Posts tagged ‘peer relationships’


The Search for South Pole Santa: A South Pole Santa Adventure (Book 1 in a series)

Written by Jingle Belle Jackson


This book combines a bit of magic, romance, holiday traditions, and fantasy in a whimsical adventure. There are two main plots: Sandra’s story detailing her life on a tugboat named Mistletoe moored on an island in the South Pacific, and the contest Santa Claus decides to hold to find a second Santa to cope with the world’s exploding population of children.

Sandra’s parents are missing and presumed dead. They had recently enrolled her in the St. Annalise Academy where the students are all gifted, whether they be human or part supernatural. Throughout the story, Sandra learns more about her lineage and special talents. At the same time, readers are introduced to her new friends. When Sandra learns about the contest for a second Santa, she immediately applies. Cappie, her guardian, and her island friends encourage her. Readers are taken on a colorful journey to the North Pole, where they participate in the fun-filled but grueling competition to determine the winner. There are lots of twists and turns, holiday magic and fun, mixed in with a bit of romance and coming of age in both parallel plots.

In the end, what will Sandra’s future hold? Will she learn how to cope with the loss of her parents, her talented friends, and the boy who seems to disdain her? Who will win the Santa competition? Stay tuned for more answers in the next book of the series.

This book was a fun read. It is highly recommended for middle grade and young teen readers. Adults looking for a light holiday read will also enjoy if willing to suspend reality for a few hours.

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Emilia’s Treasure: How a Mermaid Makes Friends

Written by Anca Niculae

Illustrated by Maria Falie

Emilia, the mermaid, is upset because none of her mermaid friends want to search for pearls with her. She goes off in search of other mermaids, a snail and a school of fish, but none of them seem interested in her project. When a little mermaid loses her seahorse, Emma decides to search with her. As the two new friends continue on their exploration they meet other creatures of the sea. This time the two mermaids stop and listen to what these creatures have to say. They learn the valuable lesson that in seeking friendship listening is more important than seeking to impress others.

At the end of the book, the author supplies a questionnaire to assist children in assessing their own relationships. Children are presented with a list of questions to answer and activities to use that are placed in appropriate age categories. I would particularly recommend this book for beginning readers and shy children who have difficulty with peer relationships. This book has value for children of all ages.

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The Spider Quest: The Secret Life of Lollipop Lisa

Written by Sharon Skretting

Illustrated by Elizabeth Porter


Lisa is an independent strong willed fourth grader who isn’t afraid of being different. She does not conform to the crowd in the way she dresses or how she expresses her opinions. Lisa received the nickname Lollipop or Lolli because she does enjoy eating lollipops and because they are as colorful as her appearance.

When Miss Warner decides that the class will keep a daily journal, Lisa is reluctant because she is afraid someone will read her private thoughts. After thinking about it, Lisa decides she will solve that problem by keeping two journals, the second one to record her private thoughts. Unlike the other girls in the class, Lisa is not afraid of the spiders kept inside a jar. One day, they escape from the science corner and screaming chaos erupts inside the classroom. Once Miss Warner establishes order, the students put their minds to work employing all the things they learned about spiders in order to find them. They discuss how spiderlings hatch, the kinds of food they eat, where they hide, how they molt, and the way spiders move from place to place.

Will Lolli and her friends use their smarts to find the missing spiders? If found, what should they do to prevent their escape in the future? In reading this adventure, one discovers a lot about spiders and the reasons we should not be afraid of them. This book is recommended especially for children ages seven to ten. It is an excellent choice for reluctant readers because the length is manageable and the pictures make it easy to follow the text. As an added bonus, both students and teachers are given the opportunity to download their very own secret journal.

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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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Charlie Bingham Gets Clocked #1

Written by Maggie M. Larche


What else could go wrong? Charlie is in love with his teacher, Miss Walker. His best friend Brad brings his one-eyed lizard to school and loses it. The intelligent but insecure and nervous Brad has just been nominated to be on the Knowledge Bowl team. Miss Walker’s favorite alarm clock has disappeared. Two girls who are bitter enemies vow to become detective rivals locked in a contest to find the culprit. To make matters even worse, their muscle-bound music teacher, Mr. Wainwright, is also enamored of Miss Walker. He is determined to find and punish the student thief. Throughout the school day this elusive clock will make its way around the school until the culprit is found. Will the truth ever come out? Who will finally solve the mystery? Will the thief get the punishment he deserves?

This book is aimed at the eight to twelve year old audience and features a nice balance of elements that appeal to this age group. There is lots of humor, enough plot twists, and empathetic characters with which readers can identify. Readers will surely be able to see themselves either as victims or heroes in the plot. Recommended as a fun read for friends or classmates to share and discuss.

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Snow Pup: Holiday Heartwarmers Book2)

Written by Mimi Barbour


This is the second book in Barbour’s holiday series. Well-written plot with realistic characters that has no real connection to the Christmas holiday other than the setting. Deputy Shawna Mallory is a thirty-one year old single cop who lives in the rather sleepy town of Carlton Grove. She has a deep commitment to her job, and moves quickly when she hears an amber alert on the radio for a missing eleven year old boy. Mallory hears a dog barking; she finds the boy under a snow drift being guarded by the pup. The sheriff agrees to take the boy in while he awaits a new foster care family.

Complications arise when the boy’s real father arrives back on the scene from an overseas assignment in Chile. John Reid McCrae appears to have a poor parenting track record, but Shawna’s friend Alice knew him many years ago and offers a different opinion. In the meantime Shawna grows attached to Billy, who is about to be given to a new foster family. Billy runs away once again, but even more puzzling is the strange affect Billy’s dad has upon Shawna. What outcome ensues for Billy, John, and the Deputy Sheriff whose lives have become entangled.

A heartwarming story revolving around coming of age, domestic violence, foster care, romance, pets and peer relationships that will tear at the heart strings of young adult and adult readers. Actually, the book could be a middle grade read if one is willing to look past a few curse words and one or two light romantic scenes. Snow Pup is the kind of story that will put the reader in the mood for the holiday season.

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The Improbable Rise of Paco Jones

Written by Dominic Carrillo


A very well-written novel that traces the experiences of a Mexican-American eighth grader struggling to fit into an exclusive private school and falling in love for the first time. Paco Jones is taunted by his classmates as Taco Jones; he is unattractive, nonathletic, uncool and poor. Paco’s biracial parents are determined to see that their son has a chance of success and struggle to give him a good education. Paco wants to gain the acceptance of his peers and please his parents. To complicate his situation further, Paco falls desperately in love with a black girl named Naomi, who is dating Trent, one of the popular jocks at school. When Naomi becomes impressed with Paco’s intelligence and honesty; she takes him into her confidence and reveals her true feelings about Trent. Strangely enough, Trent also enlists Paco’s help in his effort to woo Naomi. Paco becomes trapped between his two friends, and almost gets expelled in the process. Despite the trouble in which Paco finds himself, he remains true to his principles revealing his real character.

This tale deals with many issues that young adult readers face. Paco faces racial discrimination, economic insecurity, first love issues and parental child responsibilities. He winds his way through a myriad of difficulties, only to find out that there is not always a simple solution or a rosy ending. Characters are well- developed multicultural, and multidimensional; readers empathize with Paco, find a strong female role model in Naomi, and discover the strengths and flaws in others like Trent and Mr. Holiday. As a bonus, the author/teacher provides discussion questions that align with the US common core standards. This book also provides a flashback for adult readers who may have forgotten those turbulent junior high days. Recommended for readers age twelve and older.

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