Posts tagged ‘interactive book’

LEARNING HOW TO BE A TRUE FRIEND

Emilia’s Treasure: How a Mermaid Makes Friends

Written by Anca Niculae

Illustrated by Maria Falie

Emilia, the mermaid, is upset because none of her mermaid friends want to search for pearls with her. She goes off in search of other mermaids, a snail and a school of fish, but none of them seem interested in her project. When a little mermaid loses her seahorse, Emma decides to search with her. As the two new friends continue on their exploration they meet other creatures of the sea. This time the two mermaids stop and listen to what these creatures have to say. They learn the valuable lesson that in seeking friendship listening is more important than seeking to impress others.

At the end of the book, the author supplies a questionnaire to assist children in assessing their own relationships. Children are presented with a list of questions to answer and activities to use that are placed in appropriate age categories. I would particularly recommend this book for beginning readers and shy children who have difficulty with peer relationships. This book has value for children of all ages.

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CYBILS BLOGGING AWARDS 2017

This year I had the honor of participating on a panel of judges to determine the winners in the Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book categories of the 2017 Cybils Blogging Awards for Children’s Literature.

Today I would like to share my reviews of the winning books in the Easy Reader and Early Chapter Books. I will share reviews of the finalists in each category in the next few weeks.

EASY READER WINNER!

King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code

Written by Dori Hillstead Butler

Illustrated by Nancy Meyers

This is the first book in the mystery series featuring Kayla and her golden retriever, King. I enjoyed the author’s approach of first introducing the dog and later his human, Kayla. King is frustrated that he cannot communicate to his owner in words, so he uses actions to express himself. By the end of the tale, readers learn more about King’s intelligence.

Kayla and King answer the doorbell. No one is there but a letter has been left on the doorstep. When Kayla’s friend Mason comes to visit, he reveals that he has received a letter as well. Neither of the friends can read the letter because it is written in secret code. Kayla and Nathan set out to decode the letters. They find that only the second word is different. King is sure he knows the author, but the humans don’t understand what he is saying. A chance meeting with Jillian, who lives a few houses away may hold the key to the mystery.

I would consider this book more of a chapter book than an easy reader. Children in second and third grade will better understand the nuances and messages of the plot. This book presents multicultural characters and interactive learning opportunities. Recommended for boys and girls in the seven to nine age range.

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK WINNER!

Wedgie & Gizmo

Written by Suzanne Selfors

Illustrated by Barbara Fisinger

Book 1 of a new series featuring a cavy named Gizmo and a corgi named Wedgie. Gizmo introduces himself as a Genius with an Evil Plan. Gizmo has recently been uprooted once again. He began his life in a pet store where a parrot taught him to read. His human, Elliot, chose him and brought him home. But Elliot’s dad has remarried and now Gizmo must learn to live in a new human house. Elliot now has a stepsister named Jasmine and a stepbrother named Jackson. Worst of all, Wedgie, their corgi pet, wears a cap and thinks he is the protector of the family.

The book hilariously describes how Gizmo and Wedgie compete for control and human attention. Gizmo gets seriously ill when he attacks a cereal box in the pantry, and Gizmo hatches a scheme to get Wedgie in trouble with Jasmine. Selfors artfully weaves the animal conversations into the story. Children who feel displaced by moving or becoming a part of a blended family will empathize with their situation. Gizmo undergoes serious trauma when he learns the grandmother comes from Peru where caves are eaten. There are a lot of twists and turns, laughter, and tears, as the new family learns to live and love each other.

The illustrations are fun and humorous. My favorite illustration depicts grandmother (abuela) sleeping in bed with curlers in her hair while Gizmo places a delivery label addressed to Peru on her head. The story is almost two hundred pages and that might be a challenge for beginning readers. While the plot moves along quickly and is really entertaining, I believe it better suited to a third to a fifth-grade audience. Can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

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CAT CITY CAPER

The Three Pirate City Cats

Written and illustrated by John E. Dorey

threecitypiratespic

Cute picture book for students in the primary grades. I like the author’s layout using speech bubbles for the text and animation type illustrations for the animal characters. Dorey introduces his readers to three abandoned cat siblings, Grace, Sam and Charlie. Left to fend for themselves they observe a human watching a TV show about pirates. The siblings are frightened by a dog, who turns out to be a friend. He leads them to a storage locker that will provide them with the props they need to create their own pirate adventure.

This forty two page book has visual and story-line appeal for early readers. My only criticism of the book is that it does not provide a conclusion, but rather invites the reader to create their own story. While I certainly do not object to an interactive story, some readers may be disappointed that there is no definite denouement to the plot. That is my reason for not giving the book a five star rating.

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CHINESE NEW YEAR FOR LITTLE ONES

Mao Mao and the Nian Monster

Written and Illustrated by Anna Zech

MaoMao,pic

 

This book is a delightful interactive kindle picture book for young children seeking to explain some of the traditions of Chinese New Year,

Mao Mao is an adorable panda bear who lives in a bamboo forest. She loves to play with her human friends who live in the village nearby. But the inhabitants of the village were fearful of the Nian who came out after dark to plunder their livestock and food. Once the sun set, the entire village barricaded themselves inside their homes. When Mao Mao’s grandma gives him some books to read, he discovers that monsters are afraid of loud noise, bright lights, and the color red. So Mao and his friends outfit the village with all three of these elements. Mao and his friends come upon Nian while playing in the forest one day. They find out that Nian is more like them than they thought. Will the villages and the Nian find a way to coexist after all?

The simple text and beautifully done illustrations will assist preschoolers and primary school age children in understanding some of traditions involved in the celebrations of Chinese New Year. This book is an excellent choice for a teacher exploring multiculturalism or a parent’s bedtime story.

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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.

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QUEST FOR REVENGE

Quest For The Lost Treasure

Written by Gerry Gaston

Illustrated by: Laura Livi

Questforlosttreasure

The story line of this book is a simple one. At the outset the reader is given a challenge. A gang of pirates has invaded and sacked your village depleting it of all valuables. You alone have the courage and determination to sail across the seas, track them down and relieve them of those treasures! At last your rowboat arrives and you have the pirate ship in sight. Let the adventure begin!

This book is an interactive, choose your path e book. On each of the approximately fifty pages, the reader is given two choices. Unfortunately, the child is often redirected back to a page that has already been read. Eventually, the explorer is lead to the pirate treasure regardless of the choices he makes along the way. The authors suggest that the book is appropriate for ages three to eight. The vivid, bold and animated illustrations by Livi are stunning, but the text is somewhat rambling and difficult for a young child to follow. Here is one example, “As the ship rocks slowly and the waves gently lap against its hull, your mind tells you not to trust your instincts, because the calmness could be deceiving.” In addition, the complexity of vocabulary would inhibit a younger child from independent reading. Words like plundered, anxiety, dangling and abandoned are not easily explained by the illustrations alone.

I read this book on a Kindle Fire HD. The pictures were brilliant and the interactive tabs worked fine. Some reviewers complained of having difficulty reading the text because it was printed in white and the print too small. Reviews on the book on amazon run the gamut from five to one stars, I would place it right in the middle. I feel there is a place for interactive readers with rich illustration and simple plot lines, especially for reluctant readers. Certainly, a pirate adventure story that allows the child to choose his own solution is something such a reader would enjoy. But don’t expect a child younger than eight to succeed in reading this book on his own. The long sentences and more difficult word meanings will necessitate that a parent or teacher will need to provide assistance.

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