Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Janet Smith - Colandra's World

Colandra's World
Caress the Sun - Embrace the Thunder
by Janet Smith

Kindle Edition & Paperback Available through Amazon

Book Two – Colandra’s World: Her Journey Continued is also available

Product Description (from Amazon)
THIS IS A STORY about the the Ayore Village in Paraguay, where Colandra, a ten-year-old mute resides. Pastor Youngblood, the American missionary, has returned to the field, along with his staff. They minister to the Ayore people and teach them the Word of God. This book reveals God's work in Colandra’s life. Salvation and faith are the focus of this story.

About the Author (from Amazon)
Janet Smith is a native of New London, Connecticut. She now resides in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
          She was very active in the community during the Johnson administration. Ms. Smith was the first woman appointed to the New London Redevelopment Commission. She was hired as a program manager with the Model City program. Ms. Smith wrote programs for the education, recreation and public safety departments. Under her leadership, the first hot lunch program was implemented in all the cities' elementary schools. Later, she was employed by the Department of Defense as the Federal Women’s Program Manager. She assisted in writing the documentary "Extraordinary Women of Rhode Island in the 20th Century," which won the PBS best documentary award and the Department of the Navy Best Women’s Program.
          Her first novel, Squeeze My Hand, written in both English and Spanish, has received an award from USA Book News. She is a member of the Treasure Coast Writers and The National League of American Pen Women, Inc.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

I enjoyed this book - at least the parts about Colandra and the missionary work in the village. I have many missionary friends and relatives, and have always enjoyed their stories. So it was with great anticipation that I curled up with this book.
          Unfortunately, the book was not as wonderful as the story that it is telling.
First, I never figured out what the sun and thunder had to do with the story. Maybe I missed something. But I usually expect the title to be inspired by or be the inspiration for a story that I read. At the very beginning of the book, Colandra runs out to greet the rising sun, a poetically beautiful bit of prose that will sweep you up and make you want to run with the small girl, and it isn’t long before you realize that the girl is smart, but deaf.
          Second, the dialogue was frustrating. The voice in my head sounded like I was reading from a 4th grade reader. The conversations were choppy and flitted around without structure much of the time. I found this frustrating and nearly put the book down. I found myself skimming many of the conversations. Many of them felt rushed, out of place, or filler to run up the word total. This was a jarring change from the beautiful prose of the first chapter.
          Third, since I don't like sports and baseball, the long chapters about the baseball games were skimmed over, and I likely missed a few important parts of the story doing this. If you love baseball, or understand the game well, it is very likely that you will enjoy the lengthy descriptions of the missionaries starting up a village team and Colandra’s trip to a major league game. Several chapters are spent describing a game that Colandra umpires shortly after she returns from the USA.
          Fourth, very few of the characters had any depth. Names and quips of conversations - but you never got to know any of them. Colandra was fairly well developed, it was easy to cheer for her. You also got to know a few of the leaders, but only at an acquaintance level.
          Personally, I feel this book would have been much better executed as a series of short stories, with each theme it's own story, or at least it's own chapter. .... Dividing the story into smaller bites would have been a great way to tell the stories - Meet Colandra and her People, Returning Home, Colandra's Ears and a Trip to the USA, Fun with Baseball, Starting a School. ... Many of the sub stories, I would have loved to have heard more about - like the school. I do understand that the author was trying to tell a story chronologically.
It was a beautiful story ... with a lot of baggage to read.
          One thing I found frustrating was how easy it made it sound to live as a missionary. There was no struggle, everything just happened in such a positive way. This left the story feeling flat. For instance, every time the missionaries needed something, somebody knew just the right person, like a doctor for Colandra’s operation and a baseball player who was willing to set up teams with quality equipment. Computers ran with few problems, boxes of curriculum were purchased, shipped, and arrived on time. The only "challenge" in the story was leading the rest of the tribe to Christ, which happened quickly and easily once the missionaries arrived back in their country.
         I feel like this is a wonderful story .... trapped in poor writing, even though there are many moments of brilliance. I wondered if the story was true, it might be, but I was unable to confirm that it is an actual true account.

This would make a good read aloud to children who enjoy baseball. It would also make a good learning platform for a homeschool family. The book lends itself well to learning more about Colandra’s country, the village, and so much more.

Genre/Theme:  Missionary, Christian, Baseball, Special Needs
Reading Level:  CHILD
Profanity: NONE
Sexuality: NONE

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