Posts tagged ‘sibling rivalry’

TINY BUT FEARLESS

The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins

Written by Karin Kaufman

A delightful chapter book consisting of ten stories that revolve around a fearless family of mice facing the dangers and challenges of winter. Geraldine is the protagonist who was born in April, but now in October is facing the end of the gathering season. She and her brother Nigel have much to learn and experience. Readers are introduced to their friends in the forest, Penelope, the sparrow and Cheddar, a white rabbit. The children love to hear their father Nigel read to them stories from the Book of Tales. These adventures teach them about common sense, trust, gratitude, empathy and sharing. As October wanes, the family and friends celebrate Thanksgiving and the joys of Christmas. On the other hand, the children’s curiosity put them in danger of being eaten by wolves and ravens, swept down the river on a log and being destroyed by a forest fire. Charlotte is a sensitive and inquisitive mouse who desires to read, write and explore the world around her. She and her brother share sibling rivalry, but at the same time deeply love and care for one another. Their parents teach them to have faith that Very, Very Big Hands will be there to guide and protect them.

This chapter book is geared toward readers in grades three to six. Some younger children may enjoy individual stories as a read aloud. There are no illustrations; a few simple drawings would add appeal to younger children. I would thoroughly recommend the book as a gentle, sweet read for children who love animals. The many lessons learned and bravery in facing adversity allow for lots of discussion on the topics of developing strong character and interpersonal skills.

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HANGING IN THERE

Frogman: The Incredibly True Confessions of a Sixth Grade Superhero

Written by Emily Cosentino

Frogman,pic

Humorous middle grade adventure centering on the life of Alex Addison, who leads a fairly normal life until the day he picks up a frog at the beach. Alex’s family consists of his computer nerd professor, dad, his super nervous mom who is an ex nurse, an annoying eighth grade sister, Libby, and a four year old brother, Sam.

A couple of days after picking up the frog, Alex begins to change. Suddenly he is able to leap great distances, develops webbed feet and the ability to stick to any surface, and grows a super long tongue capable of picking up and flinging objects great distances. Upon returning to school in September, his voice croaks when Alex tries to sing in chorus, and he develops a passion for eating insects. That enables Alex to become a school sensation when he challenges the school bully, Dirk to eating the grossest lunch in the cafeteria on Fear Factor Friday. When Sam discovers Alex’s secret, he promises to keep quiet. Alex’s friend Joel is determined to prove that Big Foot is real, but he soon shifts his attention to studying the strange creature who is hanging out by the pond. Of course that is Alex sneaking off to the pond to keep his skin moist during the drought. Alex will have his ups and downs, becoming a hero when he rescues a cat in trouble, momentarily becoming a football star by punting down the field, and rescuing both friend and foe from a fire. Alex is a sixth grade superhero, whether he likes it or not.

This book is just under two hundred pages and is intended for the middle grade audience ages eight through twelve. Boys especially will appreciate the humor in sibling rivalry relationships. There are lots of laughs as well as a discussion of serious peer issues like bullying, coming of age, and problems at school. Recommended for readers in grades three to six who enjoy tales about characters facing their everyday issues and crises.

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BETTER THAN AVERAGE

O.K. IS GREAT

Written and Illustrated by David Tiefenthaler

Cover Design Robin Ludwig, Design, Inc.

O.K., jpg

What a great story for children in middle grades covering so many of the issues facing pre teens and teens in today’s world. Issues covered are fitting in, cyberbullying, sibling rivalry, peer relationships, and moving. Otis Kashwonkee, (yes, that’s his name) goes by the nickname, O.K. That would be fine if it were not for the fact that Otis doesn’t seem to excel at anything and the O.K. initials indicate to Otis that he is just ordinary. When his parents tell him that they are moving to the suburbs, Otis must add a new problem, adjusting to new friends and a new school.

For the reader, many of these situations are funny simply because the things that happen are so bad they might be considered outrageous. Otis has to endure his older brother’s success on the high school football team and his younger sister’s talent with music, but he finally has made friends with Leo and Horace. They devise a plan to prove themselves important and successful by breaking seventh grade records physical fitness records and getting their names on “The Board of Beasts.” The story continues with a series of mishaps with fellow students, including Stephanie, “The Queen of Amazons,” who seems intent on making their lives miserable.

Will these three friends be able to overcome all obstacles and achieve their record-setting goals? Does life in seventh grade ever get better? The black and white drawings interspersed throughout the story enhance the text with humor. Boys and girls age eight and older will love this story; adults will laugh and cry as they remember similar experiences. Makes a great classroom read aloud for group discussion. Highly recommended.

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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

Outback Hero: Max Conquers Outback Australia Book 2 in the Max series

Written by Sally Gould

outbackhero,pic

Max and his family are ready to embark on an adventure vacation, except Max does not really want to go. They are going to the outback; Max is deathly afraid of crocodiles. His older brother Charlie delights in frightening him making matters worse. Mom and Dad insist that he must overcome his fears.

Max’s fears are confirmed when he falls overboard and must escape the crocs. Charlie and his brother will have to flee for their lives more than once, and Max narrowly escapes death when he falls off a cliff. Charlie and Max are typical brothers who are constantly competing with each other, yet deep down love each other to death. On the journey, the boys will meet up with another family who appear to be dauntless and unafraid. Upon their insistence, the two families climb up the Uluru. Will they be able to make it down again safely? Will Max be able to overcome his fears and insecurities?

This is the second book in this series targeted for middle grade readers ages nine through twelve. Lots of adventure, sibling rivalry, competition, and somewhat complicated family relationships keep the plot moving. Boys especially will find the series interesting. Readers unfamiliar with Australia will enjoy learning about the outback. While the text is age appropriate, the vocabulary is not overly difficult and the length at less than 150 pages allow the read to be appealing for reluctant readers. This is a series worth investigating.

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TIP OF THE ICEBERG

Face-Off

Written by Stacy Drumtra-Juba

Face-off,pic

Fast moving young adult novella centering around the issues of sibling rivalry, family relationships, the sport of hockey, coming of age, and divorce. The McKendrick Family is undergoing a crisis. Parents are constantly fighting and are on the verge of divorce. A.J. McKendrick is an out of work architect struggling to make ends meet, placing additional strain on the marriage. High school juniors and fraternal twins, Brad and T.J., strive to shine in hockey, but T.J. has the better grades. Dad places unrealistic expectations on T.J. When finances force the parents to remove T.J. from private school, the brothers are faced with a new situation for rivalry; how to play together on the same hockey team. Their younger brother Chris gets into fights in school and attempts to run away. All this emotional stress plays havoc on the lives of the family, their school, and their friends. In addition, there are the coming of age issues related to romance and future career plans.

The short tale offers a lot to young teen readers. It is packed with action, emotional tension, details about the sport of hockey, and well-defined characters facing issues with which the reader may empathize. This book would be a good choice for a reluctant reader as the tone is conversational and smooth flowing. Juba immediately draws you in and holds your attention. Highly recommended for teens, particularly boys who love sports.

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THREE’S COMPANY

A Silent Yes: A Novella (A Quiet Life Book 1)

Written by Charlotte Thorpe

Asilentyes,picShort novella of approximately fifty pages that portrays the gentle tale of two orphaned brothers living in Kansas circa 1884. Matthias and his younger brother Justus live a quiet life on their farm. One day Silas Mitchell and his wife drive up in a wagon with a strange request. They have a sick cattle drive cook that they want to drop on their doorstep. They can’t keep her on the drive and have no one to care for her. These two brothers go in the house to discuss the situation when Silas takes off in a hurry. After a few days, the woman named Grace recovers. The brothers stay in the barn to avoid impropriety and treat her with respect. She asks to stay and volunteers her services as a cook, seamstress and housekeeper.

Matthias and Justus quickly acclimate to the new situation enjoying a lifestyle lost to them since their mother died twelve years before. Soon both the boys are attracted to Grace. They learn that Grace has no real family and no one to rely on for help. Will Grace find the courage to marry one of them or will she resign herself to disappear and go back to a life of poverty? Can the two brothers sort out their individual feelings toward their new resident? When the preacher arrives for a visit, they both know the time has come for a decision.

This is a sweet tale with no profanity or sex that alludes back to a simpler time. Kind of a cross between a piece of historical fiction and romance. The book is appropriate for readers age twelve and up. Characters are amazingly well-developed in the simple plot line. Nice well-written feel good kind of book for a lazy afternoon read.

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BOOK BLAST – MYTHS FOR TOTS

Reviews of two books in the Mini Myths Series: Be Patient, PANDORA! and Play Nice, HERCULES!

Written by Joan Holub

Illustrated by Leslie Patricelli

Be Patient, PANDORA!

Pandora,pic

At first glance, you might say how could a toddler possibly understand the connections between Greek mythology and a toddler’s learning curve, but you are mistaken. Holub has deftly taken the story of Pandora’s box and woven it into a wonderful twenty-four page toddler board book. Each page contains a picture, one word or one sentence to portray a tot named Pandora, who simply cannot contain her curiosity when her mother tells her not to open the box. She cannot resist and then fears rejection and loss of her mother’s love when her curiosity gets the best of her. Patricelli knows exactly how to convey the story in pictures that are so simple yet expressive with the generalization needed for young children to understand the plot.

 

 

 

 

Play Nice, HERCULES!

Hercules,picThis book has more text than the first, but does not go beyond one sentence on a page. Hercules is a toddler who has a habit of getting into mischief. Patricelli says it all in the wonderful facial expressions in her character. Dad warns him to play nice with his little sister who is sitting on the floor with her blocks. You can guess what happens when Hercules decides to display his strength. I especially enjoyed the way Holub used sound words like whomp-stomp and ka-boom to combine pictures and actions of the story. Mighty Hercules will have to learn how to contain his powers, and the siblings will learn a valuable lesson in the process.

Both sturdy board books contain summaries of the Greek myths upon which they are based on the back cover of the book. This is particularly useful for adult readers who may have forgotten the story and also allows the young child to “grow into” an interest for classical Greek literature at a later point in time. Parents and teachers may use the series as an early introduction to fine literature as well as a way to teach the skills and values that toddlers are beginning to develop. If you enjoyed reading these reviews, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed number in the upper right hand corner of this page.

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