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Author: Jane O’Connor
Illustrator: Robin Preiss Glasser
Title - Fancy Nancy Pajama Day
(I Can Read – Level One)
Nancy loves to be fancy. Bree asks Nancy to wear the same heart and polka dot pajamas she does for Pajama Day at school. Nancy decides to wear her fancy pajamas (gown) instead. When Clara wear the same pajamas as Bree, Nancy feels left out.
***** FIVE STARS! This “I Can Read” book is level one (out of four.) That means it has simple sentences for new readers. The pictures/illustrations are beautiful. You can see how fluffy the quilt is on the cover. The entire book is in color, not just black and white. There is an entire series of Fancy Nancy books available. All are just as cute as this one. *****
Author: Julia Shigarova
Title - Max the Rabbit Plays Hide and Seek
Max the Rabbit is playing Hide and Seek with a chick, frog, cat, and porcupine. Once he finds them all, it will be Max’s turn to hide.
***** FIVE STARS! This book is only ten pages in length. Each page is made of thick cardboard. This is great for small hands to hold on to and makes the book durable. Every other page has a giant puzzle piece. On the last page, these puzzle pieces can be put together to create a picture showing where Max hides. Each page has about two sentences on it. This helps preschoolers learn to read. A great beginner’s book! *****
Author/Illustrator: James Dean
Title - Out of This World (Pete the Cat)
Pete goes to space camp. Astronauts tell about the trips they have taken and let the campers try out all the various equipment, such as the zero-gravity chamber. By chance, today a ship is blasting off to the moon and Pete gets to go with the astronauts.
**** FOUR STARS! In this story, Pete the Cat heads to the moon as he helps two astronauts with their mission. Children, up to age four or five, learn about the basic equipment that astronauts use to train with, how they use them during their time in space and on the moon, and what astronauts collect while on the moon. All the delightful characters are feline, walk upright, and even wear clothing. The Pete the Cat series is a very entertaining way to teach children about various professions, as well as teach them how to read. Each page has colorful pictures, drawn by the author, with simple sentences. Children with better reading skills than the average kid may actually outgrow the series before they ever begin school – and this series may actually give your child that better skill. ****
Author/Illustrator: James Dean
Title - Firefighter Pete (Pete the Cat)
Pete and his class go on a field trip to a firehouse. They learn all about the fire trucks and the gear firefighters must wear. While visiting, the fire alarm goes off. Pete goes with the truck to the location of the fire and learns how the firefighters deal with a real fire.
**** FOUR STARS! In this small book, children will learn the basics about a firehouse, the firefighters within, and what they do to help people at a fire. All the characters in the story are cats – except for one that is a frog. James Dean is not only the author of the “Pete the Cat” series, but also the illustrator and his pictures do the story justice. Marvelous tale for children up to the age of four or five. ****
Author: Claire Belton
Title - I Am Pusheen the Cat
**** FOUR STARS! Pusheen the Cat is not like the more famous Garfield. Where Garfield is mainly teen and adult humor, Pusheen is more for preschoolers. By this I mean that this book is excellent to help learn to read. There are lots of pictures with only a few words under each.
Pusheen has a little sister, Stormy, who makes occasional appearances. Stormy has an entire chapter of her own too.
These two feline sisters show how wonderful cat are. All their cuddle potential, all their mischievousness, all their attitudes, all their everything. A terrific learning tool and all around adorable. ****
Author: Ylleya Fields
Illustrator: Michael LaDuca
Title - Princess Cupcake Jones Won’t Go To School
Princess Cupcake Jones is due to start kindergarten today and is trying everything she can think of to get out of going. However, her mother sees through every trick. Once Cupcake arrives at school and meets a new friend, everything changes and Cupcake learns not to fear trying new things.
***** FIVE STARS! Most children are scared on their first day of school. This story will help prepare your children for that unsettling day. The story is told in a rhyming cadence and filled with colorful illustrations. (Psst! Each illustration hides a special word. Once you find the word in the first picture, look for the same word in each following. Be warned that a few of the illustrations cover two pages instead of just one. )
If you have access to the internet, you and your child can have even more fun! The Princess Cupcake Jones web site has other activities. Your child can color, solve word puzzles, figure out mazes, and even play Tic Tac Toe with Cupcake. *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Illustrator: Nina Marie Rothfuss
Title - I Can Touch the Sky
A young child swings in the backyard. The higher he goes, the more his imagination takes flight. This story tells of his short journey through the sky.
**** FOUR STARS! Most children dream of flying with birds or soaring out into space when they swing alone. This child is no different. The story never gives a name. It is written in the First Person. The book is twenty eight pages in length. I estimate the target ages to be between four and seven. This is not a chapter book. It is more along the line of a bedtime story. I can easily picture a parent reading it while their child marvels over the lively illustrations or a child reading it alone as a preschool book. ****
Authors: Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder
Title - A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
(March 10, 2015 Release Date)
Illustrator: Mary GrandPré
Elder dragon Miss Drake has a soft spot where humans are concerned. This must be why her pets are normally humans. As the story opens, Miss Drake is saddened because her human companion, Fluffy, has passed away. As Miss Drake ponders upon whether or not to sleep for a few decades, a ten-year-old Winnie enters the hidden lair and walks into Miss Drake’s heart.
In the “normal” world, Fluffy had been named Amelia. Amelia had been the great-aunt of Winnie. At first Miss Drake wants nothing to do with the curious child, but the elegant dragon soon begins to change her mind. Winnie is full of surprises, each more endearing to Miss Drake than she wants to admit. The most astounding surprise is that Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet. It is apparent that Winnie would need training if she was to ever become the perfect companion for a dragon.
Miss Drake introduces Winnie to the magical creatures of San Francisco and even purchases a sketchbook for the little artist. But the sketchbook is not normal. Instead, Winnie’s sketchlings of several fantastic magical creatures come to life, jump off the pages, and are loose on the city streets! Miss Drake and Winnie must work together if they are to have any hope of catching them all and ending the mayhem.
**** FOUR STARS! This book targets ages eight through twelve; however, even younger children who discovered a love for reading early on would find this story delightful. The book has fifteen chapters. Each chapter begins with a tip for dragons (about training their pet humans) and a small black and white illustration. There are a few words in the story that may confuse younger readers (such as “au courant”) but they should be able to understand the meanings in the way they are used in sentences.
I believe this story is the first in a new series. I certainly hope this is so because I foresee a lot of potential adventures for Miss Drake and Winnie. I would love to visit this magical version of San Francisco again to, not only revisit the main characters, but also some of the enchanting secondary characters. ****
Author: Will Hillenbrand
Title - Snowman’s Story
As the snow falls on a windy winter day, a hat lands on a snowman that the animals just finished building. Snowman comes to life and begins to read a story to the animals. When the animals and Snowman fall asleep, a mischievous bunny pops out of the hat and steals the book. Snowman wakes and calls for the other animals. The chase is on!
***** FIVE STARS! This fun-filled picture book has not a single word in it. The entire story is told through thirty-one beautifully illustrated pages. (Per the copyright page, Katrina Damkoehler and Jen Browning helped Will Hillenbrand with designing.) The tale is charming. It has humor, drama, action and ends with what I call an “Ah-ha!” moment. Some pages have multiple panels to help tell the tale.
I sometimes read for children at a local library. One child is hard-of-hearing. This book will be perfect for my next story time. I cannot help but think that 4K and kindergarten teachers would love this book for the same reasons. Each panel can be discussed, teaching children to be more observant. A highly enjoyable tale for all. *****
Story By: Thomas Weck & Peter Weck
Illustrations By: Len DiSalvo
Title – Bully Bean (Lima Bean Stories)
Lima Bear, the only bean with green fur, was constantly being harassed by Bully Bean. Bully Bean particularly liked to torment Lima Bear because Lima Bear was always kind and good natured. However, Lima Bear wasn’t the only bear that was bullied by Bully Bean. All the bears in Beandom were afraid of him because they too were bullied by him every time he came around. They even had a chant they said when they saw him:
“Oh, bad Bully Bean,
What makes you so mean?
Whenever you’re near
We all run in fear.”
One day, Bully Bean dug a deep hole and dropped Lima Bear into it. It was so deep that Lima Bear couldn’t get out, but Bully Bean just walked away, leaving Lima Bear crying out for help. The other bears soon heard his cries, made a ladder, and helped Lima Bear climb out of the hole. Still, Lima Bear didn’t try to hurt Bully Bean in retaliation. Everyone just tried to stay away from Bully Bean.
Lima Bear and the other bears knew of a special cave that only they could enter, because the entrance was so small. They loved to play in this cave since it was considered a safe place away from Bully Bean. It was a magical place, filled with stalactites and stalagmites. One day, Bully Bean found a secret entrance to the cave and confronted Lima Bear there. Lima Bear climbed quickly up the walls, holding onto rocks. When Bully Bean tried to climb out that way, the rocks wouldn’t hold his weight and he fell back inside, where a large rock fell on him, holding him down. Bully Bean needed help!
***** FIVE STARS Would you have helped Bully Bean? Do you think the other bears in Beandom helped him? This story tells how to handle a bully – the right way. The Extend the Learning section in the back of this beautifully written and colorfully illustrated book is one of the best I’ve seen. It even explains how to remember the difference between Stalactites and Stalagmites. Once you read that difference, you’ll never forget it.
I highly recommend this newest book in the Beandom series. It is a tall book that is easy for small hands to hold and the illustrations are very colorful and bright. The book teaches kindness, tolerance, honesty, courage, and forgiveness in ways that children everywhere will recognize and want to practice.
For your convenience you may read more about, or purchase this book, from Amazon by clicking HERE!
Author: R.L. Stine
Title - My Alien Parents
It is supposed to be a typical Saturday morning for ten-year-old Rob Herbert. Yet from the moment he opens his eyes things seem odd. His parents no longer act the same either. His mom suddenly hates tea and loves cornflakes. His dad suddenly loves poached eggs and can build shelves. Snappy, his dog, has vanished. Can it be that Rob’s parents have been replaced by aliens from another world? But if so, why?
**** FOUR STARS! This chapter book is short, only forty-four pages, but the entire thing is one creepy mystery. Author R.L. Stine has long been well known for writing stories that give children the shivers. This one is no exception. The writing style is simple and easy to read. There are no big words to confuse a kid or to distract the reader from the tale. On a personal note, I had my own idea of what was going on…I was wrong. ****
Authors: Thomas & Peter Weck
Illustrator: Len DiSalvo
Title - The Labyrinth (A Lima Bear Story)
King Limalot Bear knew he was getting too old to continue to rule his kingdom. Since he had no son to whom to leave his Kingdom, he decided to make his daughter, Princess Belinda Bean, the new queen. She was lovely, wise, and well loved throughout the land.
Ah, it was a glorious day when Princess Belinda Bean sat on the Royal Throne for the first time, taking her rightful place as Queen Belinda Bean. Everyone in the Royal Kingdom was joyous – everyone, that is, except for one known as Mean ol’ Bean.
Mean ol’ Bean wanted to be the new King, so he set about to get rid of Queen Belinda Bean in any way he could. But, Queen Belinda Bean had a protector - the wisest man in Beandom, L. Joe Bean. But, he was quite small and looked very much like a pinto bean.
Mean ol’ Bean needed to come up with a plan to get rid of Queen Belinda Bean. Since he knew of the new queen’s love of flowers, he thought about the huge Labyrinth near the castle. He had heard people say there was a magic flower garden in its center. With so many twists and turns in the Labyrinth, even if someone found their way to the center, they would never find their way out. Thus, it became Mean ol’ Bean’s plan to find this magic garden and lead the new Queen there, trapping her forever!
***** FIVE STARS! How did Mean ol’ Bean find his way to the center of the Labyrinth? Was he able to lure the queen there? How did a bee help wise little L. Joe Bean save the new queen (remember he was very small)? Was Mean ol’ Bean trapped forever in the Labyrinth? Exactly what is a Labyrinth? Children will find the answers to all these questions, and more, as they read this highly entertaining book with its colorful and imaginative illustrations. They will also learn special lessons like tolerance, honesty, courage, and forgiveness.
In the extended learning and activities pages, children will learn problem solving in unique ways that are loads of fun.
This is very highly recommended reading for children of all ages. *****
Authors: Thomas Weck & Peter Weck
Illustrator: Len DiSalvo
Title - Back-Back Got His Name (A Lima Bear Story)
Lima Bear is a tiny bear with green fur. He is so tiny that he actually sleeps in the shell of a walnut. Lima Bear is startled awake when the rabbit, Whistle-Toe, yells about an emergency. Plumpton, their opossum friend, is in tears because his back is gone. Everyone can see Plumpton’s front, but when the opossum turns around or flops his belly on the ground no one can see him. His back is gone! The trio goes to Maskamal, the raccoon, for additional help. Together, the four friends set out on an adventure to find Plumpton’s back.
***** FIVE STARS! This is an oversized hardback novel. All thirty-two pages are filled with bright, colorful illustrations. As children follow this story, they learn that being different from others makes them special. When Lima Bear suggests that they should try to think like an opossum, children are learning to put themselves in another person’s place. (Empathy. Compassion.)
The illustrator adds special touches to his pictures. I especially enjoyed noticing that each page number is in the middle of a lima bean. So cute! I read this book to two kids (one boy and one girl) that I was babysitting and they loved it. Each child took joy in pointing out subtle touches in the art work. They made me read the story four times.
In the back of the book, there are two pages of learning activities. On these pages are suggestions on what to ask children before reading the story, while reading it, and after the story is finished. For the older children, there is a suggestion to help teach about adjectives and synonyms. One activity tells how to make disappearing ink with lemon juice! Scattered over both pages are pictures of the four friends from the story. This is a wonderful addition to any child’s library. It will not only delight and entertain children, but also give them a head start for school. Brilliant! *****
Author: Luis Rodriguez
Title - The Klampie Mystery (Ages 4-8)
Samantha Parker and her parents live in California. They are going to visit their relatives in Australia for Christmas. Samantha has never traveled out of America before. This would be her first time out of the country. To Samantha’s delight, her father buys her a life-sized, plush koala. She names it Klampie, because his arms could clamp onto almost anything. Samantha clamps her plush koala onto her backpack.
The Parkers from Australia meet the Parkers from America at the airport. During the car ride to his home, Uncle Tim stops to get some gasoline. While everyone is out of the car, stretching their legs, a real koala approaches Klampie. Klampie falls off the backpack and no one notices that the koala now on Samantha’s luggage is real.
Koalas sleep most of the daylight hours, so it is not until Samantha and her parents are on the plane, headed back to California, before anyone realizes that Klampie is actually a living koala!
**** FOUR STARS! This wonderful book overflows with bright and cheerful illustrations that will spark the imagination of young children as they follow Samantha Parker on her visit to Australia. The story is intended for kids between the ages of four and eight; however, I believe that even adults will enjoy the tale and probably end up learning something new. (I sure did!)
The character of Samantha is sweet and inquisitive. Young readers will easily relate to her. The writing style and wording of the story is kept simple, so children should not become confused or frustrated. Best of all, as the children are thoroughly entertained by Samantha and Klampie they will not even realize how much they are learning about koalas and the country of Australia.
In my opinion, this book would be a great addition to any home or library. If you are a babysitter, consider keeping a copy of this book with you. I found it to be an easy way of settling the children down before bed time. If you are a teacher, this story could work before nap time or simply as a way to help calm down the over stimulated. A terrific story that kids will want to read over and over! ****
Author: James A. Chisman
Illustrator: Joseph Ingking
Title - Bullette and Jessica (Ages 6-9)
Nine-year-old Jessica Long has always wanted a dog. So when Jessica notices a stray female, she immediately asks permission to adopt her. Jessica initially chooses the name of Bullet for the two-year-old dog because of her speed. (Because the neighbors think Bullet sounds like a name for a boy dog, Jessica's dad suggests adding an extra te to the spelling of the name.) The rest of this story is filled with all the fun and wonderful antics that Bullette brings into the Long family’s life.
***** FIVE STARS! This Children’s book will keep any child’s attention with no trouble. Bullette frolics, gives wet face licks, and ends up doing many funny things as she explores the world around her. By having Bullette in her life, Jessica learns much about dogs. (For example, I knew that dogs could hear better than humans and that they have a keen sniffer, but I did not know that a dog’s eyesight was worse than a human’s.)
As children enjoy this humorous tale, they follow Jessica and learn about many other types of neighborhood wildlife. There are woods near Jessica’s home, which brings a variety of creatures for your child(ren) to read about. In addition to dogs, children will learn a few things about guinea pigs, snakes, possums, bats, groundhogs, and bees. Several illustrations are scattered throughout the story to ensure that all kids will grin and giggle as they read this book over and over again. This is an excellent way to give a head start for school about science and nature. Fun, educational, and highly recommended. *****
Author: Bob Wolf
Title - Halo's Story: As Told By the Dog That Walked with Jesus
In the first century, a litter of puppies was born to a common dog. One puppy was given to a young, sixteen-year-old, man named Jesus. Jesus had two fathers; one on Earth and one in Heaven. Jesus named the puppy Halo. In Halo's mind, Jesus was named Master.
During his seventeen years of life, Halo seldom left Master's side. Halo and Master could understand each others' thoughts. Halo learned all about Love by watching and listening to Master. Jesus taught thousands about His Heavenly Father and Halo often told other animals about His Love. In this story, Halo tells about his life with Jesus and the Guys (disciples).
**** FOUR STARS! Though this story targets children (7-12 years in age), I strongly suggest that an adult be nearby. In fact, it would not be a bad idea for parents to read this story with/to their kids at bed time. By doing so, parents could explain many subtle meanings. Also, the author has Halo hint at several events and miracles during his travels with Jesus. Parents can use these sections to elaborate on what Halo refers to.
This is not a big book. I estimate it to be around sixty pages in length. Each chapter is between three to five pages. Several black and white illustrations are littered throughout the book. The story ends forty days before the death of Jesus. This is when Halo goes to be with the Heavenly Father and his many friends from life. There is no need to fear your child breaking down into tears. The author shows early in the story that death is not an ending, but rather the beginning of something much more wonderful. The ending is not very sad at all. I found it to be sweet and very well done.
This book should NOT be used as a substitute for bible stories or the like. Nor should a child be given this book and then left alone. Remember, this story is from the view point of a dog, so not everything is explained in detail.
I have no doubt that children (and their parents) will quickly be charmed by this special dog named Halo. ****
Author: Gigi Sedlmayer
Title - Talon, Come Fly with Me (Talon #1, Ages 7 and up)
Four and a half years ago Matica's parents moved from Australia to the remote village of Pucara as missionaries. The village is located on a high and open, sandy, vast plateau of the great Andes Mountain in Peru, South America. It is close to the border of Brazil. Matica had been five-years-old at the time her family arrived in Pucara; however, due to her growth problem, Matica looked no older than two. Because of her growth disorder, the villagers did not accept her. Everyone, including the other children, turned from Matica.
As this story opens, Matica is almost ten-years-old. She has a little brother named Aikon, who is almost four. Aikon is normal, so the villagers consider him to be a part of their community. Yet they still shun Matica. With no real friend to keep her company, Matica turns to nature. When a very huge bird captures her interest, Matica sets off after it to learn more. Over the next year or so, Matica learns that it is a male condor and she names him Tamo. Tamo has a mate and Matica names her Tima. Every day Matica goes to a special place, where she will give them small, dead animals (such as lizards) to eat and to simply talk to them. Matica's patience is eventually rewarded. Condors are extremely intelligent. Tamo and Tima come to trust the small human girl. Though the female, Tima, would keep her distance, Tamo would bravely approach Matica. After spending so much time with Matica, Tamo no longer hesitates to land and spend time with the small girl. Tamo and Matica bond with each other.
When poachers come to steal his egg, Tamo goes to Matica for help. With the aid of her father, Crayn, the small girl figures out what must be done. Matica, Tamo, and Tima may not speak the same language, but they are still able to understand each other most of the time. The condors are bigger than matica, but instinctively know that their small friend can protect their egg. It is up to Matica to help incubate the egg (keep it very warm) until it hatches. The condor chick hatches on Matica's tenth birthday. It is a male and Matica names him Talon.
As of this point in the story, Matica's world changes. Matica's family, the entire village of Pucara, and even other villages, watch as the growth-stunted girl and her massive bird friends work together to raise Talon.
**** FOUR STARS! This chapter book targets readers from the age of seven and higher. It is the first of a series involving Matica, the world around her, and her majestic Condor friends. The author shows the reader, through the eyes and actions of Matica, that people who have disorders and/or handicaps are not really different from the normal people around them. In fact, as Matica's parents often tell her, these people are different for a special reason, and someday that reason would become clear. By the end of this story, Matica understands exactly why God has made her body so small. Not only that, but the bond between Matica and the three birds teach the villagers several moral lessons.
As you enjoy the story, many facts about Condors are told. (I did not realize how much I was learning about Condors as I read.) This sneaky, but shrewd, author makes learning about Condors fun! Children will be able to connect with Matica, her positive outlook on life, and her indomitable spirit. The story is upbeat and never becomes too depressing.
This is the first book, of what could be several, involving Talon and Matica. I believe future stories will touch more on the topics of endangered animals and poachers, but this one mainly focuses on Matica meeting and bonding with the three birds. Author Gigi Sedlmayer has written a didactic story that will long linger in the minds of her readers. ****
Author: Jason Lethcoe
Title - No Place Like Holmes (Book 1, Mystery)
The year is 1903 and twelve-year-old Griffin Sharpe lives in Boston. He pays attention and notices everything, has a photographic memory, and finds it difficult not to answer questions in class. These are great abilities for a future detective, but also result with the others students avoiding him and considering him to be a teacher's pet. With nothing else to do during school break, his parents send him to spend the summer with his uncle in London. At first Griffin is excited because his uncle lives at 221 Baker Street, the address of London's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. For a brief time, Griffin even believes Holmes to be his relative. However, when Griffin arrives it is to learn that Holmes lives in flat 221B, and his eccentric uncle lives in flat 221A.
Rupert Snodgrass had not read his sister's letters, so he is surprised when Griffin knocks on his door. The man is a consulting detective, much as Holmes, but is considered only to be an amateur sleuth. This is due, in part, to Holmes often solving cases before Snodgrass could. Money has become tight and his uncle needs a paying client soon. Snodgrass is absolutely brilliant when it comes to engineering. His flat is filled with magnificent-looking gadgets, all in various stages of assembly or repair. He even has a mechanical man, named Watts, which is programmed to act as his butler. Griffin is thrilled with his uncle's inventions and would have been happy if Snodgrass were not so mean and selfish. Griffin's uncle wants nothing to do with him. Griffin is to be out of the flat every morning and not to return until the evening meal. The tension between them begins to alter when Griffin stumbles onto a bizarre mystery. Sarah Dent, a clockmaker's wife, had been en route to Holmes's residence when she passed out. Griffin takes the distraught lady to his uncle.
An eyewitness claims that he had seen the clockmaker standing on the banks of the River Thames when the Loch Ness Monster suddenly appeared and swallowed Frederick Dent whole. (In one gulp.) Sarah is frantic and needs to know if her husband is dead or alive; however, she will only hire Snodgrass to investigate is his nephew, Griffin, is involved.
Thus begins Griffin Sharpe's first case. Griffin's keen eye for details, photographic memory, and nose for clues will merge with his uncle's amazing gadgets and inventions as they attempt to solve a mystery too strange for even the great Sherlock Holmes to crack.
***** FIVE STARS! Though the target audience for this new series is between the ages of seven and thirteen, I believe that all ages would enjoy it. Fans of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries will especially love this clever series. (Holmes even makes a cameo appearance or two.) The author's writing style is crisp and clear, with no nonsense. I, as the reader, never felt as if my intelligence were being insulted. The characters are well developed and the plot is solid. Clues begin appearing from the start and readers must be very observant if they are to have any hope of solving the mystery before young Griffin manages to do so. (I humbly admit to failing in this endeavor.)
In addition to being a wonderful mystery, this story also shows that if one is kind, patient, and has faith then friends can be made from the most unexpected sources. At the end of this story, a hint is given about Griffin's second mystery. (To be released later this year.) Once you finish reading the mystery, the fun does not end. This case is followed by a couple of mini mysteries for readers to text their wits against. Answers to the mini mysteries are given on the last page. I can hardly wait to see what adventures Griffin Sharpe and Uncle Rupert embark on next! Excellent and highly recommended reading! *****
Author: Beth Hodder
Title - The Ghost of Schafer Meadows (Ages 7 & Up)
Twelve-year-old Jessie Scott is NOT happy when her family has to move from New Mexico to the wilderness in Montana. Her brother, Jed, has no problem with it though. Jessica's father is with the U.S. Forest Service, so the family may be moved at any time to anywhere in the country. This time her father will be a ranger at the Schafer Meadows Ranger Station in Montana's Great Bear Wilderness. Jessie is not only missing her old friends, but her new home will have no televisions, cell phones, Internet, or even electricity. One good thing about the move, for Jessie, is that she has been given a puppy, Oriole.
Jessie and Oriole are soon exploring their new home and its surrounding areas. Strange things begin happening, such as items being moved. Jessie has been told about a ghost that some have claimed to see, including the assistant ranger who Jessie really likes. Though Jessie never believed in ghosts before, she cannot seem to shrug off the ghost she meets as simply a dream or her overactive imagination.
Is the ghost responsible for all the troubles that have occurred? Jessie and Oriole are determined to investigate and find out!
***** FIVE STARS! Most people do not know there are places in the United States that have no phones, electricity, or other luxuries. I find it hard to even imagine living over two hours away from the nearest grocery store. Wow! This story will not only show you how beautiful the wilderness is, but also test your wits with a mystery and a ghost. This is nothing like a Scooby Doo™ episode. It is more like a Hardy Boy™ or Nancy Drew™ mystery. As I watched Jessie explore the wonders surrounding her, I also examined the clues she gathered and I tried to piece them all together before she could. Proof is needed as well as a motive too.
Author Beth Hodder brings her career as a Forest Ranger to vivid and colorful life, teaching about the wilderness through the eyes of a smart girl on the verge of becoming a teenager. Filled with suspense, mystery, a haunting ghost, and a bit of danger, this story is sure to please! *****
Author: Deborah Jackson
Title - Time Meddlers: Undercover (Ages 8 - 13)
Begins in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's capital city. Present date.
After thirteen-year-old Matt Barnes and Sarah Sachs had their last adventure, the police kept a look out for Nadine. Thanks to Nadine, Matt's dad is still being transported to different time periods via his multiverse time machine. Since Matt's old home is no longer being watched for signs of Nadine returning, Matt and Sarah sneak inside. They hope to find a code, believed hidden by the power-hungry woman, to help free Mr. Nathan Barnes from the machine.
Later, while Matt and Sarah are at the machine, they manage to locate Mr. Barnes in Amsterdam, during World War II. Nadine's sudden appearance causes a bit of chaos for the young teens. Nadine ends up falling into the machine's open portal. Matt and Sarah follow soon afterward.
Nadine finds herself running from Nazis and ends up hiding with none other than Anne Frank! Her anger against Matt and Sarah changes to fear for her own safety. As she begins to plot out a plan for returning to her own time period, Anne's courage and attitude begins to alter Nadine's priorities.
As for Matt and Sarah, they find themselves in England. They cause quite a stir as they connect with a secret organization and make their scary way into occupied Europe. As the young teens try to locate Matt's dad, they must be sneaky, cunning, and just plain old lucky as they avoid Nazis. Can they locate Mr. Barnes before their time runs out? Can they help the brave people who are destined for a horrible fate? Will history be altered by their actions?
**** FOUR STARS! This book continues shortly after the first, Time Meddlers, ends. You do not have to read the first book in order to understand and enjoy this one; however, I strongly urge you to. It gives more details on the time machine and backgrounds on the teens.
As for this story, it overflows with danger, excitement, and adventure. Readers will easily connect with Matt and Sarah. As the teens sneak around, they must take risky chances, putting their lives in serious danger. An enthralling story that readers will have a difficult time putting down. ****
Title - Heroes of the Environment (12 True Stories of People Who Are Helping to Protect Our Planet)
Author: Harriet Rohmer
Illustrator: Julie McLaughlin
In order of the book:
Will Allen's (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) community did not have easy access to healthy food. This is how he changed that.
Kelydra Welcker (Parkersburg, West Virginia) was only fifteen when her experiment proved how much chemical waste was in the Ohio River and then developed a way to filter it out.
Omar Freilla's (South Bronx of New York City) area overflowed in trash. He started the first cooperative in the country dedicated to reusing waste.
Debby Tewa (Hopi Indian Reservation, Arizona) brought solar energy to the Navajo communities.
Margie Richard (Old Diamond, Louisiana) fought the oil company nearby due to air pollution.
John Todd (Woods Hole, Massachusetts) invented an "eco-machine" to clean up waste the way nature did.
Alex Lin (Westerly, Rhode Island) was only a teen when he helped write an E-Waste Law for his state.
Julia "Judy" Bonds (Whitesville, West Virginia) recognized several dangers when coal companies began blasting off mountain tops and did something about it.
El Hijo del Santo (Mexico City, Mexico) is a champion masked wrestler. He teaches kids what they can do to fight pollution and protect wildlife.
Barry Guillot (Destrehan, Louisiana) fights to preserve the wetlands around New Orleans.
When Sarah James (Arctic Village, Alaska) heard that the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuse could soon be opened up to oil drilling, she knew that the caribou herd and the lives of her people were in jeopardy.
Erica Fernandez (Oxnard, California) cleans the beaches and speaks out for the environment. She also rallied her neighbors against a company that planned to build a dangerous processing plant off the coast.
**** FOUR STARS! This book, in my opinion, targets ages 6 - 13. Each of the twelve people have around six pages explaining the problems they noticed around themselves and gives a step-by-step process of what they did about it. Many of these people were young (around first grade) when they recognized the problems, listened to those around them, and kept up with the news. As a result, some grew up and chose a profession which allowed them to do something about those problems. Others figured out a way to get active and fight for justice while still very young. A couple were teenagers who made a difference, not only for their area, but for the entire planet.
This is an excellent way for adults to educate and explain to the next generation (or two) about what they can do make a difference; now and in the future. Public and school libraries would do well to make sure they have at least one copy on their shelves. Since this is a hardback book, it will last a long time. Each story is written in simple words; therefore, younger kids will have no problems understanding. And as an added buying incentive, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will support the efforts of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). ****
Author: Kate Klise
Illustrator: M. Sarah Klise
Title - Over My Dead Body
(43 Old Cemetery Road #2 / Ages 6-10)
Set in a town named Ghastly in the state of Illinois. Les and Diane Hope were professors of the paranormal. They bought Spence Mansion hoping to make money on its ghost, Olive Spence. But Olive did not like the pair and refused to communicate with them. Their son, Seymour, was born at Spence Mansion. Olive and Seymour became friends. Later, Olive and Seymour became friends with Ignatius "Iggy" Grumply, a famous author who rented Spence Mansion after Les and Diane abandoned Seymour. (Les and Diane snuck out in the middle of the night and traveled to Paris.)
Iggy receives a letter from Dick Tater, director for the Safety & Protection Of Our Kids & Youth (IMSPOOKY) inquiring why eleven-year-old Seymour is living at Spence Mansion without his parents. This sets in motion a chain of events that have people all over the world wondering if ghosts, especially one named Olive, are real or not. Dick Tater also hosts a show where he is beginning to convince everyone in the world to cancel Halloween and burn all books about ghosts on October 31st.
**** FOUR STARS! I believe children between the ages of six and ten will enjoy this story most. The Klise sisters have an unusual technique for telling this story. The pages of this book are set up to appear as if they are part of a scrap book, a newspaper article, or as letters between two story characters. I have neither read, nor seen, anything like it before. Some of the letters between various characters even have illustrations showing their envelopes, complete with canceled stamps. An interesting break from the regular book pattern, I found this story to be vastly amusing (especially the characters' names as puns). ****
Author: Carl L. Wiley
Title - The Ring of Knowledge (Corwin #1, Fantasy, Ages 9-16)
Thirteen-year-old Corwin, heir to the throne of Plyorth, has lived with his uncle's family since his parents were murdered by Jolkur ten years prior. Corwin's uncle is King Harvor of Verzeal. Though Corwin never felt entirely welcome in Verzeal's castle, he received the training and lessons he would need to rule Plyorth wisely.
When the wizard, Natlock, appears in the form of a small hawk to Corwin, the young prince's tutor and advisor, Montecourt, informs him that the time has finally come for Corwin to embark on a life-changing journey.
Prince Corwin and two children from Plyorth, Javal and Veina, must travel through a dangerous forest in order to return Natlock (still in bird form) to his cottage before the transforming spell kills him. From there the trio must reach the kingdom of Plyorth. Prince Corwin quickly learns that returning to his kingdom is not the end of his journey, but only the beginning. Corwin must locate and retrieve Plyorth's three hidden treasures. The first hunt will be for the Ring of Knowledge. The trio set out with the evil Jolkur and his minion hot on their trail. A wood sprite named Antara and a forest creature named Krelp will aid the prince and perhaps someday become his friends. For now, an entire kingdom and its people's fates are resting on Corwin's success.
**** Though I do not see any target ages listed for this book, in my opinion it would be good for anyone between the ages of nine and sixteen. The price is high due to it being a hard back, but chances are this story will be read more than once. This story does not go into deep details on surroundings or characters' attitudes. However, it is easy to read, easy to understand, and small life lessons can be learned by the younger readers. I look forward to journeying along with Prince Corwin when he sets out for the second treasure. Very enticing! ****
Author: Nola Lee Kelsey
Title - Let's Go Visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (Up to age 8)
The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located in Angel Canyon, (Southern) Utah. This oversized book reads like an interactive bedtime story for children and is utterly delightful. The sanctuary receives around 20,000 tourists each year. This book entertains children and gives a virtual tour of all the animals living on the sanctuary. Since many of the animals living at the sanctuary have been rescued from bad people or are survivors of disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, readers learn how much care goes into helping them. The book helps children understand why some animals are nervous, shy, or scared of humans. It also explains how people can help care for animals.
As children read or listen to the stories, their eyes and imaginations are tantalized with large, colorful photos of animals found on every page. A couple of the back pages tell how kids can help the animals in their area.
***** All-in-all, I found this to be an exceptional book, perfect for any time of the day or night. Though great for bedtime, I believe it would perfect for class time as well. Teachers should seriously consider picking up a copy to determine whether they could fit this in their class schedule. It is well written with simple, easy to understand, words. Best of all, kids will learn from an early age how to act around and care for animals. Kids will read about all types of animals from plucky duckies to bunnies, from cats to dogs, from horses to pigs, and many more. In a word, "Bunnyreffic!" *****
Author/Illustrator: Davy Liu
Title - Fire Fish (Pre-school to age 8)
This is a golden fable about a family of fish. When a fishing net catches Momma and Pappa Perch, Pappa tells his kids (Sarai, RaaOn, and Sesom) to go to the Turtle Pool for help. The wise Great Turtle tells them to call on the Finmaker. To do this, the three siblings need only to silently call from their hearts and have faith that the Finmaker will answer, even if it is only, "Be patient."
After awhile, the three explore a tunnel and this begins their journey of hope, faith, and trust as they dodge danger and search for their parents.
***** The author and illustrator of this book is Davy Liu. He has worked for Disney on several movie animations, as well as with George Lucas and Warner Bros. I mention this to stress the author's long experience with understanding children and what captures their attention. If you have ever seen the Disney movie "Finding Nemo", then you will see a lot of resemblance in these illustrations. Every single page is bright and colorful, ensuring to fascinate your child from the beginning of the story until the very end. Young children will easily be able to relate to the three main fish. As they enjoy the story, they will also be learning several life-long lessons about God, angels, faith, trust, and how to look beyond the colors and shapes of others. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Davy Liu's book is pure, wholesome bliss! *****
Author: Laura Chester
Illustrated by: Gary A. Lippincott
Title - Marvel the Marvelous (Children's Fantasy)
In the frozen lands of Northern Joya everything is covered in ice and snow. This is where Marvel, the youngest of three pink ponies, lives. Marvel, like everyone else, wears ice skates. Unlike her older sisters, Marvel enjoys adventure and having fun.
When the King and Queen return to Northern Joya, they surprise everyone with Lee Rumsey. The paid had found Lee frozen in a snowbank. The last thing Lee recalls is hearing her dad's empty beer bottles rattling, an argument with her brother, and feeling herself being thrown from the car.
Lee and Marvel become close friends. When they learn that Lee may be able to return home if she visits the Treasure House, the two set out for adventure. The big dog, Garbonzo, and a small pug dog, Beanie, catch up with them and join the journey. The farther from Northern Joya the group travels, the more the world around them thaws and changes. Marvel sheds her winter coat and begins to shine in a marvelous purple color. During the journey, the group will meet beings and overcome several obstacles. But will the Treasure House be able to get Lee home?
***This story seems to target children somewhere around the ages of eight or ten. The characters are utterly delightful and the black and white illustrations are wonderful! However, there are many words too big for this target audience. Parents will have to help small readers with the meaning of words such as intravenous, dervish, oppressed, and torrential. The word opalites is used often and should be one of the first words parents may need to explain.
During this fantastic fantasy world of traveling, the author gives readers clues as to what is going on in the real world around Lee. It is obvious from early on that Lee has been in a car wreck due to her father's drinking and driving. I believe this method of mixing young fantasy with an undercurrent of consequences gets more than one powerful message across very nicely. The only down side is that the ending is very sad. Parents may wish to take that into serious consideration if their child is sensitive. Well done!***
Author: Alan Williams
Title - Archy the Flying Dolphin & the Vampire's Curse
(Ages: 8 & up)
Eleven-year-old Thomas Parkinson and his sister, Suzy, are dropped off by their parents to spend six weeks with Uncle Fibber. The kids do not want to be with Uncle Fibber though. They believe that the man is more than a bit crazy and their entire summer will be a boring waste.
Uncle Fibber is not as crazy as Thomas and Suzy first believed. Dangling from a support beam near the fireplace is a silver dolphin with a big red cape. Uncle Fibber tells them the tale of Victoria von Vampire who loved to boil kids in her Coffin Pot Stew. It is said that a vessel will someday rise from the deep to wreak vengeance. Anyone who dares set foot upon its deck shall invoke an evil curse. The dolphin, named Archy, acts as a guardian against all evil. Its cape is magic and will keep them safe.
Thomas and Suzy soon learn the story to be true and alight on a wondrous journey with Archy, the flying dolphin.
*** No need to worry about horrible nightmares if your kids read this chapter book. It has just enough spookiness to keep them riveted and is of-set with many amusing characters during Archy's journey. Hopefully this will turn out to be the first of a new series involving Archy. ***
Author: David A. Adler
Title - Cam Jansen and the Green School Mystery (Oct. 2008)
After the rolls of nickels that the school has received for recycling vanish, it is up to Cam Jansen and his friends to find out what happened and save an innocent party from being wrongly convicted of the crime.
*** Books like this are a fantastic introduction to the world of reading for the very young. Though the story is quite simple it will call upon them to think a bit to try and solve the puzzle along with the hero. It also teaches them valuable lessons about conservation, using one's mind, observation, and friendship. ***
Author: Laura Chester
Title - Hiding Glory
ILLUSTRATOR: Gary A. Lippincott
Turner Flint lives in an apartment with her mother and annoying older brother. Scattered around her room are many toy horses in various colors and positions. Turner is nearing the end of Summer Break and feeling a little down when she spies a tiny, beautiful blue horse. The horse's name is Glory. He is the guardian of the morning glory vine, such as the one in Turner's window box.
Glory takes Turner to the magical land of Joya. There, Turner is amazed by rhyming Pansies, a cheerful queen, a muddy dog with floppy ears, a constantly tired old beaver, and various other delightful creatures. However, there is also the problem of the cantankerous Kermudgins. Kermudgins are like beetles. They want everything in order, hate playing and laughter, and are extremely selfish. They do not care for or help each other either. Now they are headed toward the tiny kingdom that Turner has just found and loves.
***** This is the first book in an imaginative series of children's chapter books. Parents may read parts to their children just before bed time and guarantee pleasant dreams. Once older, you will probably find your kids reading this story over and over by themselves.
Not only is this tale very entertaining, but it also teaches children about the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you). Littered throughout the book are marvelously detailed black and white illustrations to enthrall the imaginations of children and adults alike. A glorious book that I cannot recommend highly enough. *****
Author: Jerry Camery-Hoggatt
Title - When Mother Was Eleven Foot Four
A little boy is constantly puzzled by his mother's oft-repeated assertion that she can be eleven foot four when she needs to be, despite her shortness of stature. He knows it'd be handy at Christmas, when she extravagantly decorates a twelve foot tree! Christmas is a magic time for their family, until things change and he learns what it means to be eleven foot four and what Christmas means to the world, in part.
*** If you love the Charlie Brown Christmas story, then this is a tale that will warm your heart when you read it. It will also provide encouragement for those who mourn the lost magic at Christmas if that has been stolen from their hearts. ***
Author: Fox Carlton Hughes
Title - Rainbow Rhino
***** Author and Illustrator Fox Carlton Hughes has done a masterful job with this delightful children’s book. The eye-catching bold colors on the cover, and throughout every page in the book, are quite simply a visual treat and the lessons taught within the story are timeless. Our hero, Homer, is a little Rhino who has a big tusk – very big! In fact, it was outstandingly big! Because of that, Homer was teased by his playmates and spent a lot of time being sad.
One day, as the story goes on to tell, Homer sees and follows a rainbow to its end (because he loves rainbows), only to find that the rainbow was crying - splattering big, wet, rainbow tears all over Homer! It’s colors were brilliant and beautiful, as rainbow colors are supposed to be, so why was the rainbow so sad? Homer went over for a closer look. That’s when he saw the hole in the side of the rainbow and watched as those brilliant colors gushed out onto the ground. After thinking a moment or two, Homer knew exactly what to do. He jammed his oversized tusk into the hole with a powerful thud, stopping the leak immediately! The rainbow praised Homer and Homer was suddenly filled with a great self-confidence. He knew, way down inside his heart, that without his huge tusk the rainbow would have lost its colors before the Dew Fairies could have arrived to help him.
In the end, it was the change in Homer’s attitude toward himself that gave him some much needed confidence, and self-confidence is all any of us truly needs to be happy.
This is a wonderful story for small children and teaches some amazing lessons. Highly recommended reading. *****
Author: Emma Perry Roberts
Illustrated by: Robert Rogalski
Title - Mrs. Murphy’s Marvelous Mansion
There is a Very Finest Neighborhood Contest coming up that the citizens of Mrs. Murphy’s community hope to win! After all, isn’t their neighborhood the most perfect neighborhood of all? As soon as word of the contest spread, the people gathered to chat about the many novel ideas they could come up with to beautify their street and win the prize. During their conversations, they decided to make certain additions, such as: a large welcome sign, new lamp posts, trees, flowers, park benches, a fountain and perhaps even a statue in the circle. As they stood about making their grand plans (with great confidence too), Mrs. Murphy opened the door of her tiny, and quite peculiar looking, little house to walk her dog (Pickles). Suddenly, all the planning came to a screeching halt! They had forgotten about Mrs. Murphy’s house.
Now, of course, Mrs. Murphy is a pleasant enough person, but the neighbors knew they would never win this contest with HER house in THEIR neighborhood. It must be pointed out here that none of them had ever been INSIDE Mrs. Murphy’s tiny and peculiar looking house, but they certainly knew what it would look like on the inside because they could judge THAT by the outside. Isn’t that right? Can’t the inside be judged by what the outside looks like?
Come along and laugh with a delighted Mrs. Murphy as she gently turns the tables on these fine folks by inviting them to lunch INSIDE her house. Cheer with her as she politely (if maybe a bit gleefully) leads them from one grand room to another, as the house seems to grow before their very eyes! By the time the tour and lunch is over, the neighbors fully understand that it is not what something (or someone) looks like on the OUTSIDE that counts. It is the surprises held on the INSIDE that makes all the difference.
***** As parents, don’t we all want our children to accept people by their characters (insides) instead of their outward appearances? If that is indeed the case, then Mrs. Murphy’s Marvelous Mansion is an extraordinary tool and even the youngest child will grasp its lessons. The illustrations are whimsical and filled with bold color, but they also hold many tiny surprises for children to search out – which only adds to my excitement about this book. I truly enjoyed every word! This is exactly what I have come to expect from Illumination Arts Publishing. *****
Author: John M. Thompson & George M. Schultz
Illustrated by: Wodin
Title - Just Imagine
How lucky are the children in this wondrous and magical story! As you begin to experience this book, you will immediately notice the beautifully illustrated loving hands. I know they are LOVING hands because they always have the children cupped in one hand and sheltered with the other as they embark on many flights of fancy. In that trusting environment, these children are empowered to allow their imaginations to run free with no limitations because they are always surrounded by love and nestled in safety.
Whether their fantasies send them on a magical trip to the moon, or allow them to explore the swamps and the seas in their very own boat, they find that they can, without apprehension, do anything they can fantasize. How wonderful that feeling of safety must be and how glorious each adventure becomes! From the vantage point of their tree house or the gentle motion of their special swing, these children can still dream, and they can become, whatever they dare to dream. What an idyllic childhood…
***** This gloriously illustrated book from Illumination Arts, is more than just a story; it is a life lesson. Within its wildly colorful pages, every child will understand one fundamental truth - that they only need to be able to picture themselves accomplishing their dreams to truly achieve their dreams.
Enchantment, fun, and challenging experiences await all children who venture into the pages of Just Imagine.
For your convenience you may read more about, or purchase this book, from Amazon by clicking HERE!
Author: Deborah Jackson
Title: Time Meddlers
(Ages 8 and up)
Sarah Sachs is in the sixth grade. She and her dad moved from large Toronto to small Ottawa. As Sarah walks to her new school she is surprised to see a boy walk into the street without checking for oncoming vehicles. Her surprise turns into the first of many shocks when Sarah watches the skidding vehicle drive completely through the boy as if he was not there! This is how Sarah makes her first, though reluctant, friend Matt Barnes.
Professor Nathan Barnes is a famous scientist who has been missing since Matt's birth. Matt lives with his dad's assistant, Nadine, who is nice to him only when the public is looking. Matt wants nothing more than to know if his father is really alive somewhere or not. Sarah and Matt dive head-long into researching the answer.
The duo end up locating a machine that Dr. Barnes created for traveling into different eras. Before they know it, Sarah and Matt are dropped into the year 1615. Worse, they are in the middle of a war between the Algonquin and Iroquois notions. Knowing their own history, Matt wants to be a peace negotiator and halt the upcoming battles. This would save many lives. However, Sarah is not sure that Matt's idea is a good one since it could very well change history as they know it. If history changes, so will the future.
***** An extremely well done story that will have you rethinking your ideas on quantum theories. Though the tale involves multiple universes and the possibility of time travel, it is told in such a way that kids as young as the age of eight can easily understand everything. The book is recommended by the publisher for children between ages eight and twelve. However, I believe that young adults (teens) will highly enjoy the story as well.
The back of the book is filled with a short glossary, discussions for reading groups, and even some activities that could be done in the classroom. This novel is so exciting that kids will probably not even realize how much they are learning. Excellent! *****
Author: Heidi Cole & Nancy Vogl
Illustrated by: Gerald Purnell
Title - Am I a color Too?
This story points out the confusion of a child who was born from two people of different races. By some of the people who know them, this child’s mother is described as being white while his dad is described as being black, and therein lies the problem. When the child looks at himself, he doesn’t know exactly WHAT he is. There just doesn’t seem to be a word for his color, and color must be the most important thing since that is all he has heard about his parents. The whole problem here seems to be that people who know them don’t describe his parents as kind, smart, caring, loving, etc. They choose to take note of ONLY their color, leaving the child in a sort of nothingness since there isn’t a color that fits him - although there is SO much more than color to take note of in any person.
***** To me, Am I a Color Too points out that we should all strive to be absolutely colorblind and that we should resist putting color labels on people. Why? Because all people are human beings, and they should be judged ONLY by their deeds.
I hope that this beautifully illustrated book will help to teach the oneness of all people to parents everywhere. If that happens, the parents can then teach the wonderful concept of being colorblind to their children, thereby stopping the cycle of only seeing and describing people by what their color is on the outside.
This is a wonderful book to enjoy with your child. It is a moving and poignant story that could possibly affect change for a whole generation. Wouldn’t that be awesome? *****
Author: Victor James Owner
Illustrated by: H. J. Grimes
Title - Why Am I?!
“Up in the clouds and way past the trees, Little Star bounced across a Breeze…”
The opening lines of this book tell us how Little Star began his adventure as he set out to discover his purpose in life.
This delightful book follows Little Star’s quest for his special identity. As luck would have it, the answer he seeks comes from some unique friends he meets along the way. These friends include Breeze, Morning Dew, RainDrop, Mr. Puddle, Suzie the bee, Mrs. Buttercup and even Larry the rat. Each of these friends has his own special reason for being, and, through their wisdom, Little Star soon finds his own place.
The rhythm of the verses in this story is contagious and the illustrations are brilliantly created with characters that are especially whimsical and enchanting. As an added plus, children cannot help but notice the different expressions that flit across Little Star’s face as his new friends counsel him. These range from fear and annoyance to wonder, acceptance, and finally to joy as he finds his true place in the universe.
***** Cuddle up with your child and begin a conversation with them about their own special place as you read Little Star’s question - Why Am I?! *****
Author: K.G. McAbee, J.A. Johnson
Title - The Dark Legacy
(Bk 1: Crystal Staircase series)
Ten-year-old Noel Macgregor and his twelve-(almost thirteen) year-old sister, Holli, move with their parents from a small apartment in Pennsylvania to a house in South Carolina. Their Great-Uncle Enoch transferred ownership of the house to their dad a couple of months before disappearing. He even paid two servants, Harriet and Hiram Colleton, a year in advance so they would stay on. But this house is actually a huge mansion with lots of land. The beach is only a few miles away. No neighbors can be seen even if they stand up on the widow's walk. There is even a large maze in the backyard.
Noel loves to read and is excited that Enoch left him some old journals. One of the journals is from the pirate who originally built the house, Captain Ambrose Craven. Holli loves to sketch. Enoch left her some expensive brushes. All the walls are covered with fantastic paintings that seem to actually live! The pair are excited to note that several of the paintings are of the Captain. Yet none of the paintings show his right side.
Great-Uncle Enoch insisted that all the paintings be burned and the crystal staircase destroyed. But no one knows of a crystal staircase and some of the paintings are VERY old. No one wants to destroy them.
Things get really creepy when one of the journals talks about walking through paintings into a different time and place. Noel, Holli, and their chubby lab, G-bert, soon find the journal is correct. But by then they are stuck in another place that resembles their normal South Carolina area. But many things are different as well. For one thing, G-bert can actually talk a bit and the siblings will meet various talking animals. To return home, they must get inside the mansion of Captain Craven and go through another painting. Problem is that Captain Craven is alive and as cruel as a pirate could be. Worse, Captain Craven's minions, living skeletons, are after them.
***** W-O-W! This new series is good for ages ten to adult. Noel is the main character so the story comes from his point-of-view. The authors made the characters believable. I could easily imagine them as being the new people in town. The dog, G-bert, adds humor and a bit of warmth to the tale. Scattered throughout the book are illustrations, compliments of Jim Johnson. This added fuel to my imagination. If the rest of the series is as great as this first novel, the authors will be on the Best Sellers list in the near future. *****
Author: W. Royce Adams
Title - Richard of Rairarubia
(Bk 6 Rairarubia series / Grades 3-6)
The dreaded Mammoth has been destroyed; however, Einaem has come to power as the Drahcir of Ruulako. In revenge for his father's death and his own disfigurement, Einaem has kidnapped Katherine, Romey's and Sam's youngest daughter. As ransom, Einaem demands Molly, Netty, and Tunnelsuit be turned over to him within three days.
To save his sister, Richard captures Molly and Netty. He takes them through a blue forest, a cave filled with deadly riddles and traps, and finally to a temple where time stands still. The temple is a meeting place of all the Oracles of known dimensions. Since the girls have been forbidden to ever return to Rairarubia (previous book) the Oracles hope to clone the girls and send Einaem the copies. But the girls must willingly consent to the idea or all is lost.
***** I found this to be an excellent grand finale for the award-winning fantasy-adventure series. I hate to see the stories end as I have come to enjoy these precious characters. I can only hope the author, W. Royce Adams, will begin a new fantasy series. This six book tale is PERFECT for kids in third - sixth grades. Short chapters, easy to read and understand, and full of adventure. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Dave Keane
Title - The Haunted Toolshed
(Case #1 of Joe Sherlock / Ages 7-10 Grades 2-5)
Joe Sherlock and his family live on Baker Street. The boy is well named since he has a natural talent for solving mysteries. Joe already knows he will be a detective when he grows up. He has watched all the mystery movies he could find, especially all the ones featuring Sherlock Holmes. In this tale, Joe gets his very first case.
Mr. Asher is one of the Sherlock family's neighbors. He lives on the end of Baker Street. One night he arrives at the Sherlocks' home and practically begs Joe to take his case. There are strange noises coming from Mr. Asher's toolshed and things are disappearing. Joe's mom is out of town, but his dad is home. Dad is in bed sick. He has gout in his big toe and can't walk. Dad agrees to let Joe go out to help Mr. Asher, but Joe has to be home by nine o'clock.
Hailey is Joe's little sister and wants to help. She even packs Joe a mystery kit, filled with everything he might need. Jessie is the older sister. All she seems to do is roll her eyes, make fun of Joe, and talk on the phone to all her friends.
Can Joe help Mr. Asher find the missing items? Can he figure out what is making all the horrible and scary noises? But most importantly, can Joe solve the case before nine o'clock?
***** Joe Sherlock is a fabulous new series for young kids from HarperCollins Children's Books. I could not be more pleased with it either! There are 26 chapters in the first book. Each chapter is only a few pages in length. Littered throughout the book are illustrations that will tickle the imagination of all kids. That is not all, HarperCollins online has a section for kids that will tell all about the new Joe Sherlock series. You may even find a game or two at times. Be sure to add it to your "favorites" list on the computer and check back often. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Dave Keane
Title - The Neighborhood Stink
(Joe Sherlock #2 / Ages 7-10 Grades 2-5)
Joe Sherlock and his family live on Baker Street. The boy is well named since he has a natural talent for solving mysteries. Joe already knows he will be a detective when he grows up. He has watched all the mystery movies he could find, especially all the ones featuring Sherlock Holmes. This is his second case.
After solving his first case about Mr. Asher's haunted toolshed, Joe has a reputation in his neighborhood for solving mysteries. This time Joe is to help Mrs. Fefferland, who lives across the street, find out which dog is pooping on her gated front lawn. Yes, she has a pound of poop polluting her precious piece of land!
Hailey, Joe's little sister, is ready to lend a helping hand. Problem with little sisters is that they embarrass their older brothers, such as shouting to his classmate, Sharon Sheldon, that Joe likes her! Jessie, his older sister, is never any help. This time is no different.
Joe is on the case, sniffing out clues (when he is not stepping in them that is). Who knew that there were so many dogs in the area? There are big ones, small ones, mean ones, and nice ones. But how could a dog possibly get through Mrs. Fefferland's gate and into her yard? And can he crack the case before dinner?
***** This is the second case for Joe. Joe Sherlock is a fabulous new series for young kids from HarperCollins Children's Books. There are 24 chapters in this book. Each chapter is short and full of wonderful illustrations that kids will love. The story is written in words easy for kids to understand. This is a fun way to help kids learn to read. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Dan A. Peterson
Title - Fergus: The Soccer-Playing Colt (Ages 8 - 15)
Fergus was a very interesting horse. He could do summersaults and back flips. Bobby liked Fergus very much. One day Bobby tossed a soccer ball at Fergus and Fergus kicked it back. That started Fergus playing soccer.
Before they knew it Fergus was on TV. Everybody wanted to see Fergus. Awhile later Fergus was on a promotional tour for soccer. Fergus went all over the US so people could see him be a goal keeper. Something goes very wrong on a beach in Florida when someone steals Fergus. The police and Bobby try to find Fergus, but he is very far away. Will they find Fergus? Read the book to find out.
***** I enjoyed this book very much. It has very good plot twists in it. I also enjoyed this book because it is a very interesting story. If you like horses make sure that you read this book. *****
Author: Demian Elaine Yumei
Illustrated by: Nicole Tamarin
Title - Little Yellow Pear Tomatoes
What a thought provoking book! As I read this story, I soon realized that my thinking about growing plants had been very wrong. I have always thought about seeds as containing everything needed to grow a plant - any plant. Isn’t that what children everywhere are told? Some well meaning person holds up a tiny seed for a child’s eyes to behold and patiently explains that the seed, no matter how diminutive it may seem, does indeed hold everything it needs to grow into its own type of vegetation. Of course, these are well meaning instructors who are simply trying to help children understand the miracle that is held inside even the tiniest seed, and what they say is true – but there is so much more!
Now, inside the pages of this beautifully illustrated book, we find a thoughtful child who not only looks at seeds as miraculous, but also understands that many other things are necessary for those seeds to produce fruit. That means there must be many things inside the little yellow pear tomatoes that helped them become the unique fruit that they are.
As we turn the pages of this book, we enter the mind of a little girl as she sits in her garden thinking about those little yellow pear tomatoes that she loves so well. She notes the difference between these tomatoes and other tomatoes – and there are many differences. Then she thinks about how her daddy and mommy help them to grow, how the sun and rain help them to grow, and even how the bugs and worms help them to grow. Are all these things now inside the little yellow pear tomatoes? Could the tomatoes grow without them?
***** As the story continues, children will learn to think about all the people, things, and situations that must be present in order for a little yellow pear tomato to mature. I enjoyed this story tremendously, and highly recommend it for all children. I think I can also guarantee that they will never again look at a seed (or a tomato) in the same way. *****
Author: Travis Griffith
Illustrated by: Raquel Abreu
Title - Your Father Forever
It’s about time there was a book, as lovingly written as this one is, about fathers sharing special times with their children. Reading a story about loving mothers and grandparents guiding, laughing, and participating in their children’s lives is commonplace, but now (within the pages of this book), our children can also realize that a daddy or father can have the same warm feelings.
As the story moves along, the reader will completely understand the many ways in which a daddy enjoys and helps his children when they are small as well as when they grow and meet life’s difficult challenges. As the illustrations suggest, a daddy can tuck you in at bedtime, read stories, kiss away tears, play outside on warm spring days, and so much more. That’s what a daddy does!
***** Nearing the end of the story, we soon come to realize that children will inevitably grow up and away and that life will lead them to many places. When that happens - and a playful loving daddy is not a necessity - it is important to understand and remember that a loving father will always be there - waiting to help them and guide them at any time and at any age. Thus the statement – “I will be your father…forever.” *****
Author: David Korr
Illustrated by: Nancy W. Stevenson
Title - ABC Toy Chest (Sesame Street)
This book is terrific for beginners. It stars Herry, a blue muppet. Herry is looking for something in his toy chest. Each page shows Herry pulling something out of the chest. It begins with the letter A, as Herry pulls out an accordion, and continues until every letter of the alphabet has been shown.
Every page has a colorful picture that small children will enjoy as you read to them. Simple sentences accompany the illustrations to help children learn to sound out words and read.
***** This book has been around for years now and has been reprinted more than once. You may be able to find it in a used book store. However, I suggest you go ahead and purchase it new. Children love the Sesame Street's books. It WILL be read over and over. If you get it used, chances are good that you will have to get a second copy. Very educational. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Sea Switch (Strange Encounters #3)
Cassie Strange sure does live up to her name! Strange things always seem to happen to her and her siblings. Her friends often find themselves mixed up in mayhem as well. Her dad has a TV show dedicated to proving myths, legends, and such as fakes. This time Cassie is off to a beach in Oregon to clean up the beach and for her dad to prove that mermaids do not exist. A Ripley's museum in that area claims to have the remains of one.
Cassie's best friend, Rosalie, is along for the adventure. Rosalie, unlike Cassie, is a tomboy. She LIVES for sports, any type, any time. Rosalie and Cassie could not BE any closer to each other even if they were sisters. However, Rosalie makes a new friend at the beach, Georgia, who is also a tomboy. Needless-to-say, Cassie and Georgia dislike each other on sight! Both want all of Rosalie's time. So when Rosalie went off briefly with Georgia, Cassie went sulking down the beach. That is how she meets Galena.
Galena is a real mermaid, but there is nothing sweet about her. Galena magically tricks Cassie into switching bodies. Now Galena is off with Cassie's friends and family on land, while poor Cassie is in a mermaid's body away from all those she holds dear. Worse yet, Galena is a criminal. Since Cassie is in Galena's body, she is arrested and facing charges for all of mean Galena's crimes! Cassie must somehow convince Galena's friends, as well as her own brother and Rosalie, that she is really Cassie in Galena's body. Then they must trick Galena into switching bodies again. And during it all, Cassie and her new mer-friends must avoid getting captured by humans.
***** "Superior!" This story could be no better. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It certainly shows that you should be careful what you wish for. I really liked the fact that the author included "Sea Monkeys" in the tale! I used to have some as pets years ago. They are making a come back and many sites are selling them again. As always, author Linda Joy Singleton continues to shine! Wonderful book. Excellent series. *****
Adapted By: J. Colby
Illustrated by: John Kurtz
Title - Sebastian's Story (Little Mermaid)
This is Walt Disney's version of "The Little Mermaid". It follows the animated movie. However, this small book is told by Sebastian the Crab's point-of-view.
***** If you have readers in your family that are ready to go a step above the "beginner's" stage, then this book is just PERFECT. It has colorful pages that help bring the story to life and fire up the imagination. It would make an excellent birthday or Christmas present for young girls. *****
Author: Julie McNally
Illustrated by: Timothy Cahill
Title - Silent Knight (Looney Tunes)
Sir Elmer of Fudd has finished battling a two-headed dragon and is exhausted. He is due to battle another dragon in the morning. It is already late in the evening so he goes to a local hotel and requests the most quiet room. What he did not expect is for his new squire, Daffy Duck, to enter the room. There goes all hope of silence!
**** Elmer Fudd's dialogue is written phonetically, so smaller children will have problems reading this story. However, all children LOVE the Looney Tunes so you simply cannot go wrong by picking up a copy of this tale to read at bed time. A funny and charming read! ****
Author: Judy Mahoney
Title - Teach Me ... Italian
This says it is for ages 2-12. However, I do not care how old you are. I'm in my thirties and I am loving this thing! I always wanted to learn some Italian, French, Chinese, German, and Spanish. Oh, not fluently. Just so I can say that I know "some". Thanks to this, I can now sing in Italian. It does not matter if you want to learn a little bit, "some", or become fluent. This small work/coloring book and CD combination is the perfect way to begin.
Now, about those children aged 2-12 years ... Let us say you live in America and have kids. They are going to learn English in school. However, you are proud of your family heritage and want your kids to learn that language too. Then I am here to tell you that you have GOT to give this a try!
This "Teach Me" book teaches Italian in a way kids can enjoy, through song and coloring. There are twenty children's songs on the CD. Between songs a young child speaks in Italian. Every single uttered word is in the book, so you can follow along. If you do not recognize a tune, then look in the back of the book. Everything is translated to English for you. Turn the CD on and let your kids color in the work book. Each page is made with children in mind and they beg to be colored. Here is a tip for you, make copies of the pages. This way your children may color to their hearts' content. It is also perfect for home schooling.
Here are just a few of the songs you will hear on the CD:
Are You Sleeping?
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
The Wheels on the Car
Author: Jim Kaserman & Sarah Jane Kaserman
Title - How the Pirates Saved Christmas
This tale is set in the year 1778, during the American Revolution. A shipload of pirates, serving the 13 original American Colonies as Privateers, help bring Christmas to Savannah, Georgia, before the British invasion. The book is mainly told from a young boy's view. The two youngest crew members, and Lucky (the ship's dog mascot), teach kids American history in such a way that they never realize they are soaking up information.
The authors tell the difference between Pirates and Privateers, as well as, the difference between Loyalists and Patriots. The crew rescues a white dolphin, engage in combat, rescue a lady and her daughter, and even bring the Christmas spirit to Savannah. Kids of today can see how the kids of yesterday lived day-to-day. They will even learn about cobblestones!
***** The captain is an intelligent white man who actually cares for his crew and their safety. There is a black officer who offers a glimpse into what is going on with African Americans during that time. There are some very well done illustrations throughout the book to help children visualize the events as they unfold. All-in-all, the story has a little bit of just about everything and will entertain (and quietly teach) kids much about life in the late 1700's. Highly recommended reading. *****
Author: Dan A. Peterson
Title - Fergus: The Soccer-Playing Colt (Ages 8 - 15)
Simpson Farms raises polo ponies. But one of the colts, named Fergus, has zero interest in polo. Fergus spent the days doing somersaults and back flips. Bobby Simpson is the boy who owns Fergus.
One day Bobby is practicing soccer moves with his friend, Ramon Aguilar, when he notices Fergus's interest. As a lark, the boys send t he soccer ball toward the colt. Sure enough, Fergus sends the ball right back to them. Turns out Fergus is a natural for the position of goalkeeper. Local residents begin coming around to watch Fergus play soccer. Word spreads and soon the media is involved.
It is not long before Ian Conner with the International Soccer Federation has the boys and the colt on a national tour. They play soccer in famous places, such as at the Chicago Diamond, Ohio Stadium, Foxboro Stadium, Tampa Stadium, and even the Giants Stadium. Fergus's name becomes known all over the globe.
In steps Rumble Smith, a rodeo stockman with a mean temper. He and Reiterate Johnson make plans to kidnap Fergus from the tour.
***** This book may target boys, but girls will enjoy this story just as much. I found myself smiling as I read of Fergus's antics. The frolicking colt is just so fun to read about. He is amazing! There are a few illustrations scattered throughout the tale to help boost the imagination. I could clearly see that the Illustrators drew in some tiny details too.
All-in-all, you will find this the perfect read for kids around the ages of 8 to 15. Well written, easy to understand and follow, and highly recommended! *****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Last Dance
(The Seer, Book 2 / Teen, Psychic Mystery)
Sabine Rose is still getting used to her psychic powers. She has managed to hide her powers from her boyfriend, Josh, and her closest friends. She hopes they will never find out either. She would hate to be labeled as a freak. Sabine is living with her grandmother, Nona, and a boy named Dominic. Dominic has a way with animals. He is able to communicate with them. Nona has sort of adopted Dominic and is helping him understand his abilities.
When Nona becomes ill, Sabine is desperate to help her. Family history says that others have been plagued with the same thing Nona is going through. The cure, an herbal potion, has been written down within an old book and has been past down from mother to daughter. However, the death of Nona's great-great-grandmother (Agnes) caused it to disappear. Agnes had four daughters but they ended up being separated. Each daughter kept a charm from Agnes. The charms would reveal the location of the hidden book. Nona gave her charm to Sabine.
With help, Sabine located one of Agnes's decedents. Thorn, Sabine's Goth friend, drives Sabine out to Pine Peaks to talk to this long lost relative. While they are there, they will stay with Thorn's Aunt Deb and Uncle Charles. Sabine wants nothing more than to concentrate on helping Nona, but a ghost has been entering Sabine's dreams seeking help. It just so happens that the ghost, Chloe, died in Pine Peaks about fifty years ago. In fact, the entire town celebrates Chloe's death every October! People from across the nation drive all the way to Pine Peaks, California, in hopes of seeing Chloe's ghost on stormy nights. The town is packed with tourists and media.
Chloe is one determined ghost and guides Sabine to learn the truth of why she died, who was involved, and how to set her free. But someone in town does not want the truth to be known. Someone who would kill to keep the world from learning what happened all those years ago.
***** As usual, Linda Joy Singleton seems to know exactly how to send chills down the spine of her reader! The characters are unusual and I found these teens with special abilities to be engrossing. You will have a hard time putting this book down. Expect to lose a few hours of sleep as the story gets more intense with each turn of the pages. Excellent! *****
Author: Judy Mahoney, Anne Mahoney
Title: Teach Me French Spiritual Songs: Compact Disc (Audio CD)
Wow! What a find for parents of preschool (and older) children! This Teach Me French Spiritual Songs Compact Disc contains twenty-one songs, and is packaged with a workbook containing all the words to every song – in French. Then, in the back of the workbook, you will find the words also written in English.
Having this workbook will make all the difference for children who experience this CD. It is very similar to a child’s color-book, and would provide children everywhere with hours of coloring fun as they listen and learn another language. Using the workbook, children who have learned to read will be able to follow the words of each song, as well as the conversations of two young characters, Marie and Pierre, as they talk to each other and their friends. The conversations of Marie, Pierre, and their friends are written in the same way that a play is written, making it very easy to listen and follow along with their words. In addition, there are pictures of Marie and Pierre to color, as well as many other pictures depicting scenes of campfires, Vacation Bible School, Sunday school, and many others.
***** This 28-page book and 60-minute audio also features authentic singers and speakers, allowing a child to effectively master the correct pronunciation of the new language.
I can think of no better way to introduce a new language to a young child than through the use of this new Teach Me offering – French Spiritual Songs. *****
Author: Jenna Glatzer
Illustrated by Monica Kendall
Title: Hattie, Get A Haircut! (Ages 4-8)
Here is a story book that children will plead to be read over and over. It is about a little girl named Hattie. Hattie has never had her hair cut before. Her hair is getting very long. Hattie's mom said that she would take Hattie to get her hair cut the next day. But Hattie did not want to go.
Hattie goes to sleep. When she wakes up her mother takes her to the beauty shop. Hattie rebels and runs out the door. Suddenly, Hattie's hair begins to magically grow quickly. Hattie learns how irritating, and sometimes dangerous, hair too long can be.
The tale is beautifully illustrated in vivid colors. Keep an eye on Hattie's teddy bear. Your child will enjoy watching the bear's face mimic Hattie's. Kids will love seeing animals do things with Hattie's long tresses, such as the bird building a nest in it.
***** This book is also perfect to help children build their reading skills. Simple words, easy to read, and amusing to all readers. Highly recommended! *****
Author: W. Royce Adams
Title - Jay (Teen Fiction)
Jay Thornton is sixteen-years-old. When his mom died, Jay knew he would be put in a foster home. Fear of the unknown had him running away instead. Jay "catches out" on a freight train thinking he would live the romantic hobo lifestyle, foot loose, free, and no one to tell him what to do. Instead, Jay discovers constant physical dangers, the fear of being caught by train gangs or the police, hunger, and facing the elements.
He joins another young man, only slightly older, who goes by the alias Liberty Two. As Jay slowly learns the life of the hobo, he does much thinking. Will he remain a hobo and merge into its hard lifestyle? Or will he return to the town he lived in and see if a foster home could give him a chance of a better life?
***** This is the sequel to a previous teen novel titled "Me & Jay". You do not have to read the first to enjoy this one though. This book begins two years after the previous book ended. Watching Jay, as his travels went along, gave me a glimpse into a subculture that I never dreamed existed. This story is a real eye opener. Though the story is fiction, the names in the book are real. The author lived this life for a time (and has the scar to prove it, according to the Forward in the book). Therefore, the author's experience allowed realism to shine through in his writing. I recommend both books, but this one is the best of the two, in my opinion. *****
Author: Terri Cohlene
Illustrated by Doug Keith
Title: Something Special
This is truly an adorable and thought-provoking tale for small children. It tells the story of an inquisitive little frog who lives near a castle moat. One day when his tiny black eyes were peeping above the water, he saw a very colorful royal gift box that sent his imagination soaring. He knew it definitely contained something special – but what could it be?
As children turn the pages of this vividly illustrated book, they begin a fantastic journey with the little frog as he searches for clues about the contents of the gift box. Their pilgrimage will take them high into a beanstalk where a caterpillar is happily munching along. There in that beanstalk they learn that the gift in the box can say, “Hello.” Later, on a sailboat with the wind billowing the sails, they learn that the gift in the box can be blown. As each new clue is discovered, they can ponder what the frog thinks the gift is by watching the many expressions on his scrunched up face. It can warm you. It can be planted. It can be thrown. What can this something special be? In the end, children will discover what the gift is, and they will come to realize that this magical gift is no good at all until you give it away.
***** The illustrations in this book are stunning and the attention to the smallest detail is remarkable – like the tiny black ant that is pushing a snowball and wearing a red scarf around his neck. The act of turning each page opens another part of the little frog’s color filled world to delight children everywhere. Even the cover has immediate eye appeal. Green vines twist and twine themselves around the page to form each letter of the title, Something Special, and most children won’t fail to notice the miniature snail and dragonfly who are also doing their part. When you couple that expressive script along with the little green frog’s smiling face and curious eyes, what could be a more captivating and picturesque scene?
This is an enchanting book, and is highly recommended for bedtime reading. *****
Author: Hank Wesselman, Ph.D.
Illustrated by Raquel Abreu
Title: Little Ruth Reddingford And The Wolf
Most young children will remember the story of Little Red Ridinghood, and how shivery and on edge they felt when the big bad wolf came along. I know I certainly do. Therefore, when I saw this updated version of the story, I knew it would be well understood by the children of today, because it relates Red's misadventures in the forest to the bullying issues of today's generation. As an added plus, this version blends in traditions from this Red's Native American heritage.
In Hank Wesselman's story, Red's parents must work on Saturdays and Red always gets to spend that time with her grandmother. Of course, the grandmother usually picks Red up in the car, but on this Saturday, the car won't start and Grandmother can't come. Because she was more than a little disappointed, Red decided to pack a goodie-bag and surprise her grandmother with a visit by taking the shortcut through the woods. The items she put in the bag included (among other things) granola bars and apples.
This story is interesting because the big bad wolf of the original story is replaced by two bullies (Spike and Butch) from Red's school who harass her, and the wolf seems to be a shadow guardian who is following along to protect Red whenever necessary. Spike and Butch are nervy bullies too, because they chase Red right on into Grandmother's house. Spike even shoved Red through the front door and right into the living room! That's when Grandmother really shows her stuff - complete with Hopi throwing sticks! (That part made me want to cheer!) Those two bullies were falling all over themselves and our magical white wolf even nipped old Spike right in the seat of his pants - adding insult to injury. Of course, Red also dialed 911 and everyone waited for the police to arrive.
The story doesn't end there. Oh no, there is much more to this tale with lessons to be learned, introductions to be made, and a Native American heritage to be claimed. You haven't seen the last of the white wolf either.
***** People who think this is just another retelling of a classic story are in for a major surprise when they read this book. As you turn each page, the illustrations are eye catching and colorful and they depict the story's action step-by-step, adding depth and enjoyment to the tale - leaving nothing to the imagination. So throw out any preconceived ideas about Little Red Ridinghood and get ready for great adventure in a modern day setting with believable people. *****
Author: Diane Thompson
Title: Oliver's Castle And Other Stories
Oliver is a cat that lives in a normal, but poor, home with a woman who truly cares for him. Even though the woman is not rich, her love makes Oliver feel as though he lives with a queen.
Simon And The Fly
Simon is a frog who would rather play than catch flies. Others thought Simon was afraid of flies or was unable to catch any. When Simon met a fly named Kirby, a special friendship bloomed.
Bogey, Snitch, And Al
Bogey is a puppy. He and his mommy live in a nice home with the Daltons. Since Bogey has no memories of being homeless he does not know of outside dangers such as speeding cars and the dog pound. He is about to learn though.
Ardy's Christmas Lesson
When Ardy's mother asked him to deliver boxes of homemade cookies to their neighbors as gifts, he agreed. But the smell of those cookies was so tempting. Even though the cookies did not belong to him, Ardy thought it would not hurt for him to have just a few.
***** This is a collection of four stories by author Diane Thompson. Each story is written in a simple way so younger readers can easily read to themselves. The stories are fun and full of adventure. They will capture the attention and imagination of children, as well as their parents'. Kids may not even realize that they are learning important morals that will ensure them a better future. Highly recommended. *****
Author: Heidi Charissa Schmidt
Illustrated by Mary Gregg Byrne
Title: Too Many Murkles
This is a story about smelly little creatures, known as Murkles, and the people of Summerville. It explains how a young girl taught the people (grownups included) to cope with the unknown.
Every year at the same time, the Murkles tried to enter the tiny village of Summerville. This day had come to be known as the dreaded Day of the Murkles, and all the people of the village gathered at the river to prevent the Murkles from entering. Every year the Murkles tried to enter, and every year they were forcefully turned away by the well-meaning people. What was the problem with allowing the Murkles to enter the village? Well, not only were they different, but they also smelled bad! No one knew why the diminutive creatures kept coming back every year - and no one wanted to find out.
Then one day a little girl named Juliana knelt down and looked into the eyes of a baby Murkle and made a huge decision that changed her village forever. She stepped aside and allowed the baby to wriggle past when no one was looking. Juliana knew that being different was not a good reason to ostracize the Murkles.
As this story unfolds, Juliana persuades the mayor to allow all the Murkles to make their journey through the village by promising him that something wonderful would happen if he did. The mayor finally agreed to heed Juliana's words, because there were too many Murkles to hold back anyway. So, the stinky Murkles soon waddled through the streets, frolicked in a small pond, and sunned themselves on the rocks. After they did these things, the heavenly odor of orange blossoms filled the air, and the townspeople were amazed - but this was only the beginning of many changes for the small village. Of course, as could be anticipated, every change brought moans and groans of woe from the people because they always expected calamity. Then, when each change turned into something wonderful, they became excited again. It was in this manner that Juliana's promise to the mayor was finally fulfilled and all the townspeople learned to withhold judgments, stop being afraid, and embrace differences and change.
From the scarlet Firestars, that strangely appear on the villagers' perfect lawns, to the odd looking birds (known as Tanzas) that swoop down to snatch those Firestars - bright colors leap from this book's pages. Each scene is perfectly pictured and could almost tell the entire story to a small child, but that eye-appeal is not the only thing that makes this book special. The many lessons that are so subtly taught by a child named Juliana also make it special - as well as extraordinary.
***** What a charming story, and what a wonderful way to allow a child's mind to see things in a different way - without fear. This is highly recommended reading. *****
Author: Christine Rohlic Ojeda
Illustrated by Kendra Tucker
Title: The Enchanted Storm
(Ages 8-12 years / Release Date = Late Jan. 2005)
Nine-year-old Betsy Moore and her mother live alone on Cherry Blossom Lane. They wake up one morning to find the whole world almost deserted of life and a hard storm blowing. Jimmy, the ten-year-old neighbor and Betsy's best friend, is the only person that seems left around. Like Betsy, Jimmy only has his mother, but she seems to be in a trance and disappears without a trace. Betsy, her mother, and Jimmy gather at the Moore house to find a hole in the floor of the guest room. Their adventure begins when the trio falls down the hole and land in another world filled with beauty and magic.
A fairy meets the small group with kindness. Taking Mrs. Moore aside, the fairy shows her something after which she leaves willingly to an unknown destination. Betsy and Jimmy are informed that they are very special children. They are part of the written Prophecies that foretold of their coming. Only the two of them can save both worlds. They must make a journey to the top of the mountain where the river meets the sun. The journey is filled with pixies, gnomes, and other magical creatures. Some are good. Some are evil. With only a few magical items, given to them by creatures during their travel, and their own courage, Betsy and Jimmy hold the fate of two worlds in their hands.
**** Each chapter begins with an apt title and a lovely illustration to help set the mood of the story. It has a total of 108 pages. It is fast paces with various characters coming and going all the time. Kids ages eight to twelve should have no trouble keeping all the characters straight though. This is a delightful tale that even parents will enjoy. A great debut novel! ****
Author: Lynn Hall
Illustrated by Dave Henderson
Title: Shadows (Ages 8-12 years)
One week before Audrey Schultz's mother died the pair had a brief argument that ended with Audrey wishing her mother was dead. Now that it has happened, Audrey feels heavy guilt and grief. Her father, aunt, and uncle are also sad and are trying to make life without mom seem as normal as possible, but the guilt weighs heavy on Audrey's young shoulders.
Audrey lives in Bellevue, Nebraska. That is near Omaha. Since her mom died, Audrey has been walking along the railroad tracks to be alone. She knows it is wrong. Mom's rule was never to go there. Yet that was the place that made Audrey feel just a little better. Then one day out there she meets Shadows. He is a silvery-coated collie with eerie blue eyes, a blue merle collie. They become friends.
Shadows never lets Audrey touch him, he never comes around unless Audrey is alone, and he always gets scared and runs off whenever a train comes along the tracks. Audrey is certain the dog is real, but who does he belong to? No one seems to know. Then her uncle tells her about a collie just like Shadows who was killed by a train years before. Audrey begins to search for information on the dog that had been killed; however, not all the answers are logical ones.
**** This is a great chapter book for kids ages 8-12. Each chapter begins with a lovely illustration, enriched with tiny details. The only down side to the story, in my opinion, is that it ends too abruptly. I felt as though the last few pages were missing, but that was not the case. ****
Author: Douglas Evans
Illustrated by Larry Di Fiori
Title: The Classroom At The End Of The Hall
(Ages 5 - 9)
Enter W.T. Melon Elementary School and join the third-graders in the classroom at the end of the hall. Some very odd things happen in that special classroom. Mr. Leeks, the custodian, tells everyone who will listen that he hears noises coming from inside that room, even late at night. Once, Mr. Leeks was outside cleaning and looked through the classroom window only to see someone sitting at the teacher's desk! Mr. Leeks promises that he saw the ghost of W.T. Melon sitting there, plain as day, teaching an invisible class. Of course, that is impossible since Mr. Melon died over twenty years ago.
While you read about the third-graders in the classroom at the end of the hall, you will watch nine kids have some amazing things happen to them. For example, Roger is the class Pain-in-the-Neck. But after a visit from a dust genie that changes. Then there is Emily who is a very tidy girl, except for her desk. When a desk pest makes her desk his home, she changes her ways. Let us not forget Kenneth either. He finds reading to be difficult. But a magical book that tells the future makes reading a joy.
***** Nine tales grace this book's pages. Each story is accompanied by wondrous illustrations that will bring any young child's imagination to life. This is perfect as a first chapter book for pre-schoolers, if parents have been helping their child to read early. Most kids will be able to read it by first or second grade. Parents would do well to purchase this book and read one story (one chapter) to their children before putting them to bed. It not only makes for wonderful bed time tales, but also help the kids get an early start on reading. The stories are so delightful that children may ask for a story from this book, instead the normal ones. Very well done! Highly recommended! *****
Author:Janet Muirhead Hill
Title - Starlight Comes Home (Ages 9 and up.)
(November 2004. / Starlight Series, Bk 6)
Miranda Stevens turns thirteen, but her life does not slow down at all. If anything, it speeds up and gets more complicated. Miranda did not realize that two guys are attracted to her. Her thoughts are mainly on her horse, Starlight, and those closest to her. Miranda's mom is due to deliver another baby, Margot dreams of being adopted by the Stevens and feels unwanted, and there are two new kids at school.
Laurie's cousin, Rose Marie, comes to live with Laurie's family for awhile. Rose Marie is seventeen. She is always in trouble, wears dark make up, smokes, and hangs out with a bad crowd. Envious and jealous of Miranda, Rose Marie begins turning all the kids against Miranda, including her closest. No one seems to like Miranda anymore ... and then Starlight disappears!
***** This is an excellent ending to the series. Throughout the books, Miranda has grown up and matured, making complicated decisions as she went. She shows that no matter how bad things become, one must do the right thing and hope for the best. Eventually, events will come together.
In my opinion, this series will attract more than just the girls who love horses. Miranda is a great role model. She is so realistic that kids cannot help but relate to Miranda and her problems. At the same time, readers can follow Miranda during all her adventures. Outstanding! *****
Author: Mary Kay Thill
Title - Wablenica: Tale Of A Lakotah Orphan
(Young Adult Fiction / Grade 6 & Up)
"Rose" Marie Lamar lived in Chicago. At the age of eleven years, her mother died of cancer. Her father had died the previous year. The story opens up at the funeral of Rose's mom. Rose feels as though her life has shattered. She is now an orphan. She is sent to live with her Dad's Aunt Gloria in Iowa. Rose ends up struggling in several foster homes, none last long. Some people were good to her, others were bad.
A Lakotah guardian angel is sent by God to help Rose deal with all that is happening in her life. The angel is called Ruli (Running Under Lightning). With the help of Ruli and the heritage box Rose's mom left her, Rose begins to learn about her Native American family from the Pine Ridge reservation. These things go a long way in helping Rose through the foster homes.
During her last two foster homes, Rose attends the same school. In this school, Rose meets Megan Riley. They become close friends. The time Rose spends with Megan is wonderful and very special to both of the girls. Rose hopes that at the end of her long and lonely journey she will, somehow, find the new family she dreams of and a place to belong.
***** Anyone from age ten and up will find themselves enthralled with Rose and her strength as they read the tale of her hard journey. The book cleverly tells of the government systems, foster homes, and the harsh conditions, all the while entertaining the reader. It also gives much information on Native American heritage including ceremonies, some of the actual language, and traditions. You do not have to be Native American to enjoy this wonderful story. I am proud to highly recommend it to everyone! *****
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Title: Midnight For Charlie Bone
(Ages 7 - 15)
The mysterious powers of the legendary Red King have been passed down through his descendants. No one has been born with all of the Red King's powers; however, one or two of the powers (A.K.A. "gifts" and "endowments") turn up unexpectedly in someone who has no idea where they came from. Some of the people who receive a gift use it for good, some for evil. When a child is found who shows signs of having a power, they are sent to attend the Bloor's Academy.
Charlie Bone was a normal ten-year-old boy. His father has been dead most of his life, or so he and his mother thought. Living with them are both his grandmothers and Uncle Paton. Grandma Bone is snobby and loves to remind everyone that before she married Mr. Bone, she had been a Yewbeam. The Yewbeams were an ancient family, their history littered with artistic people who had more unusual talents. Charlie's family tolerates her only because the Bone family is so poor and Grandma Bone purchased everything for them, including the house. But Grandma Bone stayed close because Charlie's father had been one of those with powerful magic. Even though Charlie never showed signs of having a gift, it did not mean that one would not show up later. This is exactly what happened.
One morning Charlie looked at a photograph and could hear the thoughts of the people in it! Charlie is horrified, but Grandma Bone and his terrible aunts are delighted. This meant Charlie had to attend the Bloor's Academy during the week and only spend the weekends and holidays at home! Once there, Charlie makes a few friends and learns that some of his classmates have equally mysterious powers.
With his new talent, Charlie learns of a baby that had been adopted by mean people. The biological aunt had been searching for the baby girl for years. When Charlie and his friends find out that the girl is someone at the academy, the search is on! But the girl has no idea of her past, so the small team must figure out which student it is, how to bring back her memory, and help her escape her cruel guardians who want to use her powers for evil.
***** Think of this book as a type of Harry Potter for the younger kids. The book is broken down into titled chapters, a chapter book. The students do not learn spells and magic. They learn the same thing normal school kids are taught, but also how to hone their special talent(s). As in real life, good verses evil. Charlie and his friends have to decide what the right thing to do is, and then how to go about doing it, without the bad guys finding out and stopping them.
This seems to be the first of a series. The author, Jenny Nimmo, has written this book so that the story can stand alone, however, the reader is left with a few questions that may be addressed in future adventures with Charlie and his friends. I found this tale to be well written, with very good morals, and extremely entertaining. Highly recommended reading! *****
Author: Trisha Adelena Howell
Illustrated by Paul Lopez
Title: The Adventures Of Melon And Turnip
Once upon a time, two little friends, Melon and Turnip, lived an idyllic life in their garden paradise. They had warm sunshine to loll beneath, gentle breezes, and sparkling waters. They were strong and healthy, and life was good. But for Melon and Turnip something was missing. They both craved adventure – especially Turnip!
Finally, Turnip could stand it no more, so he spun his root out of the soil and enticed Melon to break free of her vine and join him as he set out to see the world. Melon was afraid, but she managed to conquer her fear, snap her vine, and tumble down the hill with Turnip. Thus begins the adventures of these two friends.
As you turn the pages of this book, you will be caught up in the vibrant illustrations, provided by Paul Lopez, that bring this imaginative story so vividly to life. Melon and Turnip are beautifully created, and the expressions on their faces leave no doubt about their feelings. How wonderful is that for a child?
You will ride joyously along with these two friends as they splash into the river to begin their journey. You will be engrossed with them as they later enter the woods where they encounter many obstacles, make many friends, and learn very valuable lessons about life. It is in those woods where they meet a singing apple tree, a squirrel happily packing nuts away for the winter, a pine tree who lifts them high in his branches to view the valley, and even a snake and a rat! Each of these encounters teaches the two friends a special lesson about overcoming fear, understanding differences, and treating others the same way you would want them to treat you.
Just when you think this delightful story is over, the author and the illustrator give us even more to think about. In the back of the book there are several extra pages. The first page has all the words to the songs being sung by the trees and creatures in the woods. The second is devoted to a tiny character whose name is squash, and includes a questioning process about overcoming fear and living your dream. The last two pages are from the illustrator who explains his artwork (complete with drawings) and also includes a questioning process for budding young artists.
*****It is almost impossible to say enough good things about this book! It is so colorful, and its characters are so charmingly personified, that any child would grab it off the shelf on eye appeal alone. The hot peppers in the garden definitely look HOT. The huge crow that swooped down to grab at Melon appeared quite menacing, and Melon’s luminous eyes showed her fear. Even though I’m very familiar with Trisha Howell’s talents, I was still blown away by this offering. She and Paul Lopez have outdone themselves! I highly recommend The Adventures of Melon and Turnip for children everywhere.*****
Author: Chara M. Curtis
Illustrated by Alfred Currier
Title: How Far To Heaven
This story is about a young girl and her grandmother, whom she lovingly refers to as Nanna, and their search for Heaven. If you know a child who has lost a loved one, or spends time with a special grandparent, step inside this book and join this unlikely pair as they take a beautiful walk through nature.
Throughout this story, you will be deeply moved when you realize the many ways in which Heaven manifests itself – if you will only look and listen. Heaven can be found in sunbeams, in the sweet smell of the air, or in the sounds that are all around us. As this young girl and her grandmother walk through the woods, they find it everywhere. It is in the vibrant colors of the leaves, in the trickle of a stream, and surely it is in the eyes of a little girl’s grandmother.
How far is heaven? As the young girl and her Nanna pursue Heaven on their enlightening journey, they come to recognize - and fully understand - that it is all around them and to know the feeling of being, “…the richest person on earth.”
*****I highly recommend this book for any child who has a close relationship with an older person, or who needs comfort during a time of bereavement. Each page is filled with vibrant color and the illustrations are simply breathtaking.*****
Author: Lisa Humphrey
Illustrated by David Danioth
Title: A Mother's Promise
This is a beautifully written and lovingly illustrated book about the nurturing bond that develops between a mother and child. It is also a book filled with feelings of adoration, which lend themselves to the mystery of that special spirit known as life.
When I first noticed that David Danioth had illustrated this book, I knew right away that it would be beautifully done. Mr. Danioth's talent knows no bounds. Then, as I read A Mother's Promise, my heart was filled with a tenderness that is hard to explain. This feeling of sensitivity and softness was enhanced by the stunning illustrations, which were so realistic that I wanted to reach my fingers out to caress the baby's tiny face.
While preparing to bring new life into the world, mothers everywhere whisper promises to their unborn child. They know that the world can be a perilous place, with unknown terrors, but promises that come directly from an adoring heart become inspiring and hopeful messages of love.
*****This awe-inspiring book is guaranteed to stir memories in the heart of every mother, and will become a treasure that can be handed down to every child.*****
Author: Jane E. Hoffelt
Illustrated by Marty Husted
Title: We Share One World
As we turn the pages of this book, we enter the mind of a thoughtful young boy as he muses over countries in the world that are far away and maybe vastly different from his own. While gazing out over a hilltop, he begins to realize that even though the places may be far away, they must be the same in many ways because we share one world.
Even though Tanzania is a long way from where we live, we share the same sun. The children there play under the brilliance of golden sunbeams, just as we do.
The wind that blows the kites of children in Japan is the same wind that ruffles wisps of hair on the heads of our children. Russia may be cold and snowy, but snowflakes taste the same to all children. Other languages may sound strange to our ears, but the laughter of children everywhere can often carry a more powerful message than words.
As adults, we frequently dwell on the many differences of places like Tanzania, Switzerland, Algeria, Japan, Peru, China, Russia, Costa Rica, Canada, Australia, and even Iraq. It is often ONLY those differences that we think about, but this young boy allows us to see beyond those differences because he sees ONLY the similarities. Isn't that a magnificent concept for a child to discover? Wouldn't it also be incredibly wonderful if everyone felt that same way? If we can teach our children to think FIRST of the similarities that we have with other countries and other people, we can foster the ideal of living in peace. These are the lessons so simply taught in this book.
***** When children see this colorful book, overflowing with pictures of other children at play, their immediate reaction is delight! Then, as they turn the pages, they have no problem understanding how we are all so similar. The words of the poem are uncomplicated and plain spoken, and the beautiful watercolors allow children to absorb even the smallest detail. That is when they can use their imagination to weave their own very personal story. I highly recommend this new offering from Illumination Arts, We Share One World. *****
Author: Trisha Howell
Title: Living In A Glowing World
If you love poetry, you'll fall in love with Trisha Howell's new book - Living In A Glowing World. As I read each page of this most congenial and mystical book, I was reminded of each season's offerings, and each season's reasons for being special.
Ms. Howell also takes her readers a step further into the seasons by adding new names to what we consider the normal lineup. Along with winter, spring, summer, and autumn, she has identified thaw and harvest.
I wondered about the use of the two additional seasons, until I read their poetry and experienced the emotions that are hidden within each. After that, there was no doubt in my mind that Ms. Howell was absolutely correct - there really are six seasons.
***** Within the pages of this book, we can frolic through the many imaginations of winter with snow on our lips, or we can bask in the passions and fragrances of summer. It really doesn't matter which season is your particular favorite, because throughout each our senses are constantly delighted and surprised by whimsy and visions.
Ms. Howell's truly delightful and engaging children's fiction is well known, but with this book she shows her readers a different side of her professional expertise. She has a diverse and wide-ranging talent for holding our interest in a variety of offerings.
I thoroughly enjoyed the magic and the indulgence of emotions that were dredged up within my soul by reading Living In A Glowing World. It is deeply spiritual and profound. This is a highly recommended book to curl up with, no matter what the season. *****
Author: Dale Smith
Illustrator: John Bardwell
Title - What The Parrot Told Alice
(Ages 9 and up)
It all began in the year 1966, in the Solomon Islands. Manao was 12 years old and had cut down the biggest tree in the forest. This was a huge sin. As punishment, the tribe's magician pronounced that Manao's spirit would inhabit the body of a parrot. During his life as a parrot, he would have a few magical abilities and he would have a special gift that must be used wisely. He would be able to speak his thoughts to ONE human being. Manao would deliver a message about the importance of balance and harmony among life.
Thirty years later...
Bo Parrot "Bobo" chose to speak with Alice, the young girl in the family that kept him as a pet. Bobo could make himself into other types of birds for Alice to talk to and learn from. Bobo told Alice the cruel way in which he came to be with her family. Then he turned into a Goffin's cockatoo, a Spix's macaw, a gray parrot, and several other types of birds. Each bird told Alice where they were from originally and how humans' greed ruined their lives.
***** This book is a perfect way for teens and pre-teens to become aware of species that are in danger of extinction and how to help make sure such atrocities never happen again. In fact, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book goes toward acquisition of wildlife habitat. So it not only teaches those who read it, but just by purchasing it the reader helps the environment!
The author did a wonderful job of creating Alice, which many kids will be able to relate to. Each bird is like a short story and each story is intertwined with a larger tale. Excellent! *****
Author: H. Elizabeth Collins-Varni
Illustrations by Judy Kuusisto
Title - The Doll Lady
This is the story of a special lady who knew a secret truth – you learn how to treat others when you are young. If you are shown love and respect as a child, you will know how to be loving and caring as you grow older. That simple truth is why she spent her life making dolls to give to children. She always told each child to treat their dolls kindly and with great love, because dolls are just like people. Nothing made the Doll Lady happier than to watch a child gently holding one of her dolls or singing a lullaby while rocking it to sleep.
Every doll the Doll Lady made was different, and she made them different for a reason – because people are different, and all people (just like her dolls) are beautiful in their own way. Each of her dolls had its own personality and disposition and was remarkable in its own right. No two were the same. Some had chubby cheeks, some had freckles, some were yawning, and some were quite delicate. The unmistakable message the Doll Lady was imparting was this: "Take very special care of your dolls, for dolls are just like people. They need to be well loved, held tenderly, and always respected for their uniqueness."
Judy Kuusisto’s illustrations in this book remind me of confections. Their colors are as soft as the dolls they portray, and they visually describe the Doll Lady making her dolls and giving them to children. She has also included a hard page in the back of the book that holds a paper doll and its clothes! What child could resist that? After reading this book my grandchildren had already fallen in love with the story and pictures, but when they saw the paper doll they were transfixed with surprise and their satisfaction was complete.
***** What better message could be sent to a child than one of inherent, deep-seated love and understanding for all people everywhere? Illumination Arts is the publishing company to watch for acclaimed children’s books. I highly recommend The Doll Lady as extraordinary reading. *****
Author: Ann Tompert
Illustrations by Doug Keith
Title - The Errant Knight
The first line of this extraordinary book caught my attention and sent my imagination soaring. "Once long ago, when the year was greening with spring, a brave knight was called to serve his King." Soon after that opening line it was the illustrations that reached out, grabbed me, and pulled me on into this charming story of a knight who only wanted to do the bidding of his King.
When he first received the call to serve his King, the knight immediately set out on his journey to the castle riding his fastest horse. He had a pair of golden spurs the King had sent to him and a firm resolve in his heart to be the best knight ever. If he had been able to continue his original pace and firm resolve, the knight would have been at the King’s castle in a very short time - but that was not to be. There were many people who needed help along the way, and the knight had a compassionate nature. At first he tried to ignore their pleas for help, but soon found that his kind temperament would not allow that. So, since he was concerned about being an errant knight (disobedient, undisciplined), he was conflicted between what he thought was his duty to his King and his sympathy for strangers.
The knight’s many acts of kindness took him away from his original task, and it took years for him to reach the castle. Along the way he had endured many hardships and had given away most of his possessions to the poor. Upon his arrival he fell in a tattered heap near the drawbridge, and the guards laughed at him as he showed them the golden spurs in his trembling hands.
***** The Errant Knight has a message of love and compassion and a wonderful ending that will please children everywhere. As the story closed the knight thought he had failed his duty to his King, but he soon found that in choosing to follow his heart he had served his King best. The beautiful illustrations in this book add wonderful intensity and are so vivid that they seem to stand out in relief. Many times I caught myself involuntarily reaching my hand out to touch them. This is highly recommended reading! *****
Author: Charles Mathes
Illustrations by Arlene Graston
Title - In Every Moon There Is A Face
Children’s daydreams, in their exquisite simplicity, overflow the pages of this colorful book. From cover to cover this story is fanciful and innovative. It also happens to be beautifully written as a poem, and its illustrations are whimsical and imaginative. The story begins as a young girl gazes appealingly out the window toward the moon. Then we read these simple words - In every moon there is a face. As I read the story, and was drawn into its dreamlike fantasy, I distinctly remembered how I felt as a child when I looked up at delicate clouds floating along in the sky. I could see anything and everything in those clouds.
Reading this book can help children see beyond the obvious. Most children will see a face in the moon, but if they look deeper they can see the most wondrous things their imaginations can provide. They can soar through the heavens, or they can float gently on the sea, because this book stirs their imagination and brings out everything that a daydream can provide - if they just look deeper.
The words of the poet say it best. …And in each child there is a sky that’s full of daydreams and balloons, and every dream’s a butterfly that’s full of moons…
*****Highly recommended reading for parents who remember the clouds and children who are just beginning to stretch their imaginations. *****
Author:Trisha Adelena Howell
Title - The Princess and the Pekinese
Once upon a time there was an exquisite little princess whose name was Lillian. She was born into a happy, loving family, was cherished by them, and grew up with every advantage. If anyone should have known the meaning of love, it was Princess Lillian. She had the best of everything and her life was perfect – until the dog arrived.
The dog, better known as the intruder, was a mischievous Pekinese puppy. It was noisy and boomeranged endlessly through the house. Princess Lillian did her best to avoid and ignore the puppy, but her family allowed it to sleep in a bed right next to hers and even fed it wonderful gourmet meals. She was jealous when they petted the puppy. She was jealous when they brushed the puppy. Princess Lillian no longer felt special, and she despised that puppy!
As I started reading this book, I was delighted with this snobby little Princess, but I was absolutely blown away with the incredible surprise twist in the middle of the book.
It began at a party that Princess Lillian had been invited to attend with her mother. Since the puppy was not invited, she had all her mother’s attention and she felt special once again. This feeling was short lived however, due to the surprise she encountered during the party. Shocked and angry, our little Princess fled the party and ran away into the night. Alas, she soon discovered that being alone on the streets at night is dangerous for a Princess. As the hours passed, she encountered an angry drunk and a vicious dog. Frightened and confused, she managed to run from them but her beautiful party clothes became rumpled and soiled. She was dirty and she stank. In fact, she began to resemble a street urchin more than a Princess. Soon she was overcome by hunger, but when she went into the Italian deli, the owner refused to serve her. Rejected by everyone, heartbroken and frightened, she wandered back out onto the streets, where she was finally picked up and thrown into jail.
Princess Lillian was bewildered. How could this be happening to her? As she sat weeping in her cell, Princess Lillian began to understand how it felt to be ignored and shunned by everyone. Wait! Wasn’t that the same way she had treated the Pekinese puppy? Happily for us, our story ends well and Princess Lillian is reunited with her family. Her experiences during that long night brought an understanding of her blessings. When she began to appreciate her blessings, her behavior changed. Now, through her story, we all can see more clearly the blessings in our own lives.
***** I can’t say enough good things about this book. I was delighted with the distinct personality of Princess Lillian, the twist in her story, and her many adventures and lessons. This book will not have to make you think…you just won’t be able to do anything else. It was fabulous! I loved it! I can’t wait for a sequel! *****
Author:Janet Muirhead Hill
Title - Starlight's Shooting Star
(Book 4/ages 8 and up)
Miranda Stevens was now in the sixth grade. Laurie and Chris were still her best friends. They rode their horses together as often as possible. It was becoming less and less due to Chris's horse, Queen, being pregnant and Mr. Taylor had decided it was time for Starlight to begin racing.
Colton Spencer was hired to be Starlight's trainer and jockey. Unlike the previous trainer, Adam, this one was kind. Colton actually listened to Miranda and took her advice on how to train Starlight.
Miranda's mother was still engaged to Adam and the wedding day was drawing near. Miranda went to visit them briefly and met Adam's daughter, Margot. A shaky friendship began between the two girls. Margot kept to herself, seldom spoke, and cried every night because she missed her mother. Margot had seldom seen her father before her mother died. Worse, Adam was showing his temper more often and Miranda's mom never noticed Adam's cruelness to anyone. When Miranda goes back to her grandparents, Margot goes with her. Slowly Margot begins to bloom.
**** I know a great series when I read one! They are hard to find, but here is one just waiting for young readers to discover!
I can not tell too much more without spoiling the story. So much happens in this book! Grandpa has an accident while with a calf, Miranda and a few classmates become lost while exploring some caves (during a school field trip), and a surprising new character throws everyone for a loop!
This is book four of six and, in my opinion, the best one yet! Apparently I am not the only reader who believes this to be an outstanding series. A recent article in "The Billings Gazette" reports that shooting has begun in Montana for the MOVIE "Miranda and Starlight"! Yes, you read that correctly. It is all about to become a movie. EXCELLENT! *****
Author:Janet Muirhead Hill
Title - Starlight, Star Bright
(Book 3/ages 8 and up)
This is the third book in a series about young Miranda Stevens and Starlight. Starlight is a two or three year old black stallion that has recently healed from serious leg wounds. Miranda wants nothing more than to own Starlight. It would ensure that the current owner, Mr. Taylor, would not someday part her from the beloved horse. Unfortunately, Starlight is so well recovered that Mr. Taylor is sure the horse can race. He has Adam, his trainer, begin training Starlight. However, Adam is mean to the horse so Starlight keeps bucking him off. Adam believes Miranda is spoiling the horse and keeps taking his anger out, verbally, on her. He refuses to believe Miranda could tell him anything that would aid him in training Starlight.
Unknown to most, Miranda had been working with Starlight already. The horse was fully trained and ready to race. But Starlight's heart belonged to young Miranda, who seems to have a natural talent when it comes to handling horses.
***** Very little is mentioned about school or classmates in the book this time. The author focuses more on dealing with the problems of racism. Racism is a very sensitive issue in the world today and Janet Muirhead Hill does an excellent job in showing that skin color does not matter. In fact, the author the shows how petty it makes many adults seem. As in the previous book, Adam and Miranda continue to clash. I believe the author is foreshadowing the next book with this situation.
The book is perfect for anyone age eight or up who loves horses. It is clearly written out in a way young readers can easily understand and relate to. This is one exceptional series! *****
Author:Janet Muirhead Hill
Title - Starlight's Courage
(Book 2 / ages 8 and up)
Miranda Stevens has two best friends named Laurie Langley and Christopher Bergman. Their adventures continue in this second book of the series.
Miranda still loves and cares for Starlight, an injured two year old stallion. While a caretaker is recovering from a fall a temporary hand is hired. Yet the man is cruel to Starlight. Miranda must show courage as she deals with the threat to her beloved horse. In doing so, Miranda and Starlight make an enemy of him and he is out for revenge!
Meanwhile, Miranda and her two friends ride Chris's horse, Queen, in a fierce competition against some of their rude classmates. Chris has come a long way in his riding abilities, thanks to Miranda. His lessons continue with the help of a new trainer, Adam Barber. Problem is that Adam treats everyone kindly except Miranda. The reason brings a new twist to this awesome series!
***** Once again the author's talent shines through! Young readers will be stuck on this book as tightly as Super Glue! Danger, loyalty, courage, and competition blend together to make this breathtaking tale a winner! Highly recommended! *****
Author:Janet Muirhead Hill
Title - Miranda & Starlight
(Book 1 / ages 8 and up)
Miranda Stevens had been sent to live with her grandparents while her mother searched for work as a model. At school she felt left out and alone. She was the only girl in class who did not own a horse. Miranda was sure that if she only had a horse of her own nothing else would matter.
Then a new girl, Laurie Langley, came to the school. While still getting to know each other, they met Christopher Bergman.
When Christopher dared Miranda to ride the most beautiful horse she had ever seen, she never hesitated. That dare began a series of adventures for the three friends.
***** This new series is PERFECT for both boys and girls, especially if they are fond of horses! The author shows that if you act without thinking the consequences can be dire indeed!
The story is very well written, flows smoothly, and is easy to understand. The adventures of Miranda will keep young readers glued to the book as they watch the trio of friends learn lessons of honesty and loyalty. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED SERIES! *****
Author: T.A. Barron
Title - Tree Girl (Ages 9 - 12)
Rescued as a baby by a crusty old curmudgeon of a fisherman, Anna still feels the ache of wanting to know who are her parents, and what happened to them. Her answers lie within the forest, but her mentor has warned her to stay away from it. It is a dark, dangerous place, haunted by spirits who could destroy her, as they did her parents.
Yet, this gentle soul is also brave, and she must learn the truth. What lies ahead will amaze her, for her quest will give her more answers than she was looking for, ones about not only her parents, but about who she is herself.
***** With this book, Mr. Barron reaches out to a younger audience than many of his books appeal to. It is, as are his other works, heart warming and insightful. What struck me most is the affirmation of the importance of one's heritage and parents in a time when young people learn earlier and earlier to rebel. If you loved the story ANIMAL FAMILY by Randall Jarrett, this book will speak to the same place in your soul. *****
Author: Wendy Stofan Halley
Title - Inside Out (Children's)
Illumination Arts’ latest release, Inside Out, is the story of a girl named Karly and her special invisible friend, Natasha. After reading this book with your child, you will always see an invisible friend as something very special…their spirit. You will learn the true meaning of the phrase that mothers everywhere tell their children, "It’s what’s on the inside that counts."
Karly and Natasha were best friends and they played with great abandon. They laughed, romped, jumped, ran, and just in general enjoyed life together. Since no one else could see her best friend, Karly was a bit puzzled, and she questioned Natasha, "Why can’t my mom see you?"
"I’m a spirit, silly…kind of like an angel without wings," Natasha replied.
Karly and Natasha filled their days with wonder and joy and were truly happy as they played together. Natasha, who was very wise about these things, told Karly to always remember this feeling because it came from Karly’s heart where her own shiny spirit lived.
Then, as always happens, the day came for Natasha to go back to the stars. "Always remember who you are…a beautiful, shiny spirit made of love and light," Natasha had advised. "Your spirit helps you love yourself and everyone around you," she continued, "but it’s easy to be distracted by the outside world and forget who you really are." Karly promised to always remember the things she had learned from Natasha about herself. She promised to never forget.
But, as the days and weeks passed, Karly did forget her spirit friend. Because she forgot, Karly lost the very best part of herself. She forgot who she really was! She grew very quiet and found it difficult to make friends. No one could see the real Karly!
Slowly, as her heart saddened, all the magic that had once filled her life was gone. Then, at her saddest moment, Natasha suddenly appeared. Karly was overjoyed, and Natasha helped her realize that by forgetting her special friend she had forgotten her own spirit too. Karly vowed never to forget again and devised the perfect way to help her remember. Since her spirit lived inside her heart, she would live inside out so that it would always shine through. That way everyone would see the real Karly!
How did Karly remember to live inside out? I’ll give you a clue…it had to do with her socks, and it will work for you too.
***** This is a wonderful story, and it is beautifully illustrated with bright colors and pictures that swirl over each page. A child’s imagination can jump into the wind as it spins the leaves upward, or soar through the stars with Karly and Natasha as they play together. What a special way to learn one of life’s most valuable lessons – each child is a special spirit filled with goodness, and life is best when lived inside out. *****
Title - Where's Grandpa? (Ages 4 - 8)
***** Although geared to the very young child, this is a book that will touch the heart of any reader. A little boy has a close relationship with his grandpa that is ended with the old man's sudden death. As the family tries to cope with the loss that touches all of them, the little one asks where his grandpa is now, and the answer is given with a wisdom that illustrates eloquently why Jesus advised that the kingdom of God belonged to those with children's hearts. If you are struggling with a loss, this book will touch your heart and provide a bit of comfort, even if you are much older than the hero. *****
Title - Marked Evidence
(Rocky Mountain Mystery #3)
This adventure is set in Fort Collins, Colorado, and its surrounding areas. The Thompson kids are in their third mystery. Stephanie and Steve are fourteen year old twins. They, along with their sixteen year old brother named Tyler, are helping Aunt Michele.
It is nearing the end of Summer Vacation. School will be starting in a few more weeks. Just before their parents go off on a writing assignment (they are professional travel writers) Aunt Michele calls to inform them that all the antiques she was about to display for her new antique store opening had been stolen! The Thompson kids want to help her out while their parents are away. The kids began helping ready the store for its grand opening. They help display old furniture and attending a lot of auctions in hopes of finding more antiques to sell.
Matters get worse when Aunt Michele finds out her "antiques" are worthless reproductions and the sellers have skipped out. That is when the mystery begins to get dangerous!
***** Author Emily Burns is back with another fantastic mystery adventure! This author's characters have exciting mysteries while having lots of outdoor fun. They keep cool under pressure and show that keeping a level head and helping out others has many rewards.
The Thompson kids are excellent role models for today's young! Parents, schools, and libraries need to take a close look at this up-and-coming series. Highly recommended reading! *****
Emily Burns: title - Manitou Art Caper
(Rocky Mountain Mystery #2)
The Thompson kids return in their second mystery adventure. This time hey stumble upon a rash of art robberies while staying with Aunt Marybeth.
The Thompson kids (Tyler, Stephanie, and Steve) planned to enjoy their stay with Aunt Marybeth. They also planned an awesome camping trip in a nearby park with many various activities, such as hiking, bike riding, and white water rafting. Their cousin, Alex, and Stephanie's friend, Kamryn, would also join into the fun!
Aunt Marybeth owned an art gallery. Recently, many galleries were being robbed. Only the work of a recently deceased local artist named Bruce Duncan was taken. Their Aunt had a few pieces from the artist and planned to stay close to her store. Smelling a new mystery, the Thompson kids began learning all they could about the artist and the robberies. Their nosing around did not go unnoticed by the thieves and the mystery took a dangerous turn!
***** This second mystery is just as great as the first! The Thompson kids remind me much of the way Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys used to be. They are well mannered, have respect for the law, overly curious, and are wonderful role models for today's growing youths!
The story flows smoothly and is packed full of fun and adventures. This series is down-right irresistible! Highly recommended! *****
Emily Burns: title - Mystery On Rampart Hill
(Rocky Mountain Mystery #1)
The Thompson kids lived on the outskirts of the small town of Buena Vista, Colorado. The town purchased the huge run-down house on Rampart Hill to fix up for a new library. Rumors told of eerie noises coming from within it, as well as, lights and shadowy forms glimpsed through the dusty windows.
Tyler, Steve, and Stephanie Thompson looked forward to the opening of the new library. The local school was running a book drive contest. The winner would get a new tent, just in time for Summer and camping trips! In between helping on repairs to the old house and collecting books, they searched for the name of the original owners of the house. They hoped the town would name the new library after the person who built it.
While doing all this, they noticed a man who kept hiding in the bushes surrounding the old house. They begin investigating and found themselves in their first of many mysteries!
***** An awesome beginning to a wonderful new mystery series! These kids reminded me of the books that Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys would team up. The characters fall between the age range of 13 and 16.
The story seemed to flow smoothly along and written in a way that even readers as young as eight could understand and enjoy! Also, just like the Drew and Hardy mysteries, the author made the main characters up to be perfect as role models for the young! I hope to see many more mystery adventures involving the Thompson kids and their friends! *****
Deanna Miller: title - Sky Bounce (Young Adult Fantasy Romance)
Hesper is a Alula, a winged girl who has a secret friend, Tristan, a Boytaur who is forbidden to have contact with the Alulas, and is beyond that, an outcast among his own people. Despite this, the two find their greatest joy together. However, when their secret is found out, Hesper is sent to another world, to Earth, as punishment.
Tristan can not stand the idea of never seeing her again, and also, he needs Hespers help to fulfill his own mission. Risking all, he journeys across the planes to find her, and finds that she is a normal high school girl with no memory of their world. Tristan himself would have forgotten as well, but he paid a terrible price to remember. Now, together and with Hesper's memories restored, the two are the only hope of at least three worlds to restore balance and prevent a catastrophe that could destroy them all.
**** As Madeline L'Engle did so well. Ms. Miller has created a book that delivers deep principals inside a beautiful and appealing story that will appeal to both teenagers and their parents. Tristan and Hespers fledgling romance and their vital mission will charm and captivate you with its sweetness and excitement. Given the chance, it could become a part of classic children's literature. ****
Rick E. Patton: title - The Adventures Of Joey Panda
This is a great book for kids! It manages to teach many positive lessons and be highly entertaining at the same time. Who could ask for more than that? The Adventures of Joey Panda is all about Joey Panda and his sister Penny who embark on a great adventure in hopes of finding their destiny. Their journey is filled with challenges that they must overcome and friendships that they form. As I mentioned before, Joey and Penny crave excitement and want to find their destiny. They accomplish both these things while trying to help save Panda Valley. Wow, talk about formidable tasks, whoops, I mean challenges! Children will find themselves enthralled by each provocation that this enterprising troop encounters, not to mention the many creatures, like the zombies, wild monkeys, sand serpents and such, who have to be dealt with. Joey and Penny will meet new friends who join their quest along the way too, such as the red monkey named Reggie. There are also other living things that help them – river dragons just to name one. Then there is Kira, a courageous young forest fairy. Kira will also become their friend and will captivate your child. At the end of their journey, Joey and Penny discover the true meaning of friendship and what being a hero really means. They also learn that saving someone from danger is one thing, but it doesn’t necessarily make you a hero. Being a hero is so much more than that. Just what is this elusive something that truly makes a hero? Joey learns this secret, and so will your child. After all, every child has a hero inside. It’s just waiting to be discovered.
***** There are many books on the market about simple acts of kindness, but none more expressive than this one. It is well written, fun to read, and imparts very important messages about friendship, working together toward a common end, and (above all) never giving up. *****
The Barefoot Fisherman: A Fishing Book For Kids
This "how to" book targets young kids; however, even adults who read it learn new things.
My father and teenage son fish often. Though my son is still learning the basics, my father has spent his life fishing in every pond, lake, river, and body of water he could find. In fact, every year he teaches the kids at the local fairs how to tie flies and cast. yet even he learned one or two new tricks from this book. I kept yelling through the house, "Hey Dad! Did you know..." The instant I finished and set the book down, he picked it up and began.
Author Paul Amdahl wrote out all the basics of fishing, the equipment, and some very helpful tips in a simple, easy to follow, dialogue. If you are age eight or have never touched a fishing rod before, this book is for you! Excellent!
Jim Eads: title - Time Slime (Young Adult / Sci-Fi)
Sammy Hodgekiss and his friends, Ollie and Burgy, knew they were not to venture down into Mrs. Armbrose's cellar. But that was exactly what they did one afternoon while she was away from her house. Among the canned fruits and vegetables they found a jar of green goo. Being the bold one, Sammy took a tiny taste and found himself one day in the past!
Mrs. Armbrose's deceased husband had figured out how to turn TIME into MATTER. Each time the "Time Slime" was used, the delicate balance of time and space was upset, causing massive storms. Too many disruptions too soon would cause the destruction of the universe. Yet Sammy kept finding reasons to use the slime. Then the destruction began!
**** Author Jim Eads has created a character, Sammy, that I feel young adults will find easy to relate to. In addition, the plot is something everyone has dreamed about before. After all, who WOULD NOT want to be able to travel into the past and change their mistakes?
The story only follows Sammy though. I kept wishing to see more on the other kids, Ollie and Brick in particular. When the author reached the point of having to explain the time travel theory, he did a terrific job! It was written out in a way that I found easy to understand. Here is a great novel for ages ten and up. Fans of R.L. Stine should take a close look at this author! ****
Christine Hurley Deriso/Matthew Archambault: title - Dreams To Grow On
Dreams To Grow On is a new offering from Illumination Arts that is filled with rhyme and colorful illustrations. It gives us an intriguing glimpse of a young girl as she goes through a typical day of pondering what she will be when she grows up - and does it by showing the awe and wonder in a child’s daydream. Since this question is often on the minds of all children, it will give them lots of ideas of how to play-act their future.
"A teacher? Or a doctor? Or a writer? Let me see…
Today I’ll practice all the things I just might want to be."
Lots of occupations are listed within the pages of this book, just as there are lots of things that children do during their day that can translate to what they might be when they grow up. Playing with dolls – being a mother. Building with blocks – architect. Making mud pies – baker. Looking at insects, flowers, and birds – scientist. Climbing on monkey bars – circus performer. The list goes on and on, and the illustrations are made even more interesting by showing pictures of the child in the present as well as in the future with each occupation.
"My heart will lead the way, no matter what I choose to do.
Great things are sure to happen as I make my dreams come true."
***** This is a wonderful book - just what I have come to expect from the people at Illumination Arts – and is highly recommended for children (ages four to eight) who dream of the future. *****
Cindy McKinley/Mary Gregg Byrne: title - One Smile
One simple little smile, sometimes given without any thought at all, can start a ripple of happiness that will go on forever. This is the unmistakable truth that is so clearly authenticated in One Smile.
This story is about little Katie who was happily skipping along in the park one sunny morning with her mother. They were hurrying to catch a bus because their van was in the shop for repairs. As Katie and her mother briskly walked past a park bench, Katie spied a young man sitting there who looked very sad. Katie had no way of knowing it, but the young man had just lost his job. Quick as a wink, she flashed him a brilliant smile. That beautiful smile, so freely given by this happy little child, seemed to light up his heart. Other people had passed him that morning without even noticing him; therefore, Katie’s innocent smile, which was so unexpected, became his inspiration to start looking for a job.
As the author carries us through the story, we see many acts of kindness unfold as others continue what Katie’s innocent smile began. The young man stops to help a woman by fixing her flat tire. Later, when this same woman finished her lunch, she left an extra large tip for the waitress. And so it went as Katie’s smile moved on and on in many different ways, and eventually even made its way back to help Katie in the story’s heart-warming ending. Thus we see that all it really takes to change the world is One Smile.
***** I highly recommend this book. It is very well written and the illustrations are vivid and beautiful. In the back of the book the author has included a page that will help families think about things they can do together to help others. *****
Madeline L'engle: title - A Wrinkle In Time (Young Adult Fantasy)
A dark and stormy night begins the adventure. Missing her father terribly Meg Murry goes to have a cup of hot milk, and finds her baby brother, Charles Wallace, already preparing it for both her and her mother, because he knows they are coming. He is strange that way. Sure enough, Mother does appear, and so does a visitor out of the temptest. Mrs. Whatsit. Their conversation is odd, ending in the words that tell them Tesseracts are real. This shakes Mrs. Murry terribly, as this was a secret theory of hers and her lost husband's. He disappeared ages ago, and no one knows what happened.
After a terrible day at school, Meg and Charles to to visit with Mrs. Whatsit, and get her to return some stolen sheets. Along the way, they meet Calvin O'Keefe, an older boy who Meg instantly connects with, and they take him home for dinner.
After dinner, Charles, Meg, and Calvin go outside, and suddenly, Mrs. Whatsit and her sisters, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which (who is immaterial) appear and whisk them off to another world. There, they explain that the tesseract is the fifth dimension, a wrinkle in time and space along which one can travel to go long distances. They have used it so that Meg and Charles can rescue their father, who is being held trapped by a great Evil that threatens to consume the universe. They give the children gifts and send them to another world, one controlled by the Evil where all individuality is consumed by IT. Charles tries to take it on in a challenge, and loses. Now a minion of IT, he takes Meg and Calvin to Mr. Murry who is held prisoner in a crystal. He urges them to also give their minds to IT, but they fight back, and Mr. Murry tesseracts them to safety on yet another world, one where the creatures have no eyes. There, they recover, and prepare for the final challenge that will either save or lose not only Charles Wallace, but possibly all of life itself.
***** This is a book that has held up over time and can still appeal to adults. With great depth and philosophy that may be beyond the grasp of the very young to whom it was originally slotted to be read by, the author gives much to think about. Adults can have their plane of thought expanded by re reading this or discovering it for the first time. Even if one does not get the deeper aspects, it is a fine fantasy tale, and hopefully, the tele movie that has been promised will live up to it. *****
J.K. Rowling: title - Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets (Book 2)
Harry Potter had finished his first year at Hogwarts. The second story began as the first. Harry was with the Dursley family. This time, however, it was only until Summer was over and the next school year began. While with the Dursleys, Harry received an unexpected visitor in his bedroom. It was Dobby, a "house elf" (think slave) of some wealthy family. Dobby begged Harry not to return to Hogwarts and gave many dire warnings. Failing that, Dobby took drastic measures.
Hogwarts could never seem to keep a Defender of Dark Arts teacher for very long. This term it was an author of many books that liked nothing more than to show off. All he seemed to do was primp and preen. He ended up causing Harry a lot of troubles.
Harry was again The Seeker of the Gryffindor Quiddith team. His best friends, Ron and Hermione, stayed by his side. His worst rival, Draco, was up to no good as well. This time, however, Ron's little sister, named Ginny, was in her first year at the school. She had a crush on Harry since she met him.
Trouble began when Argus Filch's cat was petrified. This meant the cat was literally scared stiff as a board! In fact, except for breathing, she seemed dead. On the wall above the cat were words stating that The Chamber Of Secrets had been opened and for all the heir's enemies to beware! Everyone seemed to believe Harry to be responsible, except for those closest to him. Draco Malfoy, did all he could to make things rough for Harry, of course. Anyone with normal human (called "Muggle") blood were worried they were next. But when full wizard blood and even the ghost, Nearly Headless Nick became petrified, chaos reined!
Harry must get to the bottom of it all - FAST!
***** The second book is just as fantastic as the first. I understand a movie based on this story is due for release around November 2002 in the States. If the movie follows the book, it will be a smashing success! Filled with suspense, good vs evil, and school rivalry, I foresee many awards for the book and movie alike!
Extremely Recommended Reading! NOT just for the younger readers! *****
J.K. Rowling: title - Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban (Book 3)
Again the book began with Harry at the Dursley family home. Summer was almost over and his third year at the school known as Hogwarts was beginning.
The locals, both humans and wizards, were terrified. An infamous prisoner named Sirius Black had escaped the dreaded fortress known as Azkaban. Black was said to be the heir apparent to Lord Voldemort. All knew that Sirius Black had killed thirteen people on a street with one curse and had told Voldemort where to find Harry's parents so they could be murdered. The Azkaban guards heard Black mutter in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts ... he's at Hogwarts." Teachers and ghosts patrolled the school constantly every night. Harry was not permitted anywhere, in or out of the school building, alone. He was escorted almost everywhere!
Worst of all, Dumbledore had to agree that the Dementors of Azkaban be allowed to guard every entrance and exit of the school. The dementors were the guards at the prison forteress. They wore dark robes always! No one could see their faces. Only boney hands and darkness under the hoods. The lived off sorrow, seeming to suck happiness right out of the air. They made perfect prison guards. The prisoners often went mad. With all the horrors in Harry's past, the approach of a dementor made him collapse.
Of course, Draco Malfoy was at school again and caused Harry hard times. This year Malfoy was also targeting Hagrid, the grounds keeper, who now taught the class Care Of Magical Creatures. Out of spite and meanness, Malfoy was using his rich father's high connections to have one of Hagrid's creatures executed!
***** Another winner by author J.K. Rowling! I did not believe it to be as great as the second book, but it is still worth the full five stars in reviews. Rowling seems to have a vivid imagination that keeps readers astounded with every book. Gaps in Harry's background are filled in. Though still not all clear, readers understand much more as Harry learns more and more the truth of his past.
Be warned! I believe some scenes in this novel to be more intense than in the first two. I still highly recommend it for all though! *****
W. Royce Adams:title - The Computer's Nerd (Ages 9 and Up)
Arthur Dingle was the smartest boy in school, but his appearance screamed the word NERD! He was bullied daily by three schoolmates named Matt, Ned, and Victor. He hated the three guys, but had no idea how to fight back. Let's face it, Arthur did not know HOW to fight and the odds were 3-to-1. So what to do?
Then his parents gave him a computer! The first thing Arthur noticed was a file called THE GAME. Once he opened the file, The Game seemed to come alive. It knew all about Arthur and his problems. In fact, The Game could read his mind! The Game allowed him to get even with the mean kids.
Problem was that The Game was not exactly user-friendly. Arthur found himself digging a deep hole of lies and deceit. Arthur had to somehow win the awful game or The Game may delete him!
***** No matter your age, be it nine or thirty-nine, you will find yourself riveted by this story! It delivers a powerful message on right and wrong, as well as, the possible consequences of the choices students make in today's world. This book should be part of the "required reading list" of schools! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! *****
Chara M. Curtis/Cynthia Aldrich: Title - Fun Is A Feeling (Children's)
***** Savor that smile as it slips onto your face and let the merriment begin with this refreshing and insightful narrative about the feelings of a child. This book is both adorable and wise, and it teaches children to look at everything and every situation in a different way. Fun Is A Feeling tells us that fun is where we find it and shows us how to look for it; however, it also reminds us that sometimes we have to put that fun there.
Inside this book, children will discover things that will delight their imagination and wisdom that can only come from within. Fantasy and whimsy permeate, fill, and overflow these pages. That isn’t simply a sprinkle of rain pitter-pattering on the upturned faces of children! Who would settle for rain when it can be turned into tiny little kisses - from raindrops that were looking just for them? And what about that bug that lands on their nose? Isn’t it there just to give them a hug?
Stardust sparkles and swirls from page to page, sweeping us along with pure joy. Trees stretch their arms wide to let the smiles of children sail through their branches and tickle their leaves. The clear blue waters of a stream giggle their way through a forest glade, while colorful little fish leap as high as they can to peek out at the glorious scenery. What child could resist such beautiful illustrations, or fail to understand the most important message carried within this story…children are very special and their joy can light up the universe.
This is a wonderful book. Sweep up some of its stardust, put it in your pocket, and let its magical message change the way you look at your world - and when that happens, it will change your life. *****
Chara M. Curtis/Cynthia Aldrich: Title - All I See Is Part Of Me (Children's)
***** "I used to think that I was small…a little body, that was all." With these words, the reader immediately identifies with this small child’s wonder at all that is around him. The trees seem so tall as he looks upward through their branches! The magnificence of the night sky, so filled with glorious points of light, seems so immense. Who could ever know why those many stars are so bright and beautiful or where they get their vibrant light, and how could he possibly fit into this wondrous place – and most of all, where could he go for answers?
This book tells its story by speaking of things that children see: trees, plants, animals, and people - plus the moon, the sun, the stars, and even candy bars. Amazingly, children who read this book seem to automatically understand its deeper meaning; "Your body is just a little part of the light that shines within your heart." All I See Is Part Of Me is about innocence and wonder, and it is beautifully written for small children. I highly recommend enjoying this book with your child. The poetry is charming and the colorful illustrations are innovative and imaginative - perfect for viewing the world and the universe through a child’s eyes. *****
Gina Otto/Trudy Joost: Title - Cassandra's Angel (Children's)
Cassandra’s Angel is the touching and inspiring story of a child who truly wants to please – as most children do – but is constantly being given the message that she just can’t do anything right.
Cassandra is truly everything that a little girl should be: delightful, beautiful, inquisitive, creative, intelligent, and imaginative. However, Cassandra doesn’t know that. She thinks of herself as a child who just can’t do anything right, because the adults in her life (who are suppose to know these things) keep sending her that message by the way they speak to her.
When her room needed to be picked up, her mother said that Cassandra was a messy girl. Cassandra stored that message in her mind…she was a messy girl.
When her art teacher told her to paint a picture of a house and a tree with seven red flowers and one yellow bee, she started by painting a magnificent tree that took all the room – none was left for the bee. Her little painting took on a life of its own and colorful images began to flow onto the canvas, as she became lost in her own imagination. Instead of admiring the beauty, talent, and self-expression of Cassandra’s painting, her teacher scolded her and said she was incorrigible. Cassandra stored that message in her mind…she was incorrigible.
As this story unfolds Cassandra finds comfort, and learns a special secret about herself, from an unexpected source – her very own Angel! A truly beautiful one too! One who comes complete with everything a little girl thinks of when she thinks of angels: lovely soft wings, a golden crown, and a brilliant wondrous light. And what was the secret? It was the truth – the truth of what Cassandra really was.
This beautifully illustrated book, and the lessons found within its pages, will affect change and inspire parents and children everywhere. Perhaps the next time you speak to your child, you will speak as if the very Angels were listening.
Peggy O’Neill/Denise Freeman: Title - Little Squarehead(Children's)
This is the endearing "Once upon a time…" story of a little girl named Rosa who is teased and ridiculed by her classmates because she is different – she has a square-shaped head! Her hair is beautiful and her smile is radiant, but she has grown to believe that she is ugly because of the unfeeling taunts she painfully endures.
As the story unfolds, we discover the magical way Rosa is helped to overcome the merciless mockery and ridicule of others to find her true self…her own inner beauty. Deep in a forest, where Rosa fled to cry, she is given three gifts by a wondrous and melodious voice emanating from a luminous clear pool. These gifts - courage, confidence, and compassion - enable her to accept herself and to share her new found knowledge with others.
***** I highly recommend Little Squarehead, not only for those children who suffer teasing, but also for those children who do the teasing. Reading it with your child could also be valuable, because there are significant and important lessons to be learned within its pages. This book is inspiring and refreshing, and the illustrations are colorful, bold, and beautifully done. As an added bonus there are many animals and insects, as well as fifteen (15) different types of roses, on each page playing "hide and seek" for the young reader to find. *****
Franklin Hill, Ph.D./Aries Cheung: Title - Wings Of Change (Children's)
The morning dew tickles his belly buttons! The afternoon sun feels warm on his tiny fuzzy feet. He has lots of yummy leaves to munch. Life is good! Why would this contented little caterpillar, whose name is Anew, ever want to change into a butterfly? He doesn’t! He wants things to stay the same forever, and he doesn’t understand what is so great about brilliantly colored wings and being able to fly. Isn’t he happy right now? Maybe, just maybe, this idea of becoming a butterfly is a bit over-rated; besides, he is a little bit afraid of change.
***** In this book the positive aspects of change are delicately and tenderly introduced to young children through the story itself and through the beautiful illustrations. Indeed, just looking at Aries Cheung’s creative artwork is an adventure in itself. Raindrops glisten on bright green leaves, and adorable little Ladybugs scurry from one leaf to the next as little Anew munches happily along. In this setting children are able to explore their personal feelings about changes in their own lives in an endearing and heartwarming way. After all, Anew has a very wise friend named Faith who guides him along - just as parents guide their children through new situations.
Wings of Change is an adorable book with a wonderful message that is presented in charming and humorous ways. I highly recommend it! *****
Regina J. Williams/Doug Keith: Title - What If…
***** Grab your child’s favorite snugly blanket, rev up your imagination, and get ready for a bedtime story where anything is possible and nothing at all is unusual! This colorful book allows us to enter the creative mind of a little boy who tries to delay his bedtime each night by playing a special game called: What If? Silver and gold snowflakes that sparkle like diamonds and taste like peppermint ice cream…What If? What about dogwood trees? Ever wish you could really pick a puppy from the branches of a dogwood tree?
What If focuses on the creative imaginations of a child, and after reading this book you will never again look at many common things in the same old way. Clouds, butterflies, teddy bears, flowers, trees, snowflakes, stars and many other things take on special characteristics and a life of their own…through a child’s eyes. The pages of vivid illustrations are done with a combination of watercolor and colored pencil, and are simply enchanting…making your little one breathe a sigh of, "Ohhhhhhh!" as you turn each page.
I highly recommend this book for children and adults of all ages who love to look at things in a different way and say, "What If…?" *****
Dana Lyons/David Danioth: Title - The Tree (Children's)
***** Wow! Looking at the cover of this new book from Illumination Arts is like standing at the base of a giant tree, tilting your head backward, and looking toward the heavens. The scope is powerful and compelling, and the colors are breath-taking.
This story is told from the perspective of an 800-year-old Douglas fir in the Pacific Rain Forest. The Tree tells of its history and the many things it has seen over its lifetime, as well as the wildlife it has seen and sheltered. Each illustration is so realistic that it feels possible to reach in and touch the rocks or to actually hear the babble of tumbling water, experence the flash of lightning, and tremble at the mighty roar of a bear. Children will also enjoy finding the many tiny surprises hidden within the pictures: A Butterfly, Dragonfly, Spotted Owl, Tree Frog, Mouse, Bald Eagle, Bark Beetle, and many others.
At the end of the story, there is an informative page about the Pacific Rain Forest that impressed me a great deal. After reading that page, I asked several children what country came to mind when they heard the words rain forests. Most of them mentioned Africa and one or two said South America. They envisioned a tropical climate with hot, humid jungles, big broadleaf plants, monkeys, and brightly colored birds. None of them knew that there was such a place as the Pacific Rain Forest right here in the United States. A temperate rain forest that is cool and wet, filled mostly with cone bearing trees, and stretches along the coast from Southern Oregon to the Gulf of Alaska.
I cannot say enough good things about The Tree. I highly recommend it as a book to be treasured and reread for years to come. It entertains the reader while teaching a love for nature's delicate balance and the urgency to act now in order to save our valuable forests from disappearing forever. Read it with a child and enjoy the light in his eyes as he searches its pages for each of the tiny surprises. *****
Pat Skene/Doug Keith: Title - The Whoosh Of Gadoosh (Children's)
***** Any child who saw this book on a shelf would grab it at once! It has immediate and wonderful eye appeal with all its bright colors and whimsical objects flying around on the cover...as if by magic. Then there is the button with the words, "Press Here To Start". What could be more appealing to a child - or an adult looking for a child's book? I was enchanted by this delightful new title from Illumination Arts: The Whoosh of Gadoosh.
The story follows best friends Jaimy and Jake as they find a home for a wacky, magical and mysterious woman named Gadoosh. She wears shabby shoes (magic of course) flipped inside out, has purple hair, and sells magic buttons from her cart which are to be worn over each child's heart. The laughter of a child causes Gadoosh to whoosh through the air, spreading her gift of laughter to everyone. The colors are eye-popping and the catchy rhyme is reminiscent of Dr. Seuss.
Laughter is often the best medicine, and children of every age will realize that when they put on their magic buttons and "Press Here to Start". I highly recommend this book! *****
Richard Peck: Title - A Year Down Yonder (Young Readers)
Mary Alice was fifteen when she was sent from Chicago to live with Grandma in the country for a year. Grandma was well known for shaking up the whole populace. Mary Alice found her life to be unpredictable and far from boring as she watched Grandma in action!
***** A hilarious romp in the country! My son was laughing loudly in his room as he read this book from the library. I just HAD to find out what was so funny. I swiped the book from under his nose and began to read. I probably would have gotten away with reading it and then replacing it without him ever knowing, except that I could not keep myself from laughing out loud any better than he had. So I was caught red-handed.
It is no wonder this book won the John Newbery Award in 1999! It was so great that I simply HAD to purchase my own copy. Bravo! *****
W. Royce Adams: title - Rairarubia (Fantasy/Fiction for grade 5 and up!)
It started out so innocently. Molly Doogan's mother was a doctor. Due to the many cases of the flu, Molly and her dad had to wait in the car until the last patient had left the clinic so they could all go home. To kill the boredom, Molly and her father decide to make up a story.
Rairarubia (Rare - A - Ruby - Uh) was ruled by an evil man called Mammoth. Young Romey had no knowledge of her past, but was taken in as a pupil by Bovert and Herman. Sam, a boy her age, was in the same situation. The two teachers train Romey and Sam in all types of fighting, weaponry, and how to live with nature. They become a team, but had no idea what was in store for them.
Each night Molly and her father continue to make up the story. However, the story was somehow leaking out of Molly's imagination and into her REAL daily life!
**** Here is the beginning of what promises to be a compelling series! For anyone as young as age nine to anyone over one hundred. (Come on, admit it, those of us over twenty-one still LOVE this stuff!) This author grabs onto the readers quickly and holds onto them as tight as Super Glue until the very end. Highly recommended reading! ****
W. Royce Adams: title - Return To Rairarubia (Fantasy/Fiction for grade 5 and up!)
Molly Doogan thought that the adventures were over for Rairarubia, or at least for herself! However, Molly now had the ability to travel from her own world to Rairarubia and the temptation was too big to ignore. Molly learned that unless she continued to write or speak the story, the characters of Rairarubia would be stuck in time. Since Molly had to write a story for er teacher, Miss Turner, as an assignment anyway, why not write about Romey and Sam?
Molly's best friend was Netty. Once Molly proved to Netty that Rairarubia was real, she expected Netty to jump at the chance for adventure. Instead, Netty was reluctant. But wanting to or not, Netty was pulled into the story which seemed to be writing itself! The group must face a shy giant, horrible winged Zingwings, a shapeshifter, a mysterious dwarf, boulder people, and the evil and magical Queen Elleb!
**** This is book two of the Rairarubia series. Each book is a story that can stand alone, but by reading them in order, more is understood. It is perfect for those as young as fifth grade and up to adulthood. Sci-Fi and Fantasy mix for a fast paced adventure that leaves you begging for more! Terrific book! ****
W. Royce Adams: title - Raid On Rairarubia (Book 3!)
The deceitful Jenuaq, Zenu, seeks revenge on Queen Romey and Sam for the death of her wicked sister (in the previous book). She transforms herself and an accomplice into perfect mirror images of Romey and Sam, then replace the real characters in the castle.
Molly and Netty are summoned in hopes of rewriting the awful things that have taken place. However, good and evil forces battle in their own realm, as well as, within Rairarubia and Zzyukka. Because of this, not all the two girls write actually happens! Worse, Romey's clone, Yemor, is quickly figuring out how to teleport between dimensions!
***** This one is loaded with twists! Just when you believe you have it all figured out - ZAP! - another twist pops up. A delightful story that will keep you reading and reading to see what happens next! *****
W. Royce Adams: Title - Revenge On Rairarubia (Book 4 / Young Adult)
Molly Doogan and her best friend, Netty Parmet, return on what may be the last of this incredible young fantasy series.
The nine stones formed a circle in Molly's room again. This time within it was a giant bird egg and it was hatching! Thinking quickly, Molly returned it to Bovert in Rairarubia and the adventure begins!
There seemed to be a traitor in the realm training giant birds, Gremerkles, to carry off animals and children. Romey and Sam have married and their daughter, Princess Tracy, was one of the stolen children. The team must rescue the children quickly! Romey and Sam get tricked and become infected with a deadly plague that may kill all in Rairarubia as revenge from an unknown foe! The only hope was for Molly to bring her doctor mother to Rairarubia.
***** I read this book in one sitting! It was fantastic! I can only hope this is not the last in this series. I have become fond of the characters and the magical realm of Rairarubia. This series is perfect for fifth grade and above. Yes, even adults will love it. I sure did!
Author, W. Royce Adams, has a remarkable talent for writing in a way that teens and pre-teens can easily understand and enjoy! I urge parents to purchase this series and read them with their children. Highly recommended! *****
Princess Leia Organa & Jude Watson: title - Star Wars Journal (Captive To Evil)
Remember the very first movie shown in theaters of the Star Wars Saga? Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Chewbacca, and the droids team up for the first time against Darth Vader and the dreaded Death Star.
Now relive it all from the viewpoint of Princess Leia Organa. She wrote it all in her journal in hopes that should she die, the journal and all its secrets would find its way to the Rebellion!
***** The book reads much like a diary with a recorder built in. It begins before the movie did and ends shortly past where the movie ended. Leia tells how she came into possession of the Death Star plans and what she endured as Vader's prisoner. We can see how the Force influenced her strongly in her decisions. Though she had no idea what or where these strange and strong feelings were from, Leia trusted it. We see a glimpse of the proof showing that the Force runs strong in the Skywalker family, and we understand more about Leia, Luke, and Han. All-in-all, this book is a masterpiece! *****
W. Royce Adams: title - Me & Jay (Ages 10 and up / Young Adventure)
Geraldine Thomas was a thirteen year old tomboy. Her best friend was Jay Thornton, who was always too curious for his own good. Geri's other friend was Randy, who was an oddball to others his age due to his high intelligence. During a hot day Geri suggested hunting up, what the locals called, Blue Pool. It was a an isolated, tear drop shaped, crystal blue lake a few miles away. Many tales circulated about people dying at the lake or disappearing, but Geri and Jay still decide to go. That was only the first of several bad choices the two made that day. Randy was the only one smart enough not to thumb his nose up at danger. He stayed home. Soon Geri and Jay are facing venomous snakes, hopping on and off moving trains, starting a brush fire, finding a new cave, being chased by two mean men out to seriously harm them, and much more! During it all, Geri and Jay become closer and learn some interesting things about each other.
***** Author, W. Royce Adams, writes the way pre- teens and teens talk in today's real world. This makes the story more believable and smoother for the reader. Readers cannot help but learn a few things while reading the story as well, such as what stalactites, stalagmites, and gypsum grotto are. I would not be surprised to see this book win awards! Many will place this book upon their "Keeper" shelves. I sure will! My twelve year old son could hardly wait to get his hands on the book once I was finished.
Perfect for fans of "Hardy Boys" and "Nancy Drew", or just for those who enjoy a lot of excitement in their stories! Highly recommended reading here! Don't miss this one! *****
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