Posts from the ‘children’s books’ Category

OUT OF REACH

Sean Wants to Be a Messi

Written by Tanya Preminger

Illustrated by Elettra Cudignotti

Sean is a second grader who is obsessed with soccer, especially one player named Leo Messi. He seems uninterested in finishing his homework or paying attention in school. He is excited to join soccer club to perfect his skill, but upon arrival, he refuses to play. His mother is upset with him. Both parents encourage Sean to overcome his fears of inadequacy and start developing his game skills. One day, a sixth grader bullies him and throws Sean’s soccer ball over the fence. One day a player is injured and an opportunity arises for Sean to assist. I am not sure I approve of Sean’s mother’s response, but Sean learns a valuable lesson about himself and the game.

Recommended as a beginning chapter book for new or reluctant readers. The book has a few colorful illustrations to keep the story flowing. Soccer fans will particularly enjoy reading it.

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PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

Dottie’s Daring Day

Written by Meg Welch Dendler

Dottie is an adorable dog who lives with Mindy, a University of Arkansas student, and her cat Mindy. About a year before, Mindy had seen Dottie’s picture online and had driven all the way to Oklahoma to adopt her. One Saturday, Mindy decides to take Dottie for a walk on the Razorback Greenway Trail. That decision would begin an adventure Dottie would never forget.

When a bike rider inadvertently loosens Dottie’s leash, she decides spontaneously to run away. Dottie rationalizes that she will be home before dark. Dottie meets a raccoon, a hog, and a seeing eye dog, to name a few travelers along the way. She is frightened and scared, but like a rebellious teenager, her curiosity and love of freedom spur her on. Then Dottie finds herself at a football game. Will she ever be reunited with Mindy?

This animal adventure tale is told in first person. The dialogue is amusing and feels genuine. While the story is marketed for ages three and older, the book is really appropriate for a middle grade and young adult audience. Dendler includes a glossary to assist younger readers with some of the more difficult vocabulary. A few photos enhance the appeal.

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PULLING THE PLUG

Hubert in Heaven: A high-tech angel gets his wings

Written by Barbara Roman

Hubert is a hologram in a video game being shot toward the moon. He misses the mark and finds himself in heaven instead. The Grand Master of the Transition works with newly arrived angels, assigning them tasks to achieve before earning their wings. Hubert depends on his computer. He finds himself a failure painting rainbows because he enhances the colors. The Grand Master patiently assigns Hubert a new task, that of choir director, but computer generated music from earth does not cut it in heaven. Hubert is given another job, the very important one of shining up the stars and preparing the Star of Bethlehem for Christmas. This results in the greatest failure of all. Will Hubert ever find his unique talent? Can he learn to fit in with the human inhabitants of heaven?

This book is a quick read. There are a few illustrations to assist younger children in following the tale and its lessons, but the story is more suited to middle grade readers. It serves as a reminder that each person possesses unique talents, if he is willing to work hard to develop them. The author reminds readers of what can be accomplished without computers; sometimes pulling the plug is not a bad idea.

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THERE’S WORK TO BE DONE

The Bee in the Blackberry Bush

Written by C.S. Areson

Illustrated by Don Lee

 

Charming beginning chapter book presenting Christian values of the responsibility to help others even if it means placing the needs of others before oneself. The protagonist is an adorable worker bee who has no name as do all the others in his hive because each has a job to do. This bee is quite dedicated and industrious. One day he learns of nectar in a blackberry patch and almost loses his life to an observant chicken. The bee encounters a sad mother bird who has lost her mate and has no one to watch over her nest while she searches for food. The bee takes on the job of protector, while completing his own worker bee assignments. One day he faces danger while protecting one of the hatchlings. He must make a difficult choice. How far must one go in carrying out his sense of duty?

Soft pastel illustrations enhance the mood and message of the tale. While the story is slow moving in parts, the characters are endearing and realistic; the message sometimes uplifting but also sad. Recommended especially for readers in the seven to ten year- old age range.

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COLOR MY WORLD

Lolli & The Lollipop: Meditation Adventures for Kids

Written by Elena Paige

An interesting book that teaches children how to use meditation to relax. In this first book, Lolli transports her readers to the Land of Color in three separate stories. These stories can be used as bedtime stories or as a teaching guide to meditation for kids. In the first story, Lolli introduces herself; she brings her readers to a crystal cave where they discover a shiny magic gem. Children who are sad, confused or lonely can find solace in the “land of polka dot undies.” Lolli guides her readers back to her own house in the land of color in the final story, which allows children to create in their minds their unique vision of a comfortable home. The illustrations enhance a child’s ability to imagine the setting.

The author targets the audience as ages four through eleven. Some younger children may succeed, but I believe most children in the eight to eleven age range will be more successful with this approach. Parents and teachers could use this book at bedtime or as a group meditation tool.

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FLYING HIGH

Grade School Super Hero, etc. etc.

Written by Justin Johnson

 

What is the real title of this book? It promises to be all things to all readers. I would classify it as an introductory chapter book for beginning readers, mostly in the seven to nine age group. The fact that it consists of just twenty pages will turn off most middle grade readers. The plot centers on little Johnny Williams or JW. One day he accidentally discovers that he has the power to jump high over a baseman. His teachers and schoolmates encourage him to do it again. The next time as he tries to jump, Johnny winds up on the roof. A few days later when an asteroid is hurling toward earth, JW decides he must push his powers to the limit and attempt to fly up into outer space in an effort to divert its path and save the planet from disaster. Will Johnny be successful? How does it feel to have superpowers?

The author offers free copies of his other short stories as an added incentive to read this book. Children who enjoy superhero or adventure stories will enjoy this story.

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DEFLATEGATE

Jug Valley Mysteries, HANDS UP!

Written by Anne Digby

Amy and Tim are students at Jug Valley. Together with their friends and fellow students, Ben, Ludo, and Mini, they have formed a club called Hands and Spouts. They meet regularly to solve mystery cases. One day at school, Ben accidentally kicks a football over the fence into the rector’s garden. It belongs to Charlie, a lower class man, who becomes terribly distraught. The five friends make a promise to retrieve the precious football as soon as the school day ends.

What appears to be a simple task turns thorny, when the members of the club discover the football has vanished into thin air. Howard, the rector’s son, promises to help, but the trail runs cold. These young detectives are mystified as to why a grungy, old football is so important, but when it becomes apparent that football is gone, they intensify their efforts to stop at nothing to get Charlie’s football back into his hands. Why is this football so valuable and why are so many people trying to gain possession of it? There are enough twists and turns to entice middle grade readers to keep turning pages. When the mystery is finally solved, all who have been touched by it learn valuable lessons about themselves and each other.

My only criticism is that the story begins slowly. I had not read any of the other books in the series and therefore was unfamiliar with the characters. After the first couple of chapters, the story evolved and grew more interesting. I like the fact that there is enough challenging vocabulary to stretch the minds of young readers. American readers will need to acclimate to British phrases. Recommended especially for readers in the eight to twelve age bracket.

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