Posts from the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

AUTUMN ANXIETY

The Forest Painter: A Short Story

Written by Diane Mae Robinson

Deep within The Majestic Forest, a bugle call from the top of Peak Mountain has summoned the fairy sprites, the elves, and the wind weavers to perform their autumn responsibilities. But Aura, the Forest Painter, who has been designated to paint the leaves in autumn colors, feels she cannot accomplish the task. Her grandmother was the master painter. Both Aura’s grandmother and parents have already left to paint the heavens. Aura complains that she has not been prepared properly for the task. If she cannot complete her work before the frost arrives, the frost queen will claim the forest forever. Kepa urges her to ask Boreal to help, but Aura believes that Boreal once stole her grandmother’s paintbrush. Will Aura succeed in her race against time to save the trees of the forest? All the plants and animals of the forest are dependent upon her.

This twelve-page story is written with tenderness and empathy. Robinson has deftly woven personification and alliteration with a cadence of language that is charming. Written for a middle-grade audience, it is a sweet and sensitive read that will appeal to a wide range of audiences from beginning reader to adult. Perfect afternoon read to get into the spirit of the changing season.

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A LIFELONG DILEMMA

Florence Nightingale: A Life Inspired

Written by Lynn M. Hamilton

This is an interesting biography that focuses on Nightingale’s personal struggles as well as her pioneering work in nursing. Florence was born into a wealthy English Victorian family. Throughout her life, Florence was torn between what was expected of woman born to a well-to-do nineteenth-century family and her strong ties to the Unitarian Church, which demanded community service to those less fortunate in society. Her family’s wide travels in Europe allowed her to meet powerful thinkers like Victor Hugo and Alexis De Tocqueville. While her family urged her to marry, Florence resisted. By the time she was thirty-two, Florence had asserted her independence by assuming a role as superintendent of a nursing home even though she received no salary. Her service in the Crimean War revealed the serious flaws in hospital care. More soldiers died from their illnesses than in battle. Nightingale demanded that abuses like poor lighting, sanitation, and ventilation be addressed. She urged proper training for nursing students and hospital sanitation, reflecting the germ theory of illness.

I was not aware of Florence’s work in India and the depth of personal struggle she experienced between her convictions and the demands of her family. The fact that she refused to sit on her laurels and accept praise for her accomplishments, but rather be self-critical about her own mistakes and failings impressed me. Her influence on modern healthcare practices cannot be underestimated.

I recommend the book for anyone interested in learning more about the evolution of nursing and modern healthcare or to learn about the life of a remarkable, Victorian woman willing to stand up and be counted. Recommended for ages ten and older.

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HEALTHY HANDOUT

SMART HEALTH: What Today’s Doctors Aren’t Telling You

Written by Dr. Craig C. Koehler

This book is written by a chiropractor, whose personal health struggles began with a bicycle accident as a twelve-year-old child. After hitting his head on the cement, he began to experience nasal problems with sneezing and coughing. In an effort to find the cause, doctors prescribed medications, antibiotics, shots and a tonsillectomy. Five years later, he injured his back and visited a chiropractor where he learned about the connection of the nervous system with the sinuses. Koehler decided on becoming a chiropractor and dedicating himself to help patients deal with pain.

The statistics are scary. In the United States, medical misdiagnosis is the 3rd leading cause of death. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that 80% of the world’s pain-killing drugs are consumed by Americans. Relieving pain becomes more important than finding the cause of that pain. Koehler details the diseases that really are killing people and how consumers are harming themselves with sugar and junk food. By switching off what we put into the body, the natural immune systems can use good nutrition, exercise, meditation, and proper sleep habits to recharge the body. None of this these are easy tasks to accomplish. The doctor urges consumers to join up with a support team to work at establishing a system to turn unhealthy habits into a new pattern that will lead to a healthier body and a longer life.

Recommended as a good reference guide and motivational tool for anyone who desires to establish a healthier lifestyle.

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TROUBLE OR TREASURE?

The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living

Written by Karl Beckstrand

Illustrated by Yaniv Cahoua

This short picture book is an interesting tale about a young boy who is given a choice by an old woman. The reader is introduced to a young Asian boy who likes to make things and always carries tools with him. One day he is walking along a stream near his home when he comes across an old woman sitting on its banks. She appears to be staring at a pile of branches piled against the rocks in the stream. She informs the boy that these objects are both “trouble and treasure.” They are trouble for the fish that cannot swim past them, but she will offer him a treasure if the boy will help her. Immediately the clever boy comes up with an ingenious solution to solve the problem. Then the old woman disappears, but her promise is delivered in an unexpected way.

Beautiful watercolor illustrations enhance the uplifting message and serene mood of the book. Beckstrand includes interesting ideas and activities to enhance the book’s value. My main criticism of the book lies in the layout of the text, which is so small that it is difficult to read. I would recommend the story, especially as a read-aloud for elementary grade children, though the message is certainly pertinent to any age group.

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JUST CRUISING ALONG….

The Family Cruise Companion Guide To Cruising With Kids

Written by Elaine M. Warren

If you have ever thought about or are in the process of planning a family cruise vacation, this guide is just what the doctor ordered. Warren has included just about everything about which you might have questions.

She begins the process by talking about how one decides if a cruise is what you want and lists benefits of cruise travel. Should you bring a baby or toddler? If the answer is yes, how do you decide which cruise. Factors include time of year, length of cruise, budget, and location. Next look at the different cruise lines and what they offer. Profiles of the major cruise ships are included. Once you decide, there is lots more to consider like options for children, on and off board entertainment, and the type of cabin accommodations offered.

Warren does not leave out details like transportation to and from the ship, packing, travel insurance, dining choices, and maintaining health and safety while on board. Wish I had this guide before booking my first cruise; it would have saved me lots of headaches and unnecessary expenses. Recommended for any single or family person considering cruise travel.

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BACK TO THE SOURCE

Egyptian Mythology: A Fascinating Guide to Understanding the Gods, Goddesses, Monsters, and Mortals

Written by Matt Clayton

The author has written a series of books of ancient societal mythologies. In this book, he sets out to explore the Fertile Crescent, and ancient Egypt, in particular. Part One focuses on the myths associated with Isis, Osiris, Seth, and Horus. Clayton narrates in the third person, interspersed with imaginary dialogue between the gods. He moves on to the most popular creation stories. Clayton next weaves together how the gods and humans came to interact with each other.

In Part Two the author zeroes in on the darker sides of Egyptian religion discussing gods who inflicted chaos upon the world, specifically Apep the snake, and Seth the god of war and confusion. Part Three is the section focusing on what we know of the history of Egypt and the mortals who interacted with the gods to change it. Readers learn about Chancellor Imhotep and how he assisted the king in uniting Egypt. Clayton explores Amenhotep IV and the chaos that ensued over Ra and Aten, the sun gods. Then the story evolves to the reign of Ramesses and his struggles against the Hittite enemy. Finally, the reader is brought to the final stages of the Egyptian empire under Cleopatra and Roman rule.

Clayton packs a lot of information into this volume of fewer than one hundred pages. The author has done a good job in constructing an easy to follow narration of thousands of years of myth and history. Perfect choice for adults who would like a taste of the subject as well as for middle-grade students studying Egyptian history.

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ENTERPRISING ENTOMOLOGISTS

Bug Zoo Adventure: An Aspen and Eva Adventure Chapter Book for Kids

Written by Kari Sue Benjamin

An engaging chapter book that teaches children about insects, flowers, 4-H clubs, and good sportsmanship. Seven-year-old Aspen and her five-year-old sister, Eva are getting bored near the end of the summer. They decide that they will capture insects, set up a bug zoo, and charge admission. The chapter book follows their successes and failures. Readers learn about some common insects, the flowers that attract them, and how to collect them.

Aspen is old enough to participate in 4-H. She needs to find a project for the fair so she decides to incorporate her bug zoo project. Readers learn a bit about what 4-H is about and what happens at a county fair. Aspen and Eva expect to earn a lot of money with their museum. Aspen also anticipates winning first prize for her 4-H insect collection. When their plans don’t exactly come to fruition, the girls learn lessons about winning and losing. In the end, there are a few unexpected surprises.

This short chapter book is targeted for ages six through ten but is generally best for the younger part of that age range. Short chapters and lots of dialogue keep the plot interesting and easy to follow. Reluctant readers also will enjoy this fast-paced read of fewer than fifty pages.

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