Posts tagged ‘peer relationships’

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

Mary’s Song (Dream Horse Adventures Book 1)

Written by Susan Count

Mary is a twelve-year-old handicapped young lady. Her mother died when she was three; no one wants to talk about it. Mary lives with her father and a housekeeper. The story is set in 1952. Her father constantly searches for a possible medical breakthrough to cure his daughter. Mary is strong-willed and determined. Her best friend, Laura, rides and cares for horses at her home. The girls become obsessed with saving a horse named Illusion who needs surgery. They find ways of earning money toward that end.

Mary’s overprotective father frequently gets upset with Mary’s obstinate behavior. Laura and Mary disobey their parents and end up in trouble often, but that means lots of interesting adventures along the way. Will the girls be able to save Illusion? Can Mary’s father find a medical cure to help Laura walk again?

Middle-grade and young adult readers will find the antics of these two friends’ fun and endearing. There is lots of humor and a few surprises in store for readers. Two strong female role models and a tender story of animal affection will appeal to a wide audience. Highly recommended. I look forward to reading the sequel.

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THE RIGHT DECISION

The Doll Dilemma (Kids’ Court Book 1)

Written by Caron Pescatore

When Jenny accuses her twin brother, Jimmy of breaking the head off of her favorite doll, Jimmy swears that he is innocent. But Jimmy has a history of breaking his sister’s toys. Jimmy’s friend Luanna tries to intercede. Luanna’s parents are a lawyer and a judge and she has spent lots of time at work with them. So Luanna suggests that the local kids get together and have a trial to prove Jimmy’s guilt or innocence. They set up the court in Luanna’s basement. The group chooses a bailiff, investigators, attorneys, and witnesses. Because they don’t have enough children to set up a jury, they decide on a bench trial.

Readers are guided through the whole legal process. They learn about legal terminology and procedure. There is also an element of mystery that sharp detectives use to resolve Jimmy’s guilt or innocence. The dialogue moves along well and is authentic for the age group. Middle-grade readers who enjoy humor, detective stories, strong characters, and legal procedures will find something to learn and enjoy.

Highly recommended for readers in the middle-grades or anyone who enjoys a fun, fast read.

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SHH….DON’T TELL

Maya Knows a Secret

Written by Daniel Georges

One day Maya asks her dad, “What is a secret?” He explains that a secret occurs when someone else tells you something that nobody else knows. Maya wonders then how does one know it is a secret. Dad explains that they will tell you not to tell anyone. Maya is dying to know a secret, but no one seems to want to tell her one. Finally, she finds one when a storekeeper reveals his secret, but Maya is frustrated when she accidentally reveals the secret to a friend.

The illustrations in this book are adorable and the message is a “spot on” way to explain the concept of a secret to young children. Highly recommended for primary school aged readers.

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ERRATIC BEHAVIOR

Zachary and the Great Potato Chase

Written by Junia Wonders

Illustrated by Giulia Lombardo

 

Zachary is a clever, industrious rat who lives under the floorboards of a bakery which provides him with tasty treats. He is careful never to be greedy, eating only one pastry each day so as not to arouse suspicion. Zachary is content, but he has no friends because he refuses to share his treats.

One day a new delivery truck arrives at the bakery. Once Zachary tastes a potato, he is hooked on the taste. He becomes greedy taking more than his fair share and storing them in his lair. When the baker discovers his potatoes missing, Zachary will be found out. There will be huge consequences to pay.

This book is written in crisp rhyme that works well and the illustrations are bright and clever. The weakness lies in the fact that the connection between potatoes and the change in behavior is not explained. No reason is given for Zachary’s decision to change his relationship with fellow rats at the end of the story.

This book is a good read-aloud choice or bedtime story for preschoolers and early elementary school readers.

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SANTA’S HELPER

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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LEARNING HOW TO BE A TRUE FRIEND

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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SPIDER SLEUTHS

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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