Posts tagged ‘family relationships’

AT DEATH’S DOOR

Witch Hearts the Discovery of Magic and Power

Angharad Thompson Rees

This is the first book in a fantasy series for young adults. Triplets Morganne Amara, and Fae despair because their mother appears to be nearing death. They live in a secluded cottage at the edge of Mystic Wood.

Desperate to find a cure for their mother’s mysterious illness, the sisters venture into the woods in search of a cure. Little do they realize their problems are just beginning. Something or someone appears to be following them.

Once captured, the girls are deemed to be witches. How will they be able to save their mother? Will they succeed in escaping or are they doomed to the pyre?

I was impressed with the writing. The author succeeds in creating the mood and getting the atmosphere right. For a book that is fewer than one hundred pages, the characters are remarkably well-developed. This is a clean read and would be appropriate for advanced middle-grade readers as well as teens and adults.

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SIZING THINGS UP

Short or Tall Doesn’t Matter at All

Written by Asaf Rozanes

Mia is very short. This distresses her because her classmates often make fun of her and exclude her from activities.

Mia reveals her problem to her father. He tells her a fairytale about the sun and moon and how they became friends. One day a situation unfolds at school that proves to the other children there is value in being small. The other children learn an important lesson from Mia. They now understand she also has many special talents. Size does not matter.

This picture book is written in rhyme. It works, for the most part, but the story would have been just as effective if written in prose. Recommended especially for students in the six to ten age group but an important lesson for middle-school students as well.

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A MIXED BAG

A Family Dinner

Written and Illustrated by Cory Q, Tan

A Family Dinner by [Tan, Cory Q]

This picture book contains creative and beautifully done illustrations. The plot combines a few traditional fairytales that are given an unusual twist.

At the beginning of the story, the mother asks her husband to go to the store to buy carrots as she wants to make carrot and potato soup. She does not ask him to do so with a respectful tone. Dad obliges her but soon discovers the local grocery is closed. He continues to search for carrots and gets involved in a series of adventures.

Dad meets up with a cast of characters that involve humans and some animals with bad intentions. These adventures invoke shades of familiar fairytales. Will Dad give up or will he pursue his task? Will his wife be grateful for his efforts?

The twists and turns of this tale are interesting, but many children may become lost and confused in the message. This book will probably lead to lots of questions when reading to young children. I recommend that the book be read with adult supervision and guidance.

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RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

Bubbe’s Sweet Surprise

Written by Sherry Dahl

Illustrated by Mike Motz

Three puppies set off to find the perfect birthday present for their Bubbe (grandmother). She speaks in Yiddish and they misinterpret her words. This leads to hilarious consequences as they go to great lengths to acquire these things. They get themselves into trouble and create quite a mess.

Bubbe is not upset. What she really wants from her grandchildren is spending time with them and sharing her love with them. The adorable illustrations of the personified animals and the humor will warm the heart of young readers. Children will learn a bit of Yiddish. (a glossary is included)

At the end of the book, there is a recipe for yummy Chocolate Cherry Pudding Cake. After reading about so many goodies, readers might want to try whipping one up. Recommended especially for elementary school-age children, but can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

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# Animal Rescue DOGS HAVE FEELINGS TOO…

Lucky’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland (Lucky’s Adventures)

Written by Elizabeth Macey

Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky

Lucky Charms is an adopted rescue dog who happily lives with her human family and a cat named Hershey Kisses. She is excited to wake up to a snowstorm. Lucky promptly goes out to play with her neighborhood dog friends. They go ice-skating and skiing. The day ends with barbecuing hot dogs. That night Lucky reflects on how fortunate she is to have such a comfortable life with a loving family and so many dog friends. She figures out a way to help less fortunate dogs and rallies her neighborhood dog friends to assist her.

Children will love seeing these dogs take on human characteristics and do the activities they love participating in themselves. The illustrations consist mostly of two-page spreads featuring many vivid drawings of adorable dog breeds. Macey includes a list of suggestions for her readers to get involved in animal rescue. I would recommend this picture book especially for elementary school readers, but it has appeal for a reader of any age.

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A GLIMPSE INTO THE LIFE…

Grigori Rasputin: A Life from Beginning to End

Written by Hourly History

This short read of approximately fifty pages can be read in an hour or less. As such, it cannot be considered a comprehensive review of “The Mad Monk’s” life. It is one of the better books in this history series.

The book begins with Rasputin’s life as a troubled child born in a small village in Siberia. He had many clandestine meetings with his followers, many of whom were women. Rasputin soon developed a reputation as a womanizer. On the other hand, his banishment to a monastery led to the development of a mystical streak. Rasputin had a habit of carrying out everything in his life to extreme limits.

When the monk cured the Tsar and Tsarina’s son, his history of miracles emerged to become a factor. Rasputin would divide the Greek Orthodox church into factions. He soon found himself surrounded by enemies. During his life, he found himself in and out of favor with the Russian monarchy as well as the common populace.

His ability to work miracles protected him from harm many times. He reportedly survived an assassination attempt by poison, only to be shot while making his escape. The combination of factors including World War I and its effect on the Russian populace would eventually doom the Russian government.

This book will give readers a decent overview of Rasputin’s colorful life and role in twentieth-century Russian history. It whets the appetite and interested readers can move on to more comprehensive studies.

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WHO’S WHO

Brian: The Helmsworth Project: Book Two

Written by Madison Key

I did not read the first book in this science fiction, coming of age series, but I caught on after the first few pages. Sixteen-year-old Brian has managed to escape after his parents are killed and his home blown up. Brian’s sisters Claire and Jenna are under the protection of the FBI, as were his parents. He is being held off the coast of Mexico. It appears that his captors know of his psionic and pyrokinesis powers. While being held, Brian keeps in mental touch with his sister. But he is having difficulty figuring out who is the real enemy and being forced into submission to do their bidding.

Will Brian be able to untangle the web of deceit in time to get back to his sisters and safety? This book of fewer than fifty pages moves along quickly. Middle-grade, young adult and adult science fiction, and genetic engineering fans who enjoy a light, fast-moving read will probably like this series.

ONLY E

Letter E Leaves the Alphabet

Written and illustrated by Martha Lane

Letter E decides that he wants to leave his alphabet family. He is tired of never being first. Even in the vowel group, his sister letter A always assumes first place. Despite his family’s assurances, that he is unique and cannot be replaced, E writes a letter and takes off on a snowmobile.

The book might be used as an introduction to the alphabet for young children. It contains a sentence rhyme for each of the alphabet letters. But the main message is that like every letter, each child is unique and irreplaceable. Will the alphabet family convince him to return or will the previously written words need to be changed?

This book is based on a true-life experience with a child named, Eric. Recommended as a read-aloud self-esteem book or as an alphabet teaching tool.

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GHOSTS OF THE PAST

Babu and Bina at the Ghost Party (Babu and Bina Book Series 1)

Written by P Tomar

Illustrated by Giulia Iacopini

Mama and Papa Trunk are preparing to take their elephant children, Babu and Bina to the old Indian fort. The children are excited. When a candy man warns them to watch out for the ghost of the Maharaja, their interest peaks even more. As the children eagerly explore the fort, Pina, their pup, takes off. They follow her and get locked in a mysterious room where they will meet many ghosts of the fort gathered together for a celebration. Will the children find a way back to their parents?

Babu and Bina are an adorable brother and sister pair who teach their readers much about sibling cooperation and Indian history. This promises to be an interesting series on Indian culture and history. Vivid illustrations will engage even the youngest reader. The short length makes it a good choice for a bedtime story or a read- aloud. Recommended for children ages three through eight.

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AN ACTIVE IMAGINATION

Ronan’s Dinosaur

Written by Nadishka Aloysius

Illustrated by Manoshi de Silva

This chapter book features a five-year-old boy named Ronan who is suddenly moved to join his parents at his Grandmother’s rural home in Sri Lanka. Ronan and his parents lived in the urban area of Colombo.

Ronan is an anxious, lonely boy who does not like change. His parents have moved in temporarily to help his ailing grandmother. Ronan’s parents are kind and caring parents who do their best to assuage his fears. One day while playing in the garden, Ronan finds a lizard named Scoot. Scoot can talk. He explains to Ronan that she is a dinosaur. Ronan is skeptical, but he learns to enjoy exploring with her and making friends with Tryx, her dinosaur friend who lives in the trees.

When Ronan’s parents hear him talking aloud, they think he is talking to himself and become concerned. So, they take him to visit a neighbor next door who has a dog named Spike. Ronan is afraid of the dog, until Scoot talks to the animal. Again, Ronan learns he has nothing to fear.

Ronan’s grandmother has a setback and must visit the hospital. There he confides in his grandmother and reveals his secret. She remembers her own youth spent with Scoot. The time has come to sell the house and move to a nursing home. Ronan is devastated. Will Ronan ever see Scoot again?

This is a wonderful book to share with children who like to be alone or who experience anxieties. It gently explains that change is not necessarily bad and that we grow from personal experiences both real and imaginary. Targeted for children ages seven and older. I would especially recommend it for ages nine through twelve as a portion of the vocabulary is challenging.

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