Lena McCalla Njee has once again captured our hearts with the inspirational story “Ivan Goes Ivy League”.
This sequel to “Ivan Gets a Dream House” captures the essence of an American story that is full of hope, faith, pride, and determination. This story of triumph over adversities crosses all socio-economic and racial barriers. It encompasses the hopes and dreams of any American family. Ivan Goes Ivy League also does an excellent job of dispelling the myths and stereotypes of the African American family, particularly the families that are headed by a single mother. Ivan’s mother is portrayed as a strong but gentle, faith-based woman.
Lena McCalla Njee’s heartfelt depiction of the African American family is rarely seen and written about in mainstream media. It is relevant and is an important story to be told. The characters are real; you feel you know them. This story embodies our challenges, our conflicts, and our victories. Although this story portrays a new chapter in Ivan's life, it is a new chapter in each family member's life.
Ivan Goes Ivy League is a testimony of how hard work, determination, faith, and love of family can raise you above your circumstances.
The picture on the cover was taken at the funeral of his great grandma. His comment through his tears was: “Great Grandma, with these stones I will never forget you.”
A child’s mind is full of potential for super-consciousness. Any event can either propel the mind towards great insights or scar it negatively for life. Death is a critical event in life. How a child’s mind deals with the event of death is in large part dependent on us, who are the child’s support system.
By creating awareness in the child of the temporary nature of the physical body and the lasting nature of the person who resides in it, the child discovers the wonder of life. The child steers away from a negative mind by focusing on the precious quality of every moment with loved ones. He or she realizes the power of nurturing compassionate relationships with elders. Children learn to revel in the recycling of life and become positive super-conscious beings.
So too, in this heartfelt story of little Tobi, we experience within these pages the importance of family ties and the time-tested bond of love between the young and the aged. For after all, love is the true power that fuels our fascinating planet, the cosmos, and existence itself. Love keeps the world going on!
May this book be an inspiration to every little boy or girl who dares to dream.
This book is dedicated to
every child who believes in magic and fairy tales;
every parent who tries to protect their child’s innocence as long as possible;
every parent who must look their child in the eye and answer the hard question;
every parent who comes to the milestone where he or she has to let their child grow and experience life in this imperfect world.
This story is the first in a series written about the adventures of four public school kids in Brockville.
One of the kids, Bobby, is 12 and in Grade 6. The others, Tommy, Mary and Dick are each 10 years old and in Grade 5. Bobby incessantly bullies the others, throwing stones at them, pushing Tommy into the St. Lawrence River and other unfriendly acts.
The kids meet an ancient American who has retired to Brockville and are fascinated by his stories. He is a retired sea captain and he describes some of the mysteries of the sea to them.
The kids live relatively normal lives. They go fishing; they play a first game of golf, and after hearing a career day talk by a police detective, decide to form a club to solve mysteries. Mary is selected as the first President of the club and helps them as they choose to follow Robert’s Rules of Order to run their meetings.
The captain gives them an assignment to investigate and through his efforts, the bully is rehabilitated and the task is handled.
The four young detectives, Tommy, Dick, Bobby and Mary pick a name for their new club. It is the Private Investigators Club (PIC).
Dick suggests that they solve the problem of the missing birds. He has noticed that all the seagulls that normally float over Brockville and the nearby St. Lawrence River are gone.
That afternoon after school they set out to find the birds. Bobby gets his canoe and he and Tommy paddle to McNair Island where the seagulls normally roost. Mary and Dick go to Fulford Place where they can watch from high on a hill.
A strong earthquake strikes the area and a tsunami sweeps by, destroying many homes along the river. The kids are praised for having saved the lives of those they warned and are slated for an awards ceremony at City Hall.
Mary, as President, gives a speech of acceptance and gets into trouble because she steals ideas and words from other great orators. The kids decide that the birds are brainy because they anticipated the earthquake.
The Case of the Cannabis Cat begins with the Frayne family at the dinner table discussing the legalities of arresting a person. Tommy knows the Miranda warning but his Dad points out that the laws are different in Canada.
The next day, a box is delivered to the Frayne home addressed to Tommy. When he opens it, he finds a little cat with a small barrel tied to a ribbon around its neck. He and his little sister are delighted with it but things turn awry when Constable Bidwell turns up and accuses the Fraynes of possession of illegal drugs. Because everyone refuses to answer questions, before long the Fraynes and the rest of the Private Investigators Club are sitting in an interrogation room in the police station.
Luckily, Mary, a.k.a. Brains, knows enough of the law to argue against the 14 year jail term that Constable Bidwell is threatening.
The story provides a look at the laws relating to possession of illegal drugs and gives the young private detectives a good idea about the severe penalties for drug possession and trafficking.
The Case of the Diligent Detectives begins with Bobby running the meeting. It is his turn to be President. He wants the young detectives to become more diligent in their investigations.
He overrules various suggestions for investigation and chooses investigating the brown blotches that are appearing on the grass. He suspects that alien spacecraft are hovering over the city at night and shining powerful laser beams at the ground, thereby causing the death of the grass in various places. He decides that he needs to sit in a pup tent in the park and take photos of any flying saucers that come by.
The others agree to investigate but decide to trick him by building a small flying saucer that they can float over his tent. Dick builds the device and paints his hockey mask green. He gets dressed in green pajamas. After dark, the three conspirators arrive in front of Bobby’s tent and start making alien noises. The trick backfires. Bobby is not amused.
The next night, to make up for their insubordination, the three other detectives camp out and investigate diligently. What happens has to be read to be believed. The story provides an opportunity for the reader to learn Morse code, a little French and the unexplained mysteries of aliens who come in the night.
The Case of the Electrified Envoy starts with Bobby urging the young detectives to be more professional. To that end, he wants everyone to suggest someone whom they can follow as though he were a suspect.
They choose an older man who has just moved to Brockville. Dick acts as scout and reports when the man leaves his apartment. Mary scoots over to the supermarket to observe him. Before long all four of the young detectives have the suspect under control.
The situation rapidly deteriorates when the suspect’s landlady blows their cover. They all congregate in the suspect’s apartment and he tells them what he is doing in Brockville. The discussion gets pretty technical and before long Bobby heads home as he cannot understand it.
The others listen to the tale of the unlikely research the Professor is planning. He sets up a demonstration of a portal to another world. Mary walks through the portal and promptly disappears.
Tommy and Dick are concerned and call the police. Even the Professor is amazed. The story continues with many twists and turns but luckily all the detectives survive..
The Case of the Forgotten Fort is the sixth story in the Private Investigators Club series. If you have read the introductions to the other stories in the series, you will appreciate the fact that the young detectives like solving mysteries.
The story starts with Bobby suggesting that they try to find out what the City of Brockville is hiding in the closed and locked railway tunnel under the city. That night they go exploring, break into the tunnel and find many items that they conclude the Department of Public Works is storing there.
Mary gets caught as she leaves the tunnel and is forced to seal the others inside. Tommy’s uncle, a detective on the police force, comes to her aid and releases the boys. However, some illegal activities are discovered, and Mary is provided police protection.
The story includes some police lingo, a police lineup and a police arrest. The story continues with many twists and turns but the young detectives survive and are instrumental in improving the tourist attractions to Brockville.
The Case of the Greedy Goat starts with Tommy reporting that he has received an invitation for the club members to have a holiday at Mr. J’s cottage in return for helping him open it for the summer. With some difficulty he leads them through the formal procedures to accept the invitation.
They are driven to Chaffey’s Lock and taken by boat to a remote cottage on Scott Island. While working on the task of getting the water system working, their cell phones mysteriously disappear. Mr. J suspects that the Greedy Goat has eaten them.
The story continues as the detectives search for their phones, assist with some difficult maintenance tasks and have a few adventures. They fear that Mr. J has flipped and try, unsuccessfully, to escape.
Luckily, the detectives get some water skiing in and a meal at the Tincap restaurant on their way home..
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Tommy Frayne, President of the PIC for the next mystery, sees an ad in the newspaper offering a reward if someone finds a missing dog. The PIC decides to take on this challenge, using the cover story that they are looking for business for Dick's Lawn Service.
They are wildly successful in getting lawn mowing business, but have no success in finding the missing collie. They have to expand the club to 25 members, auction off items their customers don't need, and, somehow, find the hidden hound.
They get into trouble when some officials do what Bobby calls a "Bee Sting" trick on them. Luckily, their police officer club member, Tanya Patel, comes to their rescue.