Posts tagged ‘friendship’

#Cybils2017 #Finalists

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



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.



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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Yuri And The Legend of the Seventh Sea

Written by Denis Boystov

Illustrated by Lana Khrapava

This is a sort of coming of age tale of a curious and brave fish named Yuri. Little Yuri lives in a lake where he is loved by his parents and big brother. Yuri is always questioning and never takes no for an answer from his parents and teachers. When he overhears his father tell of a hidden secret map that gives directions to the Seventh Sea, which is a paradise where fish live forever in peace without enemies or danger, Yuri immediately launches a search to find it. He is tired of dodging boats filled with humans, fish hooks, and larger sea creatures desiring to eat him.

After embarking on his journey, Yuri meets up with many dangers but also makes the acquaintance of another fish named Otto who looks out for him.   Yuri and Otto eventually find themselves at the entrance to the Seventh Sea. Now they must get through without wakening the Sea Serpent who will destroy them. Will Yuri survive and if he does, will he find that the paradise truly does exist?

Yuri is an adorable character that children will love. He appears almost human with a personality much like a curious human. The dialogue among the characters is so realistic that readers will forget that Yuri is a fish. I found myself cheering for him to succeed. Children can see themselves in Yuri as he tests his limits, but also faces his fears. The illustrations are beautiful. While I did enjoy this book as an adult reader, I would especially recommend it to a middle-grade audience.

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The Black Pearl of Osis (Osis Fantasy Trilogy Book 1)

Written by Ingrid McCarthy

Jonathan Alexander Fenton is visiting his Aunt Josie who has just given birth to a baby girl. He is ambling around her studio and glancing at the posters on the wall when he spies one that he does not recognize. The poster shows a girl skipping rope on a cobblestone street surrounded by a tall tower. As he moves closer, Jonathan is literally drawn into the poster. Immediately he engages in a conversation with the girl. He discovers her name is Magenta, she is the daughter of King Cadium, Jonathan has been taken against his will into a fantasy world. Everyone here bears the name of a color, time is governed by the cycles of sun and moon, and danger looms over the kingdom.

Jonathan soon learns that he is destined to free the kingdom from the evil of the black pearl. A sage old teacher named Master Cobalt trains Jonathan. He is able to turn Magenta’s skipping rope into a deadly weapon that can be used to fight their enemies. Magenta, Jonathan, and her dog Monte face all manner of obstacles on their adventure. They meet threats of torture, deadly traps, and must learn to distinguish between friends and foes. At the end of the long journey, the two friends will grapple with the ultimate test of courage and loyalty.

The author keeps the plot interesting by using clever characters and imposing lots of twists and turns. Middle-grade readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and magic-tinged with dark overtones should find this first book of the trilogy an entertaining read.

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Gift of Gift: Super Amazing Princess Heroes

Written by Sanjay Nambiar

Illustrated by Sedi Pak

A picture book or early chapter book centering on a trio of princesses who use their super powers to accomplish great things. Kinney, Sammie, and Oceania have just completed building a much-needed school in Uganda. Suddenly Kinney becomes ill; Doctor K’s diagnosis is a hole in her heart. Because the hospital in Uganda is not equipped for the surgery, Kinney along with friends return to the United States. When the girls learn that their friend Gift in Uganda has been diagnosed with the same medical problem, they decide to enlist the help of Betty, their mentor, who is the Fairy Mother Superstar Queen. They return to Uganda resolving to use their super speed, super strength, and flying powers along with the doctors and engineers in Uganda to construct a modern hospital. Gift’s heart surgery is successful, and the princesses’ Fairy Mother has a special gift in store for Gift.

This book is beautifully illustrated with bright,  multicultural photos that will appeal to non-readers. The text is done in large print and is easy to read for the beginning reader. While the story is clearly fictional, the lessons of empathy, selflessness, and friendship will inspire little girls who want to be princesses in their own right.

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A Day for Courage: Tales of Friendship Bog Book 7

Written by Gloria Repp

Illustrated by Michael Swaim


More trouble afoot in Friendship Bog and the surrounding swamps. Kidnappings, poisoning and floods are in store for the animal inhabitants. Our frog friends, Pibbin and Leeper go on a mission to help young rabbits that have been poisoned by a mysterious orange berry plant. They must search for the only known cure, the gel from the Gummy Bark to counteract the poison. Keena, the nefarious lizard, is suspected to be behind it. In the meantime, Carpenter frog has disappeared from his workshop so Pibbin and Tatter go to search for him. Along the way it is discovered that the beaver are having a problem with the skinks and Cheeco the Chipmunk is also missing. As the search continues, our investigators discover a mysterious map that they hope will be a key to solving the mystery. The beavers come up with a plan to rid themselves of Keena, the lizards, and the skinks, but will their plan work or will it destroy their homeland in the process?

Lots of adventure and twists and turns mixed with lessons for young chapter book readers. Our frog friends teach courage, bravery, and standing up for the rights of others. Cooperation is the only way to success, and there is value in taking risks when the ultimate aim is to make life better for all concerned.

Readers age seven and older who like animals, adventure and reading a series should enjoy all the books about life in Friendship Bog.

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Trouble with Zee (Tales of Friendship Bog Book 6)

Written by Gloria Repp

Illustrated by Michael Swaim


Another charming chapter book in this series which features family and friends of the frogs who live in and around Friendship Bog. They teach young readers much about life and growing up to be responsible adults. In this adventure, Pibbin accompanies Leeper and Riff to check on Leeper’s Uncle Zee. When they arrive, they are dismayed to find Captain Zee is the brutal leader of a captive worker colony of frogs who must wait on the dictator hand and foot. Pibbin is imprisoned and forced to find beetles, carry water buckets and search for orange ants. When Pibbin attempts escape, he is captured but Riff manages to evade Zee and eventually drops Pibbin’s carpenter saw into his hole. Pibbin finally escapes, but not without thinking about how to rescue Leeper. An adventure ensues as they meet friends and foe on the trail back home to Friendship Bog. What lessons do the heroes and villains teach their young readers? Will they all be safe in the end?

These chapter books are great for early readers because they contain large size text and some colorful illustrations to make reading easier and more entertaining. Great read aloud discussion choice or even chapter by chapter as a bedtime story for younger readers. Recommended for readers in grades two through six.

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The Stranger’s Secret: A Tale of Friendship Bog Book 5

Written by Gloria Repp

Illustrated by Michael Swaim

Photographs by Bill Beck


This chapter book is part of a series, but Book 5 is a first time read for me. I had no difficulty following the tale as a stand alone story. Pibbin is a rather small young frog excited to be going on a work party for the first time. They need to repair Uncle Dip’s Bridge. Before Pibbin can begin the journey he meets up with an unconscious large frog named Riff who is clinging to a branch. With a mighty effort, Pibbin is able to rescue Riff because “Bog Keepers are good at helping strangers.” Riff has a large bump on his head and is carrying a large sack, but he cannot remember anything about the accident. Now Pibbin is torn between his feelings of responsibility to take care of Riff and to be part of the work team repairing the bridge.

Readers meet lots of personified characters: a snake named Miss Green, squirrels, beaver, chipmunks and a clawed enemy named simply Cat. When the residents of Friendship Bog decided to exterminate the enemy, Pibbin and Riff fear they will never solve the mystery of his missing sister. It will turn out that lending a helping hand to friend or foe can be rewarded. Cooperation, moral support and friendship are the major themes tying the inhabitants of Friendship Bog together. Young readers learn the benefits of practicing these themes in everyday situations.

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