Posts from the ‘multicultural’ Category

TROUBLE OR TREASURE?

The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living

Written by Karl Beckstrand

Illustrated by Yaniv Cahoua

This short picture book is an interesting tale about a young boy who is given a choice by an old woman. The reader is introduced to a young Asian boy who likes to make things and always carries tools with him. One day he is walking along a stream near his home when he comes across an old woman sitting on its banks. She appears to be staring at a pile of branches piled against the rocks in the stream. She informs the boy that these objects are both “trouble and treasure.” They are trouble for the fish that cannot swim past them, but she will offer him a treasure if the boy will help her. Immediately the clever boy comes up with an ingenious solution to solve the problem. Then the old woman disappears, but her promise is delivered in an unexpected way.

Beautiful watercolor illustrations enhance the uplifting message and serene mood of the book. Beckstrand includes interesting ideas and activities to enhance the book’s value. My main criticism of the book lies in the layout of the text, which is so small that it is difficult to read. I would recommend the story, especially as a read-aloud for elementary grade children, though the message is certainly pertinent to any age group.

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BACK TO THE SOURCE

Egyptian Mythology: A Fascinating Guide to Understanding the Gods, Goddesses, Monsters, and Mortals

Written by Matt Clayton

The author has written a series of books of ancient societal mythologies. In this book, he sets out to explore the Fertile Crescent, and ancient Egypt, in particular. Part One focuses on the myths associated with Isis, Osiris, Seth, and Horus. Clayton narrates in the third person, interspersed with imaginary dialogue between the gods. He moves on to the most popular creation stories. Clayton next weaves together how the gods and humans came to interact with each other.

In Part Two the author zeroes in on the darker sides of Egyptian religion discussing gods who inflicted chaos upon the world, specifically Apep the snake, and Seth the god of war and confusion. Part Three is the section focusing on what we know of the history of Egypt and the mortals who interacted with the gods to change it. Readers learn about Chancellor Imhotep and how he assisted the king in uniting Egypt. Clayton explores Amenhotep IV and the chaos that ensued over Ra and Aten, the sun gods. Then the story evolves to the reign of Ramesses and his struggles against the Hittite enemy. Finally, the reader is brought to the final stages of the Egyptian empire under Cleopatra and Roman rule.

Clayton packs a lot of information into this volume of fewer than one hundred pages. The author has done a good job in constructing an easy to follow narration of thousands of years of myth and history. Perfect choice for adults who would like a taste of the subject as well as for middle-grade students studying Egyptian history.

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HALLOWEEN ON HIGH

Halloween Snowman Paul

Written by Yossi Lapid

Illustrated by Joanna Fasen

I was delighted to see a new release in the Snowman Paul series because I have previously enjoyed this author’s funny character and memorable illustrations.

This new book features a tree house on Halloween night. As visitors come upon the site, they encounter a warning sign not to come near the tree house. Who can refuse a dare on Halloween night? As the reader continues his journey three more warnings are posted. Visitors are warned of many types of danger. Trespassers might encounter space aliens, witches or ghosts.

I won’t give away where Paul fits into this picture, but readers will be urged to tell spooky stories and sing scary songs. Trick or treaters will not be disappointed.

This multicultural book is replete with large, soft and expressive watercolor illustrations that are not too scary for the youngest readers. Recommended especially for children in the three to eight year old range. Warning…adults will enjoy the book even more than the kids. Well done!

I was given a copy of this book by the author and voluntarily decided to review with my honest opinions for no compensation.

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MANGO SURPRISE

Don’t Go Mango Picking: A Scary Island Story

Written and Illustrated by D.H. Gibbs

This tale is a beginning chapter book set in the Caribbean. Deanna and her Aunt Sandy are spending part of their summer vacation at their grandmother’s farm in the bush. The girls work in the mornings doing chores like collecting eggs, feeding the pigs and picking peas. While the rest of the day contains free time, there are few modern conveniences like television and radio. Grandma has warned them not to stay out after dark or play with Molly. This young neighbor seems to have a knack for getting into trouble. Of course one day when no one is around, Molly persuades the girls to sneak into Mr. Forhan’s yard to pick the mangoes off his trees. What happens when the girls encounter a Lagahoo? What is a Lagahoo, you ask? Read this short chapter book to find out.

This story is under forty pages and contains some unique black and white illustrations. The setting, simple text and unusual story line combine to offer an interesting adventure story for the beginning or reluctant reader. Recommended especially for children in the six to eight age range.

I received a copy of this book and voluntarily decided to review for no compensation with my honest opinions.

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PARENTAL WAR:STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Cupcakes vs. Brownies: Zimmah Chronicles Book 1

Written by Scott King

In the prologue readers meet ten year old Karim, who is falling through pink candy cotton clouds trapped in a bubble of bubblegum. He is clutching a small glass bottle to his chest. At first glance, that does not sound like much of a predicament for a child, until you read on to the first chapter.

Karim’s parents, Malek and Christina, are arguing again. Karim overhears them discuss the possibility of divorce. The boy impulsively rushes out of the house into the streets of San Francisco with his dog in a thunderstorm. He bumps into an elderly woman named Madame Loope, who invites him into her pawn shop to escape the storm. Karim picks up a glass bottle. Steam begins hissing from the bottle as a man emerges from it once uncorked. This man is a Zimmah, a djinn. Karim asks that he be granted a wish. His first wish is to turn his Labrador into a Snow Lion. After the djinn grants that wish, Karim wishes the world was a happy place.

Karim is transported to a world filled with edible sweets. What astonished the boy is that he meets his father transformed into the king of the Cupcake World. Malek is preparing to do battle with his enemy, the Queen of the Brownies. Karim cannot believe his eyes when he discovers the Captain of the Brownie army is none other than his mother. When Karim pleads with Zimmah his wish is to fix things between his parents and return to the real world, the djinn informs him that this is the way things are and there is no magic to fix it. Will Karim ever find his way back home to San Francisco? Is Zimmah a friend or an enemy? What will happen to Malek and Christina?

This book is a creative way to approach the problem of divorce and how children may cope with it. It combines fantasy with an interesting plot that deals with an issue many children in families must face. Appropriate for children ages eight and older; this book could be useful for parents, teachers and social workers to open up many avenues of discussion.

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A SWIMMING TALE

Children of Lir: (Ireland’s Best Known Stories in a Nutshell Book 1)

Written by Ann Carroll

Illustrated by Derry Dillon

First in a series of books that explores Irish folklore for children. In the first book readers are introduced to the king of Lir who is happy living in the castle with his wife and four children. They rule over their subjects until one day the queen dies. The family is disconsolate. After a time the king invites his wife’s sister to come and live in the castle to help take care of the children. He eventually marries her. Unknown to the king, Aoife is mean and unloving toward the children. She lets out her frustrations by retreating to a distant spot in the castle where she screams. One day she decides to take the children to the lake where she places a curse on them. She condemns them to spend three centuries as swans. They plead with her to leave them with human voices and the ability to sing. Feeling a bit guilty, she accedes to that wish.

The king is furious with his queen. Meanwhile the king is distraught and searches throughout the kingdom for his children. The king discovers them one day and decides to spend the rest of his life living by their side. He uses his own magic to turn his wife into a shrieking crow. The children spend their lives swimming and wandering the seas until one day they meet St. Patrick.

Charming pencil drawings enhance the story. Most children will not be familiar with the plot. This book is an easy read for middle grade students who enjoy folklore and myth.

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TRANSFORMATION FROM WITHIN

Raywyn and the Golden Bow

Written by Angelos Ashes

Young Raywyn and her parents are journeying from London to Australia by sea when they are shipwrecked. Raywyn has washed ashore where she is discovered by beachcombers. When she wakes up in the hospital, she realizes that her parents are dead. Raywyn meets her uncle, Patrick Blake, who will become her guardian. She is whisked away to his home named Black Swan at the southern tip of Australia.

Once there, Raywyn is immersed in a totally different environment. Patrick and his friend Rollo introduce her to archery, philosophy, literature and meditation. Raywyn discovers how to meditate and transform herself from within. The reader participates in her spiritual journey to the netherworld, the City of Light and the Ganges. Raywyn discovers how and when to fight. Her spiritual journey takes the reader on a roller coaster ride immersed in fantasy, science fiction and reality filled with interesting characters and life lessons. Recommended for readers ages eight and older who enjoy these genres.

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