Otherworld: A YA Fantasy Adventure by Evan Ronan ~ Review~

Otherworld: A Young Adult Fantasy Adventure by Evan Ronan

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” –Albert Einstein

“Everybody knew I was the biggest daydreamer in the whole school.”

When you’ve been gifted with a wild imagination, anything can happen. This book is aOtherworld great example of where an abundant flight of imagination can take you. Readers are introduced to Aoife Finley, pronounced Eef-uh, daydreamer extraordinaire. The extraordinary events in the book all started when Erica saw the Lady in Green. No one was supposed to see the Lady in Green because she was a product of Aoife’s imagination. That was the first inkling that something was very wrong in Paxsum, Aoife’s imaginary world.

Aoife created Paxsum probably when she lost her mother many years ago. It was her
way of coping with sad reality, but was also a way to connect her to her father, who
wisely encouraged Aoife to use her imagination. Imagination created her first group of friends…Al the industrial-sized recycling container in her yard, B the barbecue on the back deck, and Rosie the sled. In the early days of loss, she talked with her friends daily.Otherworld quote1

Now that she was a little bit older, some of her classmates in school were her friends. Slob, a.k.a Sam, was her best friend. They could talk about anything, and he even understood her imaginary world and her imaginary friends because he was also fluent in imagination. His imaginary person was Steel Sunday, a structural engineer who went on adventures as if he were another Indiana Jones. Slob (a name given to him based on Bob the Builder) spent most of his waking time building things from blocks. He understood Aoife and so they spent time together, sometimes in silence that was comfortable. Others in her class were mostly annoyances such as Erica (nicknamed The Bank of Erica), Nestor (nicknamed Binky), Kris Miller (nicknamed Killer), and Robin (nicknamed Snail-smeller). Erica used to be a close friend, when suddenly she turned her back and became Aoife’s arch enemy. But it was these friends, when push came to shove, that saved not only Aoife’s imaginary world, but also the real world around them.

This book is one designed for the YA category. Because of some serious threats to
children in the imaginary town of Paxsum, I do not recommend reading this to children younger than 4th grade. It also may not appeal to upper age teens or older because the classroom scenario seems to center around 5th or 6th grade age-range interactions. I used to teach middle school age YA, and I believe this story is perfect for that spectrum. However, upper age students such as those who need lower reading level, high interest material would find this perfect as well.Otherworld quote2

Not only is this book about the imagination, it also features how friendship develops, what it is and what it is not, its imperfections, and its character. For the young readers, there’s a lot of action, imaginative events, suspense, and a little bit of danger. The author’s sense of humor adds a lot to this story. I loved the giggles and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read this story all the way through. It was that good.Otherworld quote3

The one thing I loved most about this book is that it is not entirely dark in nature. So much of today’s literature is so dark, even among children’s books, that I’m happy when I run across something truly light-hearted and “childish”. Yes, there were characters with bad attitudes, but they changed eventually. Good characterization is also a hallmark in this book. Aoife especially had some life lessons to learn, but the way it happens is entirely painless to the reader (No groaning in the peanut gallery, please. I really do love books with substance). Two thumbs and two big toes up for this first work from the pen of Evan Ronan. I sincerely hope he has many more books like this to offer us!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade
Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and
Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Sign up here to join Tyndale publisher’s Reward Program

 

Netgalley badge

 

Moore Family Films

 

 

Gospel eBooks | Free & Discount Christian e-Books for the Amazon Kindle

 

 

 

Challenge Participant

 

Tyndale Blog Network

 

 

 

Blogger Badge 2 (260x125)

 

Visit The Book Club Network, Inc.

 

Join Smiley360

 

 

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr (Christian Biographies for Young Readers) ~Review

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr

Marie Durand spent hours in prison writing letters of encouragement and spiritual wisdom.

Marie Durand spent hours in prison writing letters of encouragement and spiritual wisdom.

When I was teaching young children, I often explained to them that if they wanted a glimpse of the future, they should look into the past and learn from it. History is such a large slice of the pie called the past that we who are teachers, parents, and leaders need to carefully select which slices to learn from. For those of us who are Christians, we additionally choose to direct our young charges toward histories that reflect as much about God’s nature and character as they do about the people they are reading about. That is what this children’s biography series does.

Not only does the author introduce her readers to a Christian family in France from about 400 years ago, we learn much about God and a particular slice of French history. Mrs. Carr skillfully weaves her tale so well that we easily feel empathy for all of Marie Durand’s family as they face one challenge after another, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Teaching children while in prison

Teaching children while in prison

The era was long after the inception of the Protestant Reformation, but before “The Age of Enlightenment” as some modern history books call it. Marie Durand was born into a world where the ability to worship God according to their consciences was illegal. Parents had to make compromises to live in peace. Marie had an older brother, Pierre, who loved the Lord in spite of his public education. When he became an adult, he decided to become a Protestant pastor. It was a risky decision because his illegal activities put his entire family in danger of being imprisoned. One day a spy in the congregation informed the authorities of his activities. Because the home where he conducted worship services belonged to his mother, she was arrested and sent to prison. She died there seven years later. Marie was only seven years old. Pierre escaped to Switzerland where he sought further education and training to become a pastor.

Several years later, soldiers raided the Durand home where they found hidden Bibles, hymnals and their father’s diaries. The government used these as evidence of Pierre’s crimes. They arrested Marie and Pierre’s father because he was related to a criminal. He was sent to prison where he stayed for a long time. Marie was left alone at the family estate when she was only 17. Shortly after that, she became engaged to a family friend. They only enjoyed their engagement for a few months before they were both arrested and sent to separate prisons, again for being related to Pierre. The remainder of this 64-page book focuses on the thirty-eight years Marie spent in the Prison of Constance. It was there that her numerous letters guided and encouraged the hearts of many Christians, including her family in exile and family in prison.

Opening the copy of the book I was to review, I was immediately impressed with the physical quality. It is of legacy quality construction in the way it is bound. The pages are sturdy, glossy, thick, and smooth to the touch. This book is a great addition to any child’s book library. The author, Simonetta Carr, partnered with illustrator Matt Abraxas whose oils fit the time period they portray. All the illustrations he contributed to this book depict incidences of deeply emotional moments and personal relationships. It’s the type of art I would want my children or grandchildren to spend time with and learn from.

A faint chance of being released

A faint chance of being released

While this is a children’s picture book, young readers would appreciate the story line, the extra information the photographs offer, the timeline of events laid out in the final portion of the book, the pronunciation key of terms and important names mentioned on the pages. The author also provides a copy of a letter Marie wrote to her niece while she was still in prison and some fascinating historical background that influenced the story line.

Finally, Mrs. Carr’s writing style makes this piece of history come alive for the parent, the reader, the listener, the visual learner, the art enthusiast, and the teacher. It is a flexible book which fits many needs. I highly recommend it for its educational value and for personal pleasure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC) on behalf of Reformation Heritage Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Discount Christian Books, Bibles and Gifts

Sign up here to join Tyndale publisher’s Reward Program

Moore Family Films

Gospel eBooks | Free & Discount Christian e-Books for the Amazon Kindle

Tyndale Blog Network

Blogger Badge 2 (260x125)

Visit The Book Club Network, Inc.

Join Smiley360