Posts tagged ‘family relationships’

A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE INCIDENTS

The Frights of Fiji: (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Series Book 1

Written by Sunayna Prasad

This is the first in a series of fantasy adventures for middle-grade readers. Alyssa is the twelve-year-old protagonist who lost her parents in an accident five years prior. Although her parents had named her Uncle Alex as her guardian, she is now living with her Uncle Bruce and his daughter, Hailey.

Bruce is a stern taskmaster; Alyssa lives a life of unending rules and drudgery. When magic becomes a part of her life, along with some strange-looking wizards and creatures, she believes there is the hope of escape from her plight. But then she learns that an evil wizard intends to capture her and remove Bruce from the picture.

Alyssa has been whisked away to Fiji where her situation goes from bad to worse. She is enslaved with several other children and forced to do the evil wizard’s bidding. Will Alyssa find a way to escape back to the United States and find refuge with her godfather?

There are many fantastical characters and a series of rather far-fetched incidents. Even though this book is a magical fantasy, some of the plot connections don’t come off as genuine.

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MAN’S BEST SUPER SLEUTH

Hide and Panic Stations (Super Sleuth Sam Book 1)

Written by Monty J. McClaine

This is the first book in a nine-part series. The author uses the introduction to present the characters of the series. Jack is a mischievous six-year-old. His father likes to tinker in the garage with his Corvette, his mother is a devoted stay at home mom, his sister, Molly has just begun to crawl. Sam, the basset hound is always on red alert protecting the family and serving as Jack’s constant companion. But Sam is no ordinary dog, he has magical powers passed down to him from his ancestors. When Sam recites his chant, he develops super speed and the detective skills of a Sherlock Holmes.

One day Jack and Sam are playing hide and seek. Jack pushes the envelope by finding a hiding place in which no one discovers him. While Jack is comfortably ensconced reading his dad’s comic and enjoying a snack, the rest of the family is in panic mode. Readers will enjoy how Sam employs his super speed and detective smarts to solve the mystery of Sam’s disappearance. Sam’s parents are about to call the police. Will Sam be able to solve the mystery? Perhaps young readers will be able to help.

This book is a fun chapter book for beginning and middle-grade readers. It presents a typical family with some atypical characteristics, some humor, and a mystery for readers to ponder. Recommended especially for third to fifth graders. The length of approximately one hundred pages makes it a good choice for reluctant readers as well.

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COW CONNUDRUM

MEOW SAID THE COW

WRITTEN BY SARAH MAZOR

ILLUSTRATED BY ABIRA DAS

This is the second book in the Auntie Lily bedtime silly story collection. I liked it even more than the first. The lead character is a silly cow who tries to imitate other animals like a cat, hen, donkey, cheetah, monkey, snake and frog, to name just a few. In the process, children learn the characteristics of many animals. Rhymes are crisp and sharp, and the alliteration allows the sounds to roll off the tongue when reading aloud. Adults will enjoy this one as much as the children who are listening.

Illustrations are vivid and expressive, allowing even the youngest child to clearly get the message. This book is a perfect choice for an older sibling reading to a younger brother or sister. Perhaps my favorite part is the riddle section at the end that asks the child to answer ten riddles. After reading the book a few times, many readers will be able to create their own riddles. This series is a clever, creative, interactive approach to learning. Highly recommended as a bedtime story or read aloud for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school age children.

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SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT

The Adventures of Joy Sun Bear: The Blue Amber of Sumatra

Written by Blanca Carranza and John Lee

This is the first book in a series of adventures featuring a bear named Joy. Set in the tropical rainforest of Sumatra, readers are rapidly propelled into a nonstop fantasy adventure. Joy will learn a lot about himself and teach his readers about courage, bravery, and standing up for themselves and others. Joy meets an assortment of magical characters, an exotic bird, a magical frog, orangutans, and a trickster fox to name a few.

Joy teaches readers the importance of family relationships, stewardship of Mother Earth, and respect for creatures of other cultures. Readers are exposed to the good and bad of humans as well as the inner struggles faced within oneself. The color illustrations move the story along for younger readers and help to illuminate the hidden storylines. The chapter book runs close to two hundred pages so it might be a challenge for beginning readers who might want to approach it in several phases; it would make an excellent teacher read aloud book to discuss in the classroom. Recommended audience is for ages six through ten, though I would classify it more as a middle-grade selection. I am looking forward to reading the next tale and following Joy’s growth journey.

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MEMORIES AND MYSTERIES

THE FLYING FROG

Written by David Yair

Illustrated by Ilana Graf and Natalie Jackson

This is book five of The Flying Frog series, but it stands alone as an interesting approach for children to understand Alzheimer disease. The Rimon children are a clever pair of siblings who are adept at solving mysteries. They accomplish this task with the help of a flying frog named Quack.

In Book Five of the series, Adam Shor is a retired carpenter who is beloved in his town. He is now in the advanced stages of Alzheimer disease. His wife. children and grandchildren watch over him. One day, he walks out of the garden gate. gets confused and lost. The whole town mobilizes to search for him. The Rimon children enlist the aid of Quack. They tie balloons to him and launch him into the forest.

As the story unfolds, children begin to understand the complexities of the disease and the emotional upheaval that it evokes in the family and friends. This story is an excellent way to introduce a discussion about the topic to children. There are a few endearing illustrations that portray the emotional impact of the tale. The book is short at under forty pages, but I would have liked to have seen larger print for the targeted middle-grade audience. Recommended especially for readers in the eight to twelve age range.

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PAYBACK

Max’s Revenge

Written by Sally Gould

This is the first book in a series of books revolving on the main character, Max. Max always seems to get the short end of the stick. His older brother, Charlie, is perceived to be perfect. In the first story, the siblings are invited to the wedding of their Uncle Dan. But before the vows are exchanged, Charlie lures Max into a trap that ends with his falling out of a tree and disrupting the wedding. Things further deteriorate at the wedding reception, when Charlie attracts the flower girl, Lucy, who Max adores. Charlie becomes a partner in crime with the bartender and Sophie’s three brothers who conspire to booby trap the marriage getaway car. To make matters worse, Max’s evil Aunt schemes to get Max into trouble. Of course, Max finds devious ways to get his revenge.

The second story centers around Charlie and Max’s visit to their Nana’s house. A social worker has persuaded the boys’ parents to take a much-needed break. While at Nana’s house, the boys discover that the evil Aunt is trying to get Nana to sell her house. The boys get their revenge on their Aunt and try to prevent the sale. They plan several pranks to thwart the sale, but they discover Nana secretly wants to move. How will they undo the damage? The hilarious result will be that Max has to eat dog food stew.

Children in grades three to six will find themselves empathizing with poor Max. Perhaps they have a relative like Max’s evil Aunt. The comedy is spot on and the dialogue appears genuine and age appropriate. Length of the stories is not too long so the book will appeal to reluctant readers. Perfect choice for a summer read.

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SHORT AND SWEET

The One That Got Away and other short stories

Written by Margaret Lynette Sharp

Three short and charming stories set in Australia. In the first containing the book’s title, Amanda writes to her sister Sonya from overseas about the love of her life, Thomas, a fisherman who has literally just “got away.” This story is poignant, yet contains humor and an optimistic bent. In the second story, a grandmother struggles with a change of fortunes and the realization that she will have to sell the piano that has given her granddaughter such pleasure. Grandma’s daughter, Angela seems cold and indifferent to her dilemma. The last story brings Caroline back to the beach where she met her true love twenty five years ago. She meets Barry, a young artist, and strikes up a conversation. He reminds her of the man she left behind long ago. A surprise ending brings the story full circle.

The author does a good job of developing her characters and creating the mood for each of these short stories. They are a quick and delightful read. Recommended for anyone age ten and older who enjoys clean well-written short stories.

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