Motivation, inspiration for youngsters

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books


A few recent releases command special attention.

“Terrible Times Tables” (Michelle Markel, color art by Merrilee Liddiard, Cameron Kids, hardcover, ages 6-9, 72 pgs., 2019, $17.95) takes its cue from a Victorian math primer. A clever elementary-school tale unfolds through rhyme, illustrations and easy-to-remember times tables such as “2 x 2 is four, new kids are at the door” and “4 x 9 is 36, Kevin stole my trail mix.”

“Fantastic You” (Danielle Dufayet, color illus. Jennifer Zivoin, Magination Press/American Psychological Association, hardcover, 5-8 years, 32 pgs., 2019, $16.99) declares that you spend your whole life with one person, you, and you ought to treat that you very, very well. Full of heartwarming, on-target advice (“When cheering myself up doesn’t help, I try not to keep feelings inside. I talk to someone, write a letter, poem, or story, or draw a picture. I tell my heart, ‘It’s going to be OK’), it concludes with tips and guidance for parents and caregivers.

“Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border” (Mitali Perkins, color illus. Sara Palacios, Farrar Straus Giroux, hardcover, 3-6 years, 40 pgs., 2019, $17.99) introduces children to the ways that borders separate families, not even allowing grandchildren to slip a simple Christmas handknit scarf to their grandmother through a fence. Poignant and powerful, “Between Us and Abuela” conveys an important message while reaffirming the triumph of the human spirit.

“Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln” (Margarita Engle, color art Rafael Lopez, Atheneum Books, hardcover, 4-8 years, 40 pgs., 2019, $17.99) starts with a little girl in Venezuela. She achieves fame playing the piano. Revolution breaks out, and her family flees to a United States still reeling from the Civil War. Despite now becoming a stranger in a strange land, she manages to find new audiences. Soon word about her reaches the White House. Conquering her fear, she ventures to Washington, performs for the president and his family and completely enchants them. The book ends with information about this small but significant slice of history.

These worthwhile home library additions teach, encourage, and instill enduring values that last a lifetime.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church.

Story First Published: 2019-12-20