Life can present challenges, forcing us to “Bee Brave” in our attempts to achieve — whether it’s being a champ in a competition, overcoming weakness in our minds or our bodies, or stepping bravely through doors with no idea what’s in store for us. Here’s hoping the characters in my February Picks inspire you to shake off the jitteries and forge ahead, even if your knees are quaking.
‘The Spelling Bee Before Recess,’
By Deborah Lee Rose.
There’s nothing like a spelling bee to bring you to your knees. It almost sinks Slugger, a boy who’s into baseball and facing the last hair-raising round of words in “The Spelling Bee Before Recess.” Each character in this fun read pops with personality thanks to the book’s illustrator, Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis.
Told in rhyme parodying “The Night Before Christmas,” author Deborah Lee Rose introduces readers to a contest that goes down to the wire for Slugger and Ruby. “Word after word — we were in the ninth inning. One minute to recess and no one was winning.”
With the finalists at an “impasse,” the principal comes up with a ploy, a way to decide the victor, fair to both girl and scared boy. The principal announces that Slugger and Ruby will “spell and tell” what the next word means.
The outcome is frenzied, and rather than giving it away, suffice it to say, Slugger learned there’s more to life than spelling — the important thing is to read.
‘To Dare Mighty Things, the Life of Theodore Roosevelt,’
By Doreen Rappaport.
Sickly as a child, “Teedie,” as they called him, had grand dreams. Who would have thought this boy would become president of the United States? Putting aside his fears, Teddy Roosevelt charged ahead.
The illustrious leader’s accomplishments are beautifully written about in “To Dare Mighty Things, the Life of Theodore Roosevelt,” by Doreen Rappaport, with illustrations by C.F. Payne.
As a youngster, “Teedie” had lots of interests, his mind ever busy to grasp knowledge of birds, animals, plants — any information that books could impart. An avid reader and writer, Teddy Roosevelt didn’t let any grass grow under his feet. He is responsible for establishing five national parks, 18 national monuments, and lots of other parks, projects and preserves.
But Roosevelt wasn’t only a conservationist. He also was the driving force behind the Panama Canal, led the Rough Riders in Cuba, established fair rules for business and became the “people’s president” demanding a “Square Deal for all Americans, rich and poor.”
“Teedie” dared to dream. His legacy to Americans is honored in a book sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
‘Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy,’
By Karen Foxlee.
Hold on to your timepieces and prepare for an adventure featuring a Snow Queen and a boy banished to hundreds of years of captivity in a museum where children are turned into ghosts and wolves howl in the halls.
Into this spooky setting steps an ordinary girl, Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard, the heroine of “Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy,” by Karen Foxlee.
Eleven-year-old Ophelia doesn’t consider herself brave, but she is curious. And there’s plenty to wonder about in the museum where her father takes a job readying swords for an exhibition.
Ophelia and her older sister Alice accompany him to the snowy, foreign city where they’re welcomed by Miss Kaminski, the museum’s curator, a comely lady with an aura of intrigue that puzzles Ophelia.
More is revealed about Miss Kaminski as one door opens after another in the museum’s galleries, exposing Ophelia to dangers that test her mettle. The plucky heroine rises to each occasion in a story reminiscent of the best of classic fairy tales, a book destined to melt the coldest of hearts.