Posts tagged ‘family relationships’

DEFLATEGATE

Jug Valley Mysteries, HANDS UP!

Written by Anne Digby

Amy and Tim are students at Jug Valley. Together with their friends and fellow students, Ben, Ludo, and Mini, they have formed a club called Hands and Spouts. They meet regularly to solve mystery cases. One day at school, Ben accidentally kicks a football over the fence into the rector’s garden. It belongs to Charlie, a lower class man, who becomes terribly distraught. The five friends make a promise to retrieve the precious football as soon as the school day ends.

What appears to be a simple task turns thorny, when the members of the club discover the football has vanished into thin air. Howard, the rector’s son, promises to help, but the trail runs cold. These young detectives are mystified as to why a grungy, old football is so important, but when it becomes apparent that football is gone, they intensify their efforts to stop at nothing to get Charlie’s football back into his hands. Why is this football so valuable and why are so many people trying to gain possession of it? There are enough twists and turns to entice middle grade readers to keep turning pages. When the mystery is finally solved, all who have been touched by it learn valuable lessons about themselves and each other.

My only criticism is that the story begins slowly. I had not read any of the other books in the series and therefore was unfamiliar with the characters. After the first couple of chapters, the story evolved and grew more interesting. I like the fact that there is enough challenging vocabulary to stretch the minds of young readers. American readers will need to acclimate to British phrases. Recommended especially for readers in the eight to twelve age bracket.

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THE RIGHT HOME

The Puppy Place # 1 Where Every Puppy Finds a Home

Written by Ellen Miles

This is my first time reading a book in this series. I enjoyed reading this chapter book that is perfect for beginning readers who love dogs. Lizzie and Charles are two siblings who really want a dog, but their mom favors cats and feels that their family is not ready to shoulder the responsibility of caring for a dog. One day, their father, who is a volunteer fireman, rescues a golden retriever puppy from a fire. The children plead with their parents to keep the pup. When their two-year-old brother falls in love with “Goldie,” and follows her everywhere, mom reluctantly agrees to adopt the dog temporarily as a foster pup. Lizzie researchers how to train puppies and Charles helps out with socialization training. Mom insists that they advertise in the community for a permanent placement, and the children reluctantly agree. They come up with a plan to keep the pup nearby. In the end, the family is surprised at how this golden retriever has transformed them.

This chapter book is charming; it tells the story from the viewpoint of the children as well as in the first person from the viewpoint of a puppy. In the process, children learn responsibility and the proper way to care for a puppy. Recommended especially for readers ages seven through ten, but the tale can be enjoyed by all ages.

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REVENGE IS SWEET

Jesper Jinx and the Sneezing Season: The Jesper Jinx Series Book 2

Written and Illustrated by Marko Kitti

Jesper Jinx is an eleven-year-old British boy who lives in a seaside village called Puffington Hill. The name jinx is attached to him because he has a knack for experiencing bad luck or inflicting it on others. At the outset, readers meet Jesper trying to win over Chloe, (the girl he has a crush on), by appearing at just the right moment with the sandwich for which she has no money. Fate intervenes when a seagull swoops in to steal it, knocking him down and embarrassing Jesper.

The following weekend Jesper is lured with a prize of 50 pounds to accompany his family to get a photo of a rare purple buzzard. The journey involves being outdoors in allergy season. Of course, Jesper secretly spits out his medicine and disaster ensues just as he thinks he has the winning photo in hand. A squirrel couple named Ronald and Ramona achieve their revenge for Jesper’s kite ruining their home and injuring them. When Jesper and his friend Oliver challenge his teenage sister to a balancing contest, what appears to be a victory rapidly switches to disaster and embarrassment for Jesper.

Kitti cleverly intertwines plot elements and characters to create a cohesive story. The comic pictures add a whimsical touch to the humorous dialogue. Middle-grade students will enjoy the preposterous circumstances and antics of sibling rivalry. Fans of this book will enjoy all the books in this series.

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OUTSMARTED AND OUTFOXED

My Fox Ate My Homework

Written by David Blaze

Jonah (Joe) Johnson is an eleven- year- old whose life has just been turned upside down. His mother lost her job in Orlando so they have moved to his deceased grandmother’s old house in rural Alabama. On the first day in school, Joe is confronted by a bully who demands that Joe write his homework assignment.

Things go from bad to worse when the tax collector appears and informs them that the property taxes are overdue and the county would be foreclosing. Now they will need to move into his Uncle Mike’s house. When Joe goes outside he discovers a fox in the hen house, not any old fox but a talking fox! Joe and Fox become fast friends, but not before Fox causes all sorts of mayhem as Joe desperately tries to think of ways to help his mother, face the bully and maintain his friend relationship with Fox.

This fantasy tale is written well with lots of authentic dialogue and humor. Middle- grade students will find lots to love. There are cute cartoon- like drawings of the characters interspersed with the text. Blaze touches on issues important to students in this age group. The tale is an easy read that is under one hundred pages which makes it appealing to reluctant readers. Highly recommended for eight to twelve- year- olds, and adults who are willing to listen to a talking fox.

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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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