MAN’S BEST FRIEND

BENTLEY: Bags The Bear (Bentley and Friends)

Written by Michael Owen Jones

Illustrated by Emz Wright

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First in a series of early chapter books for beginning readers. Children will enjoy reading the large print and chapters of a few pages each. The main character is Bentley the dog who has adventures with animal friends and enemies like Rodney the Cat and Meezel the Weasel.

In the first chapter readers are introduced to the family including the children Rebecca and Jonathan as well as Aunt Fanny who promptly sits on the couch and breaks it. Bentley, the puppy, is always blamed for breaking things and getting into mischief; all he wants is to be helpful and loved. When Rebecca loses her stuffed bear named Old Fur Face, Bentley hatches an ambitious plan to seek out and find it. This leads to a series of adventures with Rodney, the cat who despises him, a swim in the ocean, an encounter with a weasel, and an unexpected surprise upon arriving home that evening. Does Bentley ever get the recognition he deserves and will Rebecca find the missing teddy bear? At the conclusion of the adventure, Jones gives an enticing preview of the next book in the series in which Bentley observes a monster looking in the window!

This promises to be a wonderful series for beginning readers. Jones seems to have found winning elements, a combination of endearing animal and family characters, humor, adventure, and family lessons to be shared. Highly recommend for young readers ages six through nine and for teachers looking to refresh their read aloud selections. Parents might also read a chapter a night as a bedtime story.

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DINOSAUR DIMENSION

Dinosaurs! A Kids Book About Dinosaurs Fun Facts & Amazing Pictures…..

Written by Alexander G. Michaels

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This e book of approximately seventy-five pages is thorough and well organized. Despite a few minor editing and program errors, it provides a treasure trove of information for the young scientist who is a dinosaur enthusiast. The table of contents provides an easy reference guide to access quick facts. I would recommend the book especially for children ages nine and older. Younger children will enjoy the pictures, but may find independent reading a bit difficult.

Michaels explains terminology and moves through the three parts of the Dinosaur Age, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. He covers the fossils, eggs, food, habits, intelligence, speed and size of sixteen different types of dinosaurs. Michaels devotes a few pages to each type, some commonly known species like the Tyrannosaurus Rex and lesser known species such as Spinosaurus. Each section contains the dinosaur’s name, origin, description, photograph, place of habitat, food sources, size, method of locomotion, and level of intelligence.

The last section of the book discusses the possibilities that caused the extinction of a life group that inhabited the planet Earth for 150 million years. Scientists believe a giant meteor or volcanic eruption are most likely. Either of these would have filled the skies with debris that blotted out the sun and destroyed dinosaur food sources. Highly recommended for anyone who is eager to know more about dinosaurs. It deserves a place on classroom and library reference shelves as a good starting point for research on the topic.

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SOMEONE LIKE ME

A Book of Poetry for Teenagers: Vol. 1

Written by RyAnn Adams Hall

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This collection of poems of approximately one hundred pages hits on many of the issues so important to the teens of past and present generations. The author organizes her poetry collection by age rather than theme; the poems become more sophisticated and complex as the chapters and maturity levels progress through time.

Poems are listed by title only, the reader must peruse through to the end to find the theme. But the underlying themes match the trials and tribulations that coming of age brings upon all of us. Several of the poems relate sorrow at not having a mother present while growing up. At age twelve the author writes about her “best friend forever” Renee. There are poems expressing fear and frustration, relationships with boys, and feeling left out of things. Many poems express hope and optimism like “The Stars,” “My Shadow,” and “What You Do.” In the very last section of poetry written in the period from ages twenty-two through twenty-seven, the author finds her true love, David, and then becomes the mother of Kayleigh in whom she places her hopes and dreams.

I think many that teens will enjoy having these poems to read as they pass through the many moods, phases, ups and downs of adolescence. Nice book to have when you feel the need to take a moment or two to reflect on the joys and sorrows of growing up and life in general.

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GUARDIAN AND DEFENDER

Andee The Aquanaut:Guardian of the Great Seas

Written by Simon James House

Illustrated by Zoran Zlaticanin

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This is the first book in a trilogy aimed at readers age six through twelve. While the chapters are short, there are twenty-four making it a very long book for a child at the lower end of that range. It could be a read aloud, but a child might not be patient enough to wait that long to hear the ending.

At the outset, the reader meets Andee, a young boy who lives on an island with his parents who are marine biologists studying the coral reef in an effort to find new medicines and cures for illnesses. Andee enjoys playing with Tingo and Tango his dolphin friends. One day a storm whips in as his parents are out in the dinghy and Andee is playing onshore. Andee’s dolphin family rescues him and brings him to an underwater cave. As Andee explores his new surroundings, he meets the Wise White Dolphin who guides him to the cave of the Lost City.The dolphin informs him that he has been chosen to be guardian and protector of the seas.

Andee is given a magical suit that allows him to swim faster than the dolphins. As he learns to use his powers, Andee will experience many adventures. He will succeed in rescuing his dolphin friends from pirate fishermen, protect the eggs of sea turtles from poachers, swim with manta rays, and communicate with the jellyfish. A giant tooth may literally become the key to lost treasures, and the merpeople may be able to help him locate the parents he thought that he had lost. Andee comes close to death many times; the ending to the first book is a cliff hangar.

The book is a mixture of adventure, fact, legend, science and coming of age themes. There are a few editing errors. I did find it a bit strange that the story is told in past tense. Still there is a nice balance of elements that appeal to early readers, and the plot has enough depth and moves along at a good pace. Illustrations are well done and encourage the reader to visualize the adventures. I recommend it for readers ages eight and up. Buyers should note that the author donates a portion of profits to marine research.

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DID I REALLY IMAGINE THAT? – BOOK BLITZ

Sweet T and the North Wind (Sweet T Tales)

Written by Cat Michaels

Illustrated by Irene A. Jahns

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Sweet T is the nickname given to ten year old Tara by her grandmother. Tara has recently celebrated her birthday and has been gifted with a new scooter by her parents. But the North Wind is howling over Kelly Lake; her parents tell Tara that she will have to wait till spring to ride it.

Tara and her two younger sisters are part of a close-knit family. Her grandmother suffers from dementia; and her grandfather has recently moved into the nursing home with her. Tara is experiencing “cabin fever” so she goes down to the basement to look at her scooter. All of a sudden the scooter begins talking with her. The scooter informs her that she has one hour to use her imagination to go outside on a spring day and enjoy her scooter. At first this seems impossible, but soon Tara is whizzing down hills with her sisters on the scooter. Then she goes back in time to imagine a better time with her grandparents in their house on Harriet Lane. A surprise ending makes the reader ask, “What if….?”

This story combines fantasy, whimsy and imagination to tough real life situations like a family dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. The author faces the challenges without belaboring the point. Short chapters and charming watercolors make the book a perfect beginning chapter reader for children in elementary grades. Look forward reading the other books in this series.

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DON’T FORGET TO VOTE FOR THE BLOGGER AWARDS ON NOVEMBER 15. This blog is nominated in the children’s book review category.

 

BREAKING THE MOLD – BOOK REVIEW BLITZ

Roxy Rogers: Your Destiny is Calling

Written by Emily Siskin-Toy

Illustrated by Brian C. Krumm

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Roxy Rogers comes from a baseball family. From the day she was born, her family groomed her to be a talented ball player. Everyone in the family, great grandparents, grandparents, and parents had been star baseball players. Her great grandfather had played with Joe DiMaggio, grandpa was on the team with Jackie Robinson, and her dad played with the Los Angeles Dodges in the 1980′s. Her grandmothers played professional ball and even her older sister Morgan had already played on an Olympic team. But Roxy had a passion that she enjoyed more than playing baseball; she wanted to be a soul singer like her idol,  Aretha Franklin.

Roxy hummed while she walked in the opening day parade with her team. When the singer slated to sing the National Anthem at her game gets stuck in traffic, she is invited to sing. The crowd goes wild and Roxy realizes that she has another real talent. To their credit, her family cheers her on. It seems like Roxy might be breaking the mold of family tradition.

This book is executed well. The illustrations are charming. I like the game at the end challenging readers to find the 48 musical clues, and the background information on names of famous baseball players mentioned in the story. Encourages children to act independently and be true to their passions, even when others expect something else. Good choice for early readers, aficionados of baseball, and admirers of strong female characters.

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LOST BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

Hope Defined (Dinah Dynamo)

Written by Shannon Humphrey

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This book is a tale of two heroines; Hope, a thirteen year old wannabe astrophysicist, struggling to make a difference in the “hood” on Earth, and Dinah, one of the scions who travel space creating planets and chasing the stars. Hope must overcome bullies and racism; Dinah must figure out how to control the forces struggling to tear her being apart.

Humphrey succeeds in writing a book that addresses problems many middle grade students face, bullying and racism, while at the same time facing how to “come of age.” The parallel science fiction story of Dinah, who is being tested in her world, lends an appealing element to the middle grade reader. Hope is truly a creative genius, but she is faced with opposition from her black friends who want her to give up her “nerdiness” and just fit in, while at the same time fighting to compete with the white kids who are jealous of her and scheme to get her in trouble. Her mother does not understand her devotion to her studies, but a neighbor named Mr. Lewis is willing to help. Hope has strange dreams about a girl who looks like her and gives her confidence; Dinah struggles with a strange feeling that she is needed to help someone, but does not understand how or where this impulse originates.

The plot details the kind of experiences middle school students face everyday and portrays situations with which they can empathize. I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers as a starting point of discussions on bullying and racism. It raises many situations that should be raised before these issues arise. Children age nine and up will find this a compelling read and a useful resource for answering may of their questions in a nonjudgmental fashion. This story teaches and does not preach; a most effective way to reach the minds of tweens and young teens.

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