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Chess Adventures and Girl Power!

An Evening with Grandpa: Adventures in Chess Land

Written by Diana Matlin

This chapter book contains a story that achieves two objectives: it teaches a child how to play chess and presents an engaging fairy tale promoting strong female role models.

Annie is sick in bed with a sore throat. To make matters worse, her family is attending The Nutcracker Ballet and she is stuck home with grandpa. Grandpa sticks his nose in his newspaper. He won’t consider playing one of Annie’ s favorite child games. But once he begins telling her a story about a young girl named Pawnie who is enlisted by the Queen to fight for her kingdom, Annie wants to hear more. Grandpa cleverly reveals how to play chess in the tale about two queens and kings who are battling for control of the kingdom. Grandpa includes all the chess players and carefully details their moves and strategies for winning the battle. The white queen promises that if Pawnie successfully gets to the other side, she will become a princess. Annie is enthralled with the tale and eagerly sets out to learn how to play the game of chess with grandpa.

Matlin keeps the plot moving with clever dialogue and a detailed description of how the chess characters can succeed in winning the game by learning the right chess moves. It is a unique way to introduce children to a challenging game of skill. The chapters are kept short and the print font is large, making it a good choice for beginning and reluctant readers. The strong female role model focus combined with the traditional princess protagonist is a powerful magnet for young girls. Highly recommended for budding chess players and readers in the six to ten age group but a fun read for all.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

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Texting and Driving: A Not So Magical Mix

Texting and Driving: A Not So Magical Mix

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
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Book Review -Wagon Train Kids –

Wagon Train Kids Headed West for Gold

Written by K.B. Shaper

Wagontrainkids,pic

Middle-grade historical fiction tale focusing on Jack and his younger sister Mary. The family lives on a farm in Connecticut. One day the children are shocked to learn that their parents are selling everything and heading West on a wagon train in the hopes of finding gold in the California hills. The author traces the journey as the family heads north to Albany and then west to Missouri. There they meet Mr. Booth, the wagon master who will guide them to California.

Shaper goes into detail about the supplies and the preparation needed to prepare for the journey. I do think more time should have been spent describing in detail what the children saw on the journey. In that respect the plot is a bit uneven. One night the members of the wagon train observe someone watching them. Jack and Mary are warned to run if their father signals them. The adventure begins when the children become separated from their parents and are left on their own. A kindly stranger rescues them and brings them into San Francisco, where they work to earn their keep. Will the children be reunited with their parents and what happened to the rest of the members of the wagon train?

The story ends abruptly, if satisfactorily. Some readers may question whether telling the children to run and hide and that they will be found when the danger has passed is a realistic scenario. The plot features a traditional nuclear family story with a bit of history about the mid-nineteenth century, but may be short of adventure for some 21st century readers. I would still recommend it as an easy chapter book for early middle-grade readers. Teachers might use it as a read aloud to supplement this period of American history.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review: Creepy Crawlers

This weeks’ book review is just in time for Halloween!

Spiders: Fun Facts and Amazing Photos of Animals in Nature Book 6

Written by Emma Child

Spider,pic

Another entry in the Amazing Animals series of kindle books. The photos can be enlarged for closer inspection by young readers. I enjoyed this nonfiction book; facts were presented in an easy to read and interesting format.

Readers learn what a spider looks like, how they spin webs, the venom they engender, what they eat, and the families in which they live. The book is packed with little-known information. I learned that crab spiders often live in tree trunks and that the diving bell spider lives entirely underwater. Tarantula spiders are even kept as house pets. Some spiders actually live in colonies with as many as 50,000 spiders who hunt and share food together.

The books in this series are targeted for children ages six through twelve. I would recommend collecting them as good nonfiction resource for the study of animals. Teachers and parents can use them as a starting point in research study. Too bad they are not currently available in print versions.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

Opposites Attract

What A Pair! Mattie and Mark Miller:Double Trouble Series

Written by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Whatapair,pic

This is the first in a series focused on the Amish way of life and nine year old twins, Mattie and Mark. Targeted for middle grade readers ages eight through twelve, the book is a fun and educational introduction to a way of life misunderstood by most observers.

Brunstetter begins by explaining that the Amish are group of people who live a plain life without using many modern things; a simple plausible way to explain to children why they are different but not strange. The author goes on to give examples as to how they live and work both in the past and present.

She provides a glossary of the Amish language words which are used liberally throughout the story. Readers will love these feisty twins with diametrically opposed personalities. What they do have in common is a love of life, family, and kind hearts. For example, Mattie is a dreamer, Mark a scholar, Mattie is cautious, Mark an adventurer, Mattie loves dogs, and Mark loves cats. Mattie is a great baseball player, while Mark cringes when he sees a bat and ball. As the reader follows one humorous adventure after another, what comes through is deep commitment to family, society and community, and a story about two children experiencing the same problems any tween faces. The book will appeal to both genders.

On their birthday, the twins receive an unexpected gift from their grandparents. This gift will require them to learn how to work together. When an unexpected emergency arises, the twins learn the real value of teamwork. The plot has lots of twists and turns and many different scenarios to appeal to a wide variety of reader interests. Text is interesting and challenging, yet not too overwhelming. Lots of humor, adventure, family fun, good values and the benefit of learning about a culture few have experienced first hand. Highly recommended for tweens and young adult readers or anyone interested in understanding Amish society.

Barbara Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY series:
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to FORD’S THEATER
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to INTREPID Sea, Air & Space Museum
WWW.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Literature Link: A Difficult Choice

Lightmasters – Number 13

Written by M.G. Wells

Lightmasters2,picJessica Wyrd is facing her thirteenth birthday. The last year has been extremely difficult for her. Her parents were both killed in an automobile accident down in Georgia. Jessica is now living with her eccentric maternal grandparents in upstate New York. She misses her best friends, Emma and Hank. In school she is the considered the nerdy newbie, the victim of bullying by students and teachers alike.

Shortly before her thirteenth birthday, Jessica encounters a spiral light and a green haze. A voice urges her to follow the others who are waiting. She meets Dragateen, Torc and Bo, along with other spirits who tell her to shift into another dimension and make the journey to Kiron. Jessica hesitantly walks through an oak tree and enters, but the dark forces of Sartan are waiting to do battle with this new recruit.

Jessica’s journey will lead her to Emerald Pond, Poseidon Pit and mysterious caverns below. She will meet snakes, a slimy octopus, and strange demonic creatures with orange eyes. Jessica has difficulty determining what is reality and what she is experiencing in the “other world.” She receives a special jewel and learns that she bears the mark of the mystic. Still, the decision to use her special powers and whether to become one of the Lightmasters must be her own.

Back here on earth, Jessica is homesick for her friends in Georgia. Wells shifts the story to Jessica’s coming of age conflicts and injects lots of humor in describing the trials and tribulations of a feisty thirteen year old who is intelligent far beyond her chronological age and who must deal with the realities of family, school and death. How does she resolve her conflicts and reconcile two very different lives?

This book of less than two hundred pages is a well written middle grade fantasy adventure that will appeal to readers age nine and up. Lots of twists and turns in plot, humor, and nicely developed characters combined with the kinds of problems kids this age face daily. As an adult, I enjoyed looking back on my early teens through Jessica’s eyes.

Barbara Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY series:
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to FORD’S THEATER
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to INTREPID Sea, Air & Space Museum
WWW.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Literature Link: Don’s Destiny

The Adventures of Don and the White Animals:

Children Adventure & Education( Intermediate readers, Animal friends, Secret power)

Written by Meir Eshel

Donandwhiteanimals

First in a series of middle grade readers featuring Don White, a child born with the gift of communicating with animals, especially white ones. From the time Don comes home from the hospital, his family senses something special about him. As the car sped toward home, they were accompanied by several dogs and a flock of birds chirping around the house. A plague of insects and animals infest the house and drive several babysitters away. Finally an elderly man named Bruce has the courage to take on the job. As Dan grows, it becomes clear that he has the ability to communicate with animals like his mouse named Tiny and dog named Pup.

One day Don’s dad notices that his pets have the same reddish birthmarks as his son. Don is an exceptionally bright boy whose attachment to animals leads him into trouble. When he pleads to attend the Pendor Circus, the family reluctantly acquiesces. This first adventure leads to a kidnapping by monkey named Mog who is able to communicate animal cruelty toward the circus animals. Don will use the experience to draw attention to animal abuse. Then an insensitive teacher will bring down the wrath of Don when she ridicules him in front of the class. She will suffer an embarrassing experience from some of Don’s slimy animal friends. Don is led to the Delphiton racetrack to set the score straight, and a family vacation turns tragic when Don is kidnapped by a group of his enemies.

Don’s adventures are narrated by his father. Noteworthy are his family’s unwavering support and the way Don shows respect, loyalty and good humor despite his fanatic devotion to animal rights causes. At just over one hundred pages, the story has enough elements of fantasy, humor and adventure to delight the middle grade reader, especially boys and reluctant readers. Looking forward to Don’s next adventure.

Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Travels to series of children’s books
http://LittleMissHISTORY.COM
NEW RELEASE, INTREPID Sea, Air & Space Museum COMING SOON!

The Literature Link – Against All Odds

The Leopard Tree

Written by Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu

TheLeopardTree,pic

Three African children meet while living at the Nyumba wa watoto orphanage in Kenya, Africa and become fast friends. Their favorite spot is a tree they call “the leopard tree.” Daudi’s mother died of Aids when he was two; recently his grandmother has died and left him orphaned and abandoned without medication. Masozi is blind and lost a leg to a land mine due to civil war in Sudan, and Ramla from Rwanda witnessed the rape and killing of her family in her village. The trauma from that event has robbed her of her speech. Daudi reads the story of the Wizard of Oz to his friends, which inspires them to seek a wizard who can make life better for them and the children of Africa. Rosa Carson is a photojournalist who often visits Africa in an effort to create awareness of the poverty and medical needs of children in orphanages throughout Africa; she is drawn to and takes a special interest in these three children.

On one visit to the orphanage, Rosa agrees to take the three children on a day trip to Nairobi airport. When Daudi finds a passport on the floor, the adventures begin. The children stow away on a jet flying to San Francisco. From that point they travel by bus to Reno, a minivan to Kansas, and a goat trailer to Missouri. They walk along railroad tracks and stow away in a freight train until they arrive in Pennsylvania. Where are they going? Daudi has learned there is a UN conference in New York. He is determined to plead his case to the Secretary General Akama. All along this journey, the children must hide from the immigration authorities while they face all sorts of personal physical danger. To make matters worse, Daudi has been without any medication and his medical condition is deteriorating.

Rosa desperately wants to find these children to keep them safe and eventually adopt them as her family. She uses all her resources and contacts in an attempt to track them down. All the odds are against them succeeding; will these three unlikely spokespeople for Africa’s impoverished orphans succeed in the quest?

This book is a powerful presentation of the issues that face so many children everyday. Characters are deftly created with powerful personalities. Heartbreaking twists and turns in the plot abound. The authors paint portraits of the best and worst of human nature. I found it difficult to put the book down. Young adult and adult readers should not miss this book.

Barbara Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY series:
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to FORD’S THEATER
WWW.LittleMissHISTORY.com