Archive for January, 2018

SHARKS MADE SIMPLE

Sharks: Amazing Facts & Pictures for Children, Issue No. 2

Written by Hathai Ross

 

The author has written a simple reference book that will provide young readers with the essential facts on these fascinating sea creatures. Hathai begins with a history of sharks, pointing out to young readers that they existed before the dinosaurs. She includes a few simple photos to illustrate fossil remains. In the next chapter, Ross discusses anatomy and function. Ross provides a quick glimpse of different types of sharks and their special qualities like electrical sensors, and an exceptional sense of vision, smell, and hearing. Before concluding, Ross tries to convince her readers that despite movie depictions, there are reasons not to be afraid of sharks. She delves into their unique characteristics, and the organizations working to protect them.

 

Much of the book is written in the form of question and answer. That enables young readers to follow easily, but it does break up the flow of the narrative. This book is laid out more in the form of a reference book or research tool. I don’t think that will deter readers who are fascinated by these creatures and would like a quick, comprehensive overview. The illustrations and diagrams vary in effectiveness because some are difficult to see. Recommended for animal enthusiasts and children seeking information for a research project.

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GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT

Dreams: A No-Fluff Guide to Dreams Meanings, Dreams Symbols, and Nightmares Hidden Meaning…

Written by Jada Levitt

This book provides an interesting overview and analysis of dreams and how they affect us. Levitt begins her book with an introduction that defines dreams as a way for the subconscious to communicate with the conscious mind that allows one to relive or experience their emotions. Most people will spend about six years of their life dreaming. Most dreams are forgotten within ten minutes of waking up; even those who claim they don’t remember dreaming do so regularly. There are five stages of sleep, and it is only in the fifth stage that we can dream.

Levitt describes the most common types of dreams, which range from daydreaming, falling, fires, being chased, and swimming, among many others. While an exact diagnosis for an individual cannot be made, she describes the types of symbolism within each type and what that symbolism might suggest in a person’s life situation. For example, a dreamer finding herself back in school might be facing unresolved insecurities or facing situations in life now that involve new lessons to be learned.

The author explains what happens in each of the five stages of sleep, and how to best prepare for a good night’s sleep. She talks about why remembering dreams are important and suggest some techniques that will facilitate doing so. By taking stock of our dreams relating to what is happening in our daily lives, one will be better able to cope with daily situations.

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MOVING RIGHT ALONG….

Miss Perfect and Tiny Tail

Written by Rachel Schlessinger

Illustrated by Sigalet Carmely

 

This book is a fairly well-written chapter book that features a ten-year-old named Lily who faces numerous challenges one summer. Lily is the middle child. Her older sister, Miss Perfect, and a younger sister, Tiny Tail are both dearly loved and constant annoyances. A large part of the book focuses on sibling and peer relationships as well as Lily’s conflicts with her mother.

Lily’s mother informs the three sisters that they will be moving from their small village to the big city because their father has found work there. This is the second conflict that Lily, as well as her sisters, must face and resolve. Lily has developed a crush on Tommy. At first, he seems to ignore and make fun of her.

The summer setting provides the backdrop for these three challenges. As time advances, each member of the family must face the issues revealed in the first person narrative told by Lily. Many middle-grade readers will see themselves mirrored in the characters and their conflicts. Because this book consists of short chapters consisting of less than seventy pages, reluctant readers will not be deterred. A few illustrations enhance its appeal. Recommended for middle-grade readers, teachers and parents who wish to explore the challenges faced by the middle child, parent and sibling relationships, and families who are planning a move.

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CAT CAPERS

Wendy and Black (Cat Detective 1): The Mystery House

Written by Amma Lee

First in a series of chapter books featuring a fifteen-year-old girl named Wendy and Black, her cat. Wendy has been endowed with a special gift. Once every hundred years a member of her family develops the ability to converse with cats. Wendy uses this gift to communicate with her cat. Together they have become a talented detective team. When a house down the street suddenly appears to be inhabited, Wendy and Black set out to investigate. Wendy’s mom, Mrs. Michaels, asks her to pick up a welcome package for the new neighbor.

Wendy and Black cannot contain their curiosity. They illegally break into the house drawn in by a mysterious purple light. When the floorboards cave in, and Black detects Mrs. Michaels’ presence in the house, their level of fear rises. Will the detective pair solve the mystery? Is Wendy’s mom safe?

This is a short chapter book that is most appropriate for beginning readers. There are a few editing issues. The book is targeted for nine to twelve-year-old readers but probably is not challenging enough for the older end of that age group. I would recommend it especially for reluctant readers and mystery fans.

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CHECKMATE

An Evening with Grandpa: Adventures in Chess Land

Written by Diana Matlin

This chapter book contains a story that achieves two objectives: it teaches a child how to play chess and presents an engaging fairy tale promoting strong female role models.

Annie is sick in bed with a sore throat. To make matters worse, her family is attending The Nutcracker Ballet and she is stuck home with grandpa. Grandpa sticks his nose in his newspaper. He won’t consider playing one of Annie’ s favorite child games. But once he begins telling her a story about a young girl named Pawnie who is enlisted by the Queen to fight for her kingdom, Annie wants to hear more. Grandpa cleverly reveals how to play chess in the tale about two queens and kings who are battling for control of the kingdom. Grandpa includes all the chess players and carefully details their moves and strategies for winning the battle. The white queen promises that if Pawnie successfully gets to the other side, she will become a princess. Annie is enthralled with the tale and eagerly sets out to learn how to play the game of chess with grandpa.

Matlin keeps the plot moving with clever dialogue and a detailed description of how the chess characters can succeed in winning the game by learning the right chess moves. It is a unique way to introduce children to a challenging game of skill. The chapters are kept short and the print font is large, making it a good choice for beginning and reluctant readers. The strong female role model focus combined with the traditional princess protagonist is a powerful magnet for young girls. Highly recommended for budding chess players and readers in the six to ten age group but a fun read for all.

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#1HEROINE

My Mom is My Hero: (Children’s Book about a Cute Boy and his Superhero Mom)

Written by Michael Gordon

Illustrated by Max Laren

Short rhyming bedtime story or read aloud for toddlers and preschoolers. Oscar views his mommy as a superhero. From morning to night, she addresses every need and concern. Although mommy does not wear a superhero costume, she protects him from danger, cooks him the best food, entertains him, spends time with him, finds his lost treasures, bathes him and reads him a story before bed. Above all, she finds the time to listen to his dreams and believe in him.

The story line is well written; I especially like the play on words with “souperman.” While the illustrations are simple and appropriate for the target audience, I do think that a larger size would have made them stand out. Recommended for ages five and under.

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