Good Morning, Harry–Good Night, Daddy

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5-stars

Good Morning, Harry, Good Night, Daddy, by Katy Beebe, is an illustrated children’s story about a family with an unorthodox schedule. The father works on a train at night, while his children are asleep. When his shift is over he returns home to sleep and that’s when the day begins for his family.

The artwork created by Valeri Gorbachev is superb, with soft tones, varied colors, and plentiful detail. It is soothing to the eyes and attractive in every respect. Some of the text rhymes, and some doesn’t, but it doesn’t matter. The prose flows smoothly, every word carefully worked into the book.

The real value of Good Morning, Harry, Good Night, Daddy, by Katy Beebe, is for young children whose parent/guardian is away much of their day-to-day normal schedule. It doesn’t cast a judgment on the family at all, but instead shows how in even this type of situation, this lifestyle can work. And they make it work, bringing the grandmother in, who also plays a vital role in their lives. They have a routine, much like the father does, and they do their best to work through it. And when the father comes home after his day is over, he still spends quality time with the children, to assure them of his love. He hasn’t left them. It’s just that his schedule is different. The book shows the reader how it can work, helping to alleviate their fears and worries. Yes, Daddy is coming home, and yes, he is still involved in their lives and will continue to love them. What a great message! Highly recommended.

Olympians Hermes, Tales of the Trickster

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Olympians Hermes, Tales of the Trickster, by George O’Connor is a Greek gods graphic novel about Hermes. It contains 66 pages of full color illustrations, an extensive Olympians Family Tree chart, notes about the author, other follow-up notes about the individual pages of the novel, and questions for discussion. Hermes, our one-day old hero/god, comprises a good part of the story, and we see how his nature set hilarious things into motion with the other gods.

I do enjoy reading the Percy Jackson series and the humor wrapped in stories like that. But they aren’t nearly as colorful (naturally) as this graphic novel. The art is superb, the story excellent, with lots of comedy along the way. You can tell the author has put in a lot of time in composing the art as well as putting the story together. There is enough detail to entice the reader to read over again.

In this book are tales of courage and loyalty, love and deceit, and all in a way that is clean. Any violence is downplayed to such an extent that I wasn’t certain of what happened until I reread the scene. This makes it suitable for younger readers.

This is a book that definitely stands above many I have read, and I heartily endorse it for young readers and everyone else who enjoy graphic mythical novels about the Greek gods of old. Highly recommended.

5-stars

The Third Kind of Magic

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The Third Kind of Magic, by Elizabeth Forest, is a middle grade fantasy novel about a girl, Suli, who lives with her relative Tala, in order to hone in and develop her natural magic skills. She makes friends with the forest animals, who learn to trust her to take care of them when Tala no longer can. Magda, our witch antagonist, is out to learn the magic that Suli seemingly knows. At some point, Suli must live with the witch Magda and use her magic to protect herself from being harmed.

This story is filled with imagination, clear descriptions and believable characters. We can see how Suli grows from a fearful child, bent on getting petty revenge on those who mistreat her, to a dynamic wise woman. However, there is more to the witch than anyone seems to know, and by Suli using her skills and compassion, she’s able to help bring about the best solution of all. The climax is well done and I was certainly rewarded with a satisfying outcome.

I think what I appreciate more than anything is the overarching theme of how violence is never the solution to solving problems, dealing with others, or getting what one wants. Although Suli starts out with vengeance in mind, she is able to gain a different world view that includes healing and forgiveness, taught by both Tala and the animals of the forest.

I highly recommend this book for young readers who enjoy stories with strong fantasy and magic themes.

5-stars

Esme’s Wish

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5-stars

Esme’s Wish, by Elizabeth Foster, is a contemporary YA fantasy novel. Esme’s mother, Ariane, simply up and disappears years before present time. And although her father has learned to move on with his life, Esme has not. Her love for her mother drives her to other places and eventually, another world. Once there, the story develops well with nail biting action sequences and well defined fantasy scenes. I enjoyed Esme’s strong, honest character, balanced with enough self-motivation and determination to move past her fears and failures. She grows as she sees only the ultimate prize: discovering the truth of who Ariane is. Her friends are marvelous companions who selflessly help guide her on her quest.

The descriptions that Foster uses are vivid. I can well imagine myself in this other world, with its earthquakes and crumbling city of Esperance. The other characters are also well-fleshed out, and really add to the enjoyment. The theme of love for her mother is well represented in the story. That no matter the outcome, Esme will find the truth and fight to the end to obtain it. Fortunately the story doesn’t end with just this book. There are more adventures to come and more challenges to face for certain.

Esme’s Wish, by Elizabeth Foster, shows that a single person driven by nothing but love and determination can make a difference, if not in this world, certainly the next one. I am glad to have read this and heartily recommend it to lovers of YA fantasy no matter the age.

Where to buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Esmes-Wish-Elizabeth-Foster/dp/1925652246/

About the Author:

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Elizabeth Foster hails from Sydney, Australia. She loves swimming in the ocean, walking, and playing the piano (badly). As a child, she was called Dizzy Lizzy-which she regarded as an insult all her life, until she started writing. Now, daydreaming is a central part of what she does. Reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds, and once she started writing stories, she couldn’t stop. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Esme’s Wish is her first novel.

For more information, please visit her website: http://www.elizabethfoster.com.au. and sign up to her mailing list to hear news about her writing journey and upcoming books.

The Beginning Begins (FRNK, #1)

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The Beginning Begins (FRNK, #1), by Olivier Bocquet and Brice Cossu, is a graphic novel about a teen boy named Frank who’s an orphan, and trying for the fourth time to get adopted. He’s frustrated beyond measure with the entire process and attempts to escape completely and restart life on his own terms. Frank meets an old friend who helps to shed a glimmer of light on his past before Frank is taken for the ride of his life.

This is part one of a series and I thoroughly enjoyed every single page. The artwork is excellent, filled with color and detail. The storyline is engaging and comical throughout. This story hasn’t answered all of my questions since it’s only the first in the series, but it does create a fantasy wherein a child without parents might have had something spectacular happen that caused it all. It wasn’t simply a case of abandonment, but perhaps much more. As I read through the story and noted the similarities between Frank and those around him, I can’t dismiss the possibility that here he will find the answers to the questions he’s had since he could think for himself. The hilarious situations that Frank finds himself in this new place simply adds to the excitement and the reader is taken from one wild ride to the next. I could easily imagine this as an animated film or even a full production. FRNK, by Olivier Bocquet and Brice Cossu targets the young reader age group but I think that anyone who enjoys these types of stories will love it.

5-stars

 

Wallace The Brave

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Wallace the Brave by Will Henry, is a book filled with comics about a boy, his friends and his family. They live by the sea, where the father is a fisherman, and their house is built on stilts. Wallace is in his early years of school, and like many his age, he doesn’t necessarily find his school demands endearing.

The artwork and pictorial representations of the characters were excellent. I found the plot and themes of the comics charming and funny. This is the first time I’ve seen this comic and I was hooked at once. I appreciated the setting by the coast, which isn’t one I’ve seen developed before. I also found both the father and mother characters charming, and the father often being pulled into his son’s fantasies was refreshing. This allows the comic to be embraced by a wider audience than only children, for many can relate to the pressures of life drawn up in a humorous way. The book does have one or two characters that don’t seem to measure up to the others, either in terms of looks or in aptitude, and there is an undertone of mockery by the others. Yet I wouldn’t consider it cruel. Kids do tease others for being different and this simply reflects that.

I believe readers of any age would appreciate at least some aspect of this comic. This is a book that I could easily see made into an animated series that many around the world would enjoy. Highly recommended.

5-stars

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling and Chrystal S. Chan, is an illustrated Manga Classic book retelling seven different stories in a complete illustrated format. Six poems are interspersed among the stories, providing a sing-song character feel while helping to clarify the culture being illustrated. The stories target younger readers who enjoy action and adventure. Since this is a Manga book and is read differently than others types of books, a brief but detailed explanation is provided as well.

I found the artwork to be superb, from the human characters to the animals. The detail that accompanied the characters is well drawn and easy to understand. It is obvious the artist has years of art experience, being able to create this type of book with the detail you see. Stories such as The Jungle Book are based on much longer books, and these graphic novels must present the right words (and the right amount) to move the story along to let the reader experience the story to its fullest, and this book certainly did not disappoint.

This book was a quick and thoroughly enjoyable read, and hard to put down. With each new story came a set of exciting new characters, adventures and background history of its people. You see a culture that may contrast sharply with the one you’ve grown up with, and it goes far it describing the various castes in this society. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading Manga comics, especially for those who embrace adventure.

Purchase this book here: https://www.amazon.com/Jungle-Manga-Classics-Rudyard-Kipling/dp/1772940194/

5-stars

Bonjour! Let’s Learn French

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Bonjour! Let’s Learn French, by Judy Martilay, is a children’s book that introduced the French language. It includes a story about going to the beach, a list of various illustrated French words, expressions, French Culture, and art. I found the book to be engaging, colorful and fun. The words speak to the children of elementary age, and help to take away the strangeness of a different language. The art is engaging, drawing interest of new learners, and will help them to associate the pictures with the words. However it is more than just a story about going to the beach. Think of it as a workbook that a young reader can take in bits and pieces. Most likely it will take a bit of practice to learn the words and pronounce them. Inside the book you will find a link to where you can download the full story on your computer and listen while you read the book. The music in the background makes it sound colorful. A reader (the author) talks through the story in English, while a different reader pronounces the French words. The only thing I found lacking in the book was a proper pronunciation you would typically find in parentheses after each word. This would allow the reader to work on the vocabulary without always needing a device to listen to a device. But overall, Bonjour! Let’s Learn French is a charming and fun way for children to be introduced to the French language. Recommended for children ages 6-12.

About the Author
Hi, I’m Judy Martialay. I live in Sea Cliff, N.Y. with my husband; daughters are out of the next and grown up. I have a baby granddaughter. I have lots of interests; I am a guitar jammer, a painter, gardener, knitter, volunteer, cook, and am studying Japanese.
I retired from teaching foreign /world languages, and devoted ten years to the promotion of foreign language study as Co-Chair of the Public Advocacy Committee of the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers (NYSAFLT). I wrote the book ¡HOLA! Let’s Learn Languages because I want every child to have the opportunity to learn a world language at an early age. This is the best time to start learning a language. Children’s brains are wired for learning languages. They have a better chance for acquiring native pronunciation, and they have ample time to become truly proficient in the language.
I want children and their parents to enjoy the experience of learning languages. It is an adventure into the soul of another world. If your child continues study of a language, he or she will have a skill that will provide life-long benefits.

Whack, Whack, Whack goes the tail!

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5-stars

This delightful “tail” is filled with bright colors and humor that will keep adults and kids laughing, as they fondly remember their favorite dogs–now, or as they were growing up. It’s about a pup who wants to be involved in everything the family is, and even though messes are made, the family always loves the dog, and the dog always loves the family. It’s a great story suitable for bedtimes, family times, or whenever a child needs to be comforted. The copy I received I passed along to a co-worker, who read it aloud to her students. Those at the third grade level were engaged and laughed at the funny and silly parts. So I would recommend it to those readers at about grade 3 and above. Both Mark and David have created a positive story for children, successfully embracing the relationships between family and pets. Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Whack-Goes-Tail-ebook/dp/B06XV4S3BF/

 

 

 

Book Review: Otis Grows

Book Description: Young Otis is forced to question his origin and allegiances, given that his mom, a yellow chicken, is part of the Nuh-Uhs, and his dad, a blue flower, stems from the Yes-Chums. Struggling to find answers, Otis runs away, only to encounter more colors (and cultures) than he could ever imagine, including a giant portrait full of possibilities. Otis Grows is a picture book, rooted in the challenges of family conflict, but appealing to any child–or adult–who knows that growing up can be tough, that there is “the odor of growing older,” but that ultimately, love and wonder will win.

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Otis Grows takes on a big challenge for young readers: creating a story that attempts to take the bad things in life that one goes through, and yet grow through them, and even beyond that by helping one-self to grow to be whatever one chooses to be.  This story, in picture book form, targets divorce specifically, and how the offspring, with help, are able to catch a glimpse of another world view, even if for a brief moment in time. The artwork was beautiful and captivating, drawing me in as a reader. I think the pictures will certainly entertain the young ones who read through it. The story is set in a poetic format, using select words that quickly make the points, instead of droning on with unneeded words. The story describes the Nuh-Uhs that look like (but aren’t) chickens, but the book description states they are chickens. This might be confusing to young readers. The polarized groups appeared to be more like different political parties, rather than 2 different parents divorcing. I was not sure if the Nuh-uh needed to be with her kind while the Yes-Chums grouped with his (like when people divorce, they start hanging with their support group). I liked the way that each parent wanted the onion child to be something they each could relate to, and this was a source of the conflict.  The onion, being an onion, was different from either of them, yet the parents seemed unable to see this. Some of the poetry didn’t quite scan, but I could still make sense of the story. It also seems that some parts may have been cut out of the story to make it shorter. But all in all, a very nice read, and I recommend it. This is Kathryn’s first published work. The laudable vision of helping young people through their troubles is definitely realized in the story, and I look forward to reading her further works and watch her grow as an author.

About the Author:  Kathryn Hast has a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in writing and a Master’s degree in Education. She is from York, Pennsylvania, and she lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband and two children. She has one dog named after a Beatles song, and one that barks at the television. Otis Grows is her first published work of fiction, and her next book Batty Betty is forthcoming.