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Curse of the Bayou by Mary Cunningham (YA)

Cynthia’s Attic series – book #3 – from author, Mary Cunningham
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Cynthia’s Attic, Book#3: Curse of the Bayou
by Mary Cunningham
ISBN 10: 1590805755
ISBN 13: 978-1590805756
Echelon Press Publishing

www.marycunninghambooks.com

Curse of the Bayou, Cynthia’s Attic series book #3

The third time really is the charm for author Mary Cunningham, as her latest installment in the Cynthia’s Attic series is the best of the trio. While books one and two are delightfully entertaining, within a few pages of book three, it is apparent that the writer has grown right a long side her two main characters. Blending parallel universes with very real human issues while allowing the reader to suspend the need for reason is a huge undertaking, and one that Cunningham has met and far exceeded with Curse of the Bayou.

On the edge of thirteen, in the year 1964, best friends and time traveling companions, Cynthia and Gus are at it again, drawn to the old trunk in the attic that magically melts the seams of time. The girls land in the year 1914, deep in the Louisiana swamp and quickly find they aren’t swimming with dolphins…it’s alligators! But, this is to be only the first of many heart stopping thrills as they search for Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau Connor, who was last seen traveling down the Mississippi River to sell produce.

The girls receive helpful hints from old friends and stern warnings from new ones. It seems the Mississippi River is home to the meanest, most orneriest pirate ever…one Buzzard Jack LaBuse. A long the way our gutsy tweenies find themselves facing off with shifting plants, scheming baddies and a thieving parrot, just to name a few. Traveling back and forth in time, the girls land in Southern Indiana, on the old Connor farm, where they discover a link between Beau Connor and pirate Jack. Could a family curse be the cause of Great Grandpa’s sudden and mysterious disappearance?

Curse of the Bayou is the ultimate stage for Cunningham’s cooky cast of characters to act out their story. Just as the most intricate web begins with a single strand, so it is with a good series…there’s a basic idea upon which each individual story is built. And while each must stand alone, it must be linked to the original. With three complete books in the series, the supporting cast and their respective back stories can get quite confusing, especially for the target audience, for this reason I would love to see a character list included with future installments.

There are so many directions the author can take with these characters and an endless list of issues, both real and imagined that can be filtered in, that not even the sky can limit this series…Kudos to author Mary Cunningham for delivering a good old fashioned family story, with all the sci-fi perks and jigs to light the imagination of today’s young reader.

Happy Reading!

– RJ

 

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The Trouble Begins at 8 by Sid Fleischman (youth)


The Trouble Begins at 8:
A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West

ISBN: 978-0061344312
Ages 9-12
Grades 4+
224 pp
http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/

http://www.sidfleischman.com/

A thorough, detailed, beautifully written book about one of the most beloved authors of all time, Samuel Clemens, but we know him as the master-writer of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer… Mark Twain. Sid Fleischman has once again taken a topic that causes most kids to run screaming in the opposite direction – and made it interesting, intriguing and most importantly – Fun! You will thoroughly enjoy the wisecrack for which the book is named…”The Trouble Begins At 8.”

The life of Mark Twain has been written about by some of the brightest minds, however, knowing these texts are written with a dialogue that will never reach children, Fleischman targets the young minds with his books. Not an easy task and yet he has been able to deliver the absolute perfect mix of educational information and entertainment to keep youngsters turning pages and parents happily observing. Sid Fleischman writes with an elegant, well informed simplicity that immerses the reader, breathing life into the pages of the book, so much so that at the conclusion it feels more like you have spent time with these people as opposed to having read a book about them. Every character, as well as, each stage of Clemens’ journey contributes depth and richness to the story and has been beautifully captured in this unique, highly entertaining biographical book that reveals the creation of Mark Twain. From his early days in Missouri, through his quite interesting personal adventures; as a steamboat pilot, mining for gold, dancing the ‘kangaroo’ in San Francisco, just to name a few.

While you may think you know all there is to know about Mark Twain you have never had the pleasure of reading anything quite like this. Complimenting the narrative are numerous black and white photographs that truly bring the legend to life.

Often referred to as a ‘gentlemen of leisure,’ Mark Twain’s life was above all, interesting. Sid Fleischman has captured the essence of this free spirited writer that today is one of only a handful of authors counted as true masters of the pen. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in literature, regardless of age. Sid Fleischman is a talented writer and his ability to continually breath new life into old stories is unparalleled. This is an exceptionally well written and highly enjoyable read – Don’t Miss it!

In today’s high-tech, highly competitive market, I commend Harper Collins for delivering such unique, educational, fun titles!

*The Entertainer & the Dybbuk – also by Sid Fleischman

Happy Reading!
   -RJ

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CYOA – Volume One

golden-path-book-1.jpg
Golden Path Volume 1
Into the Hollow Earth

by Anson Montgomery
Youth Adventure/Fiction
ISBN 10: 1933390816
ISBN 13: 978-1933390819
Chooseco *(CYOA)

Some may find it hard to imagine how, with a printed book, the reader can actively participate in the adventure…but it’s true. The popular Choose Your Own Adventure has been revamped, re-energized and relaunched, to the utter delight of parents and young adults everywhere. With this ingenious series, the reader has the opportunity to make multiple choices throughout the novel, which changes the plot twists, the characters that you will meet and at what stage you will interact with each. The right choices will lead you, as one of the main characters, into a secret world that exists beneath the Earth’s crust.

As one of the main characters, you (the reader) are, quite literally caught up in the action and your choices effect the other characters and the progression of the story. The Golden Path: Volume One opens with an interesting, scientific prologue, which sets the tone for the scenery, ideologies and difficulties that the people in author Anson Montgomery’s future face on a daily basis. The first chapter opens with a scene every student can relate too…three friends, in the library, studying for a big exam. And through the creative imagination of CYOA, you (the reader), are one of the three. The heart of the story revolves around your parents archaeological dig at Carlsbad, New Mexico and a very odd shard of pottery your friend Peter found outside the dig site. Convinced the artifact once belonged to a culture that predates the American Indians and utilizing the individual talents of each of your friends, the three of you receive special permission from your teacher to work together on the AP History project. It’s true that history effects the future, but you and your friends had no idea how that piece of pottery would devastate your present and put your future in jeopardy.

When you receive a frightening, cryptic email from your Mom, sent from a dead letter drop, you are given the first of many choices…do you follow the instructions from your Mom or go to New York City? Of course your selection will alter the story’s progression, as will each of the decisions you make throughout the adventure. What began as a quest to find your missing parents, quickly spins into a web of questions, that has government officials hot on your trail and could well be the difference between life and death for you all.

Choose Your Own Adventure is an entertaining adventure series that engages reader, however, flipping back and forth, skipping numerous chapters only to go back to them later may be confusing for younger readers. A mix of ancient history, futuristic adventure, scientific learning and creative imagination, woven around three best friends who must use their individual strengths to solve problems together. Utilizing age appropriate narrative, the book deals with family issues, friendships, loss, jealousy, grief and ultimately survival, understanding and healing. I would recommend this book (*& the series) to children who enjoy a book that doesn’t fit the normal definition of “book.” The characters are believable, with just enough futuristic karma to grab the attention of today’s high-tech kids. With four story lines developed to move from Volume One to Volume Two, your individual choices play-out before your eyes. I think parents should be made aware that it is necessary to purchase both volumes, because without the second volume some “choices” are not available, thus changing the outcome. With the website, more information should be available and it allows the kids to participate in activities related to the stories. Definitely worth reading, a solid 3.5 and destined to get better with each new installment.

Happy Reading!
-RJ

 

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Edgar Font’s Hunt for A House to Haunt Adventure 2

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