Guest Book Review: Rosabelle by Linda Harrington

rosabelle

Print Length: 208 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B00M1TIJKG
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, animal stories

Rating: 4 stars
Rosabelle by Linda Harrington is a delightful children’s book set in rural New Zealand, in the 1970s. The main focus of the story falls upon 11-year-old Jane Williams, and their father’s racehorse, the titular Rosabelle. When Jane’s father has a suspicious accident at the racing stables, he is unable to work for a good while; this wreaks havoc upon the family’s finances, as well as family relationships since Jim Williams is a proud man, not used to accepting help from people. Rosabelle is the family’s last hope because she is such a good racer. However, finances are so tight that Jim even considers selling Rosabelle to his so-called friend and associate, Don O’Leary. But things are going wrong all round with various farmers’ sheep being stolen from farms. When Jane overhears O’Leary making sinister remarks about her father and Rosabelle, she is on the alert to his motives. Sadly, no one believes her until disaster strikes again and more sheep go missing. With the help of her friend Marta, and with information helpfully supplied by her teacher, Mr. Dunkerton, and with surprising assistance from Rosabelle herself, Jane sets out to expose Don O’Leary and get back those sheep. But it’s not going to be as easy as she thought!

The story unfolds slowly, and this enables young readers to really get to know Jane, her family and her friends, and also to learn about Rosabelle. The pace of living several decades ago was very different as well, and the author has a delightful way of describing rural life, as well as deftly inserting interesting snippets of historical information to place readers in the ’70s context. Readers also learn more about Jane’s family history (which has an interesting outcome), and might be keen to dig into their own family backgrounds as a result. There is enough horse detail to satisfy equine fans, without overpowering readers not as familiar with saddle soap and stables! I enjoyed this book very much; the author painted the entire story with loving strokes, imbuing it with a whimsical charm that seeps right through each page, making the ambiance, the era, the characters and their lives come to life. I especially enjoyed Jane’s Scottish teacher, the eccentric Mr. Dunkerton, and his bagpipes. The author includes a front map and a back glossary of unfamiliar words and terms which young readers will also enjoy, enabling them to place the location of the story and to understand the colloquial words and terms. This book will appeal to young readers and those who enjoy family oriented stories.

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: The Vanishing Frogs of Cascade Creek by Emma J. Homes

frogsPublisher: Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd (June 25, 2014)
Print Length: 44 pages
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, wildlife, environment
Age Level: 8-11
Five stars

Something is killing the waterfall frogs of Cascade Creek. Ten-year-old Ruthie, along with her mum and dad (Tom and Kate who are wildlife scientists), and Ruthie’s younger siblings, Liam and Bella, as well as their pet wombat, Womble, are headed off to the rainforests of Northern Queensland in their big green bus to investigate. The family has just spent 6 months helping to catch and tag shy rock wallabies. Cascade Creek promises a brand new adventure. Sadly, when they get there, the frogs have all but disappeared. Luckily the kids manage to find a frog (whom they call Wanda) but Wanda looks very sick. When they find a few tadpoles, the same situation prevails: the tadpoles are thin,  not plump and healthy as they should be. They get Wanda and the tadpoles back to the Wildlife Research Station so Kate can take a better look. Wanda seems to have some kind of skin condition. Is this killing the frogs of Cascade Creek and how can it be cured? Luckily, naughty Womble’s playful antics offer a surprising possible answer!

What a life Ruthie and her family enjoy, spending time away from the city and experiencing the wonders of nature. The kids do their lessons via school of the air and spend their days travelling with their parents around the beautiful Australian countryside. They learn about plants, animals, insects and a variety of indigenous creatures. They also learn about caring for the environment and the animals, and how important it is to preserve even the smallest of creatures, such as a little frog, because each creature has its part to play in the ecosystem. Author Emma Homes has a lovely way of inserting information about various animals, their habitats, food, and threats to their existence into the text. Ruthie is a wonderful role model for young readers and she is both compassionate and mature in her outlook. Hopefully this fascinating series will inspire young readers to look up more information about the animals that Ruthie and her family encounter. A delightful read that I highly recommend to all.

Purchase here.

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: Saving Wombats by Emma Homes

wombatsPrint Length: 53 pages
Publisher: Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd (June 25, 2014)
ASIN: B00LB8ZDG6
Age Level: 8 – 11 | Grade Level: 3 – 6
Juvenile Fiction/Wildlife

Five Stars

Ruthie, dad Tom and mum Kate, along with Ruthie’s younger siblings, Liam and Bel, and their pet wombat Womble are en route to her cousins’ farm to spend a lovely holiday in the countryside. Up ahead they see a sad sight: a wombat has been run over by a speeding truck. Ruthie’s parents stop to check the animal and discover it has a tiny baby in its pouch. The baby is still alive. Luckily, the Jirringbah Wildlife Shelter is on the same route and soon they get the baby, called a pinky, to Jo Matthews who shows the kids how to take care of the pinky. While they are there, the kids learn a lot about Australia’s wildlife and some of the skin diseases that can affect these animals; one is a horrible disease called mange! Ruthie doesn’t want to admit that soon Womble will be old enough to be released into the wild – imagine if he gets a nasty, itchy skin condition from the mange. Once they get to their cousins, the kids find out more about wombats and mange because there is a wombat on the farm that looks as if it has a bad case of mange. Medication can cure the condition, but it’s catching the animal and applying the medication regularly that’s the problem. Wombats are also pretty quick when it comes to getting away! With the help of some wildlife experts and her Uncle Dave, they devise a clever way of getting the medication onto the skin of the elusive wombat. Will the medicine cure this sick wombat? Will Ruthie be able to release Womble back into the wild?

Saving Wombats by Emma Homes is the second book in Ruthie’s Wildlife series. Ruthie is a great role model for kids since she is a Zoo Youth Ambassador. With wild animal habitats declining worldwide because of human encroachment, it’s important for today’s kids to learn about animals, and to care for them and respect their rights. This is a charming tale that will appeal to its target audience. Author Emma Homes turns Ruthie’s family trip into quite an adventure – wombats may look cute and cuddly, but don’t get on the wrong side of them or try to invade their burrows! There is a wonderful warm atmosphere between the characters of Ruthie’s family and the people they meet. Ruthie and her siblings are real and believable and any parent would be proud of them. In this simple tale an amazing adventure unfolds, with the kids committed to helping animals. The author cleverly feeds necessary information into the story so that by the end of the book young readers will have learned an amazing number of facts about wombats. I really loved reading this!

Purchase here!

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: The Dark by Lemony Snickett

darkBook Review: The Dark by Lemony Snicket (Author), Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
Age Range: 3 – 6 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 1
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0316187488
ISBN-13: 978-0316187480
Product Dimensions: 11 x 7.1 x 0.4 inches

Rating: Five stars

The dark is a very interesting thing. There’s a lot of it when the light is off, as young Laszlo finds out when his night light bulb fails. Then the dark comes into his room. Prior to this event, the dark lived quite happily in (unsurprisingly) dark places such as the basement, drawers that no one ever opened, and occasionally behind the shower curtains. At night the dark had a huge expanse to roam outside the creaky old house where they both lived. Laszlo and the dark respected each other’s space. The dark knew Laszlo and Laszlo knew the dark—in fact they even greeted each other. Well, the dark didn’t actually answer back. It never spoke until one fateful night when the bulb in Laszlo’s night light fails. The dark calls to Laszlo. Then Laszlo gets out of bed and answers the dark, which leads him all the way down to the basement…

This deceptively simple illustrated story is especially relevant for kids who are afraid of the dark. Who can say they didn’t fear something that lived under the bed, behind the door (no, that was never an old dressing gown!), or at the bottom of the stairs? This book depicts the dark and the fears of a little boy who has to learn that everything has its designated place and purpose. Without the dark there is no light. Without the night there is no day. Without the dark we would never see the moon and the stars. Without all the things in Laszlo’s house, providing hiding places for the dark, there would be no dark. And the dark is a necessary part of life. The size of the book, 11×7.1 inches is actually the perfect size for little hands to grasp. In addition, the dark looks very big (there’s a lot of it, as I said) while Laszlo looks very small, creating a huge contrast between them. The story has mystery, shivers, scary bits, and leads the young reader all the way down to the basement, where the dark turns out to be very helpful indeed. I’d recommend this for all young readers and their parents (who might still be afraid of the dark). It is a charming tale by the inimitable Lemony Snickett, beautifully illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Bccb-Ribbon-Picture-Awards/dp/0316187488 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: Little Bird Lost by Steve and Kate Larkinson

bird

Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1492762822
ISBN-13: 978-1492762829
Age group: 3-5

Five stars

Little Bird Lost by Steve and Kate Larkinson is the story of four little birds (baby swallows), discovered by Steve in the eaves of a bakery in south-west France. One of the little birds seems to have disappeared. Is he safe? Has he fallen out the nest? Can he be rescued? Do his parents know where he is? This delightful story in photographs (by Steve) and rhyming couplets (by Kate) will absolutely enchant readers aged 3-5, but actually, adults will also just love this little tale from the world of nature. What I especially enjoyed about this book is the beautiful photographs. I love children’s illustrations but the unique angle of actual images really struck me. Not only are they absolutely first-class and clear, but it is the perfect way to teach young readers about the real world of birds. Children are generally interested in animals and wildlife, and parents and relatives could use this delightful book as a springboard to other books involving wildlife. This is a great book for bedtime reading, and I would also encourage children’s libraries to include a copy. Children will enjoy the images as well as the captivating story. What a lovely start to getting your child interested in reading! As an added bonus, there is a charming little cartoon book video on YouTube to really round off an enchanting reading experience.

 

Purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Little-Bird-Lost-Steve-Larkinson/dp/1492762822

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: The Shadow of the Pyramid by Wendy Leighton-Porter

porterPublisher: Mauve Square Publishing (February 4, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1909411043
ISBN-13: 978-1909411043
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Ages 8+
Fantasy/Adventure/Action

Five Stars

Jemima, Joe, their talking Tonkinese cat Max, and their best friend Charlie are off on their adventures again, searching for Jemima and Joe’s parents (somehow trapped in the past) and this time they are headed for ancient Egypt. Using their magical book, the poem containing clues, and Jemima’s necklace with the key, the kids and Max are transported back in time, arriving in the middle of an assassination plot to murder the young king Tutankhamun. Alas, Max has a morbid fear of mummies, having glimpsed a ghastly sight of one on Joe’s XBox game and he’s not too keen on this part of their adventure. They meet Ankharet, the gorgeous cat belonging to Tut’s young wife, Ankhesenamun. Max is totally smitten, but unfortunately Ankharet (who is jealous of Max’s instant popularity) doesn’t feel quite the same way about him. As the adventure unfolds, the kids and the cats, along with Tut’s wife try to stop several attempts on the young king’s life. Max even manages to foil two attempts, displaying a kind of unintentional bravery. The king is entranced with Max and names him “Max, beloved of Amun.” What an honour! Alas, despite their best efforts, once again the kids and Max are unable to change the course of history and cannot prevent the young king’s fate, a mystery which remains to this day. The end of the book is absolutely delightful and kids will just love the twist in this tale.

Max’s fear of mummies and the like afford some absolutely hilarious moments, especially since all his apparent heroics and saving the day are by accident. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has woven a marvellous mixture of suspense, adventure, history, geography, and culture into an intriguing tale. Using real historical figures, she captures the feel and flavour of ancient times, and puts forward some quite viable theories for exactly what might have happened to Tutankhamun. As in previous books, the kids and Max are totally immersed in history, and this tale will definitely draw eager young readers to join them in the adventure. There are some interesting facts at the end of the book which will no doubt stimulate young time travellers to go and do a bit more research. Learning history the fun way is becoming the mark of this captivating series.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: My Clever Night-Night Shoes by Karen Mara Moss

shoes

File Size: 4996 KB
Publisher: Toffee Bee Books (February 28, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B00IQCH29G

Scary statistics bring home the fact that a child is born with clubfoot (talipes) every three minutes. The great news is that Dr Ignaçio Ponseti’s method for clubfoot treatment is over 95% successful. A crucial part of treatment is wearing a brace to hold the foot in the corrected position. Bracing is the best protection against relapse. Most children sleep in the brace until at least age four. But how do you get a child to wear the brace without them protesting or putting up a fight? My Clever Night-Night Shoes is a bedtime story for children who sleep with a brace to help keep their feet straight. The book is written by Karen Mara Moss, mom to a strong-willed child who had to be gently persuaded to wear his brace. Artist Lori Bentley wore orthopaedic boots every day as a toddler to correct a problem with her feet. Between them, these two creative people have put together an enchanting book that will convince any reluctant brace wearer to put on that brace to get their feet ready for an exciting future.

This delightful book is a mixture of illustrations and poetry to encourage children needing to wear a night brace on their feet. From being a fireman to being a ballet dancer, from running a race to climbing a mountain, from wearing high heels to skating on ice, this delightful book takes young readers through the many options that will be open to them IF they wear their ‘clever night-night shoes.’ The rhythms and rhymes of the poetry are catchy and just perfect for a read-aloud session at bedtime. The water colour illustrations are delightful, and there is so much detail in each picture that parents and children will enjoy poring over them to discover all those extra little bits that add to the tale. I did notice several intrepid penguins managed to get themselves into quite a few illustrations.

A portion of proceeds from the sale of this book goes to STEPS Charity, a regional clubfoot champion endorsing the Ponseti method. STEPS was established in Southern Africa in 2005. The book also offers an end-note of more resources for parents.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.