Posts tagged ‘empathy’

GIVING FROM THE HEART

Gift of Gift: Super Amazing Princess Heroes

Written by Sanjay Nambiar

Illustrated by Sedi Pak

A picture book or early chapter book centering on a trio of princesses who use their super powers to accomplish great things. Kinney, Sammie, and Oceania have just completed building a much-needed school in Uganda. Suddenly Kinney becomes ill; Doctor K’s diagnosis is a hole in her heart. Because the hospital in Uganda is not equipped for the surgery, Kinney along with friends return to the United States. When the girls learn that their friend Gift in Uganda has been diagnosed with the same medical problem, they decide to enlist the help of Betty, their mentor, who is the Fairy Mother Superstar Queen. They return to Uganda resolving to use their super speed, super strength, and flying powers along with the doctors and engineers in Uganda to construct a modern hospital. Gift’s heart surgery is successful, and the princesses’ Fairy Mother has a special gift in store for Gift.

This book is beautifully illustrated with bright,  multicultural photos that will appeal to non-readers. The text is done in large print and is easy to read for the beginning reader. While the story is clearly fictional, the lessons of empathy, selflessness, and friendship will inspire little girls who want to be princesses in their own right.

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TINY BUT FEARLESS

The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins

Written by Karin Kaufman

A delightful chapter book consisting of ten stories that revolve around a fearless family of mice facing the dangers and challenges of winter. Geraldine is the protagonist who was born in April, but now in October is facing the end of the gathering season. She and her brother Nigel have much to learn and experience. Readers are introduced to their friends in the forest, Penelope, the sparrow and Cheddar, a white rabbit. The children love to hear their father Nigel read to them stories from the Book of Tales. These adventures teach them about common sense, trust, gratitude, empathy and sharing. As October wanes, the family and friends celebrate Thanksgiving and the joys of Christmas. On the other hand, the children’s curiosity put them in danger of being eaten by wolves and ravens, swept down the river on a log and being destroyed by a forest fire. Charlotte is a sensitive and inquisitive mouse who desires to read, write and explore the world around her. She and her brother share sibling rivalry, but at the same time deeply love and care for one another. Their parents teach them to have faith that Very, Very Big Hands will be there to guide and protect them.

This chapter book is geared toward readers in grades three to six. Some younger children may enjoy individual stories as a read aloud. There are no illustrations; a few simple drawings would add appeal to younger children. I would thoroughly recommend the book as a gentle, sweet read for children who love animals. The many lessons learned and bravery in facing adversity allow for lots of discussion on the topics of developing strong character and interpersonal skills.

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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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RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

Above & Beyond: How To Help Your Child Get Good Grades In School, and Position Them For Success in College, Career And Life

Written by Dr. Nicoline Ambe

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Quite a mouthful for a title! Most any parent would say they want all these things for a child, yet delivering them is by no means an easy task. The author of this book is not revealing new information, but organizing and structuring it in an easy to read, practical guide.

The book is divided into fourteen chapters starting with the big picture and working toward specific steps for implementation. At the outset parents must believe in their children, ensuring that they don’t feel inadequate, celebrating their successes and avoiding nagging. Parents need to understand why school is important by building up a child’s dreams, discussing the future and helping them to discover their own passions and talents. Then parents can follow through by setting realistic but high expectations and helping children move toward them.

In the later sections of the book, the author explains the importance for the child to listen to the teacher and how parents can encourage that. Ambe insists that achievement is tied to a love of reading, which spills over into all subjects of the curriculum. She explains the importance of completing homework, maintaining a good structure at home by establishing routines, doing extra credit work and practicing for tests. I found the section on math interesting. Ambe stresses the importance of mastering math skills in the early elementary grades and urges parents to visit the school to ensure those supports are in place. Other important areas for parents are teaching character and integrity through personal example, demanding accountability, and communicating empathy. Parents will help a child find balance and provide discipline by seeking the right extracurricular activities to instill motivation and leadership qualities. Above all, the parents themselves must put their best foot forward as mentally and physically stable role models who pursue their own passions and goals.

At the end of each of the fifteen short chapters, parents are give a short exercise by answering pertinent questions about their own child to help reinforce the content of that section. These can serve as a kind of notebook or reference guide. This book of approximately one hundred pages belongs on every parent and guidance counselor’s bookshelf. I found the common sense and practical guide valuable and easy to follow. Wish I had this when my children were still in school.

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THIS CAT IS NO RAT

The Amazing, Super Secret, Undercover Life of Roscoe the Cat

Written by Richard Kelley

Photographs by Sherrill Kelley

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This short adventure is the story of a cat who leads a double life as a secret agent. At the beginning of the tale the reader meets Roscoe and his sibling, Olive who have been rescued from a shelter. They have some difficulty adjusting to life with the resident house cat, Cayenne, but soon all become friends. Roscoe finds the life of a house cat very comfortable. Still, Roscoe is a very strange cat in one respect; at night he becomes a secret agent prowling the area to solve whatever mischief is afoot.

One night Roscoe notices a small tear in the cat food bag in the laundry room. He leaves his fellow cats to guard his warm bed spot and investigates. He thinks he knows the culprit but does not confront him. The mystery continues for a few nights until Roscoe discovers that a rat has been stealing the food. At first he is determined to kill him, but after looking the rat in the eye, he changes his mind. Roscoe discovers that the rat was cold and hungry so he broke in to find shelter and survival. Remembering his earlier fate, Roscoe persuades all the cats in the household to befriend him.

Okay, this does sound a bit ridiculous that a cat who is the natural enemy of the rat would suddenly let him off the hook. However, the book does teach children that we can have empathy for those we have been taught are our enemy and all of us have the same basic needs and wants for survival. This book is filled with adorable photographs that children and adults will enjoy. Young children will delight in the book as a read aloud. It also makes a good beginning reader for children in the early elementary grades.

The author is a medical doctor who is also a fitness expert. He has written books on health and the Christian faith. Kelley now has expanded his writing interests to include children’s books. If you and your family love cats, this book might be a good choice.

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SEARCHING FOR MOMMA

Terry Treetop and the Lost Egg

Written by Tali Cami

Illustrated by Cindy Liang

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This is another book in a series from the Happy Inspired Children’s Books Collection featuring an endearing young boy named Terry Treetop because he loves climbing trees. In this one, Terry has found an egg lying on the ground. He vows to protect it at all costs until he can locate the mother. Terry meets several animals on his journey including a turtle, alligator, frog , hen and parrot. Along the way, the reader is introduced to the way each of these animals nourishes and takes care of its young. When Terry finally solves the puzzle and finds the true mother, he insists on remaining with the egg until it is hatched and the mother is present to take full charge.

The entire story is written in verse which works most of the time, but seems forced in a few instances. The illustrations by Mindy Liang are simple but drawn in bold deep colors to attract even the youngest reader. Children will learn a lot about how animals take care of their young as well as lessons of loyalty, empathy and kindness for our fellow creatures. This book is marketed for ages two through six; older children will have the patience to listen to the entire text which is a bit on the long side for a picture book. I read the kindle edition which was nicely formatted. As a bonus, the author offers a link to obtain a fun creative kit that can be downloaded as well as a preview of another book in the series titled, Terry Treetop Finds New Friends.

These books are a worthwhile addition to your bedtime story collection or useful as beginning readers for a child who has begun to read independently.

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TEACHABLE MOMENTS

Bleagh: A book about values

 

Written by Leana Lyn Doray

Illustrated by Little Pink Pebble

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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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