For Middle Grade readers. Eleven Year old New York City boy, Nestor, is usually the one
causing the problem, but ask him, and you’d get a different story. Nestor learns boundaries when he exhausts the patience of his friends and classmates with his incessant teasing, until they exact a plan to reinstate the relationships with a new set of rules.
best friend, Phil, doesn’t want to know him. During the class science project presentations, Kwan Min, Nestor’s most recent victim, sics his toad on Nestor’s pet and science project, little Hector, the cockroach. Nestor never sees this coming.
Nestor’s insecurity and lack of popularity result in poor choices. He’s always in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. At first, Nestor doesn’t see his part in this negative reaction. In time, Nestor notices the scratches on the surface of the science table as he realizes that his wise-cracking attempts to be “cool” make his classmates grumble – not at all the reaction he expects.
Nestor discovers many science facts with his online research: DNA, amber, resin and cockroaches. His classmates share facts about parakeets, snakes, hamsters and toads. Nestor and the other students in the science class provide information in an entertaining way, making it interesting and easy to learn.
You’ll laugh your way through Nestor’s antics. You see, Nestor really doesn’t have a clue.
For Middle Grade readers. What begins as a light-hearted adventure ends as a commitment, when eleven year old New York City girl Holly, uses her passion for poetry to win a grant writing contest to study marine life in Florida during Christmas vacation with her best friend, Jasmine. Holly looks forward to leaving the gray, winter skies of New York City behind. She imagines a carefree, fun in the sun adventure, but her optimism is short-lived.
Her fear of public speaking is highlighted as Holly learns she must present her findings at a school assembly program. Jasmine’s family problems and her fear of flying and swimming create obstacles to Holly’s idyllic expectations.
The contrast between the girls is heightened by revelations of their family lives and their different approaches to the world around them. Holly, the gentle poet, overcomes her fear of public speaking as she continues to grieve her father’s death. Jasmine, the seemingly self-assured realist, battles her fears while dealing with the consequences of her alcoholic mother’s neglect.Their friendship grows stronger as the girls accept each other’s differences and limitations.
Environmental issues are understood and an appreciation of the balance of nature and the interaction between the animal world and the environment is gained, with visits to biomes and ecosystems, as they interact with dolphins, alligators, swamp wetlands and manatees. Holly vows to raise money to help stranded marine mammals as they participate in the heart-wrenching rescue of stranded pilot whales on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Throughout the story, questions are asked and answered in detail, as well-researched facts are imbedded in the dialogue and action. Since Holly writes poetry, some facts are written in unrhymed verse. Holly is particularly drawn to this world, and expresses interest in returning someday. She realizes the difference one person can make and hopes to be a catalyst for awareness and positive action.
The girls accept awards for their multi-media presentation at their school assembly. When Holly is asked to make closing remarks, she walks on stage with confidence. She recites her poem, “The Ocean’s Way” which makes an analogy between the ebb and flow of the tide and the questions and answers churning in her head.
She overcomes fears and personal disappointments to reach her goals. Holly now understands how keeping the environment in balance insures the continuity of all species.
For Middle Grade readers. Jesus and Voodoo. Party and prayer. Love and betrayal. Twelve year old New York City boy, Phil Williams, struggles with conflicting messages when, entrusted by his grandmother in the role of “Icebreaker,” he visits estranged family in New Orleans as he sets out to restore the family relationship. With his best friend, Nestor, in tow, Phil encounters a series of strange events – erratic behavior by supposed family members, bloody headless chickens, an unseen intruder during the night. Nestor is convinced the bodies of Phil’s family members have been taken over by voodoo practitioners. Phil refuses to accept this explanation and is determined to uncover the truth. Is it Voodoo? Or scare tactics by mere mortals?
Phil’s visit to the Land of Pirates results in a plan of action and determination to solve the mystery. His investigations lead him to the source. Discovering an underground passageway once used as a stop in the Underground Railroad, the boys venture into the darkness to discover the truth. Wanting to be viewed as a hero in saving his great-aunt, her husband and housekeeper, Phil refuses to involve the police and unduly places everyone at the merciless hands of the culprits. With everyone’s life in jeopardy, Phil regrets his decision, realizing he may never get the chance to brag about his exploits at school. With the force for good watching, help comes from a hovering presence, just in the nick of time.
Phil learns his strengths and weaknesses as he struggles to put the jumbled puzzle pieces in play. His appreciation of true friendship is apparent as his love of family and New Orleans is renewed.
He visits Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Quarter, Mardi Gras World, the crypt of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Jean Lafitte Louisiana , the Audubon Aquarium and Riverwalk. Phil learns about Louisiana’s history, swamps and the state’s concerns for environment and wildlife. He now understands the far-reaching effects of “fracking” and why environmentalists and public safety representatives are so strongly opposed.
With his newly developed attention to detail, Phil composes a poem entitled “New Orleans” to capture his heart-felt memories.
If Phil had it to do all over again, what would he have done differently? Probably nothing.
For Middle Grade readers. Enjoy a day at the beach as we walk through sand, jump the waves, hear sea birds calling to each other as sea creatures seek food and shelter in a wondrous, hidden ocean biome.
This book can stand alone or act as a companion to “The Ocean’s Way” which tells the story of eleven year old Holly’s learning experience with marine life in Florida. A sample chapter appears after the Glossary.
The book contains 37 unrhymed poems ( diamante, tanka, anagram) about the ocean and ocean life. Each poem is accompanied by a beautiful color photograph for visual impact. All facts are well-researched and concise. If the scientific classifications appear unfamiliar, in common terms the topics include coral reefs, sand, sea shells, tides, tsunami, waves, dolphins, orcas, manatees, pilot whales, polar bears, sea lions, seals, sea otters, walruses, whales, albatross, gulls, penguins, sea anemones, sea turtles, horseshoe crabs, rays, sea horses, sharks, starfish, crabs, crayfish, hermit crabs, lobsters, clams, squid, mussels, octopus and snails.
The poems are organized alphabetically under the headings beach, marine mammals, marine birds, marine animals-cnidaria, marine reptiles, chelicerata arthropods, carnivorous fish, decapod crustaceans, cephalopod mollusks and mollusks.
The Glossary contains definitions, parts of speech and a pronunciation guide.
Experience the adventure.
Travel to the rainforest of Peru as the original photos in this watercolor journey help tell the story in this unrhymed, poetic narrative which captures the stillness of the night and my delight in seeing unique creatures secure in their own world.
Awestruck by the beauty of the Peruvian rainforest, I behold what is hidden in plain sight. Aided by the full moon, the stars and three flashlights, the jungle guide traces the almost imperceptible – camouflaged creatures, unseen but for the probing lens and heightened senses of this mentor who, among the cacophony of undefined sounds amid ambiguous paths with buttress roots spread wide, staunch soldiers in their mission as lianas reach up with wooden fingers in communion with arboreal giants, quietly courses ahead in this exalted forest with depths of knowledge and intuition s
urpassing my own.
A teacher by profession, I become the student in this unfamiliar great biome, learning facts but also becoming aware of my limitations as a sentient being, capable of looking but incapable of seeing but for the gentle guidance of one who communes with nature.
Author. Reading Specialist New York City Schools.
Graduate degree, Hofstra. Undergrad, Queens College.
As a Reading Specialist, Elaine Donadio is able to teach with a heavy concentration of children’s literature.
Elaine is completely immersed in realistic fiction, fables, fairy tales, folk tales,poetry, tall tales biography and autobiography as well as a myriad of nonfiction books.
Elaine is available for writing projects and educational speaking engagements.