Posts tagged ‘courage’

A COLORFUL FANTASY ADVENTURE

The Black Pearl of Osis (Osis Fantasy Trilogy Book 1)

Written by Ingrid McCarthy

Jonathan Alexander Fenton is visiting his Aunt Josie who has just given birth to a baby girl. He is ambling around her studio and glancing at the posters on the wall when he spies one that he does not recognize. The poster shows a girl skipping rope on a cobblestone street surrounded by a tall tower. As he moves closer, Jonathan is literally drawn into the poster. Immediately he engages in a conversation with the girl. He discovers her name is Magenta, she is the daughter of King Cadium, Jonathan has been taken against his will into a fantasy world. Everyone here bears the name of a color, time is governed by the cycles of sun and moon, and danger looms over the kingdom.

Jonathan soon learns that he is destined to free the kingdom from the evil of the black pearl. A sage old teacher named Master Cobalt trains Jonathan. He is able to turn Magenta’s skipping rope into a deadly weapon that can be used to fight their enemies. Magenta, Jonathan, and her dog Monte face all manner of obstacles on their adventure. They meet threats of torture, deadly traps, and must learn to distinguish between friends and foes. At the end of the long journey, the two friends will grapple with the ultimate test of courage and loyalty.

The author keeps the plot interesting by using clever characters and imposing lots of twists and turns. Middle-grade readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and magic-tinged with dark overtones should find this first book of the trilogy an entertaining read.

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TROUBLE AFOOT

A Day for Courage: Tales of Friendship Bog Book 7

Written by Gloria Repp

Illustrated by Michael Swaim

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More trouble afoot in Friendship Bog and the surrounding swamps. Kidnappings, poisoning and floods are in store for the animal inhabitants. Our frog friends, Pibbin and Leeper go on a mission to help young rabbits that have been poisoned by a mysterious orange berry plant. They must search for the only known cure, the gel from the Gummy Bark to counteract the poison. Keena, the nefarious lizard, is suspected to be behind it. In the meantime, Carpenter frog has disappeared from his workshop so Pibbin and Tatter go to search for him. Along the way it is discovered that the beaver are having a problem with the skinks and Cheeco the Chipmunk is also missing. As the search continues, our investigators discover a mysterious map that they hope will be a key to solving the mystery. The beavers come up with a plan to rid themselves of Keena, the lizards, and the skinks, but will their plan work or will it destroy their homeland in the process?

Lots of adventure and twists and turns mixed with lessons for young chapter book readers. Our frog friends teach courage, bravery, and standing up for the rights of others. Cooperation is the only way to success, and there is value in taking risks when the ultimate aim is to make life better for all concerned.

Readers age seven and older who like animals, adventure and reading a series should enjoy all the books about life in Friendship Bog.

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COURAGEOUS AND LOYAL

Heart of a Hero

Written by Billi Tiner

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This book is a portrait of a loyal and brave Irish Setter, inspired by the author’s childhood family dog. As a pup, Lady wanted nothing more than to emulate her mother, who was a prize hunting dog.  Carl, a teenage farmhand, develops an affinity for her, and Lady is elated when her owner Mr. Thompson sends her to live with Carl. At first life is wonderful, then World War II breaks out; and Carl leaves for battle. Carl never returns. A friend suggests to Carl’s dad that the Marines are looking for war dogs, and Lady is offered up as a candidate. After rigorous training and many adventures with new dog friends Scout and Fancy, Lady is sent to the Pacific with her human handlers, Tim and Steve. Lady succeeds in becoming a war messenger dog. She will prove herself a worthy hero.

After the war things return to normal for a while, but Lady has battle scars and her new owner will make a decision that does not include her. More uncertainty for Lady and a dramatic change in life circumstances again. Will Lady find peace, dignity and happiness in her final years?

This book makes a great read for middle grade students. It deals with complex issues in a plot that is simply laid out and easy to follow. Loyalty, bravery, courage, coming of age, bullying, and family relationships are explored. The characters are well developed; the reader can identify with Lady as she narrates the story from her point of view. I do think the plot moves a bit slowly in sections, but that may be due to the fact that the reader is eager to see what happens next. Recommended for dog lovers, history lovers and anyone who enjoys a good family read. Available in kindle and paperback editions.

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AN UNLIKELY PAIR

My Monster Burrufu

Written by Alberto Corral

Illustrated by Alessandra Sorrentino

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This chapter book is targeted for eight to twelve year olds; the easy going storytelling style and charming illustrations interspersed throughout make it visually appealing as well. I can’t make up my mind which character I love the most, Olivia, the seven year old mistress of the monster’s house or Burrufu, the melancholy monster.

At the beginning of the adventure, Olivia is about to move from the city to a home four hours away in the country. She immediately endears herself to me when I read the note she left to the new tenants asking them to take care of the house and sending them hugs and kisses. Upon arriving at the old three story house, Olivia and her dog Tula begin to explore the home’s nooks and crannies. They hear noises in the attic; her father, Steve, tells her jokingly that maybe it is a monster. Olivia thinks he is making fun of her, and when he assures her that a monster in the house is good luck, she feels relief.

Olivia can’t sleep and goes down to the kitchen to have some milk and cookies. To her surprise she spies a furry white claw stealing cookies! So the adventure begins….Olivia is determined to lure the creature out by setting a cookie trap. She discovers that the monster lives in the attic and is a writer like her father. Because Olivia’s dad spends lots of time in his study writing, she has lots of time on her own. Olivia learns that her friend Burrufu can make himself very large when he frightens people; he is fearful of going outside and scaring people. Olivia wants to make him feel wanted and secure so she tries to provide him with courage. One day Burrufu is discovered and chaos ensues. Will Olivia be able to remain friends with her monster, who is really a talented and sensitive writer or will they both be forced to relinquish their friendship due to the fears of others?

This book contains approximately one hundred pages and ten short chapters. It can be used as a classroom read aloud or read independently as a chapter book for readers in the middle grades. There is plenty of humor and adventure. The plot contains enough twists and turns plus thought provoking issues to challenge the middle grade reader. Highly recommended.

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TRUE SPIRIT OF MOTHERHOOD

The Bridge

Written by Kay Bratt

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It’s Mother’s Day here in the United States. Whether you celebrate the holiday today or on another day on the calendar, this book expresses the true nature of motherhood.

The book is a short story of approximately seventy pages that will grip you on many levels. Ms. Bratt has spent five years in China and bases her writing experiences on the time she spent there and the love she acquired for the country’s people. She quickly and deftly paints the scene in Suzhou, China, 2010, portraying the old woman named Jing who is now dependent on the generosity of her son for her own survival. Jing is grateful to be able to care for her grandson and cook the meals in exchange for food and shelter over her head. She collects old sweaters and uses scraps of wool to make scarves so that she can save enough money to prepare for her unmarried daughter Qian’s annual trip home for the New Year holidays.

The reader soon senses her generosity of spirit and kindness. Jing notices a young five year old boy sitting on the bridge near her window and watches with sadness as his mother does not return for him. Jing takes him in for the night and realizes that he is blind. She resolves to take him by foot to the orphanage, where she is a familiar character. The reader learns that she has done this many times before. Feeling particularly sad about the vulnerability and susceptibility of this disabled five year old named Fei Fei, Jing is unable to forget him. When she makes a return trip to the orphanage, she finds that he has been neglected. The director agrees to place Fei Fei in her care as a foster parent for three years. Jing doubts she will be able to succeed in taking care of him until he is old enough to be trained properly in a school for blind children, but she knows his survival is dependent upon her. When Jing’s daughter Qian arrives for the holidays, circumstances take another dramatic turn.

The reader learns how the concept of motherhood can change and transform us. Will Fei Fei face a life of misery or will the struggling old woman named Jing somehow succeed in rehabilitating this child who, like many other Chinese children, has been abandoned on the “Lucky Bridge?” I recommend this book to children age eight and up. The story is based on a character that the author met in China. All the characters are well developed; the author explores some very important societal issues as well as the culture of China. This book is a good multicultural addition to a classroom library and introduces children living in the Western hemisphere to Asian traditions.

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TOWER OF FEAR

The Ivory Tower

Written by Kirstin Pulioff

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This is a well written short story set in a dystopian world where fear and repression are the norms of everyday living. The colorful descriptions and lively verbs guide the reader on an adventure in which she will be eager to proceed on course with the heroine, Simone, and at the same time, be terrified of the outcome.

As the story opens, the reader meets two young friends named Simone and Christine, who are on very different social levels in the camp and bear totally opposite personalities. Simone is number 277 because she is an orphan. Sometimes she does not even receive food rations. Christine is number 35; she and her family are considered productive citizens. The army is present to protect the citizens by keeping them in a restricted area which is free from contaminants of a recent disaster. Young children attend school, but begin laboring in the factory as soon as they are old enough. Everyone is prohibited from going near an old rusted tower that lies at the end of the forest.

Simone and Christine are enjoying their last days of freedom before factory assignments. They are playing hide and seek when Simone gets near the fence and spies the tower. Christine urges her to retreat because she gets in trouble and is beaten by her parents when they find out she has been near the edge of the forest. They warn her of the contaminants and punishment for risking disease by going there. A few days later, Simone urges Christine to play hide and seek one more time. Reluctantly, she agrees. Of course the fearless and curious Simone takes off straight to the tower. While Christine waits outside, Simone gains entrance. She finds duplicate pictures of those in the camp and monitors that are spying on its citizens. Soon she hears footsteps and the approach of one of the soldiers. Desperately, she tries to make her escape. He informs her that they are there to “protect all citizens” whether they realize that or not.

Before the close of the story, Christine and her friend are reunited in the hospital, but Simone is wounded and branded. Will she become another dutiful citizen or do further adventures await this young citizen who does not appear willing and able to conform to camp life? Can their friendship survive?

Children ages eight and up, especially those who love dystopian adventures, will surely enjoy this fast paced and well written short story. This reader is already looking forward to a sequel.

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A PRINCESS WITH PIZAZZ!

Sir Princess Petra: The Pen Pieyu Adventures

Written by Diane Mae Robinson

SirPrincessPetrapicAs the story opens, we meet Princess Petra who is about to celebrate her birthday on the ninth day of the ninth month on the ninth year. According to royal custom, she may request anything she wishes as a birthday gift. Petra addresses her parents and informs them that she is tired of the usual gifts of jewelry and clothes. This year she wants to become a royal knight. Her father, King Longstride cannot find anything disallowing her request in the royal rulebook. However, she must choose and successfully accomplish one of three acts of royal bravery: capture a crocodile and make his skin into a royal leather chair, quiet the howling dragon named Snarls who lives in the Forest of Doom, or eat a roomful of raw onions! The princess dislikes onions and is friendly with the kingdom’s crocodile, so she quickly decides on quieting the dragon.

Princess Petra departs the castle in a suit of armor made of pots and pans because all the royal armor is too big for her. Her weapon looks more like a cake knife than a sword. The poor princess soon meets adversity. During her adventures, she must figure out how to stop the dragon from howling and keeping the royal family awake, cope with a witch in the bog, and deal with an army of knights from a neighboring kingdom who want to challenge her. This princess has brains and common sense along with her beauty. She does not win her battles with force and bullying; Petra is a good judge of character and human nature! (even if some of those characters are not technically human)  She has a wonderful sense of humor and can turn adversity into advantage.

Petra provides an outstanding role model for young boys and girls for she has many lessons of courage, friendship and character to teach them. She and the other quirky characters in this book possess a delightful sense of humor. The black and white pencil drawings are soft and subtle complementing the quick moving text of this short chapter book which could be read in one sitting as a read aloud or in chapters for discussion in a classroom setting. Looking forward to reading more of The Pen Pieyu Adventures from this talented new author.

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