The Tales Of Wooffer’s Woods

By Betty Fasig

The Tales Of Wooffers WoodsThe Tales Of Wooffer’s Woods : Wooffer is a collection of thirty-three short animal-adventure children stories originally written by Betty Fasig for her family. The center character is Wooffer, a hairy dachshund puppy that “mom”, the author, receives as a surprise Xmas gift from her fun-loving family.

A host of animals grace the pages of Wooffer, including Old Agnes the mouse, thoughtful and protective Margaret the hen, Marygrey the pregnant rabbit, a proud and endearing peacock named Cho Lee who loves to strut his stuff and falls in love with a quail, and best friends Ibie the Ibis and Maudie the horse.

The stories are thoughtfully placed in chronological order, right down to the season. It even includes a Xmas story! This is a book about a puppy that changes the opinions of those around him, wins hearts and becomes a reliable, heroic friend. Wooffer earns respect from all the animals for miles around and becomes a bit of a legend by the time he grows up.

Generally warm, fun and light-hearted, Wooffer also tackles real-life issues from moving, loneliness, gaining respect, discerning truth from what one is told, getting lost, overcoming bullies and more.

Having spent a few years on a farm in my youth, I see germs of truth in the animal relationships and can verify the strange and wonderful bonds that happen between species. The epilogue provides a nice closure by revealing how all the animals still return to the same area annually and spend time with Wooffer and his friends discussing the old times and having new adventures.

Inserted occasionally are several adorable amateur drawings of life and adventures on the farm that are sure to entertain children. The cover is a photograph of the inspiration for the main character – the author’s dog – which gives a more realistic feel to the book than a characterization or drawing could have done.

The book’s underlying theme is that no matter how small a person may think they are, or how small of a thing they may do – they can make a difference to the lives of those around them. And this is an encouraging thought.

Wooffer is an excellent book for bedtime stories, but will be best enjoyed when reading to groups of children. Written in such a way that the reader can easily characterize the animals and situations with their voice, the book is sure to bring giggles of joy to groups of children. As such, I think Wooffer would be an excellent addition to the bookshelves of libraries, schools, daycare centers and the like.

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The Plight Of Queen Bee

By Simone Fairchild

The Plight Of Queen BeeThe Plight Of Queen Bee : This is a children’s book that will keep readers glued to the pages right to the end. The Plight of Queen Bee by Simone Fairchild entails forty pages of gorgeous, bright fun illustrations with vivid detail and glorious lilac flowers in full bloom.

Illustrator Pamela Marie Key masterfully creates real-life illusions right down to the bark on the lilac tree. I loved the bee’s wings in particular, which reminded me of a treasured sea shell from my childhood that had pearl-like iridescent quality to it.

Multiple award winning author Simone Fairchild spins a fascinating detective story, complete with a Sherloch Holmes-like character – Detective Brown who is called in to solve the baffling mystery of who is stealing Queen Bee’s nectar. Detective Brown must endure awful pressure from Queen Bee and find out who is telling the truth. He accidentally discovers a culprit red-handed that completely surprises readers and heroically disarms the robber with swift swordplay. Simone Fairchild certainly reveals her talent for this genre and a love for her readers, which flows throughout this excellent book.

Four wonderful games will stimulate the minds of your children while the images and details will keep them amused for long periods of time. It’s a sure bet that The Plight of Queen Bee will be read many, many times by your family.

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My Dad Wears Polka-Dotted Socks!

By Barr Loel

My Dad Wears Polka dotted SocksMy Dad Wears Polka-dotted Socks! : Bright colored sheets just inside the sturdy book cover certainly set the mood for this excellent book geared for children between the ages of 4 and 8.

The main character is a young boy who is desperately fretting over the class reaction to his strange family. He dreads the day the children in his classroom are due to present their portrayals of their families. Much to his delight, he realizes his family is not so strange after all. Parents and teachers will certainly find the yoga-loving dad with orange polka-dotted socks is sure to get the giggles rolling. The impressive illustrations hold attention to the page.

As youth, we are often fascinated by other family’s doors and what lays beyond them. When we discover that all the quirks and differences reside in everyone’s family, it makes it easier to accept our families and our place in them. This is a valuable life skill that would certainly help to ground little people at this age.

Educators and caretakers may find this book useful in social and family studies.
Children are encouraged to personalize the book on the first page and create a list of their family and their personality traits on the last page – thus making this book more interactive.”

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King Bartholomew And The Jester’s Riddle

By Pina Mastromonaco

King BartholomewKing Bartholomew And The Jester’s Riddle : King Bartholomew and the Jester’s Riddle by Pina Mastromonaco is a wonderful, fun book with a humor level perfect for children aged four to eight. Entertaining riddles entice readers to try to guess the answer while enjoying the tale.

Childlike King Bartholomew is obsessed with toys and solving riddles. The chubby, balding King learns to balance play and work time so that he can take responsible care of his land and citizens, yet still enjoy a playful life. The moral-of-the-story is not laid on thick – it is lightly applied so it will be easily accepted by young children. Teachers, librarians and caretakers will enjoy reading this pleasant book to children who like to play rather than accomplish chores or school assignments.

The illustrator, David Martin, is extremely accomplished and very gifted. Each page is filled with incredible detail that reveals more the longer one gazes at them. Many illustrations some form of nature included from the fantastically sculpted bushes, an array of birds and a maze of hedges with a big ‘B’ in the center (B – for King Bartholomew). Richly colored clothes and hilarious costumes for the jester and the King’s servants prove to add an interesting twist to this fun-loving book.”

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Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia

By C.S. Lewis

Prince Caspian The Return to NarniaPrince Caspian: The Return to Narnia : If you recently watched the very popular Disney movie “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, you might be aware that C. S. Lewis wrote a total of seven books about Narnia. These are, in order of the internal chronology of events:

1 – The Magician’s Nephew
2 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
3- The Horse and His Boy
4 – Prince Caspian
5 – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6 – The Silver Chair
7 – The Last Battle

The novel “Prince Caspian” begins one year after the events told in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” on a railroad platform where Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy are waiting for trains that will take them to their boarding schools. Suddenly they feel themselves transported into another world, and after a few hours of wandering about they realize that it is Narnia, where many centuries have passed in the meantime.

The second plot line involves young Prince Caspian, heir to the throne of Narnia, who has to flee from his usurping uncle Miraz. Deep in a forest he discovers some of the “Old Narnians” – talking beasts and dwarfs – and later decides to challenge his uncle for the kingship.

Soon, though, the military situation deteriorates for Caspian and his small army, and they end up besieged on Aslan’s How, a hill built over the site of the stone table that played a crucial role in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. When things look utterly bleak, Caspian uses his most precious object, Queen Susan’s Horn, to summon help.

This review does not try to give away too much more of the plot and spoil the reader’s enjoyment, so let me just say that the two plot lines intertwine, there are thrilling battle scenes (including a duel) and a wonderful celebration at the end.

Lewis does a good job of showing the gradual re-transformation of the four children, who once again turn from being English schoolchildren to becoming Kings and Queens of Narnia.

To me, “Prince Caspian” is one of the three best books in the Narnia series, together with “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “The Magician’s Nephew”. In many ways, it repeats themes from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, but adds an interesting perspective by having the events of the earlier book become the stuff of legend.

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Chatterbox

By Michael Uslan and John Steven Gurney

ChatterboxChatterbox – The Bird Who Wore Glasses : Remember the Batman movies? Well, the movie producer of successful movies like these and entertaining children’s television shows such as Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, Michael Uslan, has released this adorable children’s book. Chatterbox – The Bird Who Wore Glasses is available in a durable, hard-cover format with a lovely cover sleeve that will help prolong the life of the book.

At 40 pages and full of excellent illustrations, this book is sure to entertain children.Sad, red-headed Nancy doesn’t fit in well with the other kids who call her “Nancy Nobody”. She wished and wished for a new friend and one day the dream came true when a feathered, sight-challenged friend flew her way.

Nancy felt needed, she was loved, and her world was set right by her new funny bird.John Steven Gurney, a very successful artist and illustrator, colorfully illustrates the large pages with plenty of things to look at. Written in playful, light verse the author does mention things like prayer and “God’s love”, there fore it may appeal to a religious audience.

The book includes a CD with 2 songs and the orated version of the story by actress Brittany Murphy (voice of Luanne on King of the Hill, also known for her parts in Clueless and Up Town Girls). This could certainly appeal to the independent child who wants to “read” the book themselves. As well, the CD option may provide a few extra minutes for busy caregivers. The bullying shown in the beginning of the story, though very minor, may be useful for building empathy in the classroom for lonely and segregated individuals. Children with family pets, especially birds, would definitely enjoy this book.

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