MUSIC AND MUSINGS

Hands (a short story)

Written by Joe Bunting

This is an interesting short story. Bunting manages to do a fairly good job of developing the plot and characters in just fifteen pages. As the story opens, Jim is an aging musician who plays for senior citizens in a nursing home. The somber mood is set. Jim has lost his true love, several years ago. His son is grown and living away from home. Jim’s memories and music are the only connections that keep him alive.

The setting switches to a restaurant where Jim has dinner with his best friend, his son, and fiancee. There is a brief discussion about politics that in some ways disrupts the main plot. Nevertheless, the author succeeds in writing a deep, thought-provoking piece filled with metaphors and interesting life scenarios.

Recommended for young adult and adult audiences.

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THE MANY ASPECTS OF LOVE

Mom, What is Love: The Various Aspects of Love as Perceived by Children

Written by Lili Benkel-Bergman

Illustrated by Nurit Tsarfati

This book is part of a series of books that attempt to tackle a series of emotions that young children find difficult to comprehend. In this volume, the author tries to explain the many kinds of love that one experiences throughout life. The young boy protagonist knows that he loves his mother because she is his mom. He is confused about his feelings for his younger brother, his friends, and grandparents. He reasons that if his grandparents have a love that is old, why can’t they trade an old love for a new one. What happens to love when a parent divorces? Why do some people love animals more than people? Why do we love some things and hate others?

The book jumps from one scenario to another very quickly. Parents or teachers will need to guide children in understanding the author’s point of view. I think the author’s objectives are sound, but perhaps the book is more appropriate for children a little older who are prepared to discuss these issues in greater depth with an adult. Recommended especially as a read-aloud for elementary and middle school readers.

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SHH….DON’T TELL

Maya Knows a Secret

Written by Daniel Georges

One day Maya asks her dad, “What is a secret?” He explains that a secret occurs when someone else tells you something that nobody else knows. Maya wonders then how does one know it is a secret. Dad explains that they will tell you not to tell anyone. Maya is dying to know a secret, but no one seems to want to tell her one. Finally, she finds one when a storekeeper reveals his secret, but Maya is frustrated when she accidentally reveals the secret to a friend.

The illustrations in this book are adorable and the message is a “spot on” way to explain the concept of a secret to young children. Highly recommended for primary school aged readers.

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ROCKET RUCKUS

Sascha Martin’s Rocket Ship

Written by John Arthur Nichol

Illustrated by Manuela Pentangelo

 

Sascha Martin is a second-grade genius. One day he brings a rocket ship to class and places it on a table with a sign that says, “Do not touch.” Well, you can guess what happens when one of the students pushes the button. It launches into space creating all manner of havoc in the school. The rocket tears holes in the walls, the roof, and damages the athletic fields. It carries a few teachers as well as Sascha into the atmosphere to the horror of the those watching from the ground. Will they successfully return to earth?

This book is part of a series about the exploits of Sascha. It is written in rhyme, which sometimes appeared a bit off, though these rhymes could be peculiar to Australia. Illustrations are delightfully clever and sharp. My rating was lowered in part because the book contains a few errors in punctuation and grammar, but many middle-grade students who enjoy science fiction, adventure, and humor will find it an easy and enjoyable read.

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AUSTRALIAN JAUNT

Austin the Australian
Written by Christopher Boeckman and Ethan Freeman

Austin is a schoolboy with a vivid imagination and a yen for travel. On this particular day, Austin is imagining that he is transported to Australia for the day. He takes his readers on many journeys including riding on a dirt bike, surfing, deep sea diving, and hiking as he traverses the continent. Austin meets a native friend named Alinga and explores with her. They discover indigenous creatures like koalas, kangaroos, sugar gliders and emus.

This book is richly illustrated with simple, bright images that invoke lots of details. The whole story is written in rhyme that works for the most part. Targeted for children in grades one through six, I feel it is particularly appropriate for grades two through four. It provides an introduction to life in Australia.

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CRUISING AROUND THE BIG APPLE

Hey Kids, Let’s Visit New York City

Written by Teresa Mills

Mills has written a travel guide that performs a dual purpose. Families who are planning a vacation or move to The Big Apple are provided a comprehensive introduction to the history, culture, and entertainment highlights that will appeal to young visitors and this just under one hundred page book can also serve as a reference for a classroom report on New York City.

Iconic architecture like the Empire State building, the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Flatiron Building are featured. Historical landmarks like The Statue of Liberty and Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum are explored and explained. The book features recent additions to the NYC landscape like the 911 Memorial and Museum. Who can forget the tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller City? Mills talks about Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock. She takes us on a walk through Central Park and Times Square and reminisces about the history of Broadway and some of its famous productions. The City is a big place and after a day of shopping along Canal Street, one will eventually need to jump on the New York subway and visit Grand Central Station. Visitors to New York City will want to take a tour or eat in one of the many ethnic neighborhoods like Little Italy or Chinatown. Perhaps a trip over the Brooklyn Bridge might entice visitors to try one of the famous Coney Island hot dogs.

Mills has it all covered, the culture, the entertainment, and the history wrapped up in an easy to read guide for middle-grade, young adult and adult members of the family. Highly recommended for any prospective visitor to the Big Apple.

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To find out more about The State of Liberty and Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum, check out my Little Miss HISTORY book series at http://www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

BAD BOY

The Worst Book Ever

Written by Beth Bacon

Illustrated by Jason Grube and Coriander Hale

This book desperately wants to be a bad boy. His goal is to become a banned book in the library. He tries everything to win the librarian’s disapproval. Some of his tactics include using gross words, misspelled words, and made-up words. The book enlists readers to assist him by being loud and doing everything possible to annoy the librarian like flapping arms, wiggling and jumping up and down in their seats. To his dismay, the book makes its way into storytime.

This book is filled with much humor, graphics, and simple illustrations. There are vivid colors, lots of variation in print size, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. Bacon playfully encourages her readers to become accomplices in the book’s quest for notoriety.

Bacon targets the book for a kindergarten through grade five audience. Beginning, intermediate and reluctant readers can join in the fun.

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