Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich ~ Review

Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich

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Wow! I was blown away by this book. It hits the ground running and never lets up the pace from there to the end. This read is a definite thumbs up.

In a series of quirky events, ten-year-old Corey is thrown into an adventure of epic proportions putting him right in the scene of a huge flood–THE Flood–just before the doors to the boat are about to close. Moment by moment Corey’s life is in jeopardy while evil all around him is trying to prevent him from reaching safety.

Not only does Matt Koceich write appropriate age-related physical conflict to create suspense in this book, but he also includes the more subtle battles of the mind and will, including deception, betrayal and temptation. Although the book is short in length, only 110 pages, the author skillfully blends all the elements together to make a fast-paced read for early readers. The high interest level is sure to attract reluctant readers as well.

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As a parent years ago, my children and I would read together all the Magic Treehouse books as the stars in this series would travel the world to solve puzzles and find missing pieces. This has that type of feel to it, but without the pictures and with great foundational teaching. It is a chapter book which I believe will lend itself to being read aloud to very young children.

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If the author develops this into a series, and I think that may be his intention, then we are in for a treat. In the meantime, I highly recommend you pick this up for your young readers and listeners. They’ll love this adventure. In fact, anyone between the ages of 7 to 107 will enjoy this book.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Barbour Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or negative. 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.”

 

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Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody ~Review~

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Will in Scarlet

According to Matthew Cody, author of this book, there really is no official version of the Robin Hood tale. The basic foundation of the folk lore surrounding this classic hero seems to change with the political climate often enough to suspect that perhaps the legend evolving over the years is more a conglomerate of characters and repeated among the downtrodden to keep hope alive. In any case, in his research the author found very little about young Will Shackley, a member of Robin’s Merry Men; he felt comfortable enough, then, to add his contribution to the plethora of tales about the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest. I love the final product of this author’s fertile imagination. The story reads like a convincing historical fiction about the birth of a legendary character.

Will in Scarlet opens with an adventure that turns Will Shackley, the boy of 13, into Wolfslayer the young man, under the tutelage of Sir Osbert, an old knight in the service of the Shackley family. It was a time when boys had to grow up fast, especially young lordlings about to get kicked in the teeth by life. Will’s father, Lord Roderic Shackley, was at the side of his king, King Richard the Lionheart, sailing home after two years of fighting in the crusades in Jerusalem. News had just arrived of the capture and imprisonment of King Richard and his men. When Sir Guy of Gisborne shows up at the lad’s celebration, Will’s life is forever changed.

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The Shackley family friend, Mark Brewer, once a friend of the family, now Prince John’s appointed Sheriff of Nottingham, turns traitor and the Regent of Shackley Castle, Will’s Uncle Geoff Shackley is deceived and slain. Will and his mother narrowly escaped the ignoble Sir Guy through a secret underground tunnel and flee to safely. Will’s mother traveled to France and took refuge with her family. Will struck out on his own and ended up in Sherwood Forest where he was found by the Merry Men, nearly at the end of his life. Much the Miller’s son nursed him back to health. He takes up the mantle as Will Scarlet, eventually one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men. His adventures have only just begun.

I enjoyed the fast-paced adventures of Will and Much, the Miller’s son. The author tells the story so well that I quickly became engrossed in the tale. There’s suspense, danger, a touch of history, and a lot of imagination. The characterization of Will, Much, and Robin himself is well-written, each one maturing enough to find himself and the purpose for his existence. It is an appealing middle grade read, attractive for boys and girls alike, even to those who may be new to reading period books or historical fiction. I highly recommend it.

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One cautionary note: I found a tiny bit of crude language, something that would have been historically part of an outlaw’s language. But those moments are rare and not actual swear words. I believe most careful parents would find it of little concern. When my children were young, if I owned the book, the words became a topic of discussion and/or whited out.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley, on behalf of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s 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.”

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Captured on the High Seas (Adventures in Odyssey–The Imagination Station Bk. 14) by Marianne Hering and Nancy Sanders ~ Review ~

Captured on the High Seas

Captured on the High Seas (Adventures in Odyssey–The Imagination Station Bk. 14) by Marianne Hering and Nancy Sanders

Do you have a 7-9 year old? Then here is an adventure they will enjoy. Captured on the High Seas is an Imagination Station story about cousins Patrick and Beth. Mr. Whittaker, owner of Whit’s End and inventor of the Imagination Station, sent the children to Massachusetts to meet Paul Revere. But on their way back to Whit’s End, a musket ball damaged the time machine and they were accidentally sent to a ship. It looked as if they were still in the Revolutionary War era.

Patrick and Beth met James on the ship. He showed them around and then put them to work. Patrick became a powder monkey like James while Beth assisted the cook in the galley. Just as they were adjusting to their new duties, their ship was attacked and captured by a British war ship. The young people experienced many hardships and adventures before the Imagination Station picked them up again.

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This book is perfect for high interest, young reading level readers. It is a chapter book that is at about second or third grade reading level. Chapters average three to four pages each, and sentence structure has an average of 6-8 words. Younger children would love being read to, since the action is virtually non-stop.

History comes alive in this book and series; some readers may be interested to learn that the James Forten Patrick and Beth meet was a real person. Some of the events he lived through mentioned in this book really happened to him, even his imprisonment on a modified ship docked in the harbor.

All throughout the book, good character qualities are demonstrated and lived out, not preached about. For example, when James is given an opportunity to escape by hiding in the officer’s trunk, he sacrificed his chance by urging a young child suffering from scurvy to take his place. I highly recommend this book for children who love reading about adventures, especially ones that really happened.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. through their Blog Program. 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.”

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Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things (Book 1) By Cynthia Voigt

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things (Book 1) by Cynthia Voigt

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Max’s parents were entertainers. William and Mary Starling owned the town’s only theater where they produced, adapted, acted, and managed the entertainment for their busy bustling port town in an age before television and radio were invented. They lived, breathed and dreamed of performing. They even took their show on the road from time to time. That is why they didn’t bat an eyelash when a courier brought to their door an invitation to perform for an important political figure across the sea. Of course they would go, but would they take Max?

Max’s parents forgot about him from time to time, especially when they were excited, or planning a new production. He did perform with them once in awhile, but he was mostly busy going to school. If Max didn’t travel with his parents, he usually stayed with his Grandmother, who lived in the house behind their garden. She used to be a school teacher, but was now a librarian. He didn’t mind staying with her, but she could be a little bit bossy. At 12, he wanted to be more independent. He didn’t realize he would soon get his wish.

On the morning of their departure, Max had a painting lesson. Then he was to meet his parents aboard the ship, The Flower of Kashmir, and join them for the journey. But when he arrived on time at the appointed place, the ship was not there. Neither were his parents. In fact, when he checked with the harbormaster, a ship of that name had never been registered nor seen in port. All his efforts to find them were fruitless.

Steam powered ships took time to reach their destinations in the early 1900’s, so Max and Grammie noted which ships were in the harbor that day, and watched their progress. It would take about a month to reach their ports, so in the meantime Max needed to find work to earn enough to live on. That’s when his adventures began.

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My first impression reading this was that it fit in with the classics for middle grade readers very well. I thought of Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, Pippi Longstocking, Charlotte’s Web, Julie of the Wolves, Where the Red Fern Grows and The Indian in the Cupboard when I read this. The author writes with a droll sort of humor and touches on things young readers want to read.

Max is a young man in the making. He has problems to solve; the first and foremost was whether or not his parents were missing by accident, by plot, or on purpose. With each situation he has to face, he draws on his parents’ acting roles (and trunks of costumes) for intuition. He adopts many roles, sometimes with comic results, until he finds the role he is most comfortable with: being himself. Yet by the end of the book, his parents were still missing. Fortunately, with his Grammie’s research and networking skills, they have some clues.

Max is a likable young person. When he adopts a role, no one seems to know what to make of him. Yet he always leaves a lasting impression and makes friends in the unlikeliest places. I think his character in this book would appeal to a wide variety of young readers. He also serves as a role model in how to deal with such issues as feelings of abandonment, the unwanted attention of a nosy girl, a break-in, criticism, a well meaning grandmother, and eventually clients.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley, on behalf of Random House Children’s 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.”

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