MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Two Renegade Realms by Donita K Paul

Two Renegade Realms (Realm Walkers Series #2)
ISBN: 9780310735816
Publisher's Synopsis:
Cantor, Bixby, and Dukmee must band together to find the storied realm walker Chomountain after a devastating attack by the corrupt Realm Walkers Guild.
But what they discover while traveling turns their mission upside down: the great wizard is not as he once was, and they must now find a way to restore Chomountain before they and he can restore the Guild once more.

Realm Walkers takes place in a brand new world woven together with a sci-fi/steampunk flair. The first book, One Realm Beyond, is now in stores!
"His light globe didn't reach into the darkness between the library stacks,
but a swish of fabric and a slight movement gave away the speaker's position.
She stepped into the circle of illumination, and Cantor bowed deeply."
MrsK's Review:
It is always a thrill to review a book for an author that you admire. The settings are invitations requiring you to step within and experience the story as it unfolds. The characters become your friends, your conspirators, and your foes. The faceted wisdom is woven as layers awaiting your discernment. The creatures are trustworthy shadows of your childhood imagination.

"In the middle of this ordinary stone room,
his mor dragon sat on a colorful, cushy chair, 
conveniently provided by his own
shape-shifted wings and tail." 

In this second novel, the quest in freeing Chomountain will require the wisdom of the ages, strength in seeing beyond what is in front of you, a desire to restore that which is of value, and determination to keep strong during the battle. Once you open the cover, you are within the "aged" library where all things are kept including those that would do you harm.

"The last two years have been spent re-establishing the Realm Walker's Guild... 
But the diminishing number of realm walkers is a worry in all the realms." 

Traveling through the caverns appears safe unless choices become lost within the maze. Crossing the lake and releasing Chomountain will provide assistance for the Realm walkers. Yet, the myth of the Toombalians could be an altered reality cloaked with a disillusioned entrapment. An aspect that would cost them valuable time.

"As they approached, the fisherman pulled in his line and waded ashore to meet them.
Of a wiry and slim build, the man was old, with short-cropped white hair and a long white beard.
Suntanned and spry, he wore blue pants tucked into rubber waders and a plain green shirt...
His belt was of fine leather tooled with a fancy design... 
Welcome to Bright Valley."

Who is Old Trout? Will he be the one who could lead them to Chomountain? Old Trout makes everything he needs. Could you imagine using all of your knowledge to make your own clothing and shoes? Would you know how to make furniture or "oiled paper" windows? What about a garden or a smoke house or even a "drying shed?" Cantor thinks they have been led astray, Bixby and Dukmee aren't sure. What if Old Trout has some type of a connection with Chomountain?

"He can't be Chomountain if he doesn't read.
How can the right hand of Primen not read?
He'd read and read in every language there is, wouldn't he?"

Whether they find Chomountain or not, they must stop the Lymen invasion. What ever Errd Tos plans for these Realm walkers, they must keep trying, they must endure with optimistic determination. What will be their turning point? Could it be a mechanical portal? Could it be a "talent" in which a quill and paper could point them in the right direction (this was my favorite part)? How will the Whirl of Knowledge and a "maelstrom of learning" be used for the good in their quest? Or will Errd Tos use it for evil?

One truth remains to be discovered:
"Oh, Primen, I'm making a mess of this.
I'm taking on more than I need to, aren't I?
You've provided all these companions with different talents for different purposes.
And I'm trying to take all the responsibility... 
Do I just barge in and take charge...
You always listen to me, don't you?" 

Given their talents, some mysterious hampers, the wisdom of Primen, and trustworthy friendships, these Realm walkers will see their quest through to completion. For they shall "put on their shoes and go with it."

Enjoy this journey...
Amazing journey... Excellent characters... Fantastic plot!
Added to our Green Mountain Library and our home shelves!
Meet the Author:

Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.”
She mentors all ages, teaching teenagers and weekly adult writing workshops.
“God must have imprinted 'teacher' on me clear down to the bone. I taught in public school, then home schooled my children, and worked in private schools. Now my writing week isn’t very productive unless I include some time with kids.”
Her two grown children make her proud, and her two grandsons make her laugh.
 If you haven't read the first book of the Realm Walkers...
 One Realm Beyond (Realm Walkers Series #1)
 Read the first chapter of book one, One Realm Beyond, here!
More must read titles by Donita K Paul...
It only takes a click on the book covers to uncover your next adventure...
DragonSpell    The Dragons of Chiril: A Novel   Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball   The Dragon and the Turtle

"I received this book for free from for this review." 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Whoosh of Gadoosh by Pat Skene

The Whoosh of Gadoosh
by Pat Skene
ISBN: 9780985541743
Publisher's Synopsis:
The air sizzles with excitement when kids catch sight of Gadoosh and her wild purple hair. As her floppy inside-out shoes leave the ground, the whooshing caper begins and magic buttons fly everywhere. Wacky as Dr. Seuss and reminiscent of Mary Poppins, this enchanting tale whisks us into a world of love and laughter.

"With pops and bangs, poofs and splaaats,
she whooshed the kids like acrobats.
Gadoosh's buttons filled the air.
Press Here To Start bounced everywhere." 
 MrsK's Review:

It is with great joy that I can review a book that I once edited. This marvelous story has been re-released and every educator K-12 should bring it into their classroom. The word choice is wacky, fun, and engaging. The story line is crafted with imagination, yet has an endearing "quest." Characterizations are realistic, yet portrayed with a whimsical quality that shouts "fun!"

"Gadoosh lives on the street.
They say that she's got magic feet.
I hear she sleeps without a bed,
upside down, right on her head." 

Gadoosh is what we would label as homeless. Although her "gift" is more valuable than any adult would choose to acknowledge. That is until Jaimy and Jake befriend her.   
 "She wore a shawl around her dress.
Her hair looked like a frizzled mess.
Her sparkling eyes began to dance.
The kids adored her at first glance."
With all the fun of whooshing here and there, you realize that the kids are trying to find the perfect place for Gadoosh to live. She goes to school and the class is whooshed into the air. Miss Pitts reminds the children that Gadoosh can not stay at school. So off they go to the building with a "H" on top:
"That's when he squeezed Gadoosh's hand.
She grinned and seemed to understand.
Then Jaimy whispered in her ear;
'Let's go, Gadoosh, they need you here."

Such fun, such delight... you must meet Gadoosh and learn to whoosh!
A must add to your shelf... for all ages... especially if you do not know how to "whoosh!"

Meet the Author:
 Pat Skene   
 Ask Pat Skene to share memorable career moments and you won’t hear much about her 25-year banking career, complete with designer suits, high-powered meetings, world travel, bonuses and budgets with too many zeroes to count.
Instead, you’ll hear about the children gathered at Pat’s feet as she tells them stories. Recently, one member of her audience was captivated but painfully shy, so her friends served as emissaries. Pat recalls, “After the story, her friends came up to me and said, ‘She’s too shy to ask, but she wonders if she could give you a hug.’” Suddenly, Pat and the child were embracing, with the others joining in for a heartfelt group hug.
“As exciting as my career was, nothing ever gave me the rewards I get from children,” says Pat, who retired from the banking business four years ago to pursue her passion for writing.

Meet the Illustrator:
Doug Keith  Doug Keith has illustrated over thiry books and has earned a variety of awards, including an Emmy for his graphics work at KIRO Television in Seattle.

The watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations in The Whoosh of Gadoosh demonstrate Doug's playful sense of fantasy. His lively compositions and unique perspectives make this book a magical masterpiece. 

"I received this book for free as an editor and reviewer."  

Eggy Yolk and the Dirty Rotten Dozen by Joe Nipote

2015-01-03 10.35.56
ISBN: 9780985541767
Publisher's Synopsis:
Life for the oval citizens of Eggville is generally sunny-side-up--- until the day Farmer Gregg rides into town, cracked and leaking badly. He warns Sheriff Eggy Yolk that Hardboiled Harry and his notorious gang, The Dirty Rotten Dozen, are responsible and are on their way to take over Eggville!

Sheriff Eggy asks for deputies, but the terrified Townsyolk just scramble away. Completely abandoned, the brave sheriff must face the despicable despergeggos alone.

MrsK's Review:
The Dirty Rotten Dozen

Are you ready for some fun word play? Everyone will smile with as silly puns "spin" this delightful tale. With pure delight (including giggles and forehead slaps) the tale begins:
"It was a bright sunny-side-up morning in Eggville, 
and the happy oval Townsyolk were sizzling with eggcitement..."

This "yolktale" spins a true western yarn about a new Sheriff, the town being tormented by a gang, and the traditional ending with the gang heading to jail. Now before you make the wrong choice, let me just say... this tale needs to come home with you! There is nothing usual about this tale. It is so entertaining. It is pure fun. It brings everyone together just like any tale should. It requires silly voices, laughing, viewing the pages, and most of all it requires an audience.

As this book was being shared, our family (one-by-one) began getting involved. Our reader would smile or try to hold back her mirth which caused her audience to roll will laughter. The illustrations provided endless discoveries, including the directive to pinch your nose as you read in a nasally voice (a must for page 15). Finally, as with any western... there is a ballad to be sung, re-sung, and sung over and over.

Caution... this tale will be re-read... the tale will be memorized... the tale will be sung... the tale will live on!
So gather 'round... it's time to tell you the tale of a Sheriff named Eggy, about the townsyolk of Yolkville, and the time when the "super stinky despereggos" came to town....
Such an "eggstatically" good read!
Add it to your home, bring it to your school, and get it for your school library shelves!

The Dirty Rotten Dozen
 Meet the Author:
  Joe Nipote
Joe Nipote is an actor and comedian, best known to children as the voice of Uncle Stretch from the film Casper, and as Uncle Marco from Suite Life on DeckJoe is passionate about performing for children all across the country, spreading the values of Eggy Yolk. 
Eggy Yolk And The Dirty Rotten Dozen is Joe's first children's book and, like Sheriff Eggy, he loves to crack jokes and make people laugh.  Unlike Eggy, Joe eats eggs every day.
Meet the Illustrator:
Anna Nipote is an artist and photographer whose work transcends many different artistic genres.
Eggy Yolk is her first children's book.  Like Sheriff Eggy, Anna does not care for all the "hoopla" and would not enjoy wearnig a clothspin on her nose.  Unlike Eggy, she cannot play the YOLKELELE.

"I received this book for free as an editor and reviewer." 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Let There Be Light by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Let There Be Light
by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nancy Tillman
ISBN: 978031073966
Publisher's Synopsis:
“In the very beginning, God’s love bubbled over when there was nothing else—
no trees, no birds, no animals, no sky, no sea—only darkness.”
Let There Be Light combines the love and warmth of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu with the extraordinary talents of bestselling author and illustrator Nancy Tillman. This retelling of the biblical story of creation vividly portrays the wonder and beauty of God’s creation on each of the seven days. Using Archbishop Tutu’s lyrical text from the Children of God Storybook Bible and Tillman’s remarkable illustrations, Let There Be Light brings the story of creation to life for readers young and old.

MrsK's Review:
Simply incredible! Filled with loving attention, this retelling of God's creation touches our hearts and souls. The rhythm of the verse and the beautiful illustrations resonates with tenderness and affection.

Little ones can listen to God's blessings of goodness, love, and hope. They will adore the creatures with a comfortable awareness of His design. They will enjoy the tones as these words lull them into God's story of beauty from His tender care.

This is a board book that will offer so many peaceful moments snuggled together in the comfort of your arms. Our little ones want to hear this story as their first pick (out of their large piles of read-to-me stacks), as well as their last choice as they want "just one more."

When choosing books to review, this is one of those books that I knew would bring a blessing to my little ones, our shelves, and our lives. When giving a gift for a new mother... remember to add this one to the gift!

Blessings will overflow when sharing this retelling with your little one,
Beautifully crafted board book for every child!

Meet the Authors:
God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time   Archbishop Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his lifelong struggle to bring equality, justice, and peace to his native country of South Africa. He is the author of numerous books including the Children of God Storybook Bible, God’s Dream, and Desmond and the Very Mean Word. From 2007 to 2013, Tutu was the founding Chair of the Elders, a group of global leaders who are working topromote the shared interests of humanity. In 2013he received the Templeton Prize for advancing spiritualprogress in the world. He lives in South Africa withhis wife, Leah. They have four children and sevengrandchildren.
 Nancy Tillman  Nancy Tillman created her first book, On the Night You Were Born, to convey to children at an early and impressionable age, "You are the one and only ever you." Additionally, Nancy has written and illustrated the best selling titles: I’d Know You Anywhere, The Spirit of Christmas, Wherever You are My Love Will Find You, Tumford the Terrible, and The Crown on Your Head. She illustrated It's Time to Sleep, My Love, with Eric Metaxas. And, Nancy had the opportunity to work with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to illustrate the book Let There Be Light. Together, Nancy's books have sold in the millions.
Whether she is creating books that remind children of their own unique wonder, or teaching life lessons through an accident prone cat named Tumford, all of Nancy's books feature one important message. You are loved.

"I received this book for free for this review."
Harper Collins Logo

Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell

Like a Flower in Bloom
ISBN: 97807642010372
Publisher's Synopsis:
For years Charlotte Withersby has worked as an assistant to her father, an eminent English botanist. As she approaches the old age of twenty-four, her father pushes her out into society, swayed by an uncle who believes God's only two roles for women are marriage and motherhood. When one of the Withersbys' colonial correspondents, Edward Trimble, returns to England, he's drafted as the new assistant so Charlotte is free to marry. This suits Edward's plans quite well, since the last thing he wants to do is reunite with the family he is ashamed to call his own.

Though Edward proves himself vexingly capable on the job, Charlotte won't surrender the job without a fight, and schemes with her best friend to regain her position. Perhaps if a proposal seems imminent, Charlotte's father will see his error and ask her to return. Charlotte tries to make headway in her town's social life, but reveals herself to be unaware of all the intricacies of polite society. Though Edward pitches in, tutoring her in society's expectations, she just seems to make things worse. And the more she comes to know of her father's assistant, the more trouble she has imagining life without him. Caught in a trap of her own making and seeing the hopelessness of her prospects, will Charlotte get to keep her work or will she have to cede her heart?

MrsK's Review:
He Stole the work she loved.
Will she let him steal her heart as well?

Charlotte Withersby is allowed to work with her father (a botanist). Charlotte's passion for plants and flowers and writing about them is all she wants to be doing. Should it matter that she is close to turning twenty-four?

It is 1852 in Cheshire England, and Charlotte has been cataloging, illustrating, writing, and publishing what the world thinks is her father's research ever since her mother's death. Although her ancestry has carried on botanical research, her uncle (the Admiral) has convinced her father that it is time for Charlotte to enter the world of society and find a husband.

With the arrival of a wooden chest filled with spoiled specimens, Charlotte's life becomes "cluttered" with changes, frustrations, social engagements, and unexpected friendships. Edward Trimble proves to be the most annoying "replacement" in her life. With the help of Miss Templeton, Charlotte embarks on a plan that will restore her every day life back to its former routines without the annoyance of a husband.

With snappy conversations, quick wit, and determination every new engagement and encounter is a delightful and entertaining experience. The settings are comfortably detailed. The intricate precision about the plants and flowers will engage any gardener's heart. The humorous thoughts and reactions of a young lady just learning society etiquette will provide many smiles and giggles.

The gentleness of Charlotte's "blossoming" as a woman is endearing. As a reader you will be protective of her passion, you will giggle when she is learning the art of conversation, and you will become invested in her future.

Charlotte's strength and passion makes for a refreshing read. With so many books to read... it is often these gently told stories in which a "thumb-print" is left within your heart and upon your mind. This story will take its place next to Anne of Green Gables and A Girl of the Limberlost.

As a flower unfolds its beauty, so to will this novel...
Enjoy your discovery of an early botanist in a world that requires a woman to "bloom" beyond her passions,
Beautifully Entertaining... Added to my shelf.
Meet the Author:  
Siri Mitchell  has written nearly a dozen novels, three of which were named Christy Award finalists. A graduate of the University of Washington with a business degree, she has worked in many levels of government and lived on three continents. She and her family currently reside in the D.C. metro area.   As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a speaker and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters. 
"I received this book for free for this review."

Novel Interiors by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti

Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature
ISBN: 9780385345996
Publisher's Synopsis:
For those who have ever lost themselves in the stylish worlds of novels like Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray and countless others, this design book embraces the fantasy of time and place, showing you how to bring some of those elements into your own home.

Lisa Giramonti inspires a new approach to decorating: by teaching us through the lens of worlds we may already know and love. With gorgeous photographs by World of Interiors photographer Ivan Terestchenko, aspirational quotes, and tailored reading lists, Novel Interiors reveals the essence and details of interiors mentioned in great literary works. This is a stunning, photo-driven book that shares enchanting and timeless ways to live more elegantly.
  A Bloomsbury Life

"Through the lens of the words, one sees new things.
You might say "I never thought I could make a room that looks like what so-and-so was describing,"
but maybe you can -- and maybe you will.
Or maybe you are already in one."
David Netto
Los Angeles 2014

MrsK's Review:
Inside the covers of this journey you will find so many insights, a treasury of memories, and an abundance of decorating visions for your home. At first I sat down expecting an enjoyable moment of browsing, which is what I was given. Days later, I returned for a few moments to read the photo captions and was immediately lost in the details of the rooms. A week later my visit lasted through out the lazy morning. 
"We don't just read a great story, we inhabit it.
If you're at all like me, 
it's what happens between the plot points of a novel that creates the most indelible impression.
Of course, the story line is important, but what you really remember
are all of those tiny details that pull you into beautiful worlds that you hate to leave."

Such a delightful quote. With each page I discovered cherished quotes from books that are such good friends you would find them within my bookcases. With every photo, I would inspect the details in awe. Often there were sighs of contentment, quiet "oohs" and many "ah-hah" nods. At times would recognize an item in my home and memories would flash like snapshots in a photo album. Yet, there were so many more moments where I would daydream of a change in that corner, or a revamping of that area, and of course those moments of additions inside and out on my patio.

You will experience delightful moments of discovery and inspiration as you reconnect with moments from those storytellers that have illuminated imaginations or generations:
  • "The cottage of content [is] better than the Palace of cold splendor, and that was where love was, all was." David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (pg.23).  With an inviting breakfast partially eaten on the kitchen counter just reminding me of a kitchen I once knew.
  • "It was just what it ought to be, and it looked what it was." Emma by Jane Austen (pgs. 26-27). With furniture that is worn, the trunk as a coffee table and my mother's sketches on the wall... I glanced around my front room and was reassured in the comfort of my home.
  • "See!' said Eugene, 'miniature flour-barrel, rolling- pin, spice-box, shelf of brown jars, chopping-board, coffee-mill, dresser elegantly furnished with crockery, saucepans and pans, roasting jack, a charming kettle, an armory of dish-covers. The moral influence of these objects, in forming the domestic virtues, may have an immense influence upon me..." Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (pgs. 30-31). I adored this pantry. What a great idea. Instead of having a pantry of cans, I could renovate my pantry will all things for guests. Displaying all the wonderful generational items. Adding the decadent jams and biscuits. Folding the guest and holiday linens. And what would I do with my every day stockpile of cans, flours, etc... why hide them on the shelves where all of my guest items once lived!
  • "Don't let us make it tidy,' said Mary anxiously. 'It wouldn't be a secret garden if it was tidy." The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (pgs. 32-33). I could smell the flowers outside the window. I glimpsed the pots that added layers to the patio's edge... I was ready to go on to the patio and begin replanting!
  • "The linen...though coarse, was clean and smelt beautifully of lavendar." The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (pgs. 38-39). The whimsy of a built in bed. The detail of items loved, crafted, and cherished. Which room should the construction begin in?
  • "Every room feels as cozy and welcoming as the kitchen... A home that embraces these qualities is a place friends will return to again and again." (pgs. 48-51). Not only did I fall in love with this kitchen, I realized some of the angles could benefit my kitchen layout. "In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, there's a blissful-sounding 'wilderness of books' in the March family's library that Jo hurries to every chance she can." Check... I have recreated this image in every home... this is my touch of comfort... my retreat that I share with all who enter our doors.
  • "Jo hurried to this quiet place, and curling herself up in the easy chair, devoured poetry, romance, history, travels, and pictures like a regular bookworm." Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (pgs. 54-55). Recreating our own 'comfy' spot is a must in every home, on any porch, and within any garden. The author has great little hints on creating the "ultimate cozy corner" which brings to life all of your hidden treasures or at least "plants" a seed as to what you could look for when out and about your town.
  •  "In every nook and corner there was some queer little table, or cupboard, or bookcase, or seat, or something or other, that made me think there was not such another good corner in the room; until I looked at the next one, and found it equal to it, if not better." David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (pgs. 58-59). With an abundance of treasures from the past, I value that everywhere, everyday generational touch. Not every photo lends to my liking... yet every quote offered an insight into the depth of inspiration from authors I have known.
 Beyond the quotes, beyond the images, there are the best "tidbits" from what to look for when you are out and about, or suggestions for naming your home. Maybe you want a quick reference about color and texture choices. Maybe a suggestion or two for entertaining with just the right touches. Or maybe you just enjoy literary connections. This book offers a treasure with every browse!

There are so many delightful treasures within every photo and behind every quote,
Enjoy your discoveries, your memories, and your quest in redecorating even the smallest area of your home.

So enjoyable!
The perfect table browser!
Meet the Author:
Lisa Borgnes Giramonti: Artist + Blogger, A Bloomsbury Life  In 2008, Lisa Borgnes Giramonti founded a lifestyle/design blog called "A Bloomsbury Life" with one goal in mind: to figure out how to live a modern life through an Old World lens. Since then, over two million visitors have joined her on her quest to live more meaningfully. Today, "A Bloomsbury Life" attracts over 50,000 hits a month and is read by people in over 140 countries.
Lisa has written for Martha Stewart magazine, Hyland magazine and was given her own style column in W Magazine. In addition, she has been featured on the pages of many design magazines, blogs and national newspapers. Lisa's personal story and lifestyle are featured in the 2011 book Undecorate by Christiane Lemieux (Potter Style) and the 2012 book The Mothers of Reinvention by Jennifer Pate and Barbara Machen. 
Lisa is also an embroidery artist, and in 2013 the Huffington Post declared her one of "Five LA Women Artists to Watch" -- in their words, "She melds the lost art of needlepoint with a Dorothy Parker-like sensibility." Her work is in many private collections including Soho House Hollywood. Her 2010 solo show at the ACME Gallery in Beverly Hills was featured in the LA Times, Angeleno Magazine, C Magazine and other art journals.
present in the home of Anglophile artist Lisa Borgnes Giramonti ...

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Plague of Unicorns by Jane Yolen

A Plague of Unicorns
ISBN: 9780310746485
Publisher's Synopsis:
Young James, an earl’s son, is a bit bothersome and always asking the oddest questions. In despair—the last of James’ tutors having quit—his mother sends him off to be educated at Cranford Abbey. She feels the strict regimen will do him a world of good. But Cranford Abbey has its own problems. It has been falling into disrepair. The newly appointed Abbot Aelian takes it upon himself to save the abbey with the use of his secret weapon: a recipe for golden apple cider passed down in his family for many generations. He believes that by making and selling the cider, the monks will raise necessary funds to restore the abbey to its former glory. Abbot Aelian has everything he needs—almost. One obstacle stands in his way, unicorns that happen to feast specifically on the golden apples. Abbot Aelian and his men must fight off the unicorns to make the cider. He and the monks try to form a battalion to fight off the beasts; next they import heroes to fight for them. But the heroes run off, monks are injured, and a herd of ravenous unicorns continue munching. After no success, the abbot finally calls upon the most unlikely of heroes, one suggested by no other than young James. That hero is small and unprepossessing but possesses the skill to tame the beasts. Though wildly skeptical, Abbot Aelian must risk everything and believe in this recommended stranger or risk the fall of Cranford Abbey.

In that first autumn of Aelian's rule,
when the golden apples were at their ripest,
the battle lines were drawn---
monks against unicorns.

MrsK's Review:
Everything about this journey is beautifully crafted! How can anyone stop the unicorns from eating the golden apples? Will a young boy be the answer in saving the Cranford Abbey?

At first you learn of Cranford Abbey's apples, especially the Hosannah apples which "were a startling gold" color, yet not worth eating. So for such a long time no one was bothered by the unicorns dining on these apples. 
"A lone unicorn may be a magnificent animal,
full of rare enchantment and beauty. 
in a herd they can prove exceedingly cranky
and exceptionally dangerous if disturbed,
especially while eating golden apples."

So the first few abbots did not consider the Hosannah apples worth any "battle." involvement. That is until the abbey needed repairs and until Abbot Aelian was appointed to Cranford Abbey. As if divinely inspired, Abbot Aelian had a rare recipe for Golden Apple Cider... which by the way could provide a source of income for those Abbey repairs. Now how would you go about keeping the herd of unicorns out of the orchard? Before you decide, please keep in mind that monks "do not believe" in harming any animal unless it's for food. Although, it is fair to say that unicorns had "no care about monks" especially since they have "very sharp horns."

I cannot spoil the story line, let's just say that the first attempts at ridding the unicorns from the orchard caused many of the young boys to suffer with "screaming nightmares." Not even the long line of Heroes (possibly connected by an underground hero network), could withstand the torture of the battle. It is rumored that they came back "white-faced and shaking."

We know that there is power in prayer, but could a young boy of eight with a smudge on his nose be the answer? You see, not so far away (just about three days travel), there was a young boy (who just happens to have a smudge on his nose). James, the maybe heir to the dukedom of Callanshire, is naturally concerned with the many answers he must know. Of course it is not clear what he knows about the unicorn battle at the Abbey. Suffice it to say, he is more concerned about learning all of the answers for all of his questions. You will soon discover that once James turns nine, he will be sent to Cranford Abbey. Interesting don't you think?

Once the monks learned that James could read and write he is turned over to Brother Luke (who is an Illuminator):
"Now this is what it would look like in italics... 
To James' astonishment, the pen left not a spot or a blot.
The ink flowed across the scroll like a river in a flood,
with waves capped by little curlicues."

Learning the art of Illumination was a beautiful thing, yet helping to rid the unicorns from the orchard and setting traps seemed a bit more to his liking. So as it was James' way, he begins his quest to help. With his very first encounter with the unicorns... he became proclaimed the "true hero of the day." He is given an audience with the Abbot in which a plan is formed, with a few exceptions of course.

Sorry but this adventure will only continue if you read the book,
A great fantasy for any independent reader...
Add it to your Library shelves!
 Meet the Author:
 A Pciture of Jane smiling  Jane Yolen is an author of children’s books, fantasy, and science fiction, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
She is also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children’s literature. She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century.
Jane Yolen’s books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award among many others.

A few of my favorites:
 Merlin and the Dragons
Owl Moon   How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?   My Father Knows the Names of Things 
Stone Angel   Hush, Little Horsie    Commander Toad in Space   Piggins
Dragon's Blood (Pit Dragon Chronicles Series #1)  The Devil's Arithmetic   The Hostage Prince   The Dragon's Boy  The Young Merlin Trilogy: Passager, Hobby, and Merlin
Where Have the Unicorns Gone?   Here There Be Dragons

"I received this book for free from for this review." 

MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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