Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Morgan James Kids books: great lessons for children through imagination

A great new set of children’s books by author Nancy Guettier. These books introduce lessons for children in a fun and imaginative way.

First, Mermaids on Mars is the story of mermaids who wasted water on their home planet of Mars. They used the water from everything until the planet ran dry. Desperately needing water, the mermaids come to Earth where they conserve water as the precious resource that it is. The end of the book gives the five rules of water conservation which includes not running the water while brushing your teeth and taking shorter showers.

Second, Circus in the Sky is t a wonderful lesson of the constellations in our night sky. The story is told through the imagination of a young boy named Julian as he dreams in he is the ringleader of a circus in the sky. As the tent floats among the stars the various famous constellations are introduced. Constellations like Orion the Mighty Hunter, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor and the seven sisters.

Third, I Wish is the story of two young girls who find a magical wand and as wishes are made, they realize what is more important Arianna makes wishes that she would be a bird or a fish or even a cat. With each wish, Genevieve points out that if all these wishes come true, she would miss out on spending time with her friend. It is a great lesson about being yourself and the joys of spending time with your best friend.

Fourth, Jude’s Moon is the story of Jude and imagination that the moon is his very own balloon. He receives a lesson in the moon’s phases as he discovers that the moon looks like a banana and not a round ball. The story then explains why the moon like it does from the first quarter moon through the cycle of phases. Jude loves the moon and its light: his very own flashlight.

Lastly, ROY G BIV is made at me because I love pink! is a story about Genevieve who loves pink and one day after it rains, she meets a rainbow who introduces her to the colors of the rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet are remembered by the acronym of ROY G BIV. It is a story about the primary and secondary colors which make up all the colors of our life.  

Each book is beautifully illustrated by various artists and written in a manner that children will enjoy and understand the important lesson of the book. I loved how the books are told from the imagination of a child and teaches lesson about our life, planet and universe. I highly recommend these titles for any family and classroom libraries.

These titles are available on Amazon
in paperback for $9.95
n hardback for $19.95 and on the Kindle for $9.45

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Gemma Doyle trilogy: magic and mystery

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray is fantasy series about a young girl at an English boarding school when she discovers a magical realm. She learns that she has a magical gifts and she must learn how to use them. She, along with her friends, must defeat the evil which is unleashed and return the balance between the world and the realm.

A Great and Terrible Beauty is the first book, 1895, Gemma Doyle is sent to a boarding school in England after the death of her mother in India. Once there, she begins to have clairvoyant visions as she discovers the magical secrets of the Spence Academy for Young Ladies. She soon becomes friends with Felicity Worthington, the most popular and influential girl at the school. Along wither her roommate, Ann Bradshaw and Felicity’s best friend, Pippa Cross, Gemma discovers an ancient group of women called The Order. The girls decide to start an Order of their own and discovers a magical cave which bestows magic gifts of immense power. Soon the power turns evil. Will Gemma and her friends survive?

Rebel Angels is the second book which begins two months after the events of A Great and Terrible Beauty. The magic in the caves has been released and the evil sorceress, Circe, and her allies are free to roam the realm and possibly the human world. Gemma and her friends must find the “Temple” in order to bind the magic and Circe again. New friends, teachers and mysterious men are pressuring Gemma to use her magic according to their plans. Unsure who to trust, Gemma must rely on her own instincts to battle Circe and restore the magic. Will her chosen allies help or hurt her? Will she be able to fight the growing threat from Circe?

The Sweet Far Thing is the last book in which one year has passed since Gemma arrive at the Spence Academy. She is struggling with the magic from realms and the effects on the school. When the East Wing of the school is being rebuilt after a fire from many years ago, a mysterious stone is unearthed and Gemma beings to have visions of a young girl in a lavender dress with a magical dagger. Time is running out, can Gemma find the clue to realm the wall between the realm and her world? What is this mysterious stone? Who is the girl in Gemma’s vision and can her dagger help end the Circe? Will Gemma and her friends survive?

I enjoyed this series very much. I’ve read it a couple times over the last few years and it get better and better. I enjoyed the references to classic Greek tragedies. The descriptions of the school and the grounds gives the reader the sensation of being there. The interactions between the characters, especially teenage girls, was realistic. There are many surprises in the book from the first opening page to the closing lines. This makes writing a review difficult but makes for a very good read. I highly recommend the Gemma Doyle trilogy. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

There are limits to sharing and we need to teach our children those limits

Over the last few months, I read articles about why some parents aren’t teaching their child to share. At first, I thought what a stupid idea but the more I read, the more I can see their reasoning. I understand that there are limits to sharing and we need to teach our children those limits both as the giver and the receiver. If the toy is a “community toy” as in a day care setting, sharing it would be automatic because it doesn’t belong to the child to decide who plays with it and who doesn’t. What is the toy is the child’s personal property? Do you teach automatic sharing? During my research, I’ve come up with three limits to sharing: kindness not obligation, teaching boundaries, and curbing the entitlement culture.

First, sharing should be out of kindness not obligation. If my daughter wants to share her toys it will be out of the goodness of her heart rather than because I told her so. If we force children to share toys they aren’t done playing with or doesn’t want to share, we are teaching them obligation. “I need to share the toy because Mommy said so” and not because she wants to. When we allow a child to share out of kindness, the child learns generosity and seeing the joy of someone else enjoying the toy as well. One day, one of the neighborhood boys came to me and told me that Abby wasn't sharing whatever toy it was at the time. I know he was thinking she would get in trouble and he would have the toy next. When I told him that the toy belong to Abby and she decided who played with it and when. I've also done the opposite and told Abby that a toy which belongs to another child needs to be returned when he or she wants it back. 

Second, a child is not obligated to share just because another child says “please.” The child is being polite; however, no is a perfectly legitimate response. I think it does a child a great disservice to teach that he or she can have something simply because he or she wants it and said please. We need to teach children that because you want something doesn’t mean you’ll get it and help them cope with disappointment because it will happen. Life isn’t fair. Someone will get something you want before you can get it. As adults, we don’t automatically share our property because someone asks. If an adult says, “No, you can’t borrow (fill in the blank),” nothing is thought as the adult is being unfair but when a child says no, he or she is being mean. Why is it okay to say no as an adult but not as a child?

Third, we’ve become an entitlement culture. Life, the universe or God does not owe you anything. Parents, society or others do not owe you anything. A child needs to learn there are consequences for his or her actions. The “I want it now and I don’t want to work for it” attitude needs to stop. Now that my daughter is playing more with the neighborhood kids, I see the entitlement attitudes more and more especially “I want it because everyone else has it.” One day, my mom brought home a cupcake mix to make with my daughter. After they were done, of course, my daughter wanted one. I gave her one and soon I was bombarded with kids asking for cupcakes. When I told them no, for reasons of safety, not knowing food restrictions and parents’ allowances, they said “But she got one.” Why do they think because I gave my daughter something, it means that I will or have to give them one? I also didn’t want to set a precedence that they would expect to eat at my house when I know Abby doesn’t get the same consideration at theirs.

I know we are in the holiday season and the season of giving; however, I feel that sharing and giving should be out of the kindness of our hearts instead of an obligation. If it becomes an obligation, the true spirit of giving is lost. We need to teach our children that saying “please” is being polite but it isn’t the magical word to automatically get it. We need to live in a culture in which yes means yes and no means no without comments of being unfair or being mean. Establishing boundaries of giving when we want to protects is from being taken advantage of. If I were to ask a favor, I hope for a yes but I also expect a no. I will be disappointed with a no response but I understand that it is the other person’s right to deny my request. Why aren’t we teaching our children this principle? 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ophelia: new perspective on the tragedy of Hamlet

Ophelia by Lisa Klein tells the story of Hamlet and the events of the Danish court from the perspective of Ophelia. Anyone familiar with Shakespeare’s play knows that Ophelia commits suicide in Act IV but what if her death was really was an escape. What if Ophelia survives and tells the tragic tale of Prince Hamlet.

The story opens as a young Ophelia moves to the castle when her father, Polonius, is employed by King Hamlet. She soon becomes a part of Queen Gertrude’s court as a lady-in-waiting. There she becomes a favorite of the queen as she reads love stories to the queen. At the age of 15, she has grown into a beautiful woman and has caught the eye of the handsome Prince Hamlet. They soon fall in love and secretly meet with his friend, Horatio, as their lookout. Hamlet soon leaves for school when tragedy strikes, the king is dead. The events that occurs in the play unfold. Ophelia begins to fear for her life. So with the help of Horatio, Ophelia is able to fake her death and escape to an abbey in France. She soon discovers that she holds the key to the future of the Danish court. Will she ever be able to return home? Or will she be forced to live in hiding for the rest of her life?

I found this book many years ago when browsing in a bookstore. Since I love Shakespeare, I was intrigued at the concept that Ophelia survives and we hear the story of Hamlet from her perspective. I loved it then and I love it more now that I've read it again. Since the play tells the story about the death of King Hamlet, this book is a great imagination of the romantic relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet before he goes mad with revenge. The book is categorized at a Young Adult; however, I highly recommend it to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are familiar with Shakespeare’s play or not, you will enjoy this story.