Children's Book Reviews

Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh, How I Love Fantasy and Adventure Stories!

I know I haven't written in a long time. That doesn't mean I haven't kept reading and enjoying children's books. It's just that I've been very busy working on 3 of my own. However, I couldn't pass up reviewing this series of books by Asya Pekurovskaya. Here are my reviews of books one & two. Look for more to come out in the series.

Spark, The Stone Man,Book One

Ah, a fantasy story in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Anderson, and J. R. R. Tolkein written by Russian author Asya Pekurovskaya and lovingly, creatively illustrated by Olga Titova! Spark the Stone Man lives on Granite Mountain, but he has dreams of adventure and of becoming a sculptor rather than just a traditional stonemason. When he discovers that there is a Coveted Path down to Lemon Drop Valley and that the secret is in his feet, he becomes, like all heroes on a journey, too tempted not to go down and explore. Once there, he is amazed by the sights, colors, smells, and varied inhabitants including a beautiful Yuska named Stella. Spark finds a magical machine, a wizard, friends, and intrigues in Lemon Drop Valley, but in the end he despairs that he will ever be able to go back down again as the King of Granite Mountain wants to de-magnetize the Coveted Path.

The hard back book is in 8 ½ x 11 format that is easy to handle and read. The illustrations in rich color and action beautifully enhance the text. It’s a treat to find such abundant illustrations in a middle grade book. The prose is exciting and leads the young reader deeper into the story. The author isn’t afraid to use detailed descriptions and “bigger” words for children to absorb as they learn, perhaps thinking they are only enjoying a story. The last sentence in the book reads, “Also, the author promises you that as soon as the book you hold in your hands has been read eighteen times, the new book will be waiting for you on the bedside table.” This is a promise well-kept for the young readers 8 – 13 years who will relish a fantasy, adventure series just for them as the second book is now out in publication, Spark, The Stone Man, Book Two. Teachers in grades 3 to 8 can use the book to read aloud, promote language development, enact, and use as a jump-start to creative writing. There are also Russian versions for bi-lingual learning.

ISBN: 978-0-9828487-1-5

Spark, The Stone Man, Book Two

As promised this second book, Spark, the Stone Man in the series by Asya Pekurovskaya, deepens the adventures and dangers involving Spark, the citizens of Lemon Drop Valley, and especially Stella the Yushka who Spark tries to save from the attack by the Volchaks. In despair he wants to give up ever being in Lemon Drop Valley, but he knows he must carry on helping Stella and his friends, yet complying with the secrets of Granite Mountain. At the end of the book, he’s afraid he’s made things even worse.

This second book follows a more complicated plot than the first. The young reader will delight in following Spark’s further adventures. As in the first book, the illustrations richly enhance the story. Perhaps, in class or at home, the young child can be encouraged to design and illustrate maps and scenes of his own as well as dramatize the story. She can use the books as a jump start to her own creative writing. There is also a Russian version for bi-lingual learning. The website has further suggestions for the classroom. Also, based on the books, there can be an e-mail or snail mail pen pal exchange with young people in Russia. This book is a must on any home or classroom library shelf.

ISBN: 978-0982848739


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