Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Deadly Passage

Title: Deadly Passage
Author: Dr. Lawrence W. Gold
Grade: A-
 Synopsis from Amazon
Andy Reiss, a physician, Jesse his registered-nurse wife, and Rachel, their barely teenage daughter, head home on their sailboat, Prophecy, after five years at sea touring the world. They thought they’d dealt with every imaginable experience at sea. When Prophecy comes upon a sailboat adrift, they discover two young Americans, a brother and his sister. After bringing them aboard, both break out with a rash that Andy identifies as a deadly virus.
Soon it becomes clear that they’ve inadvertently rescued two homegrown terrorists intent on bringing a deadly virus to the Miami area. 
Soon the disease is full-blown, sealing the fates of the terrorists and all those they encounter.
Andy, Jesse, and Rachel must deal with the unwanted guests, their disease, the Cuban Navy, an approaching hurricane, and the U.S. Coast Guard turning them away from safety, operating under the influence of conflicting political and operational motivations in the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, and the oval office. The shocking and unexpected denouements leave us twisting in uncertain winds reminiscent of On the Beach.

 I have read many of Dr. Gold's books and when I found out he wrote a new book, I couldn't wait to read it! The other books that Dr. Gold has written have been based in a hospital setting. This book was a little it different. Instead of a hospital, the setting of the book was a ship in the middle of the ocean.  I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics of the Reiss family aboard Prophecy. It was fascinating to read about their day to day life on the ship and their excursions in South America. I think it would be neat to take a year (or 5) and travel the world by sea! Something that is the same in most of Dr. Gold's books is that he weaves several different story lines together. At the beginning of the book I have a hard time understanding how they connect, but in the end they always do.  I did have to go back twice to understand why the American siblings wanted to become terrorists. The subject of terrorism is very relevant in today's society. It makes the reader realize how creative and smart terrorists can truly be. They are not just everyday people. Let me also say that the end of the book was a bit of a cliffhanger. It was be interesting to see if Dr. Gold writes a second book on this subject.

Something I didn't like about the book was the constant references to "ship terminology". When it started talking about "reefing the mainsail" and "furling the jib" I got lost. When these references came up I tried to picture a ship to get an idea of what they were talking about, but I sill struggled. Something that would have been helpful is a list of terms and explanations and possibly a diagram of a ship. I think it would help readers who are not as experienced in the terminology to enjoy the book more.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night

Title: An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night
Author: Joanne McGonagle
Grade B+

Synopsis from the back of the book
An Ordinary Toad’s Extraordinary Night is the story of a young toad named Andrew, pondering whether his life would be more interesting had he been hatched a frog. Andrew embarks on his first solo hop to ask his grandpa some questions about what it means to be an amphibian. The story is blended with factual information that compares and contrasts the similarities and differences among toads and frogs. A young reader’s curiosity will be piqued as they consider the unique attributes of the individual creatures that make up a species, perhaps sparking the light of conservation in their hearts and minds.

My first impression of the book was that it was beautifully illustrated. The pictures grab the reader's attention and really make the book pleasing to read. I did enjoy the book but I thought it stuffed a lot of information into such a small book. There was so much information about the difference between toads and frogs, that at some points I was overwhelmed. I, as an adult reader, enjoyed learning about the difference between the two species but I think children, especially younger children, would eventually lose interest because of the massive amounts of information and scientific terms. As a teacher I think this book would be an awesome addition to an upper elementary science curriculum. It is very factual, but presents the information mostly in a interesting way.  Children can learn new vocabulary through context and really come to understand what makes frogs and toads different from each other. I really enjoyed the story of how Andrew learned the importance and the acceptance of being unique. Everyone is special and important no matter what they may look like. In a looks obsessed culture, this is a very relevant theme.

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: Captain No Beard Series part 2

I was sent two more Captain No Beard books to read and review. The series is about Captain No Beard, his shipmates and the crazy adventures they get into. While the books are fun and definitely a child-pleasing series, each book also teaches an important message. Each story line keeps young readers engaged while also teaching them life lessons. I give the series an A+! You can read my review for two of the other books here. Below is my review for two of the other books in the series:

Title: Stuck in the Doldrums: A Lesson in Sharing
Grade: A+
Captain No Beard and his crew are stuck on  the island because there is no wind. The crew finds different things to do, but the Captain takes over everything. Linus the lion, Polly the Parrot, and Mongo the Monkey decide to look at the clouds, Each fight over the telescope, but Captain No Beard decides he gets to use the telescope because he is the captain. The same thing happens when First mate Hallie and Fribbet the Frog decide to build a sandcastle. Because his friends decide they don't want to play with him any longer, Captain No Beard boards his ship. While on the ship he runs into a problem that he needs his crewmates to help him solve.

I love the message that this book has. Being bossy does not solve problems. Everyone has a part in solving a problem and each part is just as important as another. In my preschool classroom I run into bossyness at least 10 times a day. I think that this would be a super beneficial book to read. It teaches the messages in a fun, but straightforward way that children would understand. I think it is also a great conversation starter. Once again, I love the rich vocabulary the book introduces and the gorgeous illustrations! I think this is my favorite book of the series!

Title:Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience
Grade: A-
A new parrot joins Captain No Beard and his crew in this addition to the series. As Pepper is introduced, Captain No Beard decides its time to run some drills. Captain No Beard has everyone run from one side of the boat to the other. Pepper flies to the opposite side as everyone else and then gets frustrated. Through help from the crewmates, Pepper realizes that he must have patience. The crew decided to change Pepper's name to Polly, and they invite Polly to be a part of the gang.

I don't really think that the title accurately describes this book. To me the book teaches the message to not get frustrated when you do something wrong. When Pepper gets the sides of the ship wrong, she throws herself on the ground and pretty much throws a fit. First Mate Hallie teaches Pepper to not get upset, and tells her to calm down. She also teaches Pepper a neat way to teach right from left. I think that the message of not getting frustrated is a very important lesson to teach children. I can't even count the amount of times I have seen a child get frustrated when he or she can't do something the first time they do it. Once again, I think that this book leads to great discussion points and I think children would really enjoy it. The only thing I would change about the book is the title.

Happy Reading!