Posts from the ‘reluctant reader’ Category

LESSONS FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

THE PARROT: Short lessons and fables for children: Fable Collection Volume #2

Written and Illustrated by Christy Astremsky

This book contains a collection of five animal fables that teach children lessons about themselves and others. In the first story, the parrot mouths words he has been taught over and over, but the words have little worth. When the parrot escapes from his owners, he can do nothing more than repeat those inane words, he finds that others think little of him. The second story features a zebra who gets lost and finds himself among others unlike himself. He discovers that it is okay to be different. The sparrow and the pigeon teach children what true friendship entails, while the tiger and jackal story teaches to beware of letting one’s guard down. The last story features a butterfly who has a habit of taking from others without ever giving something in return.

The rhyming stories are short and have a few illustrations so the collection might appeal to a beginning reader. Parents and teachers could use the fables on issues that they would like to open with children or students for discussion or intervention. I would especially recommend the book for ages seven through ten though older children who enjoy animal stories will find them appealing.

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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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FOUR FRIENDS SIT FOR A SPELL #HappyEaster #EarthDay

Cassie’s Coven: The Case of the six-legged frog (The Cassie Coven Series Book 1)

Written by Helen Allan

The first book in this middle-grade mystery series features four Australian girls. Cassie and Lolly share a love of horses and attend school together. One day Cassie buys an old book and discovers it is a magic book of spells. Shortly after Cassie finds a sickly fox kit and Lolly discovers a six-legged frog in a nearby creek. The book talks about a coven of four witches, yellow, black, white and green. Lolly and Cassie invite Charlotte and a new girl at school, Pia to join their group. Pia’s great-grandmother offers an old cottage on her property as a clubhouse. Soon the girls are using it to solve the mystery of why nearby animals and cattle are becoming sick and dying. Lolly and Cassie fall ill, and they show symptoms of poisoning.

The four girls decide that Mr. Larkin, a neighbor, seems too eager to scare them off his property and they vow to investigate why. They use the clubhouse to get close and are shocked to discover that the book of spells can help them to solve the mystery. This is the first book of the series that combines fun adventures of four ten-year-old friends, some magic, and issues related to the environment set in Australia. Recommended for readers ages ten and older.

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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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CLEVER KATZ

THE KATZ PAJAMAS: THE MISS KITTY MYSTERY

Written by Jack Lugar

Katz is the name of a clever, Maine Coon cat who is a private investigator. Katz is sitting in his office when Kitty Cat, a famous nightclub performer strolls into his office. Kitty wants to hire him to find out who has been stealing personal possessions from her dressing room. Katz jumps at the chance and he is invited to her club to investigate the mystery.

Katz meets Bogey, Kitty’s dog, Rufus, the bouncer, Cali the state manager, Thom, the stagehand, and Mr. Bigly, Kitty’s guard. He carefully observes and looks for clues as the night progresses. Before long, Katz has the solution to the mystery. He calls together the cast of characters and explains how he solved the case. Of course, he is saddened that there is no longer a reason for Kitty to pay attention to him because Katz has developed quite a crush on Kitty.

This is a cute chapter book of fewer than one hundred pages. The characters are charming and the dialogue clever and humorous. There are no illustrations. While the book is targeted for ages five through ten, I believe it better suited for ages seven through twelve. It is a fast-paced fun read and I would read other books in the series.

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SLOTHS 101

Sloths! Two-Toed and Three-Toed Sloths

Written by Leanne Annett

Sloths! Sloth Book On Two-Toed Sloths & Three-Toed Sloths For Children: Fun Animal Picture Book for Kids with Interesting Facts & Wildlife Photos (God's Amazing Creation Series 3) by [Annett, Leanne]

 

This book discusses the two family groups of sloths which are further broken down into six species. Annett presents information about what they eat, where they live, their relatives, the dangers they face, how they move, and daily living habits. There are lots of color photographs that display sloths in all sorts of positions and situations.

Annett introduces the book by explaining that she feels all the creatures in her book series are part of God’s amazing plan. She urges her young readers to marvel at nature’s beauty. The rest of the book is a nonfiction narrative.

The Fun Sloth Facts is a summary of the most important facts contained in the book. It is a good starting point for those who wish to do a report or additional research on sloths. A glossary is helpful for students who may not be familiar with some of the more scientific terms.

I would recommend the book to readers of all ages who are interested in these curious, friendly creatures. Children of all ages will enjoy looking at the photos and learning about them.

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THREE STARS FOR ADULTS, FIVE FOR KIDS

My Giant Farts

Written by Neil Roy McFarlane

 

This book might be considered a fractured fairy tale with humor in the vein of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Personally, I am not a fan of this kind of humor, but I do know how popular it is with middle grade students.

The plot involves Tom, a boy who is playing down by the old factory and comes across a pile of rubbish. He spies a shiny metal object sticking out. Tom discovers a lamp like Aladdin’s lamp, so he rubs it. Instead of a genie, a giant pops out. Tom thinks he can make wishes. He asks for a time machine and a flying car but the giant informs Tom that he cannot grant wishes.

During the day, Tom meets a few of his friends. Sally Patterson shows him her new dog who fetches, Horace Chomsky demonstrates how his parrot talks and Becky Wilkinson shows him her flea that does circus tricks. Tom is dismayed that his giant has no unique qualities. But when Tom crosses paths with Basher Bates and his gang, the giant’s response is an unexpected relief.

This book is targeted for ages five and older. I believe eight to twelve-year-old readers will particularly find it to their liking.

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