“The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball” by Dori Jones Yang

TheForbiddenTemptationOfBaseballTHE FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION OF BASEBALL

Dori Jones Yang
SparkPress (2017)
ISBN 9781943006328
Reviewed by Marten Weldon (age 12) for Reader Views (9/17)

“The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball” by Dori Jones Yang is historical fiction novel about eleven-year-old Woo Ka-Leong (Leon) and his fourteen-year-old brother Ka-Son (Carson). In 1876, the Chinese brothers were part of the Chinese Educational Mission to the United States. They were sent to live with a family in Connecticut, to learn English, go to school, eventually graduate from college, and bring technology back to China.

It was a duty to the Emperor and a privilege to be selected for the Chinese Educational Mission. Only one hundred and twenty of the smartest boys were chosen. In addition to going to American schools, they had to keep up their studies in Chinese so they would be able to communicate when they got home. They had to continue to demonstrate their loyalty to the Emperor by wearing a long braid, and Leon had to always obey his elder brother because it was the Chinese way. This was very difficult because Elder Brother did not like America and did not want Leon to play baseball or become Americanized.

Leon was the main character. He was frisky and open to new ideas and experiences but was held back by Chinese tradition enforced by Elder Brother. When Leon first arrived, American culture felt very unusual. For instance, walking into a sick person’s house was considered very dangerous to Chinese people, and he refused to carry a basket that been inside a sick person’s house. After a while and some struggle, American culture rubbed off on Leon and he found himself speaking up and participating in American life, including baseball.

The storyline focuses less on baseball than the title would lead you to believe. There is enough baseball included if you are a baseball fan, but not too much if you are not. I liked this book because it was very engaging. I learned a lot about Chinese culture, and as a younger brother, I could relate to brothers being brothers. There is also a Fun Facts section at the end of the book with some interesting historical information. “The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball” by Dori Jones Yang was very well written, and I would recommend it to everyone!

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“The Portal: The CORT Chronicles Book 1” by David D. Bernstein

ThePortalTHE PORTAL: THE CORT CHRONICLES BOOK 1

David D. Bernstein
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478783107
Reviewed by Marten Weldon (age 12) for Reader Views (09/17)

“The Portal: The CORT Chronicles Book 1” by David D. Bernstein, is a book about a 13-year-old boy named Zack, who tries to find his 11-year-old brother Andy, who disappeared by jumping into a time portal during a baseball game. The New York Zack found on the other side of the portal was not the same as the New York he left. It was now the year 2110, and the city was a war zone. The only people Zack could see were between the ages of twenty and fifty and they were mind-controlled minions. There were no children or old people. The city was run by robots that were controlled by CORT, the company running the city.

Zack soon finds his brother Andy, who was working with the resistance movement, fighting against CORT. They were not together long before Andy was captured by CORT. Now Zack will have to rescue his brother. The book ends rather abruptly at that point. To find out what happens next, we’ll all have to wait for the sequel.

I think the idea of kids fighting against a robot-dominated city is an interesting story. For me though, the story was not totally believable as I wanted to see more development of the plot and to know more about the characters so I could relate better to them in their adventures.  Plus, the characters didn’t talk like normal children, or at least any of the kids I know. Their speech was more formal–they never used contractions like don’t or won’t, so the language seemed kind of stiff.

There are a few illustrations in the book, which are very good, but I thought they made the kids look about half their actual age.

“The Portal: The CORT Chronicles Book 1” by David D. Bernstein, is a quick read at only 78 pages long.  Overall, I found the concept of the story to be interesting and really liked the action. I think it is a story that will be enjoyed very much by readers just a bit younger than my age group.

Posted in YOUNG READER - AGES 8 TO 12 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Honk Whoop” by Cindy Helms

HonkWhoopHONK WHOOP

Cindy Helms
Set Free Publishing (2017)
ISBN 9780996339742
Reviewed by Russ Cramer (age 5) for Reader Views Kids (9/17)

“Honk Whoop” by Cindy Helms is about making new friends (Piper and Hubert), meeting new people, hearing Red Song Thrusters sing and knowing that you are not alone.

Piper would listen to the Thrusters make sounds while she made dolls and told the dolls stories. Hubert would wander and eat berries while listening to the Thrusters make noises. And also Piper made some dolls and climbed a ladder to Spike Mountain to investigate to see the Red Thrusters because they were quiet and she really, really needed to feel that she wasn’t alone. And she saw she wasn’t alone because Hubert was there. He was there because he grew so tall he could see Piper. And also the fox (Piper) started thinking about the dinosaur (Hubert) every day.

I think this book is amazing because Piper and Hubert always think about each other now. It’s cool because they find each other and make new friends. I didn’t like the Red Thrusters singing because I don’t like to sing. The art was colorful and nice.

I would recommend “Honk Whoop” by Cindy Helms to other people because it is a good lesson, because the new friends are thinking about each other. It is important that they keep an eye on each other. And that’s what I like about it. I think boys would like it, but not girls.

A Note from Dad:

My son (who it is hard to make sit still for anything) really liked listening to this story. One of my favorite parts of sharing this story with my son was that he made both characters into what he wanted them to be (instead of shapes, Piper became a fox and Hubert became a dinosaur). He also really latched onto the importance of knowing there are others who are experiencing the same thing as him. Overall, I think it will be a book he will want me and his mom to read to him again and again.

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“Polygonsters” by Cindy Helms

PolygonstersPOLYGONSTERS

Cindy Helms
Set Free Publishing (2017)
ISBN 9780996339735
Reviewed by Russ Cramer (age 5) for Reader Views Kids (9/17)

“Polygonsters” by Cindy Helms was about these monsters who were rough at the library, and ate all the peoples’ food at the tea house and were leaving and the good guys gave their snacks to the Polygonsters and the Polygonsters left.

The little birds throughout the story said the Polygonsters were coming and they became good guys and they ate cookies with the Polygonsters.

This book was all about taking other people’s stuff. At the end of the story, the people in the town started to share their stuff with the Polygonsters. The Polygonsters didn’t really seem like bad guys after all.

This book was awesome because I liked it when all the people shared their food with the Polygonsters. I like it when people are nice to me too. It’s not good when people are mean to you. I loved it so much. I could never ever stop having my dad read it to me.

I didn’t like that all the people said the Polygonsters were mean.  I was happy, though, when the people shared their food with the Polygonsters. I like when people share their food with me.

I think the artwork was good. I’ve never painted something like that, but the sky should be blue, not white.

I recommend “Polygonsters” by Cindy Helms to other kids because I love other kids and they will love it too. God loves them too.

A Note from Dad:

Russ really seemed to enjoy this book. His main focus was on how the people in the town all wanted to be mean like they thought the Polygonsters were. He said the biggest lesson he learned in the book was that it is important to share our stuff with others—to show them love.

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“Olivia’s Story: Protector of the Realm” by David L. Dahl

OliviasStoryOLIVIA’S STORY: PROTECTOR OF THE REALM

David L. Dahl
Lulu Publishing Services (2016)
ISBN 9781483451749
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau (age 18) for Reader Views Kids (09/17)

“Olivia’s Story: Protector of the Realm” is a historical fantasy novel by David L. Dahl set in Nazi Germany during WWII.

After taking a translating job with a mysterious man named the Major, Olivia falls into a comfortable routine with her work and new roommate, Vivian. Outside her happy existence, however, the world is at war. The year is 1943 and Hitler is terrorizing Europe. After a sudden accident takes Vivian away from her, Olivia is brought to a Fairy Kingdom in the middle of the night. There she learns the fairies are fighting a war of their own, and that the Major has become a prisoner of Nazi Germany. Behind enemy lines, an evil Jinn directs the war for his own motives, and the fairies need her help to stop him. After being named “Protector of the Realms” Olivia is sent off on a dangerous mission, both to rescue the Major, and save the world from the Jinn’s schemes.

This novel is perfect for children interested in World War II and fairy tales. The prose is simple and easy to follow, but engaging enough to keep a young audience invested in the story. The author uses fantasy elements to explain important historical events. In this story world, D-Day is caused by an army of fairies trying to take back their homes, and Nazi Germany builds bombs under the orders of an evil Jinn.

While the style may be intriguing to younger readers, adult audiences may find it unsettling. Some of the events and characters are taken too lightly. Hitler himself is constantly referred to as an “idiot” who doesn’t know what he’s doing, and anyone who has taken a high school history class knows he was much more. A mere idiot could not wreak such havoc and destruction. It’s important for children to understand the devastation he caused, but at the same time the target audience is too young to fully appreciate the impact of the war. It’s a tricky task and the author handled it as well as possible. The price of writing for an elementary audience is often down-playing complex matters such as war.

Reading “Olivia’s Story” as an adult was an interesting experience. Finding the correlations between history and fantasy was an entertaining pursuit and one any history buff or parent would enjoy while reading this novel to their child. An elementary school teacher could use it to open up a deeper discussion on World War II. I would certainly use it as a gateway topic with a child.

“Olivia’s Story” approaches a challenging task. In finding the balance between fantasy and history for young readers, it is forced to understate important points of the war. The genocides led by Hitler are not mentioned once and it is never explained why the world is at war. Despite that, the novel does what novels are intended to do: provide entertainment for a target audience. In this regard “Olivia’s Story” by David L. Dahl succeeds phenomenally.

Posted in TEEN/YOUNG ADULT - AGES 12 AND UP | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“My Little Angel” by Sherrill S. Cannon

MyLittleAngelMY LITTLE ANGEL

Sherrill S. Cannon
Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency, LLC (2017)
ISBN 9781681819471
Reviewed by Willow Cramer (Age 7) for Reader Views Kids (7/17)

“My Little Angel” by Sherrill S. Cannon is about a little angel who is always on a girl’s shoulder. At night she sleeps on the girl’s head. The angel cared for the little girl too.

What I liked most about this story is that there’s always an angel beside the little girl. I liked that there were no bad guys in the book, and that it was easy to read.

I really liked the art and one day I know I can draw this well. My favorite is the page when she’s in the car because her head is bigger than her body. It makes me laugh.

There was nothing in the book I didn’t like, but it was too easy for me to read and I have other books that are similar. I would recommend this book to younger kids like my brother because it’s not for kids my age. It’s too easy for me to read.

Like the girl in this book, I feel I have an angel with me too who gives me good ideas. I feel like Jesus gave her to me.

Dad’s Comments

This is a book that my daughter did not have a lot to say about because it was a very simple-to-read book. This is a book that she does read on occasion. Even after completing her review and despite her comments about being easy to read, I feel she really enjoys reading it.

I like when books end with questions and activities. In this book, I didn’t notice them at first (since they come after the acknowledgements section), but now that I see them, I’m glad they are there. The author hid her other book covers throughout the book, so there’s a “Where’s Waldo” like mini-game. Additionally, she offers “What” and “Now What?” questions about the book and ends with questions the reader can use to apply some of the important concepts from the book (wearing a seatbelt, staying close to a parent, pet ownership, etc.).

It is nice, too, that 50% of the cost of the author’s books is used to help find a cure for Juvenile Myositis, an incurable autoimmune disease. I’d never even heard of this before reviewing this book with my daughter, so I’m glad to have had the opportunity to learn about this through the author’s efforts.

Overall, I recommend “My Little Angel” by Sherrill S. Cannon as a good book with a good lesson.

Posted in EARLY READER - AGES 6 TO 8, PRESCHOOL - UP TO AGE 5 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Baby on Board: How Animals Carry Their Young” by Marianne Berkes

BabyOnBoardBABY ON BOARD: HOW ANIMALS CARRY THEIR YOUNG

Marianne Berkes
Dawn Publications (2017)
ISBN 9781584695936
Reviewed by Rose Whitacre (age 6) and Mom for Reader Views Kids (07/17)

“Baby on Board: How Animals Carry Their Young” by Marianne Berkes is a great book about many different animals and the ways they carry their babies. The author’s purpose was to show how animals carry their young, and to help kids understand how humans aren’t the only ones who take care of their babies. Humans are animals, too, and it’s important to learn about the ways other animals do things.  I learned a lot through reading this book and really enjoyed it.

I like how it has rhyming and how after each animal poem there is some more information about that animal. At the end of the book, there are some suggestions of fun activities and things you can do.  There is a guessing game where one person reads just the poem and the other person has to guess which animal the poem is talking about. I really like reading it this way – I tried reading it with my little sister like this and it was lots of fun. It is also a good way to test yourself and see if you have really learned the facts about the animals.

“Baby on Board” has great information about lots of animals you wouldn’t necessarily find in lots of other books.  The animals are kangaroos, sea otters, sloths, opossums, manatees, chimpanzees, common loons, alligators, wolf spiders, emperor penguins, anteaters, lions, and humans. My favorite animal was the wolf spider because the picture is really fun and I like the poem in that one.

When I was a baby, my mommy and daddy carried me in a baby carrier.  I have seen them carry my little sister and brother, and we will have another baby sister soon that maybe I will get to help carry sometimes. It’s neat to think about all the different ways that other animals carry their babies around.

I think that other children with a new baby brother or sister whose mommy is carrying them around would be interested in “Baby on Board: How Animals Carry Their Young” by Marianne Berkes.  Also, kids who just like animals and kids who like carrying around baby dolls and would like to learn how other animals do that would really like this book and would enjoy reading it. The pictures are great; they seem really real and lifelike. It is a fun book to read by yourself and with other people!

Posted in PRESCHOOL - UP TO AGE 5 | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment