Archive for July, 2017

PUTTING YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET

Gator Eggs: Hard Work Pays Off

Written and illustrated by Sally Huss

 

Just in time for Easter. Gloria and Gary have a profitable farming business. They collect, sell and recycle gator eggs from the Everglades. The author cleverly uses alliteration with the letter g in clever rhymes to lay out her story. As they begin their day, Gloria wakes Gary. She serves the workers their grub, grits with greasy gravy. The workers work in teams to deceive the gators to give up their eggs. Meanwhile, Gloria and her assistant are collecting money from their customers. Gary deals with customers who return defective hatched gator eggs and releases them back into the swamp, recycling the eggs and keeping their gator supply plentiful. He remarks that it is a farmer’s truth that “whatever you send out returns to you in greater amount.”

Wonderful rhymes combining humor and good advice to create an amusing story for the four to eight age group. Illustrations are beautiful and on point. Sure to become one of your favorite Sally Huss books.

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SLOW BURN

Sparks: A Fantasy Short Story

Written by T. Daniel Sheppeard

 

Interesting and quirky short story about Sebastian, a young boy who is an apprentice magician. Sebastian is a gifted student, but he suffers from a lack of concentration. His tutor Maltheus endeavors to teach him how to light fire. Sebastian repeats the incantation but nothing happens. Maltheus sends him back to his dorm to study Dallben’s Meditations and Ruell’s Liturgy. When they meet a few days later, Matheus uses a different strategy to teach Sebastian. Sebastian becomes too successful with the Flame Hand trick and it leads to new problems. By the end of the tale, Sebastian realizes that the true goal of wizardry is not to master others but to master oneself.

This book is a really short story, less than twenty pages. Fans of magic, fantasy and humor will probably enjoy it. Appropriate for middle school, young adult and adult audiences.

 

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RUBY RUNS AMOK

Ruby’s Escape

Written by Richard Parise

Interesting short chapter book centered on a pet white rat who seizes the opportunity of an open cage door to escape and see the world. After Heather leaves for school one day, Ruby, her pet rat, discovers the cage door ajar. Now Ruby has never been outside, but she is a determined, talented, and resourceful rat.

After deciding to make her move, Ruby avails herself of the cat’s food and gnaws a hole through the screen door to escape into the back yard. There she encounters Crafty, a fellow rat, and Digger, a gopher. Ruby almost drowns in a swimming pool, gets trapped in a dumpster, and meets a group of mice living in the garage. When Heather arrives home and discovers that Ruby is missing, she and her cousins search far and wide. Does Ruby want to return to her cage? Will her hiding place be discovered?

While this book is short, it is fun and humorous. Ruby recites some clever poetry and can turn a clever phrase. Beginning readers will love the quirky plot and clever animals. Recommended especially for readers in the six to nine age range.

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UNLIKELY ALLIES

Dragon Lightning: Dragon Dreamer Book 2

Written and illustrated by J.S. Burke

If you read Book One in this series, you probably already love the complex communities of dragons, octopi and squid that you have encountered. These beautifully described creatures introduce their readers to unique habitats in a fantasy world explained in real scientific terms. Readers become immersed in adventures, while learning about real scientific phenomena like volcanoes, lightning and glaciers.

Book Two introduces us to Drakor who is experiencing the red lightning from a volcanic eruption. He lands on a thin piece of ice. Arak, Taron and Dorali are traveling up north on a wooden skiff. They come upon the injured Drakor and rescue the ice dragon. He is mystified by these golden dragons as well as the octopi traveling with them. Each species will teach and learn from each other. The dragon communities are aware that their communities may face extinction. Their octopi friends under the sea fear underwater destruction.

Readers learn about the “might makes right” society of the ice dragons and the democratic, healing ways of the golden dragons. The peaceful octopi must use force to defend themselves against the squid. Principles of science are interwoven with fantasy and philosophy.

Smooth flowing prose accompanied by simple but elegant illustrations mark this tale as a winner for fans of science, fantasy and adventure. Widespread appeal for pre- teens, teens and adult audiences. What adventures await the dragons in Book Three?

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PARENTAL WAR:STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Cupcakes vs. Brownies: Zimmah Chronicles Book 1

Written by Scott King

In the prologue readers meet ten year old Karim, who is falling through pink candy cotton clouds trapped in a bubble of bubblegum. He is clutching a small glass bottle to his chest. At first glance, that does not sound like much of a predicament for a child, until you read on to the first chapter.

Karim’s parents, Malek and Christina, are arguing again. Karim overhears them discuss the possibility of divorce. The boy impulsively rushes out of the house into the streets of San Francisco with his dog in a thunderstorm. He bumps into an elderly woman named Madame Loope, who invites him into her pawn shop to escape the storm. Karim picks up a glass bottle. Steam begins hissing from the bottle as a man emerges from it once uncorked. This man is a Zimmah, a djinn. Karim asks that he be granted a wish. His first wish is to turn his Labrador into a Snow Lion. After the djinn grants that wish, Karim wishes the world was a happy place.

Karim is transported to a world filled with edible sweets. What astonished the boy is that he meets his father transformed into the king of the Cupcake World. Malek is preparing to do battle with his enemy, the Queen of the Brownies. Karim cannot believe his eyes when he discovers the Captain of the Brownie army is none other than his mother. When Karim pleads with Zimmah his wish is to fix things between his parents and return to the real world, the djinn informs him that this is the way things are and there is no magic to fix it. Will Karim ever find his way back home to San Francisco? Is Zimmah a friend or an enemy? What will happen to Malek and Christina?

This book is a creative way to approach the problem of divorce and how children may cope with it. It combines fantasy with an interesting plot that deals with an issue many children in families must face. Appropriate for children ages eight and older; this book could be useful for parents, teachers and social workers to open up many avenues of discussion.

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A SWIMMING TALE

Children of Lir: (Ireland’s Best Known Stories in a Nutshell Book 1)

Written by Ann Carroll

Illustrated by Derry Dillon

First in a series of books that explores Irish folklore for children. In the first book readers are introduced to the king of Lir who is happy living in the castle with his wife and four children. They rule over their subjects until one day the queen dies. The family is disconsolate. After a time the king invites his wife’s sister to come and live in the castle to help take care of the children. He eventually marries her. Unknown to the king, Aoife is mean and unloving toward the children. She lets out her frustrations by retreating to a distant spot in the castle where she screams. One day she decides to take the children to the lake where she places a curse on them. She condemns them to spend three centuries as swans. They plead with her to leave them with human voices and the ability to sing. Feeling a bit guilty, she accedes to that wish.

The king is furious with his queen. Meanwhile the king is distraught and searches throughout the kingdom for his children. The king discovers them one day and decides to spend the rest of his life living by their side. He uses his own magic to turn his wife into a shrieking crow. The children spend their lives swimming and wandering the seas until one day they meet St. Patrick.

Charming pencil drawings enhance the story. Most children will not be familiar with the plot. This book is an easy read for middle grade students who enjoy folklore and myth.

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