Posts tagged ‘family relationships’

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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FROM CALMNESS TO CHAOS

War on a Sunday Morning (Home-Front Heroes)

Written by Teresa R. Funke

I really enjoyed this narrative told from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old girl whose life changed forever on the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack. Rose is part of a military family recently transferred to Oahu from San Diego, California. She is missing her friends and still adjusting to life in Hawaii. Her father is assigned to the USS Oklahoma. Rose has an older brother, Lee, who constantly harasses her. She is spending the morning sketching the boats in the harbor. After a morning spent with her new neighbor, Leinana, a meeting up with a Japanese classmate, and an evening of music competitions, the stillness of the following Sunday morning, is broken by an aerial attack.

Suddenly, life on the island is shattered. Rose, her family, and neighbors are placed in terror mode. Families wait to hear about their loved ones, the Japanese are rounded up. No one knows whom to trust and communication lines are broken. The author does a wonderful job of portraying the fear, uncertainty, and human suffering, as well as developing the humanity of the individuals that are affected by the tragedy.

I would certainly recommend the book to young adult and adult audiences. The author targets the book for audiences age nine and older. This book would be an excellent choice for homeschooling parents or teachers of World War II history.

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MUSIC AND MUSINGS

Hands (a short story)

Written by Joe Bunting

This is an interesting short story. Bunting manages to do a fairly good job of developing the plot and characters in just fifteen pages. As the story opens, Jim is an aging musician who plays for senior citizens in a nursing home. The somber mood is set. Jim has lost his true love, several years ago. His son is grown and living away from home. Jim’s memories and music are the only connections that keep him alive.

The setting switches to a restaurant where Jim has dinner with his best friend, his son, and fiancee. There is a brief discussion about politics that in some ways disrupts the main plot. Nevertheless, the author succeeds in writing a deep, thought-provoking piece filled with metaphors and interesting life scenarios.

Recommended for young adult and adult audiences.

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AN UNEXPECTED REWARD

Hazelita And The Magic Broom

Written and illustrated by Hope Finning

Hazelita is a destitute, lonely old woman. Every day she wanders from village to village with her only valuable possession, an old broom passed down to her from her mother. At night she knocks on the door of a local inhabitant seeking a warm meal and a place to state. In return, she promises to sweep their home in gratitude for their kindness. Hazelita cries herself to sleep each night because she has no family to care for her. After a while, word spreads around that her broom is magic and that it will grant any wish the family requests.

One evening she comes to a family headed by Thomas who goes out of their way to shower kindness upon Hazelita. The next day, they refuse to allow her to sweep as she is their honored guest. But Hazelita is horrified to discover the next day, that her broom has lost its magic. What will happen to Hazelita now that she cannot pay for her room and board? The answer lies in kindness rewarded. Read the book to find out how.

This book teaches children the value of community responsibility and the lesson that we should not expect rewards for everything we do. I would recommend the book to elementary and middle-grade students.

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HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY – TRANSFORMATIONS

Weeds in Nana’s Garden: A heartfelt story of love that helps explain Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.

Written and Illustrated by Kathryn Harrison

This well-written book is poignant and beautiful. The author tackles a difficult subject with which many families are forced to face. By using the metaphor of a garden overcome with weeds, the author introduces the subject of Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia.

The protagonist is a young girl who enjoys planting seeds in her Nana’s garden every spring. She laughs and dances as her grandmother explains the fairies are sprinkling their magic dust in the garden. They work the garden as the flowers spring to life. They observe the changes in the garden as the seasons change.

Then one summer, the little girl notices weeds growing in the garden. She inquires of her Nana whether they should pull them out, but her grandmother just nods. Confused, the little girl asks her mother why Nana does not remove the weeds and her mother tenderly explains that Nana’s brain is sick and that like the garden it is becoming tangled and confused. She reminds her daughter that like the flowers growing among the weeds, the Nana they remember is still underneath.

As time goes on, the weeds multiply and Nana’s condition worsens. The little girl has grown and she learns to deal with reality. She sings and dances in the garden once more, now taking over the responsibility for the garden while her grandmother rests sitting underneath a tree.

The author reminds us that our mothers and grandmothers are treasures, but like the cycle of the seasons, they will not be with us forever. There is a wonderful list of questions and answers that can be used to explain dementia to children. Harrison donates 20% of her sales to the Alzheimer Foundation in Canada. Recommended for parents, grandparents, teachers and children ages six and older.

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