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A Colorful Case of Mystery

Leon Chameleon PI and the case of the missing canary eggs

Written by Janet-Hurst Nicholson

Illustrated by Barbara McGuire

What a charming chapter book! Nicholson succeeds in creating a clever detective mystery for middle-grade readers. At the same time, the soft illustrations encourage reluctant readers and beginning readers transitioning to chapter books to handle the ten chapters. The text is large and easy to read. Using the technique of personification, Nicholson endows animal creatures like Leon, the chameleon, and Egg Eater the snake with human personalities and a sense of humor. Readers will enjoy practicing their sleuthing skills as they attempt to unravel the mystery of the missing canary eggs. I especially enjoyed the trial process and the very clever dialogue.

This book is part of a series. Although this is my first read, I would explore reading the others. I heartily recommend this book for middle-grade readers, reluctant readers, and mystery lovers. Clever characters and crisp dialogue keep the story interesting. Enjoyable for readers of all ages.

You can get the book along with a quick preview here.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

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

Daring Animal Adventure

A Daring Animal Adventure for All Ages

Dottie is an adorable dog who lives with Mindy, a University of Arkansas student, and her cat Mindy. About a year before, Mindy had seen Dottie’s picture online and had driven all the way to Oklahoma to adopt her. One Saturday, Mindy decides to take Dottie for a walk on the Razorback Greenway Trail. That decision would begin an adventure Dottie would never forget.

When a bike rider inadvertently loosens Dottie’s leash, she decides spontaneously to run away. Dottie rationalizes that she will be home before dark. Dottie meets a raccoon, a hog, and a seeing eye dog, to name a few travelers along the way. She is frightened and scared, but like a rebellious teenager, her curiosity and love of freedom spur her on. Then Dottie finds herself at a football game. Will she ever be reunited with Mindy?

This animal adventure tale is told in first person. The dialogue is amusing and feels genuine. While the story is marketed for ages three and older, the book is really appropriate for a middle grade and young adult audience. Dendler includes a glossary to assist younger readers with some of the more difficult vocabulary. A few photos enhance the appeal.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Running Away Doesn’t Always Mean Freedom

Running Away to Freedom or Forlorness

Gumbo Goes Downtown

Written by Carol Talley

gumbopicA tale that is charming and sweet, yet focuses on some important issues. The obvious story line is about a guard dog named Gumbo, who lives in a shotgun house on St. Charles Street in New Orleans. He spends most of his time barking at any one who comes near the chain link fence, such as the girl in a polka dot dress and the postman. When the postman fails to close the gate one day, Gumbo seizes the opportunity to see the world. He follows the trolley tracks downtown to New Orleans. Here he meets up with a poodle named Pompon and a champion pure breed named Stella. Gumbo has the time of his life in Jackson Square with clowns, dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. Soon his friends leave to go home and be pampered by their owners. Gumbo begins to miss his house and owner Gus, whom he never appreciated. Will Gumbo decide to remain free in the big city on his own and fend for himself or return to his former life?

The book description suggests an audience of K-2. While the simple story of Gumbo’s adventure is appropriate for that age group, the larger issues of homelessness and running away from home are better addressed to a middle grade audience. Talley provides a nice guide for parents and teachers to set up a discussion on these issues. Maeno’s illustrations are soft, colorful and appealing, but the text is small and difficult to read on some of the pages. I recommend the book especially for parents and teachers who would like to open up a discussion on homelessness, running away, and poverty. Talley also includes an interesting background section on New Orleans and the points of interest mentioned in the story.

Barbara Ann Mojica
Little Miss History

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The Thirty-Sixth Dimension

comealongwithme2,pic

Written for a middle grade audience of children ages eight through twelve, this tale is a mixture of fantasy, culture, and history. Main characters are Gracie, a dwarf kangaroo from the thirty-sixth universe, Gibson, a Maine coon cat, and the farmer’s young daughter. One day Gracie is bored and decides to take an adventure to St. Petersburg on Earth to experience the culture of that Russian city renowned for its museums, ballet, architecture, and music. But Gracie makes a mistake and finds the portal opening into a small farm in Pennsylvania instead. Gracie appears to be trapped when she loses her direction card. As Gracie becomes better acquainted with Gibson, who has also been stranded on the farm, they become good friends.

Lots of adventures ensue and the two friends are “skunked,” schemed upon by the jealous farm rats, and become the two darling pets of the farmer’s daughter. Gibson begins to have strange visions. Could he be experiencing life in a parallel universe? How will these two new found friends assist their farm family? Will Gracie ever find her way to St. Petersburg and back to her distant universe? In any case, all the inhabitants of the farm both human and animal will have their lives changed forever.

This first book in the series will entertain tweens with lots of their favorite themes and reward them with lots of real life issues to ponder as well. Nice read aloud for the classroom or entertaining individual read. It reminds me of Charlotte’s Web.

Barbar Ann Mojica
Little Miss History

Barefoot and Beautiful

The Girl With No Shoes

Written by B.J. Rand

girlwithnoshoes,pic

Charming and delightful book, the first in a series of books based on the character Arielle, written for children ages nine through twelve. This is a longer length chapter book based on Arielle and her two pets, Britches, the dog, and Nosy, the black cat. Arielle and her pets love to take walks in the hollow. Britches and Nosy are unusual in the fact that they both communicate in English with their mistress.

One day the three friends come upon a little girl sitting by a tree crying and barefoot. Upon hearing a loud man’s voice, she runs away. Arielle and her pets are mystified and worried for the stranger’s safety. They want to meet her again and agree to find a pair of shoes for her to wear. In the meantime, Nosy finds a pair of ballet slippers that fell out of a box near a neighbor’s house. They bring the shoes to the hollow, but cannot find the girl. Eventually one day the shoes disappear, and after repeated trips to the hollow, the girl appears and tells them her name, Francesca. She thanks them and promises to dance for them one day.

On Halloween night a stranger comes to the door and beckons them. Nosy lives up to her reputation and decides to investigate by following her home. That initiates a trail to another mystery that the three friends will have to solve. Will they ever learn the true identity of Francesca and why she has chosen Arielle and her pet family? No spoilers here, but children will learn it is better to give unselfishly and always be true to your own passion in life.

While it may seem difficult for tweens to accept this story line, it works seamlessly. You want to believe in all the characters and empathize with them. The vocabulary of the text is challenging enough but not overwhelming for the average reader. I had to finish reading it one sitting. Can’t wait to see the rest of the series.

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