Posts tagged ‘magic’

MAN’S BEST SUPER SLEUTH

Hide and Panic Stations (Super Sleuth Sam Book 1)

Written by Monty J. McClaine

This is the first book in a nine-part series. The author uses the introduction to present the characters of the series. Jack is a mischievous six-year-old. His father likes to tinker in the garage with his Corvette, his mother is a devoted stay at home mom, his sister, Molly has just begun to crawl. Sam, the basset hound is always on red alert protecting the family and serving as Jack’s constant companion. But Sam is no ordinary dog, he has magical powers passed down to him from his ancestors. When Sam recites his chant, he develops super speed and the detective skills of a Sherlock Holmes.

One day Jack and Sam are playing hide and seek. Jack pushes the envelope by finding a hiding place in which no one discovers him. While Jack is comfortably ensconced reading his dad’s comic and enjoying a snack, the rest of the family is in panic mode. Readers will enjoy how Sam employs his super speed and detective smarts to solve the mystery of Sam’s disappearance. Sam’s parents are about to call the police. Will Sam be able to solve the mystery? Perhaps young readers will be able to help.

This book is a fun chapter book for beginning and middle-grade readers. It presents a typical family with some atypical characteristics, some humor, and a mystery for readers to ponder. Recommended especially for third to fifth graders. The length of approximately one hundred pages makes it a good choice for reluctant readers as well.

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TIME TRAVEL ON THE THAMES

The Hexed Child (Bertram Bile Time AdventureTravel Series, Book 3

Written by Sarah Weldon

This is not my first time reading a book from the series. I did not find that a real advantage, though fans of time travel adventures might prefer beginning with Book 1. Bertram Bile and his friend, Molly are sitting in Miss Petrenko’s geography class. She is reputed to be the worst geography teacher in the world. Molly develops a plan giving them an excuse to escape class. She is eager to visit Bertram’s aunt, who just happens to be a witch. They hide in the bathroom and put on their gold-colored goggles, their key to arriving at the witch’s old ash tree home.

The witch gives each child a magic cloak. They amble through the woods and discover a child who is crying. The kind-hearted witch promises to help the mother, who has never been able to quiet the child. The storyline is a mixture of fantasy and reality. Weldon explores themes important to her middle school audience and gently guides them by discussing solutions.

The author bases her series on her experiences swimming the rivers of London. She is an environmentalist and STEM teacher, donating a part of her book sales to these interests. Recommended for readers third grade and older. A perfect chapter book for the middle-grade student audience.

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HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY – TRANSFORMATIONS

Weeds in Nana’s Garden: A heartfelt story of love that helps explain Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.

Written and Illustrated by Kathryn Harrison

This well-written book is poignant and beautiful. The author tackles a difficult subject with which many families are forced to face. By using the metaphor of a garden overcome with weeds, the author introduces the subject of Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia.

The protagonist is a young girl who enjoys planting seeds in her Nana’s garden every spring. She laughs and dances as her grandmother explains the fairies are sprinkling their magic dust in the garden. They work the garden as the flowers spring to life. They observe the changes in the garden as the seasons change.

Then one summer, the little girl notices weeds growing in the garden. She inquires of her Nana whether they should pull them out, but her grandmother just nods. Confused, the little girl asks her mother why Nana does not remove the weeds and her mother tenderly explains that Nana’s brain is sick and that like the garden it is becoming tangled and confused. She reminds her daughter that like the flowers growing among the weeds, the Nana they remember is still underneath.

As time goes on, the weeds multiply and Nana’s condition worsens. The little girl has grown and she learns to deal with reality. She sings and dances in the garden once more, now taking over the responsibility for the garden while her grandmother rests sitting underneath a tree.

The author reminds us that our mothers and grandmothers are treasures, but like the cycle of the seasons, they will not be with us forever. There is a wonderful list of questions and answers that can be used to explain dementia to children. Harrison donates 20% of her sales to the Alzheimer Foundation in Canada. Recommended for parents, grandparents, teachers and children ages six and older.

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HAPPY EASTER! – A Delightful Doll

The Little Girl Doll (The Wurtherington Diary) Book 1

Written by Reynold Jay

This book is based on a restored diary belonging to a mute girl named Tammy. She lives with her aunt and uncle. Tammy is thrilled to receive a sewing machine as a birthday gift. She begins to fashion clothing for dolls. One day a mouse in the toolshed comes to laugh and convinces Tammy to accompany him to Kira. On her journey, Tammy meets Captain Flynn and his pirates, Zeke, a flying squirrel and an opossum.named Zeke. Her talking animal friends guide her to a kingdom ruled by two sorceresses, Lucinda and Catherine. Tammy passes through the kingdom of Hoarggs before arriving at the kingdom in an attempt to free the subjects.Will Tammy accomplish her mission? Will she be reunited with her guardians?

The book is beautifully restored with color photographs, reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Children who love fairy tales and magic will love the adventure. There are different versions of this tale; this is the longest length which is appropriate for readers ages nine and older.

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#Cybils2017 #Finalists

Proudly presenting two more books that were finalists in the contest this year:

EASY READER CATEGORY

FRIENDS FINDING SOLUTIONS…

My Kite Is Stuck! And Other Stories

Written by Salina Yoon

 

All three stories feature the same three main characters, Little Duck, Big Duck and Porcupine. In the first story, Big Duck gets his kite stuck in the tree. His two friends try to help, but only make the problem worse. Children will laugh at the silly solutions the characters invent.

The second tale revolves around Porcupine making friends with a bug. Big Duck and Little Duck discuss the qualities needed in a friend and try to persuade Porcupine why he can’t be friends with a bug. There is a surprise ending.

In the third story, the three friends decide to build a lemonade stand. They model cooperation, patience and hard work. Of course, there are a few hiccups and lots of humor when the friends forget about the main ingredient needed for their success.

These stories employ speech balloons with dark text and brilliant digital illustrations that fill the page. I would recommend it to preschoolers and kindergarten beginning readers. Each story can be enjoyed separately for beginning readers with shorter attention spans.

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK CATEGORY:

SCIENCE, MAGIC, AND GIRL POWER…

Zoey And Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows

Written by Asia Citro

Illustrated by Marion Lindsay

 

What a charming way to combine science, a bit of magic and a strong female role model in an interesting story! Zoey is an inquisitive, intelligent, sweet girl. One day she discovers her mother holding a photograph that appears to be glowing. Her mother attempts to hide it, but when Zoey reveals that she can see the glowing creature, her scientist-mother reveals her secret.

As a child, her mother discovered a purple glowing frog that was severely injured. To her amazement, the frog named Pip began talking to her. Ever since that day, Zoey’s mom had been helping other magical creatures who needed assistance. She installed a hidden doorbell in the barn. Zoey’s mom thought she was the only one who had this ability, but now she understands that Zoey also has the gift.

When Zoey’s mom must travel to a scientific conference, Zoey hopes that she will receive a call for help from one of these magical creatures. Zoey studies her mom’s journals, notes, and photos. Sure enough, a few days later, she hears the bell and finds a small reptile near death in the barn. Zoey gets to work, but there is so much to learn. She sets forth a hypothesis and sets out her materials. Like a true scientist, she uses trial and error and controls in her experiments. Together with her cat, Sassafras, they work to save the creature. Who is this creature? Will Zoey be successful?

I found lots to like in this chapter book. Large print, beautiful black and white drawings, and a table of contents that lists the subject of each short chapter. Citro carefully crafts a multicultural, curious and hard-working female protagonist who is empathetic and appealing to young readers. Children quickly become engrossed with the plot, while hardly realizing they are learning about the scientific method and the reptile species. The glossary reinforces understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary. Highly recommended for beginning readers, but certainly challenging enough for middle-grade readers.

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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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SLOW BURN

Sparks: A Fantasy Short Story

Written by T. Daniel Sheppeard

 

Interesting and quirky short story about Sebastian, a young boy who is an apprentice magician. Sebastian is a gifted student, but he suffers from a lack of concentration. His tutor Maltheus endeavors to teach him how to light fire. Sebastian repeats the incantation but nothing happens. Maltheus sends him back to his dorm to study Dallben’s Meditations and Ruell’s Liturgy. When they meet a few days later, Matheus uses a different strategy to teach Sebastian. Sebastian becomes too successful with the Flame Hand trick and it leads to new problems. By the end of the tale, Sebastian realizes that the true goal of wizardry is not to master others but to master oneself.

This book is a really short story, less than twenty pages. Fans of magic, fantasy and humor will probably enjoy it. Appropriate for middle school, young adult and adult audiences.

 

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