Hansel and Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist

Hansel & Gretel9781615992508_p0_v2_s260x420Hansel 0& Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist

Jewel Kats, Author

Claudia Marie Lenart, Illustrator

Loving Healing Press, Fiction, Oct. 10, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes: Down syndrome, Fairy tale, Special needs

Opening: “One fateful night, a storm ripped through Cottage Country…The rain finally stopped pouring days and days later. Cottage Country was deserted. The only people left were the fisherman and his family.”

Synopsis: A storm sweeps through a village and a fisherman and his two children, Hansel and Gretel, are the only survivors. Their food runs out and Hansel and Gretel are sent to search for food in the forest. Their mother protests that Hansel is sick and too young for such an adventure. But, Hansel’s father disagrees and says he has Down syndrome and that they can’t always protect him forever.  Hansel takes the lead and bravely runs into the forest and stumbles upon the witch’s candy house.  Will Hansel be able to outwit and negotiate with the witch?

Why I like about this book:

  • Jewel Kats retells this magical story with the main character, Hansel, who has Down syndrome — a different ability.
  • It is the perfect read for World Down Syndrome Day, March 21.
  • This book will help readers look beyond disabilities and see Hansel as a clever, capable, determined and successful hero, who faces the witch with wit and kindness.
  • The story breaks stereotypes and touches on prejudices about what a child with a disability can achieve. And there is an unexpected twist with the witch, who also shouldn’t be judged by her appearance.
  • Claudia Lenart’s illustrations are breathtaking, whimsical, and contribute to the book’s appeal. Lenart is a fiber artist who pokes wool and other natural fibers, like alpaca, with a barbed needle to sculpt her soft characters and scenes.  This is the perfect medium for a fairy tale.

Resources: Check out the website for World Down Syndrome Day, where you can find information, personal stories, worldwide events and how to participate. And visit Jewel Kats and Claudia Marie Lenart at their websites.

Angel Violet’s Magic Wings

Angel Violets Magic WingsuntitledAngel Violet’s Magic Wings

Bonnie Snyder, Ed.S., CPC, Author

Alissa Shoults, Illustrator

Bonnie Snyder, Publisher, Nonfiction, 2013

Suitable for ages: 3-7

Themes: Feelings, Empowerment, Happy hearts, Managing challenges, Inspirational

Opening: “Once upon a time all the children on the earth everywhere remembered something that many grown-ups forgot: Everyone has a happy heart and everyone sparkles from the inside out.”

Synopsis: A delightful book that helps children focus on their happy and yucky feelings, and identify where the feeling is located in their body –heart, tummy, head or back. The author shows children and parents healthy ways to bond through conversation, mindfulness, and exercises that include visualization and gratitude.

Why I like this book:

  • Bonnie Snyder has written a soothing and empowering book to help children talk about their feelings. There is a lovely story on the right side of each double-page spread that helps children easily identify a positive and happy feeling, or a sad and angry feeling.
  • On the left side of the page are questions and suggestions for  parents to help them start a conversation with their child about their day.  For example: What felt happy in your heart today? (younger child) What were three happy things in your day today? (older) What are the three most favorite things about your day today? (older)
  • Angel Violet’s Magic Wings is a lovely resource for parents, grandparents and caregivers.  It is a book filled with exercises and visualization techniques that can be taught to children, who will hopefully feel the benefits.
  • It also helps children cultivate a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness.
  • Alisa Shoults illustrations are in soothing colors of blue, violet, pink and green.  They are childlike and whimsical and fit the tone of the book.

Resources: The book is a resource with many tips, activities, visualizations and exercises to use with a child. Adults will also benefit from reading the book.  Check out the website for Angel Violet’s Magic Wings. 

My Love for You is the Sun

My Love for you9780989668835_p0_v1_s260x420My Love for You is the Sun

Julie Hedlund, Author

Susan Eaddy, Illustrator

Little Bahalia Publishing, Fiction, Sep. 9, 2014

Suitable for ages: 0-6

Themes: Parental love, Animals, Rhyming

Opening: “My love for you is the sun. / Rising in your tender heart, / It shines on you when we’re apart.”  “My love for you is a tree. / Giving shelter, strength and shade, / It comforts you when you’re afraid.”

Little Bahalia Overview: My Love for You is the Sun is a love letter from parent to child, written in verse and expressing that timeless and unconditional love through metaphors from the natural world. My Love for You is the Sun, a Tree, the Rain, a River… but of course, it’s also about more than familial or parental love, it’s about the universal, infinite nature of love itself, and as such, will hold crossover appeal for all ages.

Why I like this book: Julie Hedlund’s My Love You is the Sun, is a celebratory picture book of many types of families. It is a tender, comforting and reassuring story for young children about parental love. It is perfect for lap sharing with cherished little ones. Her text is a simple and has the authenticity of a lyrical lullaby. Her use of metaphors from the natural world adds a universal appeal to the story. It also introduces children to animals and their babies. This is a cozy and peaceful read for children at bedtime. Susan Eaddy’s richly colored hand-sculpted clay creations are a feast for any child’s eyes. Children will pour over the stunning detail on each page. The illustrations truly set this book apart. I suspect that adults will be most taken with the story and its overall treatment. This is such a beautiful collaborative effort between the author and illustrator.

Julie Hedlund is the author of A Troop is Group of Monkeys and A Shiver of Sharks. As a child she loved playing outside with animals. Visit Julie at her website, which is an incredible resource for writers and her blog posts and resources have helped many an aspiring kidlit writer reach their goals. She is the founder of 12 x 12, a forum for authors to kick-start their manuscript writing over the course of 12 months.

Susan Eaddy works entirely in polymer and modeling clay, and has appropriated every kitchen tool in the house for her art. Her clay things appear in magazines, books, greeting cards, wallpaper, kitchen textiles and other licensed products.

Horse Raid – Multicultural Children’s Book Day

 

Multicultural Book MCBookDay-white-21-300x234

January 27, 2015

Today I am a book reviewer for the Multicultural Children’s Book Day. It was founded “to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature.” Please check out the resources and websites listed at the end of my review.

Horse Raid 9781937786250_p0_v2_s260x420Horse Raid: The Making of a Warrior

Paul Goble, Author and Illustrator

Wisdom Tales Press, Fiction, June 2014

Pages: 44 hardcover

Finalist: Best Books Award 2014

Suitable for Ages: 6 and up

Themes: Native Americans of the plains, Horse raids, Culture, Coming of age, Warriors, Multicultural

Opening: “Be patient, my son, there is no hurry; the horses of our enemies, the Crows, will not walk away. They will be there next summer and the summer after.” My father’s answer was the same whenever I asked if I could go with the warriors to capture horses.

Publisher Synopsis: Young Lone Bull dreamed of becoming a warrior. For the tribes of the American plains in the Buffalo Days of pre-reservation life, horse raiding was a chance for men to show their courage and bravery in battle. But Lone Bull’s father had just refused to let him join the horse raid! How could he become a warrior if he remained at home? With the help of his grandfather, Lone Bull sneaks off to follow the other warriors. But will it all end in disaster?

What I like about this book:

  • It is written and illustrated by master storyteller Paul Goble, who has been drawn to the history, spirituality, culture and tales of Native Americans since he was a young child.
  • This new edition of Goble’s Lone Bull’s Horse Raid, was first published in 1973.  It features digitally enhanced artwork, completely revised text, and a new appealing layout.  You will want to spend time pouring over the intricate detail in of Goble’s signature illustrations rendered in earth tones. Goble’s use of white space adds to the simplicity and elegance of his colorful artwork.
  • This timeless coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old Sioux boy eager to become a warrior, will capture the hearts and imaginations of both children and adults alike. It is a rich experience of what life is like for a boy living on a reservation on the plains and what it takes to survive.
  • Horse Raid is a powerful and exciting tale right from the start. The narrative imparts a wealth of historical information and detail for those thirsty for folktales about Native Americans living on the plains. For instance I didn’t know that horse raids were the cause for most wars and served an honorable purpose among the different tribes.
  • The plot is engaging and packed with tension and action. Great pacing keeps readers in suspense throughout the story — especially during the horse raid.
  • The characters are well-developed. Lone Bull is an eager and determined boy who wants to prove his bravery and earn a place among his tribe.
  • I would classify this book as a chapter book, but it is an excellent book for parents and children to read and discuss together.

Horse RaidGoble 2

Resources: Make sure you read the Forward by Joseph Bruchac and the Author’s Note, which prepares the reader for horse raiding and its role among Native American tribes. Lone Bull was a Sioux Indian living on the Great Plains. Ask children if they lived with Lone Bull how would they hunt for food? What kind of home would they live in? What name would they choose for themselves? What would they name their horse? What brave thing could they do?  Have them draw pictures of themselves, and their horses, homes and village.  Educators may want to visit some of the following websites: Native American Indians Themes, Lessons, Printables and Teaching Ideas and American Indian Heritage Teaching Resources (Smithsonian Education).

Paul Goble is an award-winning author and illustrator of over 40 children’s books. He has created an outstanding body of work including his book, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, which won the prestigious Caldecott Medal, as well as Buffalo Woman, and Mystic Horse.

Joseph Bruchac is best known for his work as a Native writer and storyteller, with more than 120 books and many awards to his credit

Here are some ways you can help us celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day: 

  • Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website (click on Blog) and view the book lists, reading resources and other useful multicultural information.
  • Visit the Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board for more reading ideas.
  • Have children bring in their favorite multicultural book to school on this day and share it with the class.
  • Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media and share. They are hosting a Twitter party! Join them on Jan 27th 9:00pm EST. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages.
  • Visit the Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents on their website.
  • Visit MCCBD sponsors. You can find them HERE
  • Connect with them on their new Facebook and Twitter  pages.

MCCBD’s 2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author FeliciaCapers, Chronicle Books Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

I received my copy of this book from the publisher Wisdom Tales Press. This review reflects my own honest opinion about the book.

Rain Reign – Middle Grade

Rain Reign9780312643003_p0_v2_s260x420Rain Reign

Ann M. Martin, Author

Feiwel and Friends, Fiction, Oct. 7, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 9-12

Winner: 2015 Charlotte Huck Award Winner and the 2015 Schneider Family Book Award

Themes: Animals, Autism Spectrum, Homonyms, Separation, Friendship, Family Relationships, Bravery, Hope

Pages: 223

Opening: “I am Rose Howard and my first name has a homonym. To be accurate, it has a homophone, which is a word that’s pronounced the same as another word but spelled differently My homophone names is Rows.

Book Jacket Synopsis: Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein) which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, or the other things that make her different–not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father. When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father should not have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.

Why I like this book: Rain Reign is told from Rose’s point of view. Superb storytelling by Ann Martin who helps her readers experience Rose’s high-functioning mind as she navigates her autistic world. This is not a story about disability, or autism, but a story about a fifth grader who uses her unique abilities and strengths to break some of her rules and routines to search for her lost dog, Rain. Martin’s narrative is seamless and gripping.  Her characters are believable with strong personalities, characteristics and quirks. The story is as captivating and creative as it is heartbreaking. It is set in a small rural town that is ravaged by a hurricane. The plot is well-paced with just the right amount of tension to keep readers intrigued, engaged and guessing. This is a realistic story that is emotionally honest and filled with heart.

Ann M. Martin is the author of Ten Rules for Living with My Sister, Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life, and Everything for a Dog, all from Feiwel and Friends. She won a Newbery Honor Award for A Corner of the Universe, and is the author of the beloved Baby-sitters Club series.

Star Bright

Star Bright9781416958581_p0_v2_s260x420Star Bright: A Christmas Story

Alison McGhee, Author

Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator

Atheneum Book for Young Readers, Fiction, Sep. 30, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Nativity: Nativity, Baby Jesus, Angels, Gifts, Christmas

Opening: “It was the end of December, and a baby was soon to be born. A baby! In the heavens, angels turned light with joy. On Earth, travelers prepared gifts.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: A baby is soon to be born, and the heavens are all abuzz. Yet one small angel peers down fretfully…What gift can she give this most important baby when the winds, the birds, and even the Magi are already bringing such wondrous treasures? With a heart so big, in a night so dark, she takes a big leap — and gives the most shining gift of all.

Why I like this book: Alison McGhee has written a kid-friendly story about a traditional story that will delight young readers. Written in very simple language, she truly captures the joy and spirit of Christmas and its meaning. This is a book that you can read to children or encourage them to read on their own because of the sparse text. Peter H. Reynolds has given this book a more contemporary look with his signature illustrations. The little angel is dressed in flight gear and goggles, checks out her computer to watch what gifts are being given to the new child.  The artwork is lively, whimsical, joyful, and compliments the story.  This book is a treasure and children will read it again and again

Alison McGhee is the New York Times bestselling author of Someday, Little Boy,  Bye-Bye Crib, Always, and A Very Brave Witch. Her other children’s books include All Rivers Flow to  the Sea, Countdown to Kindergarten, Snap and the Julia Gillian series.  Visit McGhee’s website.

Peter H. Reynolds has written and illustrated The Smallest Gift of Christmas, The Dot, Ish, North Star, Sky Color, and I’m Here, as well as collaborated on the Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald, and books with Judy Blume and Alison McGhee. Visit Reynolds’ website.

Positive

Positive9780062342515_p0_v4_s260x420Positive

Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin, Authors

Harper Collins, Memoir, Aug. 26, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 12-16

Themes: Paige Rawl, HIV-positive children, AIDS in adolescence, Bullying, Suicide, Hope

Book Synopsis: Cheerleader, soccer player, honor roll student. One of the good kids at her middle school. Then on an unremarkable day, Paige disclosed the one thing that made her “different”: her HIV-positive status. Within hours, the bullying began.  They called her PAIDS. Left cruel notes on her locker. Talked in whispers about her and mocked her openly. She turned to school administrators for help. Instead of assisting her, they ignored her urgent pleas…and told her to stop the drama. She had never felt more alone. One night, desperate for escape, Paige found herself in front of the medicine cabinet, staring at a bottle of sleeping pills. That could have been the end of her story. Instead, it was only the beginning.

Why I like this book: Paige Rawl and Ali Benjamin have written a realistic, raw, brave and powerful memoir about a teen living with HIV since birth. Although Paige is stable on medications, HIV is such a sensitive subject and tough diagnosis for a teen to deal with — especially when her best friend betrays her. Once Paige’s secret spreads like wildfire at school, the bullying begins. This is one of the best memoirs I’ve read this year. It is a real page turner that I could not put down. Although what happens to Paige is heartbreaking, her courage to reclaim herself and move forward is inspiring. You will find yourself rooting for Paige as she finds a voice she didn’t know she had. Her memoir is written in short chapters and is well-paced. Her voice is strong and determined. In sharing her story, she encourages other teens to find their inner strength in the midst of any storm. And her experience has made a difference for others.

Resources: There is extensive information and facts about HIV, bullying and suicide.  She shares information on programs for kids who are touched by HIV/AIDS, a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and programs to stop bullying.