Posts from the ‘travel’ Category

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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TRAPPED INSIDE A GOOD BOOK

The War of the Stories

Written by Galia Koplis

This book is an interesting mixture of genres, science fiction, fairy tale, and time travel. The plot is an unusual one combining many themes that will appeal to a variety of middle grade, teen and adult audiences.

Shirley is the protagonist. Her best friend Orelia is retelling the story to us many years after it happened. On the first day of school, Miss Brown has asked each member of the class to relate an interesting story that they have read during the summer. Shirley is embarrassed because she does not have one. She is given an extra day to find one. When Shirley retreats to the library for her search, the adventure ensues.

Shirley becomes trapped in Storyland. Here the short stories are less important than the large and famous ones. Royalty, commoners, and warriors are engrossed in life and death struggles for survival and dominance. Shirley decides to help a princess find her true love, and persuade a shy story to overcome his diffidence. The tides of battle are constantly changing; Shirley experiences difficulty distinguishing right from wrong and fact from fiction. How will she fare in the battle? Will Shirley escape Storyland, and if she is successful how will her life and those of the characters in Storyland be changed forever?

Young and older readers will be able to look in the mirror and see themselves in the pages of this fantasy that has more elements of realism than appearing on the surface. This tale is fun and pleasant to read, and it contains many layers of meaning embedded deep within its surface. Recommended for anyone age nine and older who enjoys fantasy and is up for a unique read.

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IT’S A HOOT

Owls: A Children’s Book About Owls: Types of Owls, Owl Facts, Owl Life, and Owl Images

Written by William Widman

There are more than 200 species of owls living on every continent except Antarctica. They live in forests, deserts and the tundra. Owls are raptors or birds of prey. They might be as small as six inches or as large as three feet. Owls are territorial and tend to reuse their nest. They have huge eyes and excellent hearing. Their specially designed wings enable them to be silent in flight and their feather colors help them to camouflage themselves. Sharp and powerful talons and claws assist in capturing and holding prey. Many owls have names determined by their environment like barn owls and snowy white owls. Different types of owls emit different calling sounds; the Great Horned Owl makes the familiar, “Hoo, Hoo sound, while the Barred Owl vocalizes a call similar to a monkey.

The author includes photographs of each type of owl, as well as nesting pictures and owls in flight. They are colorful and detailed. He suggests that you carry binoculars and a journal pad while owl watching in the woods. I really enjoyed the links provided within the book that allow the reader to hear and experience the sounds that various owls emit.

Recommend this book for children ages six and older who enjoy reading about animals. Librarians and teachers should consider adding this nonfiction kindle book to their reference collection.

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A COLORFUL FANTASY ADVENTURE

The Black Pearl of Osis (Osis Fantasy Trilogy Book 1)

Written by Ingrid McCarthy

Jonathan Alexander Fenton is visiting his Aunt Josie who has just given birth to a baby girl. He is ambling around her studio and glancing at the posters on the wall when he spies one that he does not recognize. The poster shows a girl skipping rope on a cobblestone street surrounded by a tall tower. As he moves closer, Jonathan is literally drawn into the poster. Immediately he engages in a conversation with the girl. He discovers her name is Magenta, she is the daughter of King Cadium, Jonathan has been taken against his will into a fantasy world. Everyone here bears the name of a color, time is governed by the cycles of sun and moon, and danger looms over the kingdom.

Jonathan soon learns that he is destined to free the kingdom from the evil of the black pearl. A sage old teacher named Master Cobalt trains Jonathan. He is able to turn Magenta’s skipping rope into a deadly weapon that can be used to fight their enemies. Magenta, Jonathan, and her dog Monte face all manner of obstacles on their adventure. They meet threats of torture, deadly traps, and must learn to distinguish between friends and foes. At the end of the long journey, the two friends will grapple with the ultimate test of courage and loyalty.

The author keeps the plot interesting by using clever characters and imposing lots of twists and turns. Middle-grade readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and magic-tinged with dark overtones should find this first book of the trilogy an entertaining read.

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GIVING FROM THE HEART

Gift of Gift: Super Amazing Princess Heroes

Written by Sanjay Nambiar

Illustrated by Sedi Pak

A picture book or early chapter book centering on a trio of princesses who use their super powers to accomplish great things. Kinney, Sammie, and Oceania have just completed building a much-needed school in Uganda. Suddenly Kinney becomes ill; Doctor K’s diagnosis is a hole in her heart. Because the hospital in Uganda is not equipped for the surgery, Kinney along with friends return to the United States. When the girls learn that their friend Gift in Uganda has been diagnosed with the same medical problem, they decide to enlist the help of Betty, their mentor, who is the Fairy Mother Superstar Queen. They return to Uganda resolving to use their super speed, super strength, and flying powers along with the doctors and engineers in Uganda to construct a modern hospital. Gift’s heart surgery is successful, and the princesses’ Fairy Mother has a special gift in store for Gift.

This book is beautifully illustrated with bright,  multicultural photos that will appeal to non-readers. The text is done in large print and is easy to read for the beginning reader. While the story is clearly fictional, the lessons of empathy, selflessness, and friendship will inspire little girls who want to be princesses in their own right.

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