Posts from the ‘Short Stories’ Category

A NEW BEGINNING

In Memory of Dad

Written by Maranda Russell

Kaley Jergins is a spirited fourth-grader who loves playing basketball. While she enjoys practicing with her teammates, Kaley especially enjoys playing with her father, Kyle. Kyle played basketball in college and received a championship ring after participating in The Final Four matches several times.

One-night Kaley’s placid world is turned upside down when her father suffers a heart attack. After his death, she and her mother withdraw. Kaley gives up basketball because the memories of her father pain her too much. One day her former teammate, Drea begs her to attend a game, which Kaley reluctantly agrees to do after much cajoling. A surprise event propels Kaley from her lethargy and convinces her to move on with her life.

This short story is a good way to discuss the topic of death and dying in families who have experienced or who are about to experience a loss. Teachers might also use the book as a read-aloud for class discussion. The author writes an afterword in which she offers suggestions to young readers for coping with the loss of a family member. Recommended for middle-grade and young adult readers.

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TRIAL AND ERROR

 

Jerry the Squirrel: Volume One (Arestana Series)

Written and Illustrated by Shawn P.B. Robinson

This book is the first in a series that features Jerry, a squirrel who loves to invent things. Jerry uses his imagination to problem solve the issues of everyday life that confront him. One day Jerry decides to end the problem of not having his slippers next to his bed when he wakes up to a cold floor each morning. Jerry spends all day and night designing a pair of slippers that will come to him each morning. When Jerry succeeds in the task, he gets more than he bargained for. His slippers take charge and take him on a wild adventure. All the squirrel neighbors watch in fascination. They are eager to sign up for a pair of slippers just like Jerry’s.

The book contains other adventures. One of these deals with Jerry needing to come up with an idea fast when he fails to garner enough nuts for the winter and another chronicles his adventure with the nut beetles. All of them feature the trials and tribulations of Jerry’s career as an inventor who experiences success and failure.

This book might best be described as a series of short stories rather than a chapter book. Because it does not contain illustrations and the stories are short, it is a good choice for reluctant or beginning readers. It encourages creativity and independent solutions to problem-solving. I would recommend it for ages six through fourteen.

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BOLD AND BRASH

How He Comes Out of the Sun

Written by Carlyle Clark

 

This is a tale focusing on The Nobodies, a team of African-American B-17 flyers who were not supposed to exist. The story opens in the middle of the action, a crew is battling the enemy when a split-decision needs to be made. The language is a bit raw, laced with dialect. Readers need to pay close attention to grasp the meaning.

While I enjoyed the short read and thought the characters well developed for the length of the tale, I would have preferred to see the author embellish the story a bit more. If you enjoy wartime stories, you will be engrossed with this one that has an ending with a twist.

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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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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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B.D. BEFORE THE DIGITAL AGE

Stories of Elders: What the Greatest Generation Knows About Technology That You Don’t

Written by Veronica Kirin

This book is a fascinating study conducted by a trained anthropologist who became an entrepreneur. Kirin traveled across America to interview members of what she calls The Greatest Generation, Americans who were born before 1945. She wanted to discover what it was like to live before the advent of technology from the mouths of those who grew up living without it.

Kirin developed a list of fifteen interview questions which covered basic demographic information as well as the type of childhood, their occupations, and how technology has changed their lives and those who are growing up in a world dominated by technology. Her questions touched on poverty, economic issues, family, religion, safety, and community. Her conclusions discuss the advantages and disadvantages of growing up with or without technology. Kirin provides a list of participants in an index.

I believe that millennials will find this study interesting and enlightening. As a person who grew up between these two groups, I found the information fascinating.

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