Posts from the ‘young adult’ Category

AUTUMN ANXIETY

The Forest Painter: A Short Story

Written by Diane Mae Robinson

Deep within The Majestic Forest, a bugle call from the top of Peak Mountain has summoned the fairy sprites, the elves, and the wind weavers to perform their autumn responsibilities. But Aura, the Forest Painter, who has been designated to paint the leaves in autumn colors, feels she cannot accomplish the task. Her grandmother was the master painter. Both Aura’s grandmother and parents have already left to paint the heavens. Aura complains that she has not been prepared properly for the task. If she cannot complete her work before the frost arrives, the frost queen will claim the forest forever. Kepa urges her to ask Boreal to help, but Aura believes that Boreal once stole her grandmother’s paintbrush. Will Aura succeed in her race against time to save the trees of the forest? All the plants and animals of the forest are dependent upon her.

This twelve-page story is written with tenderness and empathy. Robinson has deftly woven personification and alliteration with a cadence of language that is charming. Written for a middle-grade audience, it is a sweet and sensitive read that will appeal to a wide range of audiences from beginning reader to adult. Perfect afternoon read to get into the spirit of the changing season.

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A LIFELONG DILEMMA

Florence Nightingale: A Life Inspired

Written by Lynn M. Hamilton

This is an interesting biography that focuses on Nightingale’s personal struggles as well as her pioneering work in nursing. Florence was born into a wealthy English Victorian family. Throughout her life, Florence was torn between what was expected of woman born to a well-to-do nineteenth-century family and her strong ties to the Unitarian Church, which demanded community service to those less fortunate in society. Her family’s wide travels in Europe allowed her to meet powerful thinkers like Victor Hugo and Alexis De Tocqueville. While her family urged her to marry, Florence resisted. By the time she was thirty-two, Florence had asserted her independence by assuming a role as superintendent of a nursing home even though she received no salary. Her service in the Crimean War revealed the serious flaws in hospital care. More soldiers died from their illnesses than in battle. Nightingale demanded that abuses like poor lighting, sanitation, and ventilation be addressed. She urged proper training for nursing students and hospital sanitation, reflecting the germ theory of illness.

I was not aware of Florence’s work in India and the depth of personal struggle she experienced between her convictions and the demands of her family. The fact that she refused to sit on her laurels and accept praise for her accomplishments, but rather be self-critical about her own mistakes and failings impressed me. Her influence on modern healthcare practices cannot be underestimated.

I recommend the book for anyone interested in learning more about the evolution of nursing and modern healthcare or to learn about the life of a remarkable, Victorian woman willing to stand up and be counted. Recommended for ages ten and older.

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HEALTHY HANDOUT

SMART HEALTH: What Today’s Doctors Aren’t Telling You

Written by Dr. Craig C. Koehler

This book is written by a chiropractor, whose personal health struggles began with a bicycle accident as a twelve-year-old child. After hitting his head on the cement, he began to experience nasal problems with sneezing and coughing. In an effort to find the cause, doctors prescribed medications, antibiotics, shots and a tonsillectomy. Five years later, he injured his back and visited a chiropractor where he learned about the connection of the nervous system with the sinuses. Koehler decided on becoming a chiropractor and dedicating himself to help patients deal with pain.

The statistics are scary. In the United States, medical misdiagnosis is the 3rd leading cause of death. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that 80% of the world’s pain-killing drugs are consumed by Americans. Relieving pain becomes more important than finding the cause of that pain. Koehler details the diseases that really are killing people and how consumers are harming themselves with sugar and junk food. By switching off what we put into the body, the natural immune systems can use good nutrition, exercise, meditation, and proper sleep habits to recharge the body. None of this these are easy tasks to accomplish. The doctor urges consumers to join up with a support team to work at establishing a system to turn unhealthy habits into a new pattern that will lead to a healthier body and a longer life.

Recommended as a good reference guide and motivational tool for anyone who desires to establish a healthier lifestyle.

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A DRAGON’S BEST FRIEND

James and the Dragon: The Farloft Chronicles, Vol. 1

Written by Theresa Snyder

 

This is a well-written chapter book or novella with an intriguing set of characters, flights of fancy, and wonderful lessons to learn. The three main characters are a dragon named Farloft, a dastardly wizard named Laval, and a ten-year-old human named James. A plague has recently struck the kingdom. About two-thirds of the population have succumbed. Farloft avoids humans because relations have soured over time. Laval is bitter because the plague has made his daughter ill. James has been orphaned. One day as he struggles to dig peat in the bogs to keep warm, the blacksmith and his son steal it from him. James becomes trapped in the bog; Farloft takes pity and rescues him. As James recovers in the dragon’s lair, they become close. Farloft regales him with legends of past exploits and reveals his treasure chamber. When James returns home, villagers nearly kill him. Farloft rescues him once more. In the meantime, Laval has hatched a devastating plot to exact revenge for his daughter’s death. A surprise ending brings book one to a conclusion and sets the stage for more adventures.

Middle grade, young adult readers, and adults will enjoy this fast-moving story with its pleasing blend of magic, myth, and charm. Characters are well developed and easy to like. By the end of the first book, readers have already become engaged and are eager to learn more about the characters and what will happen to them in their future engagements.

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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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SCOUT’S HONOR

The Hairy Fairy: The Hairy Fairy Tales, Book 1

Written by Mark Watson

On Saturday morning, Jack wakes up to discover a hairy fairy sitting on his head. Jack is incredulous. The fairy informs Jack that his boss is angry with him for messing with her cat, so she banished him to spend a day sitting on someone’s head. He tells Jack that no one else can see him, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause mischief and have some fun. Poor Jack is determined to carry out his previous plan to spend the day at the Scout Jamboree. When he goes to the market, the fairy causes the vegetables to grow. They soon take over the town and cause all manner of havoc. Now Jack and his nemesis are trapped. Will they be able to escape? What will happen to the town now involved with the military in a battle against the vegetables, likened to World War III?

This book of fewer than fifty pages might best be described as a beginning chapter book. The clever rhymes are filled with humor and challenging vocabulary. Illustrations are done in graphic novel style. Aimed at a six to twelve age audience, I think that advanced beginning readers and middle school students will love the quirky plot and offbeat humorous rhymes. Fans of fantasy, sci-fi, and humor probably will enjoy it.

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HOWLING AND HURTING

Blow: A Short Story

Written by K.J. Waters

 

This short story was written as a bridge between the author’s two novels about hurricanes. Its setting takes place in the middle of Hurricane Ivan, a Category 4 hurricane, which took place in Pensacola, Florida, in September 2004. Loosely based on the memories of an actual storm survivor, this fictional account places the reader in a terrifying situation. Rick is barricaded in his home His friend Chip seeks shelter with him.. Rick doesn’t know that Chip is bringing his friend Buck, who is a cop. Why should that bother Rick? He has a deep, dark secret hidden in the house, which could land him in deep trouble if discovered. The reader is given the backstory in flashbacks artfully woven into the narrative. The characters are remarkably well developed. Readers feel the tension build as the hurricane intensifies and Rick’s secret is slowly revealed.

While I haven’t read either of the two novels, this short story does a fine job of standing alone as a well-written thriller. Perfect afternoon read for young adult and adult audiences.

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