Posts tagged ‘friendship’

#MEETTHEAUTHOR

I have begun a new feature on my blog. Rather than simply reading and reviewing family-friendly books for my audience, I will be taking a peek behind the scenes at the writer. After all, we all want to know the mysterious person behind the curtain. So without delay, let me introduce you to the talented Becky Benishek.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Becky Benishek  has a B.A. degree in English and loves to create stories that  help children believe in themselves and also develop compassion and empathy for others. This goes for adults, too! She also writes adult science fiction and fantasy stories. In her day job, she manages online communities that help people connect to people and resources they need. Becky is married with guinea pigs.

About the book:

The Squeezor is Coming!

**BRONZE MEDAL WINNER: Children’s Books – Social Issues, in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest**
**Five Star Readers’ Favorite**

The Squeezor is a monster who just wants to give hugs: Great, big, wrap-his-arms-around-you-twice, squeezy hugs. The trouble is, he looks so scary, even other monsters run away!

This makes the Squeezor very sad. He can’t help how he looks. How can he get everyone to look past his appearance and be his friend?

Then he gets an idea: What if it’s not about what he wants, but about what the other monsters might need? Join the Squeezor in Ghastly Gigapolis as he changes first impressions for the better–his own included.

The Squeezor is Coming! is illustrated by Matt Fiss and is available on Amazon and through MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing. It is also available in dyslexic font.

Review:
“Far too many kids feel as unlovable as the Squeezor, and this story is for them. Benishek’s droll and humorous story will please everyone in the room and maybe especially those adults who are still kids at heart. Matt Fiss’s brilliantly grotesque illustrations make this book one to linger over and read again and again and again. Literally. It’s that good.” –Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BECKY AND HER WORK VISIT:

Website: https://beckybenishek.com
Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/beckybenishekMacLaren-Cochrane Publishing (children’s books): https://mcp-store.com/becky-benishek
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beckybenishekauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beckybenishek/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/beckybenishek
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLN82aT3Az157cKCNUvRs9qdWfD83Q4OFj
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16364162.Becky_Benishek
Black Hare Press (science fiction & fantasy): https://www.blackharepress.com/becky-benishek/

A FRESH START

Dexter’s New Home: A Children’s Picture Story for 3-7 year olds about Moving

Written by D L Madson

Illustrated by Rajiv Kumar

Dexter is dismayed to find that hedgehogs have moved into his home, and they won’t allow him to come back inside. Dexter searches the forest for a new home. The next day, Dexter finds a cute house with a fence around it and decides to buy it. The rabbit still feels sad and lonely until the squirrels tell another rabbit named Ben that someone new has moved into the neighborhood. Ben welcomes Dexter with flowers and invites Ben to visit him for dinner. Meanwhile Ben had convinced his friends, James and Molly to bring gifts to share with Dexter. Dexter learns how his new neighbors share many of his interests and he is now happy and secure in his new home.

This book teaches children about having empathy and that something that might seem scary like moving may turn out to be a good thing. The illustrations are lovely and appropriate for the target audience.

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HUNTER OR HUNTED?

Etty Steele: Vampire Hunter

Written by Grayson Grave

Etty lives in the town of Brightwater, a seaside town that is rumored to be inhabited by witches. Etty lives with her human father and her mother who is a vampire hunter. Every day Etty must endure training sessions in a secret room that is hidden away in the basement of her house. Etty has one friend, a classmate named April Showers. They have not spent much time together lately as Etty has spent the summer at a vampire hunting training camp.

When Etty and April return to school in September, things become awkward. A new boy named Vladimir Dox has all the markings of a vampire, dark glasses, red lips, pale skin, and strange behavior. April befriends Vladimir; Etty is skeptical. Then two people are murdered, and April reveals her grandmother has given her a ring for protection. Etty discovers that April comes from a family of witches who don’t want vampire hunters interfering with their work.

When a schoolmate and Etty’s mom disappear, April and Etty decide to take Vladimir with them to investigate. What will happen to this strange alliance? Is Etty’s mom in danger? Will they solve the murder mystery and discover who is the vampire lurking around the town? What will happen to the friendship between April and Etty?

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LOVE GROWS

Una Bo: The Magic Tree of Love

Written by Dr. Rebecca Verghese Paul

Illustrated by Ada Konewki

Podero is just a six-year-old boy when he meets Filgard, a wizard, who is passing through the town of Darae. Little Podero has been thinking about the way things were before the war. Podero wishes that he could have something sweet and that his parents would allow him to have a puppy. Filgard asks what he would do with the sweets and Podero says he would share them with his brothers. The wizard rewards Podero by causing a huge tree to grow in the center of town. This tree has the power to grant wishes, but only to those who are pure of heart and do not ask for more than they need.

Pretty soon the villagers gather round and try to rob the tree of its gifts, but they soon learn they will get nothing if they are greedy. Eventually, all learn to partake of the tree with good intentions and moderation. Podero and his best friend, Miyana develop a friendship and trusting relationship with the tree. They name it Una Bo, the tree of love. The tree helps the two friends to achieve their dreams of becoming a baker and a carpenter. Their life if happy until war threatens the town once more. Will the tree be able to save the villagers of Darae?

This chapter book tells a heartwarming story filled with lessons about bullying, generosity, greed, and coming of age. The characters are interesting and relatable. A few color illustrations enhance the tale. That adds to the appeal for beginning and reluctant readers. Highly recommended for middle-grade readers.

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BILLY AND BOB’S BLUNDERS

Lost in Lithuania and other funny stories

Written by Alex Goodwin

 

This is my first time reading a book in this series. Goodwin is a thirteen-year-old author with a wonderful imagination and a creative mind. Bob and Billy are two obese friends who decide that they must get in shape. They abruptly decide to enter a curling contest, even though they have no knowledge of the game. The friends discover a note that they have been fired from their jobs in San Francisco, so they hurry to board a plant to get back. Alas! Bob and Billy board the wrong plane and wind up in Lithuania. Now broke, they answer an ad for a job in a bakery for which they have no background and cannot speak the language. When the disgruntled patrons attack them, Bob and Billy flee for their lives and stumble across an abandoned castle where they become tour guides. The two tell a lot of lies, but they become quite adept at their profession. Determined to return home, at last, they are foiled when all their money falls through a hole in their baggage. So, they write to their uncle and secure employment, only to find they will be making aglets for shoelaces on an assembly line. And so, the stories go on… Will Billy and Bob ever make it back home to their jobs at the nuclear plant in Death Valley?

Goodwin writes crisp, catchy dialogue that is as hilarious as it is preposterous. He manages to weave a link between the short stories to create a cohesive plot. The tales are clean, good fun. Readers ages ten and older won’t stop laughing till the last line.

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TRIED AND TRUE FRIENDS

Arnold and Luis. Gold Rush

Written by Harvey Storm

I read the Kindle edition of this book in French. It was a cute story as a read-aloud for young children. The illustrations are well executed and the colors are vibrant and appealing. I would also recommend the book as a beginning chapter book as the characters are well developed and promote sustained interest.

Arnold, the moose, live at the edge of the forest. He has always been a dreamer, longing to live in the south on the beach. One day his friend, Louis, the goose, suggests they go on an adventure to find lost treasure. Arnold jumps at the chance. Arnold has already done research on the internet, in old records, and letters, as well as digging into his search for riches.

Louis and Arnold team up with the help of other friends in the forest. They pack their gear and go on on an adventure. Along the way, they encounter many physical obstacles as well as dangers. One day they find the long-awaited treasure, but getting it home safely is a lot more difficult than they anticipate.

Will the two fearless friends be successful in finding a new life of luxury or will they discover that the virtues of honesty, decency and mutual respect matter more than monetary gain? Read the first book in this charming multilingual adventure series.

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JUNGLE MATES

The Jungle Crew

Written by Emma Scott

 

The lion walks alone in the forest until he comes across a lonely hippo. The two become friends and the journey continue as new animals like a giraffe, elephant, toucan, zebra, and monkey eventually join in the fun. Each of the animals brings a new character trait or talent like humor, brains, loyalty, and generosity to the group.  The animals bring out the best in one another.

While the illustrations are simple and rather stylized, the rhymes are crisp and sharp. Counting skills are reinforced as each new animal is introduced. I would recommend this book as a bedtime story or fun read-aloud for children ages two through five.

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ERRATIC BEHAVIOR

Zachary and the Great Potato Chase

Written by Junia Wonders

Illustrated by Giulia Lombardo

 

Zachary is a clever, industrious rat who lives under the floorboards of a bakery which provides him with tasty treats. He is careful never to be greedy, eating only one pastry each day so as not to arouse suspicion. Zachary is content, but he has no friends because he refuses to share his treats.

One day a new delivery truck arrives at the bakery. Once Zachary tastes a potato, he is hooked on the taste. He becomes greedy taking more than his fair share and storing them in his lair. When the baker discovers his potatoes missing, Zachary will be found out. There will be huge consequences to pay.

This book is written in crisp rhyme that works well and the illustrations are bright and clever. The weakness lies in the fact that the connection between potatoes and the change in behavior is not explained. No reason is given for Zachary’s decision to change his relationship with fellow rats at the end of the story.

This book is a good read-aloud choice or bedtime story for preschoolers and early elementary school readers.

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THREE TECHIE FRIENDS

Ai and Big City Adventure: New Age Pinocchio, Adventures of Ai, his new friends, and Old Man in the Big City

Written by Olga Go

 

Old Man Steve lives by himself in a small apartment in New York City and often feels lonely. One day he finds a smartphone and decides to try to fix it. He names the phone Ai. Suddenly, the phone comes to life. The next day, Ai leaves the apartment while Steve is sleeping. He plays in the park with a computer, a camera, and an i pad. They exchange information with each other. The new friends hatch a scheme to sell Ai to get some money. Ai is sold to Jack, but Ai feels guilty about leaving his friend Steve. They arrive at a compromise that makes everyone happy.

This story is a clever 21St Century Pinocchio story. The illustrations are modern, crisp, and colorful. Elementary school children will enjoy the clever characters and empathize with Steve’s plight. My only recommendation would be to make the print text bolder as it is sometimes difficult to read when placed against the illustrations.

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#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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