Posts tagged ‘cooperation’

TEACHABLE MOMENTS

Bleagh: A book about values

 

Written by Leana Lyn Doray

Illustrated by Little Pink Pebble

Bleaghpic

This book uses a unique approach to teach life lessons to children by engaging a monster creature named Bleagh (pronounced Bleh). Doray prefaces the book by giving the three definitions of bleagh: 1) the name of a friendly monster who wants to make new friends, 2) the sound children make when they smell something unpleasant, and 3) the sound that a friendly monster makes. At the beginning of the story, the reader meets Bleagh, a friendly but ugly homesick monster who has just arrived at school for the first time. Bleagh misses his other monster friends and does not understand the language or the customs of these children who appear terrified of him. Their teacher, Ms. Lyn explains that the creature is not mean but afraid so they should show EMPATHY for him. They do make an effort to do just that, but Bleagh terrifies them with the sounds he makes. She encourages the children to show TOLERANCE,  but that is very difficult to do when the creature opens stinky garbage to eat for his lunch. Some of the children get the brilliant idea to give him a pile of stinky socks to eat. The classroom practices COOPERATION when they all must assume different roles in a class project. There are team leaders, presenters, timekeepers and illustrators. When the time comes for the students to examine all their work hung on the walls, Bleagh says that one of them, “looks like a baboon’s backside.” He has the children in tears. Ms. Lyn says, “You never truly see something till you see beauty.” After a few moments, Bleagh steps back and notices new colors and patterns, exclaiming, “It’s fantastic.” They all break out in applause. Near the end of the day, Ms. Lyn reminds them that it is time to vote for the Star Student of the day. Bleagh wants to vote for himself, but decides that would be cheating. So he displays INTEGRITY and votes for Ming instead. There is a surprise ending that all readers will enjoy.

In addition to the four highlighted virtues embedded in the story, there are spellbinding illustrations of monsters, exotic plants, art work, and the classroom in which the children work. Little Pink Pebble has done an amazing job of portraying the story line and moods of the characters. The drawings display multicultural children in beautiful colors and exotic settings. Furthermore, the lessons it promotes have universal appeal and relevance. I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers of children age seven and up.

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OZETTE’S ODYSSEY

Ozette’s Destiny: Tales From Farlandia

Written by Judy Pierce

Ozette's Destiny pic

Ozette is a beautiful white squirrel marked with just a touch of gray down her back and on her head. She has come to the forest known as Farlandia on the advice of her grandmother, The Divine Miss Piddlewinks, who had given her a golden acorn. Ozette had been blamed for the encroachment of humans into their world because she was different from other squirrels. Upon reaching Farlandia, she planted a golden acorn. The forest bloomed with life, fairies, elves, nature, royalty, and all sorts of mythical creatures.

This book will entertain anyone from age seven through seventy. Its characters spin a tale of adventures that teach many lessons, cooperation, team work, loyalty, bravery, self-sacrifice and numerous others. At the beginning of the book we meet a scruffy white dog named Duchess Zorina who got lost while exploring outside the palace of Queen Beatrix. This turns out to be the beginning of Ozette’s adventures as she and her friends rescue “ DK.” Ozette gets to ride on a unicorn to visit the palace. The Queen insists on rewarding Ozette, giving her a crown and making her queen of the forest. Ozette has long been the humble caretaker of the forest, and her friends involve her in many of their foibles. She experiences life as a hummingbird, rides a parachute, and has her fur dyed pink! She remains a steadfast friend and never deserts a friend in need, even when he has been sprayed by a skunk! Like a true mother hen, Ozette feels a responsibility for all the creatures of the forest. She does not fear responsibility, but she is never overbearing nor does she want to impose her will upon others.

There are many touches of humor. Oliver’s boxer shorts disappear only to emerge as an elaborate bungee jump game for Ozette’s coronation festivities. The spiders weave an elaborate web parachute for her that has been dyed lavender. The Spice Squirrels are singing on stage, while birds and cicadas maintain a steady beat! Oliver, the elf has been busy in his kitchen baking all sorts of goodies. In fact, the author provides a list of delicious recipes that the reader will enjoy making and eating after reading the book.

Young children will enjoy the book if it is broken up into chapters as a read aloud. Older children and adults will fly through its approximately 160 pages as the fast paced story will compel you into quickly finishing it. I am looking forward to reading many more of Ozette’s adventures and the nuggets of wisdom that she drops for us.

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TROLL FINDS A FRIEND

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

  Hamilton Troll pic

Hamilton Troll Meets Pink Light Sprite by

Kathleen J. Shields

Illustrated by

Leigh A. Klug and Carol W. Bryant

Hamilton Troll is the story of a likeable little Troll named Hamilton, who is just about the size of a mouse. He is a cheerful person and has many friends in the forest. The tiny green troll has a big problem every time it rains. His shelter is merely a hole in a tree stump which floods and threatens to drown him!  So poor Hamilton cowers in fear each time the rain approaches. His fall back plan is to hide under a plant with elephant like ears which he calls the Flop Away Home. One day as the sun emerges following a thunderstorm, Hamilton hears singing. He finds a beautiful Pink Light Sprite Fairy who has been grounded because her wings are soaked. She must wait until they dry to take flight again.  Pink Light Sprite befriends Hamilton and gives him some good advice. Why doesn’t he move one of those plants over his tree stump home? Then when the rains come, he will be protected. They go off to talk and play, but all too soon, Pink Light Sprite’s wings are dry. Hamilton is afraid; who will protect him when she leaves him? Pink Light Sprite reassures him that he will be safe now. Whenever he needs her, he has only to dream of her and the love and friendship that they have for one another. Hamilton has learned not to fear the unknown and to care for others who might need him.

The characters are charmingly drawn in soft muted colors with wonderful expression. The use of  such opposite characters as a troll and fairy make it appealing to a wide audience. This story is narrated in verse, which is often catchy and clever. It works most of the time, but there a few long passages in which it breaks down so that children may not be able to fully comprehend its meaning. The author does explain some of the more difficult vocabulary words used like transplant and mystique; the definitions are clearly displayed on the same page avoiding the need to flip to a glossary.

I think children age seven and up will really appreciate the characters and story line of this pleasing tale.

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SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN?

The Ultimate Tree House Project

 

by : Gary Nelson, PMP

Illustrated by Matthew Frauenstein

The Ultimate Treehouse Project

The story opens with James bemoaning the fact that spring vacation is over. He talks to his friends Ben, and twins Tom and Tim. On a recent family outing, he discovered a tree in the forest that would be perfect for a tree house. Amanda who is Ben’s sister hears them talking. The boys tell her, “No Girls Allowed.”

Ben declares himself their leader, but he has no plan. When they can’t figure out how to make a rope ladder, they decide they don’t need one. Amanda is upset that they would not accept her help. She knows how to tie a rope knot. That night she talks to her dad. He suggests that she and her friends, Becky, Alice and Susan build their own tree house. He offers to help but warns Amanda that they will not succeed without a plan! She must first imagine what the tree house will look like and draw pictures.

At their next meeting, Amanda’s dad explains there are four major parts of a good plan. You need to have a good idea, a plan, a do phase, and a finish up. You must constantly recheck to see that your steps are working. You must keep lists with the required materials, deadlines, the resources needed and the team skills necessary to complete the job. They make a bubble chart to show when the tasks have to be done and in what order,

Armed with a plan, the girls set out in the forest with a compass to guide them, but they cannot find another tree large enough to support a tree house. The boys have made little progress and reluctantly agree that the girls can build on the other side of their tree. In a short time, the girls have a rope ladder and a system of pulleys to haul up their materials. Meanwhile, the boys run out of nails and James’ father discovers they have stolen all his nails without permission so now they must now buy their own.

A series of accidents and natural disasters occur. It seems that the tree house project is doomed. Will the girls and boys find a way to work together to get the job done or will the summer come and go without a tree house?

Nelson was inspired to write this book by his own wife and children. The language is suitable for middle grade students and the competition of boy versus girl will appeal to this age group. A fifteen year old artist drew the illustrations with simple colorful images. There is a bit too much conversation in the text which sometimes interferes with the story flow but does not impede the message. An appendix includes a glossary of technical terms. Nelson aligns the book to educational standards in the United Kingdom, the United States, and New Zealand. Resources and kids projects are promised to be coming soon. Parents and teachers will appreciate the lessons of friendship, team work, planning and cooperation found in this book.

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