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The Big Cheese Festival

The Big Cheese Festival4 Stars

There are issues that plague all children as they grow up. Each child struggles with identifying who they are as a person, how they relate to other people and how to find out what they believe in. Children can be cruel to each other while they learn how to navigate the messy world of emotions. This can come out in the form of bullying. In The Big Cheese Festival the authors explore the concept of bullying and how it can impact the life of another. What may seem like funny and harmless words to one can truly hurt another. We’ve got a fantastical world of anthropomorphic mice, one of whom only has half a tail. He is named Stubby and due to the unkind bullying from his brother’s friend worries about whether or not he’ll find any worth in himself.

Bullying is a big issue to tackle. Some children’s books try to address this and drop the ball completely. Jackson and Raymond have bundled up the idea of bullying in their book. They take an obvious difference, like having half of a tail, and use it to illustrate how others might react to something so clearly different from the norm. It’s a cute book with the little mice getting ready for a festival. Cutter Mouse, who is friends with Stubby’s brother, is the perpetuator of the bullying. It is often someone close to the bullied who begins the abuse, which Jackson and Raymond have captured here.

While the story is simple and easy to either read or read to a child, there are a few areas in which it lacks. The mice all look exactly the same, in the same outfits. The girl mice have different hairstyles but the boy mice don’t have anything to separate who they are from each other. Different coloured outfits may have helped with this issue. The mice also don’t seem to express emotion. For a story about bullying and overcoming that, showing joy or sorrow would be necessary.

Stubby does stand up to the person who is making him feel poorly which is an important message to children. He doesn’t do it with violence or by calling Cutter names back. He uses his words. S. Jackson and A. Raymond know that children need to learn these skills to survive in this modern world. The Big Cheese Festival helps to make it less frightening and more relatable by creating a fun and entertaining world.

Pages: 37 | ASIN: B01H3S381O

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Stealing Magic

Stealing Magic (The Legacy of Androva #1)5 Stars

Have you ever wondered if there are parallel dimensions where magic exists and people can travel from one world to the next with a simple portal? If you could what would happen? What could possibly go wrong with this? Alex Vick answers these questions in her book Stealing Magic. A quick read that pulls the reader into an adventure of mischief and saving two worlds. The book is told from the third person perspective so you get to hear the thoughts of all the characters. The three main characters are Shannon, from Terra (Earth), and Jax and Darius from Androva. They all meet when Jax and Darius travel through a portal from Androva to Terra to harvest magic from the trees that grow there. Shannon sees them and sees them using magic. It is then that she discovers she also has magical abilities. Shannon seeing the boys and discovering she can use magic causes an irreversible change that effects both their worlds and leads to great changes for the inhabitants of Androva.

Terra is your typical modern day Earth environment, teenagers complaining about school, cell phones, internet and day to day mundane activities. Androva is a world where magic is incorporated into daily life, however their world does not have great trees like Terra, and that is where the living magic comes from. Androva is also governed by very strict laws they call The Code. This is the law that all citizens must adhere to and live by in order to keep the balance of the Treaty in place. Jax is your typical rebellious teen that wants to prove he is the best at magic and knows better than the “stupid rules” that are in place to keep him from learning more. Darius is his best friend and loyal to a fault, he will gladly take the blame for Jax when he can for no other reason that he wants to protect him. When Jax broke several of the laws in The Code, a chain reaction of events starts taking place. In an attempt to reverse these events Jax brings Shannon through the portal into Androva and starts teaching her how to use her magic. It turns out she is stronger than anyone suspected and learns quickly. The three friends now put into place a plan to find out how to fix things, however they soon discover they cannot change what has already started.

Some of the key themes in this book are loyalty, family bonds, trust and letting go of the past. All these topics come up in Stealing Magic, as well as the lesson of doing things for the greater good not self-advancement. Given the reading level of the book I think it handles these difficult subjects well and gives good examples of self-sacrifice and showing how hard change can be. Vick has managed to provide a diverse set of characters to love and hate and even the ones that are hated are still very relatable, Marcus being a key example. Marcus is the bully that wants to control people but his passion is strong and while his methods are questionable, his desire to protect his world is genuine.

Overall Stealing Magic is a good book and great start to the Legacy of Androva Series. I look forward to reading more about the adventures of Shannon, Jax and Darius as they grow from teens into powerful magicians. There is a lot left for Alex Vick to cover in this series as the first book just gives you a taste of the world of Androva and its connection with Terra.

Pages:  | ASIN: B01LXQEPYR

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Sir Princess Petra’s Mission

Sir Princess Petra's Mission5 StarsChildren’s books are more than just fun stories on paper. More often than not they are designed to teach the readers a skill or lesson that will serve them as they grow older and interact more with the world. The key is to make the lesson seem so natural in the story that it gets absorbed without much notice. Diane Mae Robinson does this with Sir Princess Petra’s Mission. The book is the third in a series and the very beginning gives a synopsis of the two prior installments. This is exceptionally beneficial for those who are coming into the tale so far behind. In our story we find Petra, the Princess Knight, who has been given a mission by her not-to-pleased father. As is the case with many books where young women strive to be outside the ‘ordinary’, Petra’s father is displeased at the fact she is a knight. He charges her with a mission that he desperately hopes she will fail in an attempt to conform her to his views.

The language is very fun and easy to read. There are several pictures throughout the story which give a great addition to the words. It is always fun for readers to have an idea of what the author intended when they describe something and this is a welcomed bonus for young readers who are possibly reading for pleasure for the first time. The text is simple enough for children yet interesting enough for adults to actually be engaged with what they are reading with or to their children.

Petra is a strong female character who has a desire to live her life the way she wants. Much to the chagrin of her father this means being a knight and going on knightly adventures. This means no pink frilly dresses and no classes on how to faint properly. The story of the young girl going against expectations has been around for quite some time, but Petra truly needs no saving by anyone. She is not a trapped princess who needs help getting out of the tower or the princess who tries to fight a dragon but needs help from a male. Petra takes every task head-on and does her best to deliver results with her own hands. Even when she is faced with a difficult question or situation, she does her very best to think about what the right answer in her heart would be.

It’s truly sad that Petra’s father can’t be excited for his daughter and proud of everything she has done for the kingdom. How many princesses subdue a snarling dragon, only to become allies with them? Not many, even in the realm of children’s books. Sir Princess Petra’s Mission is no different in that her father hands out an impossible task, yet when she does her best to achieve her mission and strives to straighten out some incorrect information on the way, her father’s response is less than delightful.

Robinson weaves a wonderful tale of adventure and excitement that any boy or girl could love. With an underlying message that doesn’t scream from within the pages all readers, adults too, are sure to come away with the desire to emulate Petra’s wonderful tenacity; even if only for a while.

Pages: 106 | ASIN: B01AX8G1Q0

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