FREEMAN COLUMN: Tales of Our Fathers: New Books Offer stories of Family and Heritage for the Holidays

“Jangles: A Big Fish Story”

By David Shannon

For ages 4-8

Everyone who has been fishing has a story to tell. Most are big. But few are as big as the tale of Jangles, who got his name because his mouth is so full of lures, he jingles and jangles as he swims.

When a father tells his son the story of how he came face-to-face with the “biggest fish anyone had ever seen,” he takes the reader on a journey.

As a boy, the father went fishing on Big Lake at dusk. He hooked Jangles, which was frightening enough. It was a total shock when Jangles began to speak. The fish and the boy take a journey together into a dreamlike world and become fast friends.

It’s a big story to be sure, but the father has one bit of proof to pass on to his son: his tackle box full of lures taken from Jangles.

“Molly, By Golly!”

By Dianne Ochiltree

Illustrated by Kathleen Kemly

For ages 4-8

Who was the first female firefighter in the United States? Give up? It was Molly Williams. An African-American woman, she lived in the early 1800s and worked as the cook for volunteer firefighters in New York City.

A heavy snow storm and a particularly bad flu season took their toll and dwindled the number of volunteer firefighters. When a bad fire breaks out, Molly puts her cooking aside and begins warning the neighbors. She helps haul the pumper truck into action, fills buckets with water and dons a hat and gloves to work along side the firefighters. The full spread illustrations and lively text bring the historical tale of Molly Williams to life for young readers. There also is a nice question-and-answer section at the back of the book filled with interesting facts.

“Priscilla the Great: the Kiss of Life”

By Sybil Nelson

For Ages 9-13

Sybil Nelson picks up Priscilla’s story a couple months after the first book in the series ended. As with the first book, this one is filled with action, adventure, new super villains and super powers.

This one is not really about the fighting and villains, it’s about family and boyfriends. Priscilla is struggling with maintaining a long-distance relationship. It doesn’t help that she has to erase her boyfriend’s memory after every visit.

While that is going on, Sybil’s mom is getting sicker. To top it off, something dangerous is nagging at the family and nobody knows what it is. With all this character development and plot momentum, Nelson finds a way to squeeze in the kidnapping of the president’s daughter and a daring rescue.

Fans of the first book, and preteen girls looking for a strong teen character, won’t be disappointed.

McGeath Freeman is a regular columnist for Lowcountry Parent. Address comments, questions or book suggestions to editor@lowcountryparent.com. To see past reviews and more on children’s literature visit McGeath Freeman at www.chapteronereviews.blogspot.com.

McGeath Freeman

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