Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg

CandyandtheCankersaur

A fun, zany adventure with several learning lessons along the way is what readers will find with Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg.

Candy is a wealthy girl who has a father that showers her with gifts instead of spending time with her. She has a next door neighbor named Chucky who every time she gets a new gift, he gets a bigger and better version of what she has. But when Candy’s father buys her a Cankersaur, Chucky can’t seem to one up her. Instead, he decides to get even a different way with some interesting results.

I must start off by saying the humor in this story is great and the intention behind delivering a story with wonderful lessons is admirable. The artwork is superb and matches well with the zaniness of the story. The challenges with this story are related to craft.

The author seems to have bitten off a bit more than he can chew by delivering too many lessons at once: parents needing to spend quality time with their children, understanding why children sometimes mistreat each other, and how working together gets the job done. The story also occasionally drifts away from Candy’s point of view to give the reader a chance to get to know the father’s and Chucky’s internal thoughts. This isn’t something you would typically see in a children’s picture book. The lessons are also delivered in a fashion where they are told to the reader by the narrator more than delivered through the actions of the characters. These are all issues, however, that working with an experienced editor will fix.

In the end, I see a bright future for Sandberg in children’s book publishing. His artwork is amazing and his story ideas compelling. This book has also received numerous 4- and 5-star reviews, so it’s worth checking out this book and more of his work.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂

File Size: 8358 KB
Print Length: 34 pages
Publisher: Jason Sandberg eBooks (June 12, 2012)
Publication Date: June 12, 2012
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B00K9H4O8I

The author provided me with free digital copy of this book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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Crystal The Christmas Angel by Theresa Oliver

Crystal the Christmas Angel

Every angel in Heaven is preparing for a big event…except Crystal. They won’t allow her to help because she is too little. But God doesn’t think so. Crystal soon finds herself playing an important role in delivering God’s greatest gift to the world.

Crystal The Christmas Angel by Theresa Oliver is a sweet story centered around the birth of Jesus. It shows how one little angel can make a difference; just like one child can make a difference–even when the adults around her can’t see it. The illustrations by Deanna McRae are beautiful. With its larger size (8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches) and the artist’s smart use of color, the book is sure to capture the eyes of young people.

Where I believe the book may have some challenges is in the story length, the typographical errors, and its straying away from the documented story of the first Christmas.

While there is no stated age for this book, the standard picture book age is three to eight years old. A sixty-six page picture book, therefore, doesn’t make it ideal for bedtime reading. The book attempts to cover nearly every aspect of the Christmas story instead of focusing on one part of it or condensing the rest of the events to get to the important conclusion.

There are many instances of a missing “w” in the word “was” and at one point the word “stat” is used instead of “star.” When writing for early readers, accuracy is important.

Some adult readers may have issues with the liberties the author takes with the Christmas story. Since I write faith-based fiction for children where fictional characters are integrated into Biblical events, I feel this is something I can truly speak to. I will also attempt to do so without giving away the plot. Crystal’s role in bringing God’s gift to Earth is significant. Her role changes–for lack of a better word–the traditional story we share with our children about the First Christmas. My personal belief is that the author could have shared the same inspiring message with young readers without affecting the integrity of the Biblical story. Stubby’s Destiny by Dixie Phillips shared a similar message (even the tiniest, lowliest of us can make a difference) with readers surrounding the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday; and she did so without altering any of the Biblical facts surrounding the event.

That said, the way in which Crystal The Christmas Angel  is written could also engage persons outside of the Christian faith to read it. The message is an important reminder for all of us who sometimes discount a child’s abilities and it will inspire young people to keep trying. It’s definitely a lovely story and worth taking a look at.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂

Paperback: 66 pages
Publisher: Write More Publications; first edition (December 5, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692600531
ISBN-13: 978-0692600535

I received a copy of this book from the author though Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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Interview with Author Joseph Bruchac, Author of Brothers of the Buffalo (Giveaway)

buffalo authorJoseph Bruchac is an internationally acclaimed Native American storyteller and writer who has authored more than 70 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for adults and children. His writings have appeared in more than 500 publications, including National Geographic, Parabola, and Smithsonian. He is the author of the novels Dawn Land and Long River and is the coauthor of the Keepers of the Earth series. He lives in Greenfield Center, New York.

Visit the author online at http://josephbruchac.com/ or https://twitter.com/JosephBruchac

Your new YA novel, Brothers of the Buffalo, is a historical fiction tale of the Red River War. What captivated you about this particular moment in American history?

Although the so-called “Indian Wars” would not conclude until two decades later when the last of the Chiricahua Apaches surrendered, the Red River War marks the beginning of the end insofar as armed resistance to the United States government goes. It was the last major coalition of different tribes put together to resist militarily–like King Phillip, Pontiac and Tecumseh did in previous centuries. The fact that it was largely done to attempt to save the American bison (and the way of life of the Plains nations) from being destroyed makes it even more memorable. Another part of this story, which has long fascinated me, is that on the United States side a very large role was played by the 10th Cavalry, made up entirely of African American soldiers (with the exception of their white officers), some of them former slaves and veterans of the American Civil War. However, what I think drew me the most to this war is that it led, quite directly, to the creation of the American Indian Boarding Schools that would deeply impact the lives of virtually all Native American communities, an impact still being felt to this day. Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt, an officer of the 10th and the man placed in charge of the Native American POWs sent to Florida after the Red River War would experiment with “civilizing” those men and go on to found the Carlisle Indian School which had the stated objective of “killing the Indian and saving the man,” nothing less than cultural genocide.

Brothers of the Buffalo is written about two drastically different young men, Wolf and Wash. What inspired you to write from both perspectives and did you find it challenging? Did you have a favorite character?

I chose to approach the story from those different perspectives because I felt that the complexity of this story deserved more than one POV. One of the oldest sayings in a number of Native American communities is that we have two ears on either side of our head so that we can hear more than one side of every story. I believed that a reader would understand the story better by having more than one voice to hear and that it would provide more depth to the history being told. What you see often depends on where you stand. I was given a great deal of help in writing this story from any number of directions–people in the Cheyenne community, for example, such as my friend for more than 4 decades Lance Henson. I also was fortunate enough to have been part of the American Civil Rights movement in the 60s, to have lived in Ghana, West Africa as a teacher for three years, to have had the privilege of teaching African American and African literature and to count more people than I can easily count in Africa and the African diaspora as close, dear friends. All that experience did not make it easy to inhabit such different characters, but it did make it easier. I’d also been researching and writing about parts of this story or events before and after that tie into it–such as the Civil War and the Carlisle Indian school–for decades before I began to work on this manuscript.

Insofar as a favorite character goes, I guess I feel so strongly about both my main narrators that it is impossible to say that one of them was my favorite. But beyond those two young men, I think the person I found most interesting and most fascinating in this story–is Richard Henry Pratt–even though I disagree DEEPLY with the conclusions he drew about how to deal with the “Indian Problem.”

Brothers of the Buffalo is infused with both first-person letters from Wash and songs and proverbs from Native American culture. Could you tell us what you hope readers will take away from both?buffalo

My idea in including the songs and proverbs was to offer greater depth and more insight into both characters and the cultures to which they belong. In Wash’s case it is both African and African American. When I lived in West Africa I was often told that every human being is not just part of a family he or she IS their family. And I have also often been told by Native American elders that community, oral tradition, and family make us who we are. The use of letters is a great way to both tell a story and provide insight into the persons writing those letters, both in what they say and what they do not say as it is projected against the larger canvas of the overall story. In addition, I think those stories from the backgrounds of both my main characters are great stories, worth reading on their own, proof of the sophistication and intellectual complexity of cultures (African, Native, African American) that were usually portrayed as innocent, uncultured, uncivilized and ignorant in the 19th century when this story takes place–and, sadly, still sometimes pictured that way in the 20th and even 21st centuries.

What motivates you to write for young adults?

I began as a poet, writing for adults, with my first book in 1971. I still write and publish poetry, but when my two sons were born in the 70s I began to write down the stories I told them, largely traditional tales that were lessons stories–enjoyable to hear, but filled with meaning. I was delighted, not just by the way my books were received, but by the effect I saw them having on young people. I then began writing for middle grade and YA readers and had a similar experience. I believe that some of the best writing being done today is being done for young adult readers. You honestly do not have to hold anything back when writing for them. They are sophisticated enough to understand and appreciate complexity, but also very much in need of good literature. (At this point I could break into a long tribute to reading and what it does for us, young and old, but I shall restrain myself.) I still write for all audiences, from the very young to the adult reader. But, more and more, I am finding the deepest satisfaction in creating books for YA audiences.

What are you hoping readers will take away from Brothers of the Buffalo as a whole?

One of my hopes is that they will better understand a period of history that is often neglected and see that history through very different eyes–the eyes of a young Cheyenne fighting for his family and culture, the eyes of a young African American soldier who is just as deeply committed to family and freedom as is his Native counterpart. In the end (an end of the story that is not at all fantastic but reflective of documented history) the two of them physically arrive at the same place–seeing each other not as enemies, but as equally human. I hope my readers may arrive at a similar place, perhaps with a broader perspective on some of the issues faced by my two heroes–issues of race, class, Native American and human rights still being played out today.

For more information, visit the book’s page at Fulcrum Publishing website.

Purchase the book at  Indie BoundAmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-Million.

 

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Mokey’s New Friends by Connie Arnold

mokey

Who says friends have to be alike? When Mokey skips out an open door at the zoo, he wanders off to find some friends to play with. He doesn’t discover any monkeys, but he does find some new friends who are just as fun to play with, no matter how different they are.

Mokey’s New Friends by Connie Arnold is a wonderful story that celebrates diversity. Though sometimes we are drawn to people who are similar to us, we also find friendship with those who have different likes and abilities than we do. With this charming book, Arnold encourages kids to accept the differences and enjoy the time spent with friends.

Artist Marina Movshina lends her impressive talents to beautifully illustrate this story. From the minute the reader meets Mokey, they will be captivated by the pictures Movshina has painted to bring this story to life.

Kids will enjoy this delightful story over and over again.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Paperback: 20 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc; large type edition edition (December 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616336846
ISBN-13: 978-1616336844

I received a digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

The Veterans’ Clubhouse by Kristen Zajac

Veterans

The Veterans’ Clubhouse by Kristen Zajac is a touching story that shows young people they can make a difference. Patrick, Hailey and their parents befriend a homeless veteran in need. To offer help to Charlie and others like him, they organize a benefit concert to raise funds to build a resource center at their church.

What an inspiring and heartwarming story! Two kids see a need in their community and they work with their family and other adults around town to make a difference. The reader is also witness to Patrick and Hailey using their special talents (drumming and drawing) to help their cause. This book shows how one seed planted can blossom into a field of flowers that touches many.

The vibrant artwork of Jennifer Thomas Houdeshell brings Zajac’s story to life. Considering Charlie is a Vietnam veteran, the colors and designs found inside are inspired by that time period. I also like how doing so weaved Hailey’s drawings into the illustrations.

My father and one of my brothers served in the U.S. Armed Forces, so this is a book whose subject is close to my heart. I applaud Zajac’s continued commitment to sharing the importance of our veterans and veterans’ issues with young people.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc; large type edition edition (June 12, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616336617
ISBN-13: 978-1616336615

I received a digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Deb and Dee Off They Go – Kindergarten First Day Jitters by Donna M. McDine

deb

Deb and Dee are twin sisters who are always together….until the first day of Kindergarten. Dee goes one way and Deb the other. Suddenly on her own, Dee wonders what she will do. She soon discovers her classmates have the same jitters she does.

Deb and Dee Off They Go – Kindergarten First Day Jitters is a story that enables young children to realize all first day kindergarten students suffer from the same fears they do. It’s a delightful story of friendship and belonging somewhere outside of home. It helps open up children to the idea they are part of a larger community. Award-winning author Donna M. McDine knows the issues children face and this latest book is even more proof of how in tune with young people she is.

Jack Foster provides the artwork for this adorable book. His use of color and the wide, expressive eyes of his characters allow readers to easily identify his illustrations. He captures so many emotions with his characters’ eyes.

I’m hoping this is a start of a new series of Dee and Deb books. Would love to follow more of their adventures.

Paperback: 16 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616336994
ISBN-13: 978-1616336998

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

The Daffodils Still Grow by Sherri Elizabeth Tidwell

The Daffodils Still Grow

The Daffodils Still Grow is a touching story of one girl learning to cope with the loss of her mother. The sun still shines and she watches girls with their pretty braided hair (just like hers used to be), but her mother is gone and she can’t understand how life goes on as if nothing changed. Then one spring day, the daffodils her mother planted bloom and the girl is reminded of the many ways her mother is still with her.

I chose to read this book because I lost my mother when I was a child. The author, who draws on her own life experience, captures so well the many emotions children experience when a loved one passes away. It seems wise that Tidwell chose to handle this topic with a rhyming story, as the lyrical prose helps lighten the difficult subject matter.

The artwork in The Daffodils Still Grow is unique in that the fuzzy, intentionally out of focus design could easily symbolize the out of sorts feeling of a child dealing with loss. The colors are warm and inviting.

The best part of this book, for me, is the message of hope that it inspires by helping the reader to understand all is not lost when someone leaves this earth and that we can honor their memory in special ways.

Highly recommended.

Hardcover: 38 pages
Publisher: Mascot Books (June 2, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1631771892
ISBN-13: 978-1631771897

For More Information

  • The Daffodils Still Grow is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Watch a narrated video of the book at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

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I received a copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

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