Posts tagged ‘children and adult fiction’

SANTA IN DISTRESS – BOOK BLITZ – LOBO’S HOWLIDAY

Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Happy Howlidays

Written by C.L. Murphy

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I just love this addition to the Lovable Lobo series. Children of all ages will enjoy the bright, bold computer images that display fantastic emotion in the facial expressions and beautiful background scenery. The story is modern, clever and innovative.

Our friend Lobo is excited to receive a special delivery letter from Snowy Owl. He notices at once that the sack dropped from the sky is moving and is astonished to find that inside the sack an arctic mouse named Arty has a letter from Santa requesting his help! Lobo sets off to the North Pole with his friend Roxy Raven and Arty as his guide. They trudge through the snows and past the Northern Lights. An arctic fox provides shelter, while a polar bear and arctic hare point the way to the North Pole. Finally they reach Santa’s Village, where Santa puts them up in his special guest house. The mystery continues to deepen; why did Santa summon Lobo?

I won’t spoil the surprise, but I will say that sometimes the best of modern technology does not work the way we expect. Santa has an ingenious plan that involves Lobo in an attempt to save Christmas this year. Children of all ages will love the book, while adults will chuckle at how modern man sometimes needs to return to basics to solve a thorny problem. I highly recommend this book be added to your holiday classics.

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SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

Beatrix Potter Illustrated Collection 22 Complete Books 660 Illustrations

Written by Beatrix Potter, Timeless Reads

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Many parents and grandparents may have a hardcover edition of the Tales of Beatrix Potter on their bookshelves. If one goes searching for a vintage copy today, you might have some difficulty acquiring one. Timeless Reads has done a magnificent job of putting together most of the Potter stories as well as the classic illustrations both in color and black and white. Now you can take them with you on an electronic device, though I strongly recommend that you read them on a larger, color enabled device.

These stories and their lessons are timeless. Most of these tales were originally written at the turn of the twentieth century: in this collection, The Tale of Peter Rabbit written in 1902 is the earliest, while Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes are the most recent penned in 1922. Potter’s characters are familiar to children living in many cultures. Examples of the more well-known characters are Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Miss Moppet, Jemima Puddle Duck, and the town and country mouse. There are stories featuring the three pigs and those mischievous kittens who cannot be kept in tow by their mother Tabitha.

This inexpensive kindle collection is nicely indexed with a Table of Contents that provides an easy reference for finding a particular tale. It is perfect book choice for a bedtime story, to teach a particular lesson, or to comfort a sick child. Younger children will enjoy the soft colors and pencil detail of the illustrations. The longer stories will entertain and teach older children. Adults will enjoy reminiscing with tales from their childhood that can be shared with the next generation. Highly recommended for ANY age.

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A RELUCTANT HEROINE

The Amber Ring (A Novella)

Written by A.L. Walton

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This book of approximately one hundred pages might be described as a dark fantasy. There are many traditional fantasy characters like gryphons, trolls, fairies, unicorns and witches. A few others like the Talking Bear Mayor and the satyr sheriff are a bit of a stretch. Then there is a reluctant heroine and her twin sister who is a magical weaver and heroine.

Allow me to summarize the plot briefly. Maya is a rather morose and cynical twelve year old whose twin sister Sofia has recently drowned. Sofia had magical powers along with a magical ring which now belongs to her sister. Two years prior to her death, Sofia had managed to rid the Fairwoods of the trolls under the power of the Cedar Witch. Their lands became peaceful. One day Camden, her sister’s pet gryphon, reappears at the site where Sofia died. He attempts to convince Maya that the Fairwoods are again in danger, and that she is needed to restore peace. Maya has no interest in being a weaver or leaving her comfortable life in Oregon. But she feels guilty and eventually agrees to spend Labor Day weekend with Camden on a quest to find the Morning Stone and restore the balance of power.

Maya loses her backpack to Duskrats, and then travels on to the home of the Maple Witch who feeds them and attempts to show Maya how to weave magic just as Sofia had done in the past. Maya is unsuccessful and frustrated. She and the gryphon will meet up with a unicorn, goblins, a geographer some cobblers, and trolls in their attempts to find the Morning Stone. When Maya finally reaches her destination, she is shocked to find that her heroine sister’s death was not an accident. Maya must now make a decision whether or not to avenge it. Will Maya ever be able to put the tragedy behind her or will she forever be molded by it?

I like the multiculturalism introduced by using Spanish phrases, particularly Maya’s grandmother’s description of her as Hueca (hollow) . That is a good way to explain the way Maya feels about herself at the beginning of the story. As mentioned previously, there are some fantasy elements included that are a stretch with the plot, but all in all, I feel that the short novel will appeal to children ten and older as well as adults who like a quick fantasy read.

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FINDING ONE’S WAY

 

The Candle Star (Divided Decade Trilogy)

Written by Michelle Isenhoff

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This is the first book in a trilogy examining the Civil War through the Underground railroad setting in Michigan in 1858. In this first volume, the protagonist is fourteen year old Emily whose petulant personality and insolent behavior has resulted in her parents’ shipping her off to stay with an uncle in Michigan. Emily has never been off the Ella Wood plantation in the Carolinas. She presumes her life will be much the same, and her faithful slave Zeke tries to make her comfortable.

Things turn out very differently. Emily will not have a tutor, she will have to walk to a school, do chores in her Uncle Issac’s inn, and learn to deal with free slaves who are her equal. Emily rebels at once, she steals a neighbor’s horse, skips school, and treats the household members as if they were “her slaves.” Her uncle refuses to give in to her; he cringes when she befriends slave bounty hunters from Virginia as her equals. Emily is curious to find out what her uncle writes in a small book hidden in a secret compartment. But gradually she must learn to respect another way of thinking, her black friend Malachi makes her realize that her way of thinking may be jaded. He encourages her to pursue her dreams of painting and not to limit her goals to become a proper Southern plantation wife.

Isenhoff has done her research. She introduces characters based on real prototypes like Frederick Douglass and George deBaptiste. Her language is smooth and polished. Take the following excerpt: “Emily looked the boy over. He had skin the color of strong tea before the cream was added, and his eyes were as dark as the midnight sky.” The reader quickly assimilates himself into the character. Only complaint I have is that the story line sometimes seems to move too slowly, but it is certainly not predictable. There are many twists and turns and lots of surprises before Emily is ready to return home to her plantation. Changes are on the horizon for the country. Will Emily be successful in acclimating herself to a changed order? What will happen to her uncle and staff at the River Inn?

I would recommend this book to children and adults age ten and up. There are lots of issues that middle grade students are facing that are addressed in the book irrespective of the difference in time period. Any reader who enjoys history, character study and good writing will enjoy this book series. Classroom teachers and librarians should consider it a good resource to a study of the pre-Civil War period from a humanistic point of view.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Thought Soup: A Story for Youngsters and the Adults Who Love Them

Written by Lyle Olsen

Illustrated by Marnie Webster

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This short e book packs a lot of punch in a few pages. A stranger ambles into a small town carrying an iron kettle on his back. He unloads it in the middle of the town square and proceeds to set up cooking. The townspeople distrust him, having been tricked into contributing to strangers many times before. When the mayor confronts the stranger as to what he intends to cook; he answers, “thought soup” and offers to demonstrate.

The stranger says that he will solicit thoughts from them and pulls out a large sack from his belongings. He requests each of the townspeople place his head in the sack and deposit his thoughts within. Once they are finished, the stranger empties his sack into the boiling water and asks that each bring a bowl and spoon to taste the soup. Much to their surprise, the soup is so bad that many believe themselves to be poisoned. The stranger admits that the soup tastes bad. All the citizens want to run him out of town, but the stranger convinces them to give him another chance with dinner. If they will only think delicious thoughts, he will produce a wonderful soup. So they throw him into jail until supper.

During that same day, the townsfolk reflect on what could have made that soup taste so bad. Each of these colorful characters remember how negative their thoughts were that morning and think about how to make their lives better. For example, the candlestick maker realizes how greedy she has been and resolves to make better candlesticks quicker using cheaper materials while offering better prices. The town crier admits to himself that he has been spreading gossip and should concentrate on positive things. Even the mayor recognizes that deep inside he has not lived up to his campaign promises and owes it to the citizens to do a better job.

Dinner time arrives and the soup-maker is released. Each of the townspeople once again add their thoughts to the sack. There were so many positive thoughts they had to use a basket to keep the sack from flying away. How do you think the soup will taste? What will happen to the stranger and the members of the town in the future? Our author ends the book with the caveat, “This is Not the End.”

This book is really a delightful read for children and adults. I would recommend it as an independent read for ages eight and up, but parents and teachers can certainly use it as a read aloud and valuable teaching tool to discuss how our negative feelings can poison ourselves and others. My one regret is that the pictures were not larger and more detailed because the nostalgic setting and characters are charming, and if illustrated in detail, would really bring this book to life.

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A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

Written by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by John Tenniel

e Book design by Marie-Michelle Joy

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I picked up this new e book version of the classic Victorian tale on a whim. What I did not expect was a totally new perspective on this classic fantasy tale.

As a child I read the book, but did not much care for it. After doing a bit of research I discovered that Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) told this story to a friend and his three young children while enjoying a boat ride. The children were so pleased with it that he decided to write it down and commission John Tenniel to do the drawings for the publication. Dodgson was a mathematician intrigued by the math and science that was being applied daily to inventions as England was entering the Industrial Revolution. His other interests included reading, poetry and photography.

Alice was modeled on one of these three girls. She is curious and polite. The character in the story displays fear and courage, resilience, and the ability to adapt to change. The anthropomorphic characters she encounters are a strange bunch; some of them like the Cheshire Cat and the Caterpillar appear to teach her, while others like the Mock Turtle and the Flamingo appear sillier and more frivolous. A careful reading will produce numerous evidences of mathematical reasoning and the importance that the author attaches to mathematics in the world around us; yet the reader’s main focus centers on the trials and tribulations that Alice must face from the time she falls into the rabbit hole: how she must swim herself across the sea of tears to face the challenges that many creatures present, to her ultimate escape from the nefarious Queen of Hearts at the trial, which almost results in her losing her head! Alice learns to think on her feet quickly in this coming of age tale.

Adult readers will reminisce and recall many of the famous quotations, like “Off with his head,” and “Curious and curiouser.” Tenniel’s woodcut engraved illustrations are etched in time and delight the eye, whether in black and white or in color. The beautiful scroll work that edge the pages are a reminder of the care taken with printing books long ago. Alice is a strong, intelligent character who maintains the proper balance between respect and independence; she is probably one of the first strong female models in modern literature. This book can be used as wonderful tale for family discussion on so many levels. I would recommend it for tweens and teens as well.

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