Book review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio (9780375899881)

I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid…I know ordinary kids don’t make other kids run away screaming in playgrounds.  I know ordinary kids don’t get scared at wherever they go.  My name is August, by the way, I won’t describe what I look like.  Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August may not look like an ordinary kid, but he loves to do things that ordinary kids like to do such as play games, joke with friends, and do things with family.  He was born with a facial malformation and has undergone extensive, painful surgeries that have eventually improved many factors of this life.  However, the kids at his new school don’t understand why August is different.  As August says, “They were just being normal dumb kids.

You see August has been home schooled by his mother all his life and his parents finally decided that it may be beneficial for August to go to school and try to interact with kids his own age.   At first, he wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but he made a few friends and he really liked going to school, until he runs into some problems that may change his mind.

This book is ultimately about August and how life effects him and is not only written in his point of view, but in other points of view such as his sister Via, his new friend Jack and Summer and others he meets on the way which are very important to the story as well.

How can I express my feelings for this book?  It is funny, moving and thought provoking.  It is wonderfully written and the characters are real.  I recommend that everyone of all ages read this book and hopefully it will make you reflect on your life and how you feel about yourself and others.  One could only hope to become the person that August is.  August is cool beans!

Thank you to R.J. Palacio, Random House Children’s Books and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.   Ms. Palacio’s blog is at is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other bookstores.

Book review: Sidikiba’s Kora Lesson by Ryan Thomas Skinner (9781592982424)

This is the story of a young boy named Sidikiba who lives in a small town in West Africa.  He is the descendant of Jeli Mady Wuleng who, as Maude legend says, was a bard and storyteller who discovered the kora.  The kora is a harp played by the Maude people of West Africa. When Sidikiba finds his father’s gift of a new kora, he is told it is time to carry on the tradition to play for his people.   Sidikiba learns not only to be patient and to practice playing his kora every day, but he learns that he must honor and respect his elders as well as trust in his own abilities.

This is a children’s book full of wonderful illustrations created by the author, a glossary with pronunciations in the back for several highlighted African words throughout the text, and most importantly it has a CD by Sidiki Diabate (the author’s real-life inspiration for the book) who plays the kora.  Within the book are areas marked when to play the tracks from the CD to go along with the songs in the storyline.

A well-written and well- illustrated book that all cultures should read.  It is an inspiring and uplifting book that includes family, mystical secrets and most of all, music.

Thank you to Ryan Skinner and Bostick Communications for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Book review: Viva Cisco by Patrick Shannon (9781432730376)

The imaginary town of Topopootl lies in a hidden valley of a faraway mountain, deep in the heart of Mexico.  This town is filled with animals of all shapes and sizes who live together in harmony away from their human enemy.  The story is about Cisco the Parrot , the Answer Man at the Topopootl Public Library, who is bored with his job and wants to be famous.  The book is in three parts or short stories which tell about Cisco’s adventures with his friends who range from pigs, bears, fish eagles and even cockroaches.

This is a children’s book with a unique story based in the forests of Mexico.  The characters are vibrant, funny and clever and the skunk story is especially funny.  One factor I found inconsistent was that  in parts of the book they referred to Cisco’s wings as arms, but in other parts it was correct.  Other than that  I found the stories to be fun and interesting and I think children would enjoy Cisco’s misadventures.