Posts tagged ‘New Orleans’

ALONE NO MORE…

Gumbo Goes Downtown

Written by Carol Talley

gumbopicA tale that is charming and sweet, yet focuses on some important issues. The obvious story line is about a guard dog named Gumbo, who lives in a shotgun house on St. Charles Street in New Orleans. He spends most of his time barking at any one who comes near the chain link fence, such as the girl in a polka dot dress and the postman. When the postman fails to close the gate one day, Gumbo seizes the opportunity to see the world. He follows the trolley tracks downtown to New Orleans. Here he meets up with a poodle named Pompon and a champion pure breed named Stella. Gumbo has the time of his life in Jackson Square with clowns, dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. Soon his friends leave to go home and be pampered by their owners. Gumbo begins to miss his house and owner Gus, whom he never appreciated. Will Gumbo decide to remain free in the big city on his own and fend for himself or return to his former life?

The book description suggests an audience of K-2. While the simple story of Gumbo’s adventure is appropriate for that age group, the larger issues of homelessness and running away from home are better addressed to a middle grade audience. Talley provides a nice guide for parents and teachers to set up a discussion on these issues. Maeno’s illustrations are soft, colorful and appealing, but the text is small and difficult to read on some of the pages. I recommend the book especially for parents and teachers who would like to open up a discussion on homelessness, running away, and poverty. Talley also includes an interesting background section on New Orleans and the points of interest mentioned in the story.

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PRINCESS POWER

The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool, 2nd Edition

Written by P.J. La Rue

Illustrated by Aristides Rodriguez

MysticPrincesses,pic

Harmonie and Eros are teenage sister and brother living in New York City. One day a group of teenagers on a subway platform attempt to kidnap Harmonie. Mysteriously, they bear the same tattoo as her brother on their arm. Eros reveals a family secret. They are children of Ares, the god of war, whose children are tattooed at one year old. Most of the children of Ares strive to make life difficult for others, but he is the god of love and Harmonie is the goddess of peace. Their mother, the goddess Aphrodite, whisked Harmonie away before the age of one and gave her to Eros for protection. Eros is determined to safeguard her and tells her they must now live apart to avoid detection.

Eros has arranged for his sister to live in Hawaii. She will live and go to school with four princesses.  Each have special powers derived from one of the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. This new group of five decide to call themselves the Mystic Princesses. Alongside the traditional school subjects, they are taught self-defense by Sandi Swordfish. In the afternoon the girls practice their individual powers, always on the watch for their enemies, children of Ares.

Sure enough, Ares was getting impatient; his children find their way to Hawaii. They cause much damage around Coral’s reef castle. Her parents King Neptune and Queen Pearl decide that all the princesses must move for their own safety. Their next adventure will take them to New Orleans where they will live with Princess Catie and her parents. What new adventures await them?

This early chapter book is perfect for children ages six through ten. It does not portray wimpy princesses, but strong, respectful and independent female role models involved in many adventures in which they learn to overcome their weaknesses, act against bullying, and cooperate with friends and family to promote human welfare and peace. Short chapters interspersed with illustrations will maintain interest if the book is read aloud for younger children. Introduce your little princess to this one.

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