with his trademark red tie and a penchant for the good things in life, he cuts a dashing figure around campus. In fact, his mistrust of the cafeteria food is one of the standing jokes that run through the book.

We learn early that Greene has left his life of crime behind, but when Gaby de la Cruz’s run for student council president is derailed by the highly irregular, last minute nomination of Keith Sinclair, Jackson’s curiosity is raised.

Whereas Gaby is interested in having more computers, boosting spirit week participation and acquiring a larger selection of organic food,  it seems Sinclair has no platform of his own, and is only running in order to slash the budget to such organizations as the botany and tech club. When it looks like even the principal is  bent on deception, Jackson realizes it is time to come out of “retirement” and lend a helping hand.

The Great Greene Heist is a fabulous romp of a book with a wonderful diverse cast of characters, and not only the main protagonists, but also with references to peripheral characters such as Mrs Kai, Naomi, Marcelo and Manuel. I know from my cousins how important it is to read books where you can identify with the main characters, and I think this is one such book that will happily appeal to many.

This is a really fun summer read from a local Austin writer. Looking forward to the sequel if for no other reason than finding out what Greene’s father, brother and grand-father have been up to – allegedly.

Happy reading, folks.

Aidan Puddleton



Hi Guys! This is Aidan. As you all know I like to read. In fact I go through books so fast that my mom and dad have stopped buying them for me as we have run out of space.  This could be a problem if it wasn’t for the awesome library that is just at the top of my road.

The library is amazing. It’s not stuffy or old. No-one yells at you for talking too loud and they have all kinds of fun activities and author events. As you can imagine – I spend a LOT of time at the library!

Anyhow, Lissy asked if I would like to be part of her blog and so, of course, the natural thing for me to do is to recommend and  tell you about some of the books I’ve read lately. I’m going to start with my favorite from last summer – Wonder by R J Palacio.

This book is really amazing. I thought I wasn’t going to like it because the main character is a little different – well, a lot different really. But that’s the whole point of the book.

August, that’s the name of the main character, he doesn’t look like you and me, but it turns out it doesn’t matter because it’s what’s inside that counts.

August is finally going to school after being homeschooled all his life. As if that isn’t scary enough, but when you look like August its got to be terrifying. Anyhow, August is really brave and although there are a few false starts he finally finds some true friends.

I won’t spoil it for you, but you should really get this book. There are some really funny bits (little Tushies) and there are some sad bits as well, but by the end you are really routing for August and his friends. I think, really, it’s a book about kindness and acceptance – go read it and find out yourself. Feel free to drop me a line and tell me what you think below.

About 5 Cousins

Hi Guys, This is Lissy Puddleton and Spider here reporting on all things Lissy. So, here’s a little about my life. I am nine years old and live in Austin, Texas along with my four cousins, Cagney, Aidan, Olivia and Tess. Up until recently we led quiet, uneventful lives, but over the past few weeks life has changed in a major way.

You see our parents travel – A LOT which is good for them, but seriously bad for us. Because when they travel we all get dumped. And because we all live close together, we all get dumped at the same place … Grandma’s!

I guess you’re thinking how bad can it be? Grandmas are great, right? They bake cookies, they play monopoly, they let you stay up past bedtime and take you to the park. Yeah – not so much. Grandma Callie, it turns out, does none of those things. Grandma Callie is the antithesis of a Grandma, other than being forgetful. That, she’s really good at! We could take all day listing the places we’ve been left by Grandma, but that’s a whole other story. I guess it’s not all bad. Being an only child, even with Spider for company, can get kind of lonely, so it’s always fun to see my cousins – sometimes!

You probably met them already, but just in case you didn’t I’ll tell you a little about them …

The first word that comes to mind when I think of Cagney is diva. Cagney is never happier than when she is either shopping or being pampered. If there was a school credit for spending money Cagney would be top of the class.

Like me, Cagney is petite, with light brown curly hair. Sometimes people think we are sisters. Hmm! But unfortunately for her, Cagney’s curls have a mind of their own. Cagney wears glasses, She also breaks glasses. All I can say is, her parents must have a real good insurance plan. Don’t get me wrong, Cagney has her good points. She’ll always give you advice on fashion, which is okay, except you can’t argue with her coz she always knows best. Wait, this was supposed to be the positive things!

Actually one of the best things about Cagney is she’s a cautious kind of cousin. I like that about her. She’s also a great photographer. She really is. She wants to be a fashion photographer and if she could mellow out a little, she might just make it!

Olivia is the next oldest. She was born in May, at least we think she was. I think not knowing my actual birthdate might bother me, but it doesn’t bother Olivia. If I’m honest, very few things bother Olivia.

She’s pretty easy going. Some might say reckless. She could definitely do with some of Cagney’s caution. And Olivia always seems to be in trouble. Amazingly so, this doesn’t bother her either. I would just die if I got caught doing some of the stuff Olivia does. She would make a great gymnast, but there’s no way you’d get O in a sparkly pink leotard. In fact, there’s no way you’d get her in anything sparkly, let alone pink. But she really is agile! Maybe it’s coz she’s so tiny.

Olivia also likes dogs. They seem to bring out her sweet side. Olivia doesn’t look very Chinese. She has short dark hair, olive skin and unlike most Chinese kids she doesn’t have those typically almond eyes. I think she’s pretty, especially when she smiles and her dimples come out, but she’d hate me for saying it.

Aidan is probably my favorite cousin. Like me he likes to learn and can always be found reading a book, plus he’s way smart. I like that about him. But, what I like best is how kind he is. He’s never mean and that takes some doing with a sister like Cagney. He’s also very sensible and likes to weigh up the pros and cons before rushing into anything. You can really do with someone like him when you have Olivia around.

Aidan is not perfect, however. He’s never been picked first on any team, other than debate and traveling with him is always interesting. Interesting in the way that you never know if he’s going to make it without bringing up his breakfast.

Like his sister, Cagney, he has light brown hair, but dark hazel eyes. I’ve heard some girls at school say he was super cute, but he’s my cousin, so I don’t notice things like that.

Tess is the baby of the family. If you’re ever depressed just a few moments with Tess will cure you. The child is ridiculously happy. The glass is not just full, but overflowing where Tess is concerned.

Tess, like her sister, Olivia, was also adopted from China. She has long black hair and perfect almond eyes. Her favorite color is most definitely pink. If pink offends you, Tess is probably not the child for you!

I’ve mentioned that Tess is a happy child. I should also mention that she is also quite crazy – but in a good way (mostly). She’s also an exceptional artist. Of all of us, Tess is the artistic one. I’ll see if I can post some of her drawings – you’ll be impressed.

As for me. Well, I’m an only child, which is okay when you have so many cousins. I love to learn and I think people would describe me as shy. I can be, but not with my cousins.

And so, that’s the five of us. In many ways we are like your typical, every day American family. But thanks to Grandma, we’re also very different!