An Eclectic Mix

It seems to me that my last few posts have had a sour feel to them, so I’d thought I do a more upbeat, its own way, post this time. To that end, I have one YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale story, one early chapter book for children with dyslexia, and one middle-grade ghoul story.

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I may be 81 years old, but I still believe in the possibility of werebeasts and fairy tales. And, of course, hopefulness that good will prevail in the end. So, enjoy the convoluted story in the first book. This author has a great imagination.

Good title

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Into the Bloodred Woods

Martha Brockenbrough

Keep in mind the various characters playing significant roles in this story, because there are a few. But if the reader likes fantasy with all trimmings, this is the story to read. Based on just about any fairy/folk tale you can think of, plus “were” creatures, evil kings, a child born of the woods, Hansel and Gretel-like children, magic, and much more. Most of them gather together to defeat the evil, insane, newly crowned king, who is jealous of his twin sister’s werebear abilities, not to mention her being the firstborn heir to the throne. The plot is convoluted but very engaging and the reader will have fun figuring out what fairy tales are invoked. There are also messages interwoven about learning tolerance of people who are different from the reader. The theme of each section of the story is introduced by a blind beggar with a mechanical monkey, which gives the reader as to what fairy tale is being invoked. The story is a convoluted, fun romp into the world of fantasy and fairytales. Teachers can use the book as a way into discussing folklore, among other things.

BIBLIO: 2021, Scholastic Press/Scholastic Inc., publishers, Ages 13 +, $18.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult Fantasy

ISBN: 978133863876

ISBN: 978133863890

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Learning about the silent “e”.

Meg and Greg: The Bake Sale (Orca Two Read, 3)Good books for children with dyslexia, but just fun for any kid learning to read.

Meg and Greg The Bake Sale

Elspeth Rae and Rowena Rae

Illustrated by Elisa Gutierrez

This is book 3 of the series of phonic stories. The stories are intended to help children with dyslexia understand words that have a silent “e” at the end. For instance, the words “bake” and “sale” in the title have an “e” at the end which does not sound, but this makes the way the previous vowel sounds. The “a” would have the “short” sound of “ah” without the silent “e” at the end. Each story has a different vowel in the middle. The stories are simple, but engaging with a slightly complicated plot line to keep the child reading. The first story is about Meg and Greg baking “Red Velvet” cupcakes to sell and emphasizes the “a” as the first vowel. The second story uses the “i” “e” combination and is about taking a bike ride. The third story uses the “o” as the first vowel. And the last story features the “u”. Each story is followed by simple games to cement the concept into the child’s brain. Children will be eager to read these stories and will understand the concepts well.

BIBLIO: 2021, Orca Two Read/Orca Book Publishers, Ages 5 to 7, $14.95.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Early Chapter Book Phonics

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2496-6

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Enjoy the Almost Scary Story

The Ghoul Next Door

Cullen Bunn and Cat Farris

Illustrated by Cat Farris

Eleven-year-old Grey lives in a New England town that is legendary for its tales of being haunted. He finds out this is actually not a legend when he walks through the cemetery after dark and meets a ghoul named Lavinia. They become friends, and she makes sure Grey understands that Ghouls and Ghosts are not the same things. The story is full of wonderful plays on words that the title suggests and Lavinia helps Grey out with a school project. Written as a graphic novel and, though a fantasy, the story has a number of subtle morals brought out along the way. Teachers will even find topics to discuss such as believing in using one’s imagination and learning to keep an open mind when viewing the world, along with looking for the best in everybody. Also are lessons about having faith in oneself. It is best to believe in possibilities no matter whether about yourself or others.

BIBLIO: 2021, HarperAlley/HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 8 to 12, $21.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Middle-Grade Graphic Novel

ISBN: 978-0-06-289610-0

ISBN: 978-0-06-289609-9

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