Category Archives: Juvenile Fiction

The Muse’s Fables: The Fondom of Ufasino Collection by Rachel Nkyete Nyambi

The Muses's Fables

Reviewed by Ronnie Alvarado

Many children are raised by the morals of fairy tales. The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christen Andersen, and Aesop all imbued their tales with lessons that stress virtues such as kindness, loyalty, and forgiveness. Rachel Nkyete Nyambi’s short collection The Muses’s Fables aims to achieve the same purpose as her fable forebears through her crafting of a handful of tales, each set in the mythical fondom (kingdom) of Ufasino, that stress the value of a specific virtue.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book 2: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place:  Book 2:  The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose WoodReviewed by Diane Pollock

Feral children raised by wolves meet civilization! Miss Penelope Lumley, a charming 15 year old governess from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females has been hired as a governess to raise and tame Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopea Incorrigible who were found in the forest by Lord Frederick. Her charges adore her and have a great love of learning. They can speak French and Latin and exhibit charming manners, but it is delightful how easily they slip into their wild state, as when they attack the guard at Buckingham palace, mistaking his hat for a bear!

Penelope herself is a joy. Full of optimism (sometimes optoomuchism) and spunk, she faces life with determination and hope. Her budding romance with Simon is sweet and her courage in the face of a difficult life admirable. In many ways she is the true protaganist of the tale and there is much to be said for her as a role model for young girls. Her oft-quoted heroine, Agatha Swanburne offers many uplifting moral sayings to help in this regard.

Highly entertaining, nonetheless the book manages to be very educational. It introduces young readers to many difficult words and concepts in a fun and accessible manner. For example, the study of the Peloponnesian War sounds rather dry, but when the children are constructing triremes from anything available (fern fronds, toothpicks) and pretending to die of the plague it makes it all seem rather fun! Additionally, the setting of the tale in and of itself is a historical lesson on life in Victorian England. There is much to learn here for readers of all ages. An example, I was unaware
of the early form of a bicycle, the Velocipede, with no pedals, that leads to so much mayhem in the tale.

Late for School by Steve Martin

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Late for School by Steve Martin

“If I’m late there’s misery I won’t be up on history I’ll be in the English grammar slammer And I’ll get a C!”

Who hasn’t at some time in their life been worried about being late for school? Steve Martin looks back into his childhood with the help of illustrator C. F. Payne and reflects on his personal daily struggle of being on time and the responsibility of learning in school.

The poetry is a little unconventional in that it has forced rhymes through use of a backwoods type of country slang. The music on the CD is perfect for the mood with the rhythm and rhyme of the poetry.

The illustrations are phenomenal. Besides bearing a strong resemblance to the real Steve Martin at an early age, these are well-drawn portraits of definite moments in the author’s life.

Holiday Poems for Children by Barbara Bryan

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Holiday Poems for Children by Barbara BryanHoliday Poems for Children, is a delightful collection of twenty poems mostly centered around the popular holidays throughout the year. Halloween is the most represented with New Years being left out completely. While many children may not connect with New Years, they certainly do with the Fourth of July which oddly was also omitted. There are a few poems included that speak more to the general season than a specific holiday.

The poems are written in a child-friendly sing songish rhythm making them likely candidates for read-a-louds with group participation. Very young children may well memorize these poems through repeated readings. While the words used are not specifically from the word lists used in the I Can Read book series, the book is very much on that level. Emerging readers should easily handle the language in Holiday Poems for Children.