Posts tagged ‘castles’

THREE DIVERSE STORIES

Oliver and Jumpy: Stories 31-33

Written by Werner Stejskal

Illustrated by Mario Tereso

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If you haven’t read any of the Oliver and Jumpy stories, you are in for a treat. Oliver is a stylish tomcat who is best friends with Jumpy and Joey, two kangaroos. The first tale takes place on New Year’s Eve in Oliver’s treehouse. Every year the crockery and cookery in his kitchen come to life to entertain Oliver and his friends. Children will delight as the colorful objects cook, clean, dance, and play music, a delightful and innovative way to celebrate New Year’s Eve. In the second adventure, the three friends are playing with the whales making their way down the coast to Antarctica. But Joey gets a bit too rambunctious when he goes for a swim and a shark comes up to eat him. Oliver will have to devise a clever ploy to save his friend’s life. The third tale is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. When Oliver enters a special door of a local castle, he transforms himself into a tiny creature. Oliver becomes a tour guide for us as he leads readers through the minuscule world of caterpillars, beetles, ants, and lady bugs. We will learn what it is like to a speck in a big universe.

Beautifully illustrated with color that is a feast for young eyes. These stories teach preschool and primary school children important moral lessons and appreciation for animals, plants and the world we live in.

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The Knights Before Christmas – Book Review Blitz

My Book Review…….

The Knights Before Christmas

Written by Joan Holub

Illustrated by Scott Magoon

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A very clever version of a Christmas tale base on the poem, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. I was immediately drawn to it by the cover and clever play on words in the title. Who can resist a bright and vividly illustrated picture book read aloud? The book’s large size makes it perfect for toddlers and preschoolers to hold, while the clever conversation among the knights provides a humorous and modern version of the Christmas classic for older siblings.

Brave Knight, Silent Knight and Polite Knight are entrusted with the responsibility of guarding the king’s castle. On Christmas Eve, a stranger in a red suit appears accompanied by eight dragons seeking a chimney to enter. Of course a castle does not have a chimney. Santa remains undaunted and determined to enter and leave his Christmas gifts, while the three knights redouble their efforts to repel the invasion. Who will win the battle?

I believe this book is destined to become a new Christmas favorite among teachers and parents of preschoolers and primary grade readers. Available in kindle and hardcover editions.

 

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About the Book

Title: The Knights Before Christmas | Author: Joan Holub | Illustrator: Scott Magoon | Publication Date: September 8, 2015 | Publisher: Macmillan / Henry Holt | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 4 to 8

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Book Description:

‘Twas December 24th, and three brave knights were just settling in for the night when out on the drawbridge, there arose such a clatter! The knights try everything to get rid of this unknown invader (Santa Claus!), a red and white knight with a fleet of dragons . . .

But nothing would stop
their white-whiskered foe.
No matter their efforts,
he just would not go!

This parody of Clement Clarke Moore’s well-known poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is kid-friendly, clever, and just plain silly. Sure to become a holiday classic of a different kind!

 

Sneak Peek

The Knights Before Christmas Joan Holub Scott Magoon

The Knights Before Christmas Joan Holub Scott Magoon pages 12

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The Buzz About the Book

“There’s an excellent interplay between the amusing illustrations and the polished text, with lots of clever jokes for readers to discover in the art. These knights know how to keep the castle safe and the readers entertained”~ Kirkus Reviews

“A royal romp of holiday pratfalls and punnery. Yule love it!” ~ Tom Lichtenheld, bestselling illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

“A royal delight of a book! Sure to become a favorite holiday read-aloud in every household throughout the land!” ~ Judy Schachner, creator of the bestselling Skippyjon Jones

“A great premise…Magoon’s illustrations are vibrant and fun…!” ~ Publishers Weekly

“This rousing, ridiculous medieval “Night Before Christmas” parody jingles with castle- and holiday wordplay. Cheeky digital illustrations brim with good cheer.” ~ Horn Book

 

About the Author: Joan Holub

The Knights Before Christmas Joan Holub SIBA 2015 imageJoan Holub is the author of 140+ books for children including the acclaimed picture books Little Red Writing, The Knights Before Christmas, and Mighty Dads, a New York Times bestseller. Joan co-authors (with Suzanne Williams) three series: Goddess Girls (ages 8-12, Greek mythology with a middle school twist), Grimmtastic Girls (for ages 8-12, fairy tale adventure with a middle school twist), and Heroes in Training (ages 6-11, Greek mythology adventure chapter books). Watch for her upcoming chapter book, What Was Woodstock?, and her board book, This Little President, both available in early 2016!

 

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Copyright © 2015 Mother Daughter Book Reviews, All rights reserved.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Suzie Sparkle and the Dragon Princess

Written by Steve Moran

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Princesses, dragons, lizards, time travel, castles and fantasy. What more could a middle grade reader want? This book is targeted for children in grades three to six.

Suzie is sitting in seat 32A feeling bored. Her mother is busy reading, Mom ignores Suzie’s important question, “Why are we flying backwards?” When Suzie gets up to walk to the back of the plane, she notices a group of people dressed in robes and hoods. A young girl asks her if she is bored and would like to play. Suzie says yes, and the adventure begins.

Before she realizes what has happened, Suzie finds herself falling through the sky holding the hand of her new friend, Allaya. Their adventure turns sour when they land short of Aruahua and find themselves on an island inhabited by starved dragons. Allaya apologizes profusely; they are about to die. Suzie uses her ingenuity to trick the dragons in time for rescuers to arrive. Soon Suzie finds out that Allaya is the Princess of Rainbow Island. Allaya and her kingdom believe Suzie to be the lost Dragon Princess. When a series of earthquakes and volcanoes threaten the kingdom, she and Allaya will have to fight for their lives, caught in a death struggle with the forces of nature, the dragons, and the lizards who have arisen again from the sea. Will Suzie be able to escape with her life a second time? Does the kingdom survive? Will Suzie ever get back to her own time and family on twenty-first century earth?

The characters are appealing and interesting, and the plot elements just intricate enough to hold interest and keep the story moving along, although there are a few instances where there might have been a bit less dialogue. A few illustrations would make the read more appealing to third and fourth graders or reluctant readers. This book would make a nice classroom read aloud as the chapters are short and manageable.

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SUBWAYS TO SCOTLAND

The Camelot Kids: Part One

Written by Ben Zackheim

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First book in a new middle grade series that mixes medieval history, knights, castles, adventure and coming of age with a modern twist. Protagonist Simon Sharp is a fourteen year old who becomes an orphan at the age of twelve when his archaeologist parents die in an airplane crash over Scotland. Simon finds himself in a New York City orphanage and foster care. He is clever, smart and streetwise, though he is bullied by Brad. When strangers ask how his parents died, he replies, “King Arthur killed them.” Their lifelong mission had been to find Camelot.

Simon’s unlucky situation becomes more mysterious, when he gets a letter from an uncle in Scotland who claims that he has just found out about the accident and will assume responsibility for Simon. The boy is soon on a plane to Scotland and a new life in a mysterious castle. Though he now attends a private school, the bullying situation is the same. Simon will discover hidden passages and meet mysterious creatures like gargoyles, trolls, and magicians. Who are they and what is his connection to them?

This book of slightly less than one hundred pages has charming black and white illustrations that add to the depth of the characters and setting of the tale. The writing of the plot is well-executed and the characters are interesting and endearing. Zackheim seems to have found the right combination of modern day grit and medieval fantasy in setting the right tone for the series. I think tweens and teens will want to get involved with this story. I know that many adults like me have fond memories of Camelot.

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PRINCESS PANORAMA

Princess Meredith Bedtime Tales

Written by Marshall Best

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This approximately forty page e Book selection available on Smashwords and Amazon is a departure from the author’s previous works. These consist of chronicles centered on a character named Guiamo which combine history, legend and adventure in a series of books focusing on exploration and civilization. That series appeals to an older child. In his new book, the author and father of six is centering on children age three to ten.

The Princess Meredith book actually contains five short fairy tales. This book would make a good early reader chapter book. While advertised as bedtime stories, they can just as easily be read individually at separate times. Our Princess Meredith is well-loved in her kingdom. She is intelligent, loyal, compassionate, and generous. The themes appeal to young girls: ponies, castles, magic, witches, spells, picnics, poison, and adventure. Each of the tales involves danger, but all of them end with the theme that they lived happily ever after. Main characters include the king and queen, a royal baker, a witch, an uncle, cousin and children from an orphanage. The princess is already in training; she convinces the king and queen to consider and adopt her plan to redesign the way orphans are treated in the kingdom. The illustrations on the cover are charming and appealing; too bad there were not a few more illustrations dispersed throughout the chapters to hold the interest of younger readers. I would especially recommend the book to parents and teachers of children age six and up.

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THE GENUINE ARTICLE

Beauty and the Beast

Written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and Marie-Michelle Joy

Illustrated by Walter Crane

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This rendition of the classic fairy tale is based on the original eighteenth century version. No Disney elements are found here. This original version was written and distributed widely in France to protest the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose or refuse a mate. The original version was a full length novel written for adults, which was later shortened.

At the beginning of the tale, the reader meets a wealthy merchant who has six sons and six daughters. They live sumptuously and prosperously. Suddenly, disaster strikes. The merchant loses his home and possessions in a fire, and pirates sack his shipping business. The distraught family retreats to a poor life in a forest cottage, which is their only remaining possession. All his daughters complain with the exception of the youngest named Beauty who is determined to make their meager life a happy one. Then one day she asks her father for a favor. She longs to see one beautiful rose. The merchant sets off to find one and his journey takes him to a mysterious castle. He is left alone but treated lavishly. Suddenly an ugly beast appears. He promises to let the traveler return home if he will return with one of his daughters to live with him in the castle. The merchant reluctantly agrees.

Beauty feels responsible for her father’s plight and volunteers to return with him to the castle of the Beast where they find unexpected surprises and treasures. When it comes time for the merchant to return home, both he and his daughter are distraught. Strange dreams bring about strange occurrences. What will happen to Beauty and the Beast? Remember, I told you that this is not a classic Disney fairytale.

The illustrations are the original nineteenth century drawings by Walter Crane. They are extraordinarily detailed and magnificently colored. The reader will think herself transported to a museum. They add to the flavor of an authentic French period piece. As an adult, I enjoyed this rendition of the classic tale. I believe that tweens and teens will find this “grown-up” rendition of Beauty and the Beast a most appealing one. Available in kindle and paperback versions.

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CASTLES AND CANOES

Terror at White Otter Castle

Written by Bonnie Ferrante

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This short novella could probably be best categorized as a young adult horror story, but it certainly will grip a mature adult audience as well. The language is simple, and the author deftly manipulates the reader into total involvement within the first few pages.

Three high school seniors are taking a summer canoe trip through the Canadian wilderness as a final get together before splitting up for college. Lauren, Aster and Beth have been together since first grade and have formed a “Power Triangle” pledging to always be there for each other in times of need. The girls are unique in terms of their backgrounds, skills and personalities. When their guides decide to camp in the shadow of the castle of James Anderson McQuat, the reader learns the legend of how Jimmy built his magnificent castle for Jane, the girl he longed to marry. Then he refused to meet her parents and their marriage plans collapsed. No one seems to know what happened to Jimmy.

Upon awakening on the beach, Aster sees a figure wearing a floppy hat and a long raincoat. No one believes her story. She mysteriously disappears and the real adventure begins. After a series of mishaps involved in the search, it becomes apparent that Aster has been kidnapped. Communication is cut and sabotage is indicated. What other dangers will the group encounter? The girls have pledged to always be there for each other, but can they find each other again and escape successfully?

There are lots of twists and turns, surprises, and a bit of horror combined to make this less than one hundred page story keep you on the edge of your seat. Next time you are looking for a well-written quick, exciting read, take a look at this one.

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