Posts tagged ‘legends’

A DRAGON’S BEST FRIEND

James and the Dragon: The Farloft Chronicles, Vol. 1

Written by Theresa Snyder

 

This is a well-written chapter book or novella with an intriguing set of characters, flights of fancy, and wonderful lessons to learn. The three main characters are a dragon named Farloft, a dastardly wizard named Laval, and a ten-year-old human named James. A plague has recently struck the kingdom. About two-thirds of the population have succumbed. Farloft avoids humans because relations have soured over time. Laval is bitter because the plague has made his daughter ill. James has been orphaned. One day as he struggles to dig peat in the bogs to keep warm, the blacksmith and his son steal it from him. James becomes trapped in the bog; Farloft takes pity and rescues him. As James recovers in the dragon’s lair, they become close. Farloft regales him with legends of past exploits and reveals his treasure chamber. When James returns home, villagers nearly kill him. Farloft rescues him once more. In the meantime, Laval has hatched a devastating plot to exact revenge for his daughter’s death. A surprise ending brings book one to a conclusion and sets the stage for more adventures.

Middle grade, young adult readers, and adults will enjoy this fast-moving story with its pleasing blend of magic, myth, and charm. Characters are well developed and easy to like. By the end of the first book, readers have already become engaged and are eager to learn more about the characters and what will happen to them in their future engagements.

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MONKEYING AROUND

The 3 Monkeys Christmas Treehouse (Monkey Tales Book 5)

Written by Rob “Nanook” Natiuk

3Monkeys,pic

This is my first time reading a book in this series. Delightful story about three monkey siblings, Booey, Fooey and Hooey and their Jungle friends. The book is an interactive reading experience with ample opportunities for the reader to pause and allow the listeners to blurt out their responses by repeating, singing, or animating the sounds and actions of the characters in the stories.

In the first tale the three siblings receive a gift from their Grandpa Monk. At first they are puzzled by the red, white and green Christmas balls and stringed lights. Booey, the female, figures out they must be ornaments for a Christmas tree like the one she saw in the town. So they set off to find the perfect Christmas tree. Readers will meet some of their friends like the gorilla, crocodile and turtle. In the end, they find the perfect tree right under their noses. Tale two finds our friends looking over their Christmas list. As they travel to Coconut Town, they sing clever monkey songs adapted to familiar Christmas songs like “Jingle Bells,” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” They knock on doors of animal friends seeking to find the true meaning of Christmas. Finally, they discover that, “ A friend in need is a friend indeed.” In tale three, wise old Grandpa Monk tells his grandchildren the story of Santa Paws in the Jungle with his circus wagon pulled by eight zebras. Will the siblings find presents under the tree? The fourth tale speaks of the let down feeling many of us experience in the days after Christmas. Our friends have already tired of their presents; they ponder their New Year’s Resolutions. What do they share with their readers?

This book is perfect for elementary school children. Older siblings can read to younger brothers and sisters or the family can share the reading experience. Young children will love the repetition and songs. I will be reading other books in this series. Very entertaining, clever, and highly recommended.

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GUARDIAN AND DEFENDER

Andee The Aquanaut:Guardian of the Great Seas

Written by Simon James House

Illustrated by Zoran Zlaticanin

Andee,pic

This is the first book in a trilogy aimed at readers age six through twelve. While the chapters are short, there are twenty-four making it a very long book for a child at the lower end of that range. It could be a read aloud, but a child might not be patient enough to wait that long to hear the ending.

At the outset, the reader meets Andee, a young boy who lives on an island with his parents who are marine biologists studying the coral reef in an effort to find new medicines and cures for illnesses. Andee enjoys playing with Tingo and Tango his dolphin friends. One day a storm whips in as his parents are out in the dinghy and Andee is playing onshore. Andee’s dolphin family rescues him and brings him to an underwater cave. As Andee explores his new surroundings, he meets the Wise White Dolphin who guides him to the cave of the Lost City.The dolphin informs him that he has been chosen to be guardian and protector of the seas.

Andee is given a magical suit that allows him to swim faster than the dolphins. As he learns to use his powers, Andee will experience many adventures. He will succeed in rescuing his dolphin friends from pirate fishermen, protect the eggs of sea turtles from poachers, swim with manta rays, and communicate with the jellyfish. A giant tooth may literally become the key to lost treasures, and the merpeople may be able to help him locate the parents he thought that he had lost. Andee comes close to death many times; the ending to the first book is a cliff hangar.

The book is a mixture of adventure, fact, legend, science and coming of age themes. There are a few editing errors. I did find it a bit strange that the story is told in past tense. Still there is a nice balance of elements that appeal to early readers, and the plot has enough depth and moves along at a good pace. Illustrations are well done and encourage the reader to visualize the adventures. I recommend it for readers ages eight and up. Buyers should note that the author donates a portion of profits to marine research.

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JOURNEYING THROUGH ALASKA’S HISTORY

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Aunt Phil’s Trunk: Volume One

Written by Laurel Downing Bill

Vol 1 Cover Aunt Phil

This first book in this series like all the others are based on the writings and research of the author’s aunt, Phyllis Downing Carlson. In the first volume, the reader is treated to thousands of years of Alaska’s history from the time the first humans crossed the Bering Sea land bridge to the Klondike Gold Rush in the nineteenth century. The photograph of a mastodon graveyard is most impressive. Readers learn how the native Eskimos coped with the unknown with the magic of their shamans and the legends of the gods. An influx of Russian fur traders changed Native life forever. They brought illness and destruction to their hunting grounds and forests. Eventually Natives adapted by becoming guides for the newcomers exploration of the seas and the mining operations that later followed.

One of the short stories relates how the last gun shot of the American Civil War was fired from the Confederate ship Shenandoah off the coast of Alaska in June, 1865, two months after the war actually ended. These ships fired on whalers near St. Lawrence Island. The Shenandoah had previously captured thirty-eight Yankee warships. Not willing to surrender to Union authorities in the States, the Shenandoah sailed to England to surrender that November.

Bill traces the history of opposition to William Seward’s purchase of Alaska for the United States and the change of opinion once gold was discovered. Several stories detail singular individuals in Alaska’ s history. Readers learn about Captain James Cook, the explorer, Bishop William Carpenter Bompas, the missionary, Ivan Petroff, the census taker, and Old John Bonner’s murder mystery. One of Alaska’s most educated early citizens was George Washington Carmack who wrote beautiful poetry. Not only do the short stories cover all these areas, but the photographs, maps and drawings provide a feast for the eyes!

Aunt Phil’s Trunk: Volume Two

Written by Laurel Downing Bill

Vol 2 Cover Aunt Phil

Volume Two portrays the history of Alaska for a much shorter period, the end of the nineteenth century through the year 1912. Nevertheless, it packs quite a punch with more than 350 photographs and a saga of interesting characters and developments.

The Klondike Gold Rush brought the ongoing boundary dispute with Canada to a head. Stampeders from Canada walked freely across the border in an attempt to make their fortunes. Crime and robberies became rampart. Miners sometimes took justice into their own hands. One criminal was named “The Blue Parker Bandit.” A small group sailed from Seattle to steal one of the native totem poles for its city. Reportedly, Wyatt Earp and John Clum fled from Arizona to Alaska after the demise of Tombstone.

But as more settlers flooded the area and stayed, order needed to be restored. Leroy Napoleon McQuesten set up supply stations in the wilderness. Clum often traveled by mule and set up Post Offices. Frank Canton set up a court and became the first law officer. As towns sprung up and the area became more stable, the people demanded entertainment and culture. The Black Prince Boxer was listed as a popular attraction. The Monte Carlo Theater came to the town of Dawson. Poet Robert Service wrote his poem “The Call of the Wild.” Estace Ziegler painted scenes of Alaska’s rugged landscapes. The Iditarod trail was blazed;soon railroads and schools followed. Prosperity reigned until suddenly the Katmai Crater Volcano eruption created such a wasteland in 1912 that President Woodrow Wilson called it the largest national monument in the United States. As with volume one, these people and events are richly documented with photographs and drawings. Lots of changes were on the horizon which will be explored in volume three.

These books are highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Alaskan history, geography, and culture. Children age nine and above should be able to handle reading the text independently. All the volumes are a wonderful addition to the bookshelves of teachers, librarians, historians and the the general reader. Well-written comprehensive portrait of America’s forty-ninth state,

Laurel Bill headshot

Contact: Laurel Downing Bill

Email: auntphilstrunk@gmail.com

Website: http://www.AuntPhilsTrunk.com

Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/LaurelBillAuthor

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/LaurelBill

Google +: http://www.plus.Google.com/LaurelBill

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmh0wCifvbXYsVg5IkawkyQ

 

Aunt Phil’s Trunk volumes 1 through 4 are available through http://www.AuntPhilsTrunk.com and Amazon.com.

Volume 1: http://j.mp/SSiIKX

Volume 2: http://j.mp/SSiOT1

A WALK THROUGH TIME

A Rainbow of Thanks

Written by Kathleen J. Shields

ARainbowofThankspic

Kate Silverton is an eleven year old about to celebrate her birthday. Her teacher Mrs. Guffey, who she likes to call Mrs. Tuffey, has given them a weekend homework assignment to write about another culture. After being disappointed by her relative’s birthday gifts, Kate heads out to the backyard with her backpack. Suddenly, it begins to rain and she takes refuge. When the rain stops, Kate is surprised to find a rainbow which she walks through. On the other side, she meets a Navajo boy named Little Elk who is sitting on a rock in Arizona during “the week of silence.” He asks her where she came from explaining that Navajos believe the God travels on a rainbow and that a rainbow is a bridge between the human world and the other side. Rainbows also carry heroes between earth and heaven. Kate is mystified; she informs the boy that she is simply an American from Ohio who walked through a rainbow to the other side. How did she get to Arizona? Realizing that she must walk back through the rainbow to the other side before it disappears, Kate pulls out the walkman  radio from her backpack and gives it as a gift to Little Elk to ease his time of silence.

Things get even stranger when Kate emerges from the rainbow in the jungle listening to the sound of elephants and seeing a little girl named Chicktow who is searching the ground for grubs to eat. Kate is now in Victoria Falls. She presents her new friend with some oatmeal cookies stamped with Kate’s name and address labels. Kate descends with her friend to the bottom of the Falls where they locate the remnants of the rainbow. Chicktow  tells her that the rainbow arch frames the Queen of Heaven. Kate quickly steps into the arch.

Kate is disappointed to find herself in Dublin, Ireland when she emerges. The Flanagan boys greet her. In Ireland the rainbow is considered the hem of God’s garments. They tell her that leprechauns believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but all Kate wants is to return to Ohio. She presents them with the old video player she received as a gift before she departs. Kate must still journey to Germany, Russia, Polynesia, Croatia and Scotland before she lands back in the United States. In California, she meets a medicine man of the Mojave who tells her that the rainbow is a charm the Creator uses to stop a rain storm. Finally, she walks through the rainbow one hour later to find herself at home in Ohio.

Wow! What a journey! Kate writes her report immediately before she forgets her adventure. Her mother is puzzled by her strange behavior. Mrs. Guffey gives her an A on her report, but asks why she did not choose one culture. The next week, Kate draws a stunning, accurate portrait so real that her teacher goes to her home for a talk with Mrs. Silverton because she fears that Kate is delusional.

How will Kate prove her story? A mysterious visitor will provide the answer.

This e book is available on Smashwords. A paperback version can now be found on amazon. Recommended for children ages eight and up, but adults will love it as well.

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