Showing posts with label Children Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Children Fantasy. Show all posts

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Twell Town by Harriet M. Winter


Genre:  Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I absolutely loved this book.  It was fun and full of humor. The author created an alternate world that is so interesting. All the characters of Twell Town are made from fabric, yarn, and other recyclable items.

Bunny Thread is a very unique character. Bunny lives with her mother at the back of her mother's button shop.  Bunny has no school friends.  She doesn't exactly fit in with them.  She makes all her own clothes.  They are very unique to say the least. One day she comes home from school and decides to make herself a friend. She gathers up her materials and sews up a friend. Her first few tries are rejected as they aren't quite good enough. Finally she grabs some yarn and knits herself a bear. She goes to bed with him that night and when she wakes up in the morning he is gone. She finds him sitting in her window. When she goes to him he speaks to her. He makes sure she knows his name is Dexter, not Buttercup, like she had named the bear she created. He tries to explain where he is from. Finally he takes her hand and off they go to where he lives, Twell Town.

Bunny is given a tour of the town which is quite fascinating.  Everyone accepts her there. Then they get to his house. She is impressed, but he is not. Someone has been in his house. She doesn't understand how he figures that since everything is in place. That is when we learn he is definitely not a neat freak.  He is sure he know who was in his house and what they are looking for.  He tries to explain that to her but she doesn't quite understand. But she will. Dexter must get her back to her land and then try to stop the fiends from getting what he has hidden from them. But, what happens when they find Bunny and the item?

Fun adventure from the very beginning.  I loved the author's play on words.  When they visit a clothing store in Twell town the owner of the store starts listing off clothing designers whose names are very similar to those we know today. She also used a lot of figurative language that made the images jump off of the page.  Everything was well thought out and planned.  At the end I wondered if maybe there would be a sequel to this book.  It was wrapped up nicely. However, there could be more adventures down the road. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Cameron and the Shadow Wraiths by Mark Cheverton


Genre:  Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source:  I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is the second book in the series: Order of the Stones.  This is a fabulous series.  I read the first book, Facing the Beast Within, and loved it.  In this sequel a year has passed and the kids are back at camp. Leonard has learned to stand up to his father when it comes to his love of History, Bobby is his same jovial person. Elise who loved archery comes back not wanting anything to do with it. Karl comes back a new person. He is no longer a bully. When Cameron steps off of the bus he hears kids chanting "The Hero of Pontchartrain."  He feels like a fraud. The school year was rough. His anxiety is back in force.  Then a childhood friend and bully show up. Twins Jessie and Jamis show up at camp.  Jessie and Cameron were best friends. Jamis does his best to torment Cameron.  When Jessie is taken by a shadow wraith it is up to these heroes to rescue her.

This journey is not going to be easy. Lord Malphas wants Cameron. He has a reason for all of this. Will he succeed? We learn a lot more about Mr. Watson the grounds keeper.  He is more than just a grounds keeper. He will play a major role in shaping the person that Cameron becomes.  The tension in this book was very high. Just about the time we think things are going to work out, something else is thrown in their path and we see Cameron's Beast come back, This time he doesn't only have to battle his own beast, but also Malphas who has found a way to get into Cameron's head.  This was such a wonderful book. The third book in this series, The Gargoyle's Revenge comes up sometime in 2025.  I will definitely be reading it.  Go ahead, read it. I recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, kids who overcome their fears and find belief in themselves.  This one is a keeper

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Facing the Beast Within: The Anxiety of Cameron Poole by Mark Cheverton


Genre: Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I own a copy.

Mark Cheverton has written a book that children today will be able to connect.  He has taken his main character Cameron, who suffers from anxiety, and placed him in a summer camp. This isn’t any ordinary summer camp. That would make anyone anxious. This camp has monsters and it is up to Cameron and his friends to try to stop them from entering their world.

The world building is well done. Any kid who has gone to any type of summer camp or watched movies with summer camp will understand that for an outdoorsy person this is the best place to be. For a kid who suffers with anxiety, maybe not so much.  They will be able to identify with kids, especially Cameron, being bullied. After all, they deal with or see things like this all the time.  What this book does is shows what happens when someone steps up and faces their monsters. It shows how strong they can be, especially with the help of some friends. It shows that they don’t have to do things alone. What better lesson can one learn and in such a charming, and fantastical way.  Well done. I look forward to reading the second book in this series.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

That Thing in the Sky by Christopher Francis

Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy from StoryOrigin. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I really enjoyed this book. You have two ten year old children on their way home from school when they see something in the sky. Suddenly there is an explosion and black things dropping from the sky. A neigbor working on his farm is watching as well. They realize there is something in the haystack and go to investigate only to be chased by the strange broken horned, octopus looking alien. Both are kidnapped and place high up in a tree for the night.  Just what do the aliens want with them? Why are Bailey and Margaret so sure it doesn't mean them any harm?  

Christopher Francis has created an alien that on one hand is terrifying, yet you can't help but like. You start out scared, then you feel for the creature and want to help it.  He has left the end of the story nicely concluded, yet set up in case there is another one coming after it. (hint, hint)   I have not found a single one of his books that I didn't love. He does a great job with the setting.  I grew up on a farm in Indiana so I could picture the country setting he described.  When they first see the thing in the sky hovering over the silos and the cows acting strange I was taken to the night we saw a strange, quite hovering disk with lights all around it float over the trees along our driveway and hover over our hogs. The pigs were squealing like crazy. Like these kids I was scared, yet curious.  Then it just disappeared. No harm was done to our pigs. Every book I have read by this author has taken me back to my childhood. I believe that is why I love them so much and why I highly recommend them.

Monday, June 27, 2022

A Wonderful Series by Christopher Francis

 The Dream Catcher Series by Christopher Francis

Genre: Elementary, Fantasy

The Dream Catcher Series is based on a group of Dream Catchers whose job is to enter the dreams of children and help turn their scary negative dreams into something that is not scary, but fun and positive. There are five books in this series.


The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: The Fear of Falling 

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

 In this first story we are introduced to Paisley a young Dream Catcher on her second assignment and Destiny her trainer. How she handles this assignment will determine whether she becomes a member of the Dream Catcher Rescue Squad.  This assignment is a young girl named Abigail who has a fear of falling. When they enter her dream they find her on a rope swing hanging on a thin branch over a high cliff. It is their job to help her change her fear into something positive.  One thing I really liked was at the beginning Paisley tells you the origin of the Dream Catchers and how humans often make dream catchers to hang in their room. I thoroughly enjoyed this story as an adult. I can only imagine how my grandsons are going to enjoy it.



The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: The Basement
Source: I purchased a copy

Paisley has made it onto the Dream Catcher Rescue Squad. Destiny will continue to be her trainer until she had completed 200 assignments. Then Paisley will get to be a trainer.  The child’s fear in this story is a fear of going to the basement. Paisley learns it isn’t the basement he is afraid of. He is afraid of the toilet in the basement. I felt sorry for Bailey. He couldn’t use the bathroom upstairs because it was being remodeled. He imagined the toilet downstairs as being alive. One thing that was different was that Paisley failed in her mission and had to go back.  I keep trying to figure out how they will solve each kids nightmare but haven’t been successful in solving it before the Dream Catchers do.


The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: The Fear of being Lost
Source: I purchased a copy

In this story Paisley and Destiny have a new job and her name is Trinity. In this story the first thing we learn is that they have a set up team that does things like open windows for them to slip into the house. Trinity’s nightmare is that she gets lost and can’t find her mommy. It doesn’t help that every time she has the nightmare and wakes her older sister up, her older sister decides to scare her the next day.  Each of these characters who have nightmares must learn a lesson to deal with what scares them. Such a subtle way to teach a valuable lesson.


The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: Scary Noises
Source: I purchased a copy

Oscar is the Dream Catcher Rescue Squad’s newest job. Oscar is afraid of things during the day and during the night. They enter the dream hoop and shortly thereafter they see Moon Drifters. Moon Drifters steal good dreams and keep them for themselves. The Dream Catchers have got to show Oscar what is making the strange noises and shadows in his house before he wakes up. Who will win this one the Dream Catchers or the Moon Drifters?  This one resonated with me a lot. Growing up in a house that was over 100 years old made falling asleep difficult. I heard every creak and groan and saw shadows everywhere. As an adult I still jump at noises I hear at night and have to fight to not let my imagination run away with me.


The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: The Fear of School
Source: I purchased a copy

Maslyn is the squad’s newest job. Before I say anything more I have to comment on the way the Dream Catchers get around. They have hair propellers. That is just the coolest thing. Not only that but I just learned that they have the ability to shape shift. Paisley and Destiny notice that Maslyn isn’t in bed yet. They fly around the farm and watch the parents. Dad is busy on his combine and mom is busy taking care of all of the animals. Maslyn’s dad comes in to get Maslyn ready for bed. She doesn’t want to go to sleep because she doesn’t want to go to school the next day. She has to give a presentation and she is scared.  This is a nightmare I often had as a child. It is something that as a teacher I still struggle with. I had no dream catcher squad to help me. I had great administrators who pushed me out of my comfort zone and stood there to support me.


Final Thoughts:

Oh my gosh what a wonderful series. The author has touched on fears not only kids, but also adults have. We have read about the fear of heights, falling, public speaking, scary noises or getting lost. These are perfect for younger elementary students. I will definitely recommend these books to our school media specialist. I believe my grandkids are going to love a copy of these as well.

I have read a multitude of elementary age books by this author and loved them. The illustrations are wonderful.  If you have a middle grade child or young adult you might want to check out his books for older children. Please check back here as I will be reviewing  five more books for the older population. This is definitely an author you need to check out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Collection of Past Due Reviews

The Laceyville Monkeys Say the Right Words
Author: Harriett Ruderman
Illustrator: Beerly Luria
Publisher: Illusion Press
Source: Publisher Review copy

Let me start off by commenting on the illustrations for this book. The use of bright water colored pictures was wonderful the emotions expressed on teh the character's faces were well portrayed and helped the story line along. Hepzibah comes to Laceyville to enter her three monkeys in their talent contest. She takes them to Granny's house and hey perform for her. Granny decides to enter them as her own. However when she instructs them to dance and sing and tumble, she does it harshly and they just stand there. The trainer comes and saves the day. The lesson of speaking softly and kindly is portrayed with words and pictures. I enjoyed this book. This is a book I believe every parent should have and read before their child is born. After the birth of their child they should read it to their child at least once a week. I deal with students in middle grades and often can tell how they are spoken to at home. I loved this book and look forward to sharing it with my grandchildren

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks
Publisher: PUSH
Pages 230
Source: I purchased

Martyn Pig has had a hard life. His mother divorced his father and left him with his dad. His father is a drunk who only stays sober when his sister is coming for a visit. She had tried to get custody of Martyn. Martyn finds himself in trouble when he accidently kills his father. Enter his friend Alex and her boyfriend Dean and the trouble has begun. This book kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through. I felt the anxiety that Martyn felt while he was going through all his different situations. I have a hard time keeping this book on my shelves. this was a re-read for me. I first read it seven years ago when it first came out. I have had to purchase four new copies since that time because they have been stolen or just loved to death. This book is great for any kid because they can relate to it in so many ways.

GUTS by Gary Paulsen
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 148
Source: I purchased it

Move over Bear Grylls. Gary Paulsen, author of the Hatchet Books has soften been asked about his characters. A lot of his characters and their circumstances are based on actual events that have happened to him in real life. When I read about how he had sucked the eyes out of fish or eaten the guts of a squirrel. Maybe this is why my boys find this a really great book. He is a true survivalist and the reader of this book has a lot to learn from him. I enjoyed this book immensely. I realized he did not sugar coat anything. He talked about several instances where he observed people killed. The saddest was the story of the little boy feeding a wild deer and he and his mom didn't understand the signs and the deer kicked the boy killing him instantly. It is no wonder that his books are so realistic. They are based on events that actually happened to him.

An African Tale by Enna Neru
Publisher: Outskirt Press
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher's review

I have read a lot of myths but none have enchanted me the way this one did. The lessons to be learned about saving our resources were right on in this day and age. I enjoyed the idea that when the people became wasteful the water was collected into a stone in the shape of a diamond and buried in the desert until someone found. I felt sorry for Ledimo in the beginning of the book. His father was a terrible person. He used his sons ability. Jealousy, greed, hunger for power led to the downfall of Ledimo. It seemed like it took him a long time to learn his lesson. The idea of power being passed down to twins so that they had to cooperated seemed like the plausible thing to do. I enjoyed this immensely. I had not yet finished it when one of my students asked if he could read it next. He had been reading the back of the book. Since I teach reluctant readers, any book that can make them ask tot read it is excellent in my opinion. I would definitely recommend this book to all of my students.

One Speaks: Sacred Relationship Revealed by Richela Chapman
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Pages: 296
Source: Reviewers copy

Richela chapman makes some valuable points in her book, "One Speaks". The first chapter reminds us that before we can love someone else, we must first love ourselves. She encourages us to treat our heart and should as the temple that it is. For so many of us we have gotten lost along the way with excess baggage that makes it difficult to do just that. Something that I found helpful was in the reflections at the end of chapter 70. For years I have written down things when I was angry and then either tore them up and threw them away or flushed them down the toilet. Not once did I ever consider imagining the words actually being spoken to me and then thinking about my emotional reaction to them. I believe that is why the angry thoughts would resurface time and again. I enjoyed the reflection activities at the end of each chapter. As a teacher I made my students reflect on what they have learned and what they have read. For me this seemed so natural.

A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt

Publisher: Dreams Shared
Pages: 297
Source: Reviewer's Copy

I can remember when I was younger doing walk-a-thons to raise money for various things at our schools. The longest I had walked was 20 miles. I believed that was a lot until I read this book. Jeff alt walked 2,160 miles to fulfill a dream and raise money for a worthy cause. When I walk today I complain if I have to walk in a little bit of drizzle or if the weather is too hot. Jeff walked in downpours, snow, extremely cold weather or extremely hot weather and still kept on going. His dream was to walk the Appalachian Trail, a personal dream while raising money for the Sunshine Home where his brother Aaron was. This book is his inspirational story of how he accomplished this and the friends he made along the way. I had to ask myself when I finished this book, would I have the courage and stamina to do this? I laughed at the simple things, such as his realizing how bad he smelled when he hurt his ankle and had to get a ride to Gatlinburg. I would have been terrified to have crossed paths and then stood up to the group they called "The Vegetarians." Jeff tried to make hiking a pleasure in so many ways for so many people on the trail. I know I will never hike the trail long distance as he did. The next time I am on it I will remember him and bring some of his inspiration with me. I loved the maps at the beginning of each chapter and found the gear list and tips for taking children hiking especially helpful I have several friends who have been asking for an opportunity to read this and I will gladly share this inspirational book.

Grandfather's Story Cloth by Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford
Grandfather's Story Cloth was one that so many people can relate to no matter what their cultural background. Chersheng's grandfather has Alzheimer's disease. He doesn't always remember his family, the time period, or where he is. This is upsetting to Chersheng and his younger brother. When their mother brings out a story cloth that the grandfather had made, the grandfather was able to share stories of his life in Laos. Chersheng decides to create something that will help keep memories for his grandfather of his time in America. this brought back memories of my grandmother who had alzheimer's disease. It often tears families apart. I loved the added information in the back of the book about alzheimer's disease, the Homong people and story cloths. I thought that it was great that this was a bilingual book. This is a great asset to my shelves.

The Unicorn Treasury by Bruce Coville
Publisher: Magic Carpet Books, 2004
ISBN: 978-052052164
Source: A gift from my daughter for my classroom

When my daughter was younger and we owned a ceramic business, she painted a unicorn that she still has today. As she got older and more adept at painting it was repainted a lavender with sparkles all over itl The mane and tail were glittery pink and it had a golden horn. It came as no surprise when she handed me a book full of unicorn stories, poems and unicorn lore. The stories were very crisp and refreshing. This collection of stories and poems were told by some of my favorite authors like C.S. Lewis, Jane Yolen and Madeleine L'Engle. That is not to say the other contributors were not good. I was not familiar with many and that made the book even more charming. The cover art was gorgeous. It takes anyone who has ever loved fairy tales and transports them back into that world. It was snatched up the minute I put it on my shelves. This is a must read for all who love unicorns.

The Ruby Key by Holly Lisle
Publisher: Orchard Books, 2008
Pages: 361
ISBN: 978-0545000130
Source: Library

I am picky about the fantasy I read. The reason I read this book was simple, I had taken some writing courses from the author and always loved what she wrote online. So, I figured I would try one of her books. Ruby Key is the story of Genna and Dan who lived in the village of Highbrush. They have hatched a plan to save their mother who is sick. The only night they are allowed out is the night they make their offering to the Nightlings who leave gifts for them in return. They know to go out at night might mean their death or they could become slaves of the Nightlings. to save their mother they must go out at night and venture to the taander tree to gather its sap. While out they encounter a nightling who becomes their friend. They find out that there is a problem brewing in their village and they join forces with the Nightling to try to set things right. I loved the way it ended. It was finished nicely, yet was finished in a way that a sequel would fit nicely. The characters and plot were definitely well developed. I would expect nothing less from Holly. I will also read more of her books. I enjoyed them quite a bit.

The Never Pals by Rocky Kuznik
Publisher: Outskirts Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-1432703035
Pages: 480
Source: Reviewer's copy

The Never Pals is the story of two neighbors who have never really had anything to do with each other. Frank Bingham sells cars for Frenchy Mandril. He is Frenchy's best salesman. When things go wrong, Frenchy leaves Frank to clean up the mess. He can't really stand Frenchy and his ignorance. He often wondered about Frenchy, "Why is it those parents of his decide to make a human form that included a moronic brain? Then choose to provide him living space on this particular planet is way beyond me." To me this was absolutely hilariously. I kept asking myself if he hated it so much, why didn't he find a different job?
January Thornton works for King's Crib Inn. He runs his kitchen like a drill sergeant. He takes great pride in what he puts out. However, his suggestions to the general manager often fall on deaf ears. The manager seemed to be in the throes of dementia. he didn't seem to know he had a secretary. He was unaware of many things that were going on under his nose.
Frank and January meet in their driveways and January suggests they go down to Florida for a couple of weeks and get away from the stress of their jobs. This is exactly what they do. They meet a couple of girls and as usual, Frank can't just stick with one thing. January has actually started a relationship. Their differences on vacation are as different when they are home.
Both have unique experiences which involve a robbery and attempted murder. This was a fun book to read. I liked January's character best. He seemed more level headed whereas Frank was out for fun and for himself. Need something to pick you up and give you a laugh? This book is the answer to that.

Messy Tessy by Leah Orr
Illustrated by Josephine Lepore
Publisher: AuthorHouse, 2009
Source: Review copy from Publisher/Author

Tessy is your typical child who likes to keep her toys handy. Mom wants her room to stay clean. When mom goes away and Aunt Fran comes to stay, things quickly get out of hand. With Aunt Fran's help the mess is cleaned up. Well most of it. This was a cute book. I remember my sister pulling so many of these antics and me playing mommy and cleaning up so our mother would not know about it. This was a really cute book. I look forward to sharing it with many little ones. I really like the idea that Lea Orr donated the proceeds of her first two books to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, to help find a cure. This is something very close to her as her daughter was diagnosed with CF. I look forward to future books. These make great read alouds for my grandchildren.

Who Wants to be a Poodle I Don't
Author: Lauren Child
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2009
Pages 38
Source: Publisher Review copy for Picnic Basket

I read this book twice. I loved it. They rhyme and story line were wonderful A story told from he perspective of the poodle. I have always wondered how much dogs liked being pampered. According to Trixie Twinkle Toes Trot-a-Lot Delight, poodles would like to be treated like other dogs. It is okay to be pampered on occasion but not constantly. It is also not appropriate to give them long names. One think that I like even more than the story were the pictures. It looked as if they used scrapbooking papers and possibly fabric to create the looks. It was bright, cheery andgave the feel of elegance. By this I mean the poodle was pampered and the owner bought expensive items so teh choice of backgrounds and papers used gave the impression of elegance. This book will be a gift to one of my young friends, Charlotte. She is 4 years old and loves to read to her mommy (an art teacher at our school) every night. I know the two of them will thoroughly enjoy the book.