Introducing D.B. Bray

Upon reading the first page of this novel, I was reminded of The Walking Dead because in both of these stories, the world is not how it used to be. In this novel, Jack and Toby Madison must navigate their lives in an apocalyptic world without the guidance of their parents due to a ruthless group called the “Slavers.”

As descendants of James Madison, a former president of the United States, Jack and Toby must complete a challenging task that seems entirely impossible to complete. However, if they do not accomplish this mission, then the world in which they live will never return to any normalcy.

Bray does an excellent job making American history interesting, especially for pre-teen and teenagers. This story teaches its readers about the United States Constitution in an exciting manner; in fact, it makes U.S. history fun to learn. Therefore, American history + apocalypse = adventurous. 

If you want to read about a journey filled with many twists and turns that will keep you guessing, then The Last Tribe: A Post Apocalyptic Constitution is the novel to read. I cannot wait for Bray to release the second book because I want to know if Jack and Toby’s mission is successful and if the different tribes will to come together as one. 

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Emmanuel Ofosue Yeboah

Imagine being born with a disability and because of it, your own father abandons your family. However, the power of a mother’s love is unmatched; it’s one that cannot be replaced. But your mother’s name is Comfort, and she lives up to her name, and she treats you no differently from her other children. In fact, due to her belief and faith in God, she names you Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

This is the true story of Emmanuel Ofosue Yeboah. Read about how he did not let his disability define him. Instead, he defined his disability. Read about how he became the man of the house to take care of his family when they needed him, despite having a disability. Read about how he had no friends at school. But that quickly changed; not only did he gain many friends but also he was well-respected.

I absolutely love this picture book. It teaches children that although they may be different from their peers, this does not mean that they should be looked down upon, ostracized, talked about, laughed at, and be considered useless and/or a curse. 

I also love how this book demonstrates that despite a physical challenge, children can live a full, complete, and normal life and be respected for who they are and not for what they look like. It also teaches children to define themselves and not to let something or somebody define them.

The illustrations are realistic, creative, and colorful. I am always amazed at an illustrator’s talent, and this is no different. Quall’s work is bold and detailed. The readers do not have to guess what or who something or someone is; the pictures say it all. There is a phrase which says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In the case of this book, yes, it is!

Always Forever Reading’s Rating = 💕💕💕💕💕

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Kids’ Funniest Jokes

Because I am an adult, I know my readers are wondering how I learned about the book, Kids’ Funniest Jokes, and why I read it. A student recommended this book to me because she thought that I would like it. She was so excited about me reading it that there was no way I was going to reject her suggestion. 

The nature of this book is indicated by its title, Kids’ Funniest Jokes. Therefore, this book of jokes is written by kids for kids. When the reader opens the book, he or she does not randomly read jokes. They are organized by categories. “That’s Life!” “Very Wild!” “Knock-Knock!” “What Was That Again?” “What Could It Be?” “Back to School.” “How Do They Do It?” “Food Frenzy.” “Work & Play.” “Animal Fair.” These categories are the chapter titles for the hilarious jokes. 

As a child, my favorite jokes were knock-knock jokes. Hence, I was not surprised that my favorite chapter was “Knock-Knock!” While reading this chapter, I could not help but to laugh at these jokes because they made me think about the jokes that my friends and I told during our childhood. 

“That’s Life!” is another chapter that I found intriguing. It reminded me about life in the eyes of a child. I laughed at these jokes because a child’s innocence is truly enlightening, and his or her creativity is purely genuine. Hence, let us think about Madonna French’s joke. 

Who won the fight at the candy store?

I don’t know, but the lollipop got licked! 

To some people, this joke may or may not be funny, but to this eight-year-old child, it is extremely comical. As I read her joke, I visualized a child at a candy store licking a lollipop. I also imagined a child’s voice telling the joke. 

Revisit your childhood by reading Kids’ Funniest Jokes. You may read jokes that you and your friends told as children. But if those jokes are not included in this book, it is okay because there are some great jokes in this book. Therefore, I encourage you to take a break from the pandemic, and unplug your devices because these jokes will make you laugh. Remember, laughing is therapeutic. 

Always Forever Reading = 💕💕💕💕💕

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The Hottest Summer Ever, Elijah R. Freeman

Always Forever Reading’s Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Hottest Summer Ever is truly about the hottest summer ever, but it has nothing to do with the weather. Set in College Park, Georgia,  Freeman introduces his readers to Richelle Kemoni Love aka Kush. Richelle is a daddy’s girl, who never has to worry about a thing. However, the life to which she is accustomed, changes after Richelle’s father is murdered. Living with only her mother, Richelle experiences another event, one that is repulsive, which causes her journey to begin.

When his audience begins reading this novel, they will not want to put it down. As I was reading this novel, I experienced many emotions. In fact, it will be hard not to have feelings, especially with the ups and downs and twists and turns that take place. Furthermore, you will be playing the guessing game of Who Did It? I also love the use of onomatopoeia; using this literary device really makes the action in the novel come to life.

If you are looking for an urban novel that will appeal to your five senses, keep you turning pages, and most of all, will not be disappointing, then, I recommend reading The Hottest Summer Ever.

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The Underground Railroad

Purchased at Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore

Always Forever Reading’s Rating =

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Consisting of ten chapters and 108 pages, this book teaches young readers all about the Underground Railroad. It focuses on the great and many risks that slaves took to gain their freedom. For example, the opening chapter tells readers about Henry Brown’s harrowing escape to freedom in a box. McDonough also explains to readers that the Underground Railroad was not a physical train but an invisible system that helped African American slaves escape the cruel treatment of slavery.

The illustrations in the book reflect the time period in which slaves lived. Instead of using illustrations with color, they are sketches, like what a person would create on a drawing pad. The sketches seem extremely real, and they are clear and easy to view. There are also maps that display the journeys of the Underground Railroad system, free and slave states, territories, and the Middle Passage. Moreover, young readers will learn about the chief crops of slavery.

I also like the inclusion of the photographs, which are great primary documents for the readers to view and/or read to learn more about the Underground Railroad. These pictures consist of slaves, railroad routes through Indiana and Michigan, abolitionists, receipts for purchased slaves, railroad conductors and operators, newspapers, novels, and even wanted signs advertising rewards for captured slaves. These details help readers to understand what life was like for slaves.

Should these young readers ever need to conduct research, write an essay for school, or want to read more about this timeframe, the timeline helps them to keep track of the year(s) that particular events occurred. The bibliography at the end of the book lists more resources that students can read about the Underground Railroad.

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Freelance & Technical Writing: Words for Sale

Do you want to be a writer?

Always Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

While perusing the shelves at my school library, I saw the book title, Freelance & Technical Writing by Camden Flath, which is part of the series, New Career for the 21st Century: Finding Your Role in the Global Renewal. Since I was curious about this book, I checked it out. Consisting of only four chapters and 64 pages, this is a quick read for students. After reading this book, students will have a clear understanding about pursuing a career as a freelancer or a technical writer.

I like how this book allows readers to analyze their personalities to help them make a wise choice concerning their future career path. For example, on page 24, Flath identifies and explains five different personalities to help readers to decide the best career option for them. Therefore, it is important for them to have a career that they love and not a job that they will loathe. There is nothing worse than a person having a job that he or she absolutely despises.

Flath also defines words that students need to know so that when they see and/or hear them, they will know their definitions. He also includes quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Then, he explains what the quote means, as it relates to the target audience. Furthermore, I like the breakdown of working for an employer vs. being self-employed. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of both is crucial because benefits and knowing how to file taxes is highly important.

Lastly, if students would like to know more about becoming a freelance and/or a technical writer, Flath includes the following sections: “Further Reading Section”, “Find Out More on the Internet”, and the “Bibliography”.

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Wangari’s Trees of Peace

Always Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Are brave enough to stand by yourself?

Born and raised in Kenya, Africa, Wangari Maathai saw a problem and took a stand despite the opposition that she faced.

Seeing the need to restore trees in her homeland, she takes it upon herself to right a wrong, restoring a barren land. Next, she shares her vision with other ladies. Their mission produces positive results!

Her message is powerful for young and older readers. Even when life does not go as planned, persevere and know that the desired results will happen. Stand up for what is right even if it means that you stand by yourself. You will find out that you are not alone; there will be other people who are fighting for the same cause as you and therefore will stand with you.

I love the illustrations in this book because young readers can know what Kenya looks like. In fact, through these pages, they can travel to Kenya to learn about the culture in a clear, colorful, and simplistic manner.

As I read this book, I was reminded of what is happening in many cities across the United States. As I drive down the street, I see more and more trees being torn down to make room for apartments, houses, businesses etc. Although this “may be” a necessity, it irritates me because I think about where the animals will live. I used to see rabbits behind my house all the time. Sadly, I do not see them hopping around and having fun due the coyotes who have decided to become my neighbors.

What about when it rains? Without trees, flooding becomes a major issue. I wish the city officials and developers would think about these concerns before destroying the land. It seems like all they care about is money. Therefore, do not be surprised when and if you see a bear walking down the street. Do not be stunned if you look out your window and see a coyote staring back at you. Do not be offended if the snake is in your home. I say this because someone once told me that a snake was in her home. My response, “You were in the snake’s home.”

Please, please, please, leave the land alone. The land needs to be respected because when a natural disaster occurs, human error can only intensify the damage. Who will help the people who have been affected? Do not say, “We are in this together” if you are not really trying to help them. Do not help some people and neglect others. Hence, we need to follow Wangari Maathai’s footsteps to take a stand and respect the land and try to restore its natural order.

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Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge

Always Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Courageous. Fearless. Daring. Meet Ona Judge, George Washington’s slave who wanted freedom. She desired freedom so much that one day, she simply departed President Washington’s Philadelphia home, never to return. Although she escaped, this does not mean that her journey was easy. Read about Ona’s long and dangerous road to gaining freedom and remaining free. Overall message: Anything worth having is worth working for.

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We’re Moving Where?! Glen Blackwell

As a member of Goodreads, I am afforded the opportunity to meet individuals who, like me, love reading books. This is how I met Glen Blackwell. He sent me a message to ask me if I would review his preview copy of We’re Moving Where?! Because the synopsis sounded interesting, I agreed to read and review it.

Harry and his parents, Mark and Jess Jones, reside in England. Harry is living the fun life of a ten-year-old, watching cartoons, playing with his toys, and spending time with his friends. However, unbeknownst to Harry, his life is going to change in a major way. 

This change focuses on Harry’s dad. When his father receives an offer for a new job, one that he should not turn down, Harry will have to relocate with his family. This new job is in Canada, and Mark and Jess are concerned with how Harry will react toward this news. At first, like most children, Harry does not want to leave his friends. But once he learns that they will be living adventurously in the woods and that he will be able to keep in touch with his friends, Harry warms up to the idea. Hence, moving to and living somewhere in the middle of the woods in Canada gives this novel its title, We’re Moving Where?!

While reading this novel, I also noticed the British spelling of certain words, such as mum, whilst, coloured, pyjamas, and favourite. I do not know if this strategy was intentional, but I liked it. It teaches children that the same words used in different countries have different spellings. This is a great way to allow students to learn about different countries. At the end of the novel, I did not want to stop reading, so I hope that Blackwell writes another book to give this story some closure.

I enjoyed reading this novel, as it was full of positivity. Page after page, I kept waiting for something terrible to happen. But with each page, I did not find anything negative. Moreover, this novel is full of adventure, and the events make this novel fun for students to read.

I was curious about the readability level of this novel, that is the appropriate grade level of it. To determine the grade level, I used two popular readability formulas to see if the grade levels of this novel were consistent. The first formula that I used was the Fry Graph Readability Formula. I randomly selected three 100-word passages. Then, I counted the number of sentences and syllables in the these passages. Next, I calculated the average sentence length and syllables; after calculating the average sentence length and syllables, the determined readability level of this novel is for students in the 7th grade. 

The SMOG Readability Formula is the second method that I used to determine this novel’s readability level. With this formula, I randomly selected three passages consisting of ten sentences. Next, I found all the polysyllabic words, words with three or more syllables, in each passage. Then, I totaled the number of polysyllabic words in each set of three passages and found the closest perfect square of the sum. For the next step, I found the square root of the number closest to the perfect square. After finding the square root, I added three to the calculated square root; this will be the readability level. According to the SMOG Readability Formula, this novel is for students in the eighth grade. Therefore, I recommend that this novel, We’re Moving Where?!, is for for middle school students. It is a clean, appropriate novel that is full of much imagery, which will allow readers to use their imagination as they read.

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Protostar Love Sheopatra Smith

Do you have a love of your life? A soulmate? A ride or die boyfriend or girlfriend? Nia Nayeli Badi and Boyden “Bizzy Boy” Miller have this kind of relationship, one that is undeniably  strong. Nia will not allow anyone to disrespect Boyden, and it is the same for Boyden. When it comes to one another, they are loyal to the soil. 

Everything is going great until one particular day. Nia’s decision to become a single woman does not sit well with Boyden. In fact, Nia does not even like her decision, but she has made a choice, and she is going to see it to the end. However, Boyden is not going to allow the end of “Noyden” (Nia and Boyden) to be a reality. 

One thing that Smith does well is bring her characters to life. While reading this novel, you will feel like you know these characters. In fact, you might find yourself thinking, for example, Nia  reminds me of _____; Boyden reminds me of _____; Halima reminds me of _____.  While reading Protostar Love, I felt like I personally knew the characters, and I was able to experience their every thought and emotion.

In Protostar Love, Smith examines the dynamics of relationships. She focuses on the good and the bad of them. When reading this novel, you may be reminded of or you may be familiar with some of the aspects of these relationships. Hence, this is what makes Smith’s book extremely real.

Although I did notice a few spelling errors, they did not distort the meaning of the sentences; I was still able to follow the storyline. Overall, this is a great novel to read, so I recommend reading Protostar Love.

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