Summer Vacation: A Mackenzie & Cristen Adventure (Volume 1) by Belinda Everette (Author), Rosa Maria Garza (Illustrator), Fern Brady (Contributor)
Genre: Middle Grade / Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: June 12, 2016
# of pages: 70
It's the beginning of summer and Uncle Mike and Aunt Melanie invite Mackenzie for an extended summer vacation in their hometown of Houston, Texas. On the first day, Mackenzie finds her cousins, Cristen and Chloe, helping their parents prepare a special meal. Come and learn about the holiday and celebration of Juneteenth with this first book in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a cultural journey of joy, family, and fun!
Summer Vacation is the first installment in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a five part journey of family love and fun. Each adventure finds the cousins learning history, exploring cultural themes and traditions, and discovering the joy in the world around them.
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I loved this book. It was a casual introduction to a serious topic. The purpose of Summer Vacation was met quickly, as it became a medium for me to start conversations with my family and friends about something that I was previously unaware of. It is about a lighthearted girl visiting her family in Texas for the summer, who was introduced to the history and meaning behind Juneteenth as the audience is receiving the same approachable explanation. She took the same blunt approach that I would have wanted in questioning why the topic was not covered in school curriculum and how this is the first time she’s heard of it. I enjoyed how it hinted at a recent situation where this divide still might be proven to be an error for concern, in order for the audience to be aware.
My favorite part of this though was the support the author included with this book. She’s provided discussion questions, essay topics, and multiple choice questions for people to get more in depth with the meaning behind this story. One of the discussion questions asks if the reader thinks Juneteenth should be included in school curriculum and why. My response is yes it should have been, not as a separate topic, but definitely recognized and appreciated when talking about the struggles with this country had with slavery and definitely as a highlight with the Emancipation Proclamation. I would have loved to learn about something like this happening where I grew up because it’s easier to imagine local events.
I’ve already looked into driving the hour down to Galveston where it all took place and going on a history tour and maybe being part of the celebrations next year. I would highly recommend this book to kids of all ages. I will be reading this book to my niece, although she might not grasp the topic, it will be an introduction to the subject. I would rate this five out of five stars. Thank you for the enlightenment.
Like most people, when life throws lemons, you make lemonade and that was certainly the case for Belinda Everette, the author of The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen book series. After twenty-six years as a Senior Vice-President for several Fortune 500 financial institutions, life circumstances required a change. Belinda put down her briefcase, enrolled in Rice University's creative writing program, and began to pursue her lifelong dream of writing.
When not writing, Belinda supports several of her favorite charities which focus on providing housing and improving living conditions for those in need, including Houston's Star of Hope, Covenant House, and Houston Achievement Place.
"Family is my greatest joy," Belinda adds "nothing is better than a houseful of family and friends with lots of children running around, enjoying a delicious meal and good Christian fellowship." Cooking, entertaining, and music along with daughter Ashley, son-in-law Ron, and grandchildren, Mackenzie and Evan, keep live full and happy. Belinda and her constant companion, a four-year old Shih Tzu, reside in suburban Houston, Texas.