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I Wish I Knew That: Cool Stuff You Need to Know

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If you're looking for a basic knowledge refresher or a book to use in prepping for an academic bowl or similar "general knowledge" test, this is the book for you.
The Dark

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What if you were afraid of the dark, and it lived in your basement? A unique, an ultimately reassuring look at the dark.
Breadcrumbs

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This review refers to the audiobook version.There is no shortage of glowing reviews for Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs. Paying homage to several well-known and classic children's books, Ursu certainly knows how to turn a phrase. Betsy Bird of Fuse #8 recently wrote that "some children’s authors can load a page with lines that cause you to stop and think and ponder for days at a time." Anne Ursu is one of these authors. A writer with a distinctive style.Deeply thoughtful, this is a book without contractions. A book with words and thoughts and sentences measured, as the ticking of a clock – as the clock that ticks through 11-yr-old Hazel’s mind as she wanders numbly through the accursed woods. The narration of Kirby Heyborne so perfectly catches the measured hopelessness of Hazel's ever-more depressing circumstances at home, and the eerie fatalism of the wood's inhabitants, that Breadcrumbs loses hope of attracting its targeted listeners, ages 8 and up. The stated audience for this book is Grades 3-6. Hazel, the protagonist, is a 5th grader with the apparent sensibilities of a much older child. This is a very well-written and narrated blend of fantasy and realistic fiction. Its underlying theme of middle-school friendship notwithstanding, I believe that it will be most appreciated by an older audience.
Rosa and the Water Pony

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Four young mermaid friends from a team to join in Mermaid Bay’s 10th Midsummer Carnival. “A prize will be awarded to the team with the most spectacular display.” Although they will be the youngest team, Sula, Jasmine, Rosa and Melody decide that they have a chance - if only they can create a magic water pony. The addition of Rosa’s cousin, Coral to the group, and the disdain of the older mermaid girls add the conflict to this otherwise sparkly story.One complaint with Rosa and the Water Pony is the cavalier way in which the mermaids deal with a spell gone awry. Instead of a water pony, a magic spell turns a friendly seahorse into a sea turtle.““Inside the magic mermaid circle, change the sea horse to a pony!” A streak of light rushed through the swirling, shimmering water. Then, the mermaids were thrown backwards by a powerful force. Everyone waited for a pony to appear. But instead of a pony, out of the whirlpool paddled … “A giant sea turtle!” gasped Sula, Melody, and Jasmine at the same time. They burst into laughter.“I did say I was a little rusty,” said Rose, going red. Still the mermaids laughed.“Well, I don’t think it’s that funny,” said Rosa hotly. “We don’t stand a change of winning at all without the water pony.” The mermaids stopped laughing.”In a perfect story, the girls would have won the prize with the turtle. In an imperfect story, they would have turned the turtle back into a seahorse and tried again. In Rosa and the Water Pony, the girls simply find another seahorse and try again, achieving the desired result - with no further mention of the erstwhile seahorse, now a sea turtle.This chapter book with simple illustrations of the mermaids and their water pony (that bears more than a passing resemblance to My Little Pony ™) is likely to delight young girls, however. It has a simple plot and focuses on teamwork, friendship and fair play. Originally published in Great Britain, I assume that U.S. copies will have spelling corrections. The copy that I read from NetGalley featured standard British spellings of some words, e.g, practise, organised.Ebook review copy provided by NetGalley.
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