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Mount Rushmore: Half-Finished Project

Mount Rushmore attracts tons of visitors who ooh and ahh at four towering American heros carved out of a countain.  But did you know the project was never completed?

Here’s a photo we took on our trip across country this summer . . .


Impressive, of course!  But after we viewed the movie about the monument that went on and on about what a great tribute it is to American ingenuity and tenacity we saw  what the original model looked like . . .


What happened?  Looks like a job half done!  We asked the park ranger why the sculpture was never finished.  Worked stopped on the project in 1941 after 14 years because other priorities came up and funding dried up.  Neither the taxpayers nor private parties ever came up with funds to complete it.  So it was just pronounced completed. The cost:  $989,992.32.

Did you know there is a cave behind the carving called the “Hall of Records.” It was intended to house the story of Mount Rushmore but was never completed due to lack of funding as well.

So much for American ingenuity and tenacity. We visited the Crazy Horse Monument down the road before we went to Rushmore, and found it much more interesting.  That huge undertaking has taken a lot longer to get going, but at least they are still blasting away.

Related posts:

How to Visit the Crazy Horse Monument in SD

Bryce Hike in Hoodoo Heaven

Want to build your own Mount Rushmore?


Abe Lincoln postcard
Abe Lincoln by FNolan
View more Postcard designs on

Creative Scarecrow Ideas for Halloween Decorating

Creative scarecrows can spice up fall decorations. Many neighborhoods hold scarecrow decorating contests. My sister and I have worked together to enter a few of these and have been lucky enough to win grand prize a couple of times. Our best tip? Use old clothes to come up with a scarecrow theme, then pay attention to detail to make a whole scene.

I used my daughter’s old flower girl dress, for example, to come up with a scene depicting “The Ring Bearer and Flower Girl at Frankenstein’s Wedding. I used her old figure skates to come up with “Skate Crow.” I used my son’s old Kobe Bryant jersey and old basketball shoes to come up with a scarecrow shooting hoops . . . (Kobe Die-ant of the LA  UnderTakers.) An old saddle gave me the inspiration to come up with “Ghost Rustler,” a cowboy lassoing a ghost.

Next up: I want to do a hula girl in a bikini to make a beach scene. Got you thinking? What clothes do you have that be used for a creative scarecrow scene this Halloween?

Make your scarecrows pop at night with a blacklight.

I hope my pics inspire you. Let me know if you have other creative scarecrow decoration ideas for Halloween.

Related Post: How to Make A Prize-Winning Scarecrow






Pet Clothing





Please share your creative ideas for cool scarecrows.

view my squidoo lens on Halloween scarecrows.





Other craft posts:
How to Make a Yoga Mat Tote Bag
How to Make a Tassel
How to Make Bookmarks from a Photo
How to Make Designer Baby Burp Cloths Using Ribbon

How to Visit the Crazy Horse Monument in SD

The Crazy Horse Monument: Right Down the Road From Mt. Rushmore

In a cross-country family drive, you can’t miss Mount Rushmore. But did you know 17 miles down the road is another must-see sculpture carved out of a mountain? We stopped by to see the Crazy Horse Memorial, and found it more impressive than Rushmore. Started in 1948, the Crazy Horse sculpture is still in progress and when completed, it will be the world’s largest sculpture. I’m a little torn about carving up a sacred mountain, but I gotta admit the site–which includes a museum and lots of history about the sculpture–is fascinating.

At the top is Crazy Horse’s head. The white markings are where the head of his horse will be. Scroll down to see pics of the models.

The sculpture’s final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet (195 m) wide and 563 feet (172 m) high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet (27 m) high; by comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mt. Rushmore each 60 feet (18 m) high.

What we found to be most impressive was not just the size of the undertaking, but the fact that is has all been done with sheer tenacity in both the carving (by blasting) and in fundraising. Unlike Mt. Rushmore, which received tax dollars, this project receives no federal or state support.


The project began when Polish American sculptor Korczak Ziółkowski, who had worked on Mount Rushmore received a letter from Chief Henry Standing Bear, which stated in part “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.”  The project became a lifelong work for Ziółkowski, who died in 1982. In fact, his whole family, including his wife, Ruth, and their ten children worked on the Crazy Horse Project.

The site includes models the artist made so you can see what it will look like. It also includes a film about the project and a museum with lots of history so you can see how a mountain can be blasted with enough precision to make a sculpture. The museum also focuses on the sculptor and his family and includes a Native American Cultural Center with lots of artifacts and art.

crazy horse white carving

crazy horse bronze model
Model of the sculpture in the museum with the mountain in background.

crazy horse bronze model 2

The museum includes lots of info about the sculptor and his family.
The museum includes lots of info about the sculptor and his family.

If you are planning to see Mt. Rushmore, schedule half a day to also visit the Crazy Horse Memorial. Well worth the cost of admission. Bring camera. If you want more info, visit the Crazy Horse Memorial’s site.

crazy horse monument view from window

Related post:

Mount Rushmore: Half-Finished Project

Bryce Hike in Hoodoo Heaven



How to Buy a Yoga Mat

Tips for Choosing a Yoga Mat

When I first started yoga a couple years ago I got a mat at Target for about $10. Adequate, but not great.

I recently upgraded to a better mat and was amazed at the difference. The deluxe mat provides traction and support. No more heel slipping in down dog! Plus I do not have the keep putting something down on the edges to keep them from curling up. I picked a color I really like with a subtle lotus flower on it . . . and it puts me in a meditative state of mind. A small indulgence, but worth it.

If you are in the market for a yoga mat, here’s some tips.

Spend a little more. You are worth it.

For retail stores, check places like Marshalls or TJ Maxx, they have better prices than sporting good stores.

Look online for
better quality yoga mats. Online retailers like Amazon have more options.

Read the customer reviews at Amazon. Customers give really good honest opinion, not just hype. Look for 5 star reviews.

Remember that yoga mats are not the same as pilates mats. Pilates mats are thicker and not as “sticky.”

A good yoga mat provides proper grip so your feet and hands can sink in a bit and stay. The cheaper mats slide on the floor and do not allow your feet to “stick” to the mat. Sticking to your mat really does help you to hold poses easier.

Look for a mat of medium thickness. Too thin and you feel the floor underneath. Too thick and you sink into it too much, plus it is bulky to carry.

Avoid inexpensive PVC mats. They do not absorb moisture and have an unpleasant order.

Natural fiber mats, such as cotton, jute or cork provide a good feel. However, if you do yoga every day, these may break down too quickly. Some natural mats may get dirtier faster than others. Rubber is another natural material that holds up well and is easier to clean. But be careful choosing a rubber mat if you are allergic to latex. Read the label to see if it has latex.

Spend time thinking about what color you want. Yes, it does matter. Color affects mood. Choose a color you love that relaxes you. Some mats also offer a design to help you focus while holding a pose or just for decoration. Make sure the design will not distract you.

Alternate rolling up your new mat one way and then the other to help prevent corners from curling up.

If you paid more for your mat, you will want a yoga mat bag to keep it clean and away from sunlight. You can buy a yoga mat bag or you can make them. If you do not have a bag, do not store it in sunlight. When you need to clean your mat, use plain water, or water and vinegar.

When buying your mat, look at the other yoga accessories. If you buy them at the same time from an online store, you save on shipping.

If you buy a yoga mat online, first do a search for a coupon code using the name of the store and the words “coupon code” or “free shipping.” You may save some money.

No matter what mat you use, some poses, especially standing ones like tree, are sometimes better done on the floor.

Another tip: Try a new instructor from time to time. You may gain new insights into how to hold a pose.

Related post:

How to Make a Yoga Mat Tote Bag

How to Make a Yoga Tote Bag

Sew a Bag to Keep Your Yoga Bag Clean


When I first started yoga I had a yoga mat I could roll up and toss in the car. Then I got a new yoga mat which was plusher and prettier . . .  But I noticed that the better material picks up dirt easier. So I decided to sew a custom yoga mat bag for it to keep it clean in the car.

Looking online I saw a few patterns. Some had three seams to make a big bag, but that seemed too basic.  Some were shaped more like a roll with a round bottom, but I am not a big fan of sewing on a curve if I don’t have to.  So I came up with my own design. The design is similar to the square-bottom shopping totes that a lot of crafters make.

It is pretty easy and you can adjust it. The instructions are for a lined yoga mat bag, but if you used thicker material you would not have to line it. To make the bag just line mine, you will need material 45 inches by 36 inches for the lining and 45 by 40 for the bag fabric plus matching thread.



1. Measure. Roll up your yoga mat and measure how big you need to make your bag.  My mat is pretty standard and I started with material 45 inches by 36 inches for the lining and 45 by 40 for the bag fabric.  You may need to adjust if your mat is not standard.


2. Cut material for handle. Cut a strip 45 inches by 6 inches.


3. Fold the handle in half, right sides together and iron to get it even.


4. Fold 1/4 inch on the ends and iron.


5. Stitch the handle the long way.



6. Flip the handle inside out by attaching a safety pin to one end and pushing the material up the tube.  Then iron.


7. Tuck the ends of handle inside. Set aside.

8. Make the tie and the drawstring.  Use the same steps you just used to make the handle.  The tie is the same 6 x 45 inch as the handle, only cut from the bag fabric.    The drawstring is 4 x 45 inches and cut from the extra bag fabric.  Set aside.


8. Fold the large piece of material for the lining of the bag right sides together, pin.


9. Stitch seam on side of yoga bag lining.


10. Fold down and iron 1/4 inch on the top edge.


11. Sew the bottom edge.


12. Make corner gussets by reaching your hand in one corner of the bag and flattening it in the opposite direction. Now fold it so you form a triangle. You are going to sew across the triangle to create the corner.  Making a corner gusset is not hard to do, but is a bit hard to explain.  Another blogger has a good description of making a corner gusset if you need more help visualizing it.


11.  Sew across to form the corner.


12. Repeat above steps to make the bag itself. On the outer bag you can make “edges” by sewing along the fold lines.  This makes the bag appear as if it has four side seams and makes it boxier.


13. Make a deep hem on top of bag to form casing. Set aside the lining and now work on the bag itself. To determine the depth of the hem you want, first roll up the yoga mat, and put it inside the bag to measure, then remove. You are going to want about 10 inches of material above the bag after the hem.  My deep hem was about 6 inches. So I stitched about 6 inches down to sew down the edge, then stitched again about 1.5 inches up from that.  This forms the casing for the drawstring.


14.  Make an opening in the side seam in between these two rows so you can insert the drawstring. The easiest way to insert the drawstring is to put a safety pin on the end and push it through.  Once it is through you can hand sew the ends of the drawstring together if you like so that it is a big loop and can’t fall out.



13. Attach the lining. Put the lining inside the bag, wrong sides together, matching the seam at bottom and on edge.  Pull the top on the lining up and over the bag so that when folded down it would form a hems that ends just above where the drawstring casing begins. Pin and then in place baste by hand.


14. Sew down lining at top. Fold over top of lining and stitch in place, but leave a couple inches open at the seam (so you have a place to insert one end of the strap.)



15. Attach strap. One end goes under the contrasting hem on top you just made.  The other end goes at the  bottom of the bag.  I had mine go across the bottom of the bag and I stitched it in two places as shown in picture.

16. Use the tie to secure your rolled up mat.



17. Enjoy your new yoga mat bag!

The yoga mat bag would be a great gift for a someone who loves yoga.  Let me know if you find the yoga mat bag tutorial helpful.

Need help choosing a yoga mat? Read my ehow article on how to pick the perfect yoga mat for you.

After yoga, enjoy a pomegranate smoothie. Here’s my recipe.

If you need relaxing yoga music for home, please check out the reviews for the cd “Cave of the Siddhars.” 5 stars from everyone who rated it on Amazon.

Other craft posts:
How to Make a Prize-Winning Scarecrow
How to Make a Tassel
How to Make Bookmarks from a Photo
How to Make Designer Baby Burp Cloths Using Ribbon

How to Make a Perfect Pomegranate Smoothie



Pomegranate Smoothie Recipe

Refresh your taste buds . . . help your heart

Bursting with antioxidants, the pomegranate now shines as the darling of the health food industry.

Nutrients in the pomegranate lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and experts say they benefit people with heart disease and even some forms of cancer. One thing is sure: tart and yet sweet, pomegranates taste great. You will find pomegranate ingredients in all kinds of high-priced pomegranate supplements, but the best way to enjoy the benefits of this delicious fruit is to make pomegranate smoothie in your own blender.


Ingredients needed:

100% grape juice
100% pomegranate juice
strawberries: fresh or frozen
frozen mixed berries (optional)
yogurt or yogurt drink
vanilla or plain protein powder
vitamin supplement packet (optional)



Equipment Needed: Blender. You can use any blender, but to make the best smoothies, use one that shaves ice before it blends. Shaved ice provides smooth texture. I love the Margaritaville Frozen-Concoction Maker. It cost a bit more than a standard bender, but it shaves ice perfectly and has a strong motor.


Pour in about a cup of pomegranate juice. Make sure you buy 100% pomegranate juice. Check the label. Many companies sell “blends” that contain only a small percentage of pomegranate juice. Look for 100 % pomegranate juice in the juice section or in the health food section of your grocery store. It will cost more than other juices. You can also find it at large box stores like Costco and at health food stores.


Pour in about a cup of grape juice. Again, you want 100 percent juice. Researchers say purple grape juice, also rich in antioxidants, may have the same highly touted health benefits as red wine. Like pomegranate juice, grape juice may help reduce bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure and support heart health. Tip: just like wine, grape juice varies in quality. Go for the name brand. It tastes better.


Put in 3 to 4 large frozen strawberries. Fresh berries will work as well. Strawberries are packed with vitamin C and other vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.

Optional: Put in about a half cup of mixed frozen berries. You can often find a bag of frozen berries that includes blueberries and raspberries, but any mix will do. Fresh works as well. More berries add a more coplex flavor . . . and more antioxidants.

Optional: Put in half a banana. Bananas are good for your heart and nerves: Bananas are rich in potassium, which is essential for proper muscle contraction and thus helps the rhythmic pumping of the heart. Some studies link low potassium to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke.

pomsmoothie70Add about one fourth cup of plain or vanilla flavored protein powder. Athletes and body builders make protein powder shakes because protein contains the essential building blocks for muscle. Many of us do not get enough protein in our diet, so adding protein powder to a smoothie is a great way to make the drink a more complete source of nutrition. Many brands and formulas are sold in health food stores and at markets like Trader Joes. You can research the differences in protein powder online.


For extra health benefits, add half a packet of a vitamin supplement. I use Emergenc-C with zinc. Zinc promotes a health immune system and helps with healing. Many believe it helps prevent premature aging of the skin and muscles of the body.

Add about a half cup of yogurt or yogurt drink. Yogurt comes from milk and provides animal protein, plus several other nutrients found in dairy foods, like calcium, vitamin B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium. It also has the good bacteria. I like using a yogurt drink product in a berry flavor, but any good yogurt will do.


Turn on the blender for about half a minute. Then add ice. If you have a blender with an ice shaver, add 4 or 5 cubes to the top. Shave then blend. For a regular blender just toss the ice cubes in before blending.

Enjoy. You will be amazed how delicious this smoothie tastes. And you can really enjoy it knowing it is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.

You can vary the ingredients to your liking or to provide variety.

If you find you made too much smoothie, no problem. Put the leftovers in a closed container in the freezer. You can eat it frozen with a spoon as a dessert, or you can put it in the microwave on low for a few seconds and then stir to turn it back into a smoothie.


My ehow version of this recipe


Jedi Apprentice Book Series Review

Jedi Apprentice by Jude Watson: Best Star Wars Book Series


Can’t get enough of all things Star Wars? Did you know that Star Wars characters live on in a number of different book series, many of them aimed at youth readers?

My son is a huge Star Wars fan, so we checked out every Star Wars book in the LA County library system, plus we bought plenty many for the collection on his shelf.  I’ve read most of them as well.  By far, our favorite series is the Jedi Apprentice Series by Jude Watson (one book is by Dave Wolverton).

Jude Watson writes with great suspense, character development, and continuity of the Star Wars story.  She tells each story in a way that not only builds drama, but also reveals the Jedi ethos. She tells a good story that appeals to kids as well as adults.

Jedi Apprentice books have Accelerated Reading Tests. The AR interest level for Jedi Apprentice is between 4-6 and the AR points for Jedi Apprentice are usually about 4 points.

You can read each book out of order and it will make sense. But if you read the Jedi Apprentice series in order you will see references to prior books and the details keep continuity.

We have read other Star Wars book series, and they are OK, but Watson’s are the best.  Highly recommended. All the Jedi Apprentice Books at Amazon are available at this link.

A summary of the plot of each book at Wikipedia is below.

  • The Rising Force by Dave Wolverton (45 BBY) (Y)
  • The Dark Rival by Jude Watson (45 BBY) (Y)
  • The Hidden Past by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Mark of the Crown by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Defenders of the Dead by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Uncertain Path by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Captive Temple by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Day of Reckoning by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Fight for Truth by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Shattered Peace by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Deadly Hunter by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Evil Experiment by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Dangerous Rescue by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Ties That Bind by Jude Watson (41 BBY) (Y)
  • The Death of Hope by Jude Watson (41 BBY) (Y)
  • The Call to Vengeance by Jude Watson (41 BBY) (Y)
  • The Only Witness by Jude Watson (41 BBY) (Y)
  • The Threat Within by Jude Watson (40 BBY) (Y)
  • Special Edition #1: Deceptions by Jude Watson (41 BBY – 29 BBY) (Y)
  • Special Edition #2: The Followers by Jude Watson (40 BBY – 28 BBY) (Y)
  • Related post:
    Lego Rock Band Review

    Best Book Series for Boys

    LEGO Brand Retail, Inc.

    Recommended Books for Boys in Middle School

    Best Books For Boys: A List on Amazon

    Everyone knows about the Harry Potter book series, which appealed to boys, girls, and adults, too.  But did you know there are several other excellent book series for tween boys out there? Here’s a list of some great books for middle school boys. If you like the first book in the series, you will probably like the rest. Click on the name of the series to read a review.

    Just like Harry Potter, each of these book series has a movie either out or in the works. Also, all of them have boxed sets available for great deals on Amazon.

    Percy Jackson & the Olympians series review

    Rick Riordan has written five books in the Percy Jackson series
    The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)

    The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)

    The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3)

    The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4)

    The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5)

    Ranger’s Apprentice series review

    John Flanagan has written 10 books in the series. Seven have been released in the U.S. so far.

    The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1)

    The Burning Bridge (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 2)

    The Icebound Land: Book Three (Ranger’s Apprentice)

    The Battle for Skandia: Book Four (Ranger’s Apprentice)

    The Sorcerer of the North: Book Five (Ranger’s Apprentice)

    Ranger’s Apprentice: The Siege of Macindaw: Book 6

    Erak’s Ransom (Ranger’s Apprentice Book 7)

    Ranger’s Apprentice: The Kings of Clonmel: Book 8

    Halt’s Peril (Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 9)

    The Emperor of Nihon-Jin This book is not available on Amazon yet.

    Note that the books come out in Australia first. The last one to come out in the U.S. is book 7, Erak’s Ransom, which came out in January, 2010. The later books have not been released in the U.S., although you may be able to get them from sellers who import them and re-sell them. Check the links above to order through Amazon.

    Artemis Fowl series review

    Eoin Colfer has written seven books in the Artemis Fowl series.

    Artemis Fowl (book 1)

    Artemis Fowl: Arctic Incident, (book 2)

    Artemis Fowl: Eternity Code, (book3)

    Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (book 4)

    Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony, (book 5)

    Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (book 6)

    Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (book 7)

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid

    Jeff Kinney has written five books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

    Diary of a Wimpy: The Ugly Truth

    Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice Book Series by Jude Watson

    Artemis Fowl: Fun Book Series for Boys (and Girls)


    Review of Artemis Fowl Books

    Why is it so hard to find good books for tween boys?  When my 6th-grade daughter goes to the library, we come out with stacks and stacks of books. But when I take my 4th-grade son, we often come out empty-handed. Or we get a book, he reads a few pages, and pronounces it “boring.”

    When he is hooked on a book series, however, he can’t get enough.  Recently he just finished two book series for boys he loved: Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Ranger’s Apprentice.  My daughter mentioned that boys in her class liked a series called Artemis Fowl. So at a recent trip to the library I checked out the first two Artemis Fowl books.

    I starting reading the first book just to see what it was about, and I could not put it down. Within a couple of days I was back at the library getting the rest of the series and all three of us devoured them.

    Kudos to the author, Eoin Colfer, for plots, characters, and action and humor that appealed to all of us.

    Colfer’s hero (or perhaps anti-hero) Artemis is a super-bright, rich, articulate 12-year-old with supreme confidence.  He is also a criminal mastermind intent on amassing an even greater fortune. The kid comes up with brilliant plots, and his buff bodyguard Butler, who is trained in martial arts and carries array of lethal high-tech gadgets, helps him to carry them out.

    When we first meet Artemis, he is planning to rob gold from fairies. But these are not your typical fairies. “Die Hard with fairies” is how Irish author Eoin Colfer describes his books.  His magical beings are an advanced civilization with amazing technology and powerful weapons.

    Colfer’s inventive plots have tons of twists and surprises that pull you through the adventures.

    The settings include Fowl Manor, where the Artemis has a mansion any boy would envy, various places around the world Artemis flies to in his private jet, and the Lower Elements, the world inhabited magical beings, which Colfer describes in rich detail.

    Readers come to know quirky, charismatic characters with an edge, among them:

    Artemis Fowl, a preteen prodigy with a huge bank account and the toughest bodyguard in the world. Although he is greedy and ruthless, Artemis can do the right thing at times. He is still figuring out his place in the moral order.

    Domovoi Butler, a loyal bodyguard with cool weapons who has no problem taking orders from a 12-year-old.

    Captain Holly Short
    , a gutsy female LEPrecon officer who sometimes bends the rules to save the day

    Foaly, a wise-cracking techie centaur who is a genius in his own right coming up with amazing gadgets that give his side an edge

    Mulch Diggums, a dwarf thief who uses explosive flatulence to help tunnel his way into places through impenetrable.

    Opal Koboi, Foaly’s nemesis, an evil genius pixie who comes up with diabolical (and extremely clever) plans to rule the world

    Accelerated Reading and Artemis Fowl Books
    The Artemis Fowl books have accelerated reader tests.  The accelerated reading interest level is between 5 and 6AR Points for Artemis Fowl books range from 10-13.  Adults will enjoy them as well.

    Artemis Fowl Movie
    A film based on the first two books is reportedly in development. A script has been written, but the film been delayed several times.

    Artemis Fowl Series Books

    Artemis Fowl (book 1)

    Artemis Fowl: Arctic Incident, (book 2)

    Artemis Fowl: Eternity Code, (book3)

    Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (book 4)

    Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony, (book 5)

    Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (book 6)

    Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (book 7)

    Other Artemis Fowl books
    The Artemis Fowl Files (2004)
    Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel (2007)
    Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel: The Arctic Incident (2009)
    Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel: The Eternity Code (20xx)

    My son, almost 10,  ranks the Percy Jackson and Ranger’s series above Artemis Fowl, but I think I actually liked the Artemis Fowl series better.  Lots of humor and wit with likable characters and inventive plots.  Action packed but not scary.  Artemis Fowl books rate among the best books for middle school boys. Let me know if you like Artemis Fowl, and if you have other books to recommend to this age group.

    If you read the first book in the Artemis fowl series, you will want to read them all.  Amazon a boxed set of the first five Artemis Fowl books. The set would make a great gift for a tween boy.

    LEGO Brand Retail, Inc.

    related posts:

    My review of the Ranger’s Apprentice series

    My review of the Percy Jackson series

    Battle of the Boys Books: Percy Jackson vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

    Lego Rock Band Review

    Percy Jackson vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

    I asked my almost-10-year-old son a tough question: if you were stranded on a desert island, and could only take one book series, which would you take: Ranger’s Apprentice Series or Percy Jackson series He had a tough time. Finally he noted that one series had more books. So maybe he would pick that one. Otherwise it’s a dead heat.

    Finding good books for boys his age is so hard I am thrilled he is so excited about both these series. He is also reading the Artemis Fowl Series now, but Percy Jackson and Ranger’s Apprentice have him begging me to take him to the library, and when the books are not there, to the book store.

    Both Ranger’s Apprentice and Percy Jackson series published new books in January, 2010. Book number 7 of the Ranger’s Apprentice series came out in January, and a special “movie”edition” of book 1 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians came out as well. I’ve found that most of the books in both series have waiting lists at our library, (LA County Library system).

    Lightening Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series
    The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series
    The Ruins of Gorlan, the first book in the Ranger's Apprentice Series

    Number of Books in the Series

    Both writers Rick Riordan and John Flanagan are prolific, coming up with new adventures for their young heros (who age as the books continue). In the U.S. the score is Percy Jackson: 5 books, and Ranger’s Apprentice: 7. Flanagan has written 10 Ranger books, but the last three have not yet been released in America.

    AR Rating

    Both books have AR tests.  Ranger’s Apprentice has a slightly interest level (between 6 and 7) than Percy Jackson (between 4 and 5).  This means they probably appeal to readers in 6 and 7th grade vs those in 4th and 5th grade. Although I think both books appeal to a much wider range.

    Ranger’s Apprentice books also have higher AR points possible (between 12 and 14). AR points for Percy Jackson range from 3 to 13 with many between 9 and 10.


    Both series are packed with suspenseful action and plot development.  Both feature both battle strategy and detailed descriptions of battles.  Both have fierce enemies.  Both have cool weapons. Percy Jackson has more mythological characters.


    Although both series are fictional adventure stories, they both teach you something about history and culture. In Percy Jackson books you learn about Greek mythology, and in Ranger’s Apprentice books you learn about Medieval times.


    Both have likable, young, male protagonists with various sidekicks and friends. Ranger’s may have more in-depth character development of some of the characters.


    We’ve already seen the trailers for the first Percy Jackson movie, based on The Lightning Thief. The movie is due out next month (Feb). Ranger’s Apprentice has a script and a director, but no word on when it might be out.

    Video Games

    Nintendo has a game in the works based on the first book and movie of Percy Jackson. The video game is a tactical role-playing game for Nintendo DS that puts players in command of Percy Jackson and his fellow demigods as they battle for survival in a world ruled by vengeful Greek gods. Nintendo says the game will be in stores when the movie comes out. No word on a video game for Ranger’s Apprentice as of yet.

    Cover Art

    It’s interesting to see what publishers come up with for cover art for tween and teen readers. My kids are voracious readers, and as a graphic artist I appreciate the thought and creativity put into book covers. The U.S. editions of both Percy Jackson and Ranger’s Apprentice series are stunning. As a personal preference, I like Ranger’s a bit more.  Pubishers sometimes change the cover art when they release books in different countries or when they do a second printing.  If you do a Google image search you will see differences in covers in both of these series.


    Both books have garnered praise from critics and been on the New York Times best-sellers list. Both have been published in several different countries.


    Both books have official websites, and to be honest, I find both annoying, just because they take too long to load and I do not always like background music or spooky rainfall and wind howling. Kids probably love it though. On the Ranger site you can log in to become a “Ranger” and get access to more info on the site. Even without doing that you can download beautiful graphics for your desktop. There’s some interesting info about the author. On the Percy site there is a page describing all the Olympian Gods and Monsters. It also has downloadable games and wallpaper. You can also access the trailer for the new movie.

    Rick Riordan has an author’s website that has some additional features without all the fancy sounds and effects.

    My reviews

    My review of the Ranger’s Apprentice series
    My review of the Percy Jackson series
    My review of the Artemis Fowl series
    My review of Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice book series

    Let me know how you think how these two great book series compare. Both books have special deals on sets on Amazon.