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Posts Tagged ‘Young Adult Literature.’

Spotlight and Review: Pure Trash – The Story by Bette A. Stevens

In Book Reviews, Spotlights on September 11, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Bette Stevens is probably best known for her highly successful children’s book, Amazing Matilda. Now she has dipped her toes into the deep waters of young adult literature with her new book, Pure Trash – The Story.

Having already read Bette’s ‘Amazing Matilda’, I was delighted to be asked to read this one as well. Though aimed at an older audience, it is still written in the same generous and caring tone. Set in the 1950’s, Pure Trash highlights the sense of social injustice doled out when two children are condemned and forever tainted because of their father’s alcoholism and the family’s unmitigated poverty.

PURE TRASH book coverMy Review

Pure Trash is a short story focused on a day in the lives of two young boys, Shawn and Willie Daniels. They are extremely poor, have a drunken father, a long-suffering mother and live in a shack in 1950’s America; located near a small New England town in which bullying and prejudice is rife. They attend church every Sunday. This day (Saturday, and no school), having done their chores, is filled with gathering discarded empty bottles on their way into town, and collecting the returns money. The boys really look forward to this trip every week, as they are able to buy pop and sweets before returning home to fish with their father, who, by the time they get back, will have drunk enough beer to “catch his limit” and to, “’hold your (his) mouth just right’ or the fish wouldn’t bite”.

Despite the excitement of this weekly trip, Shawn is filled with dread at the thought of encountering the gossips, and other mean townsfolk, who call them names and laugh at them; all because of their poverty and their drunken parent.

On the way back from the trip, Willie falls off his bike and Shawn seeks help from someone he believes to be kind; someone who also attends the same church. But, he is surprised when he learns that cordially nodding to someone every Sunday in church is not the same as turning up on their doorstep and asking for help – at least not when your Shawn and Willie Daniels.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Told with great sensitivity, Ms. Stevens weaves a tale of intolerance and impassive bullying, the backlash of another’s alcoholism and the knock-on effects of abject poverty. The atmospheric descriptions set the scenes beautifully – I felt I was actually riding my own bike with the boys on their excursion. The whole timbre of the book, from the very first word, is that of compassion and understanding. I felt tinges of sadness, though. To the boys, this is all they know. They completely accept their father’s excessive drinking, and their mother’s frugality as she makes her house dresses out of “flowered chicken feed sacks”. There is no money to repair the house, but the boys’ father buys a brand new television set for himself, which sounds like an echo of so many households today. The boys do not envy others, instead they are grateful for what little they have. They find great joy in their natural surrounding; blue skies, hills and fields, and the simple things available to them. Such small treats as ice-cream and some pop are a thing pure delight.

This book is not just about poverty and making do, and being happy with what you have been given – albeit, through lack of knowledge. It is also about intimidation and small-mindedness, and the terrible indictment of the society that has risen from such behaviour, not just in the fifty’s, but of today as well. Such families do still exist and the intolerance continues as one generation begats the next and the tradition continues on both sides.  Perhaps it is all unavoidable, but it is sad how innocent children are made to suffer for the mistakes of their parents.

A sensitive and touching tale which is well-written, absorbing and entertaining. Highly recommended. 5 stars

Where to buy Pure Trash

amazon.com

Createspace

About the Author

Bette A Stevens

Bette A. Stevens received her B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Orono before embarking on graduate courses in Curriculum Studies at Chapman University in California. Stevens is a retired teacher and author of two children’s books: AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale, an award-winning picture book and The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, a children’s activity book. Stevens and her husband live on a 37-acre farmstead in Central Maine. PURE TRASH is a short story for the YA/Adult audience and a prequel to her upcoming début novel. 

Where to find Bette

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Other Books by Bette A. Stevens


The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!
Amazing Matilda book cover

Spotlight and Review: Pie – An Old Brown Horse (That Knows What He Is Doing)

In Book Reviews on August 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm
Pie - An Old Brown Horse on his 39th birthday

Dedicated to Pie – 39 years old today

When I was asked by author Kandy Scaramuzzo to review Pie – An Old Brown Horse, I was thrilled. To add to my joy, the description implied this was a rescue story (“he was considered used up, with nothing left to give”). Put the words rescue and horse together and I am captured; my enthusiasm for, and love of, horses kicks right in. I couldn’t wait to give it a go. Ms. Scaramuzzo also provided me with links to an ‘interview’ with Pie, which is really sweet, but, better still; a short Book Trailer – which I urge you to watch (below). Preferably with a box of tissues handy. Here is my review of Pie’s incredible story.

This review is dedicated to Pie who is celebrating his 39th birthday today. That’s 107 in human years. Happy, happy birthday, Pie – what an astounding achievement.

PieMy Review

This is a marvellous story, told through the eyes of Pie (the old brown horse) himself. Pie had worked all his life on ranches until, having been gored by a bull and tangled in wire, he was left to languish in a small pen to recover or die. His working career as a cattle herder, and possibly his life, was over. He was no longer of any use to anyone, added to which he was already past retirement age. Then, having been bought by a livery keeper for resale, Pie’s life changed. A young girl came to know him well, and, having had an unfortunate experience with another horse, decided she wanted to buy him. From there he was brought back into work, a much gentler sort, and made useful again. This story takes the reader through the trials and tribulations of Pie’s life from the time he was gored until he is fully established as a therapy horse for autistic children, and on to his life as it is today.

Despite my passion for horses, I have to admit, I had no idea how things worked in Pie’s first life, and rather enjoyed reading about it. The lot of a cattle herding horse is a fairly hard one by all accounts, with few comforts to speak of. That is not to say they are mistreated in any way; it is just hard work, long hours and few luxuries. I strongly suspect the lot of a cowboy is just as tough. All of which is wonderfully and humorously described in the text. Kandy Scaramuzzo has her own free-flowing style of writing, which I found rather endearing, through which her inordinate love of horses, and her way of life, shines through on every page. The written interpretation of the communication between the horses tells us a lot about the authors understanding of them and their behaviour. The scene setting is perfect and the characters, both human and equine, are all vividly and entertainingly described in this heart-warming tale.

Pie and his pasture mate Durango March, 2013

Pie and his pasture mate Durango March, 2013

The story of this remarkable horse touched my heart and I am pleased it has been told. Cleverly written from Pie’s unique perspective, the reader is not only able to get to know Pie; a horse whose demeanour is bursting with courage, understanding and a sense of what is right, but also learn that all things have their place in life. Pie shows us that being old does not mean being without worth. Brimming over with enthusiasm and ever eager to please, he displays compassion and understanding in all things. And, there is no doubt – he does know exactly what he is doing.  His loyalty to the herd, especially those he is close to, is to be admired. His assessment of them and all their individual peculiarities seems spot on, and he always tries to do his best for them. Plus, he’s a hoot. He is certainly an extraordinary horse who has impacted on many lives with these attributes. In fact, his whole disposition made him the perfect choice to place with children who have special needs.

Pie’s enlightening memoirs are a wonderful eye-opener into the fascinating mind of this intelligent, heroic and warm-hearted old horse. I am just sorry I will never be able to meet him in the flesh.

To focus on any negatives here, such as editing issues – as I see some have done – would be totally unproductive; there are far too many positives. This is simply a splendid read for everyone, horsey or not, and I highly recommend it. (5 stars)

Where to buy Pie – An Old Brown Horse

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

Paperback at Outskirts Press

Book Trailer – Pie’s story It’s worth watching. It’s very short and very moving. In fact, seeing his injuries seems to bring his situation home even more.

Interview with Pie

About the Author

KandyKandy Kay Scaramuzzo is a seventh generation Texan who has her own brick at the Cowgirl Museum. She has taught in alternative education for over twenty years. Ms. Scaramuzzo is a member of the 2012 Strathmore’s Who’s Who. She has a BA in Criminology and MaedCT. She works in horse, dog, cat and snake rescues. Ms. Scaramuzzo has been a tester observer for therapy dogs for nine years. She ran a therapy horse riding program for autistic children for five years. She has been a recognized animal behaviorist for over 20 years. This is her first book about an exceptional horse. She feels it is important to give back to maintain the balance of a civilized society.

Where to find Kandy (when she is not on a horse)

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Blog

Pinterest

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

In Children's Book of the Week, Children's Book Reviews on March 1, 2013 at 1:50 am

This week’s children’s book reviews are up over on my website. Please drop by and see them. As ever, I hope you enjoy my varied choice of books and the reviews of them, and, of course, my choice for Book of the Week. Don’t forget to scroll down the page at Mungai and the Goa Constrictor where you can read the full reviews of all the books.

Children’s Book of the Week

No Boys Allowed by Marilyn Levinson featured on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.me

No Boys Allowed by Marilyn Levinson

Other Books I Have Reviewed

Wolf Facts and Pictures by P.K.Miller

Adventures of Percy the Pig by Tori Gilbert

Adventures of Frosty (The Strange Thing) by Waide Marshall

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

In Children's Book of the Week, Children's Book Reviews on February 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm

This week’s children’s book reviews are up over on my website. Please drop by and see them. As ever, I hope you enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them, and, of course, my choice for Book of the Week. Don’t forget to scroll down the page at Mungai and the Goa Constrictor where you can read the full reviews of all the books.

Children’s Book of the Week

Big and  Little featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

The Tales of Big and Little: Doom of the Three Stones by Josh Kilen

Other books reviewed

Raindrop’s World by Carl Pettit

My T-Rex Has a Toothache by Elwyn Tate

Sock Full of Pennies by Danny Dean

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

In Children's Book of the Week, Children's Book Reviews on February 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm

This week’s children’s book reviews are up over on my blog. Please drop by and see them. As ever, I hope you enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them, and, of course, my choice for Book of the Week. Don’t forget to scroll down the page at Mungai and the Goa Constrictor where you can read the full reviews of all the books.

Children’s Book of the Week

Wise Bear William – A New Beginning written by Arthur Wooten and Illustrated by Bud Santora

Wise Bear William featured on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.me

Other Books Reviewed

Warriors Book1: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

Magic Molly Book 1: Mirror Maze by Trevor Forest

I Love My ABCs by Mary Lee

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

In Children's Book of the Week, Children's Book Reviews on January 31, 2013 at 8:29 pm

This week’s children’s book reviews are up over on my blog. Please drop by and see them. As ever, I hope you enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them, and, of course, my choice for Book of the Week. Don’t forget to scroll down the page at Mungai and the Goa Constrictor  where you can read the full reviews of all the books.

Children’s Book of the Week

The Issy Books by Pat “Gigi” Calfee – Illustrated by Isybilla Gee

Other books reviewed

Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone

Switch by Karen Prince

A Tale of Four Birds by Gramps Doodlebug

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

In Children's Book of the Week, Children's Book Reviews on January 24, 2013 at 6:50 pm

This week’s children’s book reviews are up over on my blog. Please drop by and see them. I hope you enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them, and, of course, my choice for Book of the Week. Don’t forget to scroll down the page at Mungai and the Goa Constrictor where you can read the full reviews of all the books.

"What if I Don't Understand" - Children's Book of the week on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonChildren’s Book of the Week: But What If I DON’T Understand? By C. P. Siebenhuener

Other books reviewed:

Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat by Greta Burroughs

Kevin and the Seven Lions by Martin Tiller

Song for Papa Crow by Marit Menzin

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

In Children's Book of the Week, Children's Book Reviews on January 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Welcome to another week of children’s book reviews. I hope you enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them, and, of course, my choice for Book of the Week. Don’t forget to scroll down the page at http://mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.me/ where you can read the full reviews of all the books.

A Blue Poetry Paintbox book cover featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonChildren’s Book of the Week: A Blue Poetry Paintbox chosen by John Foster

Other books reviewed:

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

A Wolf Pup’s Tale by Rachel Yu

The Rat Who Didn’t Like Rats by Blythe Ayne

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

In Children's Book of the Week, Children's Book Reviews on January 9, 2013 at 12:49 am

Welcome to this week’s children’s book reviews.  I hope you enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them. Don’t forget to scroll down the page at Mungai and the Goa Constrictor where you can read the full reviews of all the books.

Children’s Book of the Week: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler 5*****

Other Book Reviews:

Fing – A Modern Fairy Tale by Papa G   5*****

I’ll Follow the Moon by Stephanie Lisa Tara   4****

The Adventures of Loafy Lion and Friends by Richard Bullivant   4****

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