The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher: By MOLLY BANG

Book Review

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This book is a prime example to express how art can be used as a medium for education or for children’s healthy entertainment in an exceptional style.

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Book: The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Genre: Children’s Book

Author: MOLLY BANG

Aladdin Paperbacks

An imprint of Simon & Schuster

First Aladdin Paperbacks edition May 1996

Book Review: The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher is a picture story book of 24 pages with two central characters – one is the Strawberry Snatcher who is drawn as having a blue coloured, thin body with long limbs wrapped in a clothing of bright green with base of red and wearing an awkward purple hat, the entire figure of the strawberry snatcher is uncanny still amusing; and the other is the Grey Lady with a big body and with grey hair, wearing a fully covered grey coat, this figure resembles a clever, gratified grandma.

This book is a set of painting art-works with loud colours, the pictures are in rapid sequence; a few drawings combine  to  express two or more sequence of the story at one instance, a few others is fascinating mix of similar colours where the observer of the story has to search to spot one of the characters in the picture – and this is done with matching the background colour of the picture with the colour of the clothing of one of the central characters.

 

Yes, the story is about the peculiar looking strawberry snatcher who follows the grey lady to snatch her basket full of strawberries — this is a witty story and an intellectual  piece of art which makes it more appropriate for children of 7 years and above to appreciate – more so for visual learners or for children who have an aptitude  for creative skill like painting.

 

Academic Use: This book can be  valuable  as a conversation piece for children of 8 to 10 years; two children  can give voice-over to the two characters, the dialogues between the characters will vary according to the individuality of the children yet the conversation has to inflexibly be within the picture description of the story, this activity can also mark the growth of children’s intellectual and language ability.

 

Author: Molly Garrett Bang is an American illustrator. For her illustration of children’s books she has been a runner-up for the American Caldecott Medal three times and for the British Greenaway Medal once.


Amazon link: The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang


Twitter: @mirandapresence

No Talking – By Andrew Clements

Book Review

Author: Andrew Clements has written more than fifty books for children, including the award-winning, multimillion-copy bestseller Frindle.

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Book – No Talking

Genre – Children’s Literature

Author – Andrew Clements

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

First paperback edition June 2009

Book Review: Dave Packer had to prepare a report on the history of India to give a presentation for five minutes or less for his social studies class, just some basic facts on anything related to India, he found the most interesting section on India was about how it became independent and thought the most interesting person in the story of India’s independence was Mahatma Gandhi – in one of the books, he read this about Gandhi:

For many years, one day each week Gandhi did not speak at all. Gandhi believed this was a way to bring order to his mind.

Dave wondered what that meant, “to bring order to his mind”, could something as simple as not talking change the way your mind worked? … this belief seemed to have been good for Gandhi; would not talking make him smarter?  So Dave decided to give this philosophy a try, to effort to keep his mouth shut all day on Monday, but giving this report in his social studies class on Monday would ruin his experiment … How would he cope with his experiment of “No Talking” for a day? How could this philosophy help Dave of fifth grade?

The story develops to discover the influence of Dave’s experiment – first as a personal goal of Dave which later transpires as a contest for two days between the students of the fifth grade as Boys vs. Girls, with a set of rules to follow; how the teachers deal with the peculiar situation on the first day of the contest, how the teachers involve themselves in this contest on the second day to appreciate the concept’s novel approach in the teaching and learning process.

 

As per my grasp of the story, the source of this story is founded on research discoveries of the concept – “No Talking”, executed in a school; the scheme of the narrative is purposely kept entertaining so as to captivate the curious mind of a child – which expresses about the author’s commendable story telling ability with a challenging storyline to narrate specifically to children. The concept and the clever narration  of the story is more appropriate  for children of 10 years and above to comprehend and appreciate, and at a leisurely pace a child probably  will take less than a week’s time to finish reading this book. The theme of the story is essentially based in a school background thus incudes a lot of names of students and teachers which could bring a trace of confusion in a young mind while reading.

 

 “No Talking” as an activity in school is a practical concept with many constructive benefits towards a child’s holistic development, as revealed in the book – this activity can be carried out in schools for 1 day, for at least 2 times in an academic year, for children above 10 years; for teachers this book caters as an useful resource book for planning this activity.


Amazon link: No Talking by Andrew Clements


Stolen by Lesley Pearse

Book Review

This novel gives the impression to be factual account of a real life incident or combination of several real life incidents, woven stylishly by an intoxicating story-telling from a chic writer—Lesley Pearse.

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Stolen:-

Author –  Lesley Pearse

Published in Penguin Books 2010

Book Review: A woman in her mid-twenties, with brutally cropped blonde hair and with purple marks on her wrists and ankles as if she’d been restrained, is found half drowned on the beach at Selsey. She is taken to a hospital in Chichester, she is weak, suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion, but her loss of memory is the most troubling aspect, her trauma the reason for the amnesia.

Dale Moore, a beautician in a spa at a Hotel near Brighton recognizes her to be her friend, Lotte Wainwright,  a hairdresser on the cruise ship they worked together fourteen months ago … the story leads to a sequence of ruthless realities.

The plot of the story is disturbing and may cause some readers distress; the horribleness of a parent is sourced as the primary factor of the protagonist’s misery, causing the young protagonist to get trapped into a tormenting situation. This story also breaks the myth of stereotypical friendship and also the myth of clichés relating to family bond.

The author’s effort in describing all the trivial things to present the reader with an enchanting experience, and with an in-depth analysis of the characters of the story along with the descriptive narration of the grief-stricken situation of the protagonist is in empathetic regard; however the reader may find the story draggy especially at the concluding chapters.

This novel, however lengthy a reader may find it to be, is worth a read from readers of 18 years and above; and shines forth with the supreme ability of the  writer in sequencing the events intelligently to rouse the reader with curiosity and also for narrating the gloomy plot of the story with sensible brighter shades of writing.


Amazon link: Stolen by Lesley Pearse


Readers of this blog are welcome to recommend any fiction novel (Genre: mystery, romance, science fiction/fantasy, suspense/thriller, realistic fiction, historical fiction, young adult, children’s literature) in English language for book review – I prefer to read novels in paperback format, share your thoughts through the comment section of this Blog: mirandavoice.com or tweet at twitter.com/mirandapresence

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The Shepherd

Near a meadow of a hamlet …

A vegetable hawker irately halted his nearly empty cart near a meadow of a hamlet, where a flock of sheep were grazing in the early afternoon as a farmer’s boy watched them

“Did you bunk off school? And where is your father? He hasn’t supplied any vegetables since the past week.” the worried hawker furiously questioned him.

“My father is in the city to work as a daily wage labourer, he said that he’s deep  in debt”, replied the happy-go-lucky young lad by spontaneously spinning a long stick in mid-air.

His charcoal composition …

… With the blend of shadow and light.

Their eyes met in ardent gleam, in the eventide.

She wore an off- shoulder, blue silk gown; with an elegant broad-brimmed bonnet secured by ribbons tied in a neat bow.

She took off her bonnet …                                                 

Her hair was piled in a pompadour with clusters of curls over the chiselled jawline of her arresting face.

Unlocked her mane, and then freed her voluminous garment.

With the blend of shadow and light he painted her in his charcoal composition, on the white canvas.

The Hues amid the Grove and Prairie

Reyna and Irina had come for a trek in the vast hectares of a beautiful patchwork of deciduous woodland and grassland, bountiful with diverse flora and fauna, nestled in a loop of a river …

Irina scattered the dried mud covered with leaves with her foot, “Reyna, I cannot find your pearl stud, are you sure you have dropped your earring here?”

“Hmm”, she responded inaudibly engrossed in the search brushing the top layer of the mud with the stroke of her hand when an uncommon wood white butterfly orbited her to distract her, and settled on the tip of her ring finger, stooping over the ground she froze, stunned watching the insect’s beauty, with her attractive eyes observing the miniature scale of the creamy-white invertebrate with grey tips and in a jiffy it fluttered its fragile wings with grey veins to vanish amid the woods across a spring-fed stream.

“Shhh, we are in the midst of woodland”, Irina mumbled to the jubilantly whirling Reyna and fearfully squealed “Eek”, when a sandy-brown coat, wood mice crossed from over her feet, she stumbled back and  fell hard on her ass to blow the toppled dark green, wavy-edged leaves; to outrageously howlWahoo!” in joy on noticing a red-breasted robin  at the end of a low, gnarled, massive main branch  of a tall magnificent pedunculate oak – the king of trees with a broad, irregular crown and a grey and fissured bark.

“Reyna, see!”, she impatiently hollered raising her eyebrows to tilt her head towards the end of a long stalk with brown and spherical flowers in small bunches along with whitish-green egg-shaped acorns of the oak above her, where the robin was settled, Reyna quickly removed her binoculars from her backpack to watch the robin with orange breast and whitish belly take flight in the sunbeam veiled with nets of branches. 

Reyna and Irina had come for a trek in the vast hectares of a beautiful patchwork of deciduous woodland and grassland, bountiful with diverse flora and fauna, nestled in a loop of a river.

As she looked through her binoculars she spotted several pairs of great tits with white cheek patches, yellow breast and black bib, ringing “tink-tink” on the branches, layered by sparsely toothed leaves and dotted with yellow-green blooms of the spring, of a  beech with shiny and silver-grey bark.  

All of a sudden, Irina saw a small, stocky rodent with round muzzle, red-brown fur and a tail about half as long as its body with Reyna’s pearl stud, “Ha-ha, the bank vole has your stud in his mouth”, Irina chortled. “Uh-huh, the poor rodent must have mistaken the stud for a blackberry”, Reyna giggled as she raced after the vole, the creature amazingly ran rapidity through the lush surface hemmed by long, thorny, arching shoots of bramble bushes laden with wild blackberries; to swim across a small pond full with olive green frogs haphazardly swimming in the dark water and hopping on the rocks on the pond’s surface; to hide in a burrow adjacent to a towering ash tree.

Flabbergasted, Irina and Reyna stood athwart the tree to gaze at the spectacle of a group of redstarts, brightly coloured in various combinations of red, blue, white, and black, flapping their wings among the branches of the ash tree encrusted with twigs of compound leaves and dangling samaras.  

“Phew, the damn bank vole is in love with the stud”, winked Irina. “You bet!” muttered Reyna to thump the bark of the ash tree in annoyance and shrieked,Yikes to flight a distance away and squawked, “A wolf spider is on its bark!” to make Irina stride in fright towards Reyna and the bank vole to gallop out of its burrow with the stud.

They soon started plodding after the galloping creature, the vole drop the stud on the base of a sycamore to meander among the carpets of nodding, sweet-scented, violet-blue, bluebells. On one of the whimsically twisted branch of the sycamore Reyna spotted an enormous bee-hive manifestly visible among the tree’s green canopy, and swiftly stumbled Irena’s relaxed gait in the direction of the tree; “Bee’s love flowers”, she vivaciously stated to angle her head towards the hive at Irina’s scowl.   

Unexpectedly and weirdly, they spotted a seemingly proud fallow deer with broad, shovel-shaped antlers stomping from the carpets of bluebells to halt near the tree, to pick Reyna’s pearl stud. The buck ran a yard away with Irina and Reyna in pursuit, to delicately drop the stud near the foot of a tree with a naturally formed hollow in its trunk; in which a pair of barn owls stood pepping out their heart-shaped, white face. “Ooh, that was the last thing I ever imagined, my pearl stud fallen near the nest of owls”; all of a sudden from the multi-coloured horizon a red-breasted robin appeared, and picked the pearl stud by her beak to place it on a small rock near Reyna.

“Is this a fantasy land?” Irina reacted in delight.

“It is”, Reyna responded in awe.             

The Secrets of My Goldfish

“Pat, do you want a know a top-secret of mine”, eight year old Betty chirped from high between the ground and shade of the oak …

Beneath the spirally arranged leaves of a majestic oak tree, which rose commandingly on the surround of a lake; Betty and Pat were seated on the wooden plank of their swings suspended by ropes from the tree’s branch on either side; pumping the swings by firmly holding the ropes to kick the sky to move forward, to hide and tuck their legs like a turtle to move back.  

Their swings swayed back and forth like pendulums on either side of the tree, in opposite motion to meet at the midst of the trunk , quivering the wandered lobate margin leaves of the tree with the wallop of their wave on the heath, fronting the lake which reflected the adjoining green foliage along its curvy confines in its sapphire water.

“Pat, do you want a know a top-secret of mine”, eight year old Betty chirped   from high between the ground and shade of the oak,

“It is your secret, don’t you want to keep your top-secret a secret”, responded eight year old Pat from the other end pumping his swing to rise above the ground to giggle at Betty.

“You’re my best-buddy … didn’t you share your secret of raiding the fridge for chocolates every night, puzzling   your mom  to assume it’s your dad, I didn’t  tell this to anyone except my mom”, and she cackled with delight at Pat’s frown.  

“You told this to your mom!” Pat howled, “And I was wondering why my mom has suddenly begun to lock the fridge at night”, he sturdily threw a dry twig at Betty to keenly demand, “Now would you please tell me what’s your top-secret so that it no longer remains a secret”.

“My Dad gifted me a pair of orange goldfish …”

“Is this your secret?” Pat fervidly interrupted and chortled to annoy Betty,

“You moron!”  Betty shrieked with her big eyes gawking to grasp him like a feeble prey,

 “Alright my very smart Betty, you may please continue … and stop gawking at me”, stated Pat to chortle again,

“… and when I murmur my little secrets to them, they swim near the edge of the pot in response, they are soooo beautiful”,

“You have a pair of goldfish in a pot!” Pat squalled and abruptly halted his swing to state angrily, “Don’t you know Betty that goldfishes die in a pot?”

Betty halted her swing  to coo, “Is that true, Pat?”

“Yes, they need a very big aquarium or a fishpond because they grow very big”, he specified with a sagacious mien.

 “Will my goldfishes die in the pot?”  Betty whimpered,

Pat stepped quickly towards Betty and gently wrapped his fingers and thumb around the edges of her hands to counsel affectionately , “We’ll put them back into the lake and let the freshwater take care of them”, then loosening the grip he wickedly enquired,” By the way, what are their names?”

 “Betty and Pat”, Betty giggled.

“Ah! My Goodness! Betty you are a nutcase”, teased Pat to cascade Betty with oak leaves,

“Pat you are a crackpot!” responded Betty to cascade Pat with oak leaves,

Later, by the bank of the picturesque lake Betty and Pat ecstatically witnessed the goldfishes swimming merrily in the freshwater’s of the lake.