A satisfying read, full of real-life lessons and good-hearted characters.

SOPHIE WASHINGTON

THE GAMER

As Easter approaches, sixth-grader Sophie Washington and her little brother, Cole, struggle with giving up tattling and video games for Lent in this lighthearted children’s chapter-book sequel.

Ellis (Sophie Washington: Things You Didn’t Know About Sophie, 2017, etc.) delivers another positive episode in the life of Sophie Washington, a preteen living with her family in Houston. Apart from the fact that she butts heads with her little brother on a regular basis and really wants a cellphone, she has few complaints, as she belongs to a happy family and has a diverse group of good friends. However, when Sophie’s parents decide that the family must give up something for Lent, she and Cole must confront their bad habits. Over 40 days, the two children find new ways to focus their energies, spending more time with friends, family, and a stray dog that happens to find them after school one day. Even the canine helps keep Sophie and Cole accountable to their commitments in ways that they didn’t expect. At one point, when Cole slips up, Sophie faces a dilemma, as she must decide between keeping her own Lent fast or breaking it. By the end of the story, both children grow and change in authentic ways. Young readers will relate to Sophie’s frustrations when it comes to relationships with friends, feeling left out, dealing with little brothers and moral dilemmas, and just having a bad day. She’s a realistic, engaging, and aptly flawed protagonist with room to grow as a character. Other positive aspects of the story include its uplifting portrayals of family life, faith, and multicultural friendships. The simple, black-and-white line drawings in every chapter successfully direct readers’ imaginations without overpowering them. Although the focus on daily life activities may not make it an overly exciting story, Sophie’s genuine personality and relatable experiences make it enjoyable.

A satisfying read, full of real-life lessons and good-hearted characters.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5780-4

Page Count: 102

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

If You Were Me and Lived in ...Kenya

A CHILD'S INTRODUCTION TO CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD

Roman (If You Were Me and Lived In…Norway, 2013, etc.) offers a children’s primer of the geography, sports, food and vocabulary that Kenyan kids encounter in their daily lives.

The latest installment in this cultural series—preceded by books on Mexico, France, South Korea and Norway—takes young readers to the African nation of Kenya, where they get a short, engaging lesson on the country’s culture. The opening phrase “If you were me…” helps kids imagine a narrator not much different from themselves. Their Kenyan counterpart lives with their parents (“If you needed your mommy, you would call for Mzazi. When you are speaking to your daddy, you would call him Baba”), buys milk from the market and pays for it “with a shilling,” eats snacks (“samosa, a small triangular pastry filled with meat or vegetables and fried in oil”) and goes to school. The book covers Mombasa Carnival, a large yearly festival, and discusses its importance. It also explains the basics of cricket, a popular sport in Kenya, and the fact that kids usually entertain themselves with handmade toys. Roman’s books are successful since she draws connections between cultures while maintaining a tone that keeps young readers engaged. Colorful illustrations further enhance the text, such as one showing kids playing with cricket bats. A glossary at the end offers a pronunciation key for the unfamiliar words throughout. This series of books would be a natural fit in school classrooms and would also provide a good way for parents to teach their own kids about the cultures, languages and geography of different countries. This installment is a quick read that may help kids see the similarities between themselves and their Kenyan peers.

An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481979917

Page Count: 30

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2014

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For families looking for a holiday adventure or parents hoping to improve a child’s behavior, this work may make a good...

THE CHRISTMAS SPRYTE ENCOUNTER

BAD BEHAVIOR

A cranky little girl changes her behavior after a warning from one of Santa’s helpers in this debut rhyming Christmas book.

With bushy red hair and freckles, the narrator—who appears to be age 5 or 6 in the cartoonish images—throws a tantrum to avoid going to the mall on Christmas Eve. But her scheme doesn’t work—and it lands her on Santa’s naughty list. Her grumpy antics are interrupted by Glynt P. Spryte, one of Santa’s Behavioral Elves. He’s been trying to subtly adjust her conduct for months. Now that her deeds have crossed the line, he is paying her a visit. Glynt’s dire warning (no toys!) and his lack of hope that her behavior can improve in time for Christmas give the narrator just the push she needs to clean up her act. “But the best part is this—I LIKE who I’ve become,” she says on the final pages. Crighton’s lines scan well in her series opener, using a vocabulary overly advanced for her narrator’s age. The rhyme scheme and rhythm are reminiscent of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous Christmas poem, though the obvious message may not enthrall mischievous young readers. Glynt is a fun invention: a combination of angry and sorrowful wrapped up in a cowboy outfit. But the uncredited illustrations don’t match the story’s description (he’s called “young” and “handsome” but appears with gray sideburns and a Santa-esque figure).

For families looking for a holiday adventure or parents hoping to improve a child’s behavior, this work may make a good addition to their collections.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-947352-87-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: BookBlastPro Inc.

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2018

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