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Published: Sunday, 12/25/2005

Tales for youngsters show desire for peace

This is one in a series of monthly reviews of books for young people written by four area teachers of children's literature. Today's are by Barbara A. St. John, a retired Bowling Green State University professor of children's literature.

As we approach a New Year our hopes are for a peaceful world. As you will see in these books, the desire for peace has existed throughout the ages.

THE STARS WILL STILL SHINE. Written by Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. Harper Collins. $15.99. Ages 3-8.

Shining stars, blooming flowers, and sleeping kittens are some of the good things that will continue in our lives even in uncertain times.

In this gentle, reassuring book Rylant encourages readers to appreciate everyday treasures. Beeke's bright illustrations reflect the joyous nature of Rylant's verse.

BLOOD RED HORSE. By K.M. Grant. Walker. $16.95. Ages 10-14.

Two boys, a girl who loves them, an amazing little horse, and a war between East and West - definitely the ingredients for adventure and romance set against King Richard's 12th-century Crusades.

Many of the issues dividing East and West will sound familiar to today's audience. Will, Gavin, Ellis, and Hosanna, the little chestnut stallion with a white blaze on his forehead, will enthrall readers. The code of honor that exists between the warriors is impressive. This book will capture readers' hearts.

BLACK POWDER. By Stanton Rabin. McElderry/Simon & Schuster. $16.95. Ages 12 and up.

This is a fascinating blend of time travel and history. When 14-year-old Langston's best friend is killed in a gang war, Langston decides to change history.

What if Roger Bacon had never perfected the formula for gunpowder? Langston borrows his science teacher's experimental time machine and travels to Oxford, England in 1278.

However, changing history is more complex than he had anticipated. It will make readers think: if you could change one historical event, what would you change and what might the repercussions be?

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