Archive for July, 2014

PANDAMONIUM

Pandas – Fun Facts and Cool Pictures of These Adorable Creatures

Written by Laura Han

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Who doesn’t love to look at these furry, cute creatures? The author has created an early chapter book with beautiful photographs that will appeal to children in kindergarten and the early elementary grades. Han gives a bit of the history and geography of the species, its current habitat, how it is raised, what it eats, describes its habits, and writes about what we can do to save this endangered animal.

There are only about 1600 of these animals surviving in the Sichaun province of southwestern China. Though the black and white patches on their eyes resemble those of a raccoon, they bear no genetic relationship to that species. Did you know that pandas used to be kept in cages as pets for the ancient Chinese emperors? Pandas can eat as much as forty pounds of bamboo in one day, and they spend more than half the day, up to fourteen hours, eating bamboo plants. An adult panda might weigh as much as three hundred pounds, but a newborn weighs only five ounces. Pandas generally keep to themselves, but they do like play by rolling around on the ground and tumbling.

Recently, their natural habitat has been racked by earthquakes, large-scale construction projects, and deforestation. Conservationists are trying to save them by finding them homes in zoos and protecting their native habitat. The author urges her readers to join support groups.

The photographs and maps in this book are beautiful and the text is clear, concise and simple. It is a nice addition to the nonfiction and science shelves of classrooms and libraries. That is not to imply that parents and children who enjoy looking at these beautiful animals will not want to add it to their personal library.

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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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