Posts tagged ‘homelessness’

AN UNEXPECTED REWARD

Hazelita And The Magic Broom

Written and illustrated by Hope Finning

Hazelita is a destitute, lonely old woman. Every day she wanders from village to village with her only valuable possession, an old broom passed down to her from her mother. At night she knocks on the door of a local inhabitant seeking a warm meal and a place to state. In return, she promises to sweep their home in gratitude for their kindness. Hazelita cries herself to sleep each night because she has no family to care for her. After a while, word spreads around that her broom is magic and that it will grant any wish the family requests.

One evening she comes to a family headed by Thomas who goes out of their way to shower kindness upon Hazelita. The next day, they refuse to allow her to sweep as she is their honored guest. But Hazelita is horrified to discover the next day, that her broom has lost its magic. What will happen to Hazelita now that she cannot pay for her room and board? The answer lies in kindness rewarded. Read the book to find out how.

This book teaches children the value of community responsibility and the lesson that we should not expect rewards for everything we do. I would recommend the book to elementary and middle-grade students.

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HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS……

June Peters, You Can Change the World

Written by Alika Turner

Illustrated by Naafi Nr

junepeterspic

June Peters is a ten year old fifth grader who is responsible and independent. She feels stifled by the fact that her parents don’t allow her to walk to school by herself. June convinces them to give her a chance, so they agree to try it for one week. On the very first day, June meets a homeless man and decides to give him her lunch money. Her parents and older brother chide her for talking to strangers and explain that not all people are as innocent as they seem. June cannot shake the feeling that helping those in need is a greater reward so she continues to press the issue with her family. They volunteer to help her cause, but insist that she place herself in a safe environment. June gathers family and friends to contribute by making lunches for the homeless and distributing them in a local park. She is able to fulfill the homeless man’s prophecy that, “You will do great things one day.”

This book is targeted for children in the five to twelve age range. Story is most appropriate for children who are ages seven to ten. The illustrations are bright, bold and multicultural, portraying June’s brown family and the local community members. There is a bit of a disconnect between the full page picture book illustrations and the plot which addresses homelessness. Certainly the aspect of not talking to strangers and the issue of desiring to help others is one that should be addressed with younger children as well, yet the illustrations may be seen as babyish to older readers. I look forward to learning more about the independent and intelligent June Peters in the future.

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ALONE NO MORE…

Gumbo Goes Downtown

Written by Carol Talley

gumbopicA tale that is charming and sweet, yet focuses on some important issues. The obvious story line is about a guard dog named Gumbo, who lives in a shotgun house on St. Charles Street in New Orleans. He spends most of his time barking at any one who comes near the chain link fence, such as the girl in a polka dot dress and the postman. When the postman fails to close the gate one day, Gumbo seizes the opportunity to see the world. He follows the trolley tracks downtown to New Orleans. Here he meets up with a poodle named Pompon and a champion pure breed named Stella. Gumbo has the time of his life in Jackson Square with clowns, dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. Soon his friends leave to go home and be pampered by their owners. Gumbo begins to miss his house and owner Gus, whom he never appreciated. Will Gumbo decide to remain free in the big city on his own and fend for himself or return to his former life?

The book description suggests an audience of K-2. While the simple story of Gumbo’s adventure is appropriate for that age group, the larger issues of homelessness and running away from home are better addressed to a middle grade audience. Talley provides a nice guide for parents and teachers to set up a discussion on these issues. Maeno’s illustrations are soft, colorful and appealing, but the text is small and difficult to read on some of the pages. I recommend the book especially for parents and teachers who would like to open up a discussion on homelessness, running away, and poverty. Talley also includes an interesting background section on New Orleans and the points of interest mentioned in the story.

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MANHATTAN IN YOUR DREAMS

Magical Manhattan

Written by Gregory Hoffman

MagicalManhattan,pic

An intriguing urban fantasy tale that will appeal to young adult and adult audiences, but one that might be enjoyed by children as young as ten who will “grow into” the meaning of these fantasies as they mature.

Fourteen year old Sam has just received a bad report card. On Saturdays, he has a ritual of accompanying his mother to her job in an antique store on 80th street in Manhattan. Once there, he leaves to spend the day walking down to the twin towers in Lower Manhattan and back again. As they leave their apartment, Sam ponders how to break the bad news. He places the report card on the console after they cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Little does he know that he will experience an adventure that changes his life on his walk today.

Sam will meet a homeless man named Elijah who asks Sam for his shoes. Subsequently, they will encounter a bicycle messenger a human antenna, a talking train, spirits of artists in the Metropolitan Museum , a princess cloud and many others. The streets of Manhattan are transformed into a water paradise filled with lush vegetation. What does it all mean? Will anyone else believe Sam’s story? Does the experience have a impact on Sam’s future?

The adventure is magical on several levels. It is a wonderful walking tour of Manhattan; the author expertly captures the essence and spirit of New York City. The imagination and allegories presented by the author to the reader as food for thought have many layers of meaning. Clever and creative with no objectionable content. This book could be used for so many topics as a classroom discussion or starter for creative writing assignments.

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MANHATTAN IN YOUR DREAMS

Magical Manhattan

Written by Gregory Hoffman

MagicalManhattan,pic

An intriguing urban fantasy tale that will appeal to young adult and adult audiences, but one that might be enjoyed by children as young as ten who will “grow into” the meaning of these fantasies as they mature.

Fourteen year old Sam has just received a bad report card. On Saturdays, he has a ritual of accompanying his mother to her job in an antique store on 80th street in Manhattan. Once there, he leaves to spend the day walking down to the twin towers in Lower Manhattan and back again. As they leave their apartment, Sam ponders how to break the bad news. He places the report card on the console after they cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Little does he know that he will experience an adventure that changes his life on his walk today.

Sam will meet a homeless man named Elijah who asks Sam for his shoes. Subsequently, they will meet a bicycle messenger a human antenna, a talking train, spirits of artists in the Metropolitan Museum , a princess cloud and many others. The streets of Manhattan are transformed into a water paradise filled with lush vegetation. What does it all mean? Will anyone else believe Sam’s story? Does the experience have a impact on Sam’s future?

The adventure is magical on several levels. It is a wonderful walking tour of Manhattan; the author expertly captures the essence and spirit of New York City. The imagination and allegories presented by the author to the reader as food for thought have many layers of meaning. Clever and creative with no objectionable content. This book could be used for so many topics as a classroom discussion or starter for creative writing assignments.

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A SENSE OF BELONGING?

The Borderlands Book One: Journey

Written by Aderyn Wood

Borderlands,pic

The Borderlands is the first book in a mystery/fantasy sci-fi series. It is a pleasant mixture of fantasy and magic combined with a coming of age story. The plot contains many twists and turns ending with what the reader would least expect.

Dale is a high school student who experiences many of the problems today’s teens face. She is a bit of a geek, bullied by the “in-crowd” at her private school whom she calls “the plastics.” Her single mother, Victoria, is always trying to impress her friends by making Dale into her own image. Dale is sensitive, and a talented artist who paints fairies, spirits, other-wordly creatures. She has also begun to experience auras. One day she meets a new boy named Rhys who has a magnetic affect on her which she is powerless to explain. Dale’s only friend is an elderly, homeless man named Gareth with whom she plans to spend the summer sailing.

Dale steals away in the sailboat; she endures one struggle after another in an effort to survive discovery and capture. A sorceress and friend of Gareth’s named Ness as well as a sprite named Esme and Gareth’s Cat will all be instrumental in her process of self-discovery and a journey to The Borderlands, which are worlds adjacent to Earth. A hierarchy of good and evil powers exists between and within these lands each alternately seeking wars or to maintain balance.

Will Dale succeed in her new role? Where and how will she find her happiness? I recommend this book series for fans of fantasy, sci-fi and mystery. Teen and young adult audiences will readily identify with the characters and their struggles.

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