Posts tagged ‘hero’

Column A or Column B

Once Upon An Island

Written by D M Potter

Onceuponanisland,pic

After opening the attractive cover, the reader will discover the words HOW to PLAY. Yes, this book is a game of sorts; it is an interactive story. The reader’s decisions allow her to shape the story. At each chapter break, the reader obtains an opportunity to redirect the story. So, in effect, the reader is almost writing the outcome of the story.

General plot involves you being invited to New Zealand to spend holidays with your cousins, Stella and Max. These cousins are planning to journey to an island named Arapawa. You don’t have to go there. Instead you can make the choice to stay with your mother’s friend, Maddy. That is only your first choice.

I spent some time alternating between choices so I could get a good feel for the divergent story lines. Depending on whether you want to make a “safe” choice or be adventurous, your journey might involve time travel, animal adventures, exploring social issues, becoming a hero or getting involved in a kidnapping. I like the fact that the author chooses both a strong male and female protagonist allowing the book to appeal to boys and girls. The text is written clearly and simply. It could be considered an early chapter book. Siblings might enjoy reading the book together and taking turns making alternate choices. There are so many variations that children will want to go back to it over and over again to see what happens as different combinations are selected.

I feel the author missed an opportunity by not including some illustrations to accompany the alternate chapters. The cover is attractive and appealing. While the book is certainly fun and interesting, having a few pictures could have piqued the interest level even more. I would still recommend the book highly to parents, teachers and librarians as one that will encourage creativity, decision making and critical thinking skills for children in middle grades and older. Adults will certainly enjoy reading it aloud as well.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS feed button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

A HERO IN DISGUISE

Nate Rocks the World (Volume 1)

Written by Karen Pokras Toz

NateRockstheWorldpic

Nate Rockledge is a ten year old boy who, like most boys his age, has a barrage of problems. He hates school, and because he has no athletic talent is always the last one chosen. Nate’s family seems dysfunctional to him. His mother can’t cook or sew, yet she expects him to eat the food she prepares and wear the lopsided Halloween costumes she insists on sewing for him. She also forces him to hang out with her friend’s daughter, Lisa, who is the class nerd. Nate has a thirteen year old sister named Abby who torments and teases him. His dad tries to be cool, but retells the same old stories so often that he makes a fool of himself. Nate does have a cool friend named Tommy who is often involved with his adventures, yet Nate’s only enjoyment is drawing cartoons and daydreaming that he is a superhero. In those moments he can say, “Nate Rocks.”

So Nate the protagonist alternates between a ho-hum existence and a penchant for imagining heroic exploits where he is suddenly drawn into situations in which people desperately need help. For example, rescuing a dog from a burning house, releasing a girl tied to railroad tracks, helping a child find her way home, and becoming an astronaut to save the earth from being destroyed by a meteorite. The reader is sucked into the action because the dialogue and story line are woven in such a way that you cannot help but cheer Nate on in his exploits even when they seem highly improbable. Then a day comes along when Nate gets the opportunity to be a real hero.

The book is recommended for middle grades or ages nine through twelve. I feel that the book appeals to boys and girls because Abby is also a strong female character. Lots of tweens will see similarities with how they view their relationships with family and school friends. There is a great deal of humor in the story. You might even find yourself laughing out loud. Young readers will find many family and school incidents which will be similar to the events happening in their own lives. The approximately 140 page book is a quick read with lots of action that will attract even a reluctant reader. Classroom teachers might want to use the story as a morning read aloud over a few sessions to garner reading interest and enhance listening skills.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or hit the orange RSS feed button in the upper right hand corner.

%d bloggers like this: