A breezy tale that delivers morality with sparkling wit.

READ REVIEW

The Amazing C on Science

Classroom rivalries and childhood misadventures take center stage in deBoer’s charming debut YA.

Aaron and Stella aren’t exactly best friends. Stella, aka “Grade Six Brain,” takes delight in tormenting Aaron both in and out of the classroom. Fed up with her constant bragging, Aaron rashly bets $5 he’ll win this year’s spelling bee, a challenge Stella eagerly accepts. As with most rash decisions, Aaron almost immediately regrets it. His afternoon job mowing the many acres of Mr. and Mrs. Gifford’s farmstead will make studying for the bee nearly impossible. Things go from bad to worse when, after another hasty decision brings havoc to the tranquil farm, all thoughts of study are brushed aside. Most of the novel’s action is centered on the Giffords’ farm, which is brought to life with rich descriptions of carefully manicured flower gardens and delectable double-chocolate cakes. Mr. and Mrs. G head a small cast of thoughtfully developed characters whom readers both young and old will find relatable and genuine. At its core, this is a story about how a lie can ultimately define one’s character. When Aaron lets Mr. G take the blame for a mistake he committed, he’s at first relieved. The error, which would have likely cost Aaron his job, is not one he wants to admit. As time passes, however, the bothersome pit in his stomach begins to uncomfortably grow. In her debut, deBoer delivers an important lesson on character and honesty in a lighthearted manner that avoids feeling preachy or forced. Vividly described scenes of escaped cows trampling flowerbeds and gnawing on apple trees help inject humor and levity into the fast-paced story. Though set in the present day, the wholesome story feels straight out of the 1950s. If anything, Stella and Aaron may seem a bit naïve for today’s middle-grade audience, and they’ll most likely appeal to a younger crowd. The gentle moral message would make a good choice for the classroom or school library.

A breezy tale that delivers morality with sparkling wit.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4602-4547-7

Page Count: 120

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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