Baymo by Seth C. Kadish

BAYMO
Baymo by Seth C. Kadish
Publisher: LadyBee Publishing
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (74 pages)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

“Baymo” is the story of a young dog who longs for the freedom and excitement of human life without comprehending the responsibility and worries that go along with such a life. Through a bit of magic from Father Moon, Baymo’s wish comes true – he becomes a man – but his subsequent misadventures teach him that being a man has its price.

But he was a man, a man, a man! Baymo was in a state of bliss, filled with joy and radiant. He stood, he fell, he pushed himself back up again. Tottered, veered, spun, teetering, toppling, a spinning top, out of control, overcome with pleasure.

He was so involved in this new game that he did not notice Spike enter the yard. The little pug stared at him with pop eyes, amazed at the sight of a tall, wobbly, naked, golden-haired man, wearing a grin, weird noises bursting out of his mouth. Spike was so startled by the bizarre apparition that he forgot to be scared.

That is, until the naked man took a step towards Spike and smiled. Spike gave a nervous bark. What to do? And where was Baymo to tell him what to do? Where was his best friend, the golden dog?

Baymo teetered and tottered toward Spike, croaking with pleasure at his newfound manhood. To his amazement, the little dog raced back to the safety and sanity of his house, an escapee from the clutches of the horrible stranger.

If wishes were dog bones, Baymo’s stomach would be filled to the brim.

Strong character development is one of the most important things I look for when reviewing a book. I love connecting with the protagonist so deeply that I feel like I’m experiencing their world alongside them. Baymo amused me from the beginning, but it was the way he reacted to everything that happened to him that captured my attention. He was incredibly well-developed. His personal evolution was so gradual and tied to the plot that I was actually caught off-guard by how much information the author was able to pack into something this length.

The vast majority of the plot seemed perfectly suited for kids in early elementary school, but there were a few scenes that made me hesitate. The violence in them wasn’t graphic, but it happened often enough that I raised my age recommendation by two years. It’s definitely something that should be screened beforehand by parents or teachers. If these scenes had been toned down, I would have chosen a much higher rating for this tale.

This was my first introduction to Mr. Kadish’s work. I enjoyed his storytelling so much that I actually read all of Baymo’s adventures over the course of a single afternoon. While I don’t know if the author has any intention of writing a sequel, there is certainly room here to do so. If he does follow up with these characters again, this reader would be quite curious to see what happens next.

I’d recommend Baymo to dog-lovers of all ages.

Eagle En Garde by Olga Godim

EAGLE
Eagle En Garde by Olga Godim
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (303 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Darin, a mercenary officer, lives in Talaria, a kingdom surrounded by a magic-resistant spell. While some people wish to break the spell and invite magic back into the country, the fanatical sect of Cleaners is determined to prevent the return of magic. Darin doesn’t agree with the Cleaners’ doctrine but he doesn’t dispute it either. He is a soldier, not a philosopher. Then he accidentally overhears the Cleaners’ hidden agenda to destroy all magic workers in Talaria, including witches and elves, and his orderly life is turned upside down. His sweetheart is a witch, his daughter is a half-elf, and he has many elven friends. He can’t allow the Cleaners’ murderous scheme to succeed, can’t allow innocents to suffer from the rabid zealots. But what can a lone mercenary do against a horde of extremists? His only choice lies in trickery and deceit to outsmart his enemies. And the anti-magic spell on the border suddenly becomes his only ally.

Can one man change the fate of an entire country?

Darin knows that the odds are against him when he decides to take on the traitorous sect of Cleaners, but he absolutely cannot ignore a plot that would endanger his country and the people he loves. Darin abhors the Cleaners and their agenda. He’ll do whatever he can to stop them, even at the cost of his own life.

Darin exemplifies what a true hero should be. He is smart, brave, and fierce when he needs to be. However, he is also kind and considerate. He’s the sort of man who stands up for those in need and does not tolerate bullying of any kind. I particularly like that he treats others with respect and generally tries to give others the benefit of the doubt. While Darin always strives to do the right thing, he does have moments when he is selfish, rash, or makes poor decisions that cost him dearly. These flaws only serve to make Darin a wonderfully well rounded character. Perhaps the thing I like most about Darin is his genuine appreciation of life and the world around him. Darin’s time as a mercenary hasn’t hardened him. His curiosity and delight in discovering and learning new things was a pleasure to watch. I would be proud to call him my friend.

I love the world that Ms. Godim has created. As I followed Darin on his journeys, I could clearly see all the places he traveled through. I particularly like the description of Neazdal, a city where elves live. “Every house…glowed with its own color. The number of different shades was unbelievable…The colors blended in the middle, coalescing into each other. Violet transformed into gold, azure into dawn-pink, malachite into orange.” With descriptive language like this, Ms. Godim painted a picture of an absolutely breathtaking city that I dearly wish I could visit.

The pacing of Eagle En Garde is excellent. There is plenty of page turning action and adventure, but Ms. Godim sprinkles in some slower moments throughout the story when Darin spends time with loved ones or simply needs to recover after his many battles. The mix of the mundane and the epic gives this fantasy a realistic feel.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eagle En Garde. Darin is a great character, and I had so much fun following him on his adventures. I must admit that I was a little sad when I finished reading. I hope that Ms. Godim has plans for a sequel because I wasn’t quite ready to leave Darin and the beautiful world of Talaria behind. I highly recommend Eagle En Garde to anyone looking for a compelling and engaging tale of adventure.

Asbury Dark: Haunting Tales from the Jersey Shore by Lori Bonfitto

PARK
Asbury Dark: Haunting Tales from the Jersey Shore by Lori Bonfitto
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary, Horror, Holiday
Length: Full Length (236 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A telekinetic teenager. A doomed ocean liner. A haunted bed & breakfast. A zombie-fighting real estate developer. These are but a few of the eerie people, places and things that go bump in the pages of Asbury Dark: Haunting Tales from the Jersey Shore.

Spanning six decades, Asbury Dark will thrill and delight anyone who’s ever ridden the rides on the fabled boardwalk, searched for Bruce at The Stone Pony, or shambled along in the Zombie March.

Mystery and suspense author Lori Bonfitto delivers seven unforgettable tales of fright and fantasy, transforming Asbury Park from a nostalgic playland into a world fraught with obsession, reincarnation, and the paranormal.

Get ready to be scared.

“Dead and Breakfast” shows what happens when a woman teams up with her cousin and his friend to flip an old house. Few things go as planned when home renovations are mixed with a fickle real estate market. I was surprised by how many plot twists I didn’t see coming in this one. They all make perfect sense based on what I’d figured out about the characters. This is the kind of storytelling that keeps me coming back for more.

Some stories in this collection were much longer than I expected them to be, especially “Harbinger.” In it a businessman who is putting off his retirement sees something terrifying on his morning commute that is invisible to everyone else around him. His attempts to figure out what he’s seeing and why no one else can see it kept me guessing until the end. The premise would have worked equally well expanded into a novel or contracted into something that only takes up a few pages. It would have been slightly less scary but still satisfying in the shorter version due to what would have needed to be cut out. The novella format didn’t leave quite enough room to fully explore all of the themes that are included. This pattern repeated itself a few different times and was my major reason for not selecting a higher rating.

If I had to pick one favorite, it would be “Waves.” The plot follows a couple named Denise and Steve whose young daughter has begun remembering things she couldn’t possibly know. I had an inkling of what might be going on fairly quickly, but the dialogue was so entertaining that I didn’t mind knowing what was happening so soon. Strong, even pacing also kept my interest high. The incredible ending is what really made a fan of this tale though!

I’d recommend Asbury Dark: Haunting Tales from the Jersey Shore to anyone who likes a little social commentary mixed in with their science fiction.

The Endless Land: A Continuing Tale of Fantasy, Lies and Rebellion by Rob Gregson

 

LAND
The Endless Land: A Continuing Tale of Fantasy, Lies and Rebellion by Rob Gregson
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (370 Pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

The trouble with riding off into the sunset is that it very quickly goes dark.

In this, the second and final part of ‘The Written World’, Myrah and her only-sometimes-intrepid friends discover that averting wars, surviving demonic encounters and evading the clutches of determinedly genocidal relatives is no guarantee of a simpler, easier life.

Ahead of our three reluctant adventurers lie barbarians, pirates and the dark, ineffable power of the Incubus Beast. In pursuit are a rebel army, a great war fleet and a rival horde of murderous wizards. All in all, then, the future looks unlikely to be dull. There will be fire, there will brimstone and there will be occasional bouts of seasickness.

Nevertheless, if Myrah, Nev and the mighty Alaethar are ever to uncover the truth about their worryingly obscured histories, then they must press on and find their way to the remote and suitably mysterious Diegesis Gate. But seeking the truth can be a dangerous business; in a world of fantasy, there is only one Ultimate Truth and discovering it can spell the end of everything.

If you love books that are exciting, funny, and make you think, then this is the book for you. Myrah, Nev, and Alaethar try to uncover the truth about their various histories, which requires them to find the Diegesis Gate. But in the end, discovering the truth might lead to the end of their world. Still, Myrah wants to know and in a discussion with her friends about their mysterious past histories, she says, “But what if it went further than that? Not just this history but every history? What if none of it was real?” Nev, the augur, answers, “Oh, well then there are only thoughts,” put in Nev, who clearly felt as though he was on home territory with this one. “That’s all you can really know to be real.”

Alaethar is the mighty warrior with little bent for philosophy, so Nev always confuses him and Myrah frequently does as well. But they are his friends and he learns to trust them even when what they’re saying makes no sense to him at all.

And so the three friends journey onwards, finding notes and clues from their past histories, meeting lady pirates and murderous barbarians. Obstacle after obstacles come their way, but they keep going, certain that eventually they will find the ultimate truth.

The Endless Land is the sequel to Unreliable Histories, and while it can be read as a stand-alone, I personally think it is better to start with the first book. After all, who would want to miss a moment of this series. Many questions will be answered and many more left unanswered. If you have ever wondered what happened to your favorite characters after the book is finished, well, then, you’ll definitely want to join Myrah, Nev, and Alaethar as they work to discover the answer to that very question.

Fantasy lovers who enjoy philosophical mind games as well as great characters with many adventures and a healthy dash of humor are sure to fine The Endless Land to be completely delightful.

The Star Catcher by Molly Dean

STAR
The Star Catcher by Molly Dean
Publisher: Wild Child Publshing
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery, YA
Length: Full Length (239 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When fifteen year-old Hawke feels fed up with not being able to walk, he escapes in his mind to a misty island filled with moorlands, ancient forests, and monolithic stones: a place where he can move and run and accomplish heroic quests.

His life is turned upside down, though, when he’s thrust into this dream world and finds it real! He becomes ‘Star Catcher.’ The job? Track and collect shooting stars or meteors sent from a more advanced civilization, which have powers that protect the island from approaching evil. He finds many helpers along the way: a serving girl who can communicate with animals and create light, an alluring mermaid, a savvy one-eyed crow, and an old farmer with a secret.

Hawke must also discover what’s going on inside the imposing mansion called Moon House. Why do rooms change? Why do objects mysteriously shift? Who lives inside the old forest behind the place—and why is the Star Catcher forbidden to enter it? And most importantly, who are Hawke and his stars really battling against? An evil genius? A pirate-like group called the Shrikers who have taken over the island? An Ancient Magic? Or, maybe an aspect of himself?

Hawke’s life sucks – his legs are paralyzed, he’s confined to his bed, his father has left, his mother is unhappy and trying to find solace. Hawke escapes the real world and dives into a world of dreams where he becomes the star catcher. He has to catch five stars as they fall from the sky – one every other day – and when he has caught the last star the magic will return to the strange land.

The world of Hawke’s dreams is very well thought out and each trip to find a star is like a different jewel in a necklace. Similar but each an individual in its own right. Hawke is typical of a young teenage boy but Emma, the girl servant at the Moon House, has several different facets to her character. Evil is easy to recognize as it comes in the guise of the Shrikers and Facsimiles but working out who the good guys are takes a little more time.

This story has a smattering of various animals, humans and mythical creatures. They confuse, assist or act against Hawke and as the reader I never knew which way each character would go.

I found this book to be very attention grabbing. At first it dragged a little but once Hawke started his travels in the other world I had to keep reading to see what happened next. While not the usual mystery and adventure, this fantasy certainly has a hint of magic, mystery and adventure. All make this a worthwhile read.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Monster on Top of the Bed by Alan H. Jordan

BED
The Monster on Top of the Bed by Alan H. Jordan
Publisher: Jordan Press
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (36 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Both Karrit and Suzy want to go to bed without being afraid, but when the lights go off at bedtime, the world is a scary place.

Then, Karrit visits Suzy . . . to make friends with “the monster” that had been scaring him.

Suzy is scared, but treats him the way that she would like to be treated. They both use Suzy’s grandmother’s mantra:
You’re welcome to stay, until I say “nay” Then, you’ve got to go, and You can’t say no.

There are no scary Halloween monsters in The Monster on Top of th Bed, and it doesn’t have destructive aspects like a monster truck jam. It won’t make your kid stay up at night like monster energy drinks. In fact, The Monster on Top of The Bed quells night fears, and makes it easy for children to fall asleep, unafraid. Karrit, the monster below the bed, doesn’t look like it, but he’s a substitute for a bedtime bear.

It’s hard to go to sleep when you hear funny noises coming from underneath the bed.

I’m a big fan of puns, alliterations, and other forms of wordplay, so this story was right up my alley. By far my favourite section involved what Suzy says to Karrit just after they meet for the first time. The rhyming schemes were all so much fun that I actually ended up going back and rereading the whole thing. It worked just as well the second time around.

This picture book switches among a few different fonts as the plot progresses. Most of them were easy to read and worked well with the illustrations, but I did have occasional trouble figuring out where one word ended and the next one began with the most flowery of the fonts. It was visually interesting, but a simpler style would have worked better for reading everything aloud.

The discussion questions at the end are well worth checking out. One of them pointed out a detail in the plot that I’d overlooked, and another one made me flip back a few pages to see if my response to it was correct. It was also amusing to think about potential answers to the questions that were open-ended. I’d imagine that the response to them could change every time, which would make rereading this tale even more rewarding for families that revisit it often.

The Monster on Top of the Bed made me smile. This is a good choice for anyone in the market for something fun to read at bedtime.

Silent Circle by Cassandra Larsen

CIRCLE
Silent Circle by Cassandra Larsen
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Short Story (138 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

“Most teens get a car for their seventeenth birthday. Me? I get inducted into a freaky coven of witches.”

When Emerson wakes up on her seventeenth birthday, she has no idea that her life will change forever.

After her mother’s inexplicable suicide three years ago, she’s gotten used to the scorn and sideways looks of her classmates. She knows everyone thinks her mother was crazy, and that it’s only a matter of time before Emerson cracks herself. So when Emerson starts seeing things and hearing voices, she begins to think that the rest of the town may be right. That is, until Caiden, an enigmatic guy from her class, tells her that she’s a witch, just like her mother.

But when Emerson nearly kills a girl at a party, she discovers just how dangerous these powers can be. Now it’s up to Caiden to train her before she hurts anyone else.

Most teens get a car for their seventeenth birthday. Me? I get inducted into a freaky coven of witches.

The first sentence of the book describes the story perfectly. First in this series the scene is set, and the characters are truly believable for the setting. There was enough mystery to attract my interest and Emerson, the heroine and trainee witch, had the usual angst of a seventeen year old. What she really needs is to find out why her mother committed suicide. Or did she?

Sebastian, her boyfriend shows jealousy but something about him doesn’t seem quite right. Is he hiding his true self? I believe I solved this by the end of the book, but won’t give my solution here as it would be a spoiler.

Caiden, the witch trainer, is the cause of Sebastian’s jealousy and Emerson feels her boyfriend’s being unreasonable. Caiden could be a love interest, but Emerson has too much going on in her life to concentrate on anyone but Sebastian.

So why do I only give this a 4.5 rating? This is due to the missing words in the text and incorrect grammar throughout the book. If this could be sorted out with a good editing I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a five.

Well done Ms Larsen, I look forward to reading the second book which you gave a preview of at the end of this one.

Chicken River Dance by A.N. Irvano

CHICKEN
Chicken River Dance by A.N. Irvano
Publisher: Falling Horse Books
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (242 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Young members of Ryan’s family are killed and he follows an inherent need to crush the crooks that run the killings. He is aided by Cecilia, a girl he has been getting to know for months and her mother, a shaman. Life in the Oakland projects can not move on until the extraordinary and unreal events are able to be questioned. Buoyed by the cultures, conversations, and characters of the people in it, small cultures can survive when small criminals exist.He lets his life’s losses carry him to find that not everything, if anything, can be revolutionized or bettered in this life and time of the American West.

Justice doesn’t always happen automatically. Sometimes you have to seek it out.

At first I wasn’t quite sure what I thought of Ryan. His emotional response to a family tragedy early on in the plot wasn’t at all what I would have expected from anyone who had just experienced such a terrible event. He was clearly incredibly smart and thoughtful, but it wasn’t until the author explained the reasons behind his reluctance to express his feelings that I really came to like this character. Every question I had about him in the beginning was answered in full, and I enjoyed watching his development over the course of this novel.

It would have been helpful to have more detailed introductions of the secondary characters. The actual number of them was just right for something this length, but so little time was spent explaining how everyone was connected to Ryan that it took me a while to put all of the pieces together. It was most confusing when I was trying to figure out who was and was not related to him.

The romantic subplot caught me by surprise due to how quickly it happened. The chemistry between the characters involved in it was strong, though, and seeing how both of them reacted to falling in love added depth to their personalities that would not have otherwise been there. It ended up working quite well with everything else that was going on in this tale.

I would have also liked to see more differentiation between the voices of the various characters. Everyone tended to use the same patterns of speech no matter who they were or what circumstances they found themselves in. The dialogue itself was often poetic. It was especially well suited to Ryan’s personality when he was describing his surroundings or remembering something, but the formality of it was out of place during the most exciting scenes.

Some philosophical questions are much easier to answer than are others. Ryan’s startling self-awareness for someone his age lead to a much deeper analysis of the meaning of life than I was expecting when I started the first chapter. It was especially interesting to see what Ryan had to say about social justice and the tension between the needs of individuals versus the needs of their communities.

Chicken River Dance is the kind of story that I’d recommend to teens and adult readers alike.

Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

GRETL
Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville
Publisher: Penguin Imprint – Hamish Hamilton
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (358 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Daisy

A dark, distinctive and addictively compelling novel set in fin-de-siècle Vienna and Nazi Germany—with a dizzying final twist.

Vienna, 1899. Josef Breuer—celebrated psychoanalyst—is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings—to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people,’ so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed. . . .

Gretel and the Dark is a strange mixture of genres. Historical, fantastical and sometimes sadly romantic, it keeps the reader yearning for more details of its protagonist’s life, right up until the end. There are three distinct time periods which make up the narrative of the book. One is in the past, one the assumed present and one becomes the new, later, present towards the end of the book. It becomes apparent as the pages go by that these narratives are intertwined. Fairytale links help to support this, as well as the similarities in characters.

The protagonist in this book does not have an easy ride and this is not a traditional romance by any means. There are some romantic elements but these are often sad, seemingly impossible, or darkly one-sided. The main character faces paedophilia and cases where men much older are keen to be intimate with her. However, these implications are subtly done and not too graphic to read. They are along the lines of saying the man placed his hand on her bum and forgot to remove it or that he touched under her skirt where the woman said no man should. These instances are by no means present throughout the whole book but it is a recurring theme in light of the historical time period the main character experienced.

The novel covers the time period of Hitler, pre-Hitler and post genocide. The protagonist and her love interest are the main sweet romantic thread. They make it through horrific scenarios together and come out stronger but this is not a tale which ends in marriage and kids. The ending reminded me of the bitter-sweet movie PS I love you; even though it didn’t end in death, it made me tear up. This is not a feel-good novel.

The fantastical elements consist of the protagonist’s imaginings and fairytales or old wive’s tales remembered from her youth and threaded into the narrative. In one case this was used repetitively to imply the rape of the protagonist as a child by older men to avoid any graphic descriptions. However, this is also used to show the child’s shaky grip on reality and their need to escape it for a better world, where she can make a difference to the outcome of her life. The fairytales may be dark but they hold the determination of a strong woman, prepared to battle the monster behind her misfortunes.

I gave this book 4.5 stars because, despite all the strong thematical links and historical references, the beginning of the book was too full on. Too many fantastical references were thrown at the reader at once. I would have preferred a slower opening. I also found that I did not pick up on the historical links until much later in the book. Someone thinking along more historical lines would have made the connection a lot earlier but because nothing like this was mentioned in the prologue, I assumed this was merely a dark tale based upon a fairytale, with no real life, historical links.

However, I believe a reader will feel the emotional pulls of history through this book, following in the footsteps of a character full of hope, obstinance and determination to survive and have her own way. She can be too stroppy, as most children can, but she makes it through terrible times off her own back and, through her, I had a peep hole into history I could never have experienced first hand.

Glodwyn’s Treasure Chest by L. Sydney Abel, Helen Alexander, Janice Clark, Penny Estelle, Mary Filmer, Elizabeth Grace, Vincent Noot, Esma Race, Wesley Tallant, Michael Thal, B. Well, Gary Winstead

CHEST
Glodwyn’s Treasure Chest by L. Sydney Abel, Helen Alexander, Janice Clark, Penny Estelle, Mary Filmer, Elizabeth Grace, Vincent Noot, Esma Race, Wesley Tallant, Michael Thal, B. Well, Gary Winstead
Publisher: Crimson Cloak Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (39 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Glodwyn’s Treasure Chest contains twelve charming short stories for children, collected by a gnome.
With fairy stories, “dragons” and alligators, time-travelling children, a Firehouse Dog and a Pony which refuses to be ridden, there is something for everyone in this gem of a book.

It began as a way for authors to introduce people to their work, and was intended to be distributed free. In order to reach catalogues which do not accept free books, it was decided to make a charge on such platforms but donate all monies received to charity. The charity chosen for “Glodwyn’s Treasure Chest”, was the World Literacy Foundation (http://www.worldliteracyfoundation.org/) They are an international charity which recognizes the link between literacy and conquering poverty, ill health and practices such as child marriage, and seeks to help with basic literacy skills through clever use of modern technology and cloud computing. Why not download the book and enjoy these charming stories, then donate to the World Literacy Foundation’s work and help children around the world to read themselves towards a better life!

Story time is one of the most relaxing parts of the day.

One of my favourite selections was “The Dragon Said Moo.” In it a boy named Daniel must entertain his two young, impressionable cousins on the family farm while their parents discuss adult matters indoors. Daniel’s solution to this problem is incredibly creative and memorable. I really enjoyed this one and could see it becoming part of a series if the author has any interest in expanding it.

There were a few missteps along the way. “Curiosity and the Two Princesses” begins with a girl named Viola who is reluctantly being taken to a playdate with one of her classmates, Curiosity. The premise of their adventures is well-developed, but the plot soon takes a turn that I found far too dark for the age group for which it was intended. “The Cute Family Go Ballooning” also needed to be adjusted. The illustration that accompanied it was bright and colorful, but the plot itself was barely developed at all. It felt like the description of a children’s book instead of a complete short story.

“The Pony No-one Could Ride” shows one family’s attempt to tame a pony for their son. The descriptions of daily life on a ranch used just enough detail to sketch out the hardships of working outdoors with large animals over many years. What I liked the most about it, though, was its incredibly wide range of appeal. The conflict is serious enough to keep the attention of older kids and adults, but it can also easily be shared with preschoolers.

It was difficult to pick an age recommendation for this anthology because the tales in it are written for children as young as two and as old as six or seven. The wide range of styles and topics is fascinating, but there is material here that is too scary for preschoolers. It would be a good idea to preview the longer ones in particular before sharing them with very young or sensitive children.

Glodwyn’s Treasure Chest is a unique collection that I’d recommend to anyone who is interested in a book that will grow alongside a family for several years.