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Written by Maureen Bartone
An interesting chapter book targeted for readers in the seven to eleven year age range. On her tenth birthday, Daisy goes for a bike ride with her two best fourth grade friends, Patrick and Michael. Daisy is often considered a tomboy, but one thing her two friends have never persuaded her to do is to play football. When the three friends pause to investigate an old shed, they discover an abandoned gumball machine. Daisy decides that she must have one so she deposits a coin. Soon the machine rumbles and sucks all three of them inside. Little do they realize the adventure awaiting them inside.
Bartone uses lots of human and kid-friendly dialogue to describe how the three humans shrink and meet the gumball people and their exciting world. Our three human friends will discover that outside appearance matters little, the real person is wrapped inside. Daisy will experience that football game and face her hidden fears. Lessons learned include how we behave and what we do are a lot more important than how we look.
Daisy is looking forward to her birthday party that afternoon, but things are looking grim that the three friends will free themselves from the gumball world and return to their normal size. The only way to escape is for another person to come along and discover that abandoned candy machine. That does not appear to be a likely possibility. Will the three friends keep their cool and figure out a way to return home? What will happen to their newly found gumball friends? How will Patrick, Michael and Daisy’s lives be changed forever?
The plot of this middle-grade chapter book is simple and the text straightforward with enough excitement, surprises and humor to keep the reader entertained and the advice from becoming preachy. A surprise near the end sets the scene for a new adventure. Recommended for children in grades two through six.
One Creepy Street: Annica’s Broom
Written by Lee Jordan
Interesting book that focuses on the topic of texting and driving, so important in the modern age of cell phones. Annica is a witch who is about to come of age. At age thirteen all witches are given their broomstick, the human equivalent to a teenager getting a driver’s license. Today’s parents worry not only about their children paying attention to driving skills, but keeping their hands off that cell phone to answer a call or text while driving.
On Annica’s first flight, she is tempted and decides to text just one word. Sure enough, she crashes down on Creepy Street where she promptly meets some frightful creatures like a one- eyed policeman, spiders and trolls. Finally a recalcitrant elf tossed out by Santa makes the decision that he might want to help her. Will Annica be rescued and find her way home? What will happen to her if she does succeed?
This book has fun illustrations and plenty of humor, which will make its message palatable to pre teens and teens. The book is targeted for readers age six and older, but is most appropriate for readers age nine and older. The text needs editing in some spots, but that will probably not detract from its appeal to young readers. Recommended to parents and teachers who want to impart a serious message without being didactic.
Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY 12521-0112
Written by Karin Kaufman
A delightful chapter book consisting of ten stories that revolve around a fearless family of mice facing the dangers and challenges of winter. Geraldine is the protagonist who was born in April, but now in October is facing the end of the gathering season. She and her brother Nigel have much to learn and experience. Readers are introduced to their friends in the forest, Penelope, the sparrow and Cheddar, a white rabbit. The children love to hear their father Nigel read to them stories from the Book of Tales. These adventures teach them about common sense, trust, gratitude, empathy and sharing. As October wanes, the family and friends celebrate Thanksgiving and the joys of Christmas. On the other hand, the children’s curiosity put them in danger of being eaten by wolves and ravens, swept down the river on a log and being destroyed by a forest fire. Charlotte is a sensitive and inquisitive mouse who desires to read, write and explore the world around her. She and her brother share sibling rivalry, but at the same time deeply love and care for one another. Their parents teach them to have faith that Very, Very Big Hands will be there to guide and protect them.
This chapter book is geared toward readers in grades three to six. Some younger children may enjoy individual stories as a read aloud. There are no illustrations; a few simple drawings would add appeal to younger children. I would thoroughly recommend the book as a gentle, sweet read for children who love animals. The many lessons learned and bravery in facing adversity allow for lots of discussion on the topics of developing strong character and interpersonal skills.
Written by Belle Ward
First book in a middle grade short story series. Lilah is about to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. Her father surprises her with her favorite breakfast of pancakes and bacon. As she departs for school with her older brother, Jay, Lilah looks forward to her first class in which she is studying about Ancient Greece. Mr. Fisher is discussing the Olympians. For some reason, Lilah can’t stop thinking about the lesson.
When Lilah gets home she is surprised by the gift of an angel-winged necklace from her dad. But when she prepares for bed, strange things begin to happen. The necklace heats up, her rainbow colored extensions suddenly become attached to her head, and she experiences a strange dream. The next day, Lilah is invited to join a special dream club. She is astonished to learn that the other members are Apollo and Hades. They think she is the goddess who will help them find the Father of the Monsters. A sudden crash, and all must run for their lives…..Will Lilah cast her fate with these strangers? Will she wake up from this nightmare?
This short story is a good length for reluctant readers. The characters are believable and interesting enough. What some readers may not like is that the tale ends in a cliffhanger. Readers will be left disappointed unless they immediately get a hold of Book Two.
Barbara Ann Mojica
Written and illustrated by Mike Artell
I was provided a copy of this book and voluntarily decided to give my honest, unbiased review.
Artell has written and illustrated more than 35 books for children and adults. This book is much more than an I Can Draw book. It does include step by step instructions for drawing helicopters, prop planes and jets, which are easy to follow and simple enough for the targeted audience of seven to twelve year old plane enthusiasts.
For me even more important is the explanation of letter codes that the military use to describe the function of each machine. For example, A indicates attack fighter and M signifies that the aircraft has multiple functions. Each aircraft is preceded by an actual photograph along with statistics about size, speed, altitude and function. These are followed by several pages of step by step easy to follow drawing instructions. Perhaps the best feature is the QR code available as an app for each plane. Readers can use it to access videos of actual flight and tons of additional information on each of the fifteen selections. At the end of the book, the author supplies an extensive bibliography which the military aircraft aficionado may access for detailed information.
I learned a lot about military aircraft from this easy read. Even though my artistic ability is generally limited to stick figures, this guide is so easy that I am tempted to make a serious try to draw them. Recommended for ages seven and older.
Barbara Ann Mojica,