Over the last few days, I read several books to review. I am just going to write mini-reviews to give you my overall impressions.
Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend
by Cheryl Carpinello
My Review: This is the second book in this series and unfortunately, I did not read the first one, however, I had not difficulty following and enjoying this story. In Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend, the story opens with Britain at war. Guinevere is home anxiously awaiting news of her father, King Leodegrance, her betrothed, King Arthur and Cedwyn’s father who have all gone to battle in the north. Guinevere is 12 and she makes decisions like a 12 year old. She and Cedwyn, her best friend, sneak away from the Castle, to visit the Wizards’ Stones. While at the stones, a goddess appears and gives them both messages that warn them of dangers in their future. It turns out that some villians/renegades are trying to kidnap Guinevere. With the help of Cedwyn, two young boys from the Abbey and some of the villagers, Guinevere and Cedwyn embark on an adventure to save the kingdom. Author Cheryl Carpinello’s plot is a quick, adventurous, story that starts off with a bang and does not slow down until the end. Reluctant readers, the target audience, will love the adventurous duo of Guinevere and Cedwyn who put themselves in danger, yet realize that they are the ones who need to save the day. Others will also enjoy this great story. Life in medieval times was no picnic and kids will learn just how brutal it could be. The descriptions of life, homes, food etc. as well as the relevant details about conditions back then will help young readers get a sense of the time the story is set. Cedwyn seems to be a bit of a leader and based on what the goddess said, he is destined for greater things as he protects his future queen. The themes in the story are pretty obvious yet could be used as discussion points such as, making the right decisions, putting others first, keeping your promises, loyalty and friendship, leadership and responsibility. I liked the questions for discussion at the end of the story. If this was done as a shared reading or read aloud, this could be used to explore the concepts shared as well as a jumping off point for further investigation into the Arthurian times. I definitely recommend this book for family, classroom or school libraries. One I am sure children from the age of 8 and up will enjoy. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
Two to Tango (Second Chance Ranch)
My Review: This was a sweet story about a young girl who is going through a rough time. She is the oldest sister of 4 girls, one with autism and twins who were adopted. Natalie’s mom is a vet, and her dad runs the ranch where everyone helps with the rescue animals. Natalie’s best friend Sophie has moved away and she misses her a lot. She meets a new girl who she thinks will become good friend but has very different interests. Natalie was a barrel racer, who outgrew her horse and was looking for a new one. When Tango is brought to the rescue center something is different. He was not abused or neglected, but no one had filed a report of a missing horse. Natalie wants to train Tango to become a barrel racer but is having no luck. Natalie soon realizes that Tango doesn’t respond to the commands because he is trained as an English horse.
The story shows a family that works together and pulls together to help one another. Natalie learns a lesson about learning about others and liking people (and animals) for who they are, and not trying to change them to be who you want them to be. She also learns about accepting disappointment and making the best of a situation. A great story for young girls (7 to 10). This is an early chapter book that would be enjoyed by young girls ages 7 to 10. A great addition to school, family or class library. The publisher generously provided me with the book via Netgalley.
The Mask That Sang
by Susan Currie
My Review: I really enjoyed this book. The story is about Cass, a 12 year old girl whose Mother inherits her Mother’s home. She does not want to accept the inheritance as she was abandoned when she was young and brought up in foster homes. Cass convinces her that she wants to live in the house as they have never lived in the same place for any length of time. Cass was also bullied in her present school and this was a way to get out of the situation. Cass finds a mask in a drawer in the bedroom she has claimed as her own and hears it singing to her. She also begins to have some strange dreams. Meanwhile at her new school, she meets a Native boy who is being bullied and teased by a rich boy. She befriends him and his mother explains about Spirit Masks. When the mask is not where she left it, a mini adventure occurs. This book deals with bullying, poverty, residential schools, drugs and alcohol dependence. There are some supernatural aspects in this story surrounding the mask and the Native American spirituality which assist in telling the story of Cass and her family. The fact that the issue of residential schools did not just affect the residents but generations that follow is demonstrated in this story. This is a good story to assist children in understanding the residential school issues that is so relevant today. The author did an amazing job with this story that she wrote echoing her own discovery of her roots. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
The Seventh Wish
by Kate Messner
My Review: Charlie is a normal middle class girl who loves Irish Dancing, has some good friends, two working parents, a sister starting college, fear of deep water and some upcoming issues that are pretty tough to deal with. She would like to move up to higher levels of competition, but doing so requires a lot of dedication and resources. She finds out that she can make money by going fishing and selling her catch to the local bar owner. When she is out fishing with her neighbor, Drew, and his grandmother, Mrs. O’Neill, Charlie hears a fish whom she has caught speaking to her, saying that it will grant her a wish if she releases him. What Charlie finds out though is that wishes do not always turn out the way she wants them to. One thing she does wish for is that the fear of deep water will disappear and that seems to happen. She wishes for things to happen to her friends, her mother and her sister. Things get more serious, however, when her sister’s heroin addiction is discovered. The parents manage to get her into a program, and Charlie has to spend her Saturdays visiting Abby at the facility– and lying to her friends about it. She wants to be supportive of her sister, but also wants to keep advancing with her dancing. Will wishes make everything right or is the issue her sister is dealing with beyond wishing away. This is a modern day fairy tale with a message. Some things take hard work and support to happen. There are some difficult issues in this book but I would not hesitate to recommend it to teachers of older students (gr. 6 to 9). The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
Lily Lynn and the Victory Dance (Lily Lynn #1)
My Review: Lily Lynn and the Victory Dance by Kelsey Maxell is a cute story with the clear message that girls can do anything boys can do. Lily loves sports but often has to play with the boys. She has a lot of skills and is often one of the best players on her team. As she gets older, she starts getting teased about being a girl by the other teams. Her parents find her an all-star team to try out for in order to challenge her playing with other girls. This is a nice early chapter reader books that little girls will enjoy. This book would be a wonderful gift for little girls especially those who love sports. A great book to teach about equality, perseverence and acceptance. A wonderful addition to a school or primary class library. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.