Posts tagged ‘myths’

EMERALDS AND EAGLES

The Secrets’s of Sinbad’s Cave (Book 1 in the Natnat Adventures)

Written by Brydie Walker Bain

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The first book in this adventure series combines myths, legends, fantasy, magic and treasure hunting into an exciting read not only for tweens and teens but for adult readers as well. Set in New Zealand, the book also offers a glimpse into a part of the world unknown to many.

As the story opens, readers meet Drake and Cortez, who are professional thieves seeking to find a long lost treasure hidden in the caves. In the second chapter, we meet Mike and his children, Nat, Jack, Kathleen who are struggling to save the farm and their beloved horses, which they are about to lose due to financial troubles. When Kathleen falls through a hole in the roof of the attic, she finds a hidden room complete with a treasure box of clues, and the adventure begins. The children have only two weeks left of summer vacation to solve the mystery and save the farm before they have to return to their mother living in the city.

Assisted by their friends, Elijah and Barnaby they set off on their quest. Their clues lead them to seek help from the Maori, Abraham Te Kaitiaki and his niece, Riki. When thieves break into the children’s home seeking the box, all realize the danger. But the children and their Maori guides are relentless. A giant eagle, pixies (Patupaiarehe), and a tiny magic bird encourage the children not to give up. Where did this legend come from and how is it connected to this family? Will they be able to unravel the clues ahead of the professional thieves and save the family farm?

The author does a great job of moving the plot along and introduces enough complications to keep the story interesting. I read the book in one sitting, but the book could easily be used in a classroom as a read aloud or link to many subject different areas of curriculum. Bain entices the reader by giving a preview of the next adventure, which sounds just as exciting as the first. Highly recommended for treasure hunters age nine and older.

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SITTING ROUND THE CAMPFIRE

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE DADS OUT THERE….This one is dedicated to my dad, who loved to tell stories.

The American StoryBag: A Collection of Tales

Written by Gerald Hausman

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This author has been collecting stories since 1965. He loved to listen to stories which he scribbled down and later retold on paper. These tales focus on every aspect of American life. As I was reading them, I had the distinct feeling that I was sitting around a campfire listening to a storytelling master. Hausman has won numerous awards for his yarns, which speak of ghosts, demons, fantasy, humor, truths, and everyday life.

The author divides his tales into sections like Heroes, On the Road, Humor, Reflections, Out of this World, Moments of Truth, and Yarns. He has been compared to Mark Twain. The reader feels as if he is there in the story. Some stories will inspire you like the tale about an autistic child who survived a struggle in the swamp, some of them portray the legends of Native Americans as in The Horse of the Navajo or the bravery of a father and son in A Real Life Goliath.

The Discussion Questions that Hausman suggests are a wonderful beginning for students or book groups to use as a jumping off point for further exploration of the subject matter in individual stories. These questions could also be the basis of interesting essays on many topics. Teachers might want to use them in connection with other curriculum areas. The questions also assist in understanding the deeper layers of culture surrounding them. Finally, the author interview included at the end of the collection provides insight into why the author is so successful as a storyteller, lecturer and writer.

Recommended for readers age eight and older, all those who love to tell stories or listen to them!

A SEA-SATION!

The Dragon Dreamer

Written and illustrated by J.S. Burke

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The author of this book is multi-talented. She is a marine biologist, teacher, chemist, artist and geologist. In this book targeted for middle grade students, she somehow manages to weave these disparate elements together in a well-written educational fantasy adventure.

The story shifts between two groups: the golden dragons who are in danger because their life-giving copper supplies are running low, and the octopuses who live on undersea reefs. The main protagonists, Arak, the dragon, and Scree, the octopus healer, will be thrown together by a chance accident. They will work together first as trading partners and later as loyal friends. Each of them will lead their people to safety as they face extinction. Though they speak different languages, they learn to communicate. Burke does a masterful job of character development by uniquely combining the elements of caring, cooperation, romance and diversity. She successfully weaves together an intricate plot that celebrates diversity and intertwines ancient myths and legends with the scientific facts of marine biology.

Readers are taken on an exciting page turning adventure in which you empathize with characters as they face each new obstacle. At the same time, almost without realizing it, you are learning about the food chain, volcanoes, sharks and giant squid. The glossary included at the end is a nice resource for the scientific background. Targeted for readers ages nine and older, the book has a wider appeal for young adult and even adult audiences. A book that entertains while providing an education is a welcome addition to any bookshelf. Highly recommended !

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BOOK BLAST – MYTHS FOR TOTS

Reviews of two books in the Mini Myths Series: Be Patient, PANDORA! and Play Nice, HERCULES!

Written by Joan Holub

Illustrated by Leslie Patricelli

Be Patient, PANDORA!

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At first glance, you might say how could a toddler possibly understand the connections between Greek mythology and a toddler’s learning curve, but you are mistaken. Holub has deftly taken the story of Pandora’s box and woven it into a wonderful twenty-four page toddler board book. Each page contains a picture, one word or one sentence to portray a tot named Pandora, who simply cannot contain her curiosity when her mother tells her not to open the box. She cannot resist and then fears rejection and loss of her mother’s love when her curiosity gets the best of her. Patricelli knows exactly how to convey the story in pictures that are so simple yet expressive with the generalization needed for young children to understand the plot.

 

 

 

 

Play Nice, HERCULES!

Hercules,picThis book has more text than the first, but does not go beyond one sentence on a page. Hercules is a toddler who has a habit of getting into mischief. Patricelli says it all in the wonderful facial expressions in her character. Dad warns him to play nice with his little sister who is sitting on the floor with her blocks. You can guess what happens when Hercules decides to display his strength. I especially enjoyed the way Holub used sound words like whomp-stomp and ka-boom to combine pictures and actions of the story. Mighty Hercules will have to learn how to contain his powers, and the siblings will learn a valuable lesson in the process.

Both sturdy board books contain summaries of the Greek myths upon which they are based on the back cover of the book. This is particularly useful for adult readers who may have forgotten the story and also allows the young child to “grow into” an interest for classical Greek literature at a later point in time. Parents and teachers may use the series as an early introduction to fine literature as well as a way to teach the skills and values that toddlers are beginning to develop. If you enjoyed reading these reviews, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed number in the upper right hand corner of this page.

JOURNEYING THROUGH ALASKA’S HISTORY

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Aunt Phil’s Trunk: Volume One

Written by Laurel Downing Bill

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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

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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

LABRYINTH WITH A TWIST

The Shadow of the Minotaur: (Shadows From The Past)

Written by Wendy Leighton-Porter

 

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This is the second book in a planned fifteen book series which takes three children and a Tonkinese cat on a series of time travel adventures. Twins Joe and Jemima live with their Uncle Richard since their parents mysteriously disappeared. In the first book of the series, the twins journey with their talking cat, Max and their friend Charlie back in time to Atlantis in search of their parents. Using the same magic bird golden charms, they continue on their search in book two to ancient Greece. The reader meets Prince Theseus, the son of King Aegeus about to be sent with seven women and six other men as tribute to King Minos. They must kill the half human and half bull Minotaur and escape the labyrinth deep in the bowls of the palace of Knossos or sacrifice themselves.

The children and Max find themselves on the Greek ship traveling to Knossos where they meet Theseus. They instruct him to use a ball of wool to guide him through the maze and assure him that he will succeed in his quest. He learns that the king’s daughter Princess Ariadne will assist him. King Aegeus asks that Theseus change the black sails to white sails when he returns as a sign that he has been successful, but the outlook is bleak as no one has ever returned alive from this mission.  When the ship arrives in Crete, the children are shocked to meet Medon and his family, the very same family that helped them escape from Atlantis! They present Jemima with a disc of terracotta in Linear B script bearing the name of their baby, Jemima who has been named after her. Medon helps them find the palace of Knossos. Princess Ariadne bribes a guard and helps the Athenians. She hopes to escape her cruel father and travel back to Athens with Theseus. When the plans go awry, she places Max the talking cat in a basket and sends him back to Medon for help. Meanwhile our heroes and the Athenians are trapped in the labyrinth trying to kill the Minotaur and escape. They face numerous perils and a gruesome task for Theseus has pledged to bring back the head of the beast as a trophy.

The author adds some modern technology to the myth and develops the characters well in interesting fashion. The plot moves along at a quick pace alternating between scenes at the palace, the ship, and our three modern time travelers.  I would have loved to have seen a few illustrations of the more dramatic scenes interwoven with the story. Tweens and young adults will love the mixture of ancient myth, spunky characters and modern technology woven together in the book. Readers who wish to continue the adventure series will find themselves back in time within the Trojan horse in the third book of this series.

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