PULLING THE PLUG

Hubert in Heaven: A high-tech angel gets his wings

Written by Barbara Roman

Hubert is a hologram in a video game being shot toward the moon. He misses the mark and finds himself in heaven instead. The Grand Master of the Transition works with newly arrived angels, assigning them tasks to achieve before earning their wings. Hubert depends on his computer. He finds himself a failure painting rainbows because he enhances the colors. The Grand Master patiently assigns Hubert a new task, that of choir director, but computer generated music from earth does not cut it in heaven. Hubert is given another job, the very important one of shining up the stars and preparing the Star of Bethlehem for Christmas. This results in the greatest failure of all. Will Hubert ever find his unique talent? Can he learn to fit in with the human inhabitants of heaven?

This book is a quick read. There are a few illustrations to assist younger children in following the tale and its lessons, but the story is more suited to middle grade readers. It serves as a reminder that each person possesses unique talents, if he is willing to work hard to develop them. The author reminds readers of what can be accomplished without computers; sometimes pulling the plug is not a bad idea.

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THERE’S WORK TO BE DONE

The Bee in the Blackberry Bush

Written by C.S. Areson

Illustrated by Don Lee

 

Charming beginning chapter book presenting Christian values of the responsibility to help others even if it means placing the needs of others before oneself. The protagonist is an adorable worker bee who has no name as do all the others in his hive because each has a job to do. This bee is quite dedicated and industrious. One day he learns of nectar in a blackberry patch and almost loses his life to an observant chicken. The bee encounters a sad mother bird who has lost her mate and has no one to watch over her nest while she searches for food. The bee takes on the job of protector, while completing his own worker bee assignments. One day he faces danger while protecting one of the hatchlings. He must make a difficult choice. How far must one go in carrying out his sense of duty?

Soft pastel illustrations enhance the mood and message of the tale. While the story is slow moving in parts, the characters are endearing and realistic; the message sometimes uplifting but also sad. Recommended especially for readers in the seven to ten year- old age range.

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COLOR MY WORLD

Lolli & The Lollipop: Meditation Adventures for Kids

Written by Elena Paige

An interesting book that teaches children how to use meditation to relax. In this first book, Lolli transports her readers to the Land of Color in three separate stories. These stories can be used as bedtime stories or as a teaching guide to meditation for kids. In the first story, Lolli introduces herself; she brings her readers to a crystal cave where they discover a shiny magic gem. Children who are sad, confused or lonely can find solace in the “land of polka dot undies.” Lolli guides her readers back to her own house in the land of color in the final story, which allows children to create in their minds their unique vision of a comfortable home. The illustrations enhance a child’s ability to imagine the setting.

The author targets the audience as ages four through eleven. Some younger children may succeed, but I believe most children in the eight to eleven age range will be more successful with this approach. Parents and teachers could use this book at bedtime or as a group meditation tool.

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FLYING HIGH

Grade School Super Hero, etc. etc.

Written by Justin Johnson

 

What is the real title of this book? It promises to be all things to all readers. I would classify it as an introductory chapter book for beginning readers, mostly in the seven to nine age group. The fact that it consists of just twenty pages will turn off most middle grade readers. The plot centers on little Johnny Williams or JW. One day he accidentally discovers that he has the power to jump high over a baseman. His teachers and schoolmates encourage him to do it again. The next time as he tries to jump, Johnny winds up on the roof. A few days later when an asteroid is hurling toward earth, JW decides he must push his powers to the limit and attempt to fly up into outer space in an effort to divert its path and save the planet from disaster. Will Johnny be successful? How does it feel to have superpowers?

The author offers free copies of his other short stories as an added incentive to read this book. Children who enjoy superhero or adventure stories will enjoy this story.

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DEFLATEGATE

Jug Valley Mysteries, HANDS UP!

Written by Anne Digby

Amy and Tim are students at Jug Valley. Together with their friends and fellow students, Ben, Ludo, and Mini, they have formed a club called Hands and Spouts. They meet regularly to solve mystery cases. One day at school, Ben accidentally kicks a football over the fence into the rector’s garden. It belongs to Charlie, a lower class man, who becomes terribly distraught. The five friends make a promise to retrieve the precious football as soon as the school day ends.

What appears to be a simple task turns thorny, when the members of the club discover the football has vanished into thin air. Howard, the rector’s son, promises to help, but the trail runs cold. These young detectives are mystified as to why a grungy, old football is so important, but when it becomes apparent that football is gone, they intensify their efforts to stop at nothing to get Charlie’s football back into his hands. Why is this football so valuable and why are so many people trying to gain possession of it? There are enough twists and turns to entice middle grade readers to keep turning pages. When the mystery is finally solved, all who have been touched by it learn valuable lessons about themselves and each other.

My only criticism is that the story begins slowly. I had not read any of the other books in the series and therefore was unfamiliar with the characters. After the first couple of chapters, the story evolved and grew more interesting. I like the fact that there is enough challenging vocabulary to stretch the minds of young readers. American readers will need to acclimate to British phrases. Recommended especially for readers in the eight to twelve age bracket.

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STARTING OVER…

Buzzy and Thomas Move Into The President’s House

Written by Vicki Tashman

Illustrated by Fatima Stamato

Buzzy is a Briad dog living on a plantation farm in Monticello with her owner, Thomas Jefferson. Buzzy enjoys spending her days sitting at the feet of her master while he writes letters, romping in the vegetable garden, and playing tug of war with Thomas. One day, Thomas informs Buzzy that he has been elected president and that they will be moving to Washington, D.C. Buzzy is sad, afraid and confused. She does not want to leave her friends Caractacus, the horse, Bull, the farm dog, and Dickie, the pet mockingbird. When moving day arrives, she places her sleeping pillow, her dish, and her rope in the sleeping crate herself. After arriving at her new home, Buzzy is happy to discover that she likes her new surroundings and surprised to see Dickie will be staying as well.

This beginning chapter book is based on historical fact. It is delightfully illustrated. Targeted for children in the four to eight age range, I believe it most appropriate for primary grade children who are beginning to read. The story is well-written and is perfect for children whose families are planning a move to assuage many of their fears about leaving friends and familiar circumstances behind.

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COVERUP

The True Story of the Greatest US Naval Disaster: USS Indianapolis American History

Written by Patrick Spencer

This book is a fictional reenactment of the true story of what happened to the USS Indianapolis in July, 1945, and the trial of its captain, Charles McVay. The cruiser has just completed a mission that was even secret to her captain and crew and was on her way back to base in the Philippines. On a foggy night, she is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine under the command of Hashimoto. In a matter of minutes, the American ship sank below the black waters taking 300 of her crew with her. Some eight or nine hundred men, many burned and injured, were floating in the shark infested seas. It would be five days until they were spotted by air, and by that time less than half remained.

The most important part of this story is why was the ship was never reported missing, and how could the captain who has acted so valiantly to keep his men alive be charged with disobedience and negligence in the loss of his ship. This trial had a serious impact on the captain’s career and later life. What is even more astonishing is that it was not until a sixth grader named Hunter Scott decided to research the McVay trial that the true story became known. What was the mission of the USS Indianapolis and why was its disappearance never reported? Spencer’s reenactment of the tragedy allows the reader to experience the full range of emotions associated with this tragedy.

Recommended for readers age ten and older, particularly those interested in American history and politics.

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