Posts tagged ‘tweens’

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Hannah and the Kingdom of Bugbears

Written by Tom Steephen

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This rather short fantasy adventure of approximately seventy five pages attempts to pack a lot of elements into one story. There are classic fairy tales, witches, soldiers, princes, even animal heroes like mice, penguins and parrots. Strange combination but the story does work for the most part. The language is not complicated though at times a bit forced. There are enough twists and turns to keep a young reader on the edge of his seat, and adults could make this a really exciting read aloud for a young child.

Hannah, our heroine, is the loyal companion of Princess Aleena who has just turned eighteen and is about to marry Prince Ronald of Linesland. Suddenly, the Bugbear army of Prince Brewer appears outside the gates of the castle. They inform King John that their Prince Brewer will marry the princess. The humans of the kingdom of Cait Berg are unable to subdue their scaly and much larger Bugbear enemies. King John’s army is defeated, and the princess is abducted. Hannah manages to sneak away and hide in the carriage transporting the princess. After many trials and tribulations, Hannah finds the princess, who is locked in one of the chambers of the castle. But the princess urges her to go back to their kingdom and get help to rescue her. Hannah bravely consents. She will meet many animal friends and enemies like a witch who tries to prevent her return. Once Hannah arrives home at the castle, she needs to concoct a strategy to rescue the princess from her dilemma.

Why does Prince Brewer want to marry a human princess? The reader does not find out until near the end of the adventure. In the interim many of the characters in the story like Chef Maatia and Prince Brewer learn a lot about themselves and others. Many moral lessons like the value of trust, loyalty, determination and being true to oneself are embedded in the tale.

Most early chapter readers and tweens will find familiar and popular threads in the tale. Seems to be just the right mixture of adventure, fantasy, fairy tale, battle scenes, danger and moral lessons that do not come off as adult preaching. A nice book to spend a couple of hours reading.

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DANGERS AND DRAGONS PRINCESS MADELINE BLOG TOUR

Princess Madeline and the Dragon: Book Three

Written by Kirstin Pulioff

Illustrated by Sara Twitty and edited by Jeremy Sandler

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This is the third book in a trilogy based on the adventures of Princess Madeline. While I do heartily recommend that you read all three, a reader will find any of the three a satisfying fantasy adventure aimed at tweens and teens but no less enjoyable for adults.

Pulioff expertly guides the reader into this story by setting the stage in the Prologue in which we learn the kingdom of Soron is again under attack. Long ago, Lord Hawthorne followed out orders to attack the dragons in the surrounding forests ushering in a battle between dragons and humans. The wizard, Elias, tells Princess Madeline that all lived in peace until humans tried to steal the magic in the dragon’s eggs and the red dragon was captured. Now the kingdom is threatened by the wrath of the green dragon. When King Theodore is burned by the dragon and lies near death, the fate of the kingdom falls into the hands of Princess Madeline and her twin brother, Braden.

As they makes plans for the kingdom to survive, two major events will take place the next day: the coronation of Braden as king, and the marriage of Madeline to her knight, Daniel. The wizard Elias will accompany Madeline, Daniel and their friends as well as the villagers through the system of underground tunnels to safety in a land to the north near the Dragon’s Gate. At the same time the new king prepares for the battle with his knights in an attempt to rid the land of the dragon threat.

While treking through the dark tunnels, Elias reveals the prophecy of Queen Eleanor, who died while protecting Braden and Madeline. No one has yet deciphered the meaning of “He who recovers the orbs holds the line of the future.” When Madeline finds the missing dragon eggs and holds one up that illuminates the darkness, she realizes that she might have found the secret. She rushes to find Braden, who is already engaged in mortal combat; he is determined to destroy the eggs and the dragon.

Madeline and Braden both have strong personalities that have been developing throughout the series, but their philosophies and ensuing actions are at opposite ends. Whoever succeeds in persuading the other on how to proceed forward will determine the future of the Soron Kingdom and whether, or if, that kingdom will survive. The culmination of this inward struggle produces the most action of the series in this third volume. Pulioff has again succeeded in carefully delineating her characters. At the same time she produces more than enough adventure, action, fantasy and mystery for tweens and teens to enjoy. They may not even realize they are learning valuable life lessons and character development!

IMPORTANT NOTE; The second book in this series, The Battle for Princess Madeline is currently available FREE on AMAZON until Jan. 24, 2014. http://motherdaughterbookreviews.us3.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=5bbf14b751f589ebf5ff0e6ba&id=ebd900fd06&e=f4533b3c18

You can read my review of the first book in this series, The Escape of Princess Madeline here https://bamauthor.me/2013/08/14/princess-in-peril

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STRANGE BUT EFFECTIVE

Mr. Planemaker’s Flying Machine

Written by Shelagh Watkins

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When I first started reading this book, I was unsure of what to expect. At the beginning of the story we meet what seems to be an ordinary family living in Pierton, England. Soon the reader learns that the father, Mr. Planemaker is seriously ill. The successful builder becomes depressed at his forced early retirement and seeks a hobby, which turns out to be making a model airplane. Some very strange things happen when he tries to teach himself how to research the internet to lay out his plans. He has mystifying dreams that involve colleagues seeking to entice him to enter a dark and grey house which then miraculously disappears. A kitten suddenly materializes in his car and strange talking characters like A. Leon Spaceman appear on the computer. Is he going crazy?

On the day his model airplane kit arrives, Mr. Planemaker passes away. Here I feared the story was going down hill. Part Two takes a whole new turn. Now the children assume center stage. Emmelisa and Dell Planemaker are now nine and twelve struggling to overcome difficulties with peers and adjusting to a life without their father. Emmelisa is being bullied at school because she refuses to join the gang led by Mayja Troublemaker. Her brother has moved to middle school and no longer can protect her. She keeps all this to herself and as a diversion decides to pass time by using her father’s old computer now hidden in the attic. To her surprise, she learns that her father has a whole set of plans and hidden secrets within it. Their mysterious family cat named Cosmos helps the children to unlock them. They discover its secrets by stepping into the computer itself and taking a real tour of the inside of a computer in nanosecond time. While inside the computer, the children discover their father has left them a mission to follow his “trail of light.”

Here is the third part of the story in which the reader is taken on a space flight on their father’s original model plane kit which the CPU staff has put together for them. They train there as astronauts, but their space flight will be controlled by Astrow Naught and Mission OnControl. The children learn a lot about the space station while they whiz pass all the planets and observe comet behavior. There are lots of surprises on the journey leaving in doubt their ability to find their father’s trail and make a successful return journey home before their mother notices that they are missing.

This book is a strange mixture of elements, coming of age, bullying, grief issues, computer knowledge, metaphysics and realism. I can’t explain why, but ultimately it works. The author successfully grips the reader into being a willing captive to the personalities of the characters and the strange twists and turns of the story line. Critics might say that it is rambling; yet valid issues are addressed and a great deal of information is relayed. Tweens and teens interested in any of these issues will find it to be a satisfying read. The quirkiness of the novel kept me glued to it because I could not figure out what would happen next. My bottom line is this book is really different; give it a look.

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THE GENUINE ARTICLE

Beauty and the Beast

Written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and Marie-Michelle Joy

Illustrated by Walter Crane

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This rendition of the classic fairy tale is based on the original eighteenth century version. No Disney elements are found here. This original version was written and distributed widely in France to protest the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose or refuse a mate. The original version was a full length novel written for adults, which was later shortened.

At the beginning of the tale, the reader meets a wealthy merchant who has six sons and six daughters. They live sumptuously and prosperously. Suddenly, disaster strikes. The merchant loses his home and possessions in a fire, and pirates sack his shipping business. The distraught family retreats to a poor life in a forest cottage, which is their only remaining possession. All his daughters complain with the exception of the youngest named Beauty who is determined to make their meager life a happy one. Then one day she asks her father for a favor. She longs to see one beautiful rose. The merchant sets off to find one and his journey takes him to a mysterious castle. He is left alone but treated lavishly. Suddenly an ugly beast appears. He promises to let the traveler return home if he will return with one of his daughters to live with him in the castle. The merchant reluctantly agrees.

Beauty feels responsible for her father’s plight and volunteers to return with him to the castle of the Beast where they find unexpected surprises and treasures. When it comes time for the merchant to return home, both he and his daughter are distraught. Strange dreams bring about strange occurrences. What will happen to Beauty and the Beast? Remember, I told you that this is not a classic Disney fairytale.

The illustrations are the original nineteenth century drawings by Walter Crane. They are extraordinarily detailed and magnificently colored. The reader will think herself transported to a museum. They add to the flavor of an authentic French period piece. As an adult, I enjoyed this rendition of the classic tale. I believe that tweens and teens will find this “grown-up” rendition of Beauty and the Beast a most appealing one. Available in kindle and paperback versions.

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MYSTERY, FANTASY, ADVENTURE

Pirates, Pirates! (A Rogue’s Tale)

Written by Saoirse O’Mara
Cover by Svenja Liv

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This is the third book in a series: The Lost Diadem (Part 1) and Trouble in the Mage Guild (Part II) preceding this volume. I did not read the first two, but had no trouble picking up the fantasy adventure in this newest release.

Tayla is a young teen living in Davon. She had previously met Govon when she picked his pocket to obtain money in a desperate attempt to survive. Govon is also struggling to support himself. They become friends. After an adventure to find the lost diadem, he becomes apprenticed to Dalen as a trainee for the City Guard. Tayla is adopted by a tavern owner and his family. In this third adventure, the story opens with Tayla witnessing a sailor being beaten on the docks. She brings him to her friend Larissa, a priestess in the Temple. Unfortunately, he dies before he can explain who attacked him. Tayla asks Govon for help in solving the mystery, but she is upset and dismayed when he informs her that he is too busy preparing for his final evaluation to help her. So Tayla is determined to find answers on her own. Larissa and her friend Katia vow to assist her. Things get murkier as a merchant ship is attacked, and a prominent woman citizen is beaten. Tayla goes undercover and lurks in the taverns spying on sailors trying to uncover who is behind the plot. Will she be successful? Who is behind the murder? What do pirates have to do with the plot? Will Tayla be reconciled with Govon?

This is a perfect fantasy adventure for tweens and young adults. It touches upon many of the issues they are grappling with in their lives. O’Mara addresses loyalty, family bonds, hard work, friendship and the search to discover right and wrong. The characters are well developed and the story line moves along quickly with just enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. The beautiful cover art captures the mood and setting. The length is under 120 pages so it will not deter a middle grade reader. Perfect book for a rainy afternoon. Hope to see more from this talented writer.

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A HERO IN DISGUISE

Nate Rocks the World (Volume 1)

Written by Karen Pokras Toz

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Nate Rockledge is a ten year old boy who, like most boys his age, has a barrage of problems. He hates school, and because he has no athletic talent is always the last one chosen. Nate’s family seems dysfunctional to him. His mother can’t cook or sew, yet she expects him to eat the food she prepares and wear the lopsided Halloween costumes she insists on sewing for him. She also forces him to hang out with her friend’s daughter, Lisa, who is the class nerd. Nate has a thirteen year old sister named Abby who torments and teases him. His dad tries to be cool, but retells the same old stories so often that he makes a fool of himself. Nate does have a cool friend named Tommy who is often involved with his adventures, yet Nate’s only enjoyment is drawing cartoons and daydreaming that he is a superhero. In those moments he can say, “Nate Rocks.”

So Nate the protagonist alternates between a ho-hum existence and a penchant for imagining heroic exploits where he is suddenly drawn into situations in which people desperately need help. For example, rescuing a dog from a burning house, releasing a girl tied to railroad tracks, helping a child find her way home, and becoming an astronaut to save the earth from being destroyed by a meteorite. The reader is sucked into the action because the dialogue and story line are woven in such a way that you cannot help but cheer Nate on in his exploits even when they seem highly improbable. Then a day comes along when Nate gets the opportunity to be a real hero.

The book is recommended for middle grades or ages nine through twelve. I feel that the book appeals to boys and girls because Abby is also a strong female character. Lots of tweens will see similarities with how they view their relationships with family and school friends. There is a great deal of humor in the story. You might even find yourself laughing out loud. Young readers will find many family and school incidents which will be similar to the events happening in their own lives. The approximately 140 page book is a quick read with lots of action that will attract even a reluctant reader. Classroom teachers might want to use the story as a morning read aloud over a few sessions to garner reading interest and enhance listening skills.

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