From the country of Portugal comes a fresh new take on the genre of middle-grade fantasy. In the days of the Templars, heroes bravely sacrifice everything to seal away a deadly threat. But the forces of evil are not so easily extinguished. The insidious force remains, seeking to one day overthrow all that is good in the world.
Sofia Gama, a Portuguese schoolgirl in the modern day, soon learns that she is a part of this mysterious world of magic and mystery and will have her own part to play in saving the world from utter annihilation. However, when the truth of her story comes forward too quickly, Sofia must harness the strength within her spirit to do what is right and protect those she loves.
Translated from its original Portuguese, Sofia’s story is a fantasy adventure that thinks outside the box. A tale is woven over a thousand years of world events, the interplay of the fantastic and historical meld together perfectly. The historical information was, in most respects, correct. However, as this book was originally in another language, there are a few interestingly translated words throughout. Additionally, I was nearly a quarter of the way through the book before Sofia’s part of the story truly began.
Once the book takes off, it is a nonstop rollercoaster of an adventure. Sofia and her best friends Eduardo, Joana, and Filipe face dangerous magic, evil henchmen, and despicable bullies. The descriptions of the Portuguese coast and school life, something an American audience seldom gets to see, were the best moments of this story. Add that to the unique perspective of a magical world where there is no separation between the sacred and the secular, and you get an incredible adventure that’s as out of the box as it gets. From hardcore single dad Miguel to the spunky Joana, the characters in this narrative are as vibrant and memorable as the colors of the rainbow.
A tale of faith, family, and friendship, Sofia Gama and the Templar’s Prophecy by Isabel Ricardo is a thrilling young adult fantasy novel. This in-depth book is perfect for avid readers who crave something new and great for ages 12 and up due to fantasy violence, fatalities, and mild language. An original take on an established genre, Sofia’s story is packed full of surprises and suspense in a truly unforgettable story.
Pages: 417 | ISBN : 1949868605
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The Ghost of the Torn Underpants follows a ghost that is given a unique name and is teased for it, he learns to accept his different name with the help of a new friend. What was the inspiration for your story?
The inspiration was really my children. I used to try to spook them by going into their room with a sheet covering me, waving my arms and yelling that I was The Ghost of the Torn Underpants. Of course they would always burst out laughing. At a certain point, young children accompanying their older siblings to signings of my THE ADVENTURER’S series asked me to write something for them too, and so I indulged them. I reminisced in that game I used to play with my children and one summer I decided to write the story of that playful little Ghost who was marginalized by others due to his crazy name, and was deeply saddened by this. And it has been a great success!
The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Pedro Pires?
After writing this book I searched for an illustrator whose work I admired a lot, Pedro Pires. In this case I sent him the book and left it to his creativity. I had no idea what would come out of his hands. When we hear about ghosts, we always have this common image in our minds, but the illustrator’s vision was very original and innovative, with a ghost with red hair so long that it even wrapped around the lamps. I was surprised by the final product, but I enjoyed the uniqueness. And it was a good choice indeed, because kids love him and they really like his different and strange look.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The main theme is the acceptance of difference and diversity. This book has a pedagogic component to it. I wanted to demonstrate to all children, through a fun way, that we are all different, but at the same time, all the same. We all have hearts and feelings that must be respected and we must not treat differently those who are different from us. This way, children learn to accept and respect difference with ease. During the course of this story, we also discover the value of friendship.
This is a Portuguese children’s literature bestseller, with successive editions, very dear to children of all ages, as well as Educators, Parents and Teachers.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently writing my next historical novel, in Portuguese, which always takes longer as it requires very deep and comprehensive research. Later this year, Underline Publishing will release “The Enchanted Forest”, as well as “The Forgotten Treasure”, the second volume of The Port of the Grail trilogy, in succession of The Quest for the Lost Map. There will also be a new adventure: “The Adventurers in Underground River”.
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Posted by Literary_Titan
A ghost has the unfortunate luck of getting bestowed the name Ghost of the Torn Underpants. Now the way it works is once another ghost gives a name to an unnamed ghost, it can not be changed; that is just how it works. Upset and frustrated at the constant teasing he endured after receiving this name, Ghost of the Torn Underpants moved to a new mansion alone. He was very lonely, but it was better than being teased nonstop over a name he could not change.
One day the ghost postman brought him an invitation to a party at his old mansion. He decided to give it a try as he was lonely all alone. He found a girl ghost sitting alone when he arrived, looking sad. When he asked her what her name was, she shyly said it was Ghost of the Backwards Dress. She was teased just as much as he was, and they formed a friendship. Together they learned to love their unique names and realize being different does not make you a bad person or less worthy of friendship and respect.
The Ghost of the Torn Underpants, written by Isabel Ricardo and illustrated by Pedro Pires, is a captivating children’s story about differences and accepting those that are not the same as you. With the increase in diversity in schools, there are many names children have never heard before. I think this book is an excellent resource for teachers and parents to show that names are unique and not something to be teased about. Ricardo teaches children about acceptance of themselves and others, standing up for themselves, and the value of friendship.
The bold and beautiful watercolor illustrations bring this meaningful story to life. The Ghost of the Torn Underpants has bright red hair that waves like a flame. This makes him stand out visually as well as his name, drawing attention from the other ghosts that fit a more traditional appearance. All the illustrations are engaging with small details that children can pick up on and look for. This is further enhanced by an exercise at the end of the book. The author asks questions about what children saw in the pictures, like how many letters the postman carries.
The Ghost of the Torn Underpants is a well-crafted children’s book combining important messages about acceptance, diversity, and friendship. The author writes in a manner that young kindergarten children will understand the message but is mature enough that children in older grades will be drawn to the story as well.
Pages: 37 | ASIN : B08QG9NGK8
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The Adventurers and the Treasure Cave follow four cousins that despite their differences come together to solve a mystery involving a WWII submarine. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I idealized “The Adventurers and the Treasure Cave” at the request of readers who, after having read my first published book: “The Enchanted Forest”, grew up in the meantime and asked me to write adventure books that would be different from the ones available on the market at the time. I remembered those first adventure books I wrote when I was 11 years old, books that had pleased me so much, so I decided to humour them and thus, “The ADVENTURERS” were born. Instead of creating new characters, I took inspiration from my nephews. I also did not wish to include a dog, as was usual in this kind of young adult book, and so I took inspiration upon a friend’s pet crow, who can mimic everything and everyone in perfection, creating the most hilarious situations. The villains were also inspired by real people, who, in some way, I felt had wronged me. As for the location, it had to, of course, be Nazaré, my hometown that is so very special to me and such an amazing source of inspiration.
Currently, this collection is composed of 14 published books with many sold out editions.
How did the mystery develop for this story? Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically?
After idealizing the characters and becoming convinced that this first adventure would take place in Nazaré, I reminisced in ancient legends that my grandmother used to tell me about the history of Nazaré, such as the cave called Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth), who the elders claimed was a meeting spot for pirates, for Nazaré used to be plagued by the likes of them. I also decided to include the real story of the sunken German submarine, a little ways into the ocean in front of the beach, since I thought youngsters would get a kick out of knowing this, such as I did when I first heard about it. In addition, during my research I came across a very ancient book that was written by a monk in the 17th century, who portrayed the history of Nazaré and thus, the plot came to me naturally. After this, all I had to do was write. The completed work gave me immense pleasure.
What research did you do for this novel to get it right?
I always visit the sites where the story will take place, in order to better capture the ambiance and, this way, better transmit it to my readers, encouraging them to later visit those same locations. My main goal is to captivate my younger audience into reading more and provide to them the charm and enthusiasm I used to feel when I was their age. In this particular case it was different, since I’ve always lived in Nazaré and everything was familiar to me. All I had to do was investigate all the information, return to the sites and photograph them, in order to facilitate the illustrator’s work.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently writing my next historical novel, in my native language which is Portuguese, which demands very deep and intense research and a lot of focus. I am also preparing a few children and young adult books to be published later this year by Underline Publishing, such as: “The Enchanted Forest”; “The Forgotten Treasure”, the continuation of “The Quest for the Lost Map”, which is set to be released in the second semester of 2022; and also another adventure with these five special friends: “The Adventurers in the Underground River”.
I have also very recently published “Sofia Gama and the Templar’s Prophecy”, the first volume of the Warrior’s of Light, that I think will positively surprise and excite readers. In March, the historical novel: “The Last Conspirator” is set to be published by Underline Publishing as well.
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There is something mysterious going on, and Chris and Bea can’t quite pinpoint what it is. They know very little, but they work hard to put all the pieces together. They know this trip to their cousins’ house is sudden, and their father acts very suspiciously. Their mother is distracted–more than is typical for her. Nothing is adding up, and the two of them know one thing–this plan to stay with cousins they don’t actually remember meeting is the last thing they had on their agenda. Something is waiting for Chris and his sister, Bea, but what?
The Adventurers and the Treasure Cave, by Isabel Ricardo, follows the relationship between young cousins forced to spend time together despite their differences. However, when suspicious circumstances send Chris and Bea to stay with Tony and Daniel, things become heated before they have a chance to begin their adventure together. Between the differences in the way they are being raised and the distraction of Chris and Bea’s pet crow, Jack, it seems these four will never be able to come to an understanding, much less get to the bottom of the mystery before them.
Jack keeps the story light and brings something new to every page. Ricardo does a beautiful job of writing the family dynamic–the family unit is a strong part of Ricardo’s overall theme. We don’t all have perfect families where everyone always gets along and actually wants to be together. Her description of the altercations between cousins is dead-on and adds an element of reality to her tale. The little quirks she includes make her characters believable, and their exchanges are relatable. As a teacher, I love incorporating history into this fiction story. I appreciate the opportunity to bring history and geography into lessons whenever possible. I will state that there is mild cursing, so it’s not a book I would choose to read aloud with students. Ricardo gives readers reasons to explore outside the book once they are done reading and encourages the study of historical events and the origins of legends.
The Adventurers and the Treasure Cave is a wonderful mystery for younger readers who enjoy historical accuracy mixed in with their fiction. With vivid imagery and relatable characters, this exciting novel will quickly win over fans.
Pages: 199 | ISBN : 1949868354
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The Quest for the Lost Map follows a group of teenagers that discover a map to the lost treasure of the Knights Templar. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I’ve always admired the Templars due to their noble code of conduct, their legendary courage and discipline. As I referred in my book, in combat they were always the first to strike and the last to retreat. They could not beg for mercy or pay ransom for their own lives if captured. They would fight to the death and could retreat only if outnumbered by their enemies three to one. The Order’s honor demanded the sacrifice of one’s own life. In addition to being fearless, they were also deeply respected by their enemies. For all of this, they’ve always invoked in me a certain fascination. During the time when I was writing the 9th volume in another young adult series (The Adventurers), this trilogy’s special plot came to me naturally, inspiring me to create these characters and involving the Knight Templars. I’m always very excited with the creation of new characters and mysterious situations.
Which character in the novel do you feel you relate to more and why?
I very much relate to all of the characters in this book, even the thug Simon, who I had so much fun creating. I particularly liked Sara, not only for her personality, with which I relate greatly, but also for her difficult life. It’s very special to be able to dive into those times, dream about them, transport myself to them, live those moments, thrill myself with the characters, and discover facts or details so interesting that I cannot resist transmiting them to my readers, providing them with this same pleasure.
What research did you do for this novel to get the history of the Knights Templar right?
I always do a lot of research for all of my books and I have published 36 so far. I read everything there is about the chosen time so that I can be aware of all the occurrences, the traditional customs, how they dressed, how they spoke, what they ate and what they drank, in a way that I feel transported to that time as if I was living there, living with the characters which existed and the ones I’ve created. And that’s how I can transmit this feeling to my readers. In this case, the exhaustive research landed on the Templar’s Order. I’ve always been astounded by the infamous and unjust conspiracy against them. So, I wished to transmit this knowledge to my young readers, so they could get to know them like I do. I deem it very important to learn something as you read. If you can associate learning to the pleasure of reading, then that is just excellent.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently writing my next historical novel, in my native language which is Portuguese. The next volume in this trilogy, “The Forgotten Treasure”, is set to be released in the second semester of 2022. Furthermore, in the beginning of 2022, the first volume of the Warrior’s of Light, “Sofia Gama and the Templar’s Prophecy”, and the historical novel, “The Last Conspirator”, are set to be published by Underline Publishing as well.
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The Quest for the Lost Map by Isabel Ricardo starts by taking you back to 1307. A secret order has just been given by King Philip IV to capture, imprison, torture, and kill all Knights Templar in France. However, Grand Master Jacques de Molay discovered word of the plan. He calls upon Templar Jean-Luc to escape before the captures begin, entrusting him with the safekeeping and safety of a very important map. Jean-Luc flees for safe land in Portugal where he cannot be captured, with the map tucked safely away. There, he lives the remainder of his life with other Knights Templar, safe from King Philip IV’s harsh sentence.
Fast forward to the present day. Gabrielle and her kids, Andy and Kelly, have just been given the opportunity to vacation in Sesimbra. The only catch is that they have to take on Mike, the troubled son of a family friend. On vacation, they meet the mysterious Sarah, a teenager with a dark secret.
At the same time, a group of men has been hired to seek out the secret map from so long ago. Through misfortune and a lot of adventure, the teenagers and the dangerous men all end up with the same mission; finding the map that will lead them to the Holy Grail.
The author writes in a way that draws you into the story immediately. From the first line to the last, readers will be fully immersed and wondering what was going to happen next. The backstory of Jean-Luc and the Templars is based on factual events in history that will entice historical fiction readers. The author does an excellent job of describing the scene without becoming redundant. She tied up the backstory of the Kings Templar nicely without a lot of unneeded fluff.
The Quest for the Lost Map really started to pick up speed when it flips to the present time. Readers will laugh and relate to the relationship between siblings Andy and Kelly. Kelly is the typical sister, annoyed at everything her brother does. When it counts, though, they are there for one another. It was nice to see them grow in maturity, too, through lessons learned from Mike and Sarah. Sarah’s rough past made her grow up quickly, but she certainly taught her new friends some important life lessons.
This novel shows the strong bond of friendship among the teens, everybody comes together to help a girl in need. Sarah has not had an easy life, she is not use to anyone being willing to help her. Although they have only just met her, everybody really comes together to help get her out of her situation. The unity and close bonds remind you that there are good people out there. Of course, that isn’t to say that the kids don’t try to take matters into their own hands when things aren’t moving quickly enough for their liking.
When it comes to the group of men searching for the secret map, they are supposed to be dangerous. Instead, they seem more grumpy and irritated but not threatening. Isabel Ricardo does a great job inserting humor as the teens outsmart the men on more than one occasion.
The Quest for the Lost Map: The Port of the Grail Trilogy Book 1 will entertain historical fiction lovers, especially those that have a passion for the Knights Templar. Readers that enjoy young adult fiction will find enjoyment following the teens adventures and antics. This is a great start to the series.
Pages: 335 | ISBN: 1949868427
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