Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: Charlie Thorne and the Lost City by Stuart Gibbs


Sofia is a 10-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer, who started with us when she was 8 years old. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

I am back with another amazing book that will knock you off of your feet! Introducing…Charlie Thorne and The Lost City by Stuart Gibbs! This is the second book in a series called Charlie Thorne. I have already reviewed the first one, but do not worry if you haven’t read it because this book is still understandable without the knowledge of the first book. This is another book that I have read in the book club with my friends and our book loving secretary and they all rated it a 10/10. I think this would be a great gift for any tween or teen who loves action, adventure, mysteries and comedy! This book also taught me and my friends a lot of things and I thought that was really good. This book is recommended for ages 10+.

Charlie Thorne is on another adventure again! After her first adventure she is hiding in the Galapagos Islands. She has made friends with the people living there and is even helping out at the Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center. One day a woman named Esmeralda shows up at her tiny house with a code that was engraved into the shell of a dead turtle by the famous Charles Darwin. She says she came to her because her co-workers said that if anyone could solve the encrypted code then it was Charlie. While she and Esmeralda are talking, Charlie sees a strange man talking to her surfing friends and then her surfing friends pointing to her house. Charlie Thorne has always been living on the edge of caution so she decides to make a dramatic escape. They take off in a seaplane that belongs to the company that Esmeralda works for.

At first they head off in the direction of the Darwin Research Station where the dead turtle is. Then, Charlie remembers that the seaplane for the Darwin Research Station is easily trackable and suspects that the mysterious person who was following her would know what plane it was and head over to the Darwin Research Station to see what its course is! To avoid being tracked down they change course to an airport nearby.

They follow clues to Quito. The clue says something about finding the devil’s stone so they go to the place that the devil’s stone is supposed to be. What will happen? You have to read the book to find out!

I love this book so much! I expected adventure from this book and I got it! This is an amazing book for explorers because it talks so much about wilderness and exploring all of these hidden places in the Amazon! I found this book very interesting because it talked about Charles Darwin’s work! I also loved how I learned so many things. I thought that a book could not be exciting and educational together but this book proved me wrong! Have fun!

**Thanks so much, Sofia! We love that this series combines excitement and education!**


Guest Review: Magyk by Angie Sage


Guest Reviewer: Grace, UCF Elementary Education Student

Magyk (Septimus Heap Book One)
Author: Angie Sage
Published March 2nd, 2005 by Bloomsbury Publishing

Summary: The first part of this enthralling new series leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters, clever charms, potions and spells, and a yearning to uncover the mystery at the heart of this story…who is Septimus Heap?

The 7th son of the 7th son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a newborn girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son, Septimus?

Angie Sage writes in the tradition of great British storytellers. Her inventive fantasy is filled with humor and heart: Magyk will have readers laughing and begging for more.

About the Author: Angie Sage began her career illustrating books, and then started writing – first toddler books, later chapter books and then the masterful Septimus Heap. She lives in a fifteenth-century house in Somerset. She has two grown-up daughters.

Review: Magyk is an interesting fantasy adventure that provides children an alternative to the increasingly controversial Harry Potter series. It has themes of wizardry/magic and adventure and focuses on a small group of young characters that age throughout the series.

Magyk and the rest of the Septimus Heap series promotes gender equality as it has several strong female characters and shows women in positions of power without questioning from other characters. In addition, this book and its series promote friendships between characters not only of different genders but of different backgrounds and races.

This book also has strong themes of found-family as well as other complicated family relationships that can be comforting to children without a more traditional nuclear family structure. One of the main characters, Jenna, has been adopted and struggles with her relationships with her non-adopted siblings. This is explored further in later books in the series when she meets her biological father and learns the identity of her birth mother.

The series associated with Magyk grows with its reader as Septimus, the main character, ages throughout the series. The books introduce increasingly mature themes over time, introducing readers to new ideas as they are ready for them.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book touches upon the idea of found family. This theme could be implemented in the classroom to help students better understand the importance of relationships between themselves and those around them. Highlighting the importance of the people we surround ourselves with and the aid they can provide is an important lesson to learn as it gives us strength to go about our day.

This book also teaches students to trust themselves and bare more responsibility as time goes by. Throughout the book, the characters discover that true power comes from themselves. It is only by trusting themselves and working hard that can they achieve their goals. This teaches students the importance of a good work ethic and how you have to work in order to achieve your goals. By adding additional responsibilities to characters throughout the book you can see how their wants and needs change over time however, this does not take away from the goals and aspirations they want to achieve.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Although Jenna is not related to the Heaps by blood she is raised as their daughter. How does Jenna’s relationship with her parents differ from that of her “siblings”?
  • Boy 412 and Jenna both have complicated pasts. How does their relationship change throughout the book as they learn more about themselves and each other?
  • How does Boy 412 relationships with others vary compared to how other children in the book make relationships?
  • How do the circumstances in which Jenna and Boy 412 discover their identities vary? How does this affect how they react to the news?
  • Boy 412 was raised in a militaristic environment, how does this shape the person he has become? If he was raised in a different environment do you think his personality would be different?
  • How do Marcia, Sarah, Zelda, and Silas treat the children differently? Why do you believe they have such different approaches?

Flagged Passages: 

“Oh it’s a pebble… But it’s a really nice pebble Dad thanks.”

Read This If You Love: Books about witches/wizards, Books that age with you

Recommended For: 


Thank you, Grace, for your review!!


Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: The Friendship War by Andrew Clements


Sofia is a 10-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer, who started with us when she was 8 years old. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

I present to you…The Friendship War by Andrew Clements! This is a definite must-read! You might have heard of Frindle by the same author and maybe even read it and thought it was good but I must say this book is even better than Frindle! This book would make an amazing read aloud story! It is not extremely long and it’s super interesting! I definitely recommend this book! This book is for ages 8-12!

Grace has an addiction to collecting things. She has all types of things strewn all over her room. When her grandpa invites her over for the summer, she gets to see his old mill that he just bought. He lets Grace explore inside of it and the mill is pretty run down because it hasn’t been lived in for 15 years. Her grandpa explains that the mill used to be many different things over the years. While exploring, she finds a closet full of big boxes that are filled with buttons! She suddenly feels an itching to have them and asks her grandpa if he can ship her all of the boxes. He agrees, laughing a little because his granddaughter wants to keep buckets of buttons.  Just then Grace makes a decision to keep all of her buttons a secret from everybody outside of her family.

When school starts up again Grace continues to keep the secret from everybody, even her best friend! On that first day of school, her teacher talks about social studies and she volunteers to share some of her pictures and objects with her classmates that she collected from the mill. Later that day at lunch, her best friend, Ellie, suggests that everybody brings as many buttons to lunch as they can and they will compare who has the most buttons. Everybody agrees and Grace is excited because she knows she is going to win with her 24 boxes full of buttons that nobody knows about! When she gets home she fills five plastic baggies with buttons and stuffs them into her backpack. At lunch she decides only to bring one plastic baggie to the lunch table. Everybody shows off their buttons at the lunch table and some other kids come to watch around the table. Grace lets everybody take at most six of the buttons she has on her tray.

When she comes back to school the next day, she discovers that there is a button fad! People are trading buttons at her school like crazy and trading button jewelry and other button-made things. Grace and Ellie find somebody who is willing to trade a beautiful button and Ellie offers one of her button bracelets and Grace offers some really special buttons. Grace ends up getting the button and Ellie gets really mad. So mad that she doesn’t want to be friends anymore! To read more about this one of a kind tale, read the book!

I love this book because it is such a quick and fun read! Even as a 10-year-old, this book taught me some things and I think that this book should be a part of everybody’s life! This is a really amazing book! Another thing that is just nice about this book is that it is short. It has 168 pages and makes for a quick read. That is probably why I would recommend it highly for a read aloud book! As a reader who reads books that usually fall under the 250-600 page category, it is good to read a short story once in a while! Have fun reading the book!

**Thanks so much, Sofia! We love a good read-aloud!**


Sofia’s (and Fjola’s) Kids’ Corner: Best Nerds Forever by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein


Sofia is a 10-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer, who started with us when she was 8 years old. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

This week, Sofia is joined by her friend Fjola to write an incredible collaborative review!

Dear readers,

Today I will be Introducing you to one of my favorite books! Drumroll please… Best Nerds
Forever by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. I am in a book club with a book loving
secretary in my school and one of my friends, Fjola. Fjola has actually helped me write this book
review! I am mentioning them because this was one of the amazing books that we read
together! Another book that was in the book club was Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by
Stuart Gibbs! The moral of this story is not to waste your life and that fear is the biggest enemy.
Live a little! This book is for ages 9-14 years.

Finn McAllister is a very timid boy because his parents are always telling him not to take risks
and to be careful, so Finn really feels like he is doing nothing. At the beginning of the book Finn
passes away by accidentally riding his bike off of a cliff because he was being chased by a big
black van. He becomes a ghost and it is really hard for him to see all of his friends and family
mourning his death. Finn notices that he can pass through people, teleport and fly. But when his
dead grandpa comes to take him to the other side Finn declines, realizing that he has some
unfinished business to complete. While exploring his town, he meets the ghost of a girl named
Isabella Rojas. She went missing four months ago and her dead body has not been recovered
yet. Finn knows she must have some unfinished business so he asks her how she died and
what things she has to do. Isabella says she can’t remember so Finn helps her try to remember
so she can finish her unfinished business. So then they can cross over to the other world
together when he is finished with his business which is tracking down his killer.

We love this book because of the moments that Finn takes to realize what he should have done
when he was alive. This book circles around the idea that you need to live your life to the fullest
content and that sometimes, fear is your greatest enemy. We both believe that this is something
important to learn. Fjola loves the evolution of friendship between Isabella and Finn, and I
especially love the comedy. Enjoy!

and Fjola!!!

**Thanks so much, Sofia and Fjola, for this amazing collaborative review!

Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger


Sofia is a 10-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer, who started with us when she was 8 years old. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

I would like to introduce you to…Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger! My friend Fjola lent me this book and said it was amazing so of course I started reading it straight away! I loved the book so much! This is definitely a MUST READ for everybody! This is one of the last books that I read last year andI think this might have been my favorite book of 2021! This book is recommended for ages 8-12.

Sophie is a misfit. She is incredibly intelligent and at age twelve she has already skipped multiple grades. Sophie doesn’t really fit in at home either. Her entire family consists of red heads and is just different from her. Sometimes Sophie feels that they adopted her but they assure her they didn’t. Life is still far from normal but, one day, she goes with her 12th grade class to a museum and because she is bored she wanders off. While she is looking at all of the exhibits she sees a strange boy. He pulls her aside and tells her she is an elf. She does not believe him at first because, if somebody tells you you were an elf would you believe them or think they were crazy? Thought so. Anyway, the boy says his name is Fitz and he tells her that she can read minds and that she was a telepath. Sophie believes him because she knows she can read minds.

Fitz teleports her to a different dimension, the dimension of the elves. Everything is covered in gems and it looks super fancy. Fitz’s dad, Alden, tells Sophie that she needs to move to the elvin world because by staying in the human one she is putting her “family” in danger. So Sophie agrees but tells the elves they have to brainwash her family so they do not know that they ever had Sophie. Sophie does this so they do not go through any pain. Through the book Sophie meets new friends and makes new enemies. In this book you will be able to follow Sophie through her exciting adventures…

I love this book because it is so exciting and super adventurous. This is the first book in an amazing series! I am currently on the third book. There is never a dull moment in this book. You will find yourself reading the series like a lightning bolt because it is sooooooo good! I feel like my life would not be complete without having read this book. This is a MUST READ! I still can not emphasize enough how good this book is! This book is also funny! If you have been following my reviews for a while, then you will know that I love books with some comedy in them. I highly recommend reading the rest of the books in the series! I hope you have fun reading this!

**Thanks so much, Sofia! It seems like this book is a great adventure for readers!**


Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer


Sofia is an 9-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

Let me introduce you to my new best friend, A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer! I read this book with my mom for a “book battle“ in which we see who can finish their book first and actually have read it! I chose this book, a 500 something paged book and my mom read a 200 something paged book! I was so surprised when I finished my book first! This book pulled me in right from the start and I could not put it down! This book is recommended for ages 8-12!

Magic is strictly forbidden in the place and time this book takes place. The punishment for use of it is death. Madame Weatherbury is a very powerful fairy and wants to change that law. At the beginning of the book Madame Weatherbury is allowed to take two magical kids, one named Brystal from the Southern Kingdom. The world is split up in five sections, the Northern Kingdom, the Eastern Kingdom, the Southern Kingdom, the Western Kingdom and the In-Between.

Here is a map that shows the world back then. It is in the beginning of the book. Brystal is a kid in the Southern Kingdom, her father is a judge and her oldest brother is one too. Brystal’s second oldest brother is going to be taking a big test to become a judge too, soon. Brystal likes to stay up late and read books! Unfortunately, reading books is a crime, at least for girls. One time her mother catches her doing it! She gives Brystal a warning and takes all of her books but doesn’t tell her father anything because he hates Brystal as is. Brystal is expected to do chores like washing the dishes, cooking food and setting the table.

Just then Brystal’s biggest brother, Brooke, enters the dining room. He sends Barry, her second-oldest brother, a mean comment and then sits down at the table. After his butt hits the chair they all hear some commotion on the front of the house and they all stand up assuming it is father. They stand up because everybody always stands up to the judge in the courtroom and he expects that he is welcomed the same way at home. As they sit back down Brooke tests Barry in mental flashcards and gives him the wrong answer even when Barry says the right one! Brystal can’t stand her older brother lying to Barry so she yells out all of the correct answers and tells Brooke to stop telling him the incorrect answer. Her father is surprised and asks her in a stern voice how she knows all of that. Do you think that he will get really mad because then her mother tells him about the books that she was reading or do you think he will calm down after a while? And even better yet, it gets even better!

When I was reading this book I thought it would never end and I loved the idea! I also love this book because this book propelled me through its pages! It has so much detail and excitement in it! The author, I must say, did a beautiful job pushing the story along. So far this is my favorite read of 2021! It is of course a bit too early in the year to say that, BUT STILL! I also loved this book because the characters were so relatable and had many good and bad characteristics. During this book I noticed some changes in character and Brystal changed in a way I would have never imagined. I really enjoyed this book and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do! (I just figured out this is a series and the second book is called A Tale of Witchcraft by Chris Colfer! Also a third is coming out in September. It is called A Tale of Sorcery by Chris Colfer! I am really excited to read the second book in the series!!!)

**Thanks so much to Sofia for this review! We love that you not only beat your mom, but you found a new best friend!**


Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas


Sofia is an 9-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

WOW! That was a hilarious read! The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas is so funny and super interesting! If you like comedies, fantasy books, books that include some Spanish and maybe a myth or folktale that comes to life, then this is made for you! This book is recommended for ages 8-12.

Nestor’s dad is in the army and because of that Nestor has had eight or nine first days of school. He has moved to five different places at least. But no matter what he does, he always follows his one rule, DON’T MAKE FRIENDS BECAUSE IT WILL BE TOO HARD TO LEAVE THEM. Nestor also has a secret, he can talk to animals! Nestor isn’t exactly happy with his ability because the raven that lives in his neighborhood can be pretty annoying sometimes. Nestor likes to go into the forest sometimes to chat with other animals like a deer.

When he visits them just before going to school on the first day of school, he has a little chat about what he should pretend to be, for example he could be the brainy one, the athletic one etc. Sometimes Nestor thinks what the animals tell him could bring him into detention for a month, so he just acts like himself. After talking to his science partner, Talib, he discovers that his dog went missing and also after overhearing a girl called Maria Carmen he discovers that her goats went missing. He thinks something is definitely wrong when other people in the town report their pets missing. And even worse, all of the people in the town think it’s his grandma who is making all of the animals disappear! Nestor is sad that he can’t write to dad about all of this because that would be breaking his mom’s rule, Always be positive, Always be Happy. Nestor accidentally makes friends with Maria Carmen and Talib.

One day Nestor sees his grandma sneak into the woods with a knife and gets super suspicious and scared. When Maria Carmen invites Nestor to her home, her mom wants him to leave as soon as possible as soon as she hears his last name. When Nestor figures out what the thing is that is taking the animals, he also realizes that the thing gets stronger with every eclipse and the next eclipse is coming up!

I love this book because of how funny it is! Seriously, this line is classic, “The faded sign outside New Haven Middle School declares HOME OF THE FIGHTING ARMADILLOS. The only fighting I’ve ever seen an armadillo do is against a truck on a highway. And they don’t usually win.” Like how funny is that? Another reason I love this book is because you don’t usually come across books with kids that have superpowers – well, actually you do, but none of them are this good. No offense to other superhero books.

**Thanks so much to Sofia for this review! We love books that are funny!**