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Facing Fears

Yuri And The Legend of the Seventh Sea

Written by Denis Boystov

Illustrated by Lana Khrapava

This is a sort of coming of age tale of a curious and brave fish named Yuri. Little Yuri lives in a lake where he is loved by his parents and big brother. Yuri is always questioning and never takes no for an answer from his parents and teachers. When he overhears his father tell of a hidden secret map that gives directions to the Seventh Sea, which is a paradise where fish live forever in peace without enemies or danger, Yuri immediately launches a search to find it. He is tired of dodging boats filled with humans, fish hooks, and larger sea creatures desiring to eat him.

After embarking on his journey, Yuri meets up with many dangers but also makes the acquaintance of another fish named Otto who looks out for him. Yuri and Otto eventually find themselves at the entrance to the Seventh Sea. Now they must get through without wakening the Sea Serpent who will destroy them. Will Yuri survive and if he does, will he find that the paradise truly does exist?

Yuri is an adorable character that children will love. He appears almost human with a personality much like a curious human. The dialogue among the characters is so realistic that readers will forget that Yuri is a fish. I found myself cheering for him to succeed. Children can see themselves in Yuri as he tests his limits, but also faces his fears. The illustrations are beautiful. While I did enjoy this book as an adult reader, I would especially recommend it to a middle-grade audience.

 

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

See my latest release  here and on Goodreads

Florence Nightingale Biography

Florence Nightingale: A Life Inspired

Written by Lynn M. Hamilton

This is an interesting biography that focuses on Nightingale’s personal struggles as well as her pioneering work in nursing. Florence was born into a wealthy English Victorian family. Throughout her life, Florence was torn between what was expected of woman born to a well-to-do nineteenth-century family and her strong ties to the Unitarian Church, which demanded community service to those less fortunate in society. Her family’s wide travels in Europe allowed her to meet powerful thinkers like Victor Hugo and Alexis De Tocqueville. While her family urged her to marry, Florence resisted. By the time she was thirty-two, Florence had asserted her independence by assuming a role as superintendent of a nursing home even though she received no salary. Her service in the Crimean War revealed the serious flaws in hospital care. More soldiers died from their illnesses than in battle. Nightingale demanded that abuses like poor lighting, sanitation, and ventilation be addressed. She urged proper training for nursing students and hospital sanitation, reflecting the germ theory of illness.

I was not aware of Florence’s work in India and the depth of personal struggle she experienced between her convictions and the demands of her family. The fact that she refused to sit on her laurels and accept praise for her accomplishments, but rather be self-critical about her own mistakes and failings impressed me. Her influence on modern healthcare practices cannot be underestimated.

I recommend the book for anyone interested in learning more about the evolution of nursing and modern healthcare or to learn about the life of a remarkable, Victorian woman willing to stand up and be counted. Recommended for ages ten and older.

A Hairy Fairy Tale!

The Hairy Fairy: The Hairy Fairy Tales, Book 1

Written by Mark Watson

On Saturday morning, Jack wakes up to discover a hairy fairy sitting on his head. Jack is incredulous. The fairy informs Jack that his boss is angry with him for messing with her cat, so she banished him to spend a day sitting on someone’s head. He tells Jack that no one else can see him, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause mischief and have some fun. Poor Jack is determined to carry out his previous plan to spend the day at the Scout Jamboree. When he goes to the market, the fairy causes the vegetables to grow. They soon take over the town and cause all manner of havoc. Now Jack and his nemesis are trapped. Will they be able to escape? What will happen to the town now involved with the military in a battle against the vegetables, likened to World War III?

This book of fewer than fifty pages might best be described as a beginning chapter book. The clever rhymes are filled with humor and challenging vocabulary. Illustrations are done in graphic novel style. Aimed at a six to twelve age audience, I think that advanced beginning readers and middle school students will love the quirky plot and offbeat humorous rhymes. Fans of fantasy, sci-fi, and humor probably will enjoy it.

Rhino Poaching

Nola

Written by Stephanie Lisa Tara

Illustrated by Pilar Lama

Nola was a northern white rhino who lived in the San Diego Safari Park. She was sweet and gentle. Her caretakers and visitors lover her dearly. When she died peacefully on November 22, 2015, the world mourned her loss. Now only three of her species are left on earth.

This beautiful nonfiction picture book presents her story to the world. Illustrated in soft, beautiful watercolors, Nola is seen happily romping through the grass and chewing her dinner, running with the herds, and speaking with other friends in the animal park. She looks forward to her human visitors. But there is danger lurking because her species is hunted for their trunk, the other animals warn her to hide. Nola is so large that she cannot find a spot to camouflage her. She leaves her readers with the message to be grateful for what you have. Bonus features included in this book allow the reader to view real photographs of the rhino and read an interview with Nola’s zookeeper, Jane Kennedy sharing her real-life experiences in caring for Nola.

This beautiful book is recommended for preschool and early elementary age children, though the beauty of Nola’s soul and her message will resonate with readers of all ages.

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Back to School Around the World

A Look at the Back to School Practices Around the World

By mid September most of us are well settled back into the new school year, but returning to school or beginning a new one requires quite a bit of preparation each year.

No matter where you live, back to school involves an interesting set of traditions and practices. Buying back to school supplies in Brazil causes huge inflation. Those who wait to the last minute might see school supply prices rise 500% ! In Holland, many parents drive their children to school on bakfietsen, which are bikes with large boxes over the front wheel to tote kids. Children in Japan have the longest school year in the world at 250 days. Students carry supplies in hard backpacks called randoseru. Inside one will find pencil cases, origami paper and slippers to wear inside the school building. On the first day, many students bring a lunch of rice with seaweed sauce and quail eggs called fudebako, which is supposed to bring good luck. In Germany youngsters carry Schultuete, which are large paper cones filled with school supplies, small presents and sweets. Some of these cones are almost as big as the child. Israeli children bring edible letters coate

d with honey, while the older students release colorful balloons from the school windows to welcome them. The first day of school in Russia is called “Day of Knowledge.” Each child gives a bouquet of flowers to his teacher and receives a balloon in return. Russian students get to know each other well, as they remain in the same class from first to tenth grade. Indian students call their first day, Praveshanotsavam. It involves a gift exchange. Umbrellas are popular gifts, which are most appropriate for the upcoming monsoon season. North Korean students from age five stay together for eleven years wearing government regulation uniforms and studying “Communist Morality.” Their government carefully monitors the program of study for negative influences. Children in Hong Kong don’t need to worry about being late because the government puts on more public transportation services at an earlier time to handle the traffic as a new school year begins. French students consider themselves lucky to have the shortest academic year with two hour lunches, Wednesdays off, and a half day on Saturday.

 

Perhaps even more interesting are some back to school college traditions. At Elon College, an acorn is presented to freshmen. Upon graduation each student receives a small oak tree symbolizing academic growth. At Vassar College, freshmen dorms are invited to compose a song for graduating seniors. While the seniors listen, they cover the composers in condiments like ketchup or chocolate syrup. Georgetown students hold a competition on a mud and food covered quad to determine a king and queen. Reed College students host a noise parade. They yell, play instruments, bang pots and pans, and carry torches while parading though the campus. Female students at Smith College hold a costume competition wearing crazy clothes or nothing at all. Clemson students schedule a pep rally before the first football game which involves creating their own floats, a miniature Rose Bowl parade. Ohio State students turn their fun into a good cause. The Buckeython is a 5K race with a glow in the dark theme to raise money for kids who have cancer.

It does not matter where or whether you attend school, education is a life long experience so reward yourself by learning about something new and get back “into the swing of things.”

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Travels to….nonfiction book series
Website: http://www.LittleMissHISTORY.com
EMAIL: barbara@littlemisshistory.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bamauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LittleMissHISTORY

Time to Unplug the Tech

Hubert in Heaven: A high-tech angel gets his wings

Written by Barbara Roman

Hubert is a hologram in a video game being shot toward the moon. He misses the mark and finds himself in heaven instead. The Grand Master of the Transition works with newly arrived angels, assigning them tasks to achieve before earning their wings. Hubert depends on his computer. He finds himself a failure painting rainbows because he enhances the colors. The Grand Master patiently assigns Hubert a new task, that of choir director, but computer generated music from earth does not cut it in heaven. Hubert is given another job, the very important one of shining up the stars and preparing the Star of Bethlehem for Christmas. This results in the greatest failure of all. Will Hubert ever find his unique talent? Can he learn to fit in with the human inhabitants of heaven?

This book is a quick read. There are a few illustrations to assist younger children in following the tale and its lessons, but the story is more suited to middle grade readers. It serves as a reminder that each person possesses unique talents, if he is willing to work hard to develop them. The author reminds readers of what can be accomplished without computers; sometimes pulling the plug is not a bad idea.

 

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

 

Middle Grade Mystery

Jug Valley Mysteries, HANDS UP!

Written by Anne Digby

Amy and Tim are students at Jug Valley. Together with their friends and fellow students, Ben, Ludo, and Mini, they have formed a club called Hands and Spouts. They meet regularly to solve mystery cases. One day at school, Ben accidentally kicks a football over the fence into the rector’s garden. It belongs to Charlie, a lower class man, who becomes terribly distraught. The five friends make a promise to retrieve the precious football as soon as the school day ends.

What appears to be a simple task turns thorny, when the members of the club discover the football has vanished into thin air. Howard, the rector’s son, promises to help, but the trail runs cold. These young detectives are mystified as to why a grungy, old football is so important, but when it becomes apparent that football is gone, they intensify their efforts to stop at nothing to get Charlie’s football back into his hands. Why is this football so valuable and why are so many people trying to gain possession of it? There are enough twists and turns to entice middle grade readers to keep turning pages. When the mystery is finally solved, all who have been touched by it learn valuable lessons about themselves and each other.

My only criticism is that the story begins slowly. I had not read any of the other books in the series and therefore was unfamiliar with the characters. After the first couple of chapters, the story evolved and grew more interesting. I like the fact that there is enough challenging vocabulary to stretch the minds of young readers. American readers will need to acclimate to British phrases. Recommended especially for readers in the eight to twelve age bracket.

Adventure with Anna the Virus

An Adventure With Anna the Virus

Written by Emma Gertony

Fun illustrated early chapter book for children to explain how viruses enter the body. Anna has been hiding in waiting while inside young Henry’s nose. Like her fellow adenoviruses, Anna has a round shape with spikes and is less than 200 nanometers in size. She and thousands of others like her wait for the perfect moment to travel through the air at 100 miles per hour and land on a surface like a park railing. Here they lie in wait for an unsuspecting child. Their leader, Captain Roger, calls out instructions. George places his hand on the railing; when he touches an itchy nose, the viruses seize the opportunity to slide down his larynx, hoping to eventually reach his lungs. In the meantime, Ted, who is positioned in George’s Thymus valiantly calls out to his troops, the white blood cells and mucus glands to fight off the viruses. Those viruses seem to be winning the battle until George’s body defenses of high fever and chills initiate a visit to the doctor, who prescribes medication and a regimen of good hygiene to defeat the invaders.

This book is richly and vividly illustrated making it a crossover between a picture and early chapter book. Parents of preschoolers might want to use it to explain what makes a child feel sick. Older children will enjoy the humor and the adventure story. Recommended especially for children ages four through ten. Good choice for libraries, doctor’s waiting rooms, and classrooms.