Posts tagged ‘strong female character’

FEAR NOT

Scaredy Bat and the Frozen Vampires: An Illustrated Mystery Chapter Book for Kids 8-12 (Scaredy Bat: A Vampire Detective Series 1)
Written by Marina J. Bowman
Illustrated by Yevheniia Lisavoya

Ellie is a twelve-year-old vampire who loves to solve mysteries. The fact that she is afraid of almost everything fails to deter her. Ellie fears loud noises, spiders, and clowns, among many other things. One thing she does have is a large network of friends who come to her aid. When Ellie attends a vampire wedding, everyone freezes solid. How can she overcome her fears and solve the mystery before it is too late?

The author includes bonuses for budding detective readers. She offers a quiz to test if the reader qualifies to be a detective. Readers receive a guide to analyzing suspects and recording evidence.

Lisavoya draws excellent black and white illustrations to sustain interest levels. The book is not too lengthy, which encourages reluctant readers.
One caveat, I read the Kindle version which contains formatting errors. I would rate the book three stars in the Kindle version, but five stars in the paperback edition.

Recommended for middle-grade readers in the print version.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS FEED button in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

TORN BETWEEN TWO SIDES

Fields of the Fatherless

Written by Elaine Marie Cooper

fieldsfatherless

Short novel of Christian historical fiction based on a true historical account of the 1775 conflict in the village of Mentonomy, Massachusetts. Betsy Russell is an eighteen year old girl living in a Patriot family near colonial Boston. Her village is busy preparing a militia for the inevitable battle looming on the horizon with the British. Betsy feels slighted that her younger brother Noah is taught how to fire a musket, while she is expected to stay home and play a support role. When Betsy confides her feelings to the blacksmith, he gives her a small knife to defend herself and protect her family. Betsy could never imagine what role that knife would play in her future.

The battle brings both joy and tragedy to the Russell family. Betsy will grapple with grief, struggle with her Christian faith, assume heavy family responsibilities, become a nurse, and find out about love in many unexpected ways. This novel is based on actual historical events; the fictional characterizations and quotes from the Bible add a humanistic element to the narrative. Some of the battle details are a bit graphic, which is the reason I would suggest the target audience to be age thirteen and older.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS FEED button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

DOESN’T FIT THE MOLD

Natasha the Party Crasher “The School’s Out Summer Bash”

Written by Eileen Rose Giadone

Illustrated by Michael Murray

Natashacrasher,pic

Natasha La Rue is an ebullient and vivacious elementary school student who is looking forward to summer vacation in just three days. Every day her friends pick her up on the way to school; her personality always seems to make her stand out. Without warning, Natasha’s friends decide they are tired of her boisterous behavior and begin to ignore her. No matter what she does, they make her feel invisible. On the last day of school, Natasha sadly walks home alone, watching her friends celebrate. Natasha becomes more angry and hatches a plan to get even with her friends.

A celebration for the beginning of summer had been planned in the town square for that evening. Natasha buys some “get even” supplies and begins to implement her plot for revenge. What dire deed is Natasha planning and will she be successful? Will Natasha and her friends discover something new about themselves?

The illustrations in this book are a nice combination of digital art and hand drawings that use exquisite color and exaggerated facial expressions to communicate the author’s message. I would recommend this book to readers ages seven and up. The author is also a songwriter and that is evident in the way the words flow easily from line to line and page to page. Look forward to more adventures with Natasha La Rue.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS FEED button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

BREAKING THE MOLD – BOOK REVIEW BLITZ

Roxy Rogers: Your Destiny is Calling

Written by Emily Siskin-Toy

Illustrated by Brian C. Krumm

Roxy,pic

Roxy Rogers comes from a baseball family. From the day she was born, her family groomed her to be a talented ball player. Everyone in the family, great grandparents, grandparents, and parents had been star baseball players. Her great grandfather had played with Joe DiMaggio, grandpa was on the team with Jackie Robinson, and her dad played with the Los Angeles Dodges in the 1980’s. Her grandmothers played professional ball and even her older sister Morgan had already played on an Olympic team. But Roxy had a passion that she enjoyed more than playing baseball; she wanted to be a soul singer like her idol,  Aretha Franklin.

Roxy hummed while she walked in the opening day parade with her team. When the singer slated to sing the National Anthem at her game gets stuck in traffic, she is invited to sing. The crowd goes wild and Roxy realizes that she has another real talent. To their credit, her family cheers her on. It seems like Roxy might be breaking the mold of family tradition.

This book is executed well. The illustrations are charming. I like the game at the end challenging readers to find the 48 musical clues, and the background information on names of famous baseball players mentioned in the story. Encourages children to act independently and be true to their passions, even when others expect something else. Good choice for early readers, aficionados of baseball, and admirers of strong female characters.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner of this post.

FINDING ONE’S WAY

 

The Candle Star (Divided Decade Trilogy)

Written by Michelle Isenhoff

TheCandleStarpic

This is the first book in a trilogy examining the Civil War through the Underground railroad setting in Michigan in 1858. In this first volume, the protagonist is fourteen year old Emily whose petulant personality and insolent behavior has resulted in her parents’ shipping her off to stay with an uncle in Michigan. Emily has never been off the Ella Wood plantation in the Carolinas. She presumes her life will be much the same, and her faithful slave Zeke tries to make her comfortable.

Things turn out very differently. Emily will not have a tutor, she will have to walk to a school, do chores in her Uncle Issac’s inn, and learn to deal with free slaves who are her equal. Emily rebels at once, she steals a neighbor’s horse, skips school, and treats the household members as if they were “her slaves.” Her uncle refuses to give in to her; he cringes when she befriends slave bounty hunters from Virginia as her equals. Emily is curious to find out what her uncle writes in a small book hidden in a secret compartment. But gradually she must learn to respect another way of thinking, her black friend Malachi makes her realize that her way of thinking may be jaded. He encourages her to pursue her dreams of painting and not to limit her goals to become a proper Southern plantation wife.

Isenhoff has done her research. She introduces characters based on real prototypes like Frederick Douglass and George deBaptiste. Her language is smooth and polished. Take the following excerpt: “Emily looked the boy over. He had skin the color of strong tea before the cream was added, and his eyes were as dark as the midnight sky.” The reader quickly assimilates himself into the character. Only complaint I have is that the story line sometimes seems to move too slowly, but it is certainly not predictable. There are many twists and turns and lots of surprises before Emily is ready to return home to her plantation. Changes are on the horizon for the country. Will Emily be successful in acclimating herself to a changed order? What will happen to her uncle and staff at the River Inn?

I would recommend this book to children and adults age ten and up. There are lots of issues that middle grade students are facing that are addressed in the book irrespective of the difference in time period. Any reader who enjoys history, character study and good writing will enjoy this book series. Classroom teachers and librarians should consider it a good resource to a study of the pre-Civil War period from a humanistic point of view.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

PERFECTION TO A POINTE

Pie And Other Brilliant Ideas

Written by Karen Pokras Toz

Pieandother,picPicture0003

Another outstanding middle grade coming of age story. This book is well written and carefully crafted. Pokras develops her characters with strength and compassion that will not disappoint young girls, young adults or their parents.

Twelve year old Georgie has recently moved to a new neighborhood closer to her grandmother’s nursing home. She sorely misses her best friend Amber, but more than anything Georgie misses her dancing lessons. Their new community is much more expensive; despite her pleas Georgie is informed they cannot afford the extra expense. When Amber comes for a visit, they scheme together to find a way to raise money for Georgie to pay for her own lessons. After Amber allows Georgie to try on her pointe shoes; Georgie understands that nothing will deter her from achieving that goal.

There is also lots of humor in this book. The first two plans for earning money have some hilarious results. One day Georgie’s grandmother Jane gets a new roommate. Georgie and Amber are thrilled to learn that she has danced in Russia with a famous ballerina named Paulina Strofsky. Over several visits the woman named Eve relays the story of how she and Paulina trained to become prima ballerinas. In the process the reader learns quite a bit about the history of Russian and its people while under Communist domination.

Seeing the determination that Georgie has to dance, Eve encourages her and even gives her the poster over her bed with the picture of the famous ballerina. By the end of this tale, the two girls have figured out a way for Georgie to pay for her dancing lessons, absorbed lessons about the importance of family and friendship, and received a surprise gift that they never could have imagined.

Highly recommended for tweens, teens and young adults. Readers who enjoy ballet, history, and strong female role models will especially enjoy this one.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS Feed button in the upper right hand corner.

A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

Written by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by John Tenniel

e Book design by Marie-Michelle Joy

Aliceinwonderland,pic

I picked up this new e book version of the classic Victorian tale on a whim. What I did not expect was a totally new perspective on this classic fantasy tale.

As a child I read the book, but did not much care for it. After doing a bit of research I discovered that Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) told this story to a friend and his three young children while enjoying a boat ride. The children were so pleased with it that he decided to write it down and commission John Tenniel to do the drawings for the publication. Dodgson was a mathematician intrigued by the math and science that was being applied daily to inventions as England was entering the Industrial Revolution. His other interests included reading, poetry and photography.

Alice was modeled on one of these three girls. She is curious and polite. The character in the story displays fear and courage, resilience, and the ability to adapt to change. The anthropomorphic characters she encounters are a strange bunch; some of them like the Cheshire Cat and the Caterpillar appear to teach her, while others like the Mock Turtle and the Flamingo appear sillier and more frivolous. A careful reading will produce numerous evidences of mathematical reasoning and the importance that the author attaches to mathematics in the world around us; yet the reader’s main focus centers on the trials and tribulations that Alice must face from the time she falls into the rabbit hole: how she must swim herself across the sea of tears to face the challenges that many creatures present, to her ultimate escape from the nefarious Queen of Hearts at the trial, which almost results in her losing her head! Alice learns to think on her feet quickly in this coming of age tale.

Adult readers will reminisce and recall many of the famous quotations, like “Off with his head,” and “Curious and curiouser.” Tenniel’s woodcut engraved illustrations are etched in time and delight the eye, whether in black and white or in color. The beautiful scroll work that edge the pages are a reminder of the care taken with printing books long ago. Alice is a strong, intelligent character who maintains the proper balance between respect and independence; she is probably one of the first strong female models in modern literature. This book can be used as wonderful tale for family discussion on so many levels. I would recommend it for tweens and teens as well.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe to this blog by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS feed button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

%d bloggers like this: