PERFECTION TO A POINTE

Pie And Other Brilliant Ideas

Written by Karen Pokras Toz

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Another outstanding middle grade coming of age story. This book is well written and carefully crafted. Pokras develops her characters with strength and compassion that will not disappoint young girls, young adults or their parents.

Twelve year old Georgie has recently moved to a new neighborhood closer to her grandmother’s nursing home. She sorely misses her best friend Amber, but more than anything Georgie misses her dancing lessons. Their new community is much more expensive; despite her pleas Georgie is informed they cannot afford the extra expense. When Amber comes for a visit, they scheme together to find a way to raise money for Georgie to pay for her own lessons. After Amber allows Georgie to try on her pointe shoes; Georgie understands that nothing will deter her from achieving that goal.

There is also lots of humor in this book. The first two plans for earning money have some hilarious results. One day Georgie’s grandmother Jane gets a new roommate. Georgie and Amber are thrilled to learn that she has danced in Russia with a famous ballerina named Paulina Strofsky. Over several visits the woman named Eve relays the story of how she and Paulina trained to become prima ballerinas. In the process the reader learns quite a bit about the history of Russian and its people while under Communist domination.

Seeing the determination that Georgie has to dance, Eve encourages her and even gives her the poster over her bed with the picture of the famous ballerina. By the end of this tale, the two girls have figured out a way for Georgie to pay for her dancing lessons, absorbed lessons about the importance of family and friendship, and received a surprise gift that they never could have imagined.

Highly recommended for tweens, teens and young adults. Readers who enjoy ballet, history, and strong female role models will especially enjoy this one.

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EARTH, OUR PLANET

Planet Earth! A Kids Book About Planet Earth-Fun Facts & Pictures About Our Oceans, Mountains, Rivers,Deserts, Endangered Species & More

Written by Alexander G. Michaels

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The title of this post is much shorter than the name of the book, but in fact the author provides a concise guide to all those things in an e book of less than fifty pages. Targeted for children in the early elementary grades and written in fairly simple language, this guide sets forth basic information combined with beautiful photographs. It can be a asset to the science section of the classroom as well as serve as a quick reference book or starting point for more research. The author might consider releasing a paper edition for libraries and print book lovers.

Michaels begins with the planet’s history, characteristics, composition, and place in solar system. He next outlines the geographic regions of land and water and gives details about well known examples. The section on fun facts is sure to be a favorite among children; it provides a vast compendium of information in sentence form. For example, each winter approximately one septillion snow crystals drop from the sky or that 75% of the earth’s animals could be extinct within the next three hundred years. Michaels concludes with some ideas on how we can preserve the planet for our descendants.

I have to admit that I learned quite a few things from this book. While I knew that most of the Earth’s surface is water, I was not aware that only 3% of the water on earth is fresh water. Did you know that the largest desert in the world is in Antarctica? Where can you find most of the Earth’s gold? How are mountains, volcanoes and rivers formed? There are lots of surprises for adults as well as the children who pick up this book.

Take a look at this beautiful guide to our planet and share it with your children. Michaels has written a whole series of books, including one on the solar system, endangered species, and dinosaurs. I plan on taking a look at those as well.

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THE GENUINE ARTICLE

Beauty and the Beast

Written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and Marie-Michelle Joy

Illustrated by Walter Crane

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This rendition of the classic fairy tale is based on the original eighteenth century version. No Disney elements are found here. This original version was written and distributed widely in France to protest the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose or refuse a mate. The original version was a full length novel written for adults, which was later shortened.

At the beginning of the tale, the reader meets a wealthy merchant who has six sons and six daughters. They live sumptuously and prosperously. Suddenly, disaster strikes. The merchant loses his home and possessions in a fire, and pirates sack his shipping business. The distraught family retreats to a poor life in a forest cottage, which is their only remaining possession. All his daughters complain with the exception of the youngest named Beauty who is determined to make their meager life a happy one. Then one day she asks her father for a favor. She longs to see one beautiful rose. The merchant sets off to find one and his journey takes him to a mysterious castle. He is left alone but treated lavishly. Suddenly an ugly beast appears. He promises to let the traveler return home if he will return with one of his daughters to live with him in the castle. The merchant reluctantly agrees.

Beauty feels responsible for her father’s plight and volunteers to return with him to the castle of the Beast where they find unexpected surprises and treasures. When it comes time for the merchant to return home, both he and his daughter are distraught. Strange dreams bring about strange occurrences. What will happen to Beauty and the Beast? Remember, I told you that this is not a classic Disney fairytale.

The illustrations are the original nineteenth century drawings by Walter Crane. They are extraordinarily detailed and magnificently colored. The reader will think herself transported to a museum. They add to the flavor of an authentic French period piece. As an adult, I enjoyed this rendition of the classic tale. I believe that tweens and teens will find this “grown-up” rendition of Beauty and the Beast a most appealing one. Available in kindle and paperback versions.

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POIGNANT AND POWERFUL

The Thackery Journal

Written by John Holt

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This well-written book of historical fiction is divided into three parts: the first part sets the stage for the personal tragedy the looming civil war will impose on friends and family; the second part begins in 1864 when the South is on the brink of defeat and engages in plot to buy weapons from the French government, and the third part delineates the intricate plot of Northern generals to carry out the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln using John Wilkes-Booth as their instrument. Holt informs the reader that only three of his characters are genuine, Grant, Lincoln and Booth. The reader will be hard pressed to believe that statement because Holt does such a good job of making all his characters realistic and seamlessly weaves them together with both the historical and the fictional.

At the outset the reader meets Aaron Thackery, an old man who sits before the fire in the remains of his Southern home reading the journal of his deceased son who has been implicated in some sort of plot. Thackery thinks back upon his own arrest and his wife’s death. After the flashbacks, the author shifts to the town of Larkspur in Virginia introducing us to Jacob Thackery and his friend, Miles Drew. When war is declared, Miles, who does not believe in slavery nor the fact that the South can win, flees to join the Union forces. He quarrels with his best friend Jacob, who will join the Confederacy. Their paths will cross again during the war.

In the second part of the book, the scene shifts to 1864. Jacob realizes that the South will lose, but he becomes involved with the plot of the Confederacy to buy weapons from the French government. When a Mexican agent finds out about the plot, he hatches a new plan to steal the gold needed from the Mexican government, which Thackery will be responsible for delivering to the French in Canada. After the weapons destined for the Confederacy are blown up, he must decided what to do with the gold.

The third part of the book is the crux of the plot. Holt creates a character named Jarvis who will enlist Lincoln’s most trusted generals in a plot to wrest power from him and replace him with Grant. The plan goes awry, so Booth is enlisted to carry out the plan. How will Miles and Jacob be involved and how will it affect the rest of their lives and the future of the new restored Union government?

Holt does a magnificent job of transporting the characters into the minds of the reader. His research is carefully done and the descriptions of battle, angst, and raw emotion are outstanding. I had to finish the entire book in one setting, and by the end of the read was totally convinced that the story was plausible.

As a historian, I liked the fact that Holt gave citations to his research to permit further exploration of the topics. The cover is a painting from the Battle of Antietam and the period photographs add another dimension of personality to the work. There is no graphic violence or sexuality so the book is suitable for young adults. This book sheds light on the psychological, historical and moral aspects of the American Civil War much better than any historical text and is highly recommended.

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POETRY MONTH, EARTH DAY, AND EVERYTHING GREEN

Green, An Eclectic Anthology of Poetry & Prose (Silver Birch Press)

Edited by Melanie Villines; contributing editor Joan Jobe Smith.

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The editors have brought together authors from all over world to display their talents in poetry, short stories, novel snippets and interviews. Their subject is anything green: word meanings, nature, environment, seasons, food, money, emotions, and much more. Some of the material comes from well known authors like L. Frank Baum, Kurt Vonnegut, James Joyce and William Blake. Other selections are chosen from contemporary or lesser known writers. In keeping with the theme, the editors chose to dedicate the anthology to Graham Greene. I found the cover art appropriate; it features a four leaf clover which is a plant that not only is a symbol of good luck but one that enriches the soil.

It is difficult to know where to start in this anthology. The reader need not read the book in chronological order. One might want to select a passage depending on one’s mood or the genre one feels like reading at the time. Editors provide a Table of Contents listing the works by author as well as by Section. The contents by Section are organized by themes. For example, selections are devoted to money, family, environment, envy, and new life. These readings might relate to everyday objects like avocados, lifesavers or green corn tamales. Some touch on places like beaches, subways, and Chicago. There are tales of past and present. Emotions run the gamut from hope to despair. The length of entries range from one to several pages. This book can be picked up for a five minute or a fifty minute read. One of my favorites is “What Can I Do” by Ivon Prefontaine. Here are a few lines:

                                                       Change begins in me.

                                                            I am a catalyst

                                                              I look inside:

                                                      Call forth a gentle spirit-

                                                             Give it voice.

The reading level of the passages vary in difficulty. Again, the reader might want to devote extra thought to some of the more esoteric passages. In general, I would say that the book could be enjoyed by anyone age twelve and older. It certainly would be an asset to the libraries of upper middle grade and high school classrooms. The reader might also use this edition as an introduction to further exploration of other works by authors she enjoyed in this anthology.

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OUT OF THIS WORLD

The Alien Mind

Written by Virginia Lori Jennings

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This is a sci-fi story that is family friendly. While the target audience is nine through twelve, the plot and characters are developed enough to be enjoyed by young adult and adult fans of science fiction. There is a nice mix of science, moral lessons, adventure and time travel. I read the black and white paperback version of this book that is also available in a Kindle version with color photographs. No doubt that would make the book even more appealing for middle grade readers.

An alien group known as the Aruk attacked a secret government agency on Earth. They captured and tortured one hundred fifty children. Later on these children were rescued by another race of aliens known as the Aunanet, who taught them the best knowledge of both civilizations. The Aunanet assisted the most gifted to become computer mind experts or healers. These people could travel through time dimensions and had the power to use parts of the brain that humans could only dream about. The Aruk had never given up in their attempt to find these children, and the beginning of the story finds the Aunanet civilization and the children they protected under attack.

Rivi, our protagonist, is the oldest of these children at age fourteen. After the attack she finds her way back to Earth. There she meets an orphan boy named Daniel, who becomes her protege. Her saga will include lessons on how to deal with bullying and teaching lessons of compassion in the process. She will meet the President of the United States, endure further torture by the aliens, and be forced to make life and death decisions in one crisis after another. All the while she is tormented by nightmares from her past, the desire to uncover her Earthly parents, and a fierce loyalty to her adopted parents and alien culture.

Will Riva succeed in ridding herself of her difficult childhood memories, and how will she adjust to whatever world she chooses to live in? This book is highly recommended for lovers of sci-fi, adventure and those who love plots filled with moral dilemmas. Recommended for tweens, teens and adults who like to think what if?

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BOOK BLAST AND GIVEAWAY

MAGELICA’S MAGICAL VOYAGE

Louise Courey Nadeau

BARBARA ANN MOJICA’S REVIEW

At the beginning of the story we meet Magelica who has supposedly been hatched from a sapphire egg. She wants to know where she really came from. Tris, her pet dragon, and she go on a journey through the woods when darkness falls. Magelica calls on her guardian angel to guide them home. A strange creature named Odin retrieves her feather necklace and takes her on a journey in a flying bathtub to an island inhabited by a wizard. Odin teaches her to fly to the Isle of Dreams where she will meet Queen Raya and learn about the lost prince. Magelica realizes that wonderful things happen when you open your heart, use your imagination and trust in love. She no longer worries about where she came from, but now understands that it is more important to know where you are going. Young children will enjoy this book as a read aloud. Older children will find it a challenging independent reader.

About the Book

Magelica's Voyage by Louise Courey NadeauTitle: Magelica’s Voyage | Author: Louise Courey Nadeau | Publication Date: August 24, 2013 | Publisher: Kite Readers | Pages: 48 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 10

Summary: Who ever heard of a girl being hatched from an egg the colour of sapphires? Magelica doesn’t know where she came from or who she really is. But when she’s transported to the Isle of Dreams in a flying bathtub, she launches into an adventure of discovery, and learns that wonderful things can happen when she uses her imagination, believes, opens her heart and trusts in love. Come fly with her and discover for yourself the power of imagination,gratitude,believing in yourself, and love! In this special first voyage, fantasy, adventure, magical illustrations, empowering messages, and a wonderful cast of enchanting characters come together as Magelica takes young girls and the special people in their lives on a fun, inspiring voyage about making your life magical.

* Available in English / French / Spanish *

 

Purchase

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

 

Book Trailer

The Buzz

“Magelica’s Voyage is an inspiring, magical tale of a world that I did not want to leave. The author’s imagination takes off with vivid magical characters transformed into beautiful illustrations that your child will love. At the Isle Of Dreams anything is possible including Wally the wizard, the benevolent queen, Odin and even a Warblegrif. In the Festival Of Cheer the message is clear; just be yourself and let love be your guide. When you open this book you’ll instantly discover that magic is indeed in the air.” ~ 5 Star Review, StevieV, Amazon

“This is a wonderful, enchanting book! The story is so imaginative and the illustrations are beautiful! It is delightful to join Magelica on her adventure to the Isle of Dreams, and it is great to see such a positive, confident heroine. I highly recommend this book!” ~ 5 Star Review, Laurie J., Amazon

“Magelica is easy to love; a child who accepts herself as she is but who questions the very world around her, is someone many children will be able to relate to. Give this wonderful story a try- you won’t be sorry you did.” ~ 5 Star Review, Shelley V., Amazon

“Magelica’s Voyage by Louise Courey Nadeau is a beautifully written enchanting tale filled with alluring adventure. The story is magnificently illustrated, from the winsome depiction of Magelica to the creative Isle of Dreams, the authors gifted imagination is prevalent on every page. I found Magelica’s Voyage to be a charming story with a very special message for all. I highly recommend picking up a copy..” ~ 5 Star Review, Stacie T., Amazon

“I purchased the book in August and since then, my 2 kids request to read it for them every single time. I travel and I have to read it over FaceTime to them as they do not want to miss when their mom is unable….Same Timezone has helped. I recommend it to every kid between the age of 3 until 9 whether it is a girl or boy. The energy when reading it is indescribable. I bought 2 versions (the english and the spanish). Both are well made and I recommend it to every parent that cares about how their children should be raised! Great buy and thank you for the author.” ~ 5 Star Review, Hassan, Amazon

 

About the Author: Louise Courey Nadeau

Louise Courey Nadeau

Louise Courey Nadeau

A marketing and advertising executive, a tireless fundraiser for many charities, a painter, gardener and mother to two daughters and two sons, Louise’s passions keep growing. Sensing the need to do more for young children in our challenging world and inspired by life itself, Louise created MAGELICA, a young girl with fairy blood and her own questions about life. In the first book of Magelica’s Voyage trilogy, Louise takes our winged heroine along with her fun and wacky friends to new worlds of magic and adventure, where the reader discovers the magic of life and the power of love and how faith in the unknown can create confidence and a sense of empowerment . More than a decade in the making and with new stories underway, Louise and MAGELICA intend to spread their magical feathers and create a bond with children and their caregivers around the globe.

Book Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

* Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift cardAmazon 25 gift card

 

 

 

 

Prize: Two winners will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: May 2, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Louise Courey Nadeau and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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