Saturday, February 10, 2024

Review for Ephraim's Garden, Midwest Book Review

Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review, has this to say about my newest book, Ephraim's Garden: "Ephraim's Garden will appeal widely as both a read-aloud book that adults can enjoy for the very young, and as an attractive fable story for kids up to age ten.
The green valley of Ephrath is tended by gardener Ephraim, who has built an attraction for all ages through his efforts, interesting young, would-be gardeners who both appreciate the beauty and aspire to become garden guardians themselves. Ephraim gathers his young followers and gives each of them a plot to tend in preparation for planting. He warns them that "... the work is not easy, and you will not see the results of your hard work right away." Jared is a young person who believes in hard work, the garden, and Ephraim's promise. His dedication (and that of fellow avid young plot-tenders) attracts the interest and derision of bullies who aren't interested in putting out that kind of effort. Their scorn brings tears to his tenderhearted friend Lissa, who is always easily affected by what others think. She tells him the root of her sorrow: “They said that we’re fools to work this hard, and that if Ephraim really cared about us, he would give us gardens that are already beautiful, not plain patches of dirt.” By now, it's plain to see that Loralee Evans has crafted a story about much more than gardening. She surveys matters of the heart, reasons behind emotions and reactions to them, and teaches young readers survival strategies that embrace understanding and better responses, as the story unfolds. Lovely, large-size, colorful images from pepper the tale and enhance it with beautiful accent points of children and gardens as Lissa's dilemma unfolds and Jared is called upon to tap unfamiliar resources in order to support her. The notes about real-life conundrums go far beyond a simple portrait of bullies and victims, creating an in-depth inspection of such related topics as self-doubt, courage, kindness, and supporting others' choices as they navigate obstacles in their lives. The result is a picture book story that is packed with wisdom, insight, and discussion material suitable for parents and kids and any adult working with children to build greater understanding about how to be a friend and how to address life's challenges. Libraries will also want to recommend Ephraim's Garden to discussion groups for young readers, as it holds many insights perfect for kids learning hard lessons about perseverance, friendship, and choice."

Saturday, February 3, 2024

How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long

How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long is a delightful book for children. It follows the adventures of a little boy on the beach when he sees (or imagines he sees) a group of pirates land on the beach.
(His parents don't react to the presences of the pirates, so I suspect he's just got a great imagination.) He leaves home with the pirates and has lots of fun until he realizes that it's not all fun and games. Will he be able to get home, or is he stuck on the ocean with the pirates forever? Read the book and find out!

Nurk The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew by Ursula Vernon

Nurk The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew by Ursula Vernon is a humerous there and back again tale about a young shrew named Nurk.
He lives comfortably at home. His grandmother, Surka, was an adventurer, but not him, thanks. Until one day a hummingbird comes with an urgent request. The prince of the dragonflies has been kidnapped! Nurk, despite being of the non-adventurous type, is still a compassionate soul, so he decides to go help. Will he be successful in rescuing the dragonfly prince? Read the book and find out!

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm is a delightful story about a girl just beginning to grow up in the years just after World War 2 ended. While Barbara is her given name, everyone calls her Penny. Her dad, who died when she was a baby, loved the song Pennies from Heaven by Bing Crosby. She is eleven, going on twelve. She loves her family, both sides, and playing baseball with her cousin Frankie and their friends.
But she does wonder about a lot of things. For one, why doesn't her mom want to have much to do with her dad's large Italian family? And why does everyone hush her up or change the subject whenever she asks them how her dad died? Her mom's family and dad's family don't have a lot to say to each other, but when an emergency happens, will they pull together to help each other? Read the book and find out!