Posts tagged ‘fiction’

A GIFT TO ONESELF

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I would like to wish my subscribers and their families all over the world peace, joy, health, and happiness however and wherever you celebrate during this holiday season.

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The Prayer: A Haunting Children’s Christmas Tale that Captures the True Spirit of Christmas

Written by Stephan J Myers

Illustrated by Kerry Fisher and Stephan J Myers

The Prayer,pic

These verses were first written in 2009 and recently published in Great Britain in kindle format. The author makes one request: before reading the story promise that you will never forget the meaning in these words. I don’t think that you will…

The title is a bit misleading because this book is not a prayer in the religious sense. At the beginning the scene is set for children round the world dreaming of the images and gifts that Christmas will bring; then suddenly shifts to the image of children who have no family, friends, and are struggling to survive the night. “For sometimes the children who need things the most, are lost to the night and a pale winter’s ghost.”

A starving child dressed in rags hears a voice in the darkness that urges him to follow his lantern so that he may discover a home with a hearth and a warm fire. This spirit instructs the boy to hold up his lantern and peer through the windows he passes along the way. The boy obeys and observes a young boy reading in a room with presents piled under the tree. At the next house he views this same boy who is now a father with a child on his knee; the kitchen tables piled high with food. As his lantern grows dimmer, the boy gazes through another window viewing that boy as an old man. No one in these houses is able to see his plight. The lamp is beginning to fade, and so is the life left in that little boy. When New Year dawns, those lucky children are still reveling in the holiday oblivious to his plight, while that little needy little boy has become a ghost.

This is a powerful and well written short story done in verse that will remain in memory long after you read it. The illustrations are colorful, fluid, warm and penetrating; they reinforce the words and draw on compelling images that do not allow the words to recede from memory. Myers represents the story through the eyes of the starving child though the execution does not always work. I would strongly recommend this book as a family read or a book for classroom discussion reminding all of the deeper meaning of the Christmas season.

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BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

Mason and Bess: The Adventure Continues Book 2

Written by Diane Major

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This short fantasy story that is appropriate for tweens, teens and adults involves a boy named Mason who lives with his best friend, Bess, and his mother, Queen Anna, in a land called Sanctea. They once lived in a small town on the planet earth;  but Anna, who has the ability to pass from one dimension to another, decided to leave the earth.

The Queen awakens from a dream in which she sees their former neighbor’s daughter named Katie sucked into a vortex. Hoping that the child has been transported to her own homeland, the Queen sends her special messengers, the Elgae, to search for her. Unfortunately, she is not found. Anna suspects Katie is the victim of foul play. Anna cannot leave her world without weakening her powers so she sends her son and Bess to find Katie and return her safely to earth. Mason will take the magic wand his father left them. Bess is given a special black medallion that will transport them between worlds.

Anna casts a spell to transport the children back to their old home on earth, but Bess finds, to her chagrin, that she is no longer a young girl but a black and white cocker spaniel! The two children locate the pool where Katie went swimming, and when they sneak in at night find themselves sucked into that very same vortex. They arrive in a magical land called Nomreg where there are feathered green trees, lollipop flowers, floating TV screens in the sky, and beautiful rainbows. Appearances are deceiving; the children find themselves in a war between the Fairies and the Bugzies. They will each face many dangers and adventures in their quest to find Katie. Will the power of the magic wand be enough to ward off their enemies? Are they successful in locating and returning Katie to earth and ultimately traveling back to their own world of Sanctea?

There are lots of twists and turns in the plot and some surprises along the way. Even though the story is short, the main characters are believable and well developed. I am looking forward to meeting them again in further adventures.

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TALE OF TWO TREES

TALE OF TWO TREES

Written by Barbara Ann Mojica

Heather was sitting with her mom and grandmother on the couch when her younger brother, Alex and her dad walked into the living room with the artificial Christmas tree. A gasp of horror escaped from their lips simultaneously. Dad proudly announced, “Isn’t it beautiful, and we don’t have to worry about finding pine needles in the rug next July.” Mom and Heather managed to slowly stand. But we were planning to go to buy our tree tomorrow! Dad just smiled, “Alex and I thought we would surprise you. We bought some beautiful new ornmanets too.” Heather peeked into the bag. She found some glass ornaments shaped like pine cones in bright colors that were covered with sparkles. “These are hideous! You can’t be serious about putting this up in our living room.”

Heather and her mom walked into the kitchen. They decided that they needed to act quickly so they talked with grandma and hatched their plot. Early the next morning all three jumped into the car and headed to the local Home Depot. In less than thirty minutes they had found the perfect tree, an eight foot tall Douglas fir, replete with thick, sweet-smelling branches. They hauled the tree atop the SUV and brought it home. Alex and dad had already installed their tree in the living room. That did not deter the ladies from installing their freshly-cut tree in the dining room alcove. By the end of the day both trees stood proudly, one smelled of pine but the other did not!

When people came to visit that year, they were treated to two beautiful family trees. Most of them were at a loss for words; they refused to take sides in the debate over which was prettier, but the next year the new artificial tree quietly disappeared!

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

Ta Ta for Now! (Stories about Melissa)

Written by Bethany Lopez

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This is a fast paced well written story about a fourteen year old girl named Melissa, her family, and the beginning of her freshman year at Dearborn High School. The protagonist writes in a journal format spilling out her hopes, fears and emotions.

Even as an adult reader, I found myself laughing, crying and sympathizing with Melissa. The oldest child of four, Melissa describes her brothers and sisters: Megan, the seventh grader who has no pride in her appearance, Mikey, the nine year old pesky brother, and Monica, the still adorable five year old baby sister. Her parents take their responsibilities seriously and do their best to guide her.

In the beginning of the story, Melissa has just begun to make journal entries in the book Megan has bought for her birthday. Melissa is apprehensive about the first day of high school, especially because her mother is also a teacher at the school! Her life is a roller coaster. Melissa’s best friend Jess has turned into a goth and won’t even talk to her. Melissa is desperately trying to get Brian, a star athlete swimmer and football player, to pay attention to her. A new girl named Layla appears eager to befriend her. Melissa’s entries are filled with the ups and downs of a teenager’s life. There are boy troubles, family quarrels, parental disputes and problems at school.

Many of the lessons learned are not acquired without grief or hardship, but we are introduced to a young lady who is doing her best to find out who she is and how she can fit it without losing her own identity. Bethany Lopez does a good job of delineating the joys and fears as well as the trials and tribulations of a fourteen year old high school freshman. Story action moves along quickly and the sub plots involving supporting characters are seamlessly interwoven. The reader empathizes with Melissa while the supporting cast of characters alternate in lifting her up and pulling her down. Length of the story (about 150 pages) is perfect for a young teen reader. Takes you back to a time that many adult readers would like to forget.

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COMEDY OF ERRORS

F.U.D.G.E.

By Colin Machiavelli (D.A. Boal)

F.U.D.G.E.This book is based on the experiences of a sixteen year old boy who is just about to enter his final year of high school. It is written in first person in the form of a stream of consciousness or personal diary, At the beginning, Pete Armistad, who is often called Petestar, is feeling nervous and anxious about the first day of the new school year. He is worried about grades, teachers and most of all, the fact that he has never had a date or even kissed a girl. The day does not start out well as some eighth grade boys put gum on his seat and he spends the whole day wondering why everyone is snickering at him. Chloe is the girl he currently has a crush on, and his friend Eric is moving in on her. The author uses lots of funny incidents to show the trials and tribulations of the boys and girls in his school. Pete laments, “For a teenage boy to remain happy for more than ten minutes is usually an achievement.”

Pete’s family is also dysfunctional. He tells us that his mother uses cruelty to be kind to him. She is often despondent and has radical mood swings. Pete’s father advises him to ignore his mom when she gets mad because otherwise she will throw and break everything in the house. Most of the time his parents ignore him. Pete points out that they never even bothered to talk to him about sex. Instead they handed him a book. He finally finishes the first week of school when his parents inform him they have decided to take a camping trip for the weekend. Of course he does not want to go. Their car breaks down and they have to take a bus the rest of the way to the campground. He insults an old man and the whole family gets kicked off the bus. The family is forced to walk the rest of the way to the campground. The nightmare continues as he takes a shower in the girl’s shower room and leaves his clothes there by mistake. I think you see where this is going.

There are a few incongruities in the story. The author has teachers bantering back and forth with him and other students in the classroom. Pete’s mother creates a false identity on face book so she can spy on him, and then actually makes a bet that he will not be able to find a date for the prom!  Pete is forced to ask Sylvia, the ugliest girl in the school, to the prom and she winds up beating him up. Yet, the book is still funny; teen boys and girls alike will find many situations with which they can identify. The characters are well defined and the story line is clever. Even though I am far removed from my teen years and the times have definitely changed, I found lots of incidents that brought back memories. What does the title F.U.D.G.E. mean? You’ll have to read the book to the end to find out.

SWITCHEROO

Woof: Two Short Stories

by: Dakota Douglas

Woofpic

This book consists of two short stories. These two stories are fairly easy to read with clear sentences. I think children aged six through nine will particularly identify with the characters and story line.

In the first book titled, A Dog’s Life, we meet Jeremy who has recently moved into the neighborhood. The children think he is stuck up and don’t ask him to play. For the last few days a dog that he has named Rufus has been following him everywhere. While Jeremy is watching the children play soccer, the dog suddenly jumps up and puts his paws on Jeremy. In a flash Jeremy has shrunk to the size of Rufus, and he is looking at a much larger version of himself. He has switched places with Rufus! As a dog, he diverts the ball and proves that he can really play soccer. The babysitter, Mrs. Peacock, has come to bring Jeremy home for dinner. But Jeremy is now a dog; he can only communicate by saying “Woof.” At the dinner table, he shocks his lawyer parents by flinging his steak to the carpet and clawing the floor. Meanwhile the real Jeremy is kept outside the house. Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Turner take their “son” to the doctor who tells them that he is acting out because they work long hours and don’t pay enough attention to their son. For the next few days, they take the dog, whom they believe to be their son, to the cinema, fairs and bowling. The parents reluctantly agree to keep the dog. Jeremy spends his days chasing cats and scrounging around looking for scraps of food. He begs his dog Rufus to change places and switch roles. Will he agree or will Jeremy be forced to remain a dog forever?

The second story is named, A Boy’s Best Friend.  In the beginning of the story, Jeremy is paying little attention to his dog Rufus because he is busy doing homework. Rufus is bored; he is tired of chasing cats. Later on, Jeremy and his dog Rufus are at the dinner table with Mr. and Mrs. Turner. Mr. Turner reads about a robbery in the neighborhood, but nobody seems to pay attention, Shortly after, Rufus discovers a hole under the fence which allows him to venture forth in the neighborhood. While Jeremy was at school and his parents at work, Rufus remembers seeing three men load boxes in a van. He now knows they must be the burglars. Frantically, he tries to get Jeremy’s attention and tell him, but he is unsuccessful. Can you guess what he will do to get Jeremy to follow him? Suddenly Jeremy Turner is acting strangely. Mrs. Peacock threatens to quit and chaos reigns. Will the burglars be apprehended?

What will happen to the members of the Turner family? Can things ever return to normal? You will have to read these two exciting adventures to find out.

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FRIENDS OR FOES

Larry the Liger

by: Fergus Wilson and Rachel Phillips

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This work of fiction is an adorable chapter book that has recently been released as an e book. It is part of a series featuring Larry the Liger. The story is marketed for ages two through eight. As a read aloud, it would need to be broken into several sessions for a younger child. The story is easy to follow, but there are few pictures to hold a young child’s interest. Children aged seven and up will find the story engrossing and want to read it to the end in one sitting.

At the beginning of the story we meet Larry who is a “liger.” His mother was a tigress from India and his father a lion from Africa. How did they meet then? They were intentionally mated to create hybrid cubs. From the beginning, Larry was the largest. He had just returned to the zoo after being featured as the Easter Liger, part of the local children’s Easter parade. Larry lives in the Prague Zoo with his five siblings. He has many friends there. Larry spends a lot of time with Chloe the cat, but for some reason not understood by him; she is always mean to him. On this particular day, Chloe has blocked the hole in the fence so that Larry cannot get back to the zookeeper for lunch. When he finally succeeds in returning, the day has almost ended. He finds Chloe with a fat tummy sleeping peacefully. That really makes the usually mellow liger mad! He yells and screams at her. That must have scared her because she disappears.

After two days, Larry is getting worried that Chloe might not be coming back. He finds that he actually misses that annoying little creature! So he sets out to find her. Larry discovers new friends like Olga the Owl and Cyrus the snake who are willing to help him in his quest. The journey and its outcome have unexpected results and teach both Chloe and Larry many things about themselves.

This is a charming adventure story that is lovingly well told and carefully written both to entertain and to teach. Boys and girls will want to read it over and over. Don’t overlook this book.

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