Archive for July, 2018

CINDERELLA GONE WILD

Zombie Books for kids: Princess of the Dead (from Cinderella)

Written by Dina T. Seth

 

Do you like classic fairy tales? Maybe you can’t turn down a good horror story? Not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name of Cinderella. This book is a macabre twist on the fairy tale.

The first scene opens with Cinderella working feverishly tending the home at the edge of the forest. Familiar characters include the wicked stepmother, two ugly stepsisters, fairy godmother and the prince. But in this version the fairy godmother is not the kind-hearted hero, the prince no heroine, and the major players become zombies who are victims of a disease that Cinderella actually initiates. Will Cinderella and the Prince live happily ever after?

This book is cleverly written, though the amount of violence, gore and detail are too probably way too much for elementary school readers. Recommended for middle-school, young adult and adult readers who enjoy fantasy and horror stories.

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GETTING THROUGH FIFTH GRADE

Pi

Written by Lori Ann Stephens

Illustrated by Trevor Yokochi

Pierre Francois is a fifth-grade student who lives in Texas. As you may have guessed from the name, Pierre’s father is French. To his chagrin, Pierre spends his Christmas holiday in France with his grandparents. He tells his readers that he hates fifth grade because the boys are annoying and the girls are mean.

Readers follow Pierre’s troubles in school, his attempt to impress his friends by winning the spelling bee, his first crush on Cynthia, the new girl in school, and his disastrous camping adventure with school buddies. The book has a few simple illustrations. It is a pretty easy read, and I would categorize it as an early chapter book or a good choice for reluctant readers. Especially recommended for readers in grades three through six. Lots of humor and plenty of situations that they will find familiar.

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DANCING TO HER OWN TUNE

Willa the Ballerina

Written by Leela Hope

Willa the Wolf loves dancing ballet, but she feels that her fellow swan ballerinas are so much more talented than she. Cynthia, the lead swan, tells Willa that she looks like a fool and should leave the school. Willa goes off into the woods to have a good cry. She meets up with Tommy the Toad who encourages her to practice and not to worry. Once Willa stops worrying, she becomes a proficient dancer. Willa returns to the dance school before the recital. There will be a surprise in store for Willa and her readers.

This is a cute picture book that teaches preschoolers not to worry what others think, to work hard, and develop self-confidence. While it probably did not need to be written in rhyme, that makes it a good read aloud. Simple but effective illustrations convey the message. Recommended as a bedtime story or read aloud, especially for preschoolers but can be used with children a bit older.

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TIME TRAVEL ON THE THAMES

The Hexed Child (Bertram Bile Time AdventureTravel Series, Book 3

Written by Sarah Weldon

This is not my first time reading a book from the series. I did not find that a real advantage, though fans of time travel adventures might prefer beginning with Book 1. Bertram Bile and his friend, Molly are sitting in Miss Petrenko’s geography class. She is reputed to be the worst geography teacher in the world. Molly develops a plan giving them an excuse to escape class. She is eager to visit Bertram’s aunt, who just happens to be a witch. They hide in the bathroom and put on their gold-colored goggles, their key to arriving at the witch’s old ash tree home.

The witch gives each child a magic cloak. They amble through the woods and discover a child who is crying. The kind-hearted witch promises to help the mother, who has never been able to quiet the child. The storyline is a mixture of fantasy and reality. Weldon explores themes important to her middle school audience and gently guides them by discussing solutions.

The author bases her series on her experiences swimming the rivers of London. She is an environmentalist and STEM teacher, donating a part of her book sales to these interests. Recommended for readers third grade and older. A perfect chapter book for the middle-grade student audience.

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#Happy Birthday America – JUST WRITE ALREADY

Writing Affirmations: A Collection of Positive Messages to Inspire Readers

Written by Rob Bignell

 

The author describes his own writing journey and uses his experience to motivate and inspire aspirational writers. As a child, Bignell was plagued by an illness that kept him inside at recess time. Consequently, the books in the library became his good friends. Bignell used the knowledge he found in them as an inspiration to act out and create new scenarios. By the time he reached fifth grade, Bignell had written a freelance article leading to positions on his high school and college newspapers. Soon he was teaching writing in college and setting up his own editing service. Struck by the number of excuses for failure and the lack of confidence he noticed in his writing students and editorial clients.

Bignell set out to find a simple and manageable system to remedy these problems. As a result, he published this book to encourage success as a writer. He offers one affirmation per week and urges the reader to follow through with it before moving on to the next task the following week. At the beginning of this program, affirmations are broad in scope. Week 1 says, “I am a writer.” Week 2 follows with, “ I am always ready to write.” As readers move deeper into the program, the affirmations get into the craft of writing. They involve character writing, drafting, outlining, and the amount of energy placed in one’s writing. The last week’s affirmation brings the reader full circle, “ To write is to realize one’s destiny.”

This book provides an interesting and effective motivational tool for budding writers that will maximize results without exerting unreasonable demands on the reader. Recommended for young adult and adult readers.

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PERSEVERANCE PREVAILS

Charity’s Big Dreams

Written by La Keya Guy

Illustrated by Bryan Golden and Bryan Aguilar

 

Charity is a sweet, student who works hard and tries to do her best. When Mrs. Jones, her social studies teacher, announces that the top three students in each class will earn a trip to Washington, D.C., Charity is elated. Charity does everything possible to earn one of the spots. But one day, disaster strikes when a power failure causes her to be late for one of her exams. Despite her teacher’s encouragement, Charity is sure that she will not do well. She despairs, but ultimately perseveres and refuses to give up.

This book provides encouragement to children who have problems with self-esteem or lack of self-confidence. The illustrations are attractive and appealing. The book is targeted at a wide range of students, but the thirty-page length probably makes it most appropriate for children in the eight to ten-year-old age range.

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