Posts tagged ‘family relationships’

MIGHT MAKES RIGHT

The Race: an inspiring story for Left-Handers

Written by Janet Hurst-Nicholson

Illustrated by Vanessa Burger

Vicky hates sitting next to Graham in school. He is always bumping into her. Vicky is left-handed and finds it difficult to accomplish simple tasks that seem to come easy for everybody else. She is a klutz in sports and never seems to excel. To make matters worse, everyone seems to make fun of her. Vicky is looking forward to her grandmother’s upcoming visit. She has been busy trying to finish a needlepoint cover as a gift, but even that seems to be coming out wrong. Vicky wants to prove to her grandmother that she is successful, so she and her friend Vicky practice nonstop to win the egg balancing race. Her grandmother will be watching; they are determined to win. An unexpected turn of events leads to a new race being added at the last minute. Will Vicky get a chance to prove to herself and others being left-handed actually be an advantage?

I loved this chapter book. Perhaps being married to a left-hander and having a left-handed son has made be acutely aware of some of the everyday problems left-handed people face. This book presents the problems and enables all of us right-handers to understand how difficult it can be for someone who is a “lefty” to function in a world of right-handed preferences. The world is finally becoming more attuned to the need for left handed tools and devices. Recommend this book highly for teachers, parents and children as a read aloud or a book for families to discuss and share.

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COURAGE AND PERSEVERANCE

Tails of Sweetbrier

Written by Deanie Humphrys- Dunne

Illustrated by Holly Humphrys-Bajaj

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A warm and moving autobiography of a girl who had a dream of riding horses. That might not seem so tough to achieve until you discover that Deanie was afflicted with cerebral palsy. Deanie convinces her parents that she will work hard to achieve that dream, and her father opens up a riding school to support that dream.

Readers follow Deanie’s journey as she learns to walk, trot and canter on her pony, Little Man. As her confidence grows, she begins to dream of loftier goals. Despite a family tragedy with a barn fire that results in the loss of her horse, Chiefie, Deanie and her family persevere and rebuild. We follow their successes and failures as well as the physical hardships that Deanie endures.

The author teachers her young readers to reach for the stars. Work hard to achieve your dreams and use the challenges and failures that occur along the way as a ladder to climb to success. Beautifully written story written in less than one hundred pages that make it perfect for a middle grade and young adult audience. Deanie’s physical challenges and determination also provide inspiration for those with special needs and learning disabilities. The black and white illustrations draw the reader into the story and personalize the narrative enhancing its appeal. Highly recommended for readers age eight and older, especially those who love horses.

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OF CHRISTMASES PAST AND PRESENT

Christmas Healing (Healing the Regime Book 1)

Written by Morris Fenris and Jasmine Bowen

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A bittersweet holiday novella that combines elements of paranormal, horror and romance within a holiday setting. Eighteen year old Annalise led a carefree life as a pretty, popular teen until she was diagnosed with leukemia. Unable to pay her mounting medical bills, she assumes the unusual post of teaching modern technology and cultural customs to a family of vampires. Dr. Hever, the head of the Hever clan becomes her physician. Her life is turned upside down once more when she is summoned by the King of the Vampires to teach his brother Arthur, who has just awakened from a 1000 year sleep. Annalise is terrified. She slowly falls in love with Arthur, but her illness proceeds rapidly to Stage IV cancer. When she is whisked away to the hospital, both she and Arthur are devastated.

The plot sounds far fetched, but the authors succeed in making it palatable, for the most part. Reader’s emotions rise and fall as the conflict tears the two families apart. Annalise thought she was in love with Tony Hever; her fleeting life has been turned upside down by her deep feelings for Arthur. The ending is a surprise. Wonder what will happen in the second book of the series.

Recommended for young adult and adult audiences looking for an unusual but entertaining short holiday read.

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ARABIAN ADVENTURES

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask

Written by Darlene Foster

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Amanda is a twelve year old Canadian student who dreams of travel and adventure. Shortly after she blows out her birthday candles, Amanda’s wish comes true when she is invited to spend a month with her Aunt Ella and Uncle Ben in the United Arab Emirates. Soon Amanda immerses herself in the local culture by visiting a market where a local merchant sells her a mysterious perfume flask that purportedly once belonged to a princess. Amanda meets another young English girl living in her aunt’s building. They explore the seashore and a deserted Bedouin village where Amanda meets Princess Shamza who claims to have sold the perfume flask and her camel to get money to survive. Shamza has run away from her parents to avoid an arranged marriage to a wealthy old man. Lots of adventures ensue: camel races, sandstorms, kidnappings, and meeting Princess Shamza’s true love, a boy named Mohammed. How will Amanda’s journey end? Will she remain friends with Leah? Do the princess and Mohammed find happiness?

This is book one of Amanda’s travels. Lots of action and interesting characters, mixed with tidbits of culture and local customs. Middle grade readers become immersed in the action while learning a lot about multicultural characters and customs. Looking forward to seeing where Amanda will land next. I have a feeling that her love of adventure and generous spirit will lead her readers to be eager to join her again in the future.

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ELEPHANT ENLIGHTENMENT

Charlie the Smart Elephant: Books for Kids: Bedtime Story, Beginning Reader

Written by Jeff Harris

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Short tale of less than twenty pages featuring Charlie the Elephant, an intelligent but hungry elephant who was born in a small town somewhere in Africa, but who longs to live the life of a pet in a cozy family. One day he is adopted and placed in a stray animal shelter where Charlie finds the company of other animals. He is delighted when a boy named Connor adopts him; and the family builds a separate house for the elephant. Then Charlie becomes sad because he has everything he needs and is bored. Charlie rejoices when he overhears two pet dogs talking about their cookies being missing. So Charlie decides to become a detective and solve the missing cookie mystery. Following the cookie crumbs, Charlie comes to a deep forest. Should he enter the forest and risk becoming lost? Will he solve the mystery and return to his family?

This book is charming and sweet for a bedtime story, and beginning readers will be able to handle the text, but the plot does not always flow smoothly or connect the dots. Children might have questions that go unanswered. A few simple illustrations are included. Targeted for readers ages two through fourteen, I would recommend it as a bedtime story for preschoolers or as a beginning reader for a child who enjoys stories about pets.

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#Read Kids Classics

THE GREAT SWITCHEROO

The Five Chinese Brothers

Written by Claire Huchet Bishop

Illustrated by Kurt Wiese

chinesebrotherspicClassic tale of five brothers who looked exactly alike and how they were able to avoid a public execution and prove the innocence of one of the brothers. Although each of the brothers looked exactly alike, each one possessed a unique and special power. The first brother could swallow the sea, the second had an iron neck, the third could stretch and stretch his legs, the fourth could not be burned, and the fifth could hold his breath indefinitely. The plot involves the first brother fishing in the sea when a little boy begs to go with him. He agrees on condition that the boy promises to obey him promptly. But when the first brother swallows the sea, the little boy begins to fill his pockets with the items left behind on land. Despite his warning to the boy that he could no longer hold the sea back, the boy refused to come return and was swallowed by the sea.

The brother was arrested, tried and condemned to death. He pleaded with the judge to return home to say good-bye to his mother and that is when the brothers conspire to use their talents to thwart the execution one by one. The town is amazed that the brother cannot be killed and are eventually convinced that he is innocent.

This book was originally released by Coward-McCann, Inc. in 1938 and was reprinted by Scholastic Book Services beginning in 1966. I grew up reading this humorous and clever classic and was happy to share it with my own children and students. Recommended especially for children in the five to eight age range, but it can certainly be enjoyed by any age. This book is available on amazon in multiple editions and in many formats.

PARENTS LOST IN TIME

The Adventures of Caroline: and the Time Machine

Written by Eric and Elena Oberst

Illustrations by Manoj Bhargav

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Charming chapter book targeted for readers in the six to twelve age range. This book stretches more than one hundred pages, and is best suited for readers in the eight to twelve age bracket. Color illustrations at the beginning of each chapter are well done; they capture the dreamy quality of the fantasy tale.

Caroline is an inquisitive and imaginative eight year old who lives with her Auntie Ann since her parents mysteriously disappeared when she was four years old. On a cold morning in January, Caroline is bored and decides to go up to the attic, which is one of her favorite places to explore She rummages through one of the trunks and finds something new at the bottom of one of them. It is a box with dials, buttons and antennas that looks like an old radio. She experiments with the dials and sets it to June 15, 2015. When she goes downstairs for a snack, she finds the weather outside is warm and the birds are singing. Caroline has stepped six months into the future.

Discovering that the device seems to work, Caroline sets it back to the time of the dinosaurs. She gets more than she bargained for when she encounters T Rex. By quickly turning the dial, Caroline escapes but finds herself in the Pleistocene Age with Woolly Mammoths and Saber Tooth Tigers. Again she hurriedly sets her dial. This time she is about one hundred years in the past near her house where she meets a little boy named Tommy who wants to befriend her. Caroline sets the dial once more and arrives back at Auntie Ann’s house.

After doing some more research, Caroline tracks down her parents’ whereabouts on the day they disappeared. She is determined to go back to the past and find out what happened to them. But will she get more than she bargained for? Will Caroline be able to bring her parents back to her time or will she step into theirs?

This book is a delightful science fiction/fantasy time travel tale that has a broad appeal. Caroline is a strong, determined female role model who knows what she wants and goes after it. The short chapters with appealing illustrations make it a good choice for a class read aloud and discussion. Look forward to the next book in the series. Warning! The end of book one is a cliffhanger.

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