Posts from the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW

Timber View Camp

Written by Jason Deas

Sally and Reggie are fifth-grade friends who are also neighbors. When Sally receives a free “golden ticket” to attend Timber View Camp, she is upset about leaving her home this summer. Her fears are somewhat alleviated when Reggie also wins a ticket.

When the day to leave for camp arrives, they are dismayed to see an ugly purple double-decker bus with a strange driver who speaks in rhyme pick them up. The pair is even more alarmed when they are dropped off in the middle of nowhere with only a four-part riddle to guide them. By pulling together the campers dub themselves the 12 up and use each of their talents to survive and make it to the campground.

Things keep getting weirder as Reggie and Sally, along with their new friends, fear that they are being watched and followed. Tony and Sissy, their counselors, mysteriously disappear as the odd events unfold. The campers cleverly team up with Cynthia, whose family works at the camp, to develop a plan to expose the owners and turn the tables on them.

This mystery contains wonderful characters, clever plot lines, and lots of humor to accompany the mystery. Young detectives will have to use their smarts to solve it.

Highly recommended for readers ages nine and older.

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A BIGGER BUCKET

How Big is Your Bucket?

Written by Todd Weaver

Daddy Lion decides that he will have a contest for his three young cubs. He challenges each to find the biggest bucket for The Autumn Harvest Festival. Ashley, Alex, and Jacob each have a plan. They scurry off to complete their task before dinner. Alex secures the car wash bucket, Ashley decides on the laundry bucket, but Jacob methodically scours the town until he comes upon the mayor’s bucket for tomorrow’s parade, which he borrows to show his father. Daddy Lion fills all the buckets to the top with toys and candy. The children wisely choose to share their treats with the whole town.

This book is written in rhyme that is sometimes not to the point and a bit difficult to follow. I would also suggest a larger font size so that a young reader could follow more easily. Recommended for preschoolers and primary grade readers.

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DRAGON KIN

All My Relatives Are Dragons: Picture Book for Kids About Dragons

Written by Alice Cussler

The picture on the cover is a bit deceptive. It might give the reader the impression that this will be a fictional account of a little dragon. Rather, the author uses an interesting approach to teach children about dragons, reptiles, and lizards. Draco, the narrator, is a young dragon who has many relatives. He proceeds to trace its history by first going back to prehistoric times and the dinosaur epoch. He then moves on the discuss many of the myths centered around dragons including the European and Chinese Dragons. He travels around the world to show readers crocodiles, alligators, iguanas, and chameleons.

Cussler presents identifying characteristics and brief highlights of each and notes the habitat of each. There are photos that illustrate the points that are being discussed. The language is easy to read and understand. I do wish the photos were larger as some of the details are difficult to see.

I would recommend this book for elementary school age children. It is a good way to introduce nonfiction to children who love dragon stories. Teachers might use it as a starting point for a lesson about reptiles. Recommended especially for children ages five through ten.

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TALL TAILS

A 13th Tail

Written by Daniel Kelley

What a charming and clever story for all ages! Uncle Willoughby frequently entertains his twin nephews and niece by telling them his original stories. The humorous interruptions of the clever children are almost as much fun as the stories.

On this day, Uncle Willoughby is relating the story of a farm boy named Jackson who lives on an extraordinary farm filled with common farm animals like horses and sheep as well as exotic animals like hippogriffs, porcupines and monkeys. Jackson loved all the animals and took exceptional care of them. While feeding the horses one day, he counts their tails and notices there are thirteen, one more than the day before. He notices a pony that has never been there. This pony talks and reveals that he has come to the farm in search of “greener pastures.”

Many months pass as the pony named Wilberfortnum enjoys his new life at the farm. But one day he notices that the land is no longer green, but shades of brown. The porcupine tells him that this happens every year when the seasons change. “Greener pastures” does mean that the land stays green; it is a state of mind when one feels happy and well-adjusted. Wilberfortnum has never noticed this. He decides that he will wait and see and is relieved to see the green color return.

Kelley uses lots of alliteration, clever inventive language, and humor. For example, Uncle Willoughby cautions the children never tell a woman that something is her fault, or her anger will be directed back at you. I especially enjoyed how the author hid the number thirteen throughout the book and challenges the reader to find them. (He includes the answers in the final chapter)

I heartily recommend this book for middle-grade readers, young adults, and families who want to enjoy sharing a fun read aloud together.

GIVE A LITTLE, GET A LOT

47 Little Love Boosters for a Happy Marriage

Written by Marco Petkovic

This is an interesting book that presents practical techniques to enhance a couple’s love life. In the modern world filled with non-stop activity, couples often neglect to build and maintain their personal relationship. The author admits that he was close to divorce before realizing a turn around was needed.

Petkovic urges the reader to commit to doing something nice for a spouse or partner for the next ten days and to set a reminder to make sure not to forget. It is important to notice what makes a partner happy and to persist in doing those things while constantly adding new ones.

The author briefly explains five little love rituals that involve simple actions like keeping up with your partner’s life and interests as they evolve, spending meaningful time together and reconnecting by simple gestures like an unexpected hug or saying thank you. Readers need to ask, “What can I do to make my partner happy?” It is in giving love, that we receive greater rewards.

Petkovic urges his readers to download his cheat sheet and to subscribe to his list for additional suggestions. While these reminders and techniques will not work for everyone, the general advice is a good reminder that a relationship ignored will not thrive and that partners need to nurture one if it is to remain strong.

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HE VS. SHE

HE VERSES SHE

The Hockey Wars

Written by Sam Lawrence and Ben Jackson

Millie and Cameron grew up together and shared many mutual interests. Some even thought them twins. In the small town of Dakota playing hockey was a way of life for girls and boys. The girls and boys played on the same team for many years, but Millie has recently decided to form an all-female team. Now the Dragons and the newly formed Lightning team competed fiercely. The teams argued frequently over who would get to practice at the ice at the pond after school. One day, the crisis could no longer be averted. The teams decided on a face-off game. Whoever won that game would gain permanent access to the pond.

For the following week, both teams felt the tension. The author spends a good amount of time describing the personalities of all the members of both teams.  Conflicting emotions erupt on both sides. In fact, many of the boys and girls on either side like Violet and Linkin are clearly attracted to each other. A coming of age and peer relationship plotline is a crucial part of the tale.

Who will win the big game? Will the tension between the former teammates be resolved? This chapter book with black and white pencil drawings is a good choice for a beginning reader as well as middle-grade students. I think many adults will enjoy it as well.

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GET A GRIP

Emotional Intelligence For Kids in 5 Steps

Witten by Freya Gates

The author packs a lot of information in this relatively short book. Gates presents the information and describes how to apply the techniques effectively. In Chapter 1, she explains what low emotional intelligence means and the signs to identify it. Chapter 2 includes a detailed test that can be used to detect low emotional intelligence and points out possible causes and consequences in children who suffer from it.

Once a child has been identified as suffering from low emotional intelligence, there are many ways for parents, teachers, and health professionals to remedy the problem. Gates gives suggestions and then outlines five steps to improve behavior. One of the most important parts of this book follows. The author explains how to use her suggestions in specific situations. This practical application assists caretakers in implementing the program. For those interested in additional research, Gates gives a list of her sources for further exploration. I would highly recommend this book as an introduction to the subject of emotional intelligence.

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