Posts from the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

AN UNEASY FEELING

WHERE DO the CHILDREN PLAY?

Written by Tom Evans

This book relates the story of Wesley and Rory, two twin boys who were more different than alike. Wesley is curious and impetuous, while his twin Rory is cautious and unassuming. Set in the 1950s, the tale begins when the boys are five years old and residents of an orphanage. Up to this point, they had spent a good deal of time in and out of foster homes. When Mr. and Mrs. Barnes show up at the orphanage and appear interested in the boys, they are not overly optimistic about a permanent placement.

To their surprise, the Barnes couple and their other adopted daughter introduce the boys to a relatively stable environment, although Mrs. Barnes is a strict disciplinarian who puts up with no-nonsense. The first part of the book speaks of their early years, adjustment to middle-class suburbia, and relationship to their peers.

A dramatic event sets the scene for Part Two. A four-year-old boy is kidnapped and murdered. Wesley is obsessed with this case and the suspected murderer, who is a fifteen-year-old girl. Wesley is haunted by her and feels that he knows her. She is the missing link to finding out his identity and family roots. He becomes a self-appointed detective and partners with a newspaper journalist to solve the mystery.

Evans develops his characters well. The reader identifies and empathizes with them. Read this compelling tale to piece together the clues. Recommended for readers ages twelve and older.

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A COIN IN HAND

The Rolling Quarter

Written by Allon Merhav

Illustrated by Eyal Eilat

 

This book follows the journey of a quarter from the time it is made at the mint. The rolling quarter is a cheerful narrator who tells of his beginning at the mint with George Washington stamped on his head and The Statue of Liberty stamped on his tail. From the mint, he is taken to a vault in a bank where he meets lots of other coins. Then he journeys to a wallet, where he is crowded with other bills and coins. The quarter finds his way to a vegetable store, a cash register, and many other stores and wallets. Eventually, he finds his way to a young girl’s piggy bank where he is deposited as she saves for something special. Soon the day will come when the rolling quarter will move again.

The book is a nice introduction to the trail of the money system for young elementary school children. Readers learn how money is made and what happens to it as it is placed in circulation. They find out about the importance of saving. The illustrations are well-done, and the story is easy to read. Recommended for children in kindergarten through third grade.

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SEEDS AND TREES

STRONG WORDS

SEEDS AND TREES: A Children’s Book About the Power of Words

WRITTEN BY BRANDON WALDON

ILLUSTRATED BY KRISTEN AND KEVIN HOWDESHELL

 

This book features a young prince as the protagonist. He lives in a castle by the sea. Every day he goes out to collect seeds. The prince soon realizes that some of these seeds become dark seeds, while others remain green. As the trees he plants grow, the dark seeds develop thistles and thorns. The green seeds blossom into beautiful shade trees. The reader comes to understand that the green seeds represent good words that are beautiful and true, while the dark seeds represent harmful, cruel words. As the prince becomes older, he notices that the dark trees are overshadowing the others. One day he meets a young girl who always speaks true and kind words. She carries with her the tools to remove the dark trees. She helps him take care of and nourish the green trees while removing the dark trees.

This tale is a beautiful way to teach children the importance of the type of words they use. Harsh words lead to hurt, bullying, and the destruction of good relationships. I would highly recommend this book to parents and teachers of children in elementary and middle school. It provides lots of material for a variety of discussions on behavior and developing good, strong relationships with peers and adults. The illustrations complement the text beautifully.

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FREEDOM AT A PRICE

One Step at a Time

Written by Sara Y. Aharon

Illustrated by Bryn Pennetti

 

Emma loves butterflies. She is elated to find out the new class pet is a beautiful rainbow butterfly.  Even though her teacher has warned the class not to open the lid of the tank, Emma cannot resist. The butterfly finds its way to the top and escapes to freedom.

Emma feels sad and anxious. She confides in her dad, who tells her she must be brave and tell her classmates what happened. His advice is to put one foot in front of another. Emma does just that, stomping, jumping, and twirling her way to school. When she arrives, she explains what happened. How will her teacher and classmates react?

This book teaches elementary school children to be brave and honest. Emma shows empathy toward the feelings of her classmates. She provides a good example for children who are afraid to admit their mistakes. The illustrations are bright and multicultural. Recommended for children ages four through eight.

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AN ACTIVE IMAGINATION

Ronan’s Dinosaur

Written by Nadishka Aloysius

Illustrated by Manoshi de Silva

This chapter book features a five-year-old boy named Ronan who is suddenly moved to join his parents at his Grandmother’s rural home in Sri Lanka. Ronan and his parents lived in the urban area of Colombo.

Ronan is an anxious, lonely boy who does not like change. His parents have moved in temporarily to help his ailing grandmother. Ronan’s parents are kind and caring parents who do their best to assuage his fears. One day while playing in the garden, Ronan finds a lizard named Scoot. Scoot can talk. He explains to Ronan that she is a dinosaur. Ronan is skeptical, but he learns to enjoy exploring with her and making friends with Tryx, her dinosaur friend who lives in the trees.

When Ronan’s parents hear him talking aloud, they think he is talking to himself and become concerned. So, they take him to visit a neighbor next door who has a dog named Spike. Ronan is afraid of the dog, until Scoot talks to the animal. Again, Ronan learns he has nothing to fear.

Ronan’s grandmother has a setback and must visit the hospital. There he confides in his grandmother and reveals his secret. She remembers her own youth spent with Scoot. The time has come to sell the house and move to a nursing home. Ronan is devastated. Will Ronan ever see Scoot again?

This is a wonderful book to share with children who like to be alone or who experience anxieties. It gently explains that change is not necessarily bad and that we grow from personal experiences both real and imaginary. Targeted for children ages seven and older. I would especially recommend it for ages nine through twelve as a portion of the vocabulary is challenging.

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A FRESH START

Dexter’s New Home: A Children’s Picture Story for 3-7 year olds about Moving

Written by D L Madson

Illustrated by Rajiv Kumar

Dexter is dismayed to find that hedgehogs have moved into his home, and they won’t allow him to come back inside. Dexter searches the forest for a new home. The next day, Dexter finds a cute house with a fence around it and decides to buy it. The rabbit still feels sad and lonely until the squirrels tell another rabbit named Ben that someone new has moved into the neighborhood. Ben welcomes Dexter with flowers and invites Ben to visit him for dinner. Meanwhile Ben had convinced his friends, James and Molly to bring gifts to share with Dexter. Dexter learns how his new neighbors share many of his interests and he is now happy and secure in his new home.

This book teaches children about having empathy and that something that might seem scary like moving may turn out to be a good thing. The illustrations are lovely and appropriate for the target audience.

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HUNTER OR HUNTED?

Etty Steele: Vampire Hunter

Written by Grayson Grave

Etty lives in the town of Brightwater, a seaside town that is rumored to be inhabited by witches. Etty lives with her human father and her mother who is a vampire hunter. Every day Etty must endure training sessions in a secret room that is hidden away in the basement of her house. Etty has one friend, a classmate named April Showers. They have not spent much time together lately as Etty has spent the summer at a vampire hunting training camp.

When Etty and April return to school in September, things become awkward. A new boy named Vladimir Dox has all the markings of a vampire, dark glasses, red lips, pale skin, and strange behavior. April befriends Vladimir; Etty is skeptical. Then two people are murdered, and April reveals her grandmother has given her a ring for protection. Etty discovers that April comes from a family of witches who don’t want vampire hunters interfering with their work.

When a schoolmate and Etty’s mom disappear, April and Etty decide to take Vladimir with them to investigate. What will happen to this strange alliance? Is Etty’s mom in danger? Will they solve the murder mystery and discover who is the vampire lurking around the town? What will happen to the friendship between April and Etty?

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