Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: The Capstone Edition!

August 4, 2011 7-10 years of age, 8-12 years of age, Tales of A (Formerly) Reluctant Reader 10


Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader is a feature in which my eleven-year-old son, John, reviews books as a formerly reluctant reader. He gives his opinion of the book, detailing why he thinks this book would be good for reluctant readers.

In this edition of Tales of A (Formerly) Reluctant Reader, John reviews several of his favorite books published by his favorite publisher, Capstone!

As a mother, I love Capstone for many reasons but mainly because they helped my son develop an appreciation for reading through some pretty impressive graphic novels and a line of books specifically geared toward reluctant readers. So without further ado, I’ll let John take the reins!

Hello everyone! I originally planned to do several posts about the books I’ve been reading lately, but when my mom noticed that many of them were Capstone books, she suggested I do one post with many little reviews instead. Ok, here it goes!

Can You Survive Antarctica?: An Interactive Survival Adventure by Rachel Hanel

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback:112 pages
  • Publisher:Capstone Press (August 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1429673451
  • Source: Netgalley

This is one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I love! Obviously, it’s set in Antarctica. I chose the path of an explorer in 1911, on a team trying to reach the South Pole first! Unfortunately, the path I chose lead to eventual death, but I didn’t let that get me down! The book shared great tips for surviving extreme cold temperatures, how to deal with hypothermia, and more. It even mentioned several people who survived treks to Antarctica.  I think maybe my favorite part was the survival quiz.  Since I’m a Boy Scout I had the advantage! I learned about treating hypothermia months ago so I passed the quiz with flying colors!  This is a great book for kids looking for a little adventure and don’t mind learning something along the way! For example, did you know that Antarctica is considered a desert even though it is covered in ice!?

Can You Survive the Titanic?: An Interactive Survival Adventure by Allison Lassieur

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback:112 pages
  • Publisher:Capstone Press (August 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1429673516
  • Source: Netgalley

You guessed it! Another “Choose your own Adventure!” This one, surprise, surprise, takes place on the Titanic.  You are a passenger on the Titanic. It’s a pretty awesome ship, nearly 4 city blocks long. You notice, though, that there are only 16 life boats, not enough for the 2200 people on board.  You don’t freak out though because there are enough life vests for everyone. Plus, what are the odds you are going to need to use them?  But bad things do happen and the ship crashes into an iceberg.  At this point you get three options on which character you will play in the story. I, of course, chose the 12-year-old boy traveling with his father to New York.  I know this probably isn’t the best decision since the others include a surgeon’s assistant or the governess to a wealthy family, but it’s the closest to who I actually am.  It was quite perfect because it turns out this little boy (me!) is a Boy Scout! This time I have better luck and my father & I survive!

After the “adventure” the book explains why only 705 of the 2200 people survived. Most of them were third-class passengers.  This is the part of the boat that hit the iceberg, flooding first. Also, this part of the ship was separated from the rest. The rich believed third-class carried diseases so they were kept away.  But since they were separated, the third-class passengers couldn’t reach the life boats.

Another reason was that many people didn’t want to leave the ship to get on the life boats. I don’t think they understood how serious the situation was. When they did realize, it was too late and the life boats were gone.

The end of the book lists several of the real survivors of the Titanic, including the youngest passenger on the Titanic, a little girl who was only two months old!  She lived to be 97 years old and was the last living survivor of the Titanic sinking.

I didn’t do as well on this survival quiz because I haven’t quite learned what to do if a ship begins to sink, but you better believe I know now!

Like the Antarctica book, I liked this book because I got to take part in an adventure but also learned a lot!

Obama: The Historic Election of America’s 44th President: The Historic Election of America’s 44th President by Agnieszka Biskup

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback:32 pages
  • Publisher:Capstone Press (August 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1429673397
  • Source: Netgalley

In the last election, voters came out in record numbers, over 130 million Americans voted.  The first African American man was sworn in as President of the United States

This is our time…to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one…and those who tell us we can’t…that while we breathe we hope.  We will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.


The election of Barack Obama will always be an election I remember. Like President Obama, I come from a mixed family. His election gave me hope that even I could be president! This book was nice and short, only about 34 pages. It was a great summary of President Obama’s election, starting from the very beginning. I think it would make the perfect addition to a classroom, too. While there are some people who aren’t happy with the President right now (at least that’s what I get from the few minutes of news I watch at night) Barack Obama’s election was still a historical one. Nothing will ever change that, or my appreciation and admiration of this man.


Thank you again to John for stopping by with these reviews. Thank you to Capstone Publishers for producing such quality books!

10 Responses to “Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: The Capstone Edition!”

  1. Anna
    Twitter: annaeccentric

    Great reviews! My daughter is the same age and loves “choose your own adventures” so I’ll have to mention those to her.

  2. Lucy
    Twitter: readingdate

    These sound like great books and it takes me back to reading the choose your adventure books with my daughter. Your reviews make me interested in reading these, especially the Titanic book.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  3. Laurie@TheBakingBookworm
    Twitter: bakingbookworm

    Great reviews! I have 3 kids who are avid readers (one of which is an 11 year old boy like you). My boys haven’t jumped on the ‘choose your own ending’ kind of books but I’ll definitely show them your reviews, John. Thanks! 🙂

  4. Lorraine Jean Hopping
    Twitter: hoppingreads

    It’s so much more fun when you, the reader, get to make the decisions. And your very life is in the balance! These interactive adventures are just as fun to write as to read. I scripted a few for software years ago and had a great time imagining all the ways the players could “Escape from Antcatraz!”—or not. 😀

  5. Louise Hopping
    Twitter: hoppingreads

    Thank you for this review, John—my sister Lorraine pointed me here. The CYOA tales are fun because they put YOU, the reader, in charge. I read the Antarctica book at your suggestion, and it got me thinking about some other books that I recommend for my sixth grade boys. I am putting together a blog post now. Can’t wait to see what you pull off the shelf next. 🙂