Archive for August, 2015

A CONUNDRUM

NONSENSE AND NO SENSE AND SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN
Written by Cindi Walton

Nonsenseandsense,picI was not disappointed with this poetry collection. Children will delight in the variety of subjects and clever rhyme. Some of these poems address ordinary objects like lunch and rocks. Others address fears like being sick and cowering in a thunderstorm. One of the funniest poems is the very first, “Confusion.” It addresses the many complexities and anomalies of the English language.

I gave up the fight and called it a night
It really didn’t matter if write wasn’t right
All those words are still in my head
I’ve got an idea! I’ll learn German instead!

A few of the poems deal with growing up issues like personal appearance, wanting straight hair instead of curly or “The Joy of Boys.” Some poems illustrate our deepest feelings like the loss of a loved one in “The Legacy, ” or exploring magical memories left to us by a loved one in “Grandma’s Magical Pot.” Children who have never even tried to write down their thoughts in a poem might be encouraged to do so following the simple format of the poem titled simply, “I Like.” I don’t ordinarily read the poetry genre but have to admit I really enjoyed reading these poems. Adults will have just as much reading them as a child being introduced to them for the first time. Recommended for children ages eight and up and for readers of any age who enjoy reflecting on the simple things in life.

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WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Suzie Sparkle and the Dragon Princess

Written by Steve Moran

SuzieSparkle

Princesses, dragons, lizards, time travel, castles and fantasy. What more could a middle grade reader want? This book is targeted for children in grades three to six.

Suzie is sitting in seat 32A feeling bored. Her mother is busy reading, Mom ignores Suzie’s important question, “Why are we flying backwards?” When Suzie gets up to walk to the back of the plane, she notices a group of people dressed in robes and hoods. A young girl asks her if she is bored and would like to play. Suzie says yes, and the adventure begins.

Before she realizes what has happened, Suzie finds herself falling through the sky holding the hand of her new friend, Allaya. Their adventure turns sour when they land short of Aruahua and find themselves on an island inhabited by starved dragons. Allaya apologizes profusely; they are about to die. Suzie uses her ingenuity to trick the dragons in time for rescuers to arrive. Soon Suzie finds out that Allaya is the Princess of Rainbow Island. Allaya and her kingdom believe Suzie to be the lost Dragon Princess. When a series of earthquakes and volcanoes threaten the kingdom, she and Allaya will have to fight for their lives, caught in a death struggle with the forces of nature, the dragons, and the lizards who have arisen again from the sea. Will Suzie be able to escape with her life a second time? Does the kingdom survive? Will Suzie ever get back to her own time and family on twenty-first century earth?

The characters are appealing and interesting, and the plot elements just intricate enough to hold interest and keep the story moving along, although there are a few instances where there might have been a bit less dialogue. A few illustrations would make the read more appealing to third and fourth graders or reluctant readers. This book would make a nice classroom read aloud as the chapters are short and manageable.

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HOPE FOR TOMORROW

Let The Celebrations Begin!

Written by Margaret Wild

Illustrated by Julie Vivas

letthecelebrations, pic

I received this book as a prize in a book promotion. What a pleasant surprise! The author tackles a subject usually considered verboten for young children and turns it into a beautiful lesson of hope rather than sorrow.

Although the publisher targets the book for readers age four and up, I feel that it is most appropriate for children in grades two and up. Children will immediately have questions when they see the characters depicted wearing rags and little or no hair. Miriam is the narrator who tells the reader she lives in Hut 22, Bed 18. The setting is a Holocaust camp for Polish women in Belsen. She is collecting rags and scraps of clothing from the prisoners to make toys for David and Sarah, two children who have never seen a toy. There’s no food in the camp, but Miriam is sure that the allied soldiers will come to liberate them soon. By the time the soldiers arrive, the toys are finally ready and the celebrations begin.

Wild does a remarkable job of telling her story, tempering the horror with Miriam’s spirit of optimism and courage. Children can be introduced to the Holocaust theme without the horror and violence being graphically displayed. Highly recommended for parents and teachers of children age seven and older.

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