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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

September 5, 2021

2 Books for Young Readers

by MK French

Are you a teacher looking for new classroom books or do you have children at home in need of entertainment? Here are two books that our young readers will enjoy.

Amazon affilate links are used on this site. Free book were provided for an honest review.

Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

Pahua and the Soul Stealer
September 2021; Rick Riordan Presents; 978-1368068246
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); fantasy

Pahua Moua is a lonely Hmong girl able to see spirits and babysits her younger brother. When she accidentally untethers a ghost from a local bridge and her brother falls ill, she fears that the spirit stole his soul. When she uses her aunt's shaman tools to demand her brother's soul back, she accidentally summons a demon. A warrior shaman saves her and will guide Pahua through the underworld to find her brother's soul.

Originally born in Laos, her family escaped to a refugee camp when Lori was an infant with other Hmong families. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, and there is a large Hmong population that had relocated in the wake of the Vietnam war. Hmong oral tradition plays a large role in this book, which is why it's part of the Rick Riordan Presents series of books. The series highlights myths and traditions from various cultures. While Rick's forward says it's okay to skip to the end with the glossary and author's note, I dove straight into the story from the beginning.

My heart went out to Pahua from the start. Her father left, she has to help take care of her brother, and she's continually the odd one out. Her family is the only Hmong one in town, so she's set apart due to her ethnic background in addition to the economic differences. She can see spirits, which is a rarity even in her own shamanic culture, and trying to talk with them to calm them down doesn't help. Spirits are capricious things, after all, especially ones that used to be human. The bridge spirit is angry and isolated, then begins stealing souls. Pahua must work with a student in training to get her brother's soul back, which means consulting a  legendary immortal sage, traveling through the spirit realm, and dealing with figures from myth. She discovers the extent of her talents along the way. As much as she'd always felt like an outsider and missing vital pieces, she discovers she's good enough and brave enough for the mission to save her brother.

This is a great story not just for learning about the Hmong culture, but for kids that feel left out and isolated. Bravery is doing the right thing in spite of fear, after all. This is a great lesson for middle-grade readers of every culture to learn. 

Under the Sun, Moon, and Stars by Laura Kosann, illustrated by Danielle Kosann

Under the Sun, Moon, and Stars
September 2021; Greenleaf; 978-1626348745
print (24 pages); fairy tale

Discouraged by classmates, a little girl is told by a fairy that she should recognize her own strength. A queen bee tells the girl to be a queen herself, so with advice from the moon and other insects, she has to decide what to do to reach her potential.

Different animals have different advice: seize the day, have wisdom, have bravery, get a bit of luck, trust in herself and be bold. The sun suggested that she share her happiness with others, and the moon reminded her to never forget her dreams. The Kosann sisters wrote and illustrated this book, and it's a cute parable for all little girls needing a reminder of how special they can be. This is a fun book for young readers.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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  1. thanks for sharing. with the holiday season rapidly approaching, i have been sharing some books for the youngsters too
    sherry @ fundinmental