Posts from the ‘reluctant reader’ Category

FEAR NOT

Scaredy Bat and the Frozen Vampires: An Illustrated Mystery Chapter Book for Kids 8-12 (Scaredy Bat: A Vampire Detective Series 1)
Written by Marina J. Bowman
Illustrated by Yevheniia Lisavoya

Ellie is a twelve-year-old vampire who loves to solve mysteries. The fact that she is afraid of almost everything fails to deter her. Ellie fears loud noises, spiders, and clowns, among many other things. One thing she does have is a large network of friends who come to her aid. When Ellie attends a vampire wedding, everyone freezes solid. How can she overcome her fears and solve the mystery before it is too late?

The author includes bonuses for budding detective readers. She offers a quiz to test if the reader qualifies to be a detective. Readers receive a guide to analyzing suspects and recording evidence.

Lisavoya draws excellent black and white illustrations to sustain interest levels. The book is not too lengthy, which encourages reluctant readers.
One caveat, I read the Kindle version which contains formatting errors. I would rate the book three stars in the Kindle version, but five stars in the paperback edition.

Recommended for middle-grade readers in the print version.

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THE REWARD WITHIN

The Gold Egg
Written by Ule B. Wise (Dan Wyson)
Illustrated by Jaimee Lee

This is a wonderful book for children of all ages. The author writes in crisp rhymes and the illustrations are colorful and appealing. At first, group of multicultural children is sitting under their favorite tree. An old man carrying a cane comes along. He tells the children to look up high in the tree. They notice the abandoned nest of the Kloonee bird high in the tree. The old man tells them the nest is so high because it contains a gold egg. All the children scoff at this, except for Devan who decides to find out for himself.

Devan finds the task daunting. He falls from the tree but gets up and tries again. His friends make fun of him. When Devan finally gets to the top, will he find a gold egg? What does he learn about himself and his friends?
This book teaches children the importance of courage and persistence. Reaching goals is possible if one believes in himself and persists despite obstacles. While this book might appear to be a picture book, its message is one for children of all ages. Recommended as an inspirational read-aloud for children and adults.

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ART COMES ALIVE!

Daniel the Draw-er

Written by S.J. Henderson

One day, Daniel breaks his pencil while drawing and goes searching for a replacement. He finds a pencil stump in the attic. When he begins drawing, Daniel is astounded when the cat he draws comes to life. Daniel continues to draw objects like a pizza robot and aliens from the planet, Beezo. His artwork awakens. Daniel tells Annie about his treasure. She is angry that he won’t share it with her.

Now Annie ignores Daniel. He is sad and frustrated. Daniel confides in his mother. She gives him some good advice. One day bullies torment Annie on the school playground. How will Daniel react? Will Annie ever forgive Daniel?

This is a fun middle-grade read. It has lots of humor combined with fantasy. Daniel and Annie face common preteen problems like sibling and peer rivalry.  It also discusses how to handle bullying. Recommended especially for boys and girls ages eight through twelve.

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GETTING TO KNOW YOU

Familiar Shadows: A tale from The Federal Witch Series

Written by Taki Drake and T S Paul

This is the first book in an interesting series featuring magic, fantasy, and witches. The narrator is a Russian blue cat named Dascha. At the outset, Dascha has just had an argument with the members of her clowder. She comes from a long line of magical cats, but Dascha just wants to live a normal life. As she walks away, she is swept up by an eagle. Her vision is blurred, her hip is pierced, and she senses imminent death.

Suddenly another larger steppe eagle comes along and snatches Dascha away from her captor. When Dascha awakens, she finds herself in the company of the eagle named Glenfry and his familiar, a witch named Henley. These two live apart from a small village, which they try to protect. Dascha learns to love and revere her protectors, who will entice her to embrace her magical lineage. There will be an adventure, danger, and magic along the perilous journey.

This book of fewer than one hundred pages contains interesting characters and plotlines. I would recommend it for readers ages eight and older.

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ARA ROCKETS TO SUCCESS

Ara the Star Engineer

Written by Komal Singh

Illustrated by Ipek Konak

I loved this picture book which featured a determined young girl named Ara. She is aptly named for a constellation that contains seven stars. Ara is obsessed with big numbers. She introduces her readers to a number with 100 zeros, a googol. Together with her computer robot, DeeDee, Ara sets out to find out how many stars exist. They visit Innovation Plex, where Ara seeks experts to help her in her quest.

She meets Kripa, a problem solver, in the Data Center who tells her to have courage. Big Problems are solved with a plan. Next, she greets Parisa in the Ideas Lab, who creates the algorithms that permit computers to solve big problems. The next stop is the Coding Center where Diane writes code that allows the algorithm to communicate with the computer. When Ara and Dee put the plan into action, they come up with an error. So Ara visits Maria, the Troubleshooter, who installs more computing power with a new processor and memory chip. At last, they achieve success. Ara learns that collaboration and teamwork solve problems.

At the end of the book, readers find a journal record of the steps Ara followed as well as an introduction to some superheroes in computer science. There is also a glossary of technical terms from the story. The author targets this book for ages five through seven, though I would highly recommend it for older boys and girls as well. The design of the book features many bright colors and multicultural female role models. They certainly draw the eye inward but may be a bit too much stimulation for the younger reader. Hope to see many more books in this series.

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WHAT TO DO?

Hermione Granger’s Unofficial Life Lessons and Words of Wisdom: What would Hermione (from the Harry Potter series) Say?

Written by Euphemia Pinkerton Noble

This is an interesting read for fans of the Harry Potter series of all ages. The author presents questions written in a journal format. Noble chooses situations that pop up in our everyday lives and then poses the question of how Hermione would answer.

Hermione Granger is the smartest witch at Hogwarts. She is a hard worker, who places a high value on loyalty, friendship and love. Hermione often chooses the more difficult path because she knows it is the right, if not easy, thing to do. At first, the boys ignore or resist her, but eventually come to know she is the one who holds things together.

Noble urges her readers to first read through the book quickly and make a few notes about the questions they find most relevant to themselves. I particularly enjoyed the section on facing challenges and chasing dreams in which so many middle-grade and teen readers will find much to think about. The last section on believing in yourself probably sums up Hermione’s philosophy on life best.

This book could become an asset for preteens and teens who are struggling to develop their own views. Parents, grandparents, and teachers might find this book a good way to open family discussions.

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#MEET THE AUTHOR

I am starting a new feature on my blog. Rather than simply reading and reviewing family-friendly books for my audience, I will be taking a peek behind the scenes at the writer. After all, we all want to know the mysterious person behind the curtain. So without delay, let me introduce you to the talented Eugenia Chu, who has a brand new release tomorrow, September 3.


About the Author:

Eugenia Chu is an attorney, turned stay-at-home mom, turned writer. She lives on a magical beach in Miami with her husband and son, Brandon, who is the inspiration for her stories. She enjoys reading, writing, traveling, yoga and drinking too much coffee. She has been a presenter at numerous schools, libraries and book festivals.

When Brandon was very little, the author couldn’t find children’s storybooks to read to him which touched upon Chinese culture and which included some Chinese (Mandarin) words to teach and/or reinforce his Chinese vocabulary, so she started writing her own. Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京) is her second “Brandon” story and first children’s chapter book. 

Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京), a brand new chapter book by author, Eugenia Chu, launches on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2019!As a special bonus, the Kindle Ebook version will be FREE on Amazon that day, too!!! Please download this adorable book and if you like it, please leave a review to thank the author and her illustrator, Eliza Hsu Chen, for all their hard work!

In this story, Brandon and his cousins are on a trip to visit their grandparents in Beijing, China! While bonding with family, practicing Chinese, touring historic sites and feasting on local dishes, Brandon thinks he sees a tiny panda. However, every time he gets close, the panda disappears! Is Brandon imagining this small creature, or is it real? Will Brandon find out before he has to fly back home?

Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京) is a multicultural, multigenerational chapter book. This book includes some Mandarin Chinese (Simplified) with Pinyin pronunciation, adding layers for those learning or interested in the Chinese language and culture. Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京) follows Eugenia’s debut picture book, Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子)(a story about a boy and his grandma who bond while making Chinese dumplings, called jiǎo zi (餃子).

For more information about Eugenia or her books:

Website: http://eugeniachu.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/eugeniachu

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/eugeniachuauthor/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/eugeniachu8245/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/chuauthor

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