HALLOWEEN WITH A TWIST

Tommy Goes Trick-Or-Treating (Bird Brain Books 4)

Written by Emlyn Chand

Illustrated by Noelle Giffin

Tommy Goes Trick-or-Treating, pic

Story revolves around two animal friends, a woodpecker named Tommy and his raccoon friend, Michael. Both enjoy watching humans for amusement. One day Tommy notices something strange; all the children are dressing in weird costumes and knocking on neighbors’ doors asking for candy. Michael tells Woody that this is the custom on Halloween.

Woody is jealous; he wants some of his own candy. So he enlists Michael to go trick or treating with him. At first they are unsuccessful, until they figure out that they need their own costumes and must say the magic words, “Trick or Treat.” Once they get the hang of it, the two animal friends go off the deep end and abuse the custom. Read the book and find out what happens to them and what lessons they learn.

Illustrations cleverly done in Halloween colors are interspersed throughout and will hold the interest of younger readers. The book is an excellent choice for an early chapter book. Don’t be fooled by the length; half the pages are not part of the actual story but rather author background and summaries of other books in their series. Teachers might use the book as a read aloud for Halloween and parents might want to discuss its lessons before their children go trick or treating. I would recommend it especially for ages six through nine. This book is also available in Spanish. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

TRIP THROUGH TIME

Time Taxi: Book One: Back to Your Beginning

Written by Bruce Boyce

Illustrated by Daniel Demirdjian

Timetaxi,pic

Jack and Jill (they hate their names) are bored twins on summer vacation who live in the suburbs. They are tired of reading, watching TV, playing video games and texting friends. When Jill gets a weird message on her cell phone with a picture of a taxi on Jack’s screen and an invitation to take a taxi ride, they are mystified. After a phone call to their dad who confirms that he knows about the taxi, they follow the yellow brick path down the road where the yellow taxi marked Timeless awaits them.

The driver named Numan, who is a cloud shape-shifter, explains that they are going to take a trip through time using a wormhole as a short cut. Here the twins will meet their ancestors and experience what life was like on earth before life was human. First stop is more than three billion years in the past when the moon was three times bigger and life consisted of slimy green forms on rocks. Their next stop takes them inside a small primitive fish named Astraspis diserata. Jack experiences life as an Ichthostega, a life form that has made the transition to land having both gills and lungs. Their journey proceeds through the evolution cycle to Dimetrodon and the ancestors of the dinosaurs. Then they arrive in the dinosaur age just before the meteor hits the earth destroying most of the planet. As they continue forward, Jack and Jill meet their mammal ancestors, Australopithecus, Homo erectus and the wild wolves that were tamed and taught men how to hunt for food. Now men could hunt for meat and their brain size increased dramatically allowing them to become superior. When the children and the taxi arrive home at last, they find an unexpected surprise on their doorstep.

This book is a fantastic way to teach evolution and history, while allowing students to experience a fantasy adventure at the same time. The reader can imagine herself inside these creatures as the twins go on their riding adventures. They probably won’t realize how much knowledge they are absorbing. Middle grade students should find the reading level comfortable, and the colorful illustrations are an added bonus. Highly recommended for teachers and librarians to add to their bookshelves. Lovers of fantasy, history, time travel and adventure ages eight and above should not miss this one!

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner of the page.

HATS AND HIJINKS

Gaspar and the Fantastical Hats

Written by David A. Lindsay

Illustrated by Pilich

GasparHats,pic

This fantasy novella just short of one hundred pages is set in medieval times amidst dark alleys, cobblestone streets, a wizard’s den and raucous taverns. Gaspar has just spent the night at one of his favorite haunts, The Bag O’Silver Inn where he could pick up gossip on who to target and who was after him. Shortly after, two assassins named Sloat and Weasel confront him in a dark alleyway. An unknown intruder saves his life.

The Council of Guild Masters run the city. These guilds are arranged in a hierarchy of power. Strangely enough the City did function. The wizards had a monopoly of magical artifacts. Gaspar is a petty thief who is a freelancer not a member of any guild. How does he get involved in a dangerous caper? The women of the Merchant’s Quarter had taken a liking to wearing hats that were decorated with magical objects. Some of the wizards began taking bribes, while the milliners took advantage of the fad. Eventually magical artifacts became scarce. Gaspar is enlisted to steal a magical artifact for one such hat. His friend, Hubris, the Spell-broker is recruited separately to steal another. They break into the Wizard’s Hall where they are confronted with a golem, a giant living stone statue. Both thieves must steal an artifact and successfully escape the golem. These partners will discover that appearances are deceiving; the plot twists and turns to reveal new deceptions, and the reader does not foresee the conclusion.

The characters are interesting and the plot well developed in this novella even though the sentence descriptions can be wordy at times. The combination of fashion, mystery, adventure and intrigue are nicely balanced in the right amount for a middle grade reader that will appeal to boys and girls. The golem’s riddles are a nice touch; they will encourage young readers to ponder and philosophize This book can easily be read in a couple of hours or broken up into sections for discussion as a class read aloud.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner  of this page.

Book Blog Awards

BlogBadgevote

I’ve been nominated for

the #BookBlogAwards 2014.

Vote for my blog on November 15th!

Thanks to all my readers!

PRINCESS POWER

The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool, 2nd Edition

Written by P.J. La Rue

Illustrated by Aristides Rodriguez

MysticPrincesses,pic

Harmonie and Eros are teenage sister and brother living in New York City. One day a group of teenagers on a subway platform attempt to kidnap Harmonie. Mysteriously, they bear the same tattoo as her brother on their arm. Eros reveals a family secret. They are children of Ares, the god of war, whose children are tattooed at one year old. Most of the children of Ares strive to make life difficult for others, but he is the god of love and Harmonie is the goddess of peace. Their mother, the goddess Aphrodite, whisked Harmonie away before the age of one and gave her to Eros for protection. Eros is determined to safeguard her and tells her they must now live apart to avoid detection.

Eros has arranged for his sister to live in Hawaii. She will live and go to school with four princesses.  Each have special powers derived from one of the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. This new group of five decide to call themselves the Mystic Princesses. Alongside the traditional school subjects, they are taught self-defense by Sandi Swordfish. In the afternoon the girls practice their individual powers, always on the watch for their enemies, children of Ares.

Sure enough, Ares was getting impatient; his children find their way to Hawaii. They cause much damage around Coral’s reef castle. Her parents King Neptune and Queen Pearl decide that all the princesses must move for their own safety. Their next adventure will take them to New Orleans where they will live with Princess Catie and her parents. What new adventures await them?

This early chapter book is perfect for children ages six through ten. It does not portray wimpy princesses, but strong, respectful and independent female role models involved in many adventures in which they learn to overcome their weaknesses, act against bullying, and cooperate with friends and family to promote human welfare and peace. Short chapters interspersed with illustrations will maintain interest if the book is read aloud for younger children. Introduce your little princess to this one.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

KEEPING KIDS ENGAGED

The Children’s Busy Book:365 Creative Learning Games and Activities to Keep Your 6-10 Year Old Busy

Written by Trish Kuffner

365ActivitiesBusy,pic

The author is not trying to reinvent the wheel; she does want to help you make the most of your child’s free time. Contents of this book are designed to stimulate creativity, social skills, imagination and thinking skills. They can be used after school, during the summer, or on a weekend. The ages six to ten are recommended but not arbitrary as younger children as well as adults might also enjoy them. They are not gender specific; the categories are generalized with much overlapping.

Let’s look at some of the chapter headings: rainy days, indoor Olympics, fun outdoors, my family and me, arts and crafts, and holiday fun. Under these headings the reader will find some traditional games like jump rope and hopscotch, marbles and card games. There are some great recipes in the kids in the kitchen section like oatmeal pancakes and Teriyaki chicken. In the math area there are activities like naming that coin and calendar games. Budding scientists learn how to make rock candy crystals fossils, and invisible ink. For a family project children might want to research a family tree, create a scrapbook or set up a “praise box.”

In the Appendix, Kuffner lists more suggestions for reading, resources for parents, and an index of supplies needed to complete or create the projects. This book leaves nothing to be desired. Everything needed is clearly delineated and indexed. The guide is a valuable resource to be placed on the shelves of parents, camp counselors, librarians and teachers. Just the thing to reach for as soon as an adult hears a child say, “I’m bored.”

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner of this post.

FAIRY TALE FIESTA

Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

Written and edited by Hamilton Wright Mabie

Fairytaleseverychildshouldread,pic

This collection of fairy tales consists of many from collections familiar to readers like Grimm, Arabian Knights, Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault. Some are less familiar such as The Light Princess from George MacDonald.

There are no illustrations in the collection. Certainly some of these tales will inspire the reader to visualize many terrifying characters that might defy illustrations. In any case, I would not recommend them to young children because there is a great deal of violence and some morbidity. The language of these tales is not always twenty-first century and many prejudicial attitudes are displayed within. There is no formal table of contents: the reader must go to the chapter headings to find the name of the tale. Readers will be familiar with many of these, The Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Thumb, and Hansel and Gretel. Allow me to preview two of those less well-known.

In One Eye Two Eyes, Three Eyes we meet a woman who has three daughters. The daughter who had two eyes was shunned because she looked too much like ordinary people. She was treated much like Cinderella by her mother and sisters. But one day she meets a woman who gives her a magical phrase to say to her goat every time she is hungry, “Little goat, if you’re able, Pray deck out my table.” So from that day on, Two Eyes never went hungry and her family became very jealous. When they find out her secret, they kill the goat. Two Eyes retrieves the goat’s insides and buries it in front of the house. It produces a tree with leaves of silver and apples of gold that only Two Eyes is able to retrieve. Will there be a happily ever after ending?

The Light Princess tells of a king and queen who are childless for a long time. When a long-awaited daughter is born, the king forgets to invite his sister, Princess Makemnoit, who happens to be a spiteful witch. She appears at the palace without invitation and puts a “light” spell on the princess. This spell deprives the child of all her gravity. The baby floats up and down and has to closely watched. As the child grows, the child develops a love of water and swims in the lake for hours on end. The princess has no sense of balance. The King’s Council of Metaphysians urge her to become knowledgeable of all earthly sciences like history and geology. One day a prince comes along who is determined to woo her. Will he be victorious or will the Aunt’s spell continue to plague her?

The tales are entertaining, if sometimes dark and unsettling. Reading them provides a fascinating base for discussion of similarities, differences and themes in this genre. If you like fairy tales, you will be intrigued by a study of this collection. Be forewarned that these stories are not for the feint-hearted reader. In general I would recommend for children ages ten and above or a reading of selections chosen by adults for younger children.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,671 other followers

%d bloggers like this: