A GUIDING HAND

The Angel Knew Papa And The Dog

Written by Douglas Kaine McKelvey

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A heartwarming tale of love, faith and heartbreak narrated by a charming, sweet girl named Evangelina Elizabeth Blake. Living at the edge of the woods in a small log cabin by the river, she works hard alongside her father to farm the land, borrowing a neighbor’s mules to help them plow. Evangelina has lost her mother; she takes delight in nature and the few books her father has managed to purchase for her to read. One of her favorite stories from the Bible is Noah’s flood; this foreshadows the adventure that will follow.

When Evangelina is six, a huge dog rescues her from a serpent which appears during a thunderstorm. She names the dog, Lewis and Clark because he likes to explore and frequently disappears. Not long after, a flood overtakes the area and Evangelina’s father is swept away while trying to rescue one of the mules. She is terribly frightened as the cabin is flooded. An angel carrying a lantern appears to guide her. The young girl hears Lewis and Clark barking. A woman named Mary rows to her and pulls her into the boat. Taking her downstream, Evangelina is gratified to learn that her father is alive, but seriously injured. Is Evangelina dreaming? What will her future bring?

This book is well written in almost a lyrical style. The reader empathizes with the carefully crafted characters and is swept up in the adventure. I would consider this less than one hundred page book perfect for middle grade readers, but teens and adults will enjoy it as well. Look forward to reading more by this author.

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Selfies In the Wild Blog Tour

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About the Book

Title: The Adventures of Lovable Lobo – Selfies in the Wild

Written and illustrated by C.L. Murphy

Published by Peanut Butter Prose

Date published: August 1, 2016

Recommended ages: 3 to 7

Number of pages: 28

Summary: Lobo and his sidekick raven find a trail camera in their neck of the woods, and it attracts the attention of forest friends. Images captured have never been sillier or more candid. Just as their wild dispositions are exposed, the photo shoot comes to an unexpected end and they’re all left wondering why. The reason may be obvious.

My Review:

Lovable Lobo is one of my favorite animal critters. Having read his previous adventures, I eagerly grasped the opportunity to read an advanced review copy of his newest tale for this blog tour. Lobo and his forest friends find a trail camera in the woods and puzzle about how to operate it. The animal friends don’t know their colors or directions. They freak out when they see the word capture displayed. Young readers will laugh at the wild animals’ decision to “act naturally.” They have an important lesson for readers at the end of the story when they fear the camera is broken.

Targeted for readers in the three to seven year age bracket, this hilarious tale will have children and adults alike laughing over and over. Murphy provides a short glossary for the more difficult vocabulary words, a bonus of real life photographs of animals and an activity kit that can be downloaded to keep the fun going once the book is finished. Don’t miss this one and check out the other adventures of Lovable Lobo.

Take a peek inside…

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About C.L. Murphy

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Cathy (C.L.) has been creating with and for kids for many years, and because of it she’s ever armed with crayons and not afraid to use or share them. She’s faster than a speeding turtle, more powerful than a newborn bunny, and nearly able to leap tall tales in a single bound. She’s in a position to use her unassuming powers in a never-ending battle for good and silliness while traveling to the deepest (sometimes dark) part of her imagination. She’s been a member of SCBWI since 2012. She lives in a wonder-filled forest, amongst the wildlife with her husband and other untamed animals. They have two wildly perfect sons and a scrumptious new granddaughter.

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ANCIENT GREECE IN A NUTSHELL

If You Were Me and Lived in …Ancient Greece

Written by Carole P. Roman

Illustrated by Mateya Arkova

ancientgreece,picThis book is part of a new series which looks at the cultures and customs not of individual countries but about civilizations throughout time. Ancient Greece is the topic of the first release. The author begins by describing the geographical location of Greece and how Greece may have looked in the past contrasting it with the present. Unlike the other series, this book covers a much broader time period, and the author chooses to stage her character as a child living around 350 B.C. in classical Greece. There is no mention of the previous Greek Archaic Period, the rule of the aristocracy or the tyrants which eventually evolved into the establishment of democratic city states. Much of the book discusses everyday life, food, dress, education, family structure, occupations, and religion. Roman ends her discussion with the military conqueror Alexander the Great who established an empire, and whose death would usher in the end of the classical period and the beginning of the Hellenistic Age.

There is a great deal of information simplified and condensed for the elementary school and middle school reader. I would have liked to see more detailed maps showing locations and some actual photographs, though the simple, soft pastel illustrations are lovely and appealing for a younger reader. The glossary and list of gods and goddesses are helpful because readers will need to reference these to keep track of all the information. No doubt this book will open a child’s eyes to the vast legacy of ancient Greece and provide an excellent starting ground for future explorations on the political, social, religious, scientific and educational contributions of ancient Greece.

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EASTER EGGCITEMENT

A Rabbit’s Tale: An Adult Easter Story (Praying Mantis Series Book 1)

Written by Diogenes Ruiz

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An interesting Easter story for teens and adults. Written from a Christian fiction perspective, though not a preachy story with a totally one sided perspective. At the outset the reader gets the impression she is reading a middle grade novel. Juan Arias is a fifth grader growing up in non-religious Catholic family with his father who is a computer programmer, his mother a homemaker, and his younger sister, Angie. Juan has a passion for photography; he is eagerly waiting for a subscription to National Geographic to arrive in the mail. A new family rents the house across the street, but Monty turns out to be a mean-sprinted bully. Their first encounter involves Monty placing a dead squirrel in Juan’s mailbox. Monty terrorizes Juan and threatens his sister if Juan reveals that Monty stole Juan’s photograph to submit as his own.

The scene shifts as Monty moves away and Juan grows to adulthood. Sadly, Juan follows in his father’s footsteps and gives up his dream of photography to marry Leigh, who turns out to be a self-centered selfish brat. But Juan’s sister Angie marries Ray and has two beautiful children who adore Juan. When Ray talks Juan into dressing up as the Easter Bunny for a holiday party, an outlandish set of events is put into play leading to a shakeup of family relationships, embezzlement, and attempted murder. Juan becomes a victim once more; it appears that his life will be ruined. Characters from past and present are intertwined in a melange of emotions and devious plots.

The Easter story is woven into the well-developed plot and interesting characters. As the title indicates, this book is part of the Christian fiction genre, though it relates a sometimes funny, sometimes sad commentary on what life can dish out.

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FOREVER FRIENDS

The Stranger’s Secret: A Tale of Friendship Bog Book 5

Written by Gloria Repp

Illustrated by Michael Swaim

Photographs by Bill Beck

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This chapter book is part of a series, but Book 5 is a first time read for me. I had no difficulty following the tale as a stand alone story. Pibbin is a rather small young frog excited to be going on a work party for the first time. They need to repair Uncle Dip’s Bridge. Before Pibbin can begin the journey he meets up with an unconscious large frog named Riff who is clinging to a branch. With a mighty effort, Pibbin is able to rescue Riff because “Bog Keepers are good at helping strangers.” Riff has a large bump on his head and is carrying a large sack, but he cannot remember anything about the accident. Now Pibbin is torn between his feelings of responsibility to take care of Riff and to be part of the work team repairing the bridge.

Readers meet lots of personified characters: a snake named Miss Green, squirrels, beaver, chipmunks and a clawed enemy named simply Cat. When the residents of Friendship Bog decided to exterminate the enemy, Pibbin and Riff fear they will never solve the mystery of his missing sister. It will turn out that lending a helping hand to friend or foe can be rewarded. Cooperation, moral support and friendship are the major themes tying the inhabitants of Friendship Bog together. Young readers learn the benefits of practicing these themes in everyday situations.

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MYSTERIOUS MELANGE

Nick Spool Galactic Private Eye

Written by Clark Graham

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Contrary to what the title implies, this book is a collection of short stories. Not all of them are about a detective named Nick Spool. There are nine stories with various subjects. Though they all about strange happenings, I would not classify them as strictly science fiction stories.

In the detective story, Nick Spool is called upon to investigate the murder of Zafir Ermen, who is a Gaululite. The setting is a world in the future which have cities in the sky belonging to different planets. The Gaululites are considered an inferior race. Nick’s discovers that his client, Patsy Lawless, is running a slave business trading Gaululites as servants to governors in sky cities. Nick uncovers the plot and is able to give the information about the murder to Detective Stark. Other stories include the descendants of World War II veterans who discover gold and bury it with the intention of returning after the war, a young boy who senses himself a stranger and turns out to be a descendant of a pre-Egyptian race, and another about an accountant who learns about a strange portal and decides to walk through it, discovering he is about to live a life of luxury in the dwarf colony on the other side. He finds out the life is not all that has been promised.

The stories have appeal for those who like unusual characters in quirky settings. This would be a good book to take on vacation. Nothing objectionable in it for the middle school reader. Readers nine and older will find the tales humorous and easy to read. Quality of the stories vary, but are written well for the most part. I would rate the collection between three and four stars.

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HANGING IN THERE

Frogman: The Incredibly True Confessions of a Sixth Grade Superhero

Written by Emily Cosentino

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Humorous middle grade adventure centering on the life of Alex Addison, who leads a fairly normal life until the day he picks up a frog at the beach. Alex’s family consists of his computer nerd professor, dad, his super nervous mom who is an ex nurse, an annoying eighth grade sister, Libby, and a four year old brother, Sam.

A couple of days after picking up the frog, Alex begins to change. Suddenly he is able to leap great distances, develops webbed feet and the ability to stick to any surface, and grows a super long tongue capable of picking up and flinging objects great distances. Upon returning to school in September, his voice croaks when Alex tries to sing in chorus, and he develops a passion for eating insects. That enables Alex to become a school sensation when he challenges the school bully, Dirk to eating the grossest lunch in the cafeteria on Fear Factor Friday. When Sam discovers Alex’s secret, he promises to keep quiet. Alex’s friend Joel is determined to prove that Big Foot is real, but he soon shifts his attention to studying the strange creature who is hanging out by the pond. Of course that is Alex sneaking off to the pond to keep his skin moist during the drought. Alex will have his ups and downs, becoming a hero when he rescues a cat in trouble, momentarily becoming a football star by punting down the field, and rescuing both friend and foe from a fire. Alex is a sixth grade superhero, whether he likes it or not.

This book is just under two hundred pages and is intended for the middle grade audience ages eight through twelve. Boys especially will appreciate the humor in sibling rivalry relationships. There are lots of laughs as well as a discussion of serious peer issues like bullying, coming of age, and problems at school. Recommended for readers in grades three to six who enjoy tales about characters facing their everyday issues and crises.

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