Posts tagged ‘courage’

GENTLE SOULS

The Horse Listener

Written by Mark M. Hanna

 

This book describes the affinity of one man with the Arabian horse. It focuses on the tragic death of his father, his early upbringing near a racetrack in Los Angeles, and his move out into the country of Oregon where he began his lifelong journey of faith and close relationship with Arabian horses.

Matthew Peters struggles to find himself. When his mother accedes to his wish to acquire a horse, Matthew meets a neighbor named Mike Chapman who appears to know a lot about horses and how to raise them. Mrs. Peters notices a strangeness in Mike; she discovers Mike’s tragic divorce and horse farm bankruptcy. The author tells his story partly as a faith journey, partly as a spiritual partnership with the horse, and also as a memoir of determination and courage. There are plenty of tips concerning effective horse training.

This story tugs at the heartstrings. For anyone who raises horses or wishes to have the opportunity to do so, the powerful bond described here is appealing and inspiring. Hanna includes spiritual references, though he does not try to preach or convert.

This book is recommended for middle-grade readers, young adults, and adults.

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#Wednesday’s Winners

Two more finalists in the Cybils Bloggers’ Literary Awards:

Easy Reader

HUNGRY THIEVES

There’s a Pest in the Garden

Written by Jan Thomas

 

Another easy reader in the farmyard friends’ series. Duck, Sheep, Dog, and Donkey are upset that there is a pest invading their garden. He is eating their favorite and not so favorite foods like beans, corn, peas, and turnips. Duck thinks he has a plan, but it turns out that all the animals must work together to find a permanent solution to keep pests out.

The familiar characters and speech balloons allow readers to follow the simple dialogue and story plot. Children are led to understand that cooperation and working together is the way to solve a common problem. Recommended as an early stage independent picture reader or read aloud.

 

 

 

 

Early Chapter Book

RISING TO THE OCCASION

Survivor Diaries: Overboard!

Written by Terry Lynn Johnson

This book is part of a series that focuses on real-life survival stories to teach important life-saving skills. In this book, Travis and his family are vacationing in Washington. At the beginning of the tale, the family is sailing on a fifty-foot whale-watching boat with other tourists. While the group is preoccupied sighting whales, a huge wave capsizes the boat. Travis frantically yells for his family; he finds himself under water. Marina, the captain’s seaworthy daughter is nearby.

Travis is wearing a wetsuit and Marina has a life jacket, but her wrist is broken. As they drift farther away from the wreckage, Marina keeps Travis calm. After many hours and no rescue, they are finally thrown ashore on a beach. Hypothermia is setting in and Marina is becoming sick and disoriented. Travis must learn to overcome his fears, follow Marina’s instructions, build a fire, set up a shelter, and find water. The next morning with no rescue in sight, Marina sees eagles flying overhead and remembers an island that has a camera studying the nest. But can Travis overcome his fear of heights and somehow scale the tree to let humans know of their plight?

This is a story of adventure and courage. Marina and Travis undergo personality transformations and role reversals. Perhaps even more importantly, readers are taught how to survive if thrown overboard, avoid hypothermia, and learn basic survival skills. Hopefully, these will never need to be employed. There are a few powerful black and white illustrations that assist readers to visualize the adventure. The author includes a US Coast Guard approved section on illustrated, step by step survival techniques. While this book has been classified an early chapter book, I believe that the eight to twelve age range is a good target audience for this book.

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ARMED AND READY

Prince Martin Wins His Sword

Written by Brandon Hale

Illustrated by Jason Zimdars

Hale has written an original, charming chapter book that began as a way to keep in touch with his son while Hale was away from home. The book is divided into eight short chapters that are completely written in verse. Hale does not shy away from challenging vocabulary in a book that is written for the six to ten age group.

Martin is a young prince who lives in a faraway kingdom. At the beginning of the tale, Martin experiences a dream in which he fights a dragon with a loyal dog at his side. One of Martin’s favorite pastimes is visiting the castle armory, where all types of swords and weapons are stored. Unfortunately, the king permits his son to possess only a wooden staff and a slingshot, until the prince is able to prove that he is loyal, brave and true. Martin is unsure of how to do so, but he is determined to set forth out of the castle to the forest beyond.

Chapters two through eight covers the adventures that await Martin. He will meet a farmer who warns him of wild hogs, a deer whose fawn is trapped, and a brave dog who is willing to defend the helpless with his life. Martin must face his own fears as well as bullies. Will Martin find the courage and strength to survive and prove himself worthy?

The rhymes are perfect for a read aloud. Younger children might need the help of an adult to decipher some of the vocabularies. Color illustrations in each chapter enhance the adventure. This first book in a series should appeal especially to boys who love adventures, dragons, swords, and dogs. Highly recommended for elementary and middle school age children.

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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

HeartofaHero,pic

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

MyMonsterBurrufu,pic

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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