Story Monsters Ink January Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!


Sleep, My Bunny
by Rosemary Wells (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
Patterns and habits fill our lives. Silently, they lead and guide. Whether morning rituals as we begin our day, or evening activities to end it. In this little story, nature follows along as little bunny winds down. Children learn by repetition, and these wonderful stories help to reinforce their own special habits and patterns. (Ages 2-5)

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A Piglet Named Mercy
by Kate DiCamillo, Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
The superbly talented Kate DiCamillo has taken her middle grade series about a precocious pig named Mercy Watson and brought it into the laps of younger readers in Mercy’s picture book debut! Mr. and Mrs. Watson are very low-key “predictable” people who start to wonder if there might be something more exciting out in the world. Lo and behold, a tiny, pink (and very unpredictable) pig finds her way to the Watsons’ doorstep and captures their hearts from their first snuggle in her piggie blanket. (Ages 2-5)

Oliver Elephant 
by Lou Peacock, Helen Stephens (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
This sweet-toned rhyme gathers together all the heartwarming feelings of the holiday. Loving regards, planning, and sharing. Gift giving is a joy on both sides, and regaining treasures thought lost is such a happy time. The book is delightful, and the illustrations by Stephens are truly a treat. (Ages 2-5)

Go Away, Big Green Monster!
by Ed Emberley (Little, Brown and Company) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
This is a die-cut book which creates a monster as you turn the pages. It is an excellent way to teach young readers about facing their fears in the dark. First you see his yellow eyes, then his big green nose and sharp white teeth. When the scary monster reaches completion, the reader then turns the pages and each piece of the monster disappears. This groundbreaking book about mastering fear and emotion through play and imagination has been a bestselling favorite for decades and feels as fresh and innovative today as it did 25 years ago. (Ages 2-5)

Peep and Ducky: It’s Snowing!
by David Martin, David Walker (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Peep and Ducky: It’s Snowing! is a rhyming story that will appeal to younger readers. David Martin chooses predictable rhyming to entice the reader while telling a story about the simplicity and joys of playing in the snow with a friend. David Walker’s use of color and mixed media brings the story to life on each page. Children will be sure to enjoy this delightful story about friendship. Find a comfy chair and some warm cocoa—this book is perfect for reading and snuggling with your little one as the snow begins to fall. (Ages 3+)

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We Are (Not) Friends
by Anna Kang, Christopher Weyant  (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
Navigating friendships can sometimes make for a tricky ride. Just when you think you got things figured out, something or (someone) comes along and forces change. These adorable friends show us it really is possible to work out those awkward and uncomfortable bumps along the way. (Ages 3-7)

Great Dog
by Davide Cali, Miguel Tanco (Tundra Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
Some of us may be thrust into situations beyond our control, and totally contrary to anything we know. Whether adoption into a new family, or a whole new cultural relocation, the new side has opened itself widely to you. In this story, a loving father shares the family lineage. In response to questions of doubt, he repeatedly assures his little one he will be a perfect fit, as all of those before him were. (Ages 3-7)

Invisible Jerry
by Adam Wallace, Giuseppe Poli (EK Books) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Beautiful, soft, and poignant illustrations showcase a story that will be imprinted on children’s hearts long after the story has been shared. Invisible Jerry reminds readers of all ages what it feels like to be powerless, invisible, and irrelevant. Sweet Jerry wasn’t targeted or picked on, he was just ignored every single day of his school age life. Until Molly came along. So many discussion points for children to ask/answer questions about themselves and their own friendships. A thought-provoking tale that will surely inspire readers. (Ages 4-7)

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Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters
by Michael Mahin, Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
As the story goes, Muddy was never one to follow directions, whether it was when his grandma told him to stay out of the mud or when he played his own music despite requests from a record producer. Muddy listened to the beat in his own heart and shared his love and talent for a powerful jazzy sound created with his gift of guitar playing and singing about life with authenticity, vivid words, and emotion. Looking for a book to inspire others to be themselves and strive to reach their lifelong goals? This one is ready to change the world, one reader at a time. (Ages 4-8) 

Everything is Connected 
by Jason Gruhl, Ignasi Font (Bala Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
This powerful and healing concept that everything is interconnected is written by an accomplished educator and family psychologist. Gruhl believes in children, and desires that every child who has felt isolated or different discovers the unexpected and delightful ways we are all connected, so they never feel alone. (Ages 4-8)

The 5 O’Clock Band
by Troy Andrews, Bryan Collier (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
Shorty lives in New Orleans, where the streets breathe with life, and magic fills the air with music. The culture captures his heart, and the music fills his soul. Finding an old discarded trombone, his life begins to take shape. Forming a band with his friends teaches him commitment, and falling short of that commitment teaches him the importance of faithfulness to it. The wonderful streets of his lively hometown once again lead his heart to understand the value of a man, and what it takes for him to be a leader. The story is lively and full of heart, and holds the magic of childhood in the streets of New Orleans. (Ages 4-8)

If You Give the Puffin a Muffin
by Timothy Young (Schiffer) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
This is a hilarious and surprising story about a moody little puffin who encounters a lot of unpleasant and irritating situations in “his” book. Yes, he realizes we are reading about him and he is not happy about it! Puffin wishes we would just focus our attention on penguins and stop asking him to eat silly things just because they rhyme with his name. This would be a fun fiction and non-fiction book lesson and who knows, maybe this little Puffin wouldn’t mind that pairing! (Ages 5-6)

Four Seasons of Fun: Egg Hunts! Fireworks! Pumpkins! Reindeer!
by Pamela Duncan Edwards, Sylvie Daigneault (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
This is truly a lovely book. The illustrations are as warm and engaging as the soft rhythm of poetry, as it floats through the joys of childhood and the wonder of nature that plays alongside us. Whether a gentle read before bedtime, or a snuggle read on the porch swing, this book is sure to be a favorite. (Ages 5-7)

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Imagine
by Juan Felipe Herrara, Lauren Castillo (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
What is it that you dream about? Imagine what you could do. This young son of a migrant family learned how hard it was to pick up and move each year. His childhood began in the fields, helping his mama pick flowers and feed the chickens. In school, he learned to spell words in English by pronouncing them in Spanish. His words became songs and poems … and he became the Poet Laureate of the United States of America and stood at the podium at the Library of Congress in front of his proud family and friends. This is a story about building your dreams, working hard, and reaching for the stars. (Ages 5-9)

Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair
by Kate Messner, Heather Ross (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
These adorable mice take their place as class pets very seriously. Always observing and participating in classroom activities, they become very excited about the school’s science fair. Zeke quickly becomes very disappointed when he learns he IS the experiment. But these two incredible mice not only find a way to enter, but to win! A fun early chapter book that will encourage young readers. I loved it! (Ages 6-9)

Eddie Motion and the Tangible Magik 
by Suzanne de Malplaquet (Think Success Ltd) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
What a great adventure of empowerment! Everyone can glean from this amazing journey. These two insightful kids are led on a path of discovery by creative creatures and newfound friends, bringing light, balance, and harmony to their lives. Self helps and formulas are provided, along with depths of insight that can help any of us on our own personal journey. (Ages 6-12)

Winnie’s Great War
by Lindsay Mattick, Josh Greenhut, Sophie Blackall (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Here is a heartwarming imagining of the real journey undertaken by the extraordinary bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh. From her early days with her mama in the Canadian forest, to her remarkable travels with the Veterinary Corps across the country and overseas, and all the way to the London Zoo where she met Christopher Robin Milne and inspired the creation of the world’s most famous bear. Any child who loves Winnie the Pooh will enjoy learning about the real bear that inspired all the books. I bonded with Winnie as, through all her terrible ordeals, she holds onto hope and finds the courage within her to face the next adventure. (Ages 8-11)

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Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World
by Vashti Harrison (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
This is truly an inspiring book. To single out any one achievement would be an injustice to the remaining, for each one is amazing in her own right. These women pressed beyond being viewed as odd, impractical, or idealistic, and dared to dream! They saw their world differently, and asked questions no one else was asking. They were trailblazers, innovators, and visionaries who not only made astounding discoveries in their day, but many that impact the world as we know it. (Ages 8-12)

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights 
by Malala Yousafzai, Sarah J. Robbins (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights is a book about courage, standing up for what we believe, and the power of the human spirit.  Malala Yousafzai is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a true role model for all human beings. When a terrorist took over the region in Pakistan where Malala lived and declared that girls could no longer go to school, Malala challenged that and went to school anyhow at the risk of her life. She feels a girl should have as much right as a boy to go to school and I agree. She is an hero and an inspiration. Thank you, Malala for leading the way! (Ages 8-12)

Beauty and Bernice
by Nancy Viau, Timothy Young (Schiffer) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Beauty and Bernice is a fun story about middle schoolers fitting in and finding their place and who they are. There’s Bernice, who loves skateboarding, and there’s Odelia, the pink “princess” who lives across the street. An unlikely pairing, however, they both learn and grow from each other once they let go of their obvious differences. (Ages 8-12)

Bah! Humbug!
by Michael Rosen, Tony Ross (Walker Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
An unforgettable retelling of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic. Harry Gruber plays the role of Scrooge in his school’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” and he is extra nervous about the evening’s performance because his father is in the audience — not away for business, as usual. Will the story’s message of Christmas cheer and the redemptive power of love reach his father’s distracted Scrooge heart? A wonderful story with a heartfelt message. (Ages 8-12)

Strays Like Us
by Cecilia Galante (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
From the moment Fred (never Winifred!) spots a scruffy little mutt with sad eyes, she knows she’s in big trouble. Toby’s in bad shape, and Fred longs to rescue him from the old man with the mile-long mean streak who lives next door. But Margery—the straight-talking woman who is fostering Fred—says going over to their house is against the rules. This story opens the world of addiction and dementia for young readers and proves that a young teen can find the courage to overcome every obstacle in her way to happiness. (Ages 8-12)

The Spirit of Cattail County
by Victoria Piontek (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sparrow doesn’t have many friends. Some kids believe her house near the swamp is haunted. Others think there’s something “unusual” about her. But Sparrow’s not lonely—she has a best friend who’s always with her. He sits with Sparrow on her porch swing. He makes her smile by playing pranks in church. Yet Sparrow is the only one who can see him ... because the boy is a ghost. This is a magical tale that weaves like a magic spell in and out of reality. There are so many twists and turns and surprises. A great bedtime book! (Ages 8-12)

The Hotel Between 
by Sean Easley (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 
This is a great novel and the writing is fabulous! It carries a soft tone that quickly feels familiar, and leads safely through the uncertainty of mystery and magic. Cameron, driven by images of a lost past, fears his present and is blinded to the future, hopelessly wishing and yearning for what once was. In Cameron’s desperate search to find answers, he tries to uncover the past and comes face to face with the true power within himself. This story has heart, adventure, and wonder! (Ages 9-12)

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Everything Else in the Universe
by Tracy Holczer (Puffin Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
When her dad is sent to Vietnam to serve as an Army doctor, Lucy and her mother are forced to move to San Jose, California, to be near their gregarious, quirky Rossi relatives. Then her father is injured, and Lucy’s mother has her move in with the Rossis to give her father some space to adjust and heal. Lucy feels pushed aside and left out of everything. Until a curious boy named Milo—whose own father is still in Vietnam—along with a mysterious packet of photographs and an eye-opening mission make Lucy see there’s more to life, and helps to heal her broken family. Young readers will learn the point of view and mindset of returning vets and will become engrossed in following the clues to solve the mystery. A feel-good book if ever there was one. (Ages 10+)

One Chance
by Sarah Frank (Bealu Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Being an orphan is tough and not knowing why makes it that much harder for Sandy. But now she’s being sent to a new orphanage and middle school and needs to look forward, not back. Before moving, Sandy meets Brian at school, and he reveals the existence of the magical Stone of Discedo that allows whoever has it to time travel. Maybe this is her one chance to go back in time and find out what happened to her parents. However, the stone has its own history and its own rules. Readers won’t be able to put this one down until the last page. (Ages 10-12) 

The Turnaway Girls
by Hayley Chewins (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, 12-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. But she would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Freedom—to sing, to change, to live—is precisely what’s at stake. Brilliantly written! Every page seems to reveal a secret. I hope to read another book about Delphernia and all the unforgettable characters in this wonderful book. (Ages 10-14)

Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground
by T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
When Zora Neale Hurston and her best friend, Carrie Brown, discover that the town mute can speak after all, they think they’ve uncovered a big secret. But Mr. Polk’s silence is just one piece of a larger puzzle that stretches back half a century to the tragic story of an enslaved girl named Lucia. As Zora’s curiosity leads a reluctant Carrie deeper into the mystery, the story unfolds through alternating narratives. In this riveting coming-of-age tale, award-winning author T.R. Simon champions the strength of a people to stand up for justice. (Ages 10-14)

 

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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Story Monsters Approved Books Announced


Kid-tested, Story Monster Approved! 
Congratulations to our newest approved authors!

Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

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Piccadilly and the Jolly Raindrops
Lisa Anne Novelline, Nicola Hwang

The third installment in the Piccadilly and her Magical World picture book series, Piccadilly learns to reframe her gloomy and rainy afternoon into one of the most fantastic days of her life! Piccadilly and the Jolly Raindrops is a tale of joy and wonder wrapped around what is perhaps one of the mightiest messages of all... children possess the power to choose a positive view of challenges. And when they exercise that power, the most magical of possibilities await!

 

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Gillie Can Share
by Sarah-Leigh Wills

Learn about sharing with friends and family in this colorful and charming story following a little rabbit called Gillie! The Gillie Can series can form a great basis for all kinds of learning.

 

Early Reader (Ages 5-9)

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Ricky and the Grim Wrapper
by Allen L. Pier, James Koenig

Ricky is a good boy with one very bad habit: he likes to litter. But one day while on a drive in the country with his parents, Ricky throws an empty root beer cup out the car window and in a blinding flash, he is catapulted into a strange and frightening world where litter comes to life and gathers along the roadside. Will he finally learn that littering is bad for the environment and change his ways? 

 

Middle Grade Fiction (Ages 8–12)

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Stormy Summers Fifth Grade Detective: Museum Mayhem
by Erin Danko, Clarizza Tumpap

Stormy Summers and her two friends thought it was going to be a field trip like any other. That was until the museum was robbed. Now the three girls are on the case to discover who the thief is. Can they find out before the thief finds them?

 

Young Adult Novels (Ages 13 and up)

 

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The Uncontrolled
by Zachary Astrowsky

From 14-year-old author Zachary Astrowsky comes the story of three teenage friends, John, Chase, and Hazel, who join together in the aftermath of a striking revelation and attempt to fight back against the majority around them that has been secretly implanted with a tracking and brainwashing device. The fight seems hopeless until John realizes that he has the ability to see the future, and the kids devise a plan to outwit the leader of The Controlled. 

 

Green Living/Environmental Issues

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Ricky and the Grim Wrapper
by Allen L. Pier, James Koenig

Ricky is a good boy with one very bad habit: he likes to litter. But one day while on a drive in the country with his parents, Ricky throws an empty root beer cup out the car window and in a blinding flash, he is catapulted into a strange and frightening world where litter comes to life and gathers along the roadside. Will he finally learn that littering is bad for the environment and change his ways? 

 

Family Matters

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Dinner on the Doorstep
by Elizabeth Cummings, Bronte Goodieson

Mikey and Simon are missing their mom who is in hospital. Friends and neighbors want to help and so they take turns to bring a dinner to the family. Each day Mikey and Simon look forward to coming home and finding out what is on the doorstep. This heart-warming story celebrates community spirit while touching on a deeper conversation of coping with illness and the emotions that go with it. 

 

Education/Reference

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Deputy Paws and the Puppy Mill Cause
by Peggy Race, Mike Motz

Deputy Paws was born in a puppy mill. He didn’t have any freedom to run and play like other dogs get. He was stuck in a small cage and not looked after properly. This fully illustrated children’s book follows his story from a sad and unhappy pup to one full of life in his new home where he is loved. Deputy Paws carries a message of hope for one young dog and an important lesson for us all about the dangers of puppy mills and how to avoid buying dogs that are sold through them.

 

First Time Author

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Ricky and the Grim Wrapper
by Allen L. Pier, James Koenig

Ricky is a good boy with one very bad habit: he likes to litter. But one day while on a drive in the country with his parents, Ricky throws an empty root beer cup out the car window and in a blinding flash, he is catapulted into a strange and frightening world where litter comes to life and gathers along the roadside. Will he finally learn that littering is bad for the environment and change his ways? 

 

Making a Difference

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Dinner on the Doorstep
by Elizabeth Cummings, Bronte Goodieson

Mikey and Simon are missing their mom who is in hospital. Friends and neighbors want to help and so they take turns to bring a dinner to the family. Each day Mikey and Simon look forward to coming home and finding out what is on the doorstep. This heart-warming story celebrates community spirit while touching on a deeper conversation of coping with illness and the emotions that go with it. 

 

 

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Is your book Story Monsters Approved?
Enter today at www.DragonflyBookAwards.com!

Spotlight Book: Penny the Pink Nose Poodle

 

The things that make us different are the things that make us wonderful... 

           ISBN: 978-1-68401-257-2

Penny the Pink Nose Poodle is a children’s book based on the real life story of Penny, who was rescued from an animal shelter by Norina, who later introduced the poodle to the rest of her family. 

The story follows Penny on her journey from the New Castle Pound to find her perfect forever home. Penny the Pink Nose Poodle is a reminder of the importance of showing kindness to others in need. 

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2nd Place winner, Animals/Pets category, 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards

Five star review: "I love this book. I read it to my grandkids and they were not only delighted, but my 5-year-old granddaughter told her parents, "being different makes you more loveable and hugable." - CDNon, Amazon Reviewer

 

Available for purchase at Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and Mascot Books 

ISBN: 978-1-68401-257-2

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Story Monsters Ink August Book Reviews

 

Check out this month's book reviews!

Anne’s Colors
by Kelly Hill (Tundra Books) Reviewer: Diana Fisher
For children learning colors, this unique board book is engaging and delightful to explore. The illustrations—hand-embroidered tableaus—are cozy and sweet, with enough elements in each to hold interest and entice the imaginations of little ones. Inspired by the story, Anne of Green Gables, it stands alone as a darling way to introduce and teach colors. (Ages 3+)

The Three Little Superpigs
by Claire Evans (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Have you ever wondered what happened to those three little pigs once that big bad wolf was outsmarted? Well, here’s the sequel! The wolf has had lots of time to plot his revenge while incarcerated for his dastardly deeds. The winning illustrations bring this old classic a fresh twist on its telling. It’ll be fun for all. (Ages 3-5)

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Misunderstood Shark
by Ame Dyckman, Scott Magoon (Orchard Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The filming of an underwater TV show goes awry when the crew gets interrupted by a sharrrk! Poor Shark, he wasn’t trying to scare them, he’s just misunderstood! Then he’s accused of trying to eat a fish. Will Shark ever catch a break? After all, he wasn’t going to eat the fish, he was just showing it his new tooth! Or was he? Interesting fun facts throughout the story. (Ages 3-5)

Nanny Paws
by Wendy Wahman (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
We take our pets seriously. They are members of our family, and a vital part of our personal community. And, they too, seem to view us with the same love and devotion. Nanny Paws is an adorable tribute to that returned loyalty. Nanny watches over her girls with pure delight. This is a bright and lively depiction of the joys that are shared growing up with our furry friends. (Ages 3-7)

What’s Next Door?
by Nicola O’Byrne (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Julianne Black
All he wants to do is get home … or, he’ll eat you. Each page brings a problem for poor Carter the Alligator and that means a new task for the reader. With every page, your preschooler will squeal with delight watching what happens to poor Carter. Completely adorable interactive story in cheeky Mo Williams style humor paired with bright and busy illustrations. Most definitely a smile winner! (Ages 3-7)

Goodnight, Anne
by Kallie George, Genevieve Godbout (Tundra Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I am a true fan of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel, Anne of Green Gables, and found this sweet reminiscence of Anne’s ability to catch you up in her exuberance, a great delight. Kallie George depicts Anne’s lively ability to breathe in the very essence of life all around her, and will encourage readers everywhere to capture and release every joy with a full and thankful heart. (Ages 3-7)

Pippa & Percival, Pancake & Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies
by Deborah Diesen, Grace Zong (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This delightful story is sure to bring shouts and pleas to read it again. Its upbeat rhythm keeps pace with these four peppy pups! It’s fun, colorful, and adventurous. (Ages 3-7)

I’m a Duck
by Eve Bunting, Will Hillenbrand (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This sweet, rhythmic tale rolls as easily across the heart as it does the tongue while reading aloud. The illustrations by Hillenbrand so capture Duck with endearing charm that you love him from the first page. An adorable story to remind us we are wonderfully made, and perfectly equipped to undo our fears. (Ages 3-7)

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Night Job
by Karen Hesse, G. Brian Karas (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a sweet story of life shared between a boy and his dad. Memories of moments embraced together in the face of daily, or in this case nightly, routine events. Passing time may rub and smudge the details, but the heart catches and holds the togetherness forever. (Ages 3-7)

The World-Famous Book of Counting
by Sarah Goodreau (Big Picture Press) Reviewer: Diana Fisher
Based on a magic show, this pop-up, lift-the-flap, pull-the-tab board book makes learning to count fun and interactive. Each page represents a number—one through ten, and additionally, zero—by way of revealing elements of the magic show, which must be discovered and then can be counted. The interactive aspect and colorful illustrations will entice children to play with this book over and over. (Ages 3-7)

A Campfire Tail
by Sarah Glenn Marsh, Ana Gómez (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Playing to your strengths. Staying true to your friends. Being yourself. Acceptance. Inclusion. Celebrating differences. There are so many lessons wrapped up into this adorable picture book about a summer camp set of buddies that go through the worst and best camp life has to offer. Adorable illustrations, wonderful rhythm, and hysterical situations bring this picture book to its conclusion, a feel good reminder of what makes strangers into great friends. (Ages 4+)

The Thank You Book
by Mary Lyn Ray, Stephanie Graegin (HMH Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I love this little book! The illustrations are heartfelt and endearing. Its message monumental. At times we look out over the horizon and our world seems to be crumbling. Coming from an older generation, I see things that once were that no longer are. Oh, the motions are the same. The words remain the same, but the heart that lit and carried them forth has dimmed its light. This little book stokes the dying embers, and reminds us that Thank You is more than good manners. More than vague responses to actions. It’s life stirring in the heart and giving a response of genuine joy. Let’s rekindle the excitement in our little ones, and bring a new beat to our steps. (Ages 4-7)

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Quiet Wyatt
by Tammi Sauer, Arthur Howard (Clarion Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Life would soon become boring if everything and everyone were the same. It’s the differences that supply depth and shading to the overall picture. In this story, Wyatt is quiet, and he likes it that way. Until one day, he is paired up with noisy Noreen. We all find ourselves in similar situations at some time or another. Times when the differences and contrasts pinch and bind. But, Wyatt manages to stay true to himself, and still find acceptance for those who are different. (Ages 4-7)

I am the Boss of this Chair
by Carolyn Crimi, Marisa Morea (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Having a sense of ownership and pride with certain things is a special treat and luxury as we get older and more comfortable, and that is exactly how kitty cat Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III feels in his lovely and beautifully, brightly illustrated home: comfortable. Readers with siblings will make lots of personal connections to this story as Oswald’s life changes when a new member named Pom-Pom arrives. Pom-Pom especially loves Oswald’s chair, provoking Oswald to behave like a naughty little cat until they both get in trouble with their owner! Fantastic story for picture book lovers of all ages! (Ages 4-7)

See Hear: There’s magic all around you. What can you see? What can you hear? 
by Tania McCartney, Jess Racklyeft (EK Books) Reviewer: Julianne Black
A friendly and engaging explanation and illustration of situations involving the senses. The first half of the book dives into sight, but then twists in the middle to where the back cover becomes the beginning of the hearing section. Both senses meet in the middle in a clever way that invites the viewer to flip the book in order to explore the complementing side. Designed for children three and up, I think this could be used in kindergarten and even first grade as an introductory to basic sense exploration in science programs. Successful coverage of the topic plus the added bonus for being fun to flip through. (Ages 4-7)

Bitty Bot’s Big Beach Getaway
by Tim McCanna, Tad Carpenter (Simon & Schuster) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Bitty Bot doesn’t think the beach is much of a vacation. The sun is too hot and the sand is too gritty. He’d be much happier back home in Robot City. Until he makes some new friends, that is. Together, they let their imaginations play and find real adventure in Botco Bay. Fun can always be found where you allow it! (Ages 4-8 )

When a Dragon Moves In
by Jodi Moore, Howard McWilliam (Flashlight Press) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
When a Dragon Moves In is a delightful story about adventures with your dragon on the beach and all the creative things you can do with a pointy-tailed, crimson-winged friend by your side. The story starts with a little boy building a magnificent sand castle which attracts the attention of a home-seeking dragon. He comes in especially handy for keeping beach bullies away and creating the flight in a kite. Eventually the boy’s family gets a bit annoyed with all the dragon talk and the two companions part ways, until the next beach day, of course. (Ages 5-7)

When a Dragon Moves In Again
by Jodi Moore, Howard McWilliam (Flashlight Press) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
When a Dragon Moves In Again has equally gorgeous illustrations from corner to corner and captures the human characters expressions/emotions so magically that readers will find something new to look at with each read. This sequel begins with the father building a “castle” and of course this brings our fiery friend back into the plot. I marvel at the imagination and writing of author Jodi Moore as she ties the whole story together to the dragon adventures (is he part of the boys imagination or isn’t he?) into welcoming a baby into the family and the boy changing his mind about the new addition in a heartwarming ending. (Ages 5-7)

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The Fox on the Swing
by Evelina Daciutè, Aušra Kiudulaite (Thames & Hudson) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Paul is a young boy who lives in a tree with his parents. In Paul’s world, everything wonderful is orange, especially an odd fox he meets along his routine walk. Paul always keeps his eyes wide open, hoping to find adventure in any unsuspecting place. One special day, he comes upon the oddest thing, an orange fox on a swing. This sweet story of friendship will forever keep children hoping to find adventure. (Ages 5-9)

Waves: Physical Science for Kids  
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dawn Menge
Science can be fun for your children when they try the STEM activities included in this beautifully illustrated science book about waves. If you have a ball floating in a bucket of water and you move your finger around to make waves in the water, what happens to the ball? ”Waves in water, waves in wheat. Waves at a game: ‘Stand up! Take a seat!’ Waves in your hair, waves with your hand, powerful waves under the land. Make waves in a string, then stretch it taut, Waves are everywhere, whether we see them or not!” (Ages 6-9)

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Mr. Wolf’s Class
by Aron Nels Steinke (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Mr. Wolf has just started teaching at Hazelwood Elementary. He wants the first day of school to go well, but he’s got his hands full with his new class. Some of his students include: Margot, who is new in town and is trying to make friends. Sampson, who brought something special to school for show-and-tell. Aziza, who just wants everyone to be quiet and do their work. And Penny, who is VERY sleepy because she has a new baby brother at home, goes missing! I found this book to be a funny and adventurous tale that will keep any reader’s attention. (Ages 7-10)
  
Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination
by Dave McGillivray, Nancy Feehrer, Ron Himler (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a true story of heart. Life may not always play fair, challenging our dreams, testing our grit. But, if it’s a true dream of the heart, we always manage to find our way through it. Dave’s dream to be an athlete is sorely pressed upon, but he never gives up and finds his own personal way to achieve. A story of love and determination. (Ages 7-12)

Sewing School Quilts: 15 Projects Kids will Love to Make  
by Amie Petronis Plumley, Andria Lisle, Justin Fox Burks (Storey Publishing) Reviewer: Dawn Menge Quilt-making dates back to the Egyptian Pharaohs in 3400 BC. This step-by-step guide book gives you pictures and patterns for a variety of quilts, including how to make a fabric story. It even has a list of 10 uses for quilts, including keeping one in the car, using it as a bedspread, and snuggling up with your favorite handmade one. There’s a quilting dictionary that defines words such as appliqué, array, patchwork, and selvage. This how-to book will become a favorite and provide hours of fun and creativity. (Ages 8-12)

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! 
by Alex Gino (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! is a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and discrimination. Jilly learns that every day in life she can grow and learn from her mistakes. Jilly’s baby sister is born deaf and her online friend is deaf and black. This opens her eyes to the world around her and discrimination of both deaf people and people of color. Jill is determined to stand up to bullies. (Ages 8-12)

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Making Friends
by Kristen Gusdnuk (Graphix) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Making Friends is a comical, graphic novel. Dany moves to a new school for 7th grade, which turns out to be difficult. Especially in the area of making friends. Dany gets a magical notebook from her deceased aunt’s attic. And much to Dany’s surprise, her drawing of what her “dream best friend” would be comes alive along with other people she draws. But sometimes what we image isn’t always the case. (Ages 8-12)

Panther Creek Mountain: The Big Adventure
by Clyde McCulley (Story Night Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Clay and Luke are brothers who live in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1950s. The boys and their cousin Sally Jane are trying to come up with ways to make money. They discover a hidden cave with pots and pans inside; there is also a wooden table and a fire pit. They wonder if someone still lives there and if they’ll come back. They decide to make this cave their secret clubhouse but have no idea of what’s to come. A great book to inspire kids to turn off their video games and head outside for some wholesome outdoor adventures. The included map of the Appalachians gives great visual aid to the story. (Ages 8-12)

Hailey Queen Pranking Makes Perfect: The Alien Encounter
by Rosie. J. Pova (Spork) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Hailey Queen can’t seem to stop herself from playing pranks on everyone—her friends, her classmates, her teachers and principal, perfect strangers, and anyone one who crosses her path. Each time, she promises herself to stop as she gets in serious trouble, but she just can’t help herself when the next opportunity arises. She finally meets her match when she wakes one day to find a female alien in her room. The alien is an even worse prankster than Hailey so she must find a way to stop it from playing pranks, especially since everyone thinks they were done by her! Kids will enjoy it. (Ages 9-12)

Strays
by Jennifer Caloyeras (Ashland Creek Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sixteen-year-old Iris Moody has a problem controlling her temper, but then, she has a lot to be angry about. When a note in Iris’s journal is mistaken as a threat against her English teacher, she finds herself in trouble not only with school authorities, but with the law. In addition to summer school, dog-phobic Iris is sentenced to an entire summer of community service, rehabilitating troubled dogs. This story teaches that healing can come from the last place you’d expect—which could be a frightened, three-legged pit bull named Roman. The title is fitting, not just for dogs, but for troubled teens who feel like unwanted strays. (Ages 13+)

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Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town
by Leslie Tall Manning. Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sixteen-year-old Brooke Decker used to be the perfect girl but since her Mom died, she’s starting to get out of control. She drinks alcohol and sneaks out to college parties. She soon learns that her dad has signed up for a reality show which includes her and her little sister. She finds herself in a pioneer town with no modern conveniences; even her clothes are pioneer outfits. How will she make it to the end? This endearing tale will make any young reader realize the importance of family, especially when one of them is no longer there. I found this book to be touching, heartwarming, humorous and inspiring. (Ages 13+)

 

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Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

Dear Master Dragon
Alva Sachs, Patricia Krebs

Danny Dragon decides to write a letter to The Master Dragon for help. Will The Master Dragon write him back or will he have to solve his problems by himself? Join Danny on his adventure as he discovers what it is like to be a REAL dragon.

The Fly with One Eye
R.M. Halterman

The Fly with One Eye follows an imperfect toy’s quest to belong as she grows from an outcast among the sale rack of toys to a hero. After the store closes for the night, one of the toys finds himself in trouble. It is the fly with one eye who brings everyone together and shows that we can’t be defined by our differences.

The Bat Book
Conrad J. Storad, Nate Jensen and Tristan Jensen

Bats are NOT scary! Little Boy Bat lives under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas. One day he overhears some human kids saying mean, nasty things about bats. He decides to write and illustrate a book so that he can teach those human kids some facts and the truth about bats.

Ollie the Autism-Support Collie (Therapy Dogs) 
Billie Holladay Skelley, James Paul Skelley

Ollie the Autism-Support Collie provides an easy rhyming text and colorful pictures to help children understand how support dogs provide comfort and security.

First Chapter Books (Ages 6–10)

Lindie Lou Adventure Series
Jeanne Bender, Kate Willows

When puppies Lindie Lou, Jasper, Topaz, Ruby and Diamond are born in St. Louis they have no idea of the adventures that await them. Each of the books in the series take place in a different place and in a different month of the year. Three clues at the end of each book give the reader hints as to where Lindie Lou will go on her next adventure. Follow her to Seattle, Des Moines, New York, San Diego, Tokyo and more.

Middle-Grade Books (Ages 8–12)

Dilby R. Dixon’s The Dilbonary
Tony J. Perri

Dilby R. Dixon was no ordinary 10-year-old boy. He was an outcast, the odd kid in school. To occupy his time, Dilby turned to his wild imagination as he would dream of the most unbelievable places and have the most amazing adventures. From these dreams, he created a secret journal of weird words that he called, the Dilbonary, which he took it everywhere he went, guarding it with his life. No one knew the Dilbonary existed, that was until the 6th grade when Riley Rogers, the school bully, got a hold of it, setting off a chain of events that would alter Dilby’s life forever.
 

Tween Novels (Ages 10-14)

The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak
Wendelin Gray  

Trouble is brewing in the province of Ling-xiu when the murder of an elderly queen sends young Princess Bingsong into exile at a forgotten mountain villa. When a series of hauntings begin and she finds her father’s old diary, Bingsong, her handsome bodyguard Azuma, the villa’s mysterious steward LimTamm, and teenage servant girls Peitho and Lysithe are drawn into a 400-year-old murder mystery hinted at by a string of small nightingale paintings. 

Making a Difference

Hiccup's Hiccups: The Bubble in Me
Dr. J. Alvarez

The Hiccup's Hiccups series was written with the intention of teaching children to embrace their differences and to cultivate the values of empathy and kindness. With shorter chapters, bigger print, and a few illustrations, these hilarious chapter books will entice and enrapture even the most reluctant readers.

Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure
Olivia Johnson

Bacon's Smooching Adventure celebrates diversity and how wonderfully unique we all are. This book is fun, whimsical, and empowering to children who care about animals in need.

Leyni's God Adventure: Read, Imagine, Draw
Sandy Hill

Can a five-year-old make a difference in our world today? Can she dream a big dream and make it come true? Follow Leyni as she explores the possibilities of her dream in Leyni's God Adventure. Leyni's true experiences inspired this story.

School Life

Dear Master Dragon
Alva Sachs, Patricia Krebs

Danny Dragon decides to write a letter to The Master Dragon for help. Will The Master Dragon write him back or will he have to solve his problems by himself? Join Danny on his adventure as he discovers what it is like to be a REAL dragon.

First-Time Author

Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure 
Olivia Johnson

Bacon's Smooching Adventure celebrates diversity and how wonderfully unique we all are. This book is fun, whimsical, and empowering to children who care about animals in need.

Dilby R. Dixon’s The Dilbonary
Tony J. Perri

Dilby R. Dixon was no ordinary 10-year-old boy. He was an outcast, the odd kid in school. To occupy his time, Dilby turned to his wild imagination as he would dream of the most unbelievable places and have the most amazing adventures. From these dreams, he created a secret journal of weird words that he called, the Dilbonary, which he took it everywhere he went, guarding it with his life. No one knew the Dilbonary existed, that was until the 6th grade when Riley Rogers, the school bully, got a hold of it, setting off a chain of events that would alter Dilby’s life forever.

Education/Reference

Annabelle & Aiden: Worlds Within Us 
J.R. Becker

"How did our universe form?" Annabelle & Aiden wonder. Luckily, the friendly Tardigrade Tom answers by taking the children on their biggest adventure yet! Soaring through space and time, they witness the universe's earliest stages, marvel at the big bang, and learn how each and every one of us is literally made of the same stardust. Readers will be empowered, learning how we each hold a part of the universe inside us, and are far more special, interconnected, and “larger” than we may think.

Spirituality/Religion

Heaven, Just Believe: Read, Imagine, Draw
Sandy Hill   

Just think how much fun it will be to imagine and draw all your own art. You get to add your name, photo, and share about yourself as the artist of the book. The Imagine Book is a companion book to the illustrated version, Heaven, Just Believe.

 

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