Posts tagged ‘San Francisco’

PARENTAL WAR:STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Cupcakes vs. Brownies: Zimmah Chronicles Book 1

Written by Scott King

In the prologue readers meet ten year old Karim, who is falling through pink candy cotton clouds trapped in a bubble of bubblegum. He is clutching a small glass bottle to his chest. At first glance, that does not sound like much of a predicament for a child, until you read on to the first chapter.

Karim’s parents, Malek and Christina, are arguing again. Karim overhears them discuss the possibility of divorce. The boy impulsively rushes out of the house into the streets of San Francisco with his dog in a thunderstorm. He bumps into an elderly woman named Madame Loope, who invites him into her pawn shop to escape the storm. Karim picks up a glass bottle. Steam begins hissing from the bottle as a man emerges from it once uncorked. This man is a Zimmah, a djinn. Karim asks that he be granted a wish. His first wish is to turn his Labrador into a Snow Lion. After the djinn grants that wish, Karim wishes the world was a happy place.

Karim is transported to a world filled with edible sweets. What astonished the boy is that he meets his father transformed into the king of the Cupcake World. Malek is preparing to do battle with his enemy, the Queen of the Brownies. Karim cannot believe his eyes when he discovers the Captain of the Brownie army is none other than his mother. When Karim pleads with Zimmah his wish is to fix things between his parents and return to the real world, the djinn informs him that this is the way things are and there is no magic to fix it. Will Karim ever find his way back home to San Francisco? Is Zimmah a friend or an enemy? What will happen to Malek and Christina?

This book is a creative way to approach the problem of divorce and how children may cope with it. It combines fantasy with an interesting plot that deals with an issue many children in families must face. Appropriate for children ages eight and older; this book could be useful for parents, teachers and social workers to open up many avenues of discussion.

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THE CITY BY THE BAY

Kid’s Travel Guide: San Francisco- The Fun Way to Discover San Francisco, Especially for Kids

Written by Kelsey Fox and Shiela H. Leon

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Fun way to introduce school age children to the city of San Francisco. The book is a guide book and travel diary of sorts. Children will have lots of fun learning how to prepare for their trip and what to pack. Authors include a short history, what to see, and how to get around. Points of interest covered of special interest to kids are spots like Chinatown, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Telegraph Hill.

All of the information is presented by using fun activities, puzzles, games, coloring, and lots of interesting illustrations. Near the end of the book, children are encouraged to summarize their trip and are presented with the challenge of a fun to do quiz to test their vacations smarts. When all is said and done, the completed book becomes a souvenir for the child and all those who participated in the experience with her. Recommended for children ages six through twelve; a worthwhile investment for parents, grandparents and teachers.

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KIDS RULE

Knights of the Square Table: Book 1

Written by Teri Kanefield

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Six precocious teenagers from different backgrounds share one thing in common; they are all members of the San Francisco All Star Chess Club. The ninth graders are on the way home from Germany after a sixth place finish in an international competition when their plane goes down due to an avionics failure. They land on a remote island in the North Atlantic in the subarctic. More than sixty passengers face freezing conditions and lack of food supplies to survive. These six teens take charge and prevent disorder, using their multiple talents to create a source of heat, trap food in the ice, and calm the fears of panicked passengers. They even figure out a way to handle Veronica, a kleptomaniac who keeps stealing food from the other passengers. Thanks to their efforts, the survivors are eventually rescued.

But the story does not end there. These six friends gather together to figure out a solution to a nuclear missile crisis. When an Asian dictatorship threatens to fire a nuclear missile, the teens figure out a way to break into that country’s computer system and bribe them into entering peace negotiations to save face. I am sure the world is in for lots more from these indomitable teens in the next two books of the trilogy. This series is targeted for ages nine and older. While the inevitability of the solutions seems too simplistic in some instances, the characters are well-developed, each having strengths and flaws. Middle grade and young adult readers will find much in common with them. Plot is fast paced and I felt compelled to keep reading. Recommended for readers who enjoy adventure stories with clever protagonists and plots containing thought provoking issues.

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WAGONS HO!

Wagon Train Kids Headed West for Gold

Written by K.B. Shaper

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Middle grade historical fiction tale focusing on Jack and his younger sister Mary. The family lives on a farm in Connecticut. One day the children are shocked to learn that their parents are selling everything and heading West on a wagon train in the hopes of finding gold in the California hills. The author traces the journey as the family heads north to Albany and then west to Missouri. There they meet Mr. Booth, the wagon master who will guide them to California.

Shaper goes into detail about the supplies and the preparation needed to prepare for the journey. I do think more time should have been spent describing in detail what the children saw on the journey. In that respect the plot is a bit uneven. One night the members of the wagon train observe someone watching them. Jack and Mary are warned to run if their father signals them. The adventure begins when the children become separated from their parents and are left on their own. A kindly stranger rescues them and brings them into San Francisco, where they work to earn their keep. Will the children be reunited with their parents and what happened to the rest of the members of the wagon train?

The story ends abruptly, if satisfactorily. Some readers may question whether telling the children to run and hide and that they will be found when the danger is past is a realistic scenario. The plot features a traditional nuclear family story with a bit of history about the mid nineteenth century, but may be short of adventure for some 21st century readers. I would still recommend it as an easy chapter book for early middle grade readers. Teachers might use it as a read aloud to supplement this period of American history.

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AGAINST ALL ODDS…

The Leopard Tree

Written by Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu

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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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