Eric and the Land of Lost Things

A 5-year-old boy discovers a magical land just beyond his backyard in this debut picture book for young children.
After receiving permission from his mother, Eric—who had his birthday the previous day—takes his favorite gift, a new soccer ball, out to the backyard. He wants to excel in the sport the way his older sister, Alexandra, does, so he gives the ball such a hard kick that it travels over the goal and into a hedge. Despite the hedge’s scary darkness, he bravely goes after it. But instead of the ball, he finds a magical land with a green sky. The first thing he sees is a short man in a blue tuxedo and top hat who’s searching for pairs in a multicolored mountain of socks. Eric politely asks the little man if he’s seen his soccer ball and soon learns that the man calls himself The Keeper and that they’re in the magical place where all lost things go. When another two dozen socks fall out of the sky on The Keeper’s head, the man expresses his frustration with trying to pair them all. Eric shares his mother’s wisdom that only one sock from each pair gets lost, which would make pairing them impossible. With this realization, The Keeper collapses but quickly recovers. He happily decides that it would be more useful to sort lost books and thanks Eric for his insight. As they approach the mountain of books, Eric finds his soccer ball, says goodbye to The Keeper, who invites him to return, and then heads home to take his nap. Although the story is simple and short, it provides a satisfying sequence of events and several lessons: asking permission, making polite requests, and being responsible and kind. It leaves open imaginative possibilities for its audience: The youngest readers may be engaged by finding socks or books of different colors and patterns, while older children may imagine what else they could find in the Land of Lost Things and what will happen when Eric returns. The colorful, painted illustrations clearly distinguish the ordinary world of Eric’s home from the magical land, mirror the story’s emotional ups and downs, and invite exploration, although adult readers may notice that Mr. Keeper’s facial features are somewhat inconsistent and that Eric’s cheeks sometimes seem excessively red.

A simple, fun encounter with magic for young children.

Pub Date: May 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495301650

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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