Posts tagged ‘orphans’

SUBWAYS TO SCOTLAND

The Camelot Kids: Part One

Written by Ben Zackheim

thecamelotkids

First book in a new middle grade series that mixes medieval history, knights, castles, adventure and coming of age with a modern twist. Protagonist Simon Sharp is a fourteen year old who becomes an orphan at the age of twelve when his archaeologist parents die in an airplane crash over Scotland. Simon finds himself in a New York City orphanage and foster care. He is clever, smart and streetwise, though he is bullied by Brad. When strangers ask how his parents died, he replies, “King Arthur killed them.” Their lifelong mission had been to find Camelot.

Simon’s unlucky situation becomes more mysterious, when he gets a letter from an uncle in Scotland who claims that he has just found out about the accident and will assume responsibility for Simon. The boy is soon on a plane to Scotland and a new life in a mysterious castle. Though he now attends a private school, the bullying situation is the same. Simon will discover hidden passages and meet mysterious creatures like gargoyles, trolls, and magicians. Who are they and what is his connection to them?

This book of slightly less than one hundred pages has charming black and white illustrations that add to the depth of the characters and setting of the tale. The writing of the plot is well-executed and the characters are interesting and endearing. Zackheim seems to have found the right combination of modern day grit and medieval fantasy in setting the right tone for the series. I think tweens and teens will want to get involved with this story. I know that many adults like me have fond memories of Camelot.

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AGAINST ALL ODDS…

The Leopard Tree

Written by Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu

TheLeopardTree,pic

Three African children meet while living at the Nyumba wa watoto orphanage in Kenya, Africa and become fast friends. Their favorite spot is a tree they call “the leopard tree.” Daudi’s mother died of Aids when he was two; recently his grandmother has died and left him orphaned and abandoned without medication. Masozi is blind and lost a leg to a land mine due to civil war in Sudan, and Ramla from Rwanda witnessed the rape and killing of her family in her village. The trauma from that event has robbed her of her speech. Daudi reads the story of the Wizard of Oz to his friends, which inspires them to seek a wizard who can make life better for them and the children of Africa. Rosa Carson is a photojournalist who often visits Africa in an effort to create awareness of the poverty and medical needs of children in orphanages throughout Africa; she is drawn to and takes a special interest in these three children.

On one visit to the orphanage, Rosa agrees to take the three children on a day trip to Nairobi airport. When Daudi finds a passport on the floor, the adventures begin. The children stow away on a jet flying to San Francisco. From that point they travel by bus to Reno, a minivan to Kansas, and a goat trailer to Missouri. They walk along railroad tracks and stow away in a freight train until they arrive in Pennsylvania. Where are they going? Daudi has learned there is a UN conference in New York. He is determined to plead his case to the Secretary General Akama. All along this journey, the children must hide from the immigration authorities while they face all sorts of personal physical danger. To make matters worse, Daudi has been without any medication and his medical condition is deteriorating.

Rosa desperately wants to find these children to keep them safe and eventually adopt them as her family. She uses all her resources and contacts in an attempt to track them down. All the odds are against them succeeding; will these three unlikely spokespeople for Africa’s impoverished orphans succeed in the quest?

This book is a powerful presentation of the issues that face so many children everyday. Characters are deftly created with powerful personalities. Heartbreaking twists and turns in the plot abound. The authors paint portraits of the best and worst of human nature. I found it difficult to put the book down. Young adult and adult readers should not miss this book.

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PRINCESS PANORAMA

Princess Meredith Bedtime Tales

Written by Marshall Best

PrincessMeredithBedtime,pic

This approximately forty page e Book selection available on Smashwords and Amazon is a departure from the author’s previous works. These consist of chronicles centered on a character named Guiamo which combine history, legend and adventure in a series of books focusing on exploration and civilization. That series appeals to an older child. In his new book, the author and father of six is centering on children age three to ten.

The Princess Meredith book actually contains five short fairy tales. This book would make a good early reader chapter book. While advertised as bedtime stories, they can just as easily be read individually at separate times. Our Princess Meredith is well-loved in her kingdom. She is intelligent, loyal, compassionate, and generous. The themes appeal to young girls: ponies, castles, magic, witches, spells, picnics, poison, and adventure. Each of the tales involves danger, but all of them end with the theme that they lived happily ever after. Main characters include the king and queen, a royal baker, a witch, an uncle, cousin and children from an orphanage. The princess is already in training; she convinces the king and queen to consider and adopt her plan to redesign the way orphans are treated in the kingdom. The illustrations on the cover are charming and appealing; too bad there were not a few more illustrations dispersed throughout the chapters to hold the interest of younger readers. I would especially recommend the book to parents and teachers of children age six and up.

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