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Canine Super Sleuth

Hide and Panic Stations (Super Sleuth Sam Book 1)

Written by Monty J. McClaine

This is the first book in a nine-part series. The author uses the introduction to present the characters of the series. Jack is a mischievous six-year-old. His father likes to tinker in the garage with his Corvette, his mother is a devoted stay at home mom, his sister, Molly has just begun to crawl. Sam, the basset hound is always on red alert protecting the family and serving as Jack’s constant companion. But Sam is no ordinary dog, he has magical powers passed down to him from his ancestors. When Sam recites his chant, he develops super speed and the detective skills of a Sherlock HolmesadventureBook Reviewschapter bookchildren’s booksclassroom resourceselementary gradesfictionhomeschoolingmiddle gradesmysteryreluctant reader

One day Jack and Sam are playing hide and seek. Jack pushes the envelope by finding a hiding place in which no one discovers him. While Jack is comfortably ensconced reading his dad’s comic and enjoying a snack, the rest of the family is in panic mode. Readers will enjoy how Sam employs his super speed and detective smarts to solve the mystery of Sam’s disappearance. Sam’s parents are about to call the police. Will Sam be able to solve the mystery? Perhaps young readers will be able to help.

This book is a fun chapter book for beginning and middle-grade readers. It presents a typical family with some atypical characteristics, some humour, and a mystery for readers to ponder. Recommended especially for third to fifth graders. The length of approximately one hundred pages makes it a good choice for reluctant readers as well.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Stewardship with Joy

The Adventures of Joy Sun Bear: The Blue Amber of
Sumatra

Written by Blanca Carranza and John Lee

This is the first book in a series of adventures featuring a bear named Joy. Set in the tropical rainforest of Sumatra, readers are rapidly propelled into a nonstop fantasy adventure. Joy will learn a lot about himself and teach his readers about courage, bravery, and standing up for themselves and others. Joy meets an assortment of magical characters, an exotic bird, a magical frog, orangutans, and a trickster fox to name a few.

Joy teaches readers the importance of family relationships, stewardship of Mother Earth, and respect for creatures of other cultures. Readers are exposed to the good and bad of humans as well as the inner struggles faced within oneself. The color illustrations move the story along for younger readers and help to illuminate the hidden storylines. The  chapter book runs close to two hundred pages so it might be a challenge for beginning readers who might want to approach it in several phases; it would make an excellent teacher read aloud book to discuss in the classroom.

Recommended audience is for ages six through ten, though I would classify it more as a middle-grade selection. I am looking forward to reading the next tale and following Joy’s growth journey.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMIssHistory.com

COMEDY WITH A SPRINKLE OF REVENGE

Max’s Revenge

Written by Sally Gould

This is the first comedy book in a series of books revolving on the main character, Max. Max always seems to get the short end of the stick. His older brother, Charlie, is perceived to be perfect. In the first story, the siblings are invited to the wedding of their Uncle Dan. But before the vows are exchanged, Charlie lures Max into a trap that ends with his falling out of a tree and disrupting the wedding. Things further deteriorate at the wedding reception, when Charlie attracts the flower girl, Lucy, who Max adores. Charlie becomes a partner in crime with the bartender and Sophie’s three brothers who conspire to booby trap the marriage getaway car. To make matters worse, Max’s evil Aunt schemes to get Max into trouble. Of course, Max finds devious ways to get his revenge.

The second story centers around Charlie and Max’s visit to their Nana’s house. A social worker has persuaded the boys’ parents to take a much-needed break. While at Nana’s house, the boys discover that the evil Aunt is trying to get Nana to sell her house. The boys get their revenge on their Aunt and try to prevent the sale. They plan several pranks to thwart the sale, but they discover Nana secretly wants to move. How will they undo the damage? The hilarious result will be that Max has to eat dog food stew.

Children in grades three to six will find themselves empathizing with poor Max. Perhaps they have a relative like Max’s evil Aunt. The comedy is spot on and the dialogue appears genuine and age appropriate. Length of the stories is not too long so the book will appeal to reluctant readers.

 

Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Book Series

The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away and other short stories

Written by Margaret Lynette Sharp

Three short and charming stories set in Australia. In the first containing the book’s title, Amanda writes to her sister Sonya from overseas about the love of her life,Thomas, a fisherman who has literally just “got away.” This story is poignant, yet contains humor and an optimistic bent. In the second story, a grandmother struggles with a change of fortunes and the realization that she will have to sell the piano that has given her granddaughter such pleasure. Grandma’s daughter, Angela seems cold and indifferent to her dilemma. The last story brings Caroline back to the beach where she met her true love twenty five years ago. She meets Barry, a young artist, and strikes up a conversation. He reminds her of the man she left behind long ago. A surprise ending brings the story full circle.

The author does a good job of developing her characters and creating the mood for each of these short stories. They are a quick and delightful read. Recommended for anyone age ten and older who enjoys clean well-written short stories.

Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Book Series

The Magic of Kindness

Hazelita And The Magic Broom

Written and illustrated by Hope Finning

Hazelita is a destitute, lonely old woman. Every day she wanders from village to village with her only valuable possession, an old broom passed down to her from her mother. At night she knocks on the door of a local inhabitant seeking a warm meal and a place to state. In return, she promises to sweep their home in gratitude for their kindness. Hazelita cries herself to sleep each night because she has no family to care for her. After a while, word spreads around that her broom is magic and that it will grant any wish the family requests.

One evening she comes to a family headed by Thomas who goes out of their way to shower kindness upon Hazelita. The next day, they refuse to allow her to sweep as she is their honored guest. But Hazelita is horrified to discover the next day, that her broom has lost its magic. What will happen to Hazelita now that she cannot pay for
her room and board? The answer lies in kindness rewarded. Read the book
to find out how.

This book teaches children the value of community responsibility and the lesson that we should not expect rewards for everything we do. I would recommend the book to elementary and middle-grade students.

Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Book Series

LittleMissHistory.com

Decisions, Decisions

Reuben’s Choice: A Make Your Own Decisions Book

Written by Natalie Vellacott

As the title implies, this is an interactive storybook for children. Reuben is excited and proud because this is the first day he is being permitted to walk to school on his own. He hurriedly makes his way past the scary alley along the way and is nearly at school when he hears a howling distress sound from a ditch near the road. Reuben faces his first decision. Should he stop, disobey his mother’s instructions, be late for school, ignore a plea for help? Readers are given four choices. When they make their choice, they are directed to a page which gives them additional questions and outcomes because of their choices. Eventually, readers will reach the last choice and be directed back to the beginning of the book until they reach the end of the story.

Children will learn that honesty is the best policy and that all our actions have unforeseen consequences. The book provides lots of important discussion topics for parents and teachers. Interactive reading encourages children to keep reading and gives them the power to control the story outcome. Recommended especially for children in the eight to twelve age range.

Sibling Sisters

Miss Perfect and Tiny Tail

Written by Rachel Schlessinger

Illustrated by Sigalet Carmely

This book is a fairly well-written chapter book that features a ten-year-old named Lily who faces numerous challenges one summer. Lily is the middle child. Her older sister, Miss Perfect, and a younger sister, Tiny Tail are both dearly loved and constant annoyances. A large part of the book focuses on sibling and peer relationships as well as Lily’s conflicts with her mother.

Lily’s mother informs the three sisters that they will be moving from their small village to the big city because their father has found work there. This is the second conflict that Lily, as well as her sisters, must face and resolve. Lily has developed a crush on Tommy. At first, he seems to ignore and make fun of her.

The summer setting provides the backdrop for these three challenges. As time advances, each member of the family must face the issues revealed in the first person narrative told by Lily. Many middle-grade readers will see themselves mirrored in the characters and their conflicts. Because this book consists of short chapters consisting of less than seventy pages, reluctant readers will not be deterred. A few illustrations enhance its appeal. Recommended for middle-grade readers, teachers and parents who wish to explore the challenges faced by the middle child, parent and sibling relationships, and families who are planning a move.

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Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

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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.