Posts tagged ‘life lessons’

BEING ALONE IS NO FUN

The Selfish Bear

Written and Illustrated by Bassel Elkadi

A little bear is selfish and does not like to share. One day he comes across his friends on the swings. He reflects on how he has treated each of them recently and figures out they will now not want to share with him.
The bear decides to build his own swing. He gathers material and makes a large swing. Bear did not plan well. One of the ropes breaks. Can you guess what might happen? Will Bear realize why it is important to share and be kind to your friends?

This is a rather short book. The illustrations are appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. I was puzzled about the fact the Bear was not given a name to help personalize the character. Recommended especially for children ages three to six.

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SIZING THINGS UP

Short or Tall Doesn’t Matter at All

Written by Asaf Rozanes

Mia is very short. This distresses her because her classmates often make fun of her and exclude her from activities.

Mia reveals her problem to her father. He tells her a fairytale about the sun and moon and how they became friends. One day a situation unfolds at school that proves to the other children there is value in being small. The other children learn an important lesson from Mia. They now understand she also has many special talents. Size does not matter.

This picture book is written in rhyme. It works, for the most part, but the story would have been just as effective if written in prose. Recommended especially for students in the six to ten age group but an important lesson for middle-school students as well.

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FAST FRIENDS

The Dog Gang Collection

Written by Yael Rosman

This book is a collection of stories focusing on the adventures of three dog friends, Bowie, Cheo, and Zaza. They are different in breed, looks, and personality, but they have one thing in common, they meet to romp and play at the same park with their owners Morin, Benny, and Shila Each of these tales was originally published as a separate story.

Roseman personifies her canine characters. In each of the tales, one of the dogs becomes a lead character. By the time the story ends, children learn life lessons based on the behavior of these canine friends. Readers learn why it is important not to show off, to work as a team, to care about each other’s feelings, and how each of us is special and unique.

The illustrations are colorful and well-executed, but sometimes the text and illustrations don’t line up properly. Readers may be confused because illustrations from the first story are repeated in the third story. This collection runs more than two hundred pages, which is way too long for the age of the targeted bedtime story audience. I would recommend this book as better suited to readers in the six to eight-year-old range.

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A LOT TO CHEW ON….

Life in the Gumball Machine

Written by Maureen Bartone

An interesting chapter book targeted for readers in the seven to eleven year age range. On her tenth birthday, Daisy goes for a bike ride with her two best fourth grade friends, Patrick and Michael. Daisy is often considered a tomboy, but one thing her two friends have never persuaded her to do is to play football. When the three friends pause to investigate an old shed, they discover an abandoned gumball machine. Daisy decides that she must have one so she deposits a coin. Soon the machine rumbles and sucks all three of them inside. Little do they realize the adventure awaiting them inside.

Bartone uses lots of human and kid friendly dialogue to describe how the three humans shrink and meet the gumball people and their exciting world. Our three human friends will discover that outside appearance matters little, the real person is wrapped inside. Daisy will experience that football game and face her hidden fears. Lessons learned include how we behave and what we do are a lot more important than how we look.

Daisy is looking forward to her birthday party that afternoon, but things are looking grim that the three friends will free themselves from the gumball world and return to their normal size. The only way to escape is for another person to come along and discover that abandoned candy machine. That does not appear to be a likely possibility. Will the three friends keep their cool and figure out a way to return home? What will happen to their newly found gumball friends? How will Patrick, Michael and Daisy’s lives be changed forever?

The plot of this middle grade chapter book is simple and the text straightforward with enough excitement, surprises and humor to keep the reader entertained and the advice from becoming preachy. A surprise near the end sets the scene for a new adventure. Recommended for children in grades two through six.

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IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS

The Tree Within the Tree

Written and Illustrated by Sally Huss

treewithintreepic

Sally places her message for this story right on the cover: The Importance of Appreciation. Alexander and Charlotte have only two dollars between them. They are walking through a Christmas tree lot on Christmas Eve. The owner informs them that they only have enough money to consider a tree on a pile of rubbish in the corner. There the two children discover a scraggly tree that desperately wanted to become a Christmas tree to make a family happy. The family is poor but determined to embellish their tree. As the tree gazes at the worn furniture and scanty possessions, it is amazed by how family members gather popcorn, aluminum and personal possessions to transform the scrawny tree into the most beautiful tree inside and outside.

Illustrations are simple and classic; this book will not only place smiles on the faces of preschoolers and primary school children, but remind children and adults alike to appreciate the little things and not become embroiled in the materialistic side of Christmas. Recommended as a bedtime story or read aloud for students and families to share.

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UNLIMITED POTENTIAL

The Tiniest Tumbleweed

Written by Kathy Peach

Illustrated by Alex Lopez

TinyTumbleweed

Beautifully told tale with two protagonists. The story opens with a Mother Tumbleweed discussing her tiny baby with her husband who is concerned that the tot will be too small to make seeds. At that same time a young baby sparrow is hatching; his father is concerned that the baby will be too small to fly and spread seeds. Both the sparrow and tumbleweed experience sadness as they watch their siblings grow and they remain smaller than their peers. Their respective parents continue to reassure their children that size does not really matter as they teach their young the skills needed to reach their own full potential. When the desert rains come, tumbleweed works hard to make seeds, while tiny sparrow learns to flap his wings and hop. One day as fate might have it, a rainstorm brings the tiny sparrow and the tiny tumbleweed together. They learn how to work together to make each other reach their goals.

This is a beautiful book on many levels. The fictional story teaches children a lot about disabilities and strength of character as well as the value of family support. Targeted for preschool through grade three, the book works on many levels. Beautiful yet simple illustrations enhance the text as a read aloud for preschoolers. Lessons embedded within the text are appropriate for primary grade children. I like the lesson plans included for teachers to supplement interdisciplinary curriculum. Fun Facts could be the start of science projects, and the curriculum questions provide many avenues of exploration for the teacher or parent of a home schooled child. As some other reviewers mentioned, I noted some spelling and editing errors, which is the reason I gave the book four instead of five stars.

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SO SAD

Runaway Smile: An unshared smile is a waste of time (Niditales Book 1)

Written by Nicholas C. Rossis

Illustrated by Dimitris Fousekis

RunawaySmile,pic

Readers who take the time to read the Prologue will discover the secret of this book. Plot is simple: a little boy wakes up one morning and finds that he has lost his smile. Shortly after, the reader is introduced to a set of quirky characters that will definitely make him smile. The boy’s dog, wears glasses, reads Proust and drives a car. A clothes-eating monster lives in the bedroom closet and ants windsurf across the boy’s breakfast cereal, but the boy is steadfast in his search to find the missing smile.

The boy meets several adult characters on his way to school. A workman, a man walking his goldfish, a king being photographed, the greatest salesman in the world, and a clown, each display smiles that they are unwilling to share with the boy. At school, the boy asks his teacher , but she replies that a classroom is no place for a smile and proceeds to pass out a test! By this time the poor boy is completely disheartened. When he gets home, he asks his mother how to find his smile. She reveals the secret.

The sepia toned illustrations in this book are done beautifully; they capture the spirit and humor of the tale. A poem, “Ode to a runaway smile,” included at the end portrays the cleverness and wit of the author. Adults will understand all the nuances of this story. The simple illustration on the cover is a bit misleading as to the underlying story. Young children will enjoy the pictures but probably won’t grasp some of the concepts without adult guidance. I feel the book is best suited for independent readers who enjoy different kinds of books with an unusual plot so I would especially recommend it for ages ten and older.

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