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 September Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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Bear Moves
by Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyuz (Candlewick Entertainment) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Well, put on the music and move over, cause Bear’s got some moves and he doesn’t mind sharing them. This is a fun, feel-good read. Bear introduces the reader to music and dance, and the illustrations are sure to add laughter to the beat. (Ages 2-5)

Stick
by Irene Dickson (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The simplest of things can often bring the greatest rewards. Following all the joys a boy and his dog can share with a simple stick. You can throw it, balance with it, float it down a stream, and draw pictures in the sand. And we agree, building friendships is the very best of all. (Ages 2-5)

Try a Little Kindness
by Henry Cole (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The sweet, rhythmic flow of the text, and soft, easy appeal of the illustrations make this a great feel-good reading experience that can linger for a lifetime. Each page features a different way to be a good person, like using proper manners, telling someone they are special, or sharing a treat! The opening page will catch the heart and quickly become a childhood mantra. (Ages 3-5)

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Mae’s First Day Of School
by Kate Berube (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I bet we all remember our first day of school. Oh, we may not remember the details, but that cold clammy feeling that stirs every time we face a new venture, reminds us. Life is never as hard when we encounter it with a friend. Mae is afraid to go to school. Riddled by the monstrous “what if” thoughts, she hides and determines not to go. But, lucky for Mae, she meets others who are just as frightened as she is. And together, they are able to overcome. A great reminder for all of us. Let’s grab a hand and do all those wonderful things we wish we could do! The illustrations are simple and sweet, and capture the heart. (Ages 3-7)

Storm
by Sam Usher (Templar) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Wind and thunderstorms can be cozy, exciting, and evoke lots of adventures—inside and outside of the house! A little boy and his grandpa go searching for a kite to fly on a windy, stormy day and throughout their search, reminisce about other experiences they had together as they bump into special mementos. A beautiful story that will inspire children to look for adventures in nooks and crannies, and most importantly, with their families. (Ages 3-7)

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I Am Actually a Penguin
by Sean Taylor, Kasia Matyjaszek (Templar) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Playing dress-up is a childhood experience that will never get old and this is a funny, sweet, and
completely relatable story about a little girl who loves this pastime. Her imagination, creativity, and perseverance is adorable (and admirable) as she really embraces becoming her costume—in this case, a penguin. The illustrations are vibrant, fun, and different with the use of mixed media and multiple picture and plot points on each page. Readers will enjoy reading this delightful story and then quickly running to their own dress-up box. (Ages 3-7)

Duck Gets a Job
by Sonny Ross (Templar) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
This is a story about being yourself and not a carbon copy of the vast majority. Sonny Ross creates a combo of creative words and illustrations to entertain young readers with his tale. Children will delight in the silliness of Duck as he takes readers through the steps of getting a job in a big city. Duck soon discovers that spreadsheets are not his cup of tea, so he opts for a job that fits his special gifts and passion. A perfect read-aloud for discussing sequencing and introducing job skills and goals, this picture book really fits the bill! (Ages 3-7)

Little Robot Alone
by Patricia MacLachlan, Emily MacLachlan Charest, Matt Phelan (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Little Robot Alone is a story about a robot curing boredom by using his imagination, technical skills, and some elbow grease. The authors and illustrator have created a story that showcases the importance of friendship. The occasional rhyming text intermixed with the imagery produced from the descriptive wording allows readers to purely enjoy the robot’s surroundings and appreciate the soft, dreamlike illustrations. What a wonderful text to use with young children to bring up the topic of befriending others and discussing what it feels like to be alone. This profound story is more than the superficial idea of a robot creating a friend; digging deeper, teachers and parents can easily help readers have text connections by incorporating this story into lessons about having positive character traits and finding them in others. (Ages 3-7)

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Rock What Ya Got
by Samantha Berger, Kerascoet (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I love the opening of this story! It opens wide the imagination and excitement rushes in. Carrying a powerful message, each page delights with its endearing illustrations. For anyone who has ever whispered, or shouted, “If only....” Happiness comes when we own who we are, and success follows when you can rock what ya got. This is a fun presentation for kids who are finding, and claiming their own unique spot in this iffy world. (Ages 4-7)

Snail Mail
by Samantha Berger, Julia Patton (Running Press Kids) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
We’ve all heard and used the term “snail mail” for ages now, but Samantha Berger and Julia Patton have adorably and brilliantly put pictures and a story to this cute term. Snails actually delivering mail! Berger captures our heart from the beginning with a little girl mailing a letter across the country, and the long and exhausting trek the determined snails must make to get it to her recipient. The story also takes the reader on a journey through special landmarks of America with sunsets and rainbows in every backdrop. Snail Mail will teach many, and remind more, of how exciting it feels to run to the mailbox and have a special delivery waiting inside. (Ages 4-8)

Energy: Physical Science for Kids
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Energy, energy everywhere! This is an educational book to help young readers learn about the many forms of energy. The illustrations bring to life the concepts to engage visual learning and processing. The author has also included STEM activities to help further solidify the concepts. Energy races through your feet and is fueled by food and rest. What happens when your energy runs out? Do you get cranky, tired, or thrash about? Have a snack! Take a snooze! Keep your energy up and you’ll never lose! Energy is everywhere, you just need to look. One thing for sure, you’ll find it in this book. (Ages 4-8) 

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Matter: Physical Science for Kids
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Let’s begin to learn about matter in this science educational book. ”Birds in the sky and rocks on the ground. Things made of matter are all around! Solids and liquids and gasses, too. Make up the world including you. Matter is everything, everywhere you look. Does matter, matter? Learn how important matter is as you read through this book. The illustrations are vibrant and will keep your child’s attention as they take their first steps into science experiments. Be sure to try the STEM activities included to reinforce the learning of the science concepts. (Ages 4-8)

Ted the Friendly Frog and the Tale of the Diamond
by Scott Mcall (Brown Books Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Learning can be tough, and some lessons can last a lifetime. We have much to learn growing up, and our parental guidance far outlasts that of the animal kingdom, but both share the wisdom of the aged and the benefit of a listening heart. Ted the frog learns the importance of obedience the hard way. And we the readers learn, the choice is always ours. (Ages 5-6)

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Bully
by Jennifer Sattler (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Bully’s middle name might just be Greedy. He thinks the pond and its beautiful lilies are all for his own private enjoyment. Running off all those who pass by to share in the pond’s beauty, Bully finds himself quite content all alone. Can anyone stop Bully and his bullying ways? Using humor and whimsy, authorillustrator Jennifer Sattler masterfully shows young readers that standing up together can make all the difference in the world. (Ages 5-7)

Dino
by Diego Vaisberg (Templar) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a cute lighthearted story about a mysterious find. A large egg appears in the backyard. Is it a giant canary? A large lizard? A huge turtle? Life changes when the egg hatches. It’s sure to bring giggles to little readers and maybe even secret hopes that they, too, might find such wondrous things in their own backyard. (Ages 5-8)

Squiffy and the Vine Street Boys in Shiver Me Timbers
by Steve Stinson (Muddy Boots) Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a really fun story about Squiffy, who builds a pirate ship on a tree and invites the Vine Street boys to come aboard. The boys learn “Pirate talk” with a hilarious and predictable ending. I loved the characters, creativity, and imagination of this story. The illustrations bring the story to life. This is a fun and laugh-out-loud type of story. (Ages 5-8)

Howl Like a Wolf!
by Kathleen Yale, Kaley McKean (Storey Publishing) Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This book has so many educational and fun activities for young children! They can learn to howl like a wolf, see like a bat, and even dance like a honey bee! You didn’t know that a honey bee can dance? Well, you better get reading! This is a wonderful book for children and they will have lots of fun while learning. Also includes a link to download animal masks. A must-read! (Ages 6-9)

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Big Foot and Little Foot
by Ellen Potter, Felicita Sala (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Big Foot and Little Foot is a fun, adventurous book about seeing each other’s differences and overcoming fear to become friends. Hugo, the main character, is a young curious Sasquatch who wants to adventure in the Big Wide World, but that’s off limits. The most important Sasquatch rule is to never be seen by a human. But Hugo breaks that rule when he meets a human and they become pen pals. (Ages 6-9)

Love for Logan
by Lori DeMonia, Monique Turchan (Halo Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
These two darling sisters return with another story of love and inspiration. Logan’s older sister has trouble processing sensory signals, and that can make life challenging. When one member of a family struggles, it affects them all. Leah’s family supports her with understanding and awareness and learning, but most of all with a love that can overcome those difficult obstacles most of us will never face. This story of love and compassion will inspire us all to become aware of the struggles of others, and be a positive influence with understanding. (Ages 6-12)

Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System
by Bethany Ehlmann, Jennifer Swanson (National Geographic Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This one is sure to thrill any kid with their head in the clouds, and beyond! Packed with amazing facts, awesome photographs and diagrams, famous scientists, and so much more, it is sure to please. Whether just-for-fun reading, information for reports or projects, it will fill many interests. Science is fun! (Ages 8+)

My First Book Of Quantum Physics
by Kaid-Sala Ferrón Sheddad, Eduard Altarriba (Button Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
When I hear terms like elementary particles, my mind runs to the massive crumbs left in the middle school lunchroom. Or quantum entanglements fills my mind with visions of playground altercations needing attention. But, what if the concepts of quantum physics were introduced in an easier and more entertaining way? These authors have lifted the gray haze, and brought the quantum world to our fingertips. Children (and adults) will enjoy pushing the boundaries of what we call reality, and stepping into the quantum world! (Ages 8+)

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24 Hours in Nowhere
by Dusti Bowling (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Welcome to Nowhere, Arizona, the least livable town in the United States. For Gus, a bright 13-year-old with dreams of getting out and going to college, life there is made even worse by Bo Taylor, Nowhere’s biggest, baddest bully. When Bo tries to force Gus to eat a dangerously spiny cactus, Rossi Scott comes to his rescue by giving Bo her prized dirt bike. Determined to buy it back, Gus and his friends decide to go searching for gold in Dead Frenchman Mine. As they hunt for treasure, narrowly surviving one disaster after another, they realize this adventure just might lead them somewhere. A great, actionpacked story. (Ages 8-12)

A Long Line of Cakes
by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Emma Lane Cake has five brothers, four dogs, and a family that can’t stay put. The Cake family travels from place to place, setting up bakeries in communities that need them. Then, just when Emma feels settled in with new friends … they move again. Now the Cakes have come to Aurora County, and Emma has vowed that this time she is NOT going to get attached to anyone. Why bother, if her father’s only going to uproot her again? But fate has different plans. And so does Ruby Lavender, who is going to show Emma a thing or two about making friendships last. This is a perfect story for young readers with a very sweet ending. (Ages 8-12)

Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge
by Erin Soderberg, Anoosha Syed (RH/Disney) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Milla loves nothing more than imagining grand adventures in the great wide somewhere, just like Belle. She dreams of traveling the world and writing about her incredible discoveries. Unfortunately, there is nothing pretend about the fifth-grade overnight and Milla’s fear that her moms won’t let her go. Enter Piper, Mariana, Zahra, and Ruby. Together with Milla, they form the Daring Dreamers Club and become best friends. But can they help Milla believe she’s ready for this real grand adventure? Kids will particularly love how the book ideally ends, then leads into a sample of the next book. I found this to be a perfect fifth grade story. (Ages 8-12)

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Kid Scientists: True Tales of Childhood from Science Superstars
by David Stabler, Anoosha Syed (Quirk Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
What a delightful way for young readers to take more of an interest in science—by learning about our famous scientists’ childhoods. Did you know that there is one famous scientist who also invented the first pair of swim fins? Another scientist was also a genius mathematician whose calculations helped astronaut Neil Armstrong to be able to walk on the moon. Who are these people? You’ll have to read the book to find out. This is a brilliant book that will inspire and enlighten our budding future scientists. It proves to young readers that they, too, should dare to reach for the stars. (Ages 9-12)

Everything I Know About You
by Barbara Dee (Aladdin) Reviewer: Diana Perry
During a class trip to DC, 12-year-old Tally and her best friends, Sonnet and Caleb are less than thrilled when they are assigned roommates and are paired with kids who are essentially their sworn enemies. For Tally, rooming with “clonegirl” Ava Seely feels like punishment, rather than potential for fun, but Tally soon discovers several surprising things about her roommate—including the possibility of an eating disorder. This is a must-read for parents and teachers and a perfect lesson on bullying and another less-talked-about problem facing young girls today. (Ages 9-13)

The De La Cruz Diaries: Oops-A-Daisy
by Melody Delgado (Clean Reads) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The De La Cruz Diaries: Oops-A-Daisy is a fun and captivating book. Daisy De La Cruz is a 12-year-old girl with dreams of becoming a famous singer. I liked that the book dealt with real issues including family issues, bullies, and how hard you have to work to accomplish something. This is a good book for anyone facing these life challenges. (Ages 12+)

The Crow Child
by Sherrie Todd-Beshore (CreateSpace) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Twelve-year-old Elijah Day Clearwater is not your average child. Since the death of his parents when he was three years old, he has been living with his paternal grandfather. He struggles every day with Cystic Fibrosis. What sets Elijah apart from everyone else is something … magical. Thirteen days before his 13th birthday, Elijah begins to have vivid dreams. Perhaps the dreams are just an outlet from the stress of a bully at school, or maybe they hint at a destiny that was foretold prior to his birth under the firesign. This story teaches young readers how their very lives today were formed by others who came before them. It is easy to bond with the well-developed characters. A great read. (Ages 12+)
 

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

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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+)

 

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

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Story Monsters Ink July Book Reviews

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Neck & Neck
by Elise Parsley (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Competition has its place in life. It can nudge us on to be our best. It can teach us the thrill of winning a prize, and reaching success. But sometimes, it can lose perspective and turn a positive into a threatening negative. Leopold, the zoo’s highlight of the fans, becomes threatened by the presence of a look-a-like balloon, and the battle begins. This comical story is sure to bring laughter, along with some clever insight. The illustrations are fun and lively, making this an all-around good time.

Scaredy Book
by Devon Sillett, Cara King (EK Books). Reviewer: Diana Fisher
Book—who has an endearing personality—loves his nook in the library, which is safe and cozy. But Book’s life is boring, until he summons up just a little courage, and then his adventure begins. Children will root for Book and applaud him in the end. His story will make you smile, and tickle your insides with warmth. The narrative is sweet, clever, inspiring, and amusing. And the whimsical illustrations complement the story wonderfully.

Anne’s Numbers
by Kelly Hill (Tundra Books). Reviewer: Diana Fisher
This charming board book, inspired by Anne of Green Gables, takes us along a walk through nature and teaches the numbers one through ten. The homey and gentle embroidered illustrations invite children to investigate and count the flowers, trees, friends, and other adorable elements of each tableau. Another in a series with Anne’s Colors—both books are captivating worlds to be in.

Roof Octopus
by Lucy Branam, Rogério Coelho (Sleeping Bear Press). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a lighthearted romp children will surely enjoy. It’s a delight from start to finish. A friendly giant octopus on the roof of an apartment building? Whatever could it want? The story, the colors, and the illustrations by Coelho all work hand in hand, making it truly a feel-good experience!

Animal Planet Chapter Book Series
by Animal Planet. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Animal Planet is a popular division of Discovery Communication. This fact-packed series is as enjoyable and entertaining as its TV counterpart. Each book is filled with details, education, and great facts. Perfect for kids on all levels. Great for school reports. I read Book #5 Horses!, and Book #6 Dolphins! and found them both impressive.

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Saffron Ice Cream
by Rashin Kheiriyeh (Arthur A. Levine Books). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Moving is hard. Whether it’s across town or across the big oceans, adjustments can be most uncomfortable. Excitement surrounds each new place, and each new discovery. Yet, sadness whispers in memory of old things left behind. Rashin lets herself find new joys, while she holds tenderly the old ones.

The One and Only Owen
by Nicole Evans Haumesser (Blurb). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Owen has lost sight of himself, and falls to wishing he were like others. Until he can refocus and find is own true value, his world takes on a gloomy outlook. We all have a part to play, a gift to add to the whole. Something so unique to us that it cannot be done by another. So, when we look and admire others, let it be for their special identity, and don’t let it take away from our own. Along with Owen, we learn life lessons to strengthen the heart.

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Don’t Touch My Hair!
by Sharee Miller (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This story is a great reminder to regard the personal space of others with respect and that courteous and gracious behavior promotes strong and friendly relationships. Everyone has boundaries. A personal space we find comforting. We all may have encountered a person who stands a bit too close when they speak. As kind and considerate people, we should be aware of these unseen barriers, and do our best to respect them.

Bulldozer Dreams
by Sharon Chriscoe, John Joven (Running Press Kids). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The illustrations will surely hold the interest of little ones as they read this story. Gentle reinforcement of nightly routines will tickle their fancy with these amazing machines. Additional titles include Race Car Dreams and Fire Truck Dreams. A great series to offer encouragement for strong and healthy bedtime habits.

Unstinky
by Andy Rash (Arthur A. Levine Books). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Living up to our name can be tough sometimes. Take Bud, he’s a stinkbug. Only thing is, he doesn’t stink! While all the others are outstinking each other, he comes up smelling like roses. Desperate to fit in, Bud tries hard to find his own personal foulness, but instead discovers a totally different talent. Sometimes, we just have to bring what we got and find our own special spot.

The Kool Kids & the Land Of the Giants
by James Tate. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
A fresh take on an old tale. Size isn’t always necessary to win a battle, but a strong faith that dares to believe it’s winnable. The Kool Kids have that kind of faith. They have their own giant wreaking havoc in their land. His name is Obesity, and with faith and prayer, they know just how to bring him down. Tate opens the topic of fitness and health in terms and interests kids can enjoy. Positive stories told, and retold, bring confidence and strength for our children to meet all the giants of life that may cross their path.

Dust Flowers (Tales from American HerStory series)
by Lisa Gammon Olson, Kyle Olson (Eifrig Publishing). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Everything about this touching story is soft and moving. From the illustrations by Kyle Olson, to the times in history that tore at the heart of its people. The reality of loss and hardship seen through a young child’s eyes, relates to us the dark days of drought that created the historic Dust Bowl Era of the early 1930s. This is a tender tale of love and hope, reminding us of the strength of those before us who endured and overcame, and forged the path we now travel. This is the first in a series to discover our nation’s past. I’m looking forward to the next.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul
by Susan Verde, Matthew Cordell (Abrams Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Sherry L.
Hoffman
This is a book that resonates in the heart of its reader as the words by Susan Verde and illustrations by Matthew Cordell blend together in literary harmony. Told through the main character’s point of view as she poetically plans her act for the upcoming talent show at her school, readers are bound to make a connection through her love of music. This story trumpets the important message of being true to yourself and finding your inner voice. 

A Lion is a Lion 
by Polly Dunbar (Candlewick). Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
This wonderful story answers the age-old question, “Is a Lion still a lion..?” What if he’s dressed himself up and uses his manners? Has his inner self changed because he appears to be kind or is he still dangerous? Should you welcome him into your home and treat him to lunch? This book is an enchanting way to help teach children to stand up for themselves, trust their instincts, and just say “No.”

Frog and Beaver
by Simon James (Candlewick). Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Frog and his friends the ducks and voles live happily beside the beautiful river. Along comes beaver searching for a place to build his first dam. Frog kindly invites him in to share in their world. But the animal friends soon learn that beaver might not be a good fit for their community when he stops the river from flowing. What happens next is a lesson on learning from your mistakes and how they affect others. This delightful book will help teach young readers about cause and effect and how to correct your mistakes when they have hurt others.

Goodnight, Seahorse
by Carly Allen-Fletcher (Muddy Boots). Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a delightful picture book that is reminiscent of the famous children’s story Goodnight, Moon, but the main characters are an adorable seahorse and other wonderful animals in the ocean. It is a simple book that children will enjoy hearing over and over again. I love the brightly colored illustrations and the pages at the end that include pictures and names of the animals of the coral reef. I even learned about an animal that I had never heard of before! I highly recommend this book for ages 2-5. 

Sewing the Magic In at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
by Lisa Gammon Olson, Lauren Rutledge (Eifrig Publishing). Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a charming story of a little girl named Nora who is a young seamstress for the circus. Nora is unaware of her part in the grand scheme of it all but she learns that she plays a big part in creating the magic. It’s a great story and it flows well from beginning to end. It also includes interesting facts about the circus and the illustrations are delightful! I would recommend this book for ages 6-11.

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I Feel Teal
by Lauren Rille, Aimée Sicuro (Beach Lane Books). Reviewer: Julianne Black
There are so many reasons to love I Feel Teal. First, the illustrations are simply adorable, each spread creates such a deep plunge into the corresponding feeling of emotion. Second, it’s totally relatable. Each situation represented is a very solid, very real experience to which we all can connect. But I think the biggest reason is that while the book uses colors to describe emotions, it doesn’t use the same stock colors and situations with which young viewers are already familiar. This book doesn’t regurgitate “red is mad, yellow is happy,” but includes more shades and variations introducing scarlet, mauve, ecru, etc. A wonderful read for anyone, but an especially fun eye-opener for a younger crowd.
 
I’m Sad (The I’m Books)
by Michael Ian Black, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster). Reviewer: Julianne Black
I didn’t know I could feel so much love for a book about a little girl, a flamingo, and their potato friend. Wonderful quick read about not fixing feelings, but experiencing them and letting them be okay. Sometimes we are all just sad. This story is about not being cheered up, and how that is okay, too. Wonderful characters, easy to absorb dialog for younger readers, and a completely relevant and important subject for a 4 years and up audience.

Know Where You Are series
by Dennis Brown (Ricky Reader, LLC). Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
The Know Where You Are series is fantastic selection of board books intended to educate, enlighten, and explore the world around us and explains how our brain processes this invaluable knowledge. Each book includes gorgeous pictures, easy-to-understand dialogue, and topics presented in an approachable way. I just loved how topics like geography, the human brain, and thoughts and emotions are explained so clearly, with fun characters sharing extra tidbits of information in speech bubbles. The Know Where You Are series is leading the way for readers of all ages to understand and appreciate how truly amazing our mind, body, and world really are. 

Hammer and Nails
by Josh Bledsoe, Jessica Warrick (Flashlight Press). Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
This fresh and fun story begins with Darcy’s devastation over her play date cancellation and the expression on her face when Daddy tries to console her captures every emotion little children experience when they are disappointed. Darcy reluctantly agrees to have a “Darcy Daddy” day instead, but they must follow her play date plan list, of course! Dress-up? Daddy surprises Darcy in his tutu. Lawnmower turned into a carriage? Daddy had pink ribbons to spare. Hair salon time? Fancy hairdo’s coming right up! The illustrations are superbly done, and the relationship between father and daughter is perfectly captured. A must-read for every family. 

Megabat
by Anne Humphrey, Kass Reich (Tundra Books). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Daniel Misumi has just moved to a new house. It’s big and old and far away from his friends and his life before. And it’s haunted! Megabat is now living in an old house far from home, feeling sorry for himself and accidentally scaring the people who live there. Daniel realizes it’s not a ghost in his new house. It’s a bat. And he can talk. And he’s actually kind of cute. Megabat realizes that not every human wants to whack him with a broom. This one shares his smooshfruit. This is the cutest story I’ve ever read. A great book for an early reader. 

Louisiana’s Way Home
by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick). Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Louisiana’s Way Home is a sweet, heartfelt story. I can tell you I wouldn’t want to be in Louisiana Elefant’s situation, which is to leave her home and everything in the middle of the night because her Granny wants to escape a family “curse.” Louisiana ends up in a small town in Georgia. Will she make her way back home to Florida or find a new home in Georgia? Will she discover the truth of the curse?  Sometimes the most difficult situations can be the best life lessons. I’m sure Louisiana can attest to that!

Red’s Planet
by Eddie Pittman (Harry N. Abrams). Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Red’s Planet is a quirky, imaginative and fun graphic novel! This comic-style book is engaging, especially following headstrong, adventurous 10-year-old Red. Red longs to leave her annoying foster family for her perfect world but before she does a UFO mistakenly kidnaps her. I like this book because it’s funny and you can relate to this type of story. Sometimes things don’t always turn out as you expect, but making the best of what comes is pretty much what Red must do to survive. 

The Key to Everything
by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Tash didn’t want to go to camp, didn’t want to spend the summer with a bunch of strangers, didn’t want to be separated from the only two people she has ever been able to count on: her uncle Kevin, who saved her from foster care, and Cap’n Jackie, who lives next door. Camp turns out to be pretty fun, actually, but when Tash returns home, Cap’n Jackie is gone. All she has is the key Cap’n Jackie always insisted had magic in it. Jackie always said all Tash had to do was hold it tight and the magic would come. Was it true? Could the key bring her back? Young readers will be aware of the foreverness of love, especially when it’s mixed with a little magic.

Whatshisface
by Gordon Korman (Scholastic). Reviewer: Diana Perry
When 12-year-old Cooper Vega moves for the third time in five years, he receives a state-of-the-art smartphone to help him stay in touch with old friends. He’s had phones before, but this one is buggy and unpredictable. When a boy named Roderick Northrop communicates with him through the phone, Cooper realizes that his phone isn’t buggy at all; the thing is haunted! I loved the ending that transformed both Roddy and Cooper from self-imposed losers to unexpected stars.  A great read with a great ending. Kids will love it.

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Be Prepared
by Vera Brosgol (First Second). Reviewer: Diana Perry
All Vera wants to do is fit in―but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range―Russian summer camp. This is the perfect coming-of-age story for any young girl who is new at school or the most unpopular. It serves as the perfect example that when you change a few things about your character, you can become a new person and that can change how everyone else sees you, too. A most encouraging and inspiring story – I just loved it.

Doodle Journeys: A Fill-In Journal for Everyday Explorers
by Dawn DeVries Sokol (Harry N. Abrams). Reviewer: Diana Perry
This is a fun activity book that gets kids to develop and increase creativity by drawing and writing to create a story. It opens young minds to real and imaginary experiences. This is not one for a young reader to finish in a few hours—I could easily see this entertaining youngsters for a few days. This is the perfect book to take on a long ride; your little creatives will enjoy using their imaginations to complete the many pages. Not only is it fun, it is most educational as well.

Rock Log Kids (Nature Journals)
by Daniel Brandt, DeAnna Brandt (Adventure Publications). Reviewer: Diana Perry
This is a scientific and exciting read for any youngster. It contains everything you need to know to start your own rock collection. The Brandts also include games and projects and teach everyday uses of rocks and minerals. There are pages and pages of log sheets—enough to assist the weekend junior geologist in logging all their many finds. A great way to spend a weekend outside in the fresh air. I highly recommend this book to young, aspiring collectors.

Racing Manhattan
by Terence Blacker (Candlewick). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Jasmine Barton grows up hearing terrible stories about her now-deceased mother. To make things worse, Dad mysteriously disappears. She lives her early teen years with relatives who treat her more like hired help than family. She lives a lonely life until the day she meets another unwanted creature—a horse named Manhattan. Young readers who love horses will get an insider’s view on the sport of equestrian riding and particularly, life with these beautiful animals. I particularly love how Jasmine and Manhattan bring out the best in each other and the wonderful surprise ending. A fantastic read!
 

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

Subscribe to Story Monsters Ink so you don't miss an issue! 

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Story Monsters Ink June Book Reviews

 

Check out our newest book reviews!

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Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact
by Jennifer Swanson (National Geographic Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a fascinating book for those with hungry minds. It’s filled with amazing facts and fun experiments, along with the cool realization that exploring the heights of outer space and the depths of the dark blue sea have a lot in common. The photography heightens the interest level and encourages learning.

Lindie Lou Adventure Series
by Jeanne Bender, Kate Willows (Pina Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This cute series follows a sweet little puppy named Lindie Lou through her adventures. Starting out in the happy home where she was born, we see the puppies grow and get ready for their new forever homes. Each book is a new adventure, whether it’s a door left open, a fast ride in a truck, or flying high on an airplane, and each includes valuable lessons Lindie Lou must learn. This adorable puppy will have children eager to follow her in each new setting. Great introduction for young readers into chapter books and the concept of a series.

A Werewolf Named Oliver James
by Nicholas John Frith (Alison Green Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a cute story of self-actualization and belonging. No matter what perceptions or rejections may come from the outside, home is a place of understanding. When Oliver suddenly comes into the fullness of his identity as a werewolf, it is met with startling reactions from those around him. As he heads home wondering how he will ever explain his abrupt transformation, he arrives to find no explanation is needed. Home is a place of acceptance and inclusion.

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I Am the Rain
by John Paterson (Dawn Publications) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Captivating! From the onset, its words compel. An unseen force pushing you forward with an irresistible effect. A voice leading deeper into its identity, until you feel a living connection in its cycle. What a great way to enjoy science, and learn the amazing cycle of water!

Eraser
by Anna Kang, Christopher Weyant (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is truly a delightfully creative way to learn respect, and a clever way to find the importance of each individual to the corporate whole. School supplies each provide a unique quality to a task, and Eraser begins to doubt her contribution. Everyone can add to the project, but her job is only to remove things. This cute story reminds us that everyone has value, whether it’s completing a school project, or rounding out the joys of family life.

The Big Umbrella
by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates (S&S/Paula Wiseman Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Rainy days bring warm and snuggly thoughts. And what better way to describe an umbrella. It waits quietly at the door until it’s needed, then opens wide and gathers you in. This sweet depiction of kindness falls upon us as gently as the rain.

Marigold & Daisy
by Andrea Zuill (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Sibling rivalry goes back to the second child ever born in time. We can never exhaust its content. There is a story to tell in the voice of every second, and third, and fourth, and so on and so on. Every family will store such tales upon its bookshelves. Zuill’s adorable graphics will enliven the reading experience of every non-firstborn. Simple and delightful!

Rosie the Tarantula: A True Adventure in Chicago’s Field Museum
by Katie Macnamara, Peggy Macnamara (Northwestern University Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago was founded in 1893, and is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world. Along with millions of artifacts and preserved specimens, it also houses many live creatures as well. Rosie is numbered among these live creatures. In 2011, Rosie snuck off the third floor where she lived, and took a fascinating tour of the museum. Her discoveries lasted a year, and upon her return, inspired this story. Its soft, almost poetic flow, narrates her amazing adventure.

A Home For Leo
by Vin Vogel (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Leo finds himself caught between two really different worlds, and two loving families. Loving both, Leo also feels a bit lonely in both. Is there a remedy, a true joy for all? Today, in a world of diversity, many find themselves in such a place—multiple cultures, diverse languages, extended families. We love it all, but sometimes it can press on our emotions. Sometimes, we may find ourselves wondering where we truly belong. There are many helpful ways to find our own personal wholeness in such diversified settings, and Leo finds his.

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Friends Stick Together
by Hannah E. Harrison (Dial Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The artwork alone makes this a truly enjoyable reading experience, but the storyline’s added depth of heart, and practical wisdom makes the purchase well worth the money. I think we all have run across those larger-than-life folks who press hard on the annoyance button, and at the same time, our world would truly be off kilter without them.

Sticks ‘n Stones ‘n Dinosaur Bones
by Ted Enik, G.F. Newland (Schiffer) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is truly history made fun. The whimsical rhyme turns man’s folly to laughable learning. Greed and misguided ambition are sneaky culprits that can disrupt the best of times. Competition between Edward Drinker Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and O. Charles Marsh of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale stirred quite a Bone War! Each paleontologist used less than ethical means to outdo the other, yet brought to the public the wonder of dinosaurs. The illustrations by G.F. Newland complement the great text so wonderfully, that it is a most entertaining lesson in (pre)historical events!

Visiting You
by Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg, Andrea Edmonds (EK Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Though there is a sweet sadness that flows lightly through this book, it brings us to a gentle reality that we all share heartache and loss. Though we may all look different, come from many different places, and seem less than engaging, once we dare to reach, to touch and be touched, a common thread can tie such sweet bonds. This is a sweet reminder to not judge harshly. To take a moment and engage that troublesome person. We might find they are carrying a burden we understand quite well, and sharing it may lighten both our loads.

Sky’s Amazing Dream
by Mark Stevens, Carol Stevens (CreateSpace) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Who says imagination is only for kids? Sky, a beautiful Golden Retriever, has some pretty big dreams of his own. Mark Stevens is a bestselling author and the very proud daddy to Sky, and he enjoys sharing his wonderful adventures. Though Sky’s dreams lead him to great success, he finds being home with those he loves best, and helping others, is the greatest adventure of all.

Neema’s Reason to Smile
by Patricia Newman, Mehrdokht Amini (Lightswitch Learning) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Brightly-colored illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini beautifully highlight the poignant story found within Neema’s Reason to Smile. While following the pages of this Kenyan tale, readers will transcend to young Neema’s journey through her life and witness her desire to attend a local school near her village. Saving each coin earned through peddling fruit, young Neema defines the perfect example of hard work and determination. Everyone should own a dream basket like Neema, and thanks to the useful appendix included with this empowering tale, teachers, parents, and students alike can follow the directions to create their own. Equipped with Depth of Knowledge questions, a handy glossary, and real-life dreams of Kenyan students, Patricia Newman inspires readers to dream and reach goals while emphasizing the necessity of education as a key to unlocking a world of opportunities.

Albert’s Tree
by Jenni Desmond (Walker Books Ltd) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Albert’s Tree is a soft, fuzzy tale that young readers will be sure to love. Spring awakens Albert the bear from his slumber, making him want to seek out his favorite tree. As he settles into his favorite comfortable spot on the branches, a surprise startles the huggable, lovable bear. Continuing through the playful story are adorable forest animals helping to solve the mystery in question. Illustrations mesh perfectly to add both humor and sweetness to the tale. Easily destined to be a new favorite, readers will learn how the beauty of friendship can evolve in the most surprising ways.

Hazel and Twig: The Birthday Fortune
by Brenna Burns Yu (Candlewick) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Hazel and Twig: The Birthday Fortune is a delightful tale which incorporates Korean words and delicately illustrated characters to introduce first birthday customs for the Korean culture. Family bonds between young siblings play an important role in birthday preparations for young Twig. Along with reading for the pure enjoyment of taking in a beautiful story, this book serves as a helpful tool in discussing family and cultural traditions. Author and illustrator Brenna Burns Yu has many reasons to celebrate; this delightful birthday tale is both beautifully written and illustrated and will surely leave a lasting impact on readers.

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What’s on Your Plate? Exploring the World of Food
by Whitney Stewart, Christiane Engel (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
A picture, geography, and cookbook all in one, I love everything about it. Starting with the sneak peek pictures of the world map and children enjoying dishes all across the seven continents, we are then transported to special countries, including Morocco, Brazil, Italy, Spain and more. Each page gives the reader a synopsis of the food and general culture of that country. The recipes look delicious and easy to prepare. I’m sure that after reading this beautiful book, parents and children will quickly travel to the kitchen.

Better Together: A Book of Family
by Barbara Joosse, Anneke Lisberg, Jared Schorr (Abrams Appleseed) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Family and friends fulfill our lives in so many ways and this sweet story celebrates these special
relationships between animals. Better Together appeals to kinesthetic animal lovers who will appreciate the sturdy open-the-flap pages that, when peeled back, reveal the family coming together in various scenarios (feeling lonely, scared, hungry). I like the inclusion of animals that are not your typical animal characters in books—zebras, meerkats, bats, and crows. A nice discussion for some older readers as to why the author included those families, and also a fun extension project would be to research other animals that have a tight family bond! The focus throughout this colorful and lovely illustrated story was clearly how much we are all better when we’re together.

This Zoo is Not for You
by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
This sentimental story (sprinkled with some silly) starts off with a little platypus approaching the zoo gates, only to be shunned by some snooty flamingoes, entitled chameleons, dismissive pandas, and rude elephants. It’s hard not to feel sad for the platypus, but the author keeps the rhyming text fresh and readers will quickly catch on to the repetitive phrase “this zoo is not for you.” Fortunately, the animals quickly realize how rude they were and then discover an envelope the platypus left behind! Forgiveness and fun are at the heart of the story along with the powerful message … kindness matters more than anything and everyone deserves a chance at friendship.

Remy Sneakers and the Lost Treasure
by Kevin Sherry (Scholastic) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Remy Sneakers and the Lost Treasure is a fast-paced, fun cartoon book. Remy’s house gets broken into and his grandma’s journal gets stolen. That was his most important family heirloom, the journal of the Raccoon family. Remy and his critter crew set out to find the thief. Will they find the journal? Read the book to find out!

Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: The Haunted House Next Door
by Andres Miedoso, Victor Rivas (Little Simon) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
This is an entertaining, adventurous book series. If you’re a kid or an adult, you can relate to this book because everyone has a friend who’s afraid of everything. The big difference is that the other friend, Desmond Cole, is a fearless 8-year-old who patrol’s Kersville for ghosts, monsters, and spirits. And Andres Miedoso, his new best friend is determined to go everywhere with Desmond, but he’s afraid of everything. By the way, Andres Miedoso is also the author of this book series. You might want to read up on him to see if he actually is afraid of everything!

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Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School
by Julie Falatko, Colin Jack (Scholastic) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sassy and Waldo are happy dogs who belong to their young master, Stewart, but when Stewart leaves for school, they fear that he may be heading to danger. Sassy climbs onto Waldo’s shoulders as they disguise themselves as a human by wearing a trench coat, then sneak into the school where they pass as the new kid. They’ve practiced speaking “human” and everyone but Stewart believes they are. It is up to Stewart to convince his beloved pets that he is safe and happy in school. I found the illustrations most comedic and entertaining. Younger readers will just love the escapades of these two loyal pooches. A fun read for any child.

The Disappearing Spoon
by Sam Kean (Back Bay Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
This science-based book makes learning about the Periodic Table actually fun. The author takes the huge task of learning about elements and what’s not an element and breaks it all down into manageable, understandable bits. A complete lesson, he informs readers on how the Greeks named the elements and includes the Periodic Table of Elements, an exciting glossary, and a helpful Index. This book was fun to read and I believe it will present this subject in a way that readers will enjoy learning. I also see it igniting the spark of science in future chemists, physicists, and other scientists.

My Year in the Middle
by Lila Quintero Weaver (Candlewick) Reviewer: Diana Perry
In a racially-polarized sixth-grade classroom in 1970 Alabama, Lu’s talent for running track makes her a new best friend—and tests her mettle as she navigates the school’s social cliques. Some say blacks and whites shouldn’t mix and others say we’re all the same race: human. Having just moved from Argentina, Lu feels stuck in the middle and wishes to remain invisible but she realizes she must make her stand. Teenage life is hard enough as it is, but Lu has more than most in this coming of age story. Kids will relate to her and root for her.

Rock Collecting for Kids: An Introduction to Geology
by Dan R. Lynch (Adventure Publications) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Being an avid rock collector myself, I can attest that Mr. Lynch knows his subject matter. This book includes great examples of rocks and minerals, complete instructions to teach young collectors what to take, how to be safe, where to look, and even how rocks and minerals are formed. A really fun read and a great guidebook for children to use when rock collecting. The glossary includes all kinds of terminology that will leave any reader feeling like a junior geologist.

Love, Penelope
by Joanne Rocklin, Lucy Knisley (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Diana Perry
This is the most charming example of a perfect big sister—Penelope. The book is filled with heartwarming daily letters from Penelope to her unborn sibling. She shares the trials and tribulations of being a fifth-grader and asks little questions about her sibling’s development, which leads to big questions about the world around her (like if and when her moms are ever going to get married “for real”). I was touched and found myself smiling through each page. The perfect book for any child who either is or will soon be a big brother or sister.

The Boy Who Went Magic
by A. P. Winter (Chicken House) Reviewer: Diana Perry
The mages of Ferenor were outlawed and destroyed by the royal family centuries ago for performing incredible feats and powering wondrous machines with their magic, and the world is a much duller place. Bert is a young boy who’s lived in an orphanage longer than he can remember, with no friends and a most ordinary life. He’s told that magic is just a myth. But then a chain of strange and inexplicable mishaps causes Bert’s life to spiral out of control. This book is indeed a magical adventure with many mysteries. Young readers will be caught up in all the action and suspense of this page-turner.

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Front Desk
by Kelly Yang (Arthur A. Levine Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Ten-year-old Mia Tang lives in the motel where her parents work. They clean the rooms and she works the front desk. The owner is a horrible man who cheats them constantly. Mia makes a new friend, Lupe, and through their daily lives, they reveal to young readers how America can be the best and the worst place for a poor immigrant to be. Mia comes up with an idea that will not only help immigrants understand English phrases, but pulls many together in a plan to get them all out of poverty. A must-read.

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