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Paperback Book Details
  • 06/2022
  • 9781958176801
  • 88 pages
  • $8.99
Pamella Russell
Author, Translator
Adventures of the Sací Kids: A New Home

Middle Grade; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Four foster children meet an elf called Sací. sheltering in an antique rum barrel. He's a one-legged trickster in a magical red cap who smells like rotten eggs and travels in a dust tunnel - an orphan of sorts and a long way from his home in the jungles of Brazil. Add to the mix a crafty antiques' dealer who tries to cheat the children out of their discovery. What lessons will they all learn as they bond together and discover a new definition of friendship and family? That discovery will help them define who they are and what they need to be whole. The adventures await...
Blue Ink Review

In Pamella A. Russell’s children’s chapter book, a young girl finds an old barrel on the beach with strange noises coming from it. Wanting to explore it further, she brings it home, unaware the barrel contains a mythical elfin-like figure—who is alive.

Eleven-year-old Holly is the newest foster child in her family. Along with three other children, she finds love and stability with Ma and Pop Spears. The morning after Holly finds the barrel, strange events occur: Flour is spread across the kitchen floor with traces of a small, solitary footprint, along with other perplexities. After Holly tells her siblings she has seen two glowing red eyes in a corner of the barn, they investigate. Suddenly, a whirlwind kicks up, revealing a one-legged elf with a red cap and pipe. He introduces himself as Saci and later reveals he’s a character from Brazilian folklore, and indeed loves mischief making.

Then one day, Mr. Drudge, owner of a failing antique shop, walks into the barn seeking objects to sell on commission for Ma Spears. The kids hide Saci in the barrel and refuse to show it to Mr. Drudge when he spots it. Later, when the barrel goes missing, they know Mr. Drudge is the thief—and unknowingly has Saci. The plot continues with action and humor, unfolding seamlessly.

Russell does a lovely job giving the children’s characters various quirks and qualities, revealing a bit about their traumatic childhoods. And some descriptions are lovely: “There was a healing quality to the rhythmic sound of the waves smacking against the sand, to the seagulls raucously calling out to each other, to the loneliness, the stillness, and the peace.” With Saci’s innocence, playfulness and humor, readers will surely want more adventures with Saci.

Pacific Book Review

Holly, a 12-year-old foster child, lives in a rural part of Maryland’s Eastern shore, featuring beaches, marshes, boats and the Chesapeake Bay. Writing is where she finds strength and refuge. One day at the beach, she uncovers a small barrel that contains Saci, a brown, elf-like creature with a potbelly and eyes that glow red when he is angry. Saci is a shapeshifter and a mischievous trickster with a magical red cap. In old folklore told by black slaves in Brazil, he pranked the masters of sugar plantations.

In this story on the Maryland farm, he causes the cows to stop giving milk, the hens to stop laying eggs, and the knitting to come unraveled. He also braids the tails of two horses together. All of this upsets Holly’s foster mom, a Bible-quoting, kind Christian woman. The book mixes some Christian symbolism with the Brazilian folklore. Along with the three other foster children in the home (Ashely, Drew and Ethan), Holly tries to figure out what to do about all this chaos. Then a mean, menacing antiques dealer shows up at the barn and foils their plans. What follows is a fun and lively adventure to protect Saci and the four kids.

We find out just how brave, resourceful, smart and kind Holly is. In the end, the kids learn about loyalty, friendship and miracles. Life is unpredictable, as Saci says. The ending would have been better if it had been more developed and extended further as it left me wanting more. We see the immediate outcome of the adventure, but not how their lives will change as a result of it.

Russell is a skilled writer with a good sense of what kids will like. She definitely succeeds in offering an entertaining and enjoyable story for kids. The inclusion of Saci gives her storytelling a valuable, unique element that is probably new to most American readers. This story is short and could probably benefit from a deeper, longer exploration of all four foster kids and their different identities. Getting to know more about these characters would allow readers to care even more about them. The dialog is written well and is serviceable. Overall, this book is a very engaging and fun read. Without hesitation, I’d recommend it for kids ages 6-10.

The US Review of Books

Book review by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW

"Suddenly, an eerie whistling emerged from the barrel, like someone mourning for the dead and exhaling the sound through shadowy graveyards."

This delightful story revolves around four foster care children who have hit the jackpot in living with Mom and Pop Spears, after having gone through a variety of traumas that led to social services involvement. The Spears offer love and support and embrace the various needs of the kids. This blended family includes one girl with ADHD, an African American boy who struggles with self-esteem issues, another very lonesome boy, and the natural leader of the group—Holly. Additionally, the family includes pets and barnyard animals. Holly makes a discovery and shares it with her siblings, but they keep it secret, especially as a local merchant steals a certain barrel. This barrel houses Saci, a mischievous elflike trickster who has been sowing havoc everywhere he goes. The adventure keeps the kids busy and bonds them closer. But what is Saci up to? He’s stuck back in the barrel.

Written for ages nine through twelve, the story is based on Brazilian folklore, which examines people, culture, family, and language, with Saci as one of the native tricksters. Written with humor, the adventure is fun and entertaining. It teaches children that goodness can happen out of sorrow and hurt, and joy can still be found in the world. It also teaches how differences based on skin color, disabilities, and abilities—and all other things that make an individual unique—need to be embraced by everyone. The tale relates to everyone, not just to children, for humanity is birthed in such lore. Russell has penned a special book that everyone can enjoy while also learning about compassion and love. It helps broaden the definition of what it means to be a family.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Children's Books, Novel Sold Locally

By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer

(Oct. 29, 2020) The Greyhound Independent Bookstore and Fine Arts Gallery, 9 S. Main St., welcomed three authors for book signings in conjunction with Oktoberfest on Oct. 17.

Berlin resident Pamella Russell signs copies of her children’s book at The Greyhound Independent Bookstore and Fine Arts Gallery during the Oktoberfest celebration on Oct. 17.

Pamella A. Russell, who has lived in Berlin for over 20 years, has released her debut children’s book, “Adventures of the Sací Kids: A New Home.”

Russell lived in São Paulo, Brazil for six years, from the age of 15 to 21 years old. She developed a love for the Brazilian people, culture, language, music and the rich folklore.

Sací-Pererê is one of Brazil’s most popular folk characters.

Sací is a one-legged prankster in a magical red cap, who smells like rotten eggs and travels in a dust tunnel. He was made famous by the renowned Brazilian author Monteiro Lobato (1882-1948).

“He didn’t really invent Sací because Sací was already a product of the slaves … that the Portuguese brought over from Africa, but he is the one who really made it into a children’s character, and his book became a classic in Brazil,” Russell said.

Her book, which was first self-published through Xlibris, redefines family and teaches the importance of love and belonging through four main characters: Holly, 11, Ethan, 13, Drew, 12, and Ashley, 8.

The children have all been placed in a foster home, where they meet Sací.

“We have so many homeless children in our country,” Russell said. “I came from the foster care system, and so that’s kind of near and dear to my heart as well, that foster children be found in good, happy, healthy homes, where they can feel loved and safe. And I tried to project that a little bit in the foster home these children lived in.”

Russell also hopes her book introduces young American readers to the famous folk character and ignites a joy in multiculturalism.

“There is so much beauty in the stories and the cultures of other countries,” she said.

“Adventures of the Saci Kids: A New Home” targets children ages 9 to 12 and is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

Russell added that she plans to give copies to the county libraries in Delaware in Milton, Greenwood and South Coastal in Bethany Beach.

Russell is the former assistant director of the Sussex County Delaware Libraries. She retired in 2005.

“As a librarian, I just want children to read,” she added. “As a matter of fact, that’s what I write in a lot when I sign the books, ‘Read, read and read!’”

Russell plans to do a few sequels and then some translating of multicultural literature.

“I’d love to be able to do more translating than writing,” Russell said. “I’d love to be able to get some of these Brazilian children’s books and get them translated into English because they have so much to offer.”

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Paperback Book Details
  • 06/2022
  • 9781958176801
  • 88 pages
  • $8.99