Book of the Week: ‘Naji and the Mystery of the Dig’ by Vahid Imani

Naji andthe mystery of the dig is the highly engaging tale of a day in the life of Naji,an eight year old girl growing up in Persia. Author Vahid Imani has crafted a book which is sure to hold the interest of young readers while offering a rare and enchanting glimpse into the fascinating culture of Persia.  
Children’s Literary Classics

There’s a deep, dark hole in Naji’s yard and it’s full of secrets. But will the girl’s curiosity lead her to answers, or disaster?  

When Naji wakes to a strange sound she discovers a group of workers digging a hole just outside her room. Filled with intrigue, she wonders what they’ll find at the bottom. Sleeping monsters? Skeletons and curses? Her father warns her to stay away. The worksite is no place for a child, and if she isn’t careful, she’ll be snatched up by a Looloo; mythical creatures that lurk in the shadows.

Summoning her courage, Naji decides to investigate—until a terrible event leaves the whole neighborhood panicking. Have the terrifying Looloos struck again? As it turns out, the answer is far more surprising than Naji and her father could ever imagine.  

Based on a true story, this award-winning middle-grade chapter book includes a glossary, study projects, and discussion questions. Join Naji on a suspense-filled exploration of Persian culture and folklore as she learns that sometimes, the best adventures are waiting right under your nose.

Winner of a Gold award in 2015 from The Children’s Literary Classics.
Winner of 2015 Best In Category: Cultural Issues Preteen from The Children’s Literary Classics.
Winner of 2015 Best In Category: Best First Chapter Book from The Children’s Literary Classics.

Find out more about Naji and the Mystery of the Dig at 
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About the Author

Vahid Imani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, and made the United States his home in 1979. Coming from an old civilization, he is fascinated by ancient cultures and archeology. He earned a master’s degree from Gonzaga University’s School of Business, Spokane Washington, in 1980. An enthusiast of fine art, he has been creating music, poetry and stories since he was seven years old. He is father of three children and grandfather of three (so far). Currently, when he is not dreaming about his next book, he is teaching music and classical guitar to children of all ages.

Reader Reviews: 

Great kids book
A wonderful book! A charming story that introduces readers to the Persian culture. The study guide in the back of the book adds the educational aspect of this mystery novel. I highly recommend this book for every child’s bookshelf. 
Kellie Henkel 5.0 out of 5 stars 
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2021


Great book for third grade
I teach third grade. After my students read an opening Reading unit with a couple of tales from Aladdin, this book was a perfect Real Aloud for students after lunch. They really enjoyed the aspect of the ‘mystery’ and the tales of Naji, an eight year old girl from mid 20th century Persia. It was fascinating and culturally rich with wonderful sensory imagery. My students are looking forward to a sequel. I really enjoyed the book myself and it presents a wonderful slice of city life in Tehran 80 years ago.
Gilson 5.0 out of 5 stars 
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2020

Book Review: ‘Ronaldo: The Flying Reindeer Academy’ by Maxine Sylvester

Ronaldo is no ordinary reindeer, as this wonderful children’s book reveals.

Ronaldo attends the Flying Reindeer Academy alongside his best friend Rudi, enjoys The Weekly Flyer comics every Saturday morning, and dreams of becoming one of Santa’s elite reindeer like his hero, Vixen Pedersen. 

This is a really fun story about friendship, encouragement and celebrating one another’s achievements. The story is infused with humour and warmth that is sure to engage and entertain young readers. The characters and events of the story are relatable, delivering positive lessons and modeling appropriate responses to typical.childhood challenges along the way. 

Delightful reading for families and for independent young readers, this book would make an excellent addition to family, school.and community libraries.

Book Review: ‘Don’t Be A Meaniehead’ by Angelique S. Anderson

This is an enjoyable and straightforward story for children that deals with bullying and interacting with other kids in positive ways. The story is told in rhyming verse that makes it easy for kids to memorise key principles and therefore be more able to recall and apply them. 

This is a great book for young independent readers, but also for families to read and discuss together. It certainly offers opportunities for parents to discuss with their children the sorts of experiences that kids commonly have, and how to deal with those situations when they arise. 

The illustrations are engaging portraits of Anderson’s clockwork dragon character Quincy, who also features in Anderson’s steampunk fiction novel series for older readers, and his friends posing to reflect different aspects of the story as it is told. 

‘Don’t Be A Meaniehead’ has a strong positive message for children, making it a valuable addition to family collections and libraries. 

Book Review: ‘Sparky’ by Millie Slavidou

A delightful story for children about acceptance and friendship.

What a delight to discover this original and imaginative children’s fantasy story that is entertaining while embracing important ideas about difference, resilience and acceptance. Just like every child and many adults, Sparky must learn to accept and work with his limitations and his abilities alike. 

The characters in this story are delightful, with Nicky and her grandmother leading the way in showing others that prejudgment and first impressions are unreliable, and in demonstrating openness and acceptance of Sparky while others show fear and distrust. 

The illustrations are charming and highly engaging, and thus add another level of interest and involvement in the story for the children who comprise its target audience. 

This is a great book for both independent young readers and for families to read together. As such, it would make a delightful addition to school, town and home libraries. 

‘Sparky’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Yoga Fox’ by Sylva Fae

A book that every family with young children should own.

Sylva Fae Yoga FoxThis is a breathtakingly beautiful children’s book.

The illustrations are gorgeous. From the rich autumnal tones of the leaves to the eloquence of the expressions on the animals’ faces, ‘Yoga Fox’ is a visual delight. The pictures alone will engage young readers, but there is so much more to be gained from reading this book than just aesthetic pleasure.

‘Yoga Fox’ carries important positive messages about resilience, self-awareness and positive strategies to change the ways in which one is perceived by others. In this story, a young fox recognises both his problem and a proactive way to resolve the situation. In doing so, he engages the interest and curiosity of both those around him and those reading his story.

This story would be ideal for family reading, bedtime stories, and independent reading by children who have begun to develop as readers. It’s certainly a book that children would love reading and a story they would value as they grow up.

Acorn Award I Golden

‘Yoga Fox’ really does deserve a place in every home bookshelf, library, and elementary school classroom. It has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

‘Dreamland’ by Julia E. Clements

‘Dreamland’ is a delightful children’s chapter book.

Julia Clements DreamlandFilled with magic, unicorns, fairies and other fantastic stories, ‘Dreamland’ is a delightful children’s chapter book. Each chapter is a new adventure in which Danny learns to work with his strengths and face his fears.

The author has very effectively portrayed Danny as a regular kid, with a great imagination and sense of humour as well as his fears and flaws, so kids will easily relate to him and his responses to the things that happen in his stories.

This would be a great book for families to read together, or for individual reading for kids in MY and older. As an adult reader, I still found it engaging and entertaining.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Dreamland’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Pablo the Storytelling Bear’ by Penny Luker

This is a storybook every family needs to own and read.

Penny Luker PabloThis is an adorable children’s storybook about Bill and his friend Pablo, a toy polar bear who tells delightful bedtime stories. Rich in imagination and wonder, this book and the stories within it are engaging and heartwarming, delivering very positive messages about friendship, family and behaviour.

Bill is a nice kid who belongs to an average family. Rather than portraying him as an ideal child, the author has made him relatable to other kids: he has disappointments, fights with his sister, and has moments of selfishness. Overall, though, Bill is a good model for kids in the way these situations are resolved.

Pablo’s stories also present opportunities to discuss highly relevant global issues such as conservation, environment, climate change and animal welfare with children in sensitive and proactive ways.

As someone who loves books, polar bears and Canada, I appreciate the beautiful storytelling and the messages of the stories in this book.

Acorn Award I Golden

This book has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Blue Light Christmas 2: A Cry for Elf’ by Tobey Alexander

‘A Cry for Elf’ is a fun read for kids and grownups alike. 

Tobey Alexander Blue Light Christmas 2‘A Cry for Elf’ is a fun read for kids and grownups alike.  Set one year after the first book in the series, Alexander takes readers of all ages on a romp through the North Pole in which Constable Tim Tinsel and his daughter, Eve, are challenged with the task of rescuing Santa and reclaiming Christmas from key occupants of the Naughty list.

The story is delightful, full of action and humour that will entertain and amuse independent readers and provide meaningful family time for those who read the story together. The story delivers clear moral messages about choosing to do what is right and putting others before ourselves, without being either preachy or self-righteous.

There’s no reason at all why reading this book should be limited to the Christmas season. It’s perfectly entertaining and valuable reading for any day of the year.

Golden Acorns
This was Book Squirrel’s featured book in the Bookish Advent Event on December 9th, so it’s delightful to be able to give it a Golden Acorn in recognition of its excellence.
Find it on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘A Christmas Tail’ by E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago

This is a gorgeous children’s story in rhyme that delivers the lesson of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ in a simple and effective way for children and adults alike. 

EM Swift Hook Jane Jago A Christmas Tail
This is a gorgeous children’s story in rhyme that delivers the lesson of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ in a simple and effective way for children and adults alike.
The layout and illustrations are charming, and the story is heartwarming.
This would be a great story for families to read together leading up to Christmas.

Silver Acorns

‘A Christmas Tail’ gets a lovely Silver Acorn.

 

‘A Christmas Tail’ is available on Amazon.

Dec 19 ~ Featured Book: ‘A Christmas Tail’.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 19 is ‘A Christmas Tail’ by E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago. 

In this charming story, a mouse teaches a spoilt little girl the true meaning of Christmas.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 19 is ‘A Christmas Tail’ by E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago. EM Swift Hook Jane Jago A Christmas Tail

In this charming story, a mouse teaches a spoilt little girl the true meaning of Christmas.

Newly released on December 12, it received its first review on December 14: 
“A charming short read, and an ideal gift for Christmas. The words flow in a lovely fashion, and it was enjoyed by both adults and children.” 

‘A Christmas Tail’ is available on Amazon.