One White Dolphin

One White Dolphinby Gill Lewis

338 pages of environmental adventure

Kara is from in a small fishing village on the coast.  Everything in her life revolves around the sea.  Her mom, a marine biologist has been missing since she went to protect dolphins being captured for aquariums and sea parks.  Her dad is struggling to pay the bills and because of this Kara is about to lose everything left that she cares about, Moana their sailboat.  Enter Felix, a Londoner who has CP and is resentful about being forced to leave his friends for a small town of nothing.  Sailing might be the thing that break the boredom and that’s how he and Kara connect in instant dislike.

Not all kids are welcoming, appreciative or kind.  Jake and Ethan are those kids.  They make everyone uncomfortable through teasing and humiliation.  Kara is not sorry she broke Jake’s nose – she simply couldn’t stand to hear him say one more nasty thing about her missing mother, or her out-of-work father.  Breaking his nose only highlights the tensions between their families. Dredging the reef will mean fisherman can reel in more money. That’s what the town needs according to Jake’s fisherman dad.  He has several trawlers and as soon as the dredging ban is lifted he is going to farm the sea.  He sees that as his right.  Kara does not see it as farming: farmers sow, dredgers only reap.

School is about to end – thankfully in Kara’s mind.  Everything is in turmoil in her life.  She looks to the sea for some calm and she finds a joyous pod of dolphin dancing in the cove.  With them she see a white yearling.  Amazing!  Kara looks to sea each day for calm and it at one of those times she discovers the albino dolphin washed ashore.  It had been snared in an old fishing net, is severely hurt and close to death.  Felix finds them there and together they work with vets and specialists to save her and reunite her with her mother.  This rescue effort sets off a chain of events that might save the reef – but certainly not without heartache and danger.

Gill Lewis is veterinarian and a writer. Her knowledge of what it would take to save a dolphin and her understanding of the fragile connections between all life add real depth to her stories.  The pungent sounds and smell of the sea surround you and bring you to the shore in Cornwall, but you’ll be thinking about the importance of all life around you when you close the covers.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling

Have you ever encountered a group of children that are just out of control? Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia from The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling are probably three times worse that what you’re imagining.

Miss Penelope Lumley sees an ad about a governess for three children– and the ad says the governess is needed at once. So, setting off on a long journey, Penelope is forced to leave the safety of Swanburne Academy, a school for poor bright females and travels to Ashton Place, where Lady Constance and Lord Frederick Ashton live. Driven by Timothy the Coachman, one of the Ashton’s highly trusted servants, Penelope soon realizes that something is wrong at Ashton Place.

Agatha Swanburne, founder of Swanburne Academy once said, “A book is always judged by it’s cover until it is read.”  Now Penelope is about to read “a book”, and meet the suspiciously nervous Lady Constance, and question about why Timothy the Coachman lurks around every corner, and find out if she can train the children that were raised by wolves to act like normal kids.

Click on the image of the book (above) to view the website of the Incorrigibles.

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The Door in the Forest

The Door in the Forestby Roderick Townley

245 pages of mysterious adventure

A small town, unique neighbors, superstitious mysteries (possibly magic?), surprise arrivals and impending war meet in A Door In the Forest.  These things mix together to bring up questions about the importance of truth – how deep does it go, how long does it last?

In the middle of the river is a lush, emerald green island. Some say it’s enchanted.  All say it is beautiful, though it seems that no one can get there.  First you have for push through thorn bushes to reach the river.  Then you have to find a way beyond the quicksand and if you do get to the water’s edge, you have to make sure you’re not bitten by the poisonous, white-headed water snakes. Summer is here so there is more time for Daniel and Wes to notice things at the store and around town:  the heron on the shore, the  “Uncertainties” continuing in the city, that refugees seem more common and Emily.

Silent, and left behind at the Crowley’s store, it is Daniel who runs out to the manse to tell her of her granddaughter’s arrival. Bridey Byrdsong might be a witch, or she might just be an eccentric old woman, Daniel doesn’t know for sure, but he likes her all right.  Daniel doesn’t have many friends.  It’s not that people don’t like him.  They just don’t trust him. Daniel can’t tell a lie.  It makes him physically ill to even think about it.  Sometimes he desperately wishes he could, or at least not tell the whole truth, but he can’t.  He’s left out a lot because he can’t be trusted to keep a secret.  Bridey is one person that doesn’t seem to mind. She likes Daniel well enough too.

Almost as soon as Emily arrives Captain Sloper and the soldiers arrive.  They are going to test their new tank in the fields.  They move into the homes and begin to take over while they wait for reinforcements to join them.  Things start missing from homes.  The best food is eaten. The most comfortable beds are taken and every place is searched.  Captain Sloper goes everywhere with Daniel because he is sure to hear the whole truth with him there.

While Daniel can’t lie he suspects that Captain Sloper is not what he claims. The coincidence of the soldiers’ arrival with Emily is too strong.  What do the soldiers really want?  Are they fighting a noble cause?  What about the map, the pearl necklace, the secret symbols and signs…  Some secrets are meant to share, while others are meant to keep.  Read A Door in the Forest to discover how truth and secrets mix together.  What would you tell?

Kindred Souls

by Patricia McLachlanKindred Souls

119 pages of gentle care

Kindred Souls is a kind comforting embrace from the first.  It is like reading a poem that surrounds you with all the best people have to offer.  Jake’s grandpa, Billy, and he share a powerful bound.  They are kindred souls who know best how to support each other.    There is nothing unusual in what they do and in how they are together but that is what makes everything about their relationship extraordinary.

Jake says, “After I do my chores, Billy and I take our daily walk around the farm.  Everyday I’m not in school we take the same walk.  It isn’t boring.  It is peaceful and what Billy calls “predictable.”

“I like predictable,” says Billy.  “I like the spring rain.  I like summer heat.  I like thunderstorms with lightning all around.  I like the wind and snow in winter.”

I like the feeling of gentleness and care of ordinary and the contentment of time well spent because the things that are truly important are more likely to be noticed.

Hummingbirds, the changing of the seasons, sod houses, the sights and sounds of the prairie, family and angel dogs are important parts of this story that helps us notice what is important to see.

The Case of the Deadly Desperados

by Caroline LawrenceThe Case of the Deadly Desperados: Western Mysteries, Book One

272 pages  – a great middle grade read

The Case of the Deadly Desperados is fast-paced action combining the exciting, real, funny with interesting details that  immerse you in the story and the old West from the start.  The book begins:  “My name is P.K. Pinkerton and before this day is over I will be dead.  I am trapped down the deepest shaft of a Comstock silver mine with three desperados closing in on me. Until they find me, I have my pencil & these ledger sheets and a couple of candles. If I write small & fast, I might be able to write an account of how I came to be here. Then whoever finds my body will know the unhappy events that led to my demise. 
And they will also know who done it.”

P.K. Pinkerton, who dreams of one day opening a detective agency, discovers that his adoptive parents have been scalped and murdered by an axe blow. With her dying breath, Pinky’s ma tells him the killers are after his medicine bag. She tells him to get it and hide away. Of course nothing is easy.  P.K. must grab and run or get caught. There isn’t much inside the medicine bag:  a button from the jacket of his real father, a detective from Chicago, a flint knife from his real ma, a Lakota Indian, and a letter promising the bearer a piece of land that may, or may not, be worth staking a claim. With the killers on his trail P.K. jumps on a stagecoach bound for Virginia City.  He hopes once there he can blend in and make his plan for finding his real pa’s relatives in Chicago.

On top of being chased by Whittlin’ Walt and his gang, P.K. has one other challenge to overcome.  He cannot tell when another human being is telling a lie.  How will he see himself safely through the streets of the city and on his way? Virginia City is a lawless place full of gamblers, hurdy girls, saloon-keepers and gunmen, all of them on the make.  There are possible allies too: Sam Clemens, the new reporter for the paper, a gambler called ‘Poker Face Jace’ who knows how to tell if someone is bluffing, a derringer-packing Soiled Dove, and a Chinese photographer’s apprentice named Ping.  He’ll never escape on his own, but who can he trust?  You’ll have to read The Case of the Deadly Desperados to find out.  You’ll be glad you did!   Click here to find out more about the Carol Lawrence, her books and P.K.’s Nevada Territory.

The Girl Who Could Fly

The Girl Who Could Flyby Victoria Forester

328 pagesof unpredictable action that will leave you smiling in the end – though you won’t be certain until the very end

There’s a hawk calling outside my window. It’s soaring above the field.  That is something I have always admired.  If I could fly I would!  And that is what Piper McCloud can do, in fact must do   She is a natural born floater.  She can fly but has learned that “raw talent only gets you so far in the world and the rest is a whole lot of practice, persistence and perspiration.”  Piper loves to fly.  She loves the feeling and the freedom but she has been forbidden  because it is different.  Ma likes things to be predictable and the same.  Because Piper is anything but predictable and the same, Ma keeps her at home all the time and watches very closely.  That’s fine, but Piper is lonely.  She longs for a friend, someone to share with.   When they opportunity of the ice cream social comes along, Piper promises to be good but then the taunting and the frustration of the baseball routing get the best of her.  Piper flies to catch a ball and then everyone knows for sure – there is something totally unique about Piper McCloud.  In Lowland County that is not good.  News of the flying girl spreads around the globe and that is how Piper meets Dr. Hellion.

Dr Hellion assures Piper that there are others like her.  She explains that she has created an institute where children like Piper can develop their skills and fulfill their dreams. Piper wants to fly around the world and meet other fliers and make the world a better place.  That is what she is promised once she’s been to school and learned what she needs to know.   And so Piper leaves home and goes to the institute.  There is a classroom and it is full of children but it is not anything like she had hoped.  It is harsh and cold, but still Piper is determined to make the best of it.  She is determined to be friendly and kind.  She is determined to find the best in others and when she discovers the secrets happening on the different levels Piper is determined to address the cruelty, no matter what the dangers are.  They may be insurmountable, but is there anything that can keep Piper McCloud down?  You’ll have to read to find out.  I love the twists and turns of this story – nothing is ever really what it seems and I think that’s a good thing!

The Year of the Book

The Year of the Bookby Andrea Cheng

146 pages for early middle readers wishing for ways to understand the complications of friendship

“We read to know we are not alone.” C.S. Lewis
Anna reads all the time. The wonders and adventures found in books seems safer than those that surround her now that she is in fourth grade. It is easier to be with a book than it is to be with Laura now that she is hanging out with Allison and Lucy. Anna feels different and without a friend she feels a little lost. Anna likes to read. She likes to sew. She likes to make things and create. Ray, the crossing guard, appreciates what she creates. Mr. Sheppard, the man her mom cleans for, sees her talent. But Allison, “the whispering kind of girl”, thinks she’s weird.

That’s hard. Anna wishes to fit in and be the same. If that can’t happen, Anna wishes to be left alone. But sometimes you can’t just read or be alone. Sometimes you need to help and be a friend, even when it is hard. That’s what Anna does and in the end learns some new things about herself that makes being different not so different. After all, everyone is different in her or his own way.

Breaking Stalin’s Nose

“An important book for all people living in free society.” -Peter Sis, Author of The Wall says on Breaking Stalin’s Nose.

Peter Sis makes a very good point in his quote that I think everyone who read this book would agree with. Breaking Stalin’s Nose is a thought provoking, mind-boggling novel about the Soviet Union for a lot of reasons.

Sasha Zaichik becomes worried because on the day before her Young Pioneers rally when her dad whispers in her ear, “If anything ever happens to me, go to Aunt Larisa. She’ll put you up.” That night Soviet Union night patrol come and arrest Sasha’s dad for a reason unknown to him. And things don’t get any better. He breaks a classmates glasses, and commits an “act of terrorism” by damaging a bust of the great Comrade Stalin. Will Sasha’s lifelong dream to become just like her father as she knew him, (in the words of Stalin, “He is an iron broom purging the vermin from our midst.”) to become a Young Pioneer, and then a Communist come true?

The great website that goes with the book: