Thursday, August 27, 2009

Real page turners for big & little kids

On the Woman's (and the kids') Bookshelf

This month, when it comes to reading, I have been on a roll. It's something I thoroughly enjoy and it comes with the added benefit of discovering new authors as well as exploring different styles of writing and new ideas.

Two books I am excited to share with you today are A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi and The Zoopendous Surprise by Boots Hensel with illustrations by Andrea Gabriel. These books are worlds apart, but I enjoyed each one immensely.

I "met" Preetham Grandhi on one of the forums or social networking sites I am a member of. In fact, I don't even recall which one. I believe he introduced himself and included a link to his site. When I clicked through and read the synopsis of the book I was immediately enthralled and requested a review copy.

From the first line in the prologue to the last sentence of the final chapter, A Circle of Souls - Grandhi's debut novel - kept me reading every free moment I had. It's described as a "new kind of psychological thriller," which is definitely fitting.

Here's the gist of the story: A little girl is found murdered and Leia Bines, an FBI agent, is called in to investigate. At the same time, Dr. Peter Gram - a psychiatrist - is working with Naya a young girl who is having nightmares that are causing her to sleepwalk and potentially harm herself. The murder and the psychological evaluation collide when Naya's drawings of her dreams lead to clues about the murder.

My description does not even come close to doing the novel justice. So, you'll just have to take my word for it that it's a fabulous read and head on over to buy A Circle of Souls for yourself.

On the lighter - and younger - side is The Zoopendous Surprise by Boots Hensel. I knew I had to review this and share it with my children when I read the story behind the creation of this book. It's based on a true story to give honor to the author's daughter Courtney who died of cancer four years ago. Courtney was a zookeeper for two Asian elephants at the Little Rock Zoo in Little Rock, Arkansas.

It's such a sweet and entertaining story of the elephants, Mary and Ellen, who try to find out what's going on around the zoo. None of their animal friends will tell them what the surprise is and just as they're getting discouraged and about to give up they discover what it is.

What do you think it is? That's what I asked my children when I was almost finished reading the story. Between the voices that can be used for each animal, the colorful and beautiful illustrations and the suspense of trying to figure out what is going to happen, The Zoopendous Surprise is a book that your children will love hearing and reading again and again.

Amareah and Andre were happy to tell me what they liked the most about The Zoopendous Surprise, and everything they mentioned had to do with the animals. I don't know if I've ever met any children who are as fascinated and in love with animals as these two are. Their love has rubbed off on their little sister.






Thanks to Andre's kindergarten teacher, we have to read to the children at least five to 15 minutes a day (I know you're saying: Weren't you doing that anyway. Oh never mind me, pay attention to the post!), so I've discovered and rediscovered my love of children's books.


 




Although Anna won't cooperate with answering the questions based on the stories, hogs the book and pretends she doesn't know which animal is which, it's a delight watching her become fond of reading and books.




 



Here is Boots with Mary and Ellen; stars of The Zoopendous Surprise. I would love to meet all three of them. :)