Posts from the ‘coming of age’ Category

A NEW BEGINNING

In Memory of Dad

Written by Maranda Russell

Kaley Jergins is a spirited fourth-grader who loves playing basketball. While she enjoys practicing with her teammates, Kaley especially enjoys playing with her father, Kyle. Kyle played basketball in college and received a championship ring after participating in The Final Four matches several times.

One-night Kaley’s placid world is turned upside down when her father suffers a heart attack. After his death, she and her mother withdraw. Kaley gives up basketball because the memories of her father pain her too much. One day her former teammate, Drea begs her to attend a game, which Kaley reluctantly agrees to do after much cajoling. A surprise event propels Kaley from her lethargy and convinces her to move on with her life.

This short story is a good way to discuss the topic of death and dying in families who have experienced or who are about to experience a loss. Teachers might also use the book as a read-aloud for class discussion. The author writes an afterword in which she offers suggestions to young readers for coping with the loss of a family member. Recommended for middle-grade and young adult readers.

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LOVE GROWS

Una Bo: The Magic Tree of Love

Written by Dr. Rebecca Verghese Paul

Illustrated by Ada Konewki

Podero is just a six-year-old boy when he meets Filgard, a wizard, who is passing through the town of Darae. Little Podero has been thinking about the way things were before the war. Podero wishes that he could have something sweet and that his parents would allow him to have a puppy. Filgard asks what he would do with the sweets and Podero says he would share them with his brothers. The wizard rewards Podero by causing a huge tree to grow in the center of town. This tree has the power to grant wishes, but only to those who are pure of heart and do not ask for more than they need.

Pretty soon the villagers gather round and try to rob the tree of its gifts, but they soon learn they will get nothing if they are greedy. Eventually, all learn to partake of the tree with good intentions and moderation. Podero and his best friend, Miyana develop a friendship and trusting relationship with the tree. They name it Una Bo, the tree of love. The tree helps the two friends to achieve their dreams of becoming a baker and a carpenter. Their life if happy until war threatens the town once more. Will the tree be able to save the villagers of Darae?

This chapter book tells a heartwarming story filled with lessons about bullying, generosity, greed, and coming of age. The characters are interesting and relatable. A few color illustrations enhance the tale. That adds to the appeal for beginning and reluctant readers. Highly recommended for middle-grade readers.

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SERVICE ORIENTED

Louis Joseph’s OOO-RAH

Written by Jennie E. Nicossio

Illustrated by Dorothy Ransil

Louis-Joseph is an adorable bear cub who has an insatiable curiosity and a desire to serve in the marines just like his dad. He has a best friend named Dusty who is a cat with a warble eye. Louis is kind and generous, he never bullies or makes fun of his friend. When Louis overhears one of his mother’s navy friends suggest that Louis practice for being a marine by digging a foxhole in the yard and living in it for a week., Louis and Dusty decide to take it one step farther and build a foxhole in the forest. Their parents are in a frenzy. All the military forces are called out to search for them. Dusty and Louis learn a valuable lesson to place their schooling first and always tell their parents where they are going to be.

This is a cute and easy to read beginning chapter book that is especially appropriate for ages six through eight, but younger children will also enjoy the story that contains a few beautiful illustrations accompanying the text.

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A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE INCIDENTS

The Frights of Fiji: (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Series Book 1

Written by Sunayna Prasad

This is the first in a series of fantasy adventures for middle-grade readers. Alyssa is the twelve-year-old protagonist who lost her parents in an accident five years prior. Although her parents had named her Uncle Alex as her guardian, she is now living with her Uncle Bruce and his daughter, Hailey.

Bruce is a stern taskmaster; Alyssa lives a life of unending rules and drudgery. When magic becomes a part of her life, along with some strange-looking wizards and creatures, she believes there is the hope of escape from her plight. But then she learns that an evil wizard intends to capture her and remove Bruce from the picture.

Alyssa has been whisked away to Fiji where her situation goes from bad to worse. She is enslaved with several other children and forced to do the evil wizard’s bidding. Will Alyssa find a way to escape back to the United States and find refuge with her godfather?

There are many fantastical characters and a series of rather far-fetched incidents. Even though this book is a magical fantasy, some of the plot connections don’t come off as genuine.

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Gone, but not forgotten

The Yellow Suitcase

Written by Meera Sriram

Illustrated by Meera Sethi

Asha arrives at her grandmother’s house in India from California for her yearly visit, clutching her yellow suitcase. Each year Asha packs her suitcase with gifts for her grandmother and returns with little treasures that her grandmother has created for her. But this year the house is filled with relatives mourning her grandmother’s death. Asha struggles through her grief and becomes inconsolable until it is time to leave. She finds a wonderful gift that her grandmother has made for Asha just before she died.

This multicultural book is a colorful introduction to Indian culture and customs as well as a well-written book to help children understand the death of a close relative and the grieving process. Sethi’s hand-drawn illustrations are vivid and expressive. Perhaps the text could have been a bit larger, but the design of the book is clear and easy to read. Recommended for ages eight and older.

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BILLY AND BOB’S BLUNDERS

Lost in Lithuania and other funny stories

Written by Alex Goodwin

 

This is my first time reading a book in this series. Goodwin is a thirteen-year-old author with a wonderful imagination and a creative mind. Bob and Billy are two obese friends who decide that they must get in shape. They abruptly decide to enter a curling contest, even though they have no knowledge of the game. The friends discover a note that they have been fired from their jobs in San Francisco, so they hurry to board a plant to get back. Alas! Bob and Billy board the wrong plane and wind up in Lithuania. Now broke, they answer an ad for a job in a bakery for which they have no background and cannot speak the language. When the disgruntled patrons attack them, Bob and Billy flee for their lives and stumble across an abandoned castle where they become tour guides. The two tell a lot of lies, but they become quite adept at their profession. Determined to return home, at last, they are foiled when all their money falls through a hole in their baggage. So, they write to their uncle and secure employment, only to find they will be making aglets for shoelaces on an assembly line. And so, the stories go on… Will Billy and Bob ever make it back home to their jobs at the nuclear plant in Death Valley?

Goodwin writes crisp, catchy dialogue that is as hilarious as it is preposterous. He manages to weave a link between the short stories to create a cohesive plot. The tales are clean, good fun. Readers ages ten and older won’t stop laughing till the last line.

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I’M SPECIAL

Born to Be Different!: For all the special kids in the world!

Written by John Rigoli

Illustrated by Holly Withers

This is a cute story about a boy named Ollie who experiences ridicule because he is different. Ollie thinks his eyes, clothes, skin, and clothes are different from everybody else. He decides he wants to be normal. But when he speaks with his grandfather, Ollie learns that it is our unique features that make us special. If everyone looked the same, no one would be able to distinguish one person from another. Ollie learns to appreciate himself and celebrate his differences.

The subtitle of this book might confuse some readers at first. One might be led to believe that the book is about children with disabilities or special talents. This book has simple illustrations which make it especially appropriate for younger children. Recommended for preschool and elementary school children as a discussion book about self-esteem and acceptance.

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