Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino, author of Pinky Doodle Bug.
By: Ruth Maille
Illustrated by: Harry Aveira
Publication Date: October 2020
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: December 23, 2020
There's no denying that 2020 has been one heck of a difficult year. Covid spread throughout the world and country after country went on lockdown. Children were undoubtedly confused and stressed by these unusual events. Now, thankfully, author Ruth Maille has published a delightful children's book aimed at spreading positive messages to everyone during this difficult time.
There are a lot of ABC books on the market - filled with animals, colors, numbers, and all sorts of other things. But Maille has come up with a unique re-imagining of an ABC book; she created a book all about the covid pandemic. But this book isn't a sad read about all the awful things that have happened in 2020. Instead, The Power of Positivityis all about the positive things that we can do, or that have happened, in spite of the pandemic.
First, we meet "Orbit," the book's mascot. Orbit is "...a fun-loving Planet Earth whose purpose is to spread kindness..." And, to add a bit of fun to the story, he likes to hide in plain site. How many "Orbits" can you find on the pages of the book?
Once Orbit has gone off to hide within the pages of the story, we can start the adventure. "A is for Appreciation" and I think we can all agree with the picture of a doctor, nurse, an elderly patient and child. "We appreciate the doctors and nurses who are working day and night to heal the people who are sick, and help everyone stay healthy." Move to the next page and the story continues with "B is for Breath." People are definitely stressing and the author acknowledges this by noting, "We all feel anxious from time to time. Taking a deep breath can help you feel calm."
The story continues with all sorts of great messages about things that have brought us together, or things that keep us going during this difficult time. Optimism, persistence, love, and understanding are just a few of the words that are used to run through the alphabet. At the back of the book is a two-page glossary of terms used, plus a page that asks the reader to write down some positive things that have happened to them in 2020.
It's easy to think that children haven't been affected by the pandemic of 2020 but the truth is they may be hiding the stresses they feel. Separated from school friends, believing they are alone or the only one feeling confused, is likely a common thread with many children today. Giving them this book is certainly a great idea because it's a very positive, fun, enjoyable read that will help children deal with the pandemic. The illustrator, Harry Aveira, has illustrated over 100 books, and it's easy to see why he's so popular. The bright, creative illustrations, especially those of Orbit, are eye-catching and really add to the story. If you need a little, or a lot, of positivity in this unusual time of stress and worldwide face-mask wearing, share this book with your loved ones. You'll be glad you did.
Quill says: There's enough positive messaging in The Power of Positivity to spread to all our family and friends. We will get through this together and author Ruth Maille and her wonderful new children's book is going to help.
For more information on The Power of Positivity: The ABC's of a Pandemic, please visit the author's website at: www.ruthmaille-author.com
By: Isu Yin and Fae Yang
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: September 2020
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: December 20, 2020
Authors Isu Yin and Fae Yang spin a wildly imaginative, cryptic fantasy in the first book of the Grims’ Truth series.
A birthday celebration turns debase for seven-year-old Princess Cruentus Fate when Cruentus Neco, her father and the king of Macellarius City, sells her to a brothel where she will be primed and auctioned off to Neco once she turns sixteen. Fate’s distress over the drastic change in her life slowly disappears when Fortuna, the headmistress known as Madam, encourages her to bond with “her sisters,” the other girls in the brothel. Through them, Fate learns they are all a part of the Fortuna’s Rebellion, her way of protecting the girls from the corruption in the Empire of Mu. Later, a visit to Prince Abyssus, Fate’s brother who’s being held captive in the palace, provides her an eye-opening moment when Abyssus reveals through his scrutinized research Neco’s true identity and why Fate and he have been targeted.
Around her twelfth birthday, Fate receives a gift—a book on folklore—from Prince Hero, Abyssus’s close friend. Fate’s curiosity about the book’s cryptic messages leads her to sneak out of the brothel to see Hero and inquire why he gave the book to her. Since the visit goes oddly well, considering that he’s from a different ancient clan, Fate plans to win his affections to make her his queen once he becomes High King. But in the meantime, Fate needs to develop skills to protect herself, especially from Neco. Fortuna gets Hero involved two years later to teach fencing to the brothel girls. As she turns sixteen and the auction becomes a reality, Fate has no idea all that will unfold once she leaves the brothel.
Rising authors Isu Yin and Fae Yang are a force to be reckoned with. The highly imaginative duo has turned their fantastical dreams into actuality, creating The Spinner’s Web, the first of many (an ambitious plan of sixty books!) in a riveting new Grims’ Truth series. Replete with an authentic-looking map and a reference guide, The Spinner’s Web unveils a tale about a princess who desperately seeks ways to escape a life that has fallen victim to a corrupt empire. Critics may be quick to assume that Yin and Yang have produced another good-vs-bad story, but don’t be fooled. The authors’ relatable main and supporting cast are well developed as they are evasive, leaving readers getting only a glimpse of what may possibly lie ahead.
Fantasy aficionados have plenty to wrap their heads around, learning about Royals, Breeds, Ancient clans, and more. The Spinner’s Web opens with a dark and mysterious scene before launching into an unrecognizable realm—barring possibly Tir Na Nog—all steeped in unimaginable folklore. Yin and Yang’s short chapters, complete with richly detailed descriptions and engaging dialogue, seamlessly connect scene after scene of twists and turns while Fate, their main character, grapples with information that is both intriguing as it is terrifying while dealing with a flurry of frightening dreams—a clear indication that she is something more than the Royal she believes herself to be.
Quill says: The Spinner’s Web is the beginning of one spellbinding series with high Silver Screen potential.
For more information on Grims’ Truth Book 1: The Spinner’s Web, please visit the website: www.grimstruth.com
By: Keith Thye
Publisher: Classic Day Publishing
Publication date : November 2020
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: December 18, 2020
Author Keith Thye and his protagonist, Rusty Kenneficke, are back once again with their final book in the Rusty Kenneficke trilogy, Rusty Kenneficke’s 3rd Quarter.
Readers were left shocked at the end of the last novel when Rusty found himself in one of the worst possible situations a person could ever find themself; being the prime suspect in a recent murder. To make matters worse, the murder happens to be of his longtime archnemesis, Boomer Laughlin, who just recently appeared in the town where Rusty and his wife Jan were living, threatening to kill Rusty. All fingers unfortunately pointed directly at Rusty being the murderer for several reasons. First, he was recently overheard saying maybe he should just try to kill off Boomer Laughlin before Boomer attempted his murderous revenge upon Rusty, and second, but perhaps the most damning of evidence, was that Boomer’s girlfriend reported that she saw Rusty drive off in the vehicle that killed Boomer. Unfortunately, Rusty also had no alibi to corroborate his story that he was nowhere near the scene of the crime, and was instead on his usual weekly solo trip riding his motorcycle far away in the mountains.
A few successful years went by for Rusty, his wife Jan, and their motorcycle business, and while he remained the prime suspect in the murder of Boomer, no new leads were discovered and the case went cold. Rusty and Jan continued to expand their business (of course not without a few bumps in the road), but the specter of Rusty being the prime suspect in a murder continued to loom over their heads. While Rusty can’t exactly figure it out, he suspects someone has set him up to take the blame for Boomer’s death. But who?
Meanwhile, much like the previous book, two new characters are introduced and expanded upon: Lindsey Fisher, Boomer Laughlin’s supposed girlfriend at the time of the hit-and-run, and Lindsey’s new man, Barry Marcini. Lindsey remains steadfast in her conviction that it was Rusty who killed her boyfriend, but she’s never officially called to testify and eventually moves on with her life to Las Vegas with Barry. Mr. Marcini is a businessman with quite a shady past, starting with his juvenile gang involvement, and working his way towards owning several strip clubs and eventually pawn shops, as an adult. While Lindsey and Barry were busy intensifying their personal relationship over the years, they solidified their professional relationship as well by collaborating and expanding Barry’s business interests into jewelry stores and debt collection agencies. Never a person to simply be content with what he has, Barry decides his next business deal will be to join a group of investors interested in purchasing a casino. However, he doesn’t quite have enough money to make the initial payment to join the group, but he’s willing to do anything to come up with it. But will this move prove to be successful for Barry, or will it be his demise? And how does a strange twist of events eventually entangle Barry back with Rusty Kenneficke?
Rusty Kenneficke's 3rd Quarter is, as previously mentioned, the last novel in the trilogy, and is just as well-written and engaging as the first two. The author continues to not only fill readers in on Rusty’s latest whereabouts, but like the second novel in which he expands upon Boomer Laughlin’s life, this time the author takes his readers on another equally compelling adventure into the lives of Lindsey Fisher and Barry Marcini. The first several chapters have some repeat story from the previous books, and while this inclusion could be a helpful reminder to some readers, I felt like it could have been condensed a bit because I found myself anxiously skimming these parts in order to quickly get into the thick of the new story. But this should not deter potential readers from diving right into this book and experiencing Rusty Kenneficke’s final exciting adventure.
Quill says: Rusty Kenneficke’s 3rd Quarter, the final book in the Rusty Kenneficke trilogy, has a good plot, and a few twists that keeps readers engaged and guessing if Rusty will ultimately be able to get out of his worst predicament ever, right until the very end.
For more information on Rusty Kenneficke's 3rd Quarter, please visit the author's website at: www.keiththye.com
By: Sally Huss with Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Publication Date: March 2020
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: December 8, 2020
Jack never wanted to be the center of attention, but in the informative children's book, A Lesson for Every Child: Learning about Food Allergies, he does just that so that he can teach the other students in his class all about food allergies.
A Lesson for Every Child begins with a brief introduction to Mrs. Emerson, a wonderful teacher who loves learning and sharing. Turn the page and we see Mrs. Emerson meeting a new student - Jack. While she reads his file, Jack sits quietly in a chair, a bit scrunched up in the hopes of not being too visible to his neighbors. He really, really doesn't want to be the center of attention.
After reading Jack's file, Mrs. Emerson announces to her class, "We have an extraordinary opportunity to learn something new. And Jack here is going to be our teacher. His parents have given permission for him to tell us about it." Oh, boy, Jack really doesn't want to do this...but then...
Mrs. Emerson explains to her class that Jack knows something that they all need to know. That caught Jack's attention and he quickly sits up and it sure looks like there is a smile on his face. Mrs. Emerson tells the class that Jack has food allergies and he would be the best one to explain just what that means.
Jack, happy that he knows something the other children don't, begins his explanation of food allergies. The class is enraptured with his words and ask many questions. It would be a day that the kids wouldn't soon forget.
A Lesson for Every Child tackles a topic that many children (and adults!) deal with every day (per the text, six million American children face food allergies). The children in the story ask many probing questions, questions that the reader will be wondering about too. The authors also tackle something that seems to get glossed over much too often - how the child who has the food allergy (or allergies) feels about being "different." With simple, bright illustrations that convey the children's feelings perfectly, young readers will enjoy learning about what food allergies are and how those who have such allergies deal with them. At the back of the book is a page with some information on food allergies, as well as a link to FoodAllergyAwareness.org where readers can learn more. This is an excellent book that should find its way into all school libraries as well as be shared with both those youngsters who have food allergies and those who have never heard of such things.
Quill says: A Lesson for Every Child is a fun book that will open the eyes of many children to the challenges of food allergies.
For more information on A Lesson for Every Child: Learning About Food Allergies, please visit the author's website at: www.elizabethguarino.com
By: Sherman P. Bastarache
Publisher: Idein Publishing
Publication Date: July 2018
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Date: December 2020
Sherman P. Bastarache’s Moral Indignation is a challenge to his readers to open the mind and consider the ‘...impartment of a soul and human dignity…’ when seeking the balance between morality and science around Embryonic Stem Cell Research.
To sit and attempt to unpack the plethora of considerations outlined in this book is a monumental feat in and of itself. Before diving into Chapter 1, Mr. Bastarache’s starts with a Preface. His explanation is simple: ‘I was not going to include a preface in this book, but I felt it necessary to inform the reader of certain facts. The main one being that it is not possible to cover all the content of this subject in anything resembling complete detail.’ I could not agree more. The depth and breadth of information, subject matter, opinion, etc. within the covers of this 280+ page book is mind-boggling. Immediately beyond the preface, the tone is set in Chapter One, ‘The Knowledge Tree.’ The notion of ‘...In dealing with faith and reason, some of you, reading this book, will be tempted to close your minds...’ nuances the dichotomy between faith/religion and bare bones science, ergo, which side are you (figuratively) on?
The complexities of this body of work continue to evolve. Moving on to Chapter Two, ‘Modus Operandi,’ Mr. Bastarache presents food for thought around evangelical ministers and how they define their description of God. Is the foundation of who God is based on faith? Belief? Both? After birth, ‘...the scriptures indicate one must first believe, and then be baptized...’. Bastarache’s argument is there aren’t scriptures indicating anything to the contrary, i.e., ‘...Baptism does not save you! Believing saves you!...’ Continuing on, Bastarache presents scientific theory and consistently attempts to balance the argument with theology. There are foundational arguments around when is a life a life as much as when is it safe to perform stem cell studies without threatening the sanctity of life?
I tip my hat to Sherman Bastarache for writing such an in-depth body of work on a controversial topic. There is a strong argument and view on both sides of the coin—science and religion, in addressing the ‘morality’ (or lack thereof) toward Embryonic Stem Cell Research. It is abundantly clear Mr. Bastarache has woven his theories and opinions throughout the book, but not with arrogance. Rather, he took his time with carefully crafted theories and left it up to the reader to decide: is this moral or is this for the greater good of progress, scientific breakthrough and a necessity to the continued evolution and advancement of man? In the next breath, he plays with his audience and strips the theory of science away and leaves it up to the reader to consider, perhaps the overall research is unnatural and all rests in God’s hands. This was an interesting and quite thought-provoking read. This book is not ‘light’ reading but is bountiful in its delivery of both scientific basis as much as theological considerations.
Quill says: Moral Indignation is a well-balanced and foundational read that enables the reader to enlighten him/herself with both ‘science’ and ‘faith’ when it comes to understanding the importance of Embryonic Stem Cell Research whichever side one considers.
For more information on Moral Indignation: Embryonic Stem Cells, DNA, and Christians, please visit the author's website at: shermanbastarache.ca
By: Deborah Stevenson
Illustrated by: David Stedmond
Publisher: Frog Prince Books
Publication Date: November 2020
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 2020
Chicken and Egg are at it again - this time as they try to solve the age-old question of why did the chicken, or in this case Chicken with a capital "C," cross the road?
As the story opens, best-buddies Chicken and Egg are walking along the sidewalk, deep in discussion. They have just come from the pharmacy where Chicken had to pick up some medicine. The two friends can't seem to agree on how to pronounce "antibiotics."
"It's pronounced an-TIE-biotics," said Chicken
..."No, no, NO!" argued Egg. "It is most certainly pronounced an-Tee-biotics!"
Chicken and Egg continue to argue as they cross the road. Once on the other side, Egg asks his friend why he crossed the road. Hmmmm.... Chicken didn't know. "I'm sure I had a reason," he declares. But what was the reason?
Why did Chicken cross the road? The two friends think, and think, and think...and as the author notes, "this went on for a ridiculously long time" (a statement that is repeated often throughout the story, much to the delight of the reader). Egg eventually comes up with an excellent solution - to retrace their steps. Surely if they follow their earlier path, they'll likely discover why they crossed the road. Chicken agrees and off they go.
Chicken and Egg first go to the doctor's office and ask the receptionist for help. She makes some suggestions of what they might have forgotten - a hat, a jacket, a prescription. Nope, nope, nope. None of her suggestions help Chicken remember why he crossed the road. Next, they head to the hardware store. Surely they'll find a clue to why Chicken crossed the road there. Unfortunately, all they find is an annoyed clerk when the two friends make a mess. Will Chicken and Egg ever discover why Chicken crossed the road?
Author Deborah Stevenson has written a treasure-trove of children's books with memorable characters and fantastic illustrations. With her newest series, Chicken and Egg, she has taken the well-known "why did the chicken cross the road" question and created an entire, delightful world for Chicken, Egg, and all their friends. In this, book 2 in the series, Chicken and Egg go on another hilarious adventure that children will love. And in case you're wondering, yes, they do discover why Chicken crossed the road and kids are going to get a giggle when they discover the reason.
Quill says: The Chicken and Egg series is such a fun series - it's funny, clever, and offers up loads of giggles. If you haven't added these books to your child's reading list, don't delay! They will absolutely love Chicken and Egg!
For more information on Why Did Chicken Cross the Road?: Chicken and Egg Book 2,please visit the publisher's website at: www.FrogPrinceBooks.net.
By: Tyler Michael
Published by: Tyler Michael Books
Publication Date: October 2020
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: November 29, 2020
Gaming is the overarching theme behind Tyler Michael’s compelling saga, Apex,beginning with a simple camping trip and ending in international intrigue, with much blood shed along the way.
Chris is a college grad trying to figure out what to do with his life, and in the meantime, he leads new campers on wilderness adventures, teaching hardcore survival skills. On this gig, he’s with Kate, an athletic young female college student, and Kevin, who has a problem-solver mentality but little experience in the wild or in facing physical challenges. They’re in a national park very familiar to Chris, first night out, already working through the decision of where to camp as the planned location has been flooded. It’s then that Chris meets Ranger, who pulls him into a casual conversation that soon turns somewhat dark: Ranger works for a mysterious organization called Apex that arranges very costly hunting trips for exceedingly wealthy clients – all in a cloak of secrecy.
Somewhere across the globe, three men have been summoned to a meeting to arrange their next assignment: they will have three targets, and all three must be destroyed. The stakes are high – in the millions of dollars – and all three men willingly sign on, knowing what they must do.
The next day, Chris, Kate and Kevin wake up in an unknown place, with red wristwatches strapped to their wrists. The three are now the unwitting prey of three motivated, ruthless hunters. The young campers’ personal survival skills, down to the most basic life-and-death scenarios, are all that they have for safety. This bizarre sport will be played to the last breath.
Author Tyler Michael is a self-described “film and video game enthusiast” who has here created two kinds of games, at first highlighting the activities of the young campers learning the rules of the wild, and then superseded by the evil schemes of high-stakes bettors willing to kill for sport and selfish entertainment. The plot belongs as much to the amoral hunters, whose names are all color-coded, as to the youthful, essentially naïve nature-loving explorers. The hunters are competing with one another, their rivalry contrasting with the life-loving determination of the young people they are charged with eliminating. The author, in this debut work, shows strong plot sense and the ability to switch scenes and viewpoints page by page. There will be a winner in the game and a sad but needed denouement, in this unusual, imaginative story.
Quill says: Tyler Michael’s dark tale is recommended for teen and adult readers, bearing in mind that violence and danger are ever-present factors in the action-filled, do-or-die drama that cries for a sequel.
For more information on Apex, please visit the author's website at: www.tylermichaelbooks.com
By: Ryan Wakefield
Publication Date: February 2021
ASIN : B08LXRMRRN
Reviewed By: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: November 2020
Upon reading the first pages of Journey to Jumbalot, by debut author Ryan Wakefield, readers will quickly discover that the story is more than just the journey of a housecat named Alby; it’s an adventure of epic proportions filled with exciting highs and lows and, the most intriguing part, hybrid animals.
Our story begins with Alby, a chronically hungry cat, who was once a stray, but now lives in a house with the wise Professor Wizoom, who busies himself inventing things in his home laboratory. On one particular evening, Alby hears all sorts of noise in the house and discovers that the professor is busy at work in his lab creating something mysterious that looks like a triangular doorway. Wizoom explains to the kitty about his hopes and plans that he’ll finally have his childhood dream come true of being able to travel to unknown lands once he completes the necessary adjustments to his creation.
The next day Alby awakens to complete silence, and is unable to locate Wizoom anywhere in the house. A few hours later, however, loud noises and flashing lights emanate from the lab, causing Alby to get excited assuming the professor is coming home. Instead, the housecat hears strange voices coming from the triangular doorway, imploring him to be brave and “help them,” so Alby does what anybody would do in this situation when somebody important is lost, he enters the strange doorway in search of Professor Wizoom.
After getting spun through a tunnel filled with bright lights, Alby finds himself in a strange but beautiful land with glowing grass, an endless amount of multicolored flowers, and great forests as far as the cat’s eyes can see. Unfortunately he also notices that the doorway he came through closed behind him, and he’s unable to go back through, so he decides he must travel forward in search of the professor. Alby hopes the professor will be able to open the door, and get them safely back home. No sooner does Alby make this decision than he sees a wolf-like animal with wings flying in the air, and sitting on top of its back is a terrifying lizard-like man, with the head of a shark. This "man" is busy communicating to his wrist about trying to find the intruder that recently came through the gate into their world. Luckily Alby is able to narrowly escape being caught by the scary creature by hiding in a tree until it flies off in an angry huff, but he’s quickly confronted again by another odd-looking, less menacing animal, this time a frog with spotty green hair and a furry tail. The frog encourages Alby to eat something called a jumberry so they can properly communicate with each other. Alby agrees and immediately is able to tell the frog about going through a door in his world in search of his owner, Professor Wizoom, while the frog introduces himself as Fremmy the froguar, living in this land called Jumbalot. Fremmy decides that even though Alby is a weird-looking trespasser in Jumbalot, he will help the lost cat find the professor, and get back through the gates toward home. First, however, they must travel to the Kingdom of Jowla to speak with the special animals who will hopefully know how to get the ancient gates to reopen once again. While on their quest, the pair will become close friends as they encounter a plethora of brilliant hybrid animals including yetiguanas, tigeroons, and bearhinoxes, all in the magical kingdom of Jumbalot. But will Fremmy and Alby not only successfully find the lost Professor Wizoom, but also be able to get through the ancient gates back home, or will something far more sinister stop them in their tracks, and threaten not only their safety, but the survival of the entire land of Jumbalot?
Journey to Jumbalot is a wonderful tale for middle-grade children in search of a read that’s a bit different from the usual fantasy-based story filled with goblins, dragons or talking animals. After all, it is hard to resist not being excited dreaming of the images of powerful creatures such as the brave half-human, half-dinosaur, brontaurs, or the irresistibly cute half-frog, half-jaguar, froguar named Fremmy. Not to mention the fact that the actual story is packed with a wildly thrilling adventure, and is sprinkled with silly humor, that’s both easy to read and sends a few feel-good messages about bravery and perseverance. While enjoying Journey to Jumbalot, readers may crave a few more drawings of scenes within the story, especially of the hybrid creatures that are not depicted on the front and back covers. However, in the end I’ve come to believe that my imagination, and the imagination of future readers, will be far more exciting in creating our own ideas of what something looks like rather than if it were simply drawn out by the author. Therefore, let your imagination run wild and you’ll easily enjoy going on the adventure with Alby and Fremmy on their journey in Jumbalot.
Quill says: Are you craving a wild children’s adventure filled with unusual fantastical creatures? Then you definitely do not want to miss Journey to Jumbalot!
For more information on Journey to Jumbalot, please visit the website: www.jumbalot.com