Posts from the ‘fiction’ Category

TRAPPED INSIDE A GOOD BOOK

The War of the Stories

Written by Galia Koplis

This book is an interesting mixture of genres, science fiction, fairy tale, and time travel. The plot is an unusual one combining many themes that will appeal to a variety of middle grade, teen and adult audiences.

Shirley is the protagonist. Her best friend Orelia is retelling the story to us many years after it happened. On the first day of school, Miss Brown has asked each member of the class to relate an interesting story that they have read during the summer. Shirley is embarrassed because she does not have one. She is given an extra day to find one. When Shirley retreats to the library for her search, the adventure ensues.

Shirley becomes trapped in Storyland. Here the short stories are less important than the large and famous ones. Royalty, commoners, and warriors are engrossed in life and death struggles for survival and dominance. Shirley decides to help a princess find her true love, and persuade a shy story to overcome his diffidence. The tides of battle are constantly changing; Shirley experiences difficulty distinguishing right from wrong and fact from fiction. How will she fare in the battle? Will Shirley escape Storyland, and if she is successful how will her life and those of the characters in Storyland be changed forever?

Young and older readers will be able to look in the mirror and see themselves in the pages of this fantasy that has more elements of realism than appearing on the surface. This tale is fun and pleasant to read, and it contains many layers of meaning embedded deep within its surface. Recommended for anyone age nine and older who enjoys fantasy and is up for a unique read.

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A COLORFUL FANTASY ADVENTURE

The Black Pearl of Osis (Osis Fantasy Trilogy Book 1)

Written by Ingrid McCarthy

Jonathan Alexander Fenton is visiting his Aunt Josie who has just given birth to a baby girl. He is ambling around her studio and glancing at the posters on the wall when he spies one that he does not recognize. The poster shows a girl skipping rope on a cobblestone street surrounded by a tall tower. As he moves closer, Jonathan is literally drawn into the poster. Immediately he engages in a conversation with the girl. He discovers her name is Magenta, she is the daughter of King Cadium, Jonathan has been taken against his will into a fantasy world. Everyone here bears the name of a color, time is governed by the cycles of sun and moon, and danger looms over the kingdom.

Jonathan soon learns that he is destined to free the kingdom from the evil of the black pearl. A sage old teacher named Master Cobalt trains Jonathan. He is able to turn Magenta’s skipping rope into a deadly weapon that can be used to fight their enemies. Magenta, Jonathan, and her dog Monte face all manner of obstacles on their adventure. They meet threats of torture, deadly traps, and must learn to distinguish between friends and foes. At the end of the long journey, the two friends will grapple with the ultimate test of courage and loyalty.

The author keeps the plot interesting by using clever characters and imposing lots of twists and turns. Middle-grade readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and magic-tinged with dark overtones should find this first book of the trilogy an entertaining read.

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GIVING FROM THE HEART

Gift of Gift: Super Amazing Princess Heroes

Written by Sanjay Nambiar

Illustrated by Sedi Pak

A picture book or early chapter book centering on a trio of princesses who use their super powers to accomplish great things. Kinney, Sammie, and Oceania have just completed building a much-needed school in Uganda. Suddenly Kinney becomes ill; Doctor K’s diagnosis is a hole in her heart. Because the hospital in Uganda is not equipped for the surgery, Kinney along with friends return to the United States. When the girls learn that their friend Gift in Uganda has been diagnosed with the same medical problem, they decide to enlist the help of Betty, their mentor, who is the Fairy Mother Superstar Queen. They return to Uganda resolving to use their super speed, super strength, and flying powers along with the doctors and engineers in Uganda to construct a modern hospital. Gift’s heart surgery is successful, and the princesses’ Fairy Mother has a special gift in store for Gift.

This book is beautifully illustrated with bright,  multicultural photos that will appeal to non-readers. The text is done in large print and is easy to read for the beginning reader. While the story is clearly fictional, the lessons of empathy, selflessness, and friendship will inspire little girls who want to be princesses in their own right.

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GREEK MYTHS DEMYSTIFIED

GREEK GODS: Myths, Legends and Ancient History 3rd edition

Written by Roy Jackson

This book of fewer than 100 pages is one of the easiest to follow that I have read on the subject. As a history major, I spent lots of time incorporating related studies in religion, literature, and culture. Most writers approach the subject of Greek gods in a genealogical fashion. Jackson’s approach is to classify them into groups according to the roles they performed. While he logically begins with the primordial deities followed by creation myths and the Titans, he rapidly moves on to the more familiar names of the Olympian Pantheon and some of the well-known myths. Homer’s gods of the underworld familiar to readers of the Odyssey are discussed as well as the sea gods like Poseidon so integral to a nation of seafaring inhabitants. Many religions were tied to the agricultural gods, Demeter, and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Jackson discusses Aesculapius, the god of medicine, as well as winged and sea creatures like the Sphinx, Minotaur, and Chimera.

This book is perfect for children in the middle grades who are intrigued with the folklore but do not want or need unnecessary details. It gives a solid foundation for readers who will later be better prepared to graduate to reading the classics. Recommended for readers ages eight and older.

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REVENGE IS SWEET

Jesper Jinx and the Sneezing Season: The Jesper Jinx Series Book 2

Written and Illustrated by Marko Kitti

Jesper Jinx is an eleven-year-old British boy who lives in a seaside village called Puffington Hill. The name jinx is attached to him because he has a knack for experiencing bad luck or inflicting it on others. At the outset, readers meet Jesper trying to win over Chloe, (the girl he has a crush on), by appearing at just the right moment with the sandwich for which she has no money. Fate intervenes when a seagull swoops in to steal it, knocking him down and embarrassing Jesper.

The following weekend Jesper is lured with a prize of 50 pounds to accompany his family to get a photo of a rare purple buzzard. The journey involves being outdoors in allergy season. Of course, Jesper secretly spits out his medicine and disaster ensues just as he thinks he has the winning photo in hand. A squirrel couple named Ronald and Ramona achieve their revenge for Jesper’s kite ruining their home and injuring them. When Jesper and his friend Oliver challenge his teenage sister to a balancing contest, what appears to be a victory rapidly switches to disaster and embarrassment for Jesper.

Kitti cleverly intertwines plot elements and characters to create a cohesive story. The comic pictures add a whimsical touch to the humorous dialogue. Middle-grade students will enjoy the preposterous circumstances and antics of sibling rivalry. Fans of this book will enjoy all the books in this series.

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LOOKING BEYOND GROUNDHOG DAY

Margot gets an unexpected visit Nature in Quebec, Pictures of Astonishing Wildlife Book 1

Written and photographed by Lieve Snellings

http://smarturl.it/e7uowx

A charming picture book that combines a heartwarming tale of friendship between a groundhog named Margot and two sisters, and amazing facts that feature the wildlife of Quebec. Lowieske and Marie are two sisters native to Belgium who vacation in Quebec. They share their feelings and enjoy adventures together. Margot keeps her own journal. She shares information about her distant relatives, the squirrels. Readers become aware of the many similarities among humans and the groundhog families.

I found the tale of Eufrazie, the squirrel hairdresser, particularly amusing. Margot enlightens us with photos of the hairdos Eufrazie creates for all the animals who are cheering for the Canadian women in the World Hockey Game. I won’t reveal the winner, but as the sisters get ready to depart for Belgium, they are already looking forward to more adventures with Margot and her animal friends next year.

This beautiful book can be used as an introduction to nature for younger children. There is quite a bit of interesting information about the wildlife of Quebec. As such, the book is a good beginning reader that will sustain interest due to the nice blend of fiction and nonfiction. Children can easily empathize with Margot and her wildlife friends. I would particularly recommend it for children in the six to nine age bracket.

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OUTSMARTED AND OUTFOXED

My Fox Ate My Homework

Written by David Blaze

Jonah (Joe) Johnson is an eleven- year- old whose life has just been turned upside down. His mother lost her job in Orlando so they have moved to his deceased grandmother’s old house in rural Alabama. On the first day in school, Joe is confronted by a bully who demands that Joe write his homework assignment.

Things go from bad to worse when the tax collector appears and informs them that the property taxes are overdue and the county would be foreclosing. Now they will need to move into his Uncle Mike’s house. When Joe goes outside he discovers a fox in the hen house, not any old fox but a talking fox! Joe and Fox become fast friends, but not before Fox causes all sorts of mayhem as Joe desperately tries to think of ways to help his mother, face the bully and maintain his friend relationship with Fox.

This fantasy tale is written well with lots of authentic dialogue and humor. Middle- grade students will find lots to love. There are cute cartoon- like drawings of the characters interspersed with the text. Blaze touches on issues important to students in this age group. The tale is an easy read that is under one hundred pages which makes it appealing to reluctant readers. Highly recommended for eight to twelve- year- olds, and adults who are willing to listen to a talking fox.

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