Posts from the ‘fiction’ Category

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR…

Duck and Friends

Written by Donna McFarland

Illustrated by Kim Sponaugle

Duck owns a farm in Pleasant Valley, complete with cows, pigs, chickens, and alpacas. One day, his friend, Cat calls Duck on his cell phone complaining that his computer is running too slow. Duck asks if he is sure that he wants it to run faster. He installs a new program that gives the computer arms and legs. Suddenly, the computer takes off, causing all manner of havoc in the community. All the animal friends experience quite an adventure before the day is finished.

This beginning chapter book blends modern technology with familiar animals and a clever adventure plot line. Adorable pencil sketches throughout the chapters keep the interest level high. Perfect choice for primary grade students who are just learning to read or reluctant readers.

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GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

The Lemonade Stand ( My Teacher Hilda Book 4)

Written by Tamar Bobokhidze

Illustrated by Salome Equizashvili

 

There are a lot of valuable life lessons packed into this book. In fact, two separate stories run side by side in Ms. Hilda’s classroom. The first story centers around the class desire to purchase a hamster for a class pet. Ms. Hilda points out that they will need money and guides the children when they come up with the idea of raising money by setting up a lemonade stand. During the process, children learn about being polite, trying new foods, taking turns, and teamwork in achieving their objective.

The second story involves their afternoon project of recreating their paintings into physical objects with playdough. When the children discover that there are more colors in the paintings than in their play dough, they must learn about primary and secondary colors and how to create and mix them.

Readers learn life lessons as they follow a day in Ms. Hilda’s classroom. I do wish the text size were larger as beginning readers might find it too small, but I would still highly recommend this series to parents and teachers of primary school age children.

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FAMILY TIES

The Family That Went to War

Written by Gordon Smith

 

The author was inspired to write this story because of genealogical family research. It begins in Cootamundra in New South Wales in 1911 when Australia was just six years old. Charles Power was about to marry Iris. The first world war would break out three years later. This memoir traces the stories of six young Australians who would leave their homeland to fight in a war for Great Britain. Only three of them would return.

The memoir follows the family members who served in Gallipoli and Tripoli. It reflects on the military history of their experiences as well as leave time in France and England. Its language is simple and straightforward filled with the gravity of the situation as well as moments of light humor. When the author starts to reflect on personal feelings, the plot seems to veer off course. Perhaps the author takes too much license in writing about how the brothers perceived the situation. Readers need to be aware that while much of the story has been carefully researched, there is an emotional family attachment. The story ends with Charles and Iris reflecting on the losses the family has suffered as well as the joys of raising their children.

The book provides a unique perspective on World War I. Homeschooling parents might want to explore using it to supplement primary sources. Recommended for readers ages ten and older.

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A FISH OUT OF WATER

Monty the fish goes to the Zoo

Written by Vivienne Alonge

Illustrated by Mikaila Maidment

Seems like there are a plethora of children’s books about visiting the zoo lately. This one features a fish named Monty who decides to take a trip to the zoo, but this particular zoo is no ordinary one. Monty views a bear water skiing on the water, a giraffe wearing cowboy boots, a queen dancing with a python, and a tiger eating strawberries and cream, to name just a few. Youngest readers will enjoy identifying the animals and laugh at their preposterous antics.

This is a picture book but unfortunately, the illustrations do not fill the screen on my kindle. Each animal is given a one-sentence description along with the illustration. The book synopsis says the book is aimed at ages zero through eighteen. It is most appropriate for kindergarten and preschool children.

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HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

Mary’s Song (Dream Horse Adventures Book 1)

Written by Susan Count

Mary is a twelve-year-old handicapped young lady. Her mother died when she was three; no one wants to talk about it. Mary lives with her father and a housekeeper. The story is set in 1952. Her father constantly searches for a possible medical breakthrough to cure his daughter. Mary is strong-willed and determined. Her best friend, Laura, rides and cares for horses at her home. The girls become obsessed with saving a horse named Illusion who needs surgery. They find ways of earning money toward that end.

Mary’s overprotective father frequently gets upset with Mary’s obstinate behavior. Laura and Mary disobey their parents and end up in trouble often, but that means lots of interesting adventures along the way. Will the girls be able to save Illusion? Can Mary’s father find a medical cure to help Laura walk again?

Middle-grade and young adult readers will find the antics of these two friends’ fun and endearing. There is lots of humor and a few surprises in store for readers. Two strong female role models and a tender story of animal affection will appeal to a wide audience. Highly recommended. I look forward to reading the sequel.

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SEARCHING FOR HIS VOICE

Jaw-Jaw, the Donkey

Written by K. K. Korner

Illustrated by Sharon L. Richert

 

Jaw-Jaw lives on a farm with many different animals. He has never seen or heard another donkey. Jaw-Jaw asks the wise scarecrow what his voice sounds like. The scarecrow tells him he must laugh long, lofty and loud to find out.

For the next few days, Jaw-Jaw hears crows, children, and the wind whistling through the barn, but the scarecrow informs Jaw-Jaw that none of these are his voice. Finally, a group of blackbirds lands on Jaw-Jaw prompting the actions necessary for him to speak. Jaw-Jaw is jubilant that he has found his voice.

This book contains large, colorful illustrations and a simple plot intended to teach children something about animal sounds. I would recommend it as a bedtime story or read aloud for preschoolers and kindergarten children.

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NEED A SOLUTION?

6TH GRADE REVENGERS: BOOK 1, CAT CRIMES AND WANNABES

Written by Steven Whibley

Marcus and Jared are two eleven-year-old friends in sixth grade. They would both like to attend spy camp but don’t have the money to attend. Jared is smart and creative; Marcus is a computer genius with the equipment to put his ideas into motion.

Jared comes up with an idea to set up a business with Marcus to raise money by solving people’s problems. After playacting to remove his six-year-old sister’s fears of The Bogeyman, Jared decides his idea might work. He comes up with the name, The Revengers and enlists Marcus to develop the website, advertise and be his partner “in crime.”

The friends take on the task of ridding a neighborhood of an aggressive orange cat that has been terrorizing Oak Street, while at the same time getting rid of Gunner, the ne’er do well, freeloading musician boyfriend of Jared’s older sister, Ronie. A series of comical mishaps follow on both fronts. Things seem to be getting more out of hand.

The adventures include lots of humor and age-appropriate scenarios for preteens and teens. Reminiscent of vintage adventures like The Hardy Boys, the characters also include strong female characters like Janet, the gossip, and Ronie, the somewhat gullible, and follow the crowd pleaser.

I haven’t read the other books in the series, but if the first is any indication, I would certainly recommend the series for readers age eight and older. The characters are likable and the plot lines clever and engaging. Young adults and adults will enjoy them as well.

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