Posts tagged ‘coming of age’

FROM BAD TO WORSE

Charlie Bingham Gets Clocked #1

Written by Maggie M. Larche

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What else could go wrong? Charlie is in love with his teacher, Miss Walker. His best friend Brad brings his one-eyed lizard to school and loses it. The intelligent but insecure and nervous Brad has just been nominated to be on the Knowledge Bowl team. Miss Walker’s favorite alarm clock has disappeared. Two girls who are bitter enemies vow to become detective rivals locked in a contest to find the culprit. To make matters even worse, their muscle-bound music teacher, Mr. Wainwright, is also enamored of Miss Walker. He is determined to find and punish the student thief. Throughout the school day this elusive clock will make its way around the school until the culprit is found. Will the truth ever come out? Who will finally solve the mystery? Will the thief get the punishment he deserves?

This book is aimed at the eight to twelve year old audience and features a nice balance of elements that appeal to this age group. There is lots of humor, enough plot twists, and empathetic characters with which readers can identify. Readers will surely be able to see themselves either as victims or heroes in the plot. Recommended as a fun read for friends or classmates to share and discuss.

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FOSTERING A SENSE OF WORTH

Snow Pup: Holiday Heartwarmers Book2)

Written by Mimi Barbour

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This is the second book in Barbour’s holiday series. Well-written plot with realistic characters that has no real connection to the Christmas holiday other than the setting. Deputy Shawna Mallory is a thirty-one year old single cop who lives in the rather sleepy town of Carlton Grove. She has a deep commitment to her job, and moves quickly when she hears an amber alert on the radio for a missing eleven year old boy. Mallory hears a dog barking; she finds the boy under a snow drift being guarded by the pup. The sheriff agrees to take the boy in while he awaits a new foster care family.

Complications arise when the boy’s real father arrives back on the scene from an overseas assignment in Chile. John Reid McCrae appears to have a poor parenting track record, but Shawna’s friend Alice knew him many years ago and offers a different opinion. In the meantime Shawna grows attached to Billy, who is about to be given to a new foster family. Billy runs away once again, but even more puzzling is the strange affect Billy’s dad has upon Shawna. What outcome ensues for Billy, John, and the Deputy Sheriff whose lives have become entangled.

A heartwarming story revolving around coming of age, domestic violence, foster care, romance, pets and peer relationships that will tear at the heart strings of young adult and adult readers. Actually, the book could be a middle grade read if one is willing to look past a few curse words and one or two light romantic scenes. Snow Pup is the kind of story that will put the reader in the mood for the holiday season.

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#READ KIDS CLASSICS – FRIENDS OR FOES

Flip and the Cows

Written and Illustrated by Wesley Dennis

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This book was originally copyrighted in 1942. The copyright was renewed in 1970 and reprinted by Scholastic Books in paperback format.

Flip is a young, energetic, black colt with a taste of adventure. When he views the sharp horns of the cows standing beyond the fence, Flip is afraid. Flip does not understand the basis for the fear, yet it is strong. Once day he starts to back up to get away, when he finds himself colliding with his mother. She nips him and Flip runs away. Little does he realize he is rushing headlong into a herd of cows. How will they react to Flip? Are his fears unfounded?

This book with black and white illustrations is soft and sweet. Dennis illustrated more than 150 children’s books. His most famous works are Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty and John Steinbeck’s The Red Pony. Dennis combined his artistic talents with author Marguerite Henry on fifteen children’s books featuring horses. Born in 1903, Dennis began his career as a newspaper illustrator later working as a children’s book illustrator until his death in 1966.

I purchased this book for my children in the 1970’s. They spent summers in an area peppered by farms containing cows and horses so this was a favorite read. Recommended as a bedtime story vintage classic or as an easy beginning reader. Check your library. A few used copies are available on Amazon.

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The Peaceable Prince

Alf The Workshop Dog: An illustrated, interactive, magical bedtime story chapter book adventure for kids (Once upon a NOW 1)

Written by Emma Calin

Illustrated by Michael “Miko” Abellara

Alftheworkshop,picQuite a mouthful for a title; first in a series of books. This chapter book of approximately sixty pages is available in kindle format, paperback and audio. An interesting feature is the quality code imprint set into the text which allows the reader to access video, coloring pages, and more background on the story. If this book is broken down into chapters for a read aloud, it could be used as a bedtime story.

The fairy tale adventure opens in the kingdom of Zanubia where Alfredo, a gentle and lonely boy, struggles in his role as prince. The king expects him to become a great warrior and conqueror. Alfredo is only at peace when the king is off to battle. Alfred’s mother allows him to sing and play in the forest where he meets a girl named Laura who becomes his friend. When Alfred grows up and refuses to fight, he is thrown into prison. Eventually Alfred is released with the expectation that he will become a merciless hunter and warrior. The king is dismayed when his son stands up for Laura who is accused of stealing. She escapes and Alfred follows., but they are not destined to be together. A golden crow warns the prince he must hide if he does not want to be killer. Alfred is transformed into a dog named Alf, who will lead many interesting lives while observing humans.

What will happen on Alf’s many adventures? Is Prince Alfred gone forever? Does Laura survive? What happens to the kingdom of Zanubia?

The length of this chapter book makes it a good choice for reluctant and beginning readers. Charming pencil drawings and those interactive bonus features keep things interesting. The plot is easy to follow and the characters believable. Great choice for boys and girls in the seven to eleven age range.

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A GUIDING HAND

The Angel Knew Papa And The Dog

Written by Douglas Kaine McKelvey

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A heartwarming tale of love, faith and heartbreak narrated by a charming, sweet girl named Evangelina Elizabeth Blake. Living at the edge of the woods in a small log cabin by the river, she works hard alongside her father to farm the land, borrowing a neighbor’s mules to help them plow. Evangelina has lost her mother; she takes delight in nature and the few books her father has managed to purchase for her to read. One of her favorite stories from the Bible is Noah’s flood; this foreshadows the adventure that will follow.

When Evangelina is six, a huge dog rescues her from a serpent which appears during a thunderstorm. She names the dog, Lewis and Clark because he likes to explore and frequently disappears. Not long after, a flood overtakes the area and Evangelina’s father is swept away while trying to rescue one of the mules. She is terribly frightened as the cabin is flooded. An angel carrying a lantern appears to guide her. The young girl hears Lewis and Clark barking. A woman named Mary rows to her and pulls her into the boat. Taking her downstream, Evangelina is gratified to learn that her father is alive, but seriously injured. Is Evangelina dreaming? What will her future bring?

This book is well written in almost a lyrical style. The reader empathizes with the carefully crafted characters and is swept up in the adventure. I would consider this less than one hundred page book perfect for middle grade readers, but teens and adults will enjoy it as well. Look forward to reading more by this author.

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UNLIMITED POTENTIAL

The Tiniest Tumbleweed

Written by Kathy Peach

Illustrated by Alex Lopez

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Beautifully told tale with two protagonists. The story opens with a Mother Tumbleweed discussing her tiny baby with her husband who is concerned that the tot will be too small to make seeds. At that same time a young baby sparrow is hatching; his father is concerned that the baby will be too small to fly and spread seeds. Both the sparrow and tumbleweed experience sadness as they watch their siblings grow and they remain smaller than their peers. Their respective parents continue to reassure their children that size does not really matter as they teach their young the skills needed to reach their own full potential. When the desert rains come, tumbleweed works hard to make seeds, while tiny sparrow learns to flap his wings and hop. One day as fate might have it, a rainstorm brings the tiny sparrow and the tiny tumbleweed together. They learn how to work together to make each other reach their goals.

This is a beautiful book on many levels. The fictional story teaches children a lot about disabilities and strength of character as well as the value of family support. Targeted for preschool through grade three, the book works on many levels. Beautiful yet simple illustrations enhance the text as a read aloud for preschoolers. Lessons embedded within the text are appropriate for primary grade children. I like the lesson plans included for teachers to supplement interdisciplinary curriculum. Fun Facts could be the start of science projects, and the curriculum questions provide many avenues of exploration for the teacher or parent of a home schooled child. As some other reviewers mentioned, I noted some spelling and editing errors, which is the reason I gave the book four instead of five stars.

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DOESN’T FIT THE MOLD

Natasha the Party Crasher “The School’s Out Summer Bash”

Written by Eileen Rose Giadone

Illustrated by Michael Murray

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Natasha La Rue is an ebullient and vivacious elementary school student who is looking forward to summer vacation in just three days. Every day her friends pick her up on the way to school; her personality always seems to make her stand out. Without warning, Natasha’s friends decide they are tired of her boisterous behavior and begin to ignore her. No matter what she does, they make her feel invisible. On the last day of school, Natasha sadly walks home alone, watching her friends celebrate. Natasha becomes more angry and hatches a plan to get even with her friends.

A celebration for the beginning of summer had been planned in the town square for that evening. Natasha buys some “get even” supplies and begins to implement her plot for revenge. What dire deed is Natasha planning and will she be successful? Will Natasha and her friends discover something new about themselves?

The illustrations in this book are a nice combination of digital art and hand drawings that use exquisite color and exaggerated facial expressions to communicate the author’s message. I would recommend this book to readers ages seven and up. The author is also a songwriter and that is evident in the way the words flow easily from line to line and page to page. Look forward to more adventures with Natasha La Rue.

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