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Reggie Reads: August 2011

Illinois State is proud to be able to acknowledge the work of graduates who are successful authors. If you’ve written a book that has been released by a publishing house within the past decade, submit it for review by Professor Emerita of English JoAnna Stephens Mink ’73, M.S. ’75, D.A. ’85. All books authored by alums will be added to a collection of work by other graduates on display in the Alumni Center. Autographed copies are especially appreciated. Please send your book to Illinois State editor Susan Blystone at Illinois State Alumni Center, 1101 N. Main Street, Normal, IL 61790. Inquiries can be sent to sjblyst@ilstu.edu.

Ethridge, Margaret. Paramour.

Louisville: Turquoise Morning Press, 2011.  226pp.

Summary: At the top of the opening page of Paramour is the epigraph “Two men: one living, one dead, and both vying for her love,” which sets the tone for this paranormal romance. Paranormal romance blends themes from the genres of traditional fantasy, science fiction, or horror. Paranormal romance may range from traditional category romances, such as those published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, with a paranormal setting to stories where the main emphasis is on a science fiction or fantasy-based plot with a romantic subplot included. Common hallmarks are romantic relationships between humans and vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other entities of a fantastic or otherworldly nature (Wikipedia).

One of the three main characters in Paramour, Francis (Frank) DeLuca is dead, a ghost imprisoned in a light fixture, able to materialize only when that light is turned on. The victim of a gunshot during a robbery turned bad, he’s been dead for 25 years and stays in the bedroom in his own kind of purgatory. For 20 years, Camellia (Cam) has been engaged in a fierce power struggle with her bedroom’s previous tenant—Frank.

Over the years, their feelings have evolved from grudging friendship to an enduring love. However, Cam falls for Bradley, the handsome ad man with the charming smile and passionate nature. Now she must choose.

“Paranormal romance has its roots in Gothic fiction. Its most recent revival has been spurred by turn of the century technology, e.g. the Internet and electronic publishing. Paranormal romances are one of the fastest growing trends in the romance genre” (Wikipedia). Margaret Ethridge’s first novel contributes to the popularity of this genre.

About the Author: Margaret Kidwell Ethridge ’90 is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Diamond State Romance Writers, RWA Online, and Savvy Authors. Her second novel is Contentment: After Happily Ever. She lives in Arkansas (author’s website).

Lockett, Mike. Magic Eyes of Little Crab.

Normal, IL: Heritage Schoolhouse Press, 2010. 64pp.

Summary: Magic Eyes of Little Crab is version of a folktale found in British Guyana by German folklorist Theodor Koch-Grunberg. It is retold here by Mike Lockett and beautifully illustrated by Sun Lotto.

Magic Eyes of Little Crab is one of six children’s bilingual picture books written in both Chinese and English. For the alternate-language version, the reader simply flips the book over, as the illustrations are reproduced. Included in the book is an audio CD of Lockett reading the text in a most engaging manner with appropriate background music and sound effects. Consequently, a parent could read the story to very young children or they could listen to Lockett’s rendition. Older children could read the story themselves. Either is an enjoyable experience. The second track is the story read in Chinese.

Although he’s sitting on the beach, Little Crab’s eyes can see all kinds of wonderful beings in the ocean depths—a turtle, a swordfish, even a shark. But once when he was playing his “sailing” game, whereby his magic eyeballs pop out of his head and fly into the deep blue sea, a jaguar comes along and threatens Little Crab. So, to demonstrate his game, Little Crab makes his magic eyes see an angelfish and a squid and other sea creatures—even a mermaid. Of course, Jaguar wants his eyes to go sailing even though Little Crab explains that it’s dangerous.

But Jaguar insists so Little Crab says the magic words. Jaguar’s eyes pop out of his head. He can see how beautiful the sea is—until a huge fish swallows Jaguar’s eyes. Then everything is dark. A vulture flying overhead hears Jaguar crying and makes a deal whereby he will bring him new eyes if Jaguar agrees to always give him some food. And this is why to this day jaguars and all large cats leave part of their food for vultures, and crabs still hide under rocks.

Other stories retold by Lockett in this series include Teddy Bear, The Cat and the Mouse, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Monkey and Rabbit Together, and a new version of Hickory Dickory Dock.

About the Author: After teaching elementary school and serving as a high school principal and central office administrator for more than 30 years, Mike Lockett ’72, M.S. ’75, Ed.D. ’92, is now in demand as a storyteller, workshop leader, and keynote speaker. As “The Normal Storyteller,” he presents special programs in the USA and Eastern Asia. When not traveling, he lives in Normal.

Stephens, Karen. Child Care Today: Becoming an Early Childhood Professional.

Columbus: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 560pp.

Summary:  Child Care Today teaches skills needed to provide professional care for children and to nurture their development, explains Karen Stephens in her “To the Student” introduction. In spite of its length and heft, this textbook is easy to navigate. It’s divided into five units, each of which includes four to six chapters. Each chapter has two sections: Pathway to College/Career, and Review and Applications.

Unit 1, Exploring Career Opportunities, provides advice to students about their contemplated profession, describing careers in early childhood and required educational preparation. Unit 2, Child Care Basics, covers a gamut of practical information—from dealing with nosebleeds to responding to suspected child abuse. Unit 3, Managing an Early Childhood Program, addresses the philosophy and goals of program development.

Unit 4, Providing Early Care and Education, focuses on nurturing infants and toddlers, teaching school-age children, and children with special needs. The chapters in Unit 5, Developmentally Appropriate Activities, give practical suggestions for exploring math and science, encouraging dramatic play and cultural awareness, and promoting literacy and language arts.

Many of the topics address issues that are perplexing for new teachers or, even, controversial. For example, Stephens explains how to approach the bilingual setting. “Early care teachers should make a point to learn words and phrases in the child’s [home] language,” she says. To encourage bilingual development, teachers should make sure they pronounce each child’s name correctly, use the children’s first language to greet and say goodbye, write labels in both English and the children’s home language, and use both languages at snack time (350).

Throughout the text, Stephens provides practical suggestions and assignments within the framework of the philosophy of child development and teacher/administrative responsibilities and goals. The format of Child Care Today should appeal to its intended audience of college students preparing themselves for a career in childhood education. Interesting color photographs, highlighted subtitles, clear charts and graphs support the text.  A detailed Table of Contents and extensive Glossary and Index provide navigational aids. Moreover, the text should assist the novice teacher in his/her own classroom.

About the Author: Karen Stephens, ’76, M.S. ’80, is an instructor in ISU’s Family and Consumer Sciences Department and director of the Child Care Center. Best known for her contributions to family friendly early childhood programming and implementing nature-based preschool curriculum, she has authored books and articles. She is a recipient of the ISU Distinguished Service Award.