Monday, June 24, 2024

A Friend by Zea Perez


by Zea Perez
Ukiyoto Publishing
Chapter Book
55 pages
ages 5 to 12

A heartwarming story about keeping a pet and how it makes a child joyful and responsible. Until one day the child has to make a very astonishing yet kind and profound gesture to his pet friend!



The respect and love for life comes across like a warm hug in a tale, which leaves a smile on the face.

A boy dreams of having a pet, but his mother's allergies make it difficult. When the father comes home with a bird, the boy is delighted. As he learns to care for his new pet, a friendship grows between them. As the boy becomes more attune to the bird, he realizes that there may be something the bird is wishing for, too.

In this read, a clear appreciation for nature and especially animals is seen, but it weaves itself so nicely into the story that it steers clear of growing preachy. The warm relationship between the boy and his pet creates sympathy and understanding, which promote concern and the desire to give what is best to a 'loved' one. Watching the boy learn to care for the bird and understand some of its behaviors presents a close relationship which inspires. Not only readers, who have pets in their household, but those who wish to someday care for their own, will find themselves connecting and dreaming about such a positive relationship.

The illustrations carry an unique style, which fits well with the setting. The colors are bright and bold, and especially the bird benefits from the vibrant hues. There's a couple lines of text before/after each illustration, which keep the story going as the illustrations tell the rest. 

This works well as a read-aloud, but also is nicely suited for beginning readers, who are becoming sure of their words. The vocabulary pushes the skills but doesn't frustrate, and thanks to the shorter lines, doesn't intimidate. It is broken down into very short chapters, each one beginning with a title to reflect the main theme (for example: Taking Care of a Friend). So, readers know which direction the tale is heading next. 

It's an enjoyable, bright read with tons of goodness. 

And here she is...

This is a collection of short stories for middle grade readers, which takes an unique turn toward nature in an entertaining and thoughtful way.

There are six tales, each carrying a very own plot, message, and twist. Even the characters include everything from a mountain to plants to insects to humans and more. But these tales do share the common thread of strengthening awareness for nature, especially in the realm of logging, deforestation, and more. The author is Philippine and this is wonderfully mirrored in the setting and scenes to create a rich and inviting backdrop.

I think this is the first time I've read tales which surround main characters such as a Venus Fly Trap or a pitcher plant. Keeping the younger age group in mind, the author weaves the carnivorous aspects of the characters in with clever finesse, adding a taunting allure, while still making them sympathetic and kind. Even the environmental messages, for the most part, slide right in, make their point, and do so without overpowering the magic of the story.

There text heads toward the lower end of the middle grade realm and works well as a read-aloud for younger ages in calm settings. There a simple yet cute illustrations built in to help readers picture the characters or situations, which add a nice visual touch as well. It an original collection and a refreshing way to visit nature and take along some food for thought.

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