MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Catch You Later, Traitor by AVI

Catch You Later, Traitor
ISBN: 9781616203597
Publisher Synopsis
Other than knowing that Communism was bad, that it was the opposite of America, I didn’t really know much else. Now my teacher said I was a Commie because my Dad was one. Dad was always talking up America to us, how great and important it was. Absolutely, he wasn’t a Red. But if he was a Red, did that make me one?
It’s 1951, and twelve-year-old Pete Collison is a regular kid in Brooklyn, New York, who loves Sam Spade detective books and radio crime dramas. But when an FBI agent shows up at Pete’s doorstep accusing his father of being a Communist, he finds himself caught in a real-life mystery. Could there really be Commies in Pete’s family? At the same time, Pete’s classmates turn against him thanks to similar rumors spread by his own teacher; even Kat, Pete’s best friend, feels the pressure to ditch him. As Pete follows the quickly accumulating clues, he begins to wonder if the truth could put his family’s livelihood—even their freedom—at risk. 

In the tradition of Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?, Don’t You Know There’s a War On?, and Nothing But the Truth, Avi’s new novel, Catch You Later, Traitor, tells a funny, insightful story packed with realistic period detail of a boy in mid-20th century America. Its unique look at what it felt like to be an average family caught in the wide net of the Red Scare has powerful relevance to contemporary questions of democracy and individual freedoms.

MrsK's Review:
Historical fiction can be so revealing about who you are vs. who you might think you are. Historical fiction is like looking at yourself in a mirror. There are so many chances to ask your self what you would say or do if faced with the same challenges, situations, personalities, or moral dilemmas that characters in Historical fiction face.

Pete has been verbally badgered by students at school all because his teacher made a slanderous remark about his father to other parents. That in itself is ethically wrong. Yet, those parents have now planted their prejudices and fears into their children, empowering them to become bullies without justification. This novel will not only open your eyes as to how quickly "negative" judgements can take on a life of it's own, it will also serve as a reminder about how we must always be on guard as to not repeating past injustices.

Take a moment to ponder what it was like in America when so many people began accusing family members, neighbors, co-workers, people who served you in everyday business transactions, as well as Hollywood stars and government officials of being communists. What would you do if your best friend betrayed you? How would you feel if your parent was questioned or taken away without any real evidence? We can look back in history and know how that type of "poisonous thinking" destroyed lives in so many countries. And yet, today we should be discussing what history begs us not to forget or repeat.

Meet Pete who loves all aspects of detective reasoning (books, radio programs, real-life news lines). He wants to be a "hard-boiled detective," and he believes "that a detective with nothing to detect is like a fish living in a tree." He isn't a fool who blindly accepts the gossip or behaviors of others. He's not deterred if research means investing some time or effort into tracking down the truth. He lives in a time where respect is expected and knows that to question or accuse an adult would bring shame upon his family. His father teaches American History at an area college. His mother is a guidance counselor in a Brooklyn school. His older brother is into aeronautics. Since they live in Brooklyn...they are Brooklyn Dodgers "true-blue" fans. Pete knows he doesn't have too many options when it comes to the burden of clearing his father's name. Will Kat help him?

Meet Kat, the best friend who is always supportive of Pete. They have been inseparable for what seems like forever. Kat's own mother said, "they were back and forth between apartments so much, it was hard to know who lived where." Imagine what it would be like to find out that your father, teacher, and school mates all believe that your best friend's father is a traitor to America. In your heart you know they can't be. It hurts to hear others bulling your best friend, but you don't know how to help or what will happen if you do. How far would you go to "stand" with your friend?

Meet Mr. Donovan, Pete and Kat's teacher. Is he really on the "hunt" for communists in his community and amongst the parents of his students? What did he mean when he said, "Fortunately, there are people in government, the Congress, the FBI--I have FBI friends--who are ferreting out red traitors, people who pretend to like America but secretly oppose it." Did he really begin the nightmare that is now threatening Pete's family? Does he have any evidence to support his accusations? Or had he made a callous statement that now he can't back out of?

"The way I see it, I stopped being a kid on April 12, 1951."
Avi has crafted a story so intense and so bountifully rich for our children and students to feel and discuss. This novel is one that needs to be shared. As with Number the Stars, The Red Scarf Girl, Behind the Bedroom Wall and countless of others, this is a story that will ignite great discussions. It will provide introspective "what if" scenarios, and it will inspire an audience to think through their reactions or involvement if "bullying" is occurring.

Give your self the opportunity to learn from history,
MrsK
golden,star,christmas,favourite,bookmark
A must read and share for grades 5-8! 
Meet the Author:
Avi  Avi was born December 23, 1937, in Brooklyn, New York. Avi wasn’t considered the genius of the family because he was born with Dysgraphia causing him to repeatedly misspell words. Instead his brother was considered the genius, he wasn’t really. At first Avi didn’t think about writing as a job instead he wanted to design planes. But when he flunked out of a science high school, he instead attempted at writing. He finds that writing is his god given talent and with the help of a writing tutor he focuses on becoming a writer. Even though he struggled with his Dysgraphia he achieved his goal of becoming a writer.

 "I believe reading is the key to writing. The more you read, the better your writing can be.
 Listen and watch the world around you. 
Try to understand why things happen. 
Don't be satisfied with answers others give you. Don't assume that because everyone believes a thing it is right or wrong. 
Reason things out for yourself. Work to get answers on your own. Understand why you believe things. 
Finally, write what you honestly feel, then learn from the criticism that will always come your way."

 "I received this ebook for free from Net Galley for this review."
 

http://algonquinyoungreaders.com/

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend by Karen Poth

ISBN: 9780310741718
Publisher's Synopsis:
A Lesson on the Golden Rule
In the newest addition to the VeggieTales I Can Read series, Sheerluck Holmes and the Case of the Missing Friend, our Veggie friend Sniffy’s feelings are hurt, and he disappears from the Pizza Place. His friends are worried and ask Sheerluck and Dr. Watson for help finding him. Will they find Sniffy before the hounds of Baker Street do? And will Sniffy ever forgive his friends for treating him poorly?

MrsK's Review:
Veggie Tales, Veggie Tales, Veggie Tales... when a veggie tale book is shared... well we all have to sing. So once again Sheerluck Holmes and Bobby Watson are called in to solve the case. Through foggy London streets, they arrive at the Pizza Place and there are many who appear to be guilty in hurting the feelings of Sniffy.  With some quick thinking, Bobby Watson turns out the lights...

Well I do not spoil any book's ending, but I will say that the characters are delightful... the setting provides much to talk about once you've read the tale... and as in every Veggie Tale the moral is "spot on" for all of our younger listeners. The little miss in our home listened, then wanted it read again, and of course said, "Read it again, read it again." Finally, she asked, "Why would they hurt Sniffy's feelings?" Awe and there is the teachable moment that always brings out the best of our Veggie Tale friends.

Enjoy this great new opportunity for family time, fun, and Veggie Tale singing,
MrsK

So much fun to read, to discuss, to re-read!

Meet the Author:
Throughout her career, Karen Poth has held various positions in the Children's Entertainment Industry including Vice President of Design at Big Idea/VeggieTales, Product Developer at Walt Disney World, CCO of SpringSprang Studio, and Kid's Innovation Strategist at Hallmark Cards. She holds a master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She lives with her husband and seven-year-old son in Lenexa, KS.
http://store.veggietales.com/books.html 
 
Zondervan

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rory's Promise by Michaela MacColl and Rosemary Nichols

fpo
ISBN: 9781620916230
Publisher's Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old orphan Rory Fitzpatrick lives with her younger sister Violet at New York City’s Foundling Hospital in the early 1900s. But when Rory discovers that Violet will be sent to the Arizona Territory to be adopted, her world is shattered. Although too old to be adopted herself, Rory—brave and smart—is determined to stay with her sister, even if it means hiding out on a train traveling west. When Rory and Violet arrive in Arizona, everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Will Rory give up? This uplifting novel about the power of faith and the true meaning of family launches the Hidden Histories series, spotlighting little-known tales from America’s past, and the children behind those stories. Includes authors’ note and further resources.

MrsK's Review:
"Rory, you're tying my bow too tight. My hair hurts.
Hush, don't be foolish. Your hair can't hurt. Your scalp can hurt like the dickens,
but not your hair.... There you are. Pretty as a picture.
Your new family is going to love you.

Historical fiction is such a delight to read. When it is woven to perfection, as a reader, you are walking beside all who enter the story. For today's young readers, history is often overlooked because it just isn't as "flashy" as a graphic novel. The action isn't taking over the storyline. Unfortunately, our younger generation has no connection to these moments in our American history, this was so long ago that they have never "heard" anyone sharing stories about what was once reality and is now described as historical.

Historical fiction is about lives during a point in our not so distant past. Children who were orphaned, or whose parents died were placed on trains bound for the western frontier. This story is about a brave young lady. Although she is only twelve, what once was an age of reason, would provide Rory with the determination, the resources, and the strength in keeping her promise and watching over her little sister.

When the NYC Foundling Hospital betrays her with the fact that her sister will be heading west to a new home (with out her), Rory knows that she will be stowed-away on Violet's journey. Would you be willing to leave a place where you were cared for, where you had duties that "fit" and weren't a burden? Would you be willing to take a leap of faith and hide on a train heading into the wild west?  What would you be willing to face in order to keep your promise for your sibling?

Rory's undeniable strength and calling is that she cares for all children. She has what was once called an "old soul." This character is so richly described that by the fifth chapter she has made a room into your heart.  Rory is courageous, outspoken, bold and yet respectful. Rory will not stop to do what is right and once she has given her word, you can count on her to see it through. Her spunk and determination will land her on top of a street car, running and hopping on a train, and facing Sister Anna's wrath without hesitation. Quick witted Rory knows that six days on a train with 57 children will strain each of the nuns, so she has found a way to stay with her sister and not get sent back to NYC at the next station.

When she meets up with a "street" orphan, she doesn't turn her back on her... in fact she will help her find just the right parents once the train stops in St. Louis. Rory makes sure that the starving "orphan train" children in a different train car are feed with supplies that the nuns had in reserve for the foundlings.  She will help even the youngest while they transition from her hand into their new parent's hand. And once they arrive in Clifton, Arizona she will prevent "chaos" from over-riding the hopes of good homes vs. being grabbed at and "snatched" from those parents who were already listed as the adopting families.

This new series has a storyline that never gets lost. Characters that speak to you even if your unavailable for a while. The historical settings and details adds "life" to a time that is quickly becoming lost to us. These children, whether protected by a church or sent out and away from being a burden to a city... were children. They were in need of adults who would provide food, clothing, shelter, safety... and most of all encouraging love. What they were given then was either an answer to prayer or horrible abuse... allow this new series to speak to your children, your students, and our future generation!

This read isn't just an enjoyable read, it will move you... it will remind you... and it should cause you to share it...
MrsK 

 

A must read, experience, share, and connect for our younger generation in our classrooms, libraries, and homes.
Meet the Authors:
Photo: Michaela MacColl  Michaela MacColl has published several historical fiction novels. Prisoners in the Palace received a starred review from School Library Journal and was selected as an Indie Next Choice. Promise the Night received starred reviews and was selected for the ALA Amelia Bloomer List, IRA's Notable Books for a Global Society, and Bank Street College's Best Books of 2012. She has degrees in multi-disciplinary history from Vassar College and Yale University. Rory’s Promise is the first in the Hidden Histories series published by Calkins Creek books. She and her family live in Connecticut.

Rosemary Nichols has loved history all her life, especially the history of ordinary people. She has two history degrees from the University of Washington and a law degree from the University of Chicago. This is her first book for children. She lives in upstate New York.

"I received this book for free for this review"
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick

ISBN: 9780800722319
Publisher's Synopsis: 
Season turns to season,
Suspicion turns to friendship,
and fear turns to courage...
Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read--as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere--even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. And she will soon have another person to care for.

As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill. This multi-layered story from bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick will grip readers' hearts and minds as they travel with Letitia on the dusty and dangerous Oregon trail into the boundless American West. 

MrsK's Review:
All Kirkpatrick fans know that there is always, always a tender-hearted journey promised when ever you open the cover of one of her novels. You are inspired, you are encouraged, you are strengthened, and you will always need to share about the women in her books.

In 1842, "Letitia has imagined the day she would escape... and yet, here she was, her bare feet ready to leave Kentucky soil; and she was going as a free woman." Letitia would be heading to Oregon with Sarah and her family. She would help with the children and her one possession, a cow she had purchased, which would provide milk for the Bowman's children. Once on the trail, Letitia is faced with a personal decision that will lead to a separation from Sarah and a marriage to Davey Carson, an Irish man who promises to watch over and provide for her. Davey is a man who can tell a story that would keep your mind off of any trouble. They are married by a Jewish tinker with Bible verses about blessings being shaken down and pressed together. They break the Jewish wedding glass and they jump the broom as was family tradition for Letitia. Once Davey and Letitia begin their journey out west, well the only obstacle for Letitia is that Davey still hasn't written her contract that states if something happens to him, his property is left for her and any children they might have. Letitia not only has papers stating her freedom, she has always been "free in her thinking, free as a child of God." Letitia will discover that even though she never had anyone "help her being loved to healing," she would be the "Lord's provision" for those on this journey out west.

Nancy Hawkins is a quilter, a mother, and a wife who values the beautiful quilting frame that her husband made for her. Their trip to Oregon would have to wait until the newest baby comes. She is a woman who "notices small achievements to keep from feeling overwhelmed by the every day tasks of living." Faced with heart-ache on the journey, Nancy relies on Letitia's words of faith and friendship,
 "They is a time to weep and time to laugh; time to mourn and time to dance.' 
I trust that promise, livin' it. 
Things go better when weepin' and mournin' pass. 
I pray you is goin' laugh and dance again. 
I walk beside you 'til you do, Miss Nancy. 
You not grieve alone."

With a true and steady peace, Betsy is a woman whose inner strength is found in the wisdom of recognizing that her "Creator continued to provide for them despite so many of her people dying of the aching disease seasons." Her joy is in raising, Little Shoot. Betsy's daily life is in the west where she digs in the damp earth for camas bulbs, relies on her baskets of willow, cedar, and maple bark as essential hand-crafted totes, and teaches Little Shoot the ways of catching salmon. Betsy knows that, "One needed laughter. Like one needed fresh spring water close by. Both, every day, allowed the People to survive the disappointments along the way." Betsy's wisdom will help Letitia build a life in the wilderness of Oregon City. She will learn ways of farming, changing milk to butter and cheese. She will teach the children to pun jab (telling stories with pats and claps of hands) and help Letitia and Davey prepare the land for the seasons to come.

These women are women of faith, women who know how to be strong for each other, and women who will not let others take what is of the highest value:
"I's free to decide how this day gets remembered. I say I let light shine inside me, keep the dark memories out."

Whether it is Letitia's colloquialisms, "Just gatherin' up hen fruit," or scripture passages of strength and hope, or just the inner spirit of  women... you will find a determination that women of the west have known for generations. The settings are gloriously described, "The world opened up before her. Like strands of oatmeal-colored yarn furled along bright green prairie grass, the wagons spread out across the landscape, not in a single line but several."  And the story line of three lives interwoven into one journey is crafted by one of the best weavers of truth, God's promises, and lives unfolding.

You will recognize the light in the wilderness is forever casting a glow upon your journey,
MrsK 
 
  An enjoyable read!
Added to my library shelves and shared with the Booked to Dine book club.
 Meet the Author:
Describe the photo or the page it links to  Jane Kirkpatrick  is the New York Times and CBA bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the coveted Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have been finalists for the Christy Award, Spur Award, Oregon Book Award, and Reader's Choice awards, and have won the WILLA Literary Award and Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Many of her titles have been Book of the Month and Literary Guild selections. You can also read her work in more than fifty publications, including Decision, Private Pilot, and Daily Guideposts. Jane lives in Central Oregon with her husband, Jerry.

"I received this ebook for free from Net Galley for this review."
Revell

Friday, September 19, 2014

Heaven Touching Earth by James Stuart Bell

Heaven Touching Earth
ISBN: 9780764211867
Publisher Synopsis:
 God Is Closer Than You Might Think
A thin curtain separates the physical world from the unseen spiritual realm. And sometimes God pulls it back to give us a glimpse of the other side. In Heaven Touching Earth, ordinary people share more than forty all-new stories of miracles, healing, divine provision and protection, and encounters with angels and demons.

These true, uplifting stories will remind you that even when you don't see obvious evidence of God at work in your life or get quick answers to prayer, there is a loving Father who protects and provides and is always working on your behalf in the invisible realm.

Whether you're simply curious about the supernatural world or longing for a fresh experience of God's presence, these inspiring stories will touch your heart and strengthen your faith in the God of miracles.

MrsK's Review:
As a reader, I always enjoy "gifting" myself a few books that will bring a moment of joy, an avenue for retreating from every day hassles, as well as those inspirational "booster shots" that are needed for strength.  This is one of those books.

This is such a great browse and read discovery. A collection of miracles in which our Lord's hand was at work in the lives of so many. When you have those moments, and we all do, in which you just don't have the strength to get involved in your novel or a scripture passage... you can pick this collection up and with in the first few lines... inspiration is filling you up.

A moment to ponder:
"Though we can rarely see it or fully comprehend it,
Jesus has brought heaven down to earth
and reconciled us so that the barriers we often perceive are really nonexistent.

  • I recalled so many moments while I was driving and knew that I had witnessed God's hand at work, so the Angel on Route 495 tugged at my heart as a reminder that, yep... He was there for me too. 
  • I smiled with hope when I read about a couple who would experience a "heart's desired" blessing while on vacation , I knew so many moments when my own vacations seemed so impossibly "gifted."
  • In Wings of Peace, I had quiet tears slipping down my cheeks as Cheryl retold of the void that threatened her Christmas following her mother's death. When your parents, grandparents, spouses, and or children are with our Lord... Joy and Peace on earth can be so evasive.
  • Recalling those moments when I have fallen on my knees in thanksgiving praise, I rejoiced with Jeanie as she opened her heart to receiving God's total salvation package (The Total Package).
  • I shuddered with recognition in the Glowing Red Eyes, when God so lovingly reminded Loretta about putting on the armor of the Lord (Ephesians 6). That gentle morning prompting gave way to a "full on" demonic fight for a friend's salvation. There is never a moment to be unprotected!
  • I was reminded about "the assurance that God's own heart would keep your loved one's heart beating." Although Holy Electricity is about a small son's need, I have been at many bedsides in which trust and faith had to give way to surrender in order to just "breath through" the fear.
  • My heart recalled "The Still, Small Voice of Authority" that has awoken me... made me reach for a phone... caused me to drive over to another house, and gave me the directive to act and pray. Delores shares her determination to share the small voice that told her to call home, and as she explains to a medical staff... she was not ashamed to give God the glory.
With hope bubbling up, with praise and thanksgiving, with moments of tearful recognition you will find stories of our Lord bringing His kingdom to us here on earth.  When you realize you have finished all of the stories, you will want to revisit them again. This is perfect for any book club. It is an excellent "pass it on" book for all prayer warriors, and is so tempting that even your adult children will find a way to rejoice in God's hand at work in the lives within the pages as they recognize the reflection of their own encounters.
Blessings can be found and shared,
MrsK
 
A must "gift" for yourself and for all you stand in prayer with! 
James Stuart Bell  James Stuart Bell is a Christian publishing veteran and the owner of Whitestone Communications, a literary development agency. He is the editor of many story collections, including the Cup of Comfort, Life Savors, and God Encounters series, and the coauthor of numerous books in the Complete Idiot's Guide series. He and his family live in West Chicago, Illinois.
"I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for this review."
http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/miracle-in-a-dry-season/349651

Monday, September 8, 2014

Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door by Denette Fretz

ISBN: 9780310723493
Book Look Synopsis:
“I hear that becoming a cowboy can be dangerous. Especially if you don't know the rules.
I don’t know the rules.”
It’s a good thing Conrad brought his Mega Ultimate Extreme First Aid Kit to Uncle Clint’s ranch because learning how to be a cowboy turns out to be a lot harder—and more painful—than he thought. Conrad has a lot to learn – including don’t squat with spurs on and never wave your red sweatshirt at a bull. But the biggest challenge of all is dealing with Imogene Louise Lathrup, the know-it-all-cowgirl next door. When Imogene shows up, she is all too happy to point out Conrad’s shortcomings. In this follow-up to their debut hit Pirates on the Farm, author Denette Fretz and illustrator Gene Barretta team up once again to tell a humorous tale about what it means to love your neighbor.

MrsK's Review:
Just take a look at the fun on this cover!  Are you ready for a few tips on how to be a cowboy? Conrad goes to his Uncle Clint's ranch expecting to learn all there is to being a cowboy. He also knows that things can get tough on a ranch so he packs his "Mega Ultimate Extreme First Aid Kit" just in case there is a need. What Clint will learn is that there are definite rules for being a cowboy. And there is no better resource than "know-it-all" Imogene Louise. Imogene is always ready with some "sage" advice. That is until the day of the auction. You see, Conrad is convinced that all he needs to be a better cowboy is his own horse... so Uncle Clint takes him to the livestock auction.

Now I'm not a reviewer who "spoils" any reader's opportunity for enjoyment. I will say that if you ever put on a pair of spurs, do not bend down on your haunches. Oh, and if you see a sweet looking cat in the horse barn... beware! Cayenne pepper is red for a reason and no... you should never wave a red shirt at a rodeo!

This book has an abundance of character. The storyline is quick, funny, and full of great "cowboy" lingo. The illustrations are entertaining, perfectly matched with the storyline, and full of added expressions that will keep even the youngest readers giggling. 

Whether this book is being enjoyed at home, in the classroom, at the library, or in the wild...
There is "more to being a cowboy than wearin' the boots!"
Have some great "read it together" fun,
MrsK 
 
Amazing fun for raising today's readers! 
Meet the Author:
 Denette Fretz  Denette Fretz is a first grade teacher whose passion is crafting inventive, engaging stories that encourage life-application of biblical principles. Fretz resides in Oregon with her husband, two teenage children, a sassy cat, and a spastic Jack-A-Bee. Her hobbies include singing, drawing, playing the guitar, and collecting picture books.

Meet the Illustrator:
 Gene Barretta.jpg Gene Barretta is the author and illustrator of Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin and Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci. He is also author and illustrator of Dear Deer, which was a Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts and listed on the Parenting Magazine Mom-Tested Books of the Year List. He holds a B.F.A. in Film Studies from New York University, and has worked for many years in film and television production. He lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania with his wife and son.

"I received this book for free from Book Look Bloggers for this review."
Zondervan

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