Posts tagged ‘family relationships’

#Cybils2017 #Finalists

Proudly presenting two more books that were finalists in the contest this year:

EASY READER CATEGORY

FRIENDS FINDING SOLUTIONS…

My Kite Is Stuck! And Other Stories

Written by Salina Yoon

 

All three stories feature the same three main characters, Little Duck, Big Duck and Porcupine. In the first story, Big Duck gets his kite stuck in the tree. His two friends try to help, but only make the problem worse. Children will laugh at the silly solutions the characters invent.

The second tale revolves around Porcupine making friends with a bug. Big Duck and Little Duck discuss the qualities needed in a friend and try to persuade Porcupine why he can’t be friends with a bug. There is a surprise ending.

In the third story, the three friends decide to build a lemonade stand. They model cooperation, patience and hard work. Of course, there are a few hiccups and lots of humor when the friends forget about the main ingredient needed for their success.

These stories employ speech balloons with dark text and brilliant digital illustrations that fill the page. I would recommend it to preschoolers and kindergarten beginning readers. Each story can be enjoyed separately for beginning readers with shorter attention spans.

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK CATEGORY:

SCIENCE, MAGIC, AND GIRL POWER…

Zoey And Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows

Written by Asia Citro

Illustrated by Marion Lindsay

 

What a charming way to combine science, a bit of magic and a strong female role model in an interesting story! Zoey is an inquisitive, intelligent, sweet girl. One day she discovers her mother holding a photograph that appears to be glowing. Her mother attempts to hide it, but when Zoey reveals that she can see the glowing creature, her scientist-mother reveals her secret.

As a child, her mother discovered a purple glowing frog that was severely injured. To her amazement, the frog named Pip began talking to her. Ever since that day, Zoey’s mom had been helping other magical creatures who needed assistance. She installed a hidden doorbell in the barn. Zoey’s mom thought she was the only one who had this ability, but now she understands that Zoey also has the gift.

When Zoey’s mom must travel to a scientific conference, Zoey hopes that she will receive a call for help from one of these magical creatures. Zoey studies her mom’s journals, notes, and photos. Sure enough, a few days later, she hears the bell and finds a small reptile near death in the barn. Zoey gets to work, but there is so much to learn. She sets forth a hypothesis and sets out her materials. Like a true scientist, she uses trial and error and controls in her experiments. Together with her cat, Sassafras, they work to save the creature. Who is this creature? Will Zoey be successful?

I found lots to like in this chapter book. Large print, beautiful black and white drawings, and a table of contents that lists the subject of each short chapter. Citro carefully crafts a multicultural, curious and hard-working female protagonist who is empathetic and appealing to young readers. Children quickly become engrossed with the plot, while hardly realizing they are learning about the scientific method and the reptile species. The glossary reinforces understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary. Highly recommended for beginning readers, but certainly challenging enough for middle-grade readers.

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CHAIN REACTION

Reuben’s Choice: A Make Your Own Decisions Book

Written by Natalie Vellacott

As the title implies, this is an interactive storybook for children. Reuben is excited and proud because this is the first day he is being permitted to walk to school on his own. He hurriedly makes his way past the scary alley along the way and is nearly at school when he hears a howling distress sound from a ditch near the road. Reuben faces his first decision. Should he stop, disobey his mother’s instructions, be late for school, ignore a plea for help? Readers are given four choices. When they make their choice, they are directed to a page which gives them additional questions and outcomes because of their choices. Eventually, readers will reach the last choice and be directed back to the beginning of the book until they reach the end of the story.

Children will learn that honesty is the best policy and that all our actions have unforeseen consequences. The book provides lots of important discussion topics for parents and teachers. Interactive reading encourages children to keep reading and gives them the power to control the story outcome. Recommended especially for children in the eight to twelve age range.

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CAT CAPERS

Wendy and Black (Cat Detective 1): The Mystery House

Written by Amma Lee

First in a series of chapter books featuring a fifteen-year-old girl named Wendy and Black, her cat. Wendy has been endowed with a special gift. Once every hundred years a member of her family develops the ability to converse with cats. Wendy uses this gift to communicate with her cat. Together they have become a talented detective team. When a house down the street suddenly appears to be inhabited, Wendy and Black set out to investigate. Wendy’s mom, Mrs. Michaels, asks her to pick up a welcome package for the new neighbor.

Wendy and Black cannot contain their curiosity. They illegally break into the house drawn in by a mysterious purple light. When the floorboards cave in, and Black detects Mrs. Michaels’ presence in the house, their level of fear rises. Will the detective pair solve the mystery? Is Wendy’s mom safe?

This is a short chapter book that is most appropriate for beginning readers. There are a few editing issues. The book is targeted for nine to twelve-year-old readers but probably is not challenging enough for the older end of that age group. I would recommend it especially for reluctant readers and mystery fans.

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CHECKMATE

An Evening with Grandpa: Adventures in Chess Land

Written by Diana Matlin

This chapter book contains a story that achieves two objectives: it teaches a child how to play chess and presents an engaging fairy tale promoting strong female role models.

Annie is sick in bed with a sore throat. To make matters worse, her family is attending The Nutcracker Ballet and she is stuck home with grandpa. Grandpa sticks his nose in his newspaper. He won’t consider playing one of Annie’ s favorite child games. But once he begins telling her a story about a young girl named Pawnie who is enlisted by the Queen to fight for her kingdom, Annie wants to hear more. Grandpa cleverly reveals how to play chess in the tale about two queens and kings who are battling for control of the kingdom. Grandpa includes all the chess players and carefully details their moves and strategies for winning the battle. The white queen promises that if Pawnie successfully gets to the other side, she will become a princess. Annie is enthralled with the tale and eagerly sets out to learn how to play the game of chess with grandpa.

Matlin keeps the plot moving with clever dialogue and a detailed description of how the chess characters can succeed in winning the game by learning the right chess moves. It is a unique way to introduce children to a challenging game of skill. The chapters are kept short and the print font is large, making it a good choice for beginning and reluctant readers. The strong female role model focus combined with the traditional princess protagonist is a powerful magnet for young girls. Highly recommended for budding chess players and readers in the six to ten age group but a fun read for all.

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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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