Posts from the ‘middle grades’ Category

LAUGH LINES

Title: 130+ Rabbit Jokes: Animal Jokes and Riddles for Kids

Author: Kids Corner Publishing

One of a series of animal jokes for children on virtually any animal you can think of. The format is simple. Readers find one joke on each page, presented in a question/answer format. There are no illustrations. Most of each page is blank. Some of the jokes have fairly obvious answers. For example, What is a rabbit’s favorite dance? Answer: the bunny hop. Others are more sophisticated. What do you call a rabbit walking backward? Answer: a receding hare line.

This book and the rest of the collection will appeal to children who can’t get enough of jokes. The books are a good choice for children as entertainment at parties. They are a simple read so I would recommend them for beginning readers or reluctant readers who are intimidated by too much text on a page. Children who are animal lovers and enjoy sharing jokes will find this collection right up their alley.

 

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A STORY THAT MUST BE TOLD

Holocaust Survivor
Dan Myers, Author, and Editor
Virginia Weinkratz, Narrator

This is not a book for the feint-hearted. The author relates her personal experience as a young 22-year-old Jewish girl growing up in Poland. She communicates the heartache of suddenly being torn from family and community to live a life of fear and uncertainty. Trapped between the German and Soviet forces, the family fees struggling to remain together. Once captured, the men and women are quickly separated. Regina and her mother are torn from her father and male siblings. They are moved from the ghetto to Auschwitz where Regina loses her mother and befriends Elka. Regina describes in graphic detail the physical, mental and emotional atrocities of prison life. Then she is marched to Majdanek, where she remains close to death until “liberated.” Two-thirds of the Jewish population as well as many whom the Nazis viewed as undesirables would be wiped out during World War II.

This book is recommended for young adult and adult audiences who are prepared to read about one of the darkest events in history.

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ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

Being the New Girl in School

Written by Kathleen Voclain

This book is a wonderful resource for any young lady who, for any reason, is facing a move to a new school. No matter what age, she faces worries about how she will fit into the school’s culture, will she be liked, who will be her friend, and the feeling of loss in leaving old relationships behind. The author explains the importance of developing a positive self-image and strong social skills. In the first chapter, readers are encouraged to build confidence by preparing ahead of time. Students should explore the new school’s mission statement and handbook, study the curriculum and practice portraying positive body image. They can get a good head start by making a good impression on teachers. Suggestions include sitting near the front, volunteering to answer questions and offering help and compliments. Newcomers need to observe students and how they interact with each other before deciding on new friends. By dressing neatly, smiling, and introducing oneself with confidence, new students encourage positive outcomes. Those students who are naturally shy or independent should take their time to find a few friends who have interests similar to their own. Finally, when things do go wrong, the new student must remain positive and proud, appreciate and respect the differences of other peers. Above all, never give in to the temptation to compare the new school to your old one or slack off on your studies. Accentuate the positive and use the opportunity to develop your personality and grow from new experiences.

The book could be used as advice for children or adults who are entering any new stage of life. It is an easy read filled with good reminders to promote courage in facing new situations and learning opportunities. Recommended for ages eight and older.

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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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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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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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