Posts tagged ‘forest’

AUTUMN ANXIETY

The Forest Painter: A Short Story

Written by Diane Mae Robinson

Deep within The Majestic Forest, a bugle call from the top of Peak Mountain has summoned the fairy sprites, the elves, and the wind weavers to perform their autumn responsibilities. But Aura, the Forest Painter, who has been designated to paint the leaves in autumn colors, feels she cannot accomplish the task. Her grandmother was the master painter. Both Aura’s grandmother and parents have already left to paint the heavens. Aura complains that she has not been prepared properly for the task. If she cannot complete her work before the frost arrives, the frost queen will claim the forest forever. Kepa urges her to ask Boreal to help, but Aura believes that Boreal once stole her grandmother’s paintbrush. Will Aura succeed in her race against time to save the trees of the forest? All the plants and animals of the forest are dependent upon her.

This twelve-page story is written with tenderness and empathy. Robinson has deftly woven personification and alliteration with a cadence of language that is charming. Written for a middle-grade audience, it is a sweet and sensitive read that will appeal to a wide range of audiences from beginning reader to adult. Perfect afternoon read to get into the spirit of the changing season.

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WHISPERS, WOLVES AND WITCHES – BLOG TOUR

Whispers of Trees (Mythic Adventures Collection: Book 2)

Written by Ben Woodard

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I received a copy of this book in return for an honest, non-biased review.

Bridget and Colin are walking through the Irish woods ahead of their parents and ten year old brother, Declan. Suddenly Colin disappears; Bridget thinks that he has been eaten by a wolf. A park ranger assures the family Colin will be found. When they go into town to file a report with the town constable, a strange looking lady named Mrs. O’Leary suggests that they must go into the woods so that the trees can guide them to Colin. Colin’s dad angrily puts his foot down, refusing to listen. Declan sneaks out and goes back into the dark woods to find the strange old woman who may be able to lead him to his brother. When Declan finds her in a odd cabin filled with computers and a bubbling cauldron, he is puzzled, but also drawn to follow her. Mrs. O’Leary demands that he go into the woods where the spirits of the trees will speak to him. By taming his fears, not only will he be successful in finding his brother, but he will also bring peace and tranquility to the family.

This mystery set in the mythical woods of Ireland mixes elements of adventure, myth, thriller, and family relationships. Targeted reader audience is ages seven through twelve. This is a story with many layers of meaning which are exposed by repeated readings, and one that could definitely be used for guided reading in a classroom discussion on many topics. Perfect as well for a family read aloud and group discussion.

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LESSONS FROM OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS

Tales of the Friendly Forest

Written by Alexi Lushkin
Translated from Russian by Galina Krylova

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This kindle book is a collection of ten fairy tales told from the point of view of several animals living in the forest. At the outset the reader is introduced to a poem that tells of the song of the forest. The animals in the tales introduce themselves one verse at a time. In the beginning, the forest was in chaos. Each of the animals went about doing whatever he wanted. One day a clubfooted bear shouted out to the other animals of the forest from the top of a tree that from now on there would be a truce; all animals would be friends to one another and there would be no territorial boundaries. From that point on, all the animals of the forest had their own names, but they were all friends and helpers to each other.

The rest of the stories focus on one or two animals who are able to teach the reader about compassion for others, the need to share knowledge, not to be afraid of the unknown, and to be true to oneself. In the story about fashion, the animals decide to be fashion mongers. Even though the boars delight in rolling around in the mud, they then rub against the trees ridding themselves of all dirt. The animals decide that boars are the neatest and cleanest animals in the forest. Appearances can be deceiving! In the story about the forest beasts watching children play hockey, children learn that TV and cinema did not always exist, there should be time for other pursuits.

These short stories are intended for children and adults. The format is a bit unusual in that the book begins with a poem and then switches to verse. In a few places the flow is a bit choppy due to the translation. Still, I found the stories refreshing with good lessons for children and reminders for adults. The book can be broken up into sections for younger children and read independently by children eight and older. Makes a nice bedtime story book for children who love animals.

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BULLY FOR YOU!

The Hare And The Tortoise (Beat The Bullies!)

Written by Mike Nach

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This book is certainly not a rehash of the familiar tale, but rather a unique guide on the problem of bullying written to inform, entertain and enlighten children and adults. In the introduction, the author presents an overview on what bullying is, the effects of bullying, and the problems it causes. He promises that the story will help out victims of bullying.

His story is set in the peaceful forest where an alligator, bear, owl and python maintain law and order. Harry Hare is a natural athlete. His wife, Cathy scolds him for his vanity and tells him, “Your attitude sucks.” On the other hand, Tom Tortoise and his family are the slowest creatures in the forest, but they are kind and peaceful. One day while on his way to collect mushrooms for his family, Tom is accosted by Harry who taps on his shell and belittles him for his slowness. Poor Tom tries to avoid Harry and becomes troubled and anxious. But one day, Mr. Fox notices his worry and assures Tom he has a plan. Tom follows his suggestion, even though he is not confident that the plan will work. Harry will learn his lesson and Tom will have a peaceful life once more.

That is not the end of the lesson for the reader. In the second half of the book Nach provides a summary of the seven types of bullies: verbal bullies, emotional bullies, physical bullies, cyber bullies, sexual bullies, racist/status bullies, and adult bullies. More importantly, he sets up an action plan for the victims of bullies to pursue. The strategy includes remaining calm and confident, avoiding the bully whenever possible, controlling your emotions, reporting all instances to an authority figure, blocking gossip from the bully, and learning self defense. Nach’s final advice to a victim of bullying is never give up on yourself or give in to bullying others.

I recommend this book to parents, librarians, and teachers as an much needed and effective guide to introducing and discussing the problem of bullying to all school age children. The author does not preach, rather he talks to children in language they understand using phrases like, “whatever” and “don’t mess with me.” Makes the reader feel as if he is speaking with a good friend discussing a problem. In my opinion, that is what makes this book so enjoyable, informative and effective.

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ONE SIMPLE WISH

Kanuki and the Wishing Tree

Written by Meredith Kennedy

Illustrated by Ali Masoud

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Meredith Kennedy is a veterinarian who lives in Tanzania. She is certainly familiar with the animals of the Serengeti. This tale is about a young giraffe named Kanuki who despairs because she has a short neck. She has tried  in vain to make it grow. One day she journeys through the forest asking all the animals that she meets to give her advice on how to make that happen. Alas, each of them tells her not to worry, and explain how their adaptation is more useful. For instance, the monkey tells Kanuki, “Tails are much better. You can swing and climb with a long tail like mine.” Kanuki tries to explain that being a giraffe, that is not what she needs. Finally, Kanuki meets an animal who is willing to help. I won’t give the answer away, but this animal leads her directly to a solitary tree atop a steep hill. Kanuki  learns only that this is a Wishing Tree. She must choose her own path. The only requirement is to believe in herself.

At first Kanuki remains frustrated, but then the giraffe makes her decision. What does Kanuki discover? Were the other animals in the forest correct? Will Kanuki ever find happiness and learn to fit into her own community?

The illustrations in this book are done by an art student. They are quite impressive. The black and white simple pencil drawings are unique and pleasing to the eye. The small banners of all the animals dispersed throughout the pages are effective as well. Kennedy’s story makes a nice read aloud for a younger child. This book also provides a good early reader chapter book. The simple moral lessons embedded in the story are worthwhile ones for the young reader. I would suggest this book as a nice, enjoyable addition to a parent, classroom or school library. This book is also distributed by Worldreader,  an organization that distributes free e books to deserving children, supplying another good reason to purchase it!

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OZETTE’S ODYSSEY

Ozette’s Destiny: Tales From Farlandia

Written by Judy Pierce

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Ozette is a beautiful white squirrel marked with just a touch of gray down her back and on her head. She has come to the forest known as Farlandia on the advice of her grandmother, The Divine Miss Piddlewinks, who had given her a golden acorn. Ozette had been blamed for the encroachment of humans into their world because she was different from other squirrels. Upon reaching Farlandia, she planted a golden acorn. The forest bloomed with life, fairies, elves, nature, royalty, and all sorts of mythical creatures.

This book will entertain anyone from age seven through seventy. Its characters spin a tale of adventures that teach many lessons, cooperation, team work, loyalty, bravery, self-sacrifice and numerous others. At the beginning of the book we meet a scruffy white dog named Duchess Zorina who got lost while exploring outside the palace of Queen Beatrix. This turns out to be the beginning of Ozette’s adventures as she and her friends rescue “ DK.” Ozette gets to ride on a unicorn to visit the palace. The Queen insists on rewarding Ozette, giving her a crown and making her queen of the forest. Ozette has long been the humble caretaker of the forest, and her friends involve her in many of their foibles. She experiences life as a hummingbird, rides a parachute, and has her fur dyed pink! She remains a steadfast friend and never deserts a friend in need, even when he has been sprayed by a skunk! Like a true mother hen, Ozette feels a responsibility for all the creatures of the forest. She does not fear responsibility, but she is never overbearing nor does she want to impose her will upon others.

There are many touches of humor. Oliver’s boxer shorts disappear only to emerge as an elaborate bungee jump game for Ozette’s coronation festivities. The spiders weave an elaborate web parachute for her that has been dyed lavender. The Spice Squirrels are singing on stage, while birds and cicadas maintain a steady beat! Oliver, the elf has been busy in his kitchen baking all sorts of goodies. In fact, the author provides a list of delicious recipes that the reader will enjoy making and eating after reading the book.

Young children will enjoy the book if it is broken up into chapters as a read aloud. Older children and adults will fly through its approximately 160 pages as the fast paced story will compel you into quickly finishing it. I am looking forward to reading many more of Ozette’s adventures and the nuggets of wisdom that she drops for us.

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WORRIED WARRIOR

From Man to Man (Wroge Elements)

by D.E. M Emrys

 

From Man to Man

This book is a fast paced fantasy short story that is a prequel to the novel From Ashes to Man. At the beginning of the story, we meet Draven Rheinhart leaving his wife and son at home early one morning. Draven is torn by indecision. He looks at the closed wooden chest at the foot of the bed and desperately wants to open it, but he has made a promise to his wife and son not to go back to his old life. Draven tried being a server and a farm worker in the medieval village of Hidann, but he was unsuccessful at both. When he snatches the axe and closes the door, we realize that he had been a mercenary. A frustrated Draven is chopping trees when a stranger approaches him; this stranger appears to know about his past. He offers Draven a job. He is the village blacksmith named McGowan. Draven refuses the offer until a Huntsman convinces him to use his axe as a tool not a weapon. Draven returns to the blacksmith to accept the job which is to protect the tax collector from outlaws, while he collects taxes from the village. Suddenly there are footsteps in the forest and arrows flying through the air. Lurking in the woods are fourteen bandits led by a character named Pig Nose! Will Draven be able to fulfill his promise to safeguard Nicolas, the tax collector?  What will become of Draven? Can he keep his promises to his family or will he return to his old life? This tale really does not provide an answer. The end of the story is a preview of the novel to follow.

 

Emrys, who is himself a former soldier, writes a fast paced story. He uses colorful language and draws vivid images. “Strutting a loping gait, head bobbing, back bent under the weight of the ledger in one arm and the coin pouch swinging from the other, Nicolas seemed to turn more heads for his manner rather than woes of  his business.” Using few details and telling the story in first person, Emrys quickly lays out the plot and presents his characters. I read the tale  along with the rhythm the author sets and could not wait to find out more. Young adults and adults will want to read the novel and future books from this talented new author.

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