VIKING DISCOVERIES

The Viking

Written by Marti Talbott

This book is the first in a long series of books about the MacGreagor Clan. Although they can be read independently, it is probably better to read this first book which sets the historic background and tone for all the others.

TheViking,picTalbott introduces the reader to fourteen year old Stefan Rosetti who is embarking on his first voyage as a Viking. His father Donor commands his ship Sja Vinna; which is headed for the shores of Scotland; but Stefan is unaware that his father has plans for both of them to remain in Scotland, the land of his mother’s birth. Unfortunately, they are attacked immediately after going ashore. Donor is killed; Stefan escapes and searches for a new beginning.

Stefan becomes the protector of a woman named Jirvel and her daughter, Kannak. Jirvel’s husband Eogan has deserted them, and their lands are in disrepair. Stefan rapidly gains their trust; he feigns to be their relative from the lands to the North. The women belong to the Macoran clan and are under the protection of their Laird. Jirvel and Kannak plead with him to allow them to remain single as many suitors seek to marry them. The Laird experiences struggles with his wife Agnes and two wayward twin sons who plot against him. I do not want to give away too much of the story, but there are lots of twists and turns in the plot for all the characters. Stefan will lose his freedom and eventually uncover his true identity.

The characters are well developed and the plot line moves swiftly. This is the kind of book you want to read in one sitting. The dialogue is authentic but not difficult to understand. Talbott combines history, romance and adventure in pleasing proportions. I recommend the book for ages fourteen and older. Let me give fair warning….. as soon as you finish reading, you will want to pick up the next in the series!

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IN OR OUT?

Clique,Clique Stop!

Written by Cherrye S. Vasquez, P.h.D

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This new book continues the story of thirteen year old Isabella. In the author’s first book, No Tildes on Tuesdays, readers were introduced to Bella and her struggle to accept her biracial status. She had always associated and gone to school with white friends. In fact, she resisted her father and grandmother’s attempts to learn Spanish and the customs of her Mexican heritage. But now her father is being laid off, and the family is moving to a much poorer mixed population neighborhood. Bella feels disappointed and rejected, especially when her neighbor calls her a half breed.

When she goes to register at her new school, Isabella’s white mother is angered to see that there is no place on the registration form to indicate biracial. Though Bella is strong and determined, everyone at the school seems to be in cliques. Whites hang with whites, the Spanish students avoid speaking English, and the Black students have their own cliques as well. Bella meets a Spanish boy named Roberto and a white boy named George, who seem friendly, but the girls continue to make fun of her.

Bella’s mother contacts the school which leads to Bella speaking to Mrs. Rios, the guidance counselor. She hesitantly speaks of her idea to start a Heritage Club in which students of all races would come together not only to discuss likes and dislikes but to share common interests and customs. Many of the teachers realize that the school has been divided into cliques for far too long and jump on board. Bella is gambling that her club will bridge the divide and unite students from different backgrounds in the community. Will it succeed?

Dr. Vasquez concludes the book with a section discussing the story line with students, educators and parents. This short story is a much welcomed edition in a book market that largely neglects our multiracial and multicultural students. It should be available in the classrooms of middle schools, in our libraries, and a topic of discussion in the families of all our children.

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FROG FEST

Frogs for Kids: The Amazing and Wonderful World of Frogs Book (Reptiles and Amphibians)

Written by Betty Olsen

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Did you realize that there are many species of frogs and that each of them has unique characteristics? In this kindle book, children and adults will have the opportunity to learn about every aspect of their lives. Olsen defines the word amphibian and traces the life cycle of the frog, the food they eat, their anatomy and skin characteristics, how they use camouflage, how they move and communicate, where they live, and how they can be dangerous to humans. Each description is accompanied by a photograph of that frog.

Most people know that frogs develop from eggs laid in the water and later develop lungs and breathe air on land. Are you aware that the age of a frog can be determined by the rings in its bones, and that some frogs live as long as forty years? I learned that not all frogs croak but some chirp, ribbit, whistle, bark or grunt. Their calls have been heard as far as a mile away from their location. The Golden Poison Frog can kill as many as twenty humans or one thousand mice! Olsen mentions toads, but does not go into detail about how they are different from frogs. She also reminds us that we need to keep our waterways clean so that frogs will have a place to lay eggs and prosper.

This book is an ideal beginning tool for a child who is interested in frogs or wants to learn basic information for a science project. As such, it is a good resource for elementary school science bookshelves or libraries. I thought the book failed to elaborate on the topics of environment and toads, but perhaps the author plans to expand these subjects at a later date. Overall, the book is well done and the photographs enhance the details. I would recommend reading it on the cloud or in PDF format.

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CLOSET CHAOS

Runaway Clothes

Written by MRS.D

Illustrated by Chanoa

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Do you have a young lady in your home who is a less than perfect housekeeper? This book might be just what the doctor ordered.

Nika is a wide-eyed pretty little lass who awakes one morning to find that all her clothes are missing from her closet. Both the metal and wooden hangers are bare. She looks outside her cold window and sees only the mist. Where can her clothes be hiding? Nika is freezing because she is dressed only in her pajamas. She does not know what to do. Then she gazes around her room and observes that all her toys are lying around in disorganized heaps. What if they decide to abandon her as well? Nika panics. So she purposefully sets out to clean and organize her toys and stuffed animals.

That does not resolve her dilemma. It is cold outside; how will she ever be able to leave the house without her clothing? Nika talks to the trees and the sun rays who are both sympathetic. The wind blows her salty tears and they land on her clothing, which it turns out, are closer than Nika is aware. Does Nika ever find her wayward clothing? At the end of the story, Nika’s mom is really impressed with her daughter because she has learned a few valuable lessons.

The illustrations by Chanoa are beautifully done in large computer images with detailed facial expressions in soft pastels. As in another of MRS. D’s previous, books, Good Morning, World!, personification plays a large role in the story. The hangers, clothing, wind, sun rays and fog come to life. There are some guardian spirits looking on as well. The illustrations face the text on the opposite page. While a few vocabulary words like enraged are a stretch for younger children, the illustrations provide context clues. I would recommend the book for little ones in the elementary grades and for parents who might want to impress upon their child the importance of taking good care of their belongings.

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COLOR MY WORLD

Color Olors Storybook:The wonderful world of Color Olors

Written by Nina Carothers

Illustrated by Chris Padovan

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The author originally came up with the idea for the book in 1993, but she was too occupied with bringing up her four children back then. Fortunately for today’s readers, she used those years to incorporate her own life experiences in these tales of adorable color characters that each have a memorable and valuable life lesson to share with children and their families. The simple, bright and bold illustrations will endear children from toddler to the early elementary grades. Parents and teachers will like the catchy rhymes and moral themes that make this book an excellent choice for a read aloud. This first book previews the color characters, their outstanding traits, and a clue to the story that each will share in their own storybook. Children have the opportunity to find their favorites and read further.

I will present a quick overview of the Color Olors. Silver Ilver is the wisest and their leader who keeps all the other members in line. She reminds me of a cross between a fairy godmother and a teacher. Gold Owl is the oldest; he is steady and true to task. Gray Ray is a two year old who lives at the bottom of the sea and teaches about the meaning of family. Yellow Ellow is always bright and happy like the sunshine; he will not fail to give you something positive to think about. Don’t surmise that the Color Olors are always perfect. White Hite has a habit of telling little white lies. Red Ed likes to share Christmas Holiday traditions; Blue Lue is a caboose who holds things together even though he is last in line. Orange Range is an excellent cook. Brown Rown rides on his bike showing everyone how to preserve our environment, and Black Lack flys around during the night to protect us while we sleep. Green Reen loves to eat his vegetables and teaches us how to be strong and healthy. Purple Urple looks like a little mouse, but he rides a stallion and grants wishes. Last but not least, Pink Ink is dainty fairy who travels with her teddy bear landing on those who might need advice whispered in their ear.

Quite an assortment of characters from which to choose. The series promises to be a hit with parents, teachers and children. Take a peek at the first book with your little one and then decide which character you would like to meet in a unique adventure. Available in kindle and paperback formats.

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A DAY WITH THE DOLPHINS

Dolphins! Dolphin Facts for Kids:Amazing Pictures and Fun

Written by Valerie L. Cross

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Dolphins have been in the news a lot lately with most of the controversy centering around whether they should be raised in captivity. Children and adults everywhere are intrigued by these friendly and intelligent animals.

This book is a fine resource for a home, classroom or public library. The author uses photographs to illustrate her information. She begins by explaining that dolphins come in all shapes and sizes belonging to a family of mammals known as cetaceans. The Orca or killer whale is the largest though it is not a whale at all but a dolphin. This beautiful animal species have been swimming in the oceans for approximately 50 million years.

Cross presents information on their colors, foods and unique method of communication known as echolocation. She discusses their anatomy mentioning the facts that they can move their eyes in many directions even backwards and in opposite directions. Their hearing is ten times better than that of a human. You can discover the age of a dolphin by counting the rings on the inside of their teeth. The reader is treated to a short profile of each type of dolphin and the habitats in which they live. Did you know that some dolphins live in rivers rather than oceans? Dolphins are social animals who live together in groups known as pods. Each dolphin has a unique sound different from others. Dolphins recognize voices just as humans can. Dolphins swim, dance and breathe with lungs as do humans. They love interacting and performing tricks with humans.

This book is recommended for children who love animals, parents and teachers needing a reference on dolphins, and any age reader who enjoys reading about this delightful mammal.

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JOURNEYING THROUGH ALASKA’S HISTORY

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Aunt Phil’s Trunk: Volume One

Written by Laurel Downing Bill

Vol 1 Cover Aunt Phil

This first book in this series like all the others are based on the writings and research of the author’s aunt, Phyllis Downing Carlson. In the first volume, the reader is treated to thousands of years of Alaska’s history from the time the first humans crossed the Bering Sea land bridge to the Klondike Gold Rush in the nineteenth century. The photograph of a mastodon graveyard is most impressive. Readers learn how the native Eskimos coped with the unknown with the magic of their shamans and the legends of the gods. An influx of Russian fur traders changed Native life forever. They brought illness and destruction to their hunting grounds and forests. Eventually Natives adapted by becoming guides for the newcomers exploration of the seas and the mining operations that later followed.

One of the short stories relates how the last gun shot of the American Civil War was fired from the Confederate ship Shenandoah off the coast of Alaska in June, 1865, two months after the war actually ended. These ships fired on whalers near St. Lawrence Island. The Shenandoah had previously captured thirty-eight Yankee warships. Not willing to surrender to Union authorities in the States, the Shenandoah sailed to England to surrender that November.

Bill traces the history of opposition to William Seward’s purchase of Alaska for the United States and the change of opinion once gold was discovered. Several stories detail singular individuals in Alaska’ s history. Readers learn about Captain James Cook, the explorer, Bishop William Carpenter Bompas, the missionary, Ivan Petroff, the census taker, and Old John Bonner’s murder mystery. One of Alaska’s most educated early citizens was George Washington Carmack who wrote beautiful poetry. Not only do the short stories cover all these areas, but the photographs, maps and drawings provide a feast for the eyes!

Aunt Phil’s Trunk: Volume Two

Written by Laurel Downing Bill

Vol 2 Cover Aunt Phil

Volume Two portrays the history of Alaska for a much shorter period, the end of the nineteenth century through the year 1912. Nevertheless, it packs quite a punch with more than 350 photographs and a saga of interesting characters and developments.

The Klondike Gold Rush brought the ongoing boundary dispute with Canada to a head. Stampeders from Canada walked freely across the border in an attempt to make their fortunes. Crime and robberies became rampart. Miners sometimes took justice into their own hands. One criminal was named “The Blue Parker Bandit.” A small group sailed from Seattle to steal one of the native totem poles for its city. Reportedly, Wyatt Earp and John Clum fled from Arizona to Alaska after the demise of Tombstone.

But as more settlers flooded the area and stayed, order needed to be restored. Leroy Napoleon McQuesten set up supply stations in the wilderness. Clum often traveled by mule and set up Post Offices. Frank Canton set up a court and became the first law officer. As towns sprung up and the area became more stable, the people demanded entertainment and culture. The Black Prince Boxer was listed as a popular attraction. The Monte Carlo Theater came to the town of Dawson. Poet Robert Service wrote his poem “The Call of the Wild.” Estace Ziegler painted scenes of Alaska’s rugged landscapes. The Iditarod trail was blazed;soon railroads and schools followed. Prosperity reigned until suddenly the Katmai Crater Volcano eruption created such a wasteland in 1912 that President Woodrow Wilson called it the largest national monument in the United States. As with volume one, these people and events are richly documented with photographs and drawings. Lots of changes were on the horizon which will be explored in volume three.

These books are highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Alaskan history, geography, and culture. Children age nine and above should be able to handle reading the text independently. All the volumes are a wonderful addition to the bookshelves of teachers, librarians, historians and the the general reader. Well-written comprehensive portrait of America’s forty-ninth state,

Laurel Bill headshot

Contact: Laurel Downing Bill

Email: auntphilstrunk@gmail.com

Website: http://www.AuntPhilsTrunk.com

Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/LaurelBillAuthor

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/LaurelBill

Google +: http://www.plus.Google.com/LaurelBill

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmh0wCifvbXYsVg5IkawkyQ

 

Aunt Phil’s Trunk volumes 1 through 4 are available through http://www.AuntPhilsTrunk.com and Amazon.com.

Volume 1: http://j.mp/SSiIKX

Volume 2: http://j.mp/SSiOT1

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