Monday, April 30, 2012

New Children's Book Gets Five-Star Review

The following is a review from New York book reviewer, Fran Lewis. I'm so glad she liked the story, Mystery at the Phoenix Festival! It's a departure from my historical novels that I write, but it was still a lot of fun to work on it with my niece and nephew -- both are very talented and creative!


Mystery at the Phoenix Festival by novelist Laura S. Wharton, with Jake and Nicole Spanton
Uprooting an entire family is difficult but not when the reason is to share the love of their family, children with those in hospitals. Jake and Nicole Rivers love having their two sets of grandparents living nearby. Who wouldn’t when they nurture you, bake great cookies, enjoy your company and love having family fun with you while your parents are away or working? Grandparents are special but when Jake and Nicole leave their home to travel across country with their parents and two dogs Dolly and Zena little do they know they would be in for an adventure of a lifetime. As most kids often ask that famous question while traveling: “ARE WE THERE YET? OR HOW LONG BEFORE WE ARRIVE AT OUR DESTINATION?”  Jake and Nicole learn from Cari, their mom about the place they are about to visit, the people they might encounter and the history behind the campsite. Imagine meeting Native American Indians and learning more about their culture and their lives.

Arriving at the campsite Jake and Nicole decide to explore the area, take the dogs for a walk and forget the do not talk to strangers rule when they unleash their dogs and they run free having to chase after them. Meeting two adults named Eddie and Joan they hope to enlist their help to find them before it’s too late. Returning to their campsite they leave out the part of losing the dogs but not about talking to the strangers and receiving a strong lecture from their mother. Taking the dogs to work children with autism and other learning difficulties was rewarding and hoping to take them to the cancer hospitals their primary goal for the trip. But, along the way they would meet many people, learn many lessons and hopefully learn who to trust keeping their faith in God.

Children are special and as they meet the many residents at the cancer hospital Nicole befriends a girl named Anna and a bond forms in more ways than one. Learning about her family’s animal shelter and the lack of funds to maintain it send Nicole on a crusade to not only safe these unwanted animals but prevent them from a terrible fate. Meeting the children at the center was uplifting for the patients and for Jake and Nicole. Reading and telling stories made them forget their illnesses as they bonded with not only the children but the dogs, too. Nicole was determined to find a way to help Anna and her parents by enlisting the help of her friends back home who supported her and wanted to help. The power of technology is great as she listened to the suggestions that her friends made, asked her parents for help and made some great choices and decisions on her own beginning with creating a website for the shelter and putting the information on her blog. Added in let’s not forget that both children are being home schooled and were required to complete a day’s work and homework too. Each day would be a learning experience for both Nicole and Jake plus they would be required to record their day on their blogs. So, just how were they going to save the animal shelter and what role would the Festival in Phoenix play?

The authors teach many important lessons in this book dealing with family values, friendship, loyalty and trust. What is really special and makes this book perfect for children of all ages is that teaching of respect to adults and others, the importance of helping people and giving of yourself for the sake of just making others happy. Jake and Nicole are learning that there is more to life than just money and things.
Nicole and Jake were passionate about helping the shelter and set to work enlisting the help of the kids from the Cancer Center making each one of them feel special, especially a wonderful girl named Samantha. But, something happens to change it all and their world falls about when Jake allows the dogs to go out alone one morning and the dogs do not come right back.

Devastated, shook up and understanding he was totally responsible, Jake fears the worst for Zena and Dolly. But, with the support of his family, prayers and the other campers they search and hope for the best.

With a mission to complete and their focus on helping to keep the animal shelter open they create an amazing fundraiser while still praying for their dogs to be returned. Word spread throughout the campsite that the dogs were missing but one note left on their RV would enlighten everyone and create more fear in their hearts for the missing dogs. With the help of the police and yet moving forward with the fundraiser the fate of the dogs was in the hands of God, their prayers and hopefully the police.

Money can do strange things to people and the lack of it even more. As the Festival started and the activities began two young children and their friends said silent prayers for their dogs.

The power of faith and prayer: Did it work? Did their efforts safe the shelter? Who was responsible for kidnapping the dogs and why? Just what other miracle happened? Why is helping others so important and what impact did they have on the kids and their families at the Cancer Center? Nicole and Jake promised they would not tell what happens to the shelter or the dogs to anyone.  Mystery at the Phoenix Festival can only be solved if you read the book for yourself or along with your children to discuss the many themes and lessons to be learned and how young readers might handle each one. Child authors Jake and Nicole Spanton along with author Laura S. Wharton teach the reader so many lessons in this special book hoping more families and their children will learn and understand the power of prayer and the importance of helping others.

Let’s dedicate this review to all those children who are in Cancer Centers and let’s send them our love and prayers for a speedy recovery. This book gets: FIVE GOLDEN SUNSHINES FILLED WITH PRAYERS FOR FINDING THE CURE!

Fran Lewis: reviewer

No comments:

Post a Comment