Posts tagged ‘strong female role models’

FROM RAGS TO RICHES

The Improbable Rise of Paco Jones

Written by Dominic Carrillo

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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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PARENTS LOST IN TIME

The Adventures of Caroline: and the Time Machine

Written by Eric and Elena Oberst

Illustrations by Manoj Bhargav

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Charming chapter book targeted for readers in the six to twelve age range. This book stretches more than one hundred pages, and is best suited for readers in the eight to twelve age bracket. Color illustrations at the beginning of each chapter are well done; they capture the dreamy quality of the fantasy tale.

Caroline is an inquisitive and imaginative eight year old who lives with her Auntie Ann since her parents mysteriously disappeared when she was four years old. On a cold morning in January, Caroline is bored and decides to go up to the attic, which is one of her favorite places to explore She rummages through one of the trunks and finds something new at the bottom of one of them. It is a box with dials, buttons and antennas that looks like an old radio. She experiments with the dials and sets it to June 15, 2015. When she goes downstairs for a snack, she finds the weather outside is warm and the birds are singing. Caroline has stepped six months into the future.

Discovering that the device seems to work, Caroline sets it back to the time of the dinosaurs. She gets more than she bargained for when she encounters T Rex. By quickly turning the dial, Caroline escapes but finds herself in the Pleistocene Age with Woolly Mammoths and Saber Tooth Tigers. Again she hurriedly sets her dial. This time she is about one hundred years in the past near her house where she meets a little boy named Tommy who wants to befriend her. Caroline sets the dial once more and arrives back at Auntie Ann’s house.

After doing some more research, Caroline tracks down her parents’ whereabouts on the day they disappeared. She is determined to go back to the past and find out what happened to them. But will she get more than she bargained for? Will Caroline be able to bring her parents back to her time or will she step into theirs?

This book is a delightful science fiction/fantasy time travel tale that has a broad appeal. Caroline is a strong, determined female role model who knows what she wants and goes after it. The short chapters with appealing illustrations make it a good choice for a class read aloud and discussion. Look forward to the next book in the series. Warning! The end of book one is a cliffhanger.

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BUGGING OUT

Bed-Bugged (Doodle bugged Mysteries Book 1)

Written by Susan J. Kroupa

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First in a series of mysteries featuring a Labradoodle simply named Doodle. The dog has recently come from the pound to live with a master he calls boss and his daughter Molly. Doodle has been trained to sniff out bedbugs. Boss organized the Hunter Detection Company in the hopes of making a new start in the Washington, DC area. Everything rests on Doodle making it a success.

Ten year old Molly is smart; she will begin a special science school program at the end of the summer. Molly’s hobby is taking pictures; she keeps a secret album of memories for her Mexican mother, who she has not seen since the age of three. When intruders steal Molly’s album and her computer, Doodle is frustrated that he is unable to catch them. It does not take Molly long to realize that there might be a connection to work that her father Josh has recently completed. Like Doodle the young preteen is relentless in her will to solve the mystery. There will be unlikely connections to crime and family.

This story is told in the first “person” voice of Doodle. It is lots of fun to hear a dog’s perspective and humor as to the quirky habits and personalities of humans. While the book touches on serious issues like family relationships, immigration, and divorce, the overall tone is upbeat making this book appropriate for preteens, teens and adults. The plot contains unexpected turns and characters are well-balanced. Recommended for mystery fans, animal lovers, and anyone who enjoys curling up with an interesting read for a few hours.

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RAISING YOUR VOICE

Layla Learns to be Brave: Series for beginning readers

Written by Bron Whitley

Illustrated by Melissa Bailey

 

 

 

Layla,picReally enjoyed reading this early chapter book about a second grader named Layla who lives in Australia. Young readers learn that while it is okay to be scared of new things, it is also a brave act to try something new.

I like the way the author introduces Australian customs, culture and habitat to her readers. For example readers learn about gum trees, kookaburras and cockatoos. Layla reveals her active imagination when she imagines being a cowgirl and sees bugs in her cupcakes. The humor and large black and white pencil drawings aid in sustaining interest for beginning or reluctant readers. Layla represents the thoughts and dreams of many of her readers.

Highly recommended chapter book for beginning and reluctant readers. Look forward to reading more books in the Layla down under series.

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EGYPTIAN EXPLORERS

Hieroghyph (TC’S ADVENTURES BOOK 1)

Written by WJ Scott

Illustrated by John Helle-Nielsen

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I will be honest in saying that this book was different from what I expected. The cover is a bit of a mystery and the table of contents lists numbers only with no word clues. Once into the book, the reader is quickly drawn into the narrative. Thirteen year old TC is sitting in the Vice-Principal’s office trying to explain how she knew where a stolen ring could be found. TC lives with her Aunt Letty in New Zealand since her archaeologist parents were killed in a cave in. Aunt Letty is off on an environmental expedition, and TC will be going off to spend a weekend with her uncle in Australia.

Here is where the book takes a dramatic departure. The reader learns that TC has a special gift. She is able to time travel and connect with past history when she touches hieroglyphs. Her uncle Max is trying to get funding for an archaeological expedition to prove that ancient Egyptians traveled to Australia in search of gold.

I will not reveal details of the plot, but Scott seamlessly takes the reader back and forth as TC alternately explores the shipwreck and explorations of Prince Setka and Prince Kanefer in ancient times and back into the present with TC, her Uncle Max, her friends and enemies who seek to undo their discoveries. Characters are well developed and the narrative carefully written to make the plot believable. TC is a strong-willed female who faces modern problems and crises, while longing to solve the mysteries of the past.

Targeted for readers nine and older, the book will appeal to younger and older audiences. Promises to be a good series for lovers of ancient Egypt, adventure, mystery and intriguing characters.

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MARDI GRAS MAYHEM

The Mardi Gras Chase (True Girls Book 1)

Written by Maggie M. Larche

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Fast moving middle grade mystery adventure involving three friends, Melanie, Kate, and Faye. While attending one of the mardi gras parades in Mobile, Alabama, the girls notice that some of the letters on the floats are upside down. They copy the letters R.C.E.N.R.A.P. In addition, the strange letters appear only on the high and “poufy” floats. These friends do some internet research, discovering that Mr. Simmingham is their designer. The girls visit the museum to investigate the floats stored from the parade they had missed and vow to attend the rest of the parades during the week to continue the investigation. But the friends must attend a history presentation on Saturday, so they enlist Matt to collect the information. The plot thickens when Matt is arrested; the girls are relieved to find he had already succeeded in his mission. They are unsuccessful in cracking the code until they receive help from an unlikely source. A visit to the cemetery leads to another hair raising adventure and unexpected rewards.

Targeted for a middle grade audience of eight to twelve year olds, the plot moves along quickly. There is probably a bit too much dialogue, but that is appropriate for this age group. Strong female role models, strong family relationships, a tinge of scariness and mystery, plus the unusual Mobile mardi gras setting, set it apart from the typical middle grade adventure tale. First book in a series that will succeed if the characters continue to grow and evolve.

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HIGH EXPECTATIONS

Not Just a Princess! (The Mia Collection)

Written by Mary Lee

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Trilogy of books combined into one edition that will empower young girls. Targeted for ages infancy to age six, the stylized, colorful, multicultural illustrations and large simple vocabulary text can grow with a child. Youngest readers will enjoy looking at the pictures and enjoying the read aloud. Children in kindergarten and first grade might use the book as an early reader.

The first book features Mia who generally loves playing princess, but wakes up one morning feeling like anything but a princess. She imagines herself a lioness, a pirate, a starfish and a cowgirl among other things. Mia decides there are many more options a lot more exciting than being a princess. The second books features Mia on her first day of ballet school. Again, Mia discovers a lot more than ballet steps and learns a lot in the process. In the final book of this set, Mia explains that she enjoys eating cookies a lot more than the process of baking them. She uses her imagination to think of other alternatives. The next morning Mia comes up with a surprise for her mom that does not turn out as she expected. But, in the end, Mia learns a much more important lesson about herself and her life.

Parents and teachers who want to delight and inspire their little princesses and instill a strong female role model should check out this collection available in kindle and paperback.

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