Volume 4, Issue 11 (November 2017)

 
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More Tales For Your Monkey’s Mind
by Steve Michael Reedy

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Many issues of today are fast reflecting the old idiom of an elephant in the room, or as we see in this story, purple hippos. You know, those obviously large problems or risks no one wants to discuss, yet swallows up the room. In his clever and rhythmic flow, Reedy sends out an insightful alarm, and helps us see the hidden dangers that often lurk behind the masks of progress. A real eye-popper for the unaware. A great book for adults as well as children. It definitely gave thought to this monkey’s mind!


My Brigadista Year
by Katherine Paterson

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Inspired by the tumultuous and violent real-life events of 1961, this international bestselling author brings us a gripping historical tale of a young Cuban girl’s coming-of-age adventure. Many things come easy and natural to us, and it’s hard to imagine there are others who never have the same privileges and rights. Things we take for granted, like reading such a wonderful story, or the ability to write our own name, are mere dreams for many others. Even when we do realize the lack of others, it is easy to wish for better ways, and hope for change. This story is of the personal determination that risked comfort and safety to bring those desired changes for others. It’s an inspiring, eye-opening, and courageous story that will impact its readers and bring an awakening to each person’s place in society.

 


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One Bad Fry Spoils the Bunch
by Angela Joelle

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This lighthearted and brightly illustrated story brings a strong message of the importance of those we accompany. This otherwise sweet and happy Fun Food Land has been brought to an unsavory situation. It seems a new guy, a real rotten potato, has come to town. Joining a pack of fries, he slowly spoils the whole bunch. This first story of the series, A Fun Food Friends Adventure is a cute presentation of a major life lesson.


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Adriana’s Angels
by Ruth Goring

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Adriana and her family are forced to flee their home in Colombia and start a new life in Chicago. Throughout difficult times, big transitions, and the ordinary moments of childhood, Adriana’s angels whisper messages of God’s love and presence. What a comforting story! Whoever you are and wherever you may find yourself, you are NOT alone. Today’s world has become quite a metropolis. A blending pot, bringing changes and new awareness on every level. Children are growing up in bilingual homes, attending multicultural schools, and it can often be overwhelming. This tender loving tale breathes comfort across it all.


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Cuddles’ First Adventure
by Julia Kay

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This delightful tale filled me with warmth and nostalgia. I’m pleased to see the softer hues of

childhood returning. Times when wonder filled the air and imagination was so alive, we were sure our most favorite of toys understood our every word and intent. When magical worlds ran quietly along ours, and brief spills allowed grand adventures. Cuddles is the most loved and cuddled toy bunny in the world. What a joy to carry such a title. The artwork captures and frames the story with pure enchantment. Great book for gift giving!


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Erasable
by Linda Yiannakis

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a powerful story all should read. A treasure key to unlock a true understanding of the bigger picture. We all live our smaller, more personal parts of a grander tale. Often, unaware of the thin thread that silently runs through connecting the whole. Who wouldn’t love to find a mysterious gift that could erase all your troubles? Can you think of something you know that would change all your troubles if it simply disappeared? Ellie could. She even made a list. But what happens if we slowly begin to pull at the threads of life’s beautiful tapestry? This is an interesting and very enjoyable read!


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Nickerbacher
by Terry John Barto

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

There are several healthy directions to take in the reading of this story. Friendship, differences and the courage to recognize them with acceptance, equal opportunities, and my favorite: breaking out of family expectations. It is so easy to fall into safe patterns in guiding our children. Squeezing them into ill-fitted boxes because it accommodated those before them. Nickerbacher had a dream contrary not only to his father, but to the whole stereotype of his species. Could he break out of that, and show the world who he really is? His crazy adventures and his wonderful friends show him he can! A great opening for discussion will surely erupt as a fun family night reading.


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Judah’s Promise
by Irene Maslowski

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Pets hold a vital part in our lives and families. Statistics have even measured the benefits of such enrichment. However, the loss of our favored pets can also cause great grief. This sweet fantasy offers a hand in dealing with the loss of our furry family members, bringing comfort to the children forced to say good-bye.


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Adele’s Adventures: Volume One
by Izzy Beisiegel

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Adele is a daring teenage ladybug attending Dogwood Academy who learns about friendship and hope despite a broken childhood. A wounded heart is heavy to bear, and the younger it comes, it can create terrible confusion. Self doubt, shame, and fear often lead to feelings of anger and isolation, causing the wound to sink deeper still. This tender story follows the road to recovery for a little ladybug, and the friends she meets along the way.


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Magic Mommy Stories: Marvin and the Giant Bubble
by Karin McCay

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a fun backyard adventure kids will enjoy. I love it when we are reminded we can find fun right at home with the people we love. Also, leaving kids with the security of knowing, no matter how outrageous our escapades get, Mom seems to know and has everything under control. Illustrations by Vova Kirichenko are bright, colorful, and engaging.


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Shiver
by Melissa M. Williams

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The depth of this sweet story is perfectly matched to its setting. Today, the term “Family” has a much broader meaning and interpretation. I was delighted to learn its underwater definitions, such as shiver of sharks, fever of stingrays, bale of turtles, and a bloom of jellyfish, but as a great poet once said and author Melissa Williams proves in her story, a rose by any other name, smells as sweet. Family is where we find our forever place. A place of love, inclusion, and belonging. Bilingual (English/Spanish).


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I Want To Be A Monster When I Grow Up
by M.T. Weber

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

A story about a little boy with a big imagination. So often, parents find it hard to get on board with the directions calling our youth. Hudson’s mother, however, manages to find wisdom in its use. Encouraging his ghoulish desire, she manages to instill healthy goals, and lets him come to his not-so-final conclusion.


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The Bridge of the Golden Wood
by Karl Beckstrand

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The simplicity of this story shines in radiant beauty. From its soft illustrations by Yaniv Cahoua, to its text and intent by Beckstrand, it holds and captures a great force of life. A parable of reciprocity that can set a foundation for success that will enrich the soul, as well as the pocket. A beautiful way to teach our little ones how to build bridges of success in the matters of life.


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When The Moon Comes
by Paul Harbridge

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The beaver flood has finally frozen—perfect ice, without a bump or a ripple. For the kids in town, it’s Christmas in November. They wait, impatiently, for the right moment. Finally, it arrives: the full moon. This is a wonderful story of anticipation, and the satisfaction found in its arrival. The description so vivid and clear you can feel the cold and the exhilaration of waiting for just the right moment. Oh, to love something so much. To eagerly await its arrival. To bear the elements and test your fortitude to meet and enjoy it, one more time! Childhood at its best.


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Peanut Butter & Aliens: A Zombie Culinary Tale
by Joe McGee, Charles Santoso

Reviewer: Julianne Black

Joe McGee and Charles Santoso are at it again! If you liked their 2015 story Peanut Butter & Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale, you will love this! The town of Quirkville is up to its eyeballs in another widespread menace and this time, it’s on a planetary scale! Aliens have landed! And they want …well, I won’t spoil it, but I will say that Abigail Zink will have quite the sticky situation to solve! Fun, fast, and certainly giggle-worthy, this installment of the Zombie Culinary Tales will be a staple at story time.


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The Polar Pack, The Safari Set, and The Jungle Crew (Mibo®)
by Madeleine Rogers

Reviewer: Julianne Black

If you are looking for board books, I found a great set! The Mibo® series, written and illustrated by Madeleine Rogers, is exquisite! The bright colors, fun geometric prints, and educational rhyming are sure to be a hit. While the board format makes them sturdy and accessible to little hands, the vocabulary and fun animal facts will delight older children as well. The Jungle Crew takes us through the rainforest highlighting birds, chimpanzees, tigers, and frogs. The Polar Pack introduces penguins, walrus, polar bears, reindeer, and owls. The Safari Set focuses on lions, giraffes, elephants, zebras, and hippos. The books are individually gorgeous but together they make a great gift.


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Danza! Amalia Hernández and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet
by Duncan Tonatiuh

Reviewer: Julianne Black

The multi-award-winning Danza! will take your breath away! Duncan Tonatiuh is truly inspiring, his passion for the real-life story of Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de Mexico comes through in the story’s build up of events and amazing visual detail. The life and accomplishments of Amalia Hernández, the dancer and choreographer, are captured in spirit and execution perfectly matched to the authenticity of the dance she had worked to express. A wonderful discovery for anyone interested in the amazing cultural contributions and traditions of Mexico or dance fanatics looking to dive deeper into history. The illustration style is mesmerizing, a layering of 3-D photographic textures and two-dimensional ancient—almost pictographic—representational shapes. Hard to explain, beautiful to behold. An absolute gem!


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The Bubble Who Would Not Pop!
by Shelly Roark, Simone Krüger

Reviewer: Julianne Black

This bubble wants to pop! He has waited and waited in that bottle with his friends and now he is just bursting with excitement to do his very best. But on this beautiful day, the green-eyed girl blowing the bubbles has other plans for him. She gave him a mission: to deliver her prayer up to God. A sweet tale of a little bubble putting his own desires aside to deliver a message for his friend speaks to the reader of friendship, perseverance, dedication, and faith. The illustrations by Simone Krüger have a textured, classic feel to them that gives the story a very friendly vibe.


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Today I Feel … An Alphabet of Feelings
by Madalena Moniz

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

This story is one of the most delightful, charming, and innovate representations of the alphabet I’ve ever read! The thoughtfulness Ms. Moniz clearly puts into each illustration is truly remarkable. Each stunning page is a single word describing an emotion. A little boy is on each page in a variety of circumstances and these circumstances, surroundings, and scenarios are so clever. I believe when these feelings are written down, in this case by the masterful Ms. Moniz, it affirms to readers that it is normal to have huge ranges in emotions and being honest and authentic about them is the best and healthiest response of all.


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If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed
by Denise Vega, Zachariah OHora

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

I always get nervous with monster books and reading them to my little ones before bed, but this adorable gem provoked so many giggles, questions, and second reading requests that it quickly joined the bedtime book rotation. If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed is a little girl’s narrative on do’s and don’ts of getting your monster to bed. Incredibly relatable and funny, this story takes us through silly bedtime rituals only a child/monster can relate to. The use of white background with bold thick lines brings our eye right to the heart of the story: the little girl and her bedtime buddy. Hoping this book will give me some tips for getting my little “monsters” to bed!


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Dinosaur Pirates!
by Penny Dale

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Dinosaurs? Pirate ships? Treasure and secret maps? Every possible element of a child’s dream story is included in this engaging and fast-paced story. Author and illustrator Penny Dale does a fantastic job bringing to life a pirate ship’s nooks and crannies, along with the joy of treasure-hunting on a tropical island, with dinosaur characters leading the way. Illustrations are top to bottom colorful with detailed treasure maps, sea life, dinosaurs, and telescopes. Bonus? The names of the dinosaurs on the inside front pages and sea adventure words on the back. A fabulous read-aloud.


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The Case of the Stinky Stench: Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast
by Josh Funk, Brendan Kearney

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

This hilarious rhyming story by Josh Funk was one of the most delightful and unique literature escapades I have read in quite some time. The story starts off with Inspector Croissant asking Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast for assistance in discovering the source of a stinky stench in the refrigerator where they reside. Although this is not just an ordinary fridge, but rather a food land that has places like Salsa Ravine, Onion Ring Cave, and Casserole Cliff. Each page has just the right amount of text and rhyming to keep us thoroughly engaged (and laughing). I love the rich vocabulary that perfectly pairs with the bold pencil and digital media illustrations. This story offers readers a fresh, hilarious depiction of food friends antics once the fridge door closes.


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Caring for Your Lion
by Tammi Sauer, Troy Cummings

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Lions. The most majestic animal of all. Kings of the Jungle. But not for a pet, of course! Kittens and cats will have to do. Nope … those domesticated felines are old news. Lions are the new pet in town! But is there a how-to guide, a step-by-step manual for taking care of this majestic beast? Tammi Sauer has written a witty, intelligent, and surprising story that answers all of our lion questions. Crazy wet mane? Don’t forget the blow-dryer. Potty training? Thank goodness for the Deluxe Lion Potty Pack. Lions love pizzas, so just watch out for the tasty delivery man! With multiple illustrations on each page, hysterical sneaky details, and words that pop, this story will become an instant favorite at story time.


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The Handbook
by Jim Benton

Reviewer: Diana Perry

There’s nothing Jake likes more than some good trash-picking, so when his elderly neighbors move out and leave an especially promising-looking pile of household refuse on the curb, he goes right for it. He only has the chance to grab one box before his mom catches him and orders him in for dinner, though. When Jake and his friends investigate the box, they find the Secret Parent’s Handbook and with it all the means to subvert the irrational rules and petty tyranny of their home lives. No more clean rooms! No more vegetables! No more brushed hair or washed hands! It’s all videogames and junk food all the time! But the authorities have taken notice ... and they are closing in. This book was a delight to read and it gives a realistic view into the minds of children.


The Unicorn in the Barn
by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, Rebecca Green

Reviewer: Diana Perry

For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away. One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead. When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed. A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life takes extraordinary turns. This is a magical, mystical story with threads of the difficulties of life weaved within. A pleasure to read.


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The Whizbang Machine: Tunney’s Curse
by Danielle A. Vann

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Yale and her Grandpa are trying to solve a mystery, but not just any mystery … if they’re not successful and soon, it could mean the end of the world, literally. This is the perfect book for teens: a fantasy world with amazing characters, a grand adventure with plenty of surprising twists and turns, and wonderful inventions such as the whizbang machine, which is now missing and is feared to be in enemy hands. This story is non-stop action with chases, underground tunnels, and even a family curse. I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait for the next book in the series.


StarPassage, Book Two: Heroes and Martyrs
by Clark Rich Burbidge

Reviewer: Diana Perry

The award-winning StarPassage saga continues with the relic guiding the Carsons to a new and desperate family. Two brothers, Bobby and Mike, are struggling after a tragic accident turns their world upside down. The perfect tale of family, love, faith in God, courage, and strength with a healthy dose of science fiction and fantasy. I really enjoyed reading this and was most happy that it ended with a peek into the next story. I look forward to reading that one, too.

Volume 4, Issue 10 (October 2017)

 
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You Must Bring a Hat!
by Simon Philip, Kate Hindley

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

I love when a book engages me at first glance. It draws with inner appeal before it even addresses the conscious mind. Color, layout, and font, all hit us before we agree to follow through and pick it up. The feel, the size, the illustrations, all capture before the first word is read. That’s when the book becomes an experience. This book has it all. Once I was inside, the story proved itself with chuckles and anticipation, ending with an out loud laugh. Cute from start to finish, this is an enjoyable read.


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Roar and Sparkles Go to School
by Sarah Beth Durst, Ben Whitehouse

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Everyone gets a little nervous about the first day of school. Even mommies and daddies get a tiny tumble in their tummies. It’s the start of new things, new directions, and new interests. It can all be a bit scary. Big sisters and brothers who have already mastered the event can be such a big help in getting little ones ready. Roar finds a whole new appreciation for his sister, and is sure happy to have her hand to hold.


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Princess Kitty
by Steve Metzger, Ella Okstad

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Have you ever felt the warmth rise in your cheeks when you mistakenly misinterpreted a situation? Princess Kitty thinks life is grand in her palace with her faithful human attendants. She is particularly excited because the palace is bustling about with the buzz of surprise, and Princess Kitty is sure it is centered around her! How will she handle the situation, if she is mistaken? What’s a princess to do? You’ll have to read it to find out!


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The Oyster’s Secret
by Traci Dunham, Hannah Tuohy

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Waiting is a hard task. Waiting, when no one else can imagine what you’re waiting for, can even be harder. It looks as if Mr. Oyster is missing out! He can’t do any of the wonderful things those around him can do. But, he is secretly content, because he knows something beautiful is growing inside of him. Something only time and patience can bring forth. Value and sacrifice are often productive companions. The illustrations by Hannah Tuohy are warm and inviting, lending a sweetness to the tale.


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Chef Aiden and the Corn Maze
by Tracy Andrews, Gaston Hauviller

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The power of suggestion, it can make us do crazy things! When Aiden’s brother Traven suggests the corn field is haunted, fear pops in to meddle with common circumstances, until the boys are running for their life. Like a shadow on the wall looms larger than its object and a bump in the night seems to echo louder than in the day, imagination can dance with suggestion until reality flees away. Thanks to the farmer, the boys come to their senses and all have a great time. And, once again Chef Aiden shares his special recipe with us. Illustrations by Gaston Hauviller are bright and colorful, bringing fullness to the overall experience.


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Chef Aiden Goes to the Zoo
by Tracy Andrews, Gaston Hauviller

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

I find this story refreshing. It left me singing an old Beatles tune. I get by with a little help from my friends. A casual visit to the zoo soon becomes quite an adventure, as circumstances take an unexpected turn. I’m always amazed at the sense of community that binds the animal world. Aiden and Traven find remedy to their dilemma with the clever help of the animal kingdom. A cute story to build up in a time when unity and helpfulness are crumbling. And, Chef Aiden shares his special gluten free banana bread recipe with us as a bonus. The story offers friendship, adventure, helping hands, and yummy treats, filling all the warm spots of life.


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I Am Bat
by Morag Hood

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Join the grumpily adorable Bat as he searches for his missing cherries in this vibrant and hilarious picture book. This short, easy to read book captured my heart. Bat is simply delightful, and reminiscent of youth. Strong desire, do or die stands, that quickly melt into new desires and different directions. This is an adorable storyline to introduce adjustments and flexibility. Bat’s winning personality makes this a fun storytime for all.


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The Adventures of Aiden
by Aiden and Louis Fornicola

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This easy reader encourages literary growth by following a young boy in fun and relatable activities. The book contains three stories about children who are able to accomplish great things by working together, such as flying a kite, climbing a tree, or helping small creatures in a pond. Aiden and his helpful friends find wonderful adventures in the everyday joys of their lives.


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Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends
by Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Christine McLaughlin

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Conflict is inevitable. Even the kindest person comes face to face with it. We can’t protect our children from it, but we can prepare them for it. Growing up, we often learn the hard way, that the people or events that hurt us are only a small portion of the damage we incur. Most of the trouble comes with our response. How we handle the situations far outweighs the issues themselves. Growing Friendships is a social etiquette manual for kids. It’s clever pictorial approach makes understanding easy, and the more we understand, the more empowered we become. Start your children early, prepare them before they encounter that bully on the playground or become one. Often, as parents we feel at a loss to advise when approached with delicate issues of response. Take advantage of the opportunity to encourage your children with the wisdom of professionals, as presented in this book.


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Under-the-Bed Fred
by Linda Bailey, Colin Jack

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This fun story is the first in an early chapter book series by award-winning duo, Linda Bailey and Colin Jack. It’s a lighthearted face-your-fears tale that proves dreaded things may not be as bad as we think. In fact, it just might be the most interesting thing that’s happened to us yet. There are smiles and chuckles as fear fades, and friendship takes its place.


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Little Mouse’s Sweet Treat
by Shana Hollowell, Jennifer Finch

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Perception! A single act or application, and yet it can produce multiple interpretations. Little Mouse is hungry for a sweet treat and sets out to find one among his friends. Each quickly responds to Mouse’s query with a definite yes, but Mouse also quickly learns everyone has their own interpretation of sweet. His fun adventure, like most, leads him right back where he started: home. Where life is truly sweet.


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If There Were Two of Me
by Karen Cogan

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

What would happen if there were two of you? I myself have taken this flight of fancy a time or two, when the busyness of motherhood seemed to swallow up not only time, but the imagination needed to make it through. This is a great opportunity to stir young minds beyond the daily tasks at hand. To imagine and dream, taking flight from the common, and finding what could be. Illustrations by Putut Putri are warm and nostalgic.


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Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Empire State of New York
by Barbara Terry and Beth Ann Stifflemire

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Mr. Waldorf has a hard time hanging on to his spectacles in this fun and educational series, The Spectacular World of Waldorf. However, his search for them leads us all on a grand adventure through some amazing places! On this adventure, he tours the famous Statue of Liberty, explores Niagara Falls, tries ice skating at Rockefeller Center, hikes the Adirondacks, and climbs the Empire State Building. The illustrations are big and bright, and lend a great visual to the learning experience of our travels with the fun-loving Labrador, Mr. Waldorf.


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The Zoo’s Secret
by Lindsey Bell

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Many children wonder what happens at the zoo when the visitors go home, the lights dim, the sun sets, and the moon rises. Do the animals sleep? Eat? Play? In this delightful rhyming and beautifully illustrated story, readers discover the zoo’s secret: DANCING! Animals shimmy and shake, twist and turn, and sing and dance all in the wee hours of the night. Porpcupines doing the hokey-pokey? You betcha! African animals beating on their drums? Yes! Owls in a masquerade, foxes doing the foxtrot (of course), and flamingos performing flamenco are just a handful of hilarious animal antics that readers will relish in. Such creative and rhythmic prose to cleverly describe the animals dancing hobbies. I can only hope the toucans will do the can-can for me next time I make a trip to the zoo!


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Boomer and Friends!
by Joshua Viola, Lindsey Bell, Aaron Lovett

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

It’s not often we read many books about bison in the prairie. That is what makes this sweet story about friendship, teamwork, and loyalty that much more fun and unique! Boomer is a tenderhearted bison that creates quite a BOOMING sound when he stomps, along with many other animals whose names correspond with their sounds. Author Joshua Viola explores the idea of friends becoming family and the companionship and security that provides … especially when Roarer the mountain lion is up to no good. What makes us stand apart can also be our best asset and Boomer is determined to save his friends from this sneaky feline. Colorful illustrations from corner to corner will captivate readers, and the expressions on the animals’ faces are exquisitely captured. Writers will definitely be inspired to come up with their own animal stories after reading about these loyal and brave friends.


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The Laughing Witch
by Andrew Newman, Liesl Bell

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

A beautifully illustrated story about a witch’s desire to help others using gifts from nature, her simmering pot, and a big heart. Learn how she lives hand-in-hand with all of nature and how she creates sacred space to honor those she loves and cares for. The book, which is part of the Conscious Bedtime Story Club collection, is a sure-fire winner for parents seeking conscious parenting tools. The book also includes simple steps for children and parents to practice in order to feel gratitude for nature’s gifts and a “Bedtime Bubble Spell” with calming techniques to feel relaxed before bed.


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The Boy Who Searched for Silence
by Andrew Newman, Alexis Aronson

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

The Boy Who Searched for Silence addresses themes like overcoming obstacles and searching for inner peace. The boy is meant to represent how many of us feel when anxiety and fear overtake our emotions, and how deep breathing along with meditation techniques can allow us to feel enlightment. As a result, the boy literally feels lighter inside. A meditation practice called “The Gratitude Spiral” is very simply described and will allow children to open up their hearts and voices to their parents at bedtime.


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Princess Amber
by Margaret Wright

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

I always have a soft spot for books with whimsical lands and heroines, but to add in a true life story about a brave and precious girl fighting for her life? My heart is full. This lovely story shares the journey of a little girl’s short but precious life battling a medical condition that affected different parts of her body. Written in rhyming, lyrical prose, readers will learn about Amber’s interests, her family and friends, but most of all, her sweet spirit and big heart. The story also mentions a playground built specifically for children with special needs. The author’s note gives great insight into this special class and Amber’s international following. What a wonderful literary opportunity to discuss what compassion, empathy, and philanthropy really mean.


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Halloween ABC
by Nosy Crow, Jannie Ho

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Board books? Yes, please! Books that elicit giggles and interest for my 5, 3, and 1-year-old are a favorite in our house and Halloween ABC definitely delivers. The pictures are bold and bright, funny and unique. Each alphabetical page represents a different Halloween object or idea. What makes this book especially stand out (aside from the awesome illustrations) is the creativity behind the ideas. Cute pictures of candy corns are sprinkled throughout and the more my little story monsters read the book, the more extra details they notice on the colorful, hard pages. I’m not quite ready for the plethora of candy and costumes coming this fall, but after reading this delightful story, my kiddos sure are!


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Boo Who?
by Ben Clanton

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Boo Who? reminds us that everyone has something special and unique to offer in our relationships, no matter how different we may appear or experience life. Upon reading this book, I immediately thought of how impactful this story would be to share with my students before recess or P.E. Boo is a ghost who can’t touch, feel, or participate in typical childhood activities. Feeling defeated and left out, Boo wonders where and how he fits in until a game of hide and seek turns into the perfect chance for his invisibility to ironically make him feel noticed. Nothing spooky about this sweet little ghost! It’s an adorable, clever, and thoughtful read for all ages.


I Want to Be in a Scary Story
by Sean Taylor, Jean Jullien

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

I love stories that use unique fonts to differentiate between each character’s dialogue. So fun to read aloud! This adorable story shares Little Monsters’ dilemma of wanting to be in a scary story … but not TOO scary! What ensues is a cute and surprise ending that will delight readers and hopefully inspire some of their own spooky/funny stories. This unique story will surely be a hit during Halloween time but also to any book lover who enjoys tenderhearted monsters and interactive read-alouds!


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The Chalk Rainbow
by Deborah Kelly, Gwynneth Jones

Reviewer: Julianne Black

The Chalk Rainbow is a pure celebration of co-creation, love, acceptance, and triumph through dedication and appreciation. The story centers around a family experiencing some of the totally naturally occurring challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the ripples it creates in daily routines. ASD is so different from family to family, but The Chalk Rainbow does a great job of expressing common situations without drawing any specific conclusion. Told by the sister in the family, her challenge to engage and comfort her brother becomes a game that transforms into an adventure, eventually becoming a situationally-unique and brilliant solution. A staple for families, friends, and schools to teach insight, understanding, and creative problem solving, The Chalk Rainbow is both an important communication tool and storytime treasure.


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Zip! Zoom! On a Broom
by Teri Sloat, Rosalinde Bonnet

Reviewer: Julianne Black

A delicious Halloween treat, Zip! Zoom! On a Broom counts up to 10 and back while racing through a night’s adventure for ten crazy witches. One goes zip, two go zoom. Three witches glide from room to room. Just try to keep up with these gory gals, as they go on an adventure with skeletons, monsters, bats, haunted castles, lightening, dragons, and more. While the story and illustration are amazing, I think what sets this one apart is that it counts both up to and back from the number 10, and with all the witches trying to stay on the same broom, the visual component of addition as well as subtraction is present. Fast paced and fun enough to hold an audience but consistent enough to get the fundamentals across, Zip! Zoom! On a Broom is a wonderful addition to your October bedtimes or school’s seasonal reading routine.


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The Splendid Baron Submarine
by Eric Bower

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Waldo “W.B.” Baron always speaks the truth. His teacher and fellow students would definitely disagree. They don’t know that his parents are secret inventors of unbelievable gadgets and machines. When Waldo explains what he did over summer vacation, he is punished for lying. One day, his parents are hired to go on a secret treasure hunt and thus begins a tale of adventure, danger, mystery, and all kinds of inventions. Kids will thrill over reading this book. I know I did, and I’m a big kid at heart. I found this book most creative and see it as stirring all kids of visuals in the reader’s imagination. They will feel like they’re along for the wild ride with each page.


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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
by Jessica Townsend

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks—and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. This is the ultimate book for any child to read, especially those who feel inferior and untalented. Morrigan’s life changes dramatically in this story that rivals classics such as Harry Potter, Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland. The ultimate fairy tale—I loved reading every page!


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Skeleton Tree
by Kim Ventrella

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Twelve-year-old Stanly finds a bone growing in his yard and knows he’ll have the perfect photo to submit to the Young Discoverer’s Competition. With such a unique find, he’s sure to win the grand prize. But, oddly, the bone doesn’t appear in any photos. Even stranger, it seems to be growing into a full skeleton . . . one that only children can see. Stanly’s little sister Miren adopts the skeleton as a friend, but when she starts to grow sick, Stanly suspects that the skeleton is responsible and does everything in his power to drive the creature away. This story unravels like a flower in the morning sun and is the kindest way to help any child, whether current or in the future, to deal with losing a loved one.


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Horace Burp: Lizard Boy
by Christine Tennent, Rob Overend

Reviewer: Diana Perry

This is the perfect, fun to read book about a not-so-typical 8-year-old boy named Horace. Why is he different? Because he seems to have the capabilities of most chameleons and the older he gets, the more traits he acquires. This is the beginning of Horace’s adventures as he overcomes the hardships of being unpopular, fighting off bullies, and trying not to let his chameleon-like talents show. I get the impression that Horace wouldn’t trade his special talents to be the most popular boy in the entire school.


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Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Cake Contest!
by Tracey Corderoy, Joe Berger

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Hubble Bubble The Great Granny Cake Contest, is a humorous, fun read. Everyone should have a grandma like Pandora’s grandma! Wherever Pandora’s granny goes, she uses her magic. Yes, Granny is a witch! She causes chaos and craziness wherever she goes, including the house museum, on a cooking show, and at the school garden fair. Will Pandora get everything back to normal before everyone finds out what Granny has done? Read the book to find out!

Volume 4, Issue 9 (September 2017)

 
Livingstone Crouse

Kisses for Kindergarten
by Livingstone Crouse

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is simply adorable! I can’t wait to add it to my family bookshelf. Stella Isabella and her pup win your heart instantly! The rhythmic text and amazing illustrations fill not only the story, but the entire atmosphere with great joy, satisfaction, and triumph.Three cheers for Livingstone Crouse and Macky Pamintaun! It’s lively, endearing, and captures the very best of childhood. And, it even gives you a kindergarten checklist to help set the stage for your little one’s biggest day!


Nickie Hough

Frilly & Trilly: Where does all the money go?
by Nickie Hough

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is an adorable way to teach children the reality that finances play in their daily lives. At times, while seeking heartfelt desires, children may find themselves up against opposition. Often, attributing it to the meanness of those who unfortunately have to say no. This thoughtful approach allows for understanding and appreciation in a hands-on visual way. A great experience that should be incorporated into every childhood.


Jessica R. Herrera

The Bad Book
by Jessica R. Herrera

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The Bad Book is on a mission to destroy all the other library books! This clever approach will make you chuckle as the pages turn, but it will also sneak in a heart tug here and there. Understanding is such an empowering tool. Sharing is so liberating. And together they make a perfect story!


Lea Herrick

Ace, King of My Heart: An Assateague Pony’s Tale of Strength and Survival
by Lea Herrick

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The wild horses of Assateague Island National Seashore are known by many. However, Herrick brings us in closer and provides a personal peek into this unique wild horse society, from the perspective of one particular pony. The horses, strong enough to survive the hardships of the island’s scorching heat, many mosquitoes, stormy weather, and poor food quality, have formed a distinct horse society. There is much to learn of these true magnificent creatures, and the amazing island on which they live.


Meghan Colvin

Edison’s Overnight Bag
by Meghan Colvin

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Family is the balance and strength of home and life, and extended family is like the sprinkles and toppings we add to an already delicious treat. Grandparents can add such a special sparkle that rounds out a solid self-appreciation. Edison is becoming quite a little packer. Love, experience, and a subtle awareness of those he shares his time with help him prepare for the MOST of his experiences. Whether going fishing or to a sleepover, he knows just what he needs. And, as a grandma, I can tell you he knows well the answer to his mom’s parting question.


Deborah Hunt

The One Eyed Pug
by Deborah Hunt

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Giving a pet its forever home gives us serious thought and consideration. We realize it is an adjustment for all involved, and enter into it with determination. In this story, the light is cast on a new perspective, finding the same determination on the side of the pets we choose. Little Pug is moved about, and finds many new places and people in her life. She discovers not all is as she hoped, and though she may long for better things, she is determined to make the best of her situation. Even if it means dealing with difficult adjustments. We look on as this loving little pug navigates her way through disappointment and hardship. In these relative issues, we observe it is possible to find a lasting balance.


Deborah Hunt

Same Inside, Different Outside
by Deborah Hunt

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The students in Emma’s kindergarten class don’t understand how they can all look so different on the outside, but look very similar on the inside. So Dr. Shaw is coming to visit, and she’s bringing Mr. Bones, who is a real life-size skeleton. Mr. Bones is going to help Dr. Shaw teach her lesson about the human body. I enjoyed the educational approach of this story that also provided an early moral awareness of individual uniqueness, as well as the basic sameness that unites us altogether as one.


Don M. Winn

Sir Kaye: the Boy Knight
by Don M. Winn

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

In the fourth and final episode of this multi-awarded series of Sir Kaye, we find Kaye and his two best friends caught in a dangerous adventure to save his father. Father/son relationships can often be filled with misunderstandings and unnecessary striving. Sir Kaye is driven by his need to prove himself, a validation never truly needed in the eyes of his father. This is a great chapter book series, filled with adventure. Its content is inspiring and relatable. The chapters and book length are well paced and hold the attention to its finish. A great rite of passage experience for all awaking youth.


Ann Marie Gillian

Jim Rat
by Ann Marie Gillian

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

A rat who is also a scientist? An avid reader? A workout enthusiast? Jim Rat has a rather enlightened view of himself. Void of stereotypes or bullied impressions of others, he has quite a healthy awareness of who he is. He is a very different kind of rat. This enjoyable introduction to Jim will encourage children to look beyond definitions and mindsets, to uniqueness in self-discovery. Lighthearted with a weighted message.


Barbara Laban

Moon Princess
by Barbara Laban

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Moon Princess is a heartfelt, adventurous, imaginative story. Sienna and her invisible dog, Rufus have moved from London to Shanghai with her dad. Her dad said they moved to China for work, but it was China where her mom has disappeared. Now Sienna is stuck with a mean housekeeper who starts acting suspiciously. Along Sienna’s adventure to find her mom, she makes friends, meets dragons, visits temples, travels on buses and trains, and meets other invisible animals. But will she find her mom?


James Floyd Kelly

DK Readers L2: The Story of Coding
by James Floyd Kelly

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

DK Publishing brings us another fascinating book on coding. In this technology-based society, our children are incorporating its devices at astounding rates. Though there are debates regarding the impact of this technological takeover, it is a reality of our time. Kelly’s book takes us through a history of programming, bringing to light amazing techniques that only few were aware of at the time. This light has broadened our intellects and stimulated our creativity. Books like The Story of Coding break down complex theories into understandable and achievable possibilities, even for the young. I find them fun, challenging, and empowering.


Lori London

Tripi Takes Flight: The Amazing Adventures of Tripi The Fly
by Lori London

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Tripi Takes Flight is a wonderful story. Faced with a major challenge, Tripi is able to draw upon his many other great skills and abilities and overcome his one lack that threatens to hold him back. Tripi learns there are many ways to do things, and if the obvious way is hindered, we can always find another. The challenges of life are only limited by the inability to see beyond them. Necessity, they say, is the true mother of invention. This story also provides an audio version.


Kathryn Berla

The House At 758
by Kathryn Berla

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This YA novel takes us on the long and winding path of forgiveness and healing. Never an easy journey, yet one filled with hope and possibility. Narrated by 16-year-old Krista, we follow her through the pain, confusion, and dreadful sense of loss as she faces the effects of a fatal accident of close loved ones. Recovery is a desperate road, and the wisdom and kindness of those who accompany us can often lead to safe passage.


Holly L. Niner

No More Noisy Nights
by Holly L. Niner

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This adorable book grabbed me right at the cover. Illustrator Guy Wolek captures the warmth, patience, and overall heart-winning personality of Jackson the mole with perfection. We can all learn a thing or two as we watch Jackson cope with his new noisy neighbors. Its so much easier with kindness.


Andrew Newman

The Elephant Who Tried To Tiptoe
by Andrew Newman

Reviewer: Julianne Black

The Elephant Who Tried To Tiptoe is an adorable story about a sweet and curious elephant that worries that she isn’t enough because she can’t do some of the things other animals can. It is only after recounting her many positive attributes and blessings that she finds peace and happiness with being who she is. Calming yet fun illustrations and rolling rhythm seem to float the reader through this one and it makes a great pick-me-up bedtime story after a rough day or a reminder to love ourselves and appreciate our own unique abilities at school story hour. A meaningful and inspirational story.


Shamini Flint

Ten: A Soccer Story
by Shamini Flint

Reviewer: Diana Perry

This book is an uplifting and inspiring story and a tool of encouragement and peek into history. It takes place in Kuantan, Malaysia, where 11-year-old Maya dreams of being a soccer star. Unfortunately during this time, only boys are budgeted for soccer equipment. Maya has too many stresses to deal with—her parents fight, she feels like an outcast being the only Muslim in her new school, and she has no idea how to convince the school to find a way to provide equipment to start up a girls’ soccer team—that is, until she convinces enough girls in school to sign up for it. This book inspires young readers to overcome events in which they are helpless to overturn and empower themselves to prevail.


Pete Carter and James Henderson

Our Dog Benji
by Pete Carter and James Henderson

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Benji is a very lovable dog but his young owner doesn’t like everything that Benji chooses to eat. This is the tale of a typical day in the life of Benji—where he goes, who he meets, and especially what he eats. Early readers will find this story funny as they bond with the lovable Benji and will be surprised to learn that there is one human food that Benji won’t eat, which is the same one his owner refuses, too. Kids will wish they had a dog just like Benji.


Lorri Horn

Dewey Fairchild, Parent Problem Solver
by Lorri Horn

Reviewer: Diana Perry

What kid can’t relate to having parent problems? Middle-schooler Dewey Fairchild hates that his mom makes him take a bath every day. When he confides in his friends, each of them has a complaint about their parents, too. Dewey realizes that he has a knack for solving problems anyway, so he sets up his “business” and solves parental problems for all his client friends. Dewey can solve any problem parents may cause, but what will he do when the parents who are causing problems are his own? I thought this was a beautifully spun tale. Parents, I advise you to read this book. It makes you wonder just who is training who in the parent-child relationship. Such a fun read!


Suzanne Selfors

Spirit Riding Free: The Adventure Begins
by Suzanne Selfors

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Spirit Riding Free: The Adventure Begins is an entertaining story about family and friendship. What I liked about the story most is that it shows with courage and integrity we can face challenges in life and move forward. A sheltered girl, Lucy moves with her father to the Wild West and finally gets to experience the adventures that she had only read about in books. Lucy meets Spirit, a young wild horse. Both spirited, together they face challenges with courage and honesty.


Stacy McAnulty

Goldie Blox and the Three Dares
by Stacy McAnulty

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Goldie Blox and the Three Dares proves with determination and focus you can successfully complete almost any task. This book is encouraging to girls to look at engineering as not just a “guy’s job.” Goldie’s favorite place on the earth is the BloxShop. The BloxShop is an engineering workshop filled with tools and recycled materials. Goldie always loves a challenge, but doesn’t realize what she is getting into when she finds her grandma’s book of dares. Goldie’s determined, along with her friends, to complete the last three dares in the book before her Gran’s 77th birthday, but can they do it?


Andrew Newman

The Hug Who Got Stuck
by Andrew Newman

Reviewer: Julianne Black

The Hug Who Got Stuck is an amazing visual telling of what happens in our hearts when we withhold love. In a totally fresh allegory, the book creates a visual narrative for our emotional reactions to that moment we are too upset to apologize, forgive, or just love who we want to love. When the hug gets stuck in the icky web of negative feelings, the whole hug factory shuts down, and the heart grows dark. But when the hug lets go and releases itself from the negativity, it can fly out to love its intended recipient and the hug factory starts to whir back into business. The illustrations are as unusual as the story itself, full of detail and meaning wrapped up in a gorgeous layered and multimedia collage. Complete with a hug meter tucked thoughtfully at the end, The Hug Who Got Stuck is another big winner!


by Jennifer Pharr Davis and Brew Davis

Families on Foot
by Jennifer Pharr Davis and Brew Davis

Reviewer: Julianne Black

An outdoor family’s must have! Written in conjunction with the American Hiking Society, Families On Foot covers a lot of ground—from trail mix recipes to first aid what-ifs, this book is a true companion. Compact enough to toss in a backpack but straightforward enough to read in a sitting or two, authors Jennifer Pharr Davis and Brew Davis take you on their own adventures with breakouts from other families on the tips and tricks that make their adventures the most memorable. Cranky teen? Family member with disabilities? Backpacking your baby? It’s all here. No matter what your background is in hiking, there is something for everyone. Now get outside already!


by Joni Klein-Higger

Rainbow of Friendship
by Joni Klein-Higger

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

The heartfelt message of Rainbow of Friendship is of upmost importance as readers are transported on an emotional journey with ‘Red’ and her apprehension of going to different places with different looking people in Rainbow Row City. Her sweet friends come in the form of colors. What an engaging and inspirational read to reinforce kindness and acceptance of others—especially in today’s world. Rhyming and poetic text flows and includes fun and eccentric names of Red’s new acquaintances (Blue Betty, Pink Patty Puff, Orange O’Shea, and Yellow Yasmina). The colorful ending leaves the reader with a lovely message.


Joni Klein-Higger and Flora Zaken-Greenberg, Ph.D

I Have a Voice
by Joni Klein-Higger and Flora Zaken-Greenberg, Ph.D

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

One of my favorite parts of reading is relating to the character in some kind of way, having my feelings validated and not feeling alone in whatever struggle I might be experiencing. I Have a Voice encompasses all those qualities and more. The colorful story begins with sweet Jamie, who wants to talk, wants to share, and wants to connect verbally with her friends, but can’t. Her loving and supportive mom takes her to Dr. Faye, who is wonderful at validating Jamie’s feelings and offering her strategies to cope with her anxiety. The last few pages of the book even provide parents and teachers questions and answers about selective mutism. An inspirational, educational, and uplifting book for many children in our communities.


Kathy Strahs

The Lemonade Stand Cookbook
by Kathy Strahs

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

An absolute must-have for every foodie, craftie, and aspiring young entrepreneur. Kathy Strahs shares how to create yummy concoctions from lemon-orange limeade to cold brew iced tea. Not your typical recipe book though! The whole premise is to spark assertiveness in children to set up and sell these yummy treats. The table of contents is easy to read with recipes in one section, and crafts in the next. Love the encouragement, strategies, and testimonials from other young chefs and artists! The crafts are cute, creative, and use many materials easy to find at home or the dollar store. Gorgeous graphics accompany each double-page spread and steps are easy to follow. Bonus facts are included on cute lemon wedge pictures.


Ferrill Gibbs

The Secret Island of Edgar Dewitt
by Ferrill Gibbs

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Fourteen-year-old Edgar DeWitt is distressed when his parents move from Alabama to Mount Lanier, Washington. Right off the bat, his Southern accent attracts bullies who relentlessly mock and attack him. During one of these chases, Edgar escapes by running off in the forest where he discovers a longforgotten old cabin with a hole in the floor. There is something magical about this hole and Edgar’s curiosity overcomes common sense and fear as he jumps in. Readers will find themselves lost in the magical world along with Edgar, who must make the most serious decision of his life when a wildfire breaks out and his father’s life is in grave danger. Edgar is endearing and the other characters he encounters are perfect for the adventure. A terrific book for any young reader who feels they don’t fit in.


Fracaswell Hyman

Mango Delight
by Fracaswell Hyman

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Seventh-grader Mango Delight Fuller, normally shy and withdrawn, had no idea that she had a talent for running until she beat out Brook in the school race. Brook changed instantly from being Mango’s BFF to her actual enemy. To make matters worse, Brook decides to get even by forging Mango’s name on the sign-up sheet for the school play. Mango, realizing that this may be the excuse she needs to come out of her shell, shows up for the tryouts and to her surprise, gets the lead. Shy kids can use this book as encouragement to try new things and discover their hidden talents. This is the perfect book for all kids to read—kids who bully others, kids who get bullied, and those who witness it all. Not just an entertaining story, this is an educational book parents will want to buy.


Casey Lyall

Shadow of a Pug (Howard Wallace, P.I., Book 2)
by Casey Lyall

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Eleven-year-old Howard Wallace and his friend, Ivy Mason, are private investigators. Their principal, however, has forbidden their detective escapades on school grounds. That is, until the school mascot disappears and Coach Williams gets the principal to allow it just this once, provided no one else finds out. Howard and Ivy are thrilled to take on the case until they learn that Carl, the school bully, is not only Coach Williams’ own nephew but is also the one accused of the theft … and they’re the ones who have to prove it’s not him. There are many twists and turns and surprises as this plot unravels as Howard and Ivy put aside their hatred for Carl and find a way to prove his innocence. This story will have readers cheering Howard and Ivy as they follow the clues, including the false leads, to prevail in the end.

Volume 4, Issue 8 (August 2017)

 
michael_dotsikas

Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight
by Michael Dotsikas and Morgan Spicer

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

What a delightful tale! Benjamin and all his helpful friends are so marvelously illustrated, they win your affections with every page. I love the educational impact that so fully embraces the delight of the overall story. And, I treasure even more when a story holds a wide range of application. It keeps a book alive in many readings, never tiring the text. The loving wisdom of mother, the importance of compliance and obedience, and the importance of friends along our journey are all great realities tucked into Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight. This is a great early reading experience. The gentle rhyme carries a pleasant feel throughout. 


raven_howell

Shimmer: Songs of Night
by Raven Howell and Carina Povarchick

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This book delights with every page! I tried to pick a thought, settle on one to share, but it was impossible. Having grown up in a house filled with poetry and song, Howell has managed to capture the essence of life and sprinkle it on every page. Imagination awakens as the day’s eyes grow heavy and night springs to life. There is not enough space allotted to tell you of all the treasured thoughts tucked so brightly illustrated into this book. So I encourage you to find a copy and share the giggles and joys with your children. Let their minds wander and explore all the fancies and wonders of a simple world. They will never outgrow this book, or the creativity it can bring.  


sherry_l_hoffman

Grateful for You, Good Night!
by Sherry L. Hoffman and Jacqueline L. Challiss Hill

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

My most favorite time with children has always been those twilight moments where the wiggles and giggles give way to their softer, more contemplative side. Winding down for bedtime always gave me a peek into their day, and the ever-increasing growth of their heart and imagination. Warm cuddle time fosters their appreciation, and provides a wonderful opportunity to learn and express gratitude. Not only does Grateful for You, Good Night! help you to do just that, it also opens the joys of the sweeter side of parenting. Illustrations by Jacqueline L. Challiss Hill provide a loving visual stage for the text to dance upon, and together make a great nighttime routine.  


cynthia_rylant_and_linda_davick

We Love You, Rosie!
by Cynthia Rylant and Linda Davick

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

We have all read and experienced the notions of a dog’s unconditional love. They wait so faithfully for those special moments we share. We Love You, Rosie! shows the turn of the coin as we see the unconditional love of a pet’s forever family. When she’s good and when she’s naughty, Rosie is loved. When she’s up or when she’s down, Rosie is loved. There’s a warm confidence in knowing we are loved for who we are, not just for the actions of a moment, but every day, in every way.  


kathryn_kemp_guylay_and_alexander_guylay

Where Does A Rainbow Grow?
by Kathryn Kemp Guylay and Alexander Guylay

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The sequel to Give It a Go, Eat a Rainbow introduces a new character in the series: Sammy the Bunny, who takes Blake on a journey to discover where healthy rainbow foods come from.

This simple, easy-to-follow book makes healthy eating a cinch. Teaching children the benefits of fruits and vegetables by color will carry a long-term effect, and it was interesting to see the areas of our body and the ways that they are affected by each color-coded food. The book addresses healthy eating, farm-to-table concepts, and plant identification in an engaging and positive way.  


Axel_Scheffler

Pip and Posy: the New Friend
by Nosy Crow and Axel Scheffler

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

When I think of awkward adjustments, my mind always regresses back to school days. Those days when life broadened and new members entered the scene. Those awkward times where threesomes replace our treasured one-on-one’s. It seemed harder for girls to adjust than it did for the boys. Or, they were better at hiding it. Oh, all the jealous emotions and mood swings that came with the sudden insecurities of group friendships and interactions. Scheffler eases the understanding into simple awareness, before hormones and emotions fight for control, leading to a smoother introduction. I do believe the better informed we are, the better we advance. Emotional health is as important as physical health, and early childhood development in both is an added plus!  


charlotte_zolotow_and_wendell_minor

The Seashore Book
by Charlotte Zolotow and Wendell Minor

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Oh, the amazing power of the imagination. Words form with gentle churning, rising, and falling like the hand of a painter on canvas. A small boy’s inquisitive mind wonders about the world that lays beyond what he can see. Living in the mountains, he has never seen the sea. He’s never felt the cool breezes that float through the air, collecting the salty sprays of a playful ocean. Have you ever listened to someone tell a story and you captured every word as it played across your mind like old movie reels? Charlotte Zolotow chooses her words artfully in this delightful depiction of a day at the beach, bringing it to life with sheer imagination. Redesigned for its 25th anniversary, The Seashore Book beckons yet another generation.  


susan_verde

My Kicks: A Sneaker Story
by Susan Verde and Katie Kath

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

There’s nothing like a broken-in pair of shoes to cushion each step with comfort. This cute story expresses the cycle of denial to acceptance when that sad moment comes and reality says a new pair is necessary. Like parting with old friends, memories flow. Nothing can replace these old kicks. And then, like meeting new friends, you find that special pair that holds promise of great things ahead. Hidden under the cover’s flap is a special surprise to help your little ones learn to tie their shoes.  


jess_keating_and_marta_alvarez_minguens

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
by Jess Keating and Marta Alvarez Miguens

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This fascinating true story of Eugenie Clark is inspirational on many levels. The heart of a child that catches the magic of a dream and lets it carry her for a lifetime. In her 92 years of life, she never let anyone tell her she can’t, or that her goal was unattainable. Seeing beauty where others saw ugliness and fear, she was able to accomplish many amazing feats, personal and world acclaimed. This is truly a valuable read, and will gratify the grit in every true heart.


jung_hee_kim

Find Mom’s Wok
by Jung Hee Kim and Jung Ah Noh

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is truly a delightful story. The illustrations endear us not only to Shao Ming and her dilemma, but to the wonderful foods of China. The story carries the tender emotions that accompany carelessness, and the diligence of responsibility. I personally appreciated the footnotes tucked among the pages that helped with pronunciation, and details that heightened the enjoyment of the story. Not leaving it to my foreign mind to hack at the beauty of their culture and language. The point of the story, its colorful setting, and its culture all made this a fun reading experience.  


valeri_gorbachev

Big Little Hippo
by Valeri Gorbachev

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Growing up can seem ever so slow to the anxious little one perceived to be caught in a snail’s pace. Eagerness and longing can be miserable companions. Luckily for little hippo, he learns being big can mean many things, and sometimes you can help others just the way you are. It’s easy for children to feel lost in the large world around them and lose heart, and sometimes it’s the smallest things that can set it right.  


greg_mcGoon

The Trampling Trembling Tanglelow Tale
by Greg McGoon

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The path to adulthood is rocky at best. The very word itself insinuates we have arrived intact, in some sort of fullness or maturity. But emotions? Who really understands them, much less makes noble or productive alliances with them? Greg McGoon has been given an acute ability to see these underlining Tramples and Trembles as they work their dastardly deeds upon us unsuspecting surface-dwellers. He shines a light upon what otherwise appears shady ground and strengthens our steps as we pass through. Whether adult or child, this poetic and lighthearted approach to those very real experiences of emotion offers us a healthy and fun understanding that is sure to make the journey a success. McGoon’s text and the illustrations by Jessa Orr bring such life and reality to what youth has been battling in the dark so long. They present a face we can understand … and overcome.  


tom_brenner_and_jaime_kim

And Then Comes Summer
by Tom Brenner and Jaime Kim

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Summer is such a magical time for kids and adults. Warm days of playing, exploring, and adventuring are what childhood memories are made of. And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner and illustrated by Jaime Kim is a stunning picture book about these endless summers days. Brenner poetically starts each page with cause-and-effect language that will lend itself to delightful responses from young readers. The illustrations are just as rich as the language. Acrylic paint is vibrantly used to depict “colorful sprays” of fireworks in a steamy summer sky, hopscotch on the driveway, red, white, and blue streamers on bikes, and ear-to-ear grins. A must-read for children.  


rebecca_ashdown

The Whopper
by Rebecca Ashdown

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Author and illustrator Rebecca Ashdown shares a heartwarming and hilarious story about what happens when a little boy named Percy tells a lie that snowballs into some monstrous circumstances. The Whopper begins with sweet Grandma gifting her well-meaning, but not so well-liked, knitting concoctions to the family. Luckily for Percy, the latest sweater gift is for the family dog. Unfortunately, the dog gets into quite a mess (literally) and Percy has to throw the sweater away. Problem solved? Not even close. Percy lies about the sweater’s demise, only to result in a lot of guilt, and a big whopper of a lie monster that follows Percy’s every move. White space is beautifully used to showcase the vibrant and bold illustrations. Readers will connect with Percy’s predicament and hopefully realize that as cute as a little whopper monster is, lying is definitely a whopper of a no-no.  


chris_van_dusen

Hattie and Hudson
by Chris Van Dusen

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

A sweet and surprising story about what friends will do to protect each other. Haddie is a young girl who loves nature and all the gifts it has to offer—especially the lake. Haddie is so happy on her water adventures that she sings a song that ignites a mysterious creature’s curiosity. Hudson is a kindhearted but startlingly enormous creature that emerges from the lake to befriend Haddie. She is not afraid of him, but others are. And the two begin a beautiful (but secret) friendship. What really stands out in Van Dusen’s story are the illustrations. His artistic and writing skills are sure to delight and surprise us in the best of ways, just like Hudson.  


james_russell_and_link_choi

The Dragon Hunters
by James Russell and Link Choi

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Brothers Paddy and Flynn are … the Dragon Hunters! A fast-paced and engaging read-aloud about a journey to save the family dog from an evil (and exquisitely illustrated) dragon. Written in clever rhyme, this story is sure to delight dragon-loving and imagination-using readers who enjoy a great adventure story. The pictures by illustrator Link Choi are so unique, with sketches on white backdrop for some pages, and then corner-to-corner vibrant dragon details on the other pages. A few shivers and gasps will happen as readers notice the creepy dragon tails, claws, and teeth during Paddy and Flynn’s rescue mission. BONUS: The book is interactive! Readers can download a special app to bring the fearless brothers’ action into 3-D glory. So fun! With Paddy and Flynn around, we’ll be kept on our toes as we wonder what adventures (and dragons) lie ahead!  


carolyn_crimi

There Might Be Lobsters
by Carolyn Crimi and Laurel Molk

Reviewer: Julianne Black

Sukie and Chunky Monkey just weren’t sure about the beach. After all, there was a lot to be afraid of! Stairs! Beach balls! Waves! And … lobsters! An adorable day at the shore becomes a wonderful story about getting over fears as a dog, the dog’s stuffed monkey, and their fearless leader Eleanor take to the sea for a side-step outside Sukie’s comfort zone. The time explaining the thought behind Sukie’s fears is exceptional. Perfectly relatable for kids to absorb but not so long and drawn out to lose their attention. The illustrations are wonderfully paired to the story–the sunny and carefree whimsy of the art confirms the storyline without making Sukie’s apprehension seem unjustified. This is a great book for the over-cautious kid in all of us.

 


aaron_reynolds

Sea Monkey & Bob
by Aaron Reynolds and Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Reviewer: Julianne Black

When two aquatic friends—a sea monkey and a puffer fish—suddenly become fearful that one might sink to the bottom and the other might float to the surface, a very (not so) serious drama unfolds among the creatures of the ocean. Reynolds nails the geeky neurosis of each friend through goofy dialog while Debbie Ridpath Ohi illustrates the drama the pair experiences keeping it together and joining forces to overcome their terrifying (unlikely) dilemma. When reading it as a bedtime book, my daughter’s favorite part was giving the peripheral fish their own voices based on the faces they were making. Having a reason to jump into an outside perspective on irrational fears will make a nice teaching tool for kids suffering from heightened levels of anxiety. Great read and fun to share, Sea Monkey & Bob makes for a giggletastic addition to any child’s library.  


julia_patton

The Very Very Very Long Dog
by Julia Patton

Reviewer: Julianne Black

Oh, Bartelby! What a mess you’ve made this time! This is a sweet tale of a kind and happy dog living in a bookstore and playing with his family, except that he is so long from head to tail, he has no idea the trouble his bottom is causing! We follow Bartelby on his daily walk and watch what kind of chaos is in store for a dog who is so long, he has no idea what his back half is up to! It’s up to his family to come up with a solution, and quick because Bartelby has vowed never to leave the bookstore again. Julia Patton does a wonderful job taking you on Bartelby’s walks, and the illustrations are a wonderful mix of minimalistic watercolor-sketch, yet so full of story. Each page’s illustrations take the story well beyond the narration, making it a joy to linger and absorb poor Bartelby’s surroundings and unfortunate predicaments.  


jen_green_tom_woolley_and_adam_scaife

Weather in 30 Seconds
by Jen Green, Tom Woolley, and Adam Scaife

Reviewer: Julianne Black

Designed for grades 3 and up, this book is a wealth of bite-sized information on a dizzying amount of weather topics. Why it rains, deserts and droughts, even global warming are broken down into bare bones, giving kids (and inquisitive parents) easy to discuss snapshots into weather phenomenon. The flexibound binding choice is perfect for this book—light enough to carry in a backpack, yet durable for constant reference. Well-written and illustrated, this is a great guide for science-minded kids at home or any science teacher to have on hand for a quick visual aid.  


sudipta_bardhan-quallen_and_scott_campbell

Brobot Bedtime
by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Scott Campbell

Reviewer: Julianne Black

A super cute book for any robot fanatic, written and illustrated like a flip book or comic strip— meaning the characters don’t always say what they are doing, leaving some of the storyline to be told by the scene they are in. Why is this interesting? Many children’s books spell out in the narrative what is happening and use the pictures to support the text. In this book, the reader is looking to the whole picture for information. Adorable robot speech, interactions, and robot bedtime drama make this a fun story for kids, but also for the lucky person who gets to read it with them! This book has become an insta-fave at our house, and will I read it over and over? Affirmative!  


cindy_c_murray

Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of the Monarch Mystery
by Cindy C. Murray

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Fraternal twins, Sophie and Scarlet (Scottie) don’t look alike but are very much alike in their personalities and interests. They love growing up on their farm, Shear Haven Ranch, and think their lives are full of great adventures. Then one day their aunt sends them a strange-looking frame with an even more unusual picture. It seems like the worst present ever until they discover its magic. The photo is actually another world that they can enter right through the frame. The girls have one wild adventure after another and meet their Uncle Drake, who leads them to lands not seen before where many undiscovered creatures dwell. Readers will escape into this world along with Sophie and Scottie. This is a fun book and a great way to spend an afternoon.  


ally_condie

Summerlost
by Ally Condie

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Cedar Lee and her brother Miles are surprised to learn that their mom buys a summer house in her hometown of Iron Creek. All three of them are struggling to heal after losing their dad and brother in a car accident. This story completely yet subtly describes in detail the acts, emotions, and pathway that the survivors experience. It is, however, an uplifting and fun-to-read story. Cedar makes friends with Leo, a young local who works at the Summerlost Festival and helps to get her a job there. Two mysteries drive this story. This masterfully told tale seems to pull the reader into it so that they feel more like they’re experiencing the story rather than just reading it. To elevate the theatrical mood, this book is divided into Acts 1 through 3, rather than chapters. I really couldn’t put this book down until I finished the last page. Just wonderful!  

 


joe_berger

The Pudding Problem
by Joe Berger

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Sam Lyttle in the The Pudding Problem is a complicated kid trying to figure stuff out, and hoping to be understood. He tends to stretch the truth or as some say, he constantly tells mostly “harmless” lies. Sam has a great imagination, and you like him even though he tends to do some unlikable things. In the end he decides to come clean, or could his final “truth” be another lie?  

 


james_patterson

Laugh Out Loud
by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

In Laugh Out Loud, Jimmy, a middle school kid, loves reading so much that he’s inspired to start a book company for kids and run by kids. What I loved most about this book is that it really gives hope to dreams no matter what age you might be. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of your dreams as long as you believe in yourself and your dream, and of course, work towards it. Most people laugh and make fun of Jimmy, but that doesn’t stop him. Instead, Jimmy’s actions inspire his mom and dad. Will Jimmy get the funding for his book company? Read the book and find out.  

Volume 4, Issue 7 (July 2017)

 
maureen_wright

Share, Big Bear, Share!
by Maureen Wright and Will Hillenbrand

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The joy of childhood permeates every page of this book, from cover to cover. Colors, illustrations, soft repetitive text that will build confidence for children to engage as the story flows. Basic building blocks forming foundations of kindness and generosity, while reaping the joys of inclusion.  Necessary tools often lost in the fast pace of progress. This is truly an asset to any family bookshelf.  Other titles in this adorable series are Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep and Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze.


alicia_acosta_monica_carreetero

Little Captain Jack
by Alicia Acosta, illustrated by Monica Carretero

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Pirates? Animal heroes? Adventure stories out to sea are always a surefire hit and this delightful story has a cute twist in the form of a little captain named Jack. Jack is as tiny as a mouse and constantly trying to make his presence known with his ship crew—who often misunderstand him or don’t see him because he is so small. Jack makes up little strategies and cute songs to keep his crew in line until disaster strikes, and a bad pirate takes Jack hostage! Through a series of humorous events, Jack realizes that bravery and smarts come from within … and being small definitely has its advantages.


emily_k_neuburger

Journal Sparks
by Emily K. Neuburger

Reviewer: Julianne DiBlasi Black

This book is such a beautiful way to get ideas from the brain to the page! Whether you are an art teacher looking for a day’s lesson plan, a beginning journal keeper, or a true sketchbook commando—this book has it all. Each page is a new way to think of your creative expression and a jumpstart in trying something new. For moms, this book is a gold mine of rainy day activities that can be tweaked to fit any age. The beautiful, fun, and funky layout is mesmerizing, and really gets the old brain popping. Great gift for teachers, artists, moms, or anyone who feels stuck and wants to explore their life on paper! Two marker-stained thumbs up!


jeanne_mcatee

The Story Gobblers
by Jeanne McAtee

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Tess MacMillan is the class storyteller. After a new boy moves to town and joins her class, Tess discovers she has a terrifying problem. The new boy follows Tess everywhere, begging her to tell him more and more stories. And the more stories Tess tells him, the fatter he gets, and the skinnier she gets. What can Tess do to get Dean out of her life before he gobbles up her very soul? She will need courage, ancient magic, and the help of special friends to save her from the story gobblers who are hunting her relentlessly. A new twist on storytelling, your child definitely hasn’t read anything like this before. Very amusing and fun to read.


kenneth_braswell

Daddy’s Family Tree: Introducing the Applewhites
by Kenneth Braswell

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This book addresses a serious issue of our day. We are becoming more and more aware of the necessary place of the father in the home. For a long time, stereotypes ruled society, pigeonholing male/female and father/mother relationships and their importance. Today, we understand more the importance of each role in the home. We understand identity is not a magical gift bestowed at birth, but one opened and forged through love and time. Balance is essential in life, and it is achieved with equal strengths upholding each side. Dads are essential and family is crucial to the full journey of self-discovery. Kenneth Braswell reminds us of this desperate need, and brings to the forefront simple ways to incorporate this understanding into our lives. Statistics are provided along with suggestions in how to overcome them. This is a tremendous help for every family, as well as for every single-parent household struggling to overcome.


steve_altier

Blast Off! With Gabby and Maddox
by Steve Altier

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

What a fun and imaginative tale! We stare into the sky and it goes on forever it seems. During the day, it hides its wonders behind fluffy billows of white, and in the cover of night, it entices with sparkles of starry delight. We may wonder at times what dwells beyond what we can see. What surprises await behind if only I could see. Gabby and Maddox, a young sister and brother team, have a great adventure and get a wild peek. A fun fantasy adventure filled with suspense and chuckles.


christopher_p_stanley

The Tree Watcher
by Christopher P. Stanley

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This sweet story calls for a simple shift of position. We are gently reminded to pull our gaze from the grindstone and look up! The earth puts on a show of wonder, changing her seasons like finely designed theatrical costumes. All we need to do is take a seat in her majestic amphitheater and enjoy. Youth is more aware, more in tune with its surroundings. Not yet distracted by the noise of daily demands. Free to look up and take in the beauty of a tree. The illustrations seem to flow almost in a gentle blur as we pass from concrete to serene.


jack_l_roberts_and_michaek_owens

The Elephant Picture Book
by Jack L. Roberts and Michael Owens

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The world is filled with amazing creatures. There was a time when animals were thought to be unintelligent and we did not value them as we do today. Because of our terrible mistakes, many animals became endangered, and some can only be found in zoos and sanctuaries today. This story centers around Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand. Interesting and identifying information is provided along with real photography, giving us up-close views and contrasts between them. This is a fun book for ages 4 to 7, helping them to grow with a wide appreciation for the animals we share this earth with, and the balance and harmony of our ecosystem.


patty_davidson

Little Bird
by Patty Davidson

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a little book packed with big things. Confusion, compassion, kindness, and heart, to name just a few. Plus, it offers you a free audio download as well. When the children notice one of their friends is missing from school, they become concerned. When the days pass and she still hasn’t returned, they truly miss her. The beauty of a caring community comforts a broken place and helps the mending process. Communities are blessed when children learn and participate in such endeavors. Little Bird’s misfortune and the caring interest of her friends is a sweet and simple message every child’s heart can hear.


bonnie_apperson_and_terri_mainwaring

Grammy Likes Me Best
by Bonnie Apperson Jacobs and Terri Mainwaring

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Being a grandma is a wonderful joy. Each child is a delight, unfolding a bond as unique as they are. I’m amazed at the heart’s capacity to enlarge and overflow into ever increasing inlets and outflows. Making each one rich and alive. Jacobs and Mainwaring capture this fascinating truth and zero in on the matchless perspective of each happy recipient. Each child holds that special place, unrivaled by peers, that lasts in their memory for a lifetime. Illustrations by Adam Turner add a colorful realism to the overall happy tone.


gideon_sterer

Skyfishing
by Gideon Sterer and Poly Bernatene

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is truly a delightful tale of old endings and new beginnings, and that awkward space between. Time and age can make necessary demands for restructuring, and adjustment can be difficult. But, when new life makes new companions, it can fill with warmth and creativity. Grandpa must leave behind his idyllic life and move to the big city with his family. Having packed all his fishing rods, he soon realizes there’s little opportunity to fish, until his loving granddaughter has a brilliant idea! The warmth and heart of this story is matched and outdone only by its creativity, and the illustrations by Poly Bernatene give it a powerful boost right over the top! It’s fun, imaginative, and most of all, heartwarming. A truly enjoyable read!


bonnie_apperson_jacobs_and_terri_mainwaring

They Call Him Grumpa
by Bonnie Apperson Jacobs and Terri Mainwaring

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

We have heard the old adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That seems to be so true in this story. Others in the family view Grandpa with less than beautiful eyes, but young Brady’s loving relationship with his grandpa tells him a different story and affords him a deeper, kinder view.


a_lawati_and_elizabeth_arnold

The Greatest Race
by A. Lawati and Elizabeth Arnold

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Generations still glean great insight from the 1800’s Aesop’s Fable of the tortoise and the hare. Ali Lawati brings a fresh look into the endless bank of wisdom tucked into that story, bringing another stretching, growing, application to yet another generation of youth. Today, cultures have crossed, creating new conditions and necessities. Stereotypes removed, there is a broader ground to press into and find our place, even as those in the story had to learn. A good story will always be a good story, but a storyteller who can re-tell it with freshness and relativity and quicken its beat in the hearts of a new audience is a great storyteller. The Greatest Race is a winner.


jean_jullien

Before & After
by Jean Jullien

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Concepts of time ... they can often confuse and frustrate children and adults alike. Often, children don’t grasp the need to wait, or the order sometimes involved to bring about a desired outcome. This is a sturdy, hard block picture book to help in early childhood development. Before & After is a visual concept to easily grasp with the simple illustrations that awaken the meaning.


john_keats

A Song about Myself
by John Keats, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Oh, how I love poetry. And whimsical illustrations. So, this stunning and creative book featuring the poems of John Keats (originally published in 1901 from The Complete Works of John Keats) and pictures by Caldecott Winner Chris Raschka tugged at my heartstrings and reaffirmed the fact that I do, indeed love poetry. From the illustrator’s note in the back of the book (in my opinion just as important to read and discuss as the book itself), we find out that this poem is a letter John Keats wrote to his beloved sister after a 20-mile trek through the mountains of Scotland. It is about a “naughty boy” who goes on a quest of wonders and writes poetry as he wonders. Childhood memories are referenced in short, fragmented, and rhyming prose. Accompanied by Mr. Raschka’s distinctive (and stunning) watery and soft-edged designs, this book is definitely a must for poetry lovers of all ages.


billie_holladay_skelley

Ruth Law: The Queen of the Air
by Billie Holladay Skelley

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Many amazing women have blazed emancipating paths through time. In the year 1916, Ruth Bancroft Law was one of them. Daring to face the odds and endure the hardships, she forged a path for women through the very air. Overcoming many obstacles, she managed to set new records for cross-country distance by flying from Chicago to Hornell, NY. This short—but highly interesting—story is sure to inspire not only young women, but anyone who carries a dream in their heart.


nick_bland

Some Moms and Some Dads
by Nick Bland

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

These beautifully illustrated books by author and illustrator Nick Bland are just a dynamite duo to share at bedtime and offer a great opening of conversation about fun and sentimental moments we share with our parents. Beautiful short and poignant sentences describe different moments, activities, and characteristics that represent childhood moments we share with our parents. The colorful and extra creative pictures of the animals doing all sorts of kooky but totally relatable things are so engaging, but also laugh out loud funny. Some Dads and Some Moms are a perfect pairing to read together, and sweet reminders to families that we are all on this parenthood and childhood journey together.


Time Now to Dream.jpg

Time Now to Dream
by Timothy Knapman and Helen Oxenbury

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Time Now to Dream is an enchanting and special story about a brother and sister exploring the woods in hopes of discovering the source of rhythmic, unusual nighttime noises. Jack is very nervous and keeps asking his sister Alice if what they’re hearing is “...the Wicked Wolf ... with his big, bad claws and his snap-trap jaws?” Alice is adorably reassuring while they meet exquisitely illustrated woodland creatures along the way. The ending reveals a surprise that will delight readers and hopefully lull them into their own sweet slumber.


laurie_wallmark

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code
by Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu

Reviewer: Julianne DiBlasi Black

Ever wonder why we use the word “bug” when discussing a computer problem? That would be a term first coined by the amazing Grace Hopper, Queen of Computer Code! This book is a delightful biography on one of the world’s most accomplished mathematicians and the mother of computer code as we know it today. An insightful and entertaining mix of inspirational quotes, educational firsts, and fun pictures, Grace Hopper makes a powerful yet friendly statement about following your dreams and not letting stumbles or delays hold you back from moving forward with all of them.


naarcisa_marchioro

13 Art Materials Children Should Know
by Narcisa Marchioro

Reviewer: Julianne DiBlasi Black

Stone, gold, paper, glass … this book celebrates art through history with an introductory on each material and where it fits into the progression human expression has made through time. From 2,000,000 BC forward, artists have collected, reused, reshaped, and combined to bring their own visions to life. This book provides a map of accomplishments alongside a timeline of human history to compare the ancient with the modern and how it fit into the daily lives of those experiencing major events in culture. An indispensable addition to any humanities or art history classroom, the visual progression and easy to follow format make it truly flip-worthy as a resource or simply a source of inspiration. Author Narcisa Marchioro does an exceptional job illustrating a wealth of facts for even the most visual learner.


anne_jakeliowitch_and_delphine_chedru

Animals at Night
by Anne Jankéliowitch and Delphine Chedru

Reviewer: Julianne DiBlasi Black

I was thrilled to get an advanced reader copy of this fun book. Full of information and glow-in the-dark surprises, it made for a super fun exploration activity just before bed. Each page covers the animals that would be found in different outdoor environments. By the pond, at the forest’s edge, at the beach, they are all brought to life with information on each animal doused in glowing discoveries. It is designed for ages 8 to 12, but I think this book spans further than that. The unusual graphics and printing style make it captivating as a picture book, and allows the child to grow with the book. Beautiful layout, great animal information, and awesome interactive questions with the bonus lure of glow-in-the-dark goodies make this book a special treat for any young critter! Look for the howling good fun to hit shelves in October!


bejamin_strouse_and_jennier_phelan

Hey, Boy
by Benjamin Strouse and Jennifer Phelan

Reviewer: Julianne DiBlasi Black

An adorable tale of aging and life-long friendship. The story, the illustrations, even the font and choice of binding and cover materials give this book a timeless gleam. It feels and sounds like a tale that has been around forever and, no doubt, will be. In summary, the story is about a boy and a dog, both growing older, both staying friends. But it is so much more than that. It is about dreams, and promises, and adventure, and love, and loss, and life. The minimalistic illustrations delicately give emotion room to take center stage, pulling on sensory heartstrings. A beautiful, sentimental book for any child or child-at-heart.


isaac_perry

Q Saves the Sun
by Isaac Perry and Shomari Harrington

Reviewer: Diana Perry

While most kids don’t like bedtime, it is Qadeer ‘Q’ Taylor’s favorite time of day. Every night, his dad comes home with a new story to tell. And every new story is really a secret mission that begins just as Q falls asleep. In his dreams, he and his sidekick Brian, who happens to be a T-Rex astronaut, fly off on their spaceship to conquer villains and save worlds as they carry out their nightly mission. Q becomes “Super-Q” and has the most exciting and daring adventures, all while sleeping in his comfy bed. This book serves as proof positive that reading a book can really be an adventure.


pamela_hartley

The Seasons of a Giant
by Pamela Hartley

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Giants and humans used to co-exist until, for reasons unknown, each side accused the other of causing trouble. A war broke out but finally both sides agreed to a truce and signed the War of Separation Covenant. Thirteen-year-old Isabel Margaret LaDuke (Izzy) grew up in a giant-free world, until one day, when one of her family’s cows goes missing, she takes her bow and arrow into the woods and is shocked to find a giant. This giant becomes responsible for starting up the war again, and Izzy decides she will be the brave warrior who gets everyone back to peaceful life again. Kids will especially like how Izzy, although young and afraid, finds the bravery deep within herself to face off with the giants.


carol_del_angel

Awesome Women Who Changed History: Paper Dolls
by Carol del Angel

Reviewer: Diana Perry

This is a fun book of punch-out paper dolls with accessories, but not just any dolls—these dolls are very important historical figures. This book educates young female readers by introducing them to women who changed history all around the world and encourages them to reach for the stars. This is a brilliant way for girls to “interact” with important historical women while developing their imaginations in pretend play.


sam_usher

Rain
by Sam Usher

Reviewer: Kristin Maggio, age 10

A sweet story of a boy and his granddad. It shows us how to make the most of a rainy day, and also that some of our best moments are worth the wait. Very enjoyable book that is matched with great illustrations.


alex_milway

Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief
by Alex Milway

Reviewer: Kristin Maggio, age 10

When a thief is loose in Tuptown, it’s up to detective Pigsticks and Harold to solve the town’s crime and make sure the ball isn’t canceled. This story is filled with fun characters that make us happy to turn from page to page. Sure to be read over and over again, I hope this isn’t the last we see of Pigsticks and Harold. A truly fun pair!


laura_amy_schlitz

Princess Cora and the Crocodile
by Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca

Reviewer: Kristin Maggio, age 10

In this well-written story, we learn about the life of Princess Cora. She is feeling cooped up and bored with the same routine from her parents and nanny. Feeling frustrated, she asks her fairy godmother for help with getting the thing she wants most: a dog. She is a bit surprised when she sees the magic is sent in the form of a crocodile. Yet, the crocodile and Cora have a crazy plan to let her enjoy her day without the same routine. However, after finding out he isn’t the most well-behaved crocodile, she begins to think that she may have been given more than she bargained for. A very clever story that shows us there is always hope, and room for change.


ben_clanton

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt
by Ben Clanton

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

What I loved most about Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt is Narwhal and Jelly’s fun, kind, and supportive friendship. In this case, it’s a friendship between a narwhal and a jellyfish, which confirms that all living things can and will connect. This adventure story is filled with lots of action and figuring out how to help one another. Will Narwhal be the superhero he wants to be? Will he find out what his superpower is? Read the book and find out!

 

Volume 4, Issue 6 (June 2017)

 

I Am (Not) Scared
by Anna Kang

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Childhood is such a precious, fleeting, beautiful, and vulnerable time for little ones (parents included!). Having stories that address our anxieties, name them, encapsulate them, and hopefully calm them is incredibly important, not to mention comforting! I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant shares a day in the life of two animal creatures having a conversation about being brave … and scared. Told completely in large, easy-to-read dialogue, the furry friends debate what is scary and what is not scary (a tub of hairy spiders or a pit of hot lava is DEFNITELY scary.) The reader then discovers the setting of the story and root of their cute exchange. The ending is a sweet reminder that having friends makes us feel A LOT better in scary situations … and talking about our feelings is absolutely okay!


josh_funk

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk
by Josh Funk

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is truly a fun read. The lighthearted banter between Jack and the narrator is sure to create chuckles along the way. Jack is NOT happy with the way this story is going, and grabbles about for a more productive outcome. Illustrations by Edwardian Taylor add to the entertainment wonderfully, making this an all around good time!


josh_funk

Things to Do with Dad
by Sam Zuppardi

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Sam Zuppardi, like a master mime, can relay a detailed story without a single word, or at least with only a few. This tender story of a busy dad, and the creative longing of his little boy will touch the heart and bring a smile to your face. We can all get lost in our To Do lists, and this gentle reminder carries great rewards. Lifelong bonds are often forged in casual moments shared.


michelle_schaub

Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market
by Michelle Schaub

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

What a fun and fresh look at the community excitement and involvement of a local farmers’ market! The poetry is as luscious as the goods gathered and sold, and just as enjoyable. A website is also provided so you can find the local farmers’ markets in your area, and join in on the fun.


Selah’s Sweet Dream
by Susan Count

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Grab a box of tissues and find a cozy spot when you read this second title of the Dream Horse Adventure series, because it will completely consume you to its end. Anyone from the horse world, as I once was, will live each page, taste the desire, feel the heaviness of disappointment and frustration, and the pull of inner grit and tenacity. And all readers will exclaim with jubilance the beauty of this magnificent horse and its rider. Wildness captured, can it really be tamed? This is truly a story of heart, struggle, and victory. A powerful impact and encouragement to anyone facing such odds. Read this story. You won’t be disappointed.


If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don’t!
by Elise Parsley

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This New York Times bestselling series will surely tickle your funny bone. Little Magnolia sees a poster saying, “You can do ANYTHING at the library,” and her great gusto and showmanship bursts through as she sets up her own circus. Yep, that’s right! Right there in the library! If your not chuckling yet, you surely will be as you read this lively story. The illustrations are as bold and endearing as Magnolia herself. So remember, if you ever see that poster saying you can do anything at the library, think of Magnolia, and don’t ever bring a circus!


Escape from Nettle Farm
by Justin Davis

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Can bad starts turn out well? In this enjoyable novel for young readers, a runt of the litter named Harvey is challenged to find out. The story is written well, and paced perfectly to keep young readers engaged and following along. It’s filled with emotion, and incites moral conscience. It rings with the sound of hope, and proves the power of unity. The family relationship provides an ideal backdrop for the story, and a pleasant reminder of what we can accomplish when we have the support of those we love.


Bucky Triceratops Takes the Bus
by Patty Davidson

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Patty Davidson relays a child’s heart with a smile in all her stories. Bringing to adults a different perspective we may accidentally overlook in our grown-up world. Her stories are short and carry a simple point, but a point worth looking at from a much shorter perspective. The world is a large place to a child and can be intimidating. How they learn to view, act and react to it will carry lasting habits throughout their lives. Bucky is five years old and getting ready to start Kindergarten. There will be lots of new things, and he is a bit nervous. Mom understands the importance of a smooth transition, and helps him find his personal confidence to adapt and be prepared for the changes.


patty_davidson

Bucky Triceratops Loves Baseball
by Patty Davidson

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Once again, Davidson brings that youthful excitement and openness of a child into view. Team sports provide strong and lasting effects on our children. Teamwork, fair play, respect, and kindness develop as we learn to merge from home life where we often shine in a single light, into a broader social circle where we become a single piece of a whole.


stacy_roberts

Boomer, Be Nice!
by Stacy Roberts

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Bullying is a major issue of our day, one with far-reaching damages. Stories like Boomer’s help children at an early age to see the outcome that awaits such behavior. Boomer finds his actions isolate him from everyone, leaving him lonely. Can he make things right again? His mother shows him how. It’s never too early for children to learn that their actions carry serious consequences, and to learn the importance of being nice.


martha_heineman_pieper

Jilly’s Terrible Temper Tantrums and How She Outgrew Them
by Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D.

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Tantrums! We’ve all had our run-ins with them. Whether as participants or observers, we have felt the heat of its embarrassment and frustration. As parents, it can leave us feeling as helpless as the child, and desperate for answers. Jilly must learn there are more enjoyable ways to control her emotions, instead of letting them control her and her surroundings. Pieper’s 35 years of counseling parents and children brings gentle guidance to a very stressful situation. Illustrations by Jo Gershman are warm and surely to help children relate to the story.


janet_balletta

The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid
by Janet Balletta

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This award-winning rendition of Colombian folklore centers around the 1917 legend of La Sirena De Hurtado. The story tells of the young girl’s defiance of parents and custom as she went swimming in the river on Good Friday. Legend has it she was cursed for her disobedience and turned into a mermaid. Trapped there, the young mermaid tries to lure other children into the river and into her eternal disobedience. Hundreds of tourists flock to the river every summer to see the monument of the mermaid located on the edge of the Guatapuri River and swim in its crystal blue waters.


thrity_umrigar

When I Carried You in My Belly
by Thrity Umrigar

Reviewer: Julianne Black

This is such a beautiful book! When I Carried You in My Belly has an intimacy and sweetness that radiates from the pages—a perfect harmony between illustrator and author that envelopes like a warm blanket. From mother, to father, to extended family, with each family member introduced into the book, the blanket of love is woven larger, and the connection between all individuals is solidified with a grace and softness that needs to be read and shared. The child forms the centerpiece of the mother’s experiences while pregnant as well as the family’s contributions, bringing the baby into their world with love and anticipation. The color scheme, level of playfulness, and depth and connection is so incredibly paired that as a reader, I felt part of the family’s experiences and the bond they share. A true gift to any family.


tim_mccanna

Barnyard Boogie!
by Tim McCanna

Reviewer: Julianne Black

Barnyard Boogie! is a fun and fast read involving all your favorite barnyard animals in their awesome Barnyard Band! Kids will love checking out which instruments each animal takes up—but what will Cow do? Tim McCanna’s use of rhyme throughout the book is played out in how the instrument sounds, making it a very interesting way to communicate a description of the vibration of the notes. That twist alone makes this book especially fun to read out loud! Allison Black’s illustrations have a sharp and bright, almost pop-art feel to them which leads the eye to dance around the pages, taking it all in like a puzzle. Barnyard Boogie! is definitely a winner for the Pre-K to Kindergarten age group! Get up and get ready to Mooooove!


barbara_bottner

Priscilla Gorilla
by Barbara Bottner

Reviewer: Julianne Black

Fantastic fun! Priscilla Gorilla is one of those children’s books that has a truly timeless feel. While brand new to 2017, it could have easily been your favorite as a child. Six-year old Priscilla is obsessed with gorillas. She talks about them, draws pictures of them, and dresses like them, which is LOTS of fun … unless you end up in the Thinking Corner. And in Mr. Todd’s class, the Thinking Corner was getting crowded. Illustrator Michael Emberley’s expressive line quality and effortless facial expressions allow the story to tell itself through a fabulously kid-friendly visual language that gives plenty of fun eye exploration and attention-keeping details from page to page. Barbara Bottner’s storyline, rhythm, and insight into a child’s perspective is positively delightful. Priscilla Gorilla is a true page turner, even for the squirmiest gorillas.


tricia_springstubb

Cody and the Rules of Life
by Tricia Springstubb

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

What I like most about Cody and the Rules of Life is that people actually speak to one another. They try to understand each other, even though that doesn’t always work out. Cody is a thoughtful, sensitive girl trying to cope with events and issues that come up in life including communicating to family, friends, and teachers. This is not always easy but the best way to learn is to dive in and Cody does just that.


kyle_morey

That Curious Sign on Aisle Nine
by Kyle Morey with Laren Bright

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This story will tickle, and make you gasp and giggle. It’s rhyming text leads with an increasing upbeat pace that children will enjoy following. A curious boy has become bored with the everyday typical pet, and is drawn by an even more curious sign on Aisle Nine of his local pet store. What is locked behind the door? Could it be just what the curious boy is looking for?


whitney_strauss_susan_giles_kathleen_cooter

Sweet Child Born in Texas
by Whitney Strauss, Susan Giles, Dr. Kathleen Cooter, PhD

Reviewer: Julianne Black

Sweet Child Born in Texas is an adorable primer to Texas pride. Set to a cheerful rolling poem, the book explores some of the state’s heritage, pastimes, and contributions to life in the USA. With humor that will appeal to parents and light-hearted graphics that will engage young audiences, each page is an experience. The book’s exploration of Texan culture alongside the endearing armadillo guide was exceptionally well thoughtout, as the armadillo creates a constant throughout the fast-paced topic changes and successfully grounds the storyline. The authors and illustrator of Sweet Child Born in Texas have created a brilliant keepsake and/or beautiful Texas baby shower gift that holds treasures for any personality.


linda_ravin_lodding

The Queen is Coming to Tea
by Linda Ravin Lodding

Reviewer: Jenna Grodzicki

The Queen is Coming to Tea is a fresh take on the classic childhood ritual of planning a tea party. The Queen is coming for tea, so Ellie must prepare. With her trusty elephant, Langley, she flies around the world, gathering the most delicious cakes, the finest tea leaves, the loveliest lemons, and the fanciest tutu. Unfortunately, Ellie and her friends can’t resist sampling the treats while they wait for the Queen to arrive. Will the tea party be ruined? The Queen is Coming to Tea is a sweet story filled with imagination and heart. Constanze von Kitzing’s brightly colored illustrations truly bring the story to life. Young readers will enjoy following Ellie on her journey and sharing the final moments between mother and daughter as they share a tea party for two.


adam_lehrhaupt

I Don’t Draw, I Color!
by Adam Lehrhaupt

Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman

Author Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrator Felicita Sala take readers on a journey through I Don’t Draw, I Color!. While it’s clear from the title that readers are going to be opening the book to see various shades of color, the philosophical side of the color wheel is also interweaved into the tale. Some shades of colors are bright and cheerful and other colors can be melancholy and gloomy. Others may represent anger while another color may show serenity. This book helps readers understand that everyone can be creative and we are all like pieces of art. Every one of us has special qualities and character traits that make us special and unique, and those differences should be celebrated. So take the time to read the colorful tale I Don’t Draw, I Color! and allow it to help paint a picture of what makes you special. After all, no one is better at being you than you.


joyce_sidman

Round
by Joyce Sidman

Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman

Round feels poetic as the words are read. Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman allows readers to almost feel and see the round objects found in nature and all around us, while Taeeun Yoo’s beautiful illustrations complete the mental image. Whether it is the round, smooth oranges hanging from the fruit tree or the round seeds that begin the journey for plants to grow, readers will become cognizant of the shapes found in the world around them. This book would be a perfect companion to math lessons about circles or spheres or science lessons about circular objects found in nature. Round opens up many opportunities for exploration and discovery. Whether it is through math, writing, science, or art, this book will surely help to shape the minds of young readers.


amy_l_johnson

Letters Lost Then Found
by Amy L. Johnson

Reviewer: Joseph Murkette

Letters Lost Then Found offers us a glimpse through the window of another time, when communication was a physical act that required time, effort, and an investment in focused thought and emotion. Each letter written and received comprised a small, significant fraction of the writer’s thoughts, emotions, and persona. The book is author Amy L. Johnson’s compilation of letters written by her grandfather and great-uncle, William and Fred Raubinger, from November 1942 to February 1945. These two brothers tell us the story of life, death, and love as viewed through the lens of the tragedy of WWII. This book is a beautifully designed and powerful creation. We are offered the options of viewing it as an historical text, a powerful biographical work detailing the lives of two loving brothers, as well as a nostalgic, realistic view of communication in a computerless world. We learn about the brothers’ lives, their world, and their family. All of these factors are seamlessly woven together to create a powerfully compelling work that richly deserves its place in modern American literature.


tigercandy_arts

Stick Puppet Party!
by Tigercandy Arts

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

The perfect ingredients for a craft? Sticks, cardstock, colorful patterned paper, cardboard, and glue! Put these all together and you come up with an adorable Stick Puppet Party by Tigercandy Arts. Kids will delight in gluing, cutting, and creating puppets with the foundation materials in this kit. Materials are nicely packaged, organized, and easy to
understand/manipulate. Pushpins? Yes please! The puppets arms and legs can be moved with each having its one unique look. Throw in some old (or new) photos, magazine pictures, or your own artistic creations/faces to finish it off. Puppet shows are a classic childhood pastime and this craft will allow them to indulge in creating, and performing!


laurie_berkner

We are the Dinosaurs
by Laurie Berkner

Reviewer: Kristin Maggio, age 10

We are the Dinosaurs is a fun-filled, easy-to-read book for children. The colorful illustrations and sing song words make it extra special. I found myself singing the song long after I was done reading the book. A good read and overall excellent dinosaur book for kids to enjoy.


t_nat_fuller

A Good Day for a Hat
by T. Nat Fuller

Reviewer: Kristin Maggio, age 10

A cute and delightful book. We join Mr. Brown as he tries to find the right hat for every
occasion. Sure to bring a smile to your day as he shows us that it’s good to be prepared. Pointing out and talking about his hats can be as much fun as reading the book!


honey_r_adewole

Materbeampater
by Honey R. Adewole

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Meet the Naughties, the Gritties, and the Notables! This is a humorous book of poetry
based on the lessons of life. There are poems about naughty girls, a boy who eats peanuts and peanut butter non-stop, and all sorts of strange but normal young people. Young readers will laugh out loud when reading this book.


eric_bower

The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate
by Eric Bower

Reviewer: Diana Perry

It’s 1891 and Waldo Baron lives in the nothing-ever-happens town of Pitchfork in the
middle of the desert. He constantly has to tolerate the wild and crazy inventions both of his parents create and is embarrassed when anyone comes to their house. One day he gets out of bed to find his parents’ latest scientific project is to make the house fly, way up in the sky. Their plan is to win the Inventors’ Contest in which inventors enter their flying vehicles in a race across the country. Waldo wishes at first that he was back on dry desert land but soon learns that he is about to embark on the greatest adventure of his life. Kids will want to come along for this action-packed flight as Waldo defines his true character and learns how to be his best self.


megan_mcdonald

April Fools’, Mr. Todd! (Judy Moody and Friends)
by Megan McDonald

Reviewer: Tessa Grodzicki, age 9

This Judy Moody book is about to make you laugh your pants off because it is filled with jokes and laughter! Judy and her classmates are about to have so much fun because April Fools’ Day is coming up! Judy is so happy because not only is April Fools’ Day on April 1 but her birthday is on April 1, too! And with the birthday present her little brother gives her, she has the perfect prank to play on Mr. Todd! But has her classmates and teacher forgot her birthday? Judy Moody and Friends is a great series for grades kindergarten to first grade because it makes you laugh out loud. Also I really enjoyed this book because it made me laugh out loud, too. I hope you get a chance to read this book!


johanna_huwitz

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins
by Johanna Hurwitz

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins is a sweet, easy read. Not only do you learn what it could be like to be an identical twin, but you understand that we are all individuals, special and different. Just because someone wears the same clothes, has the same hair style, or comes from the same family, they still want to find their own identity. Even if you’re not a twin, you can relate to this book.

 

Volume 4, Issue 5 (May 2017)

 
cybele_young

Nancy Knows
by Cybèle Young

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Author and artist Cybele Young creates an ingenious story of Nancy, a little elephant who tries to remember something important. As she does, her mind fills with pictures of other ideas and objects. Things that go forwards, backwards, have wheels, fly, line up in a row, and other artistic combinations. But what Ms. Young creates are Nancy’s thoughts and memories masterfully presented in the form of paper sculptures. This book is an absolute must for an art study with children and a mentor text for writers … the possibilities are endless for how this delightful and heartwarming story can be used to inspire us in our own creations, all through a sweet little elephant named Nancy.


chelo_manchego

The Want Monsters: And How They Stopped Ruling My World
by Chelo Manchego

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Stories about monsters always give me a little pre-reading anxiety because I wonder how my children will react to them before bedtime. Not this story! It is an adorable and relatable story about how our inner desires and compulsions can take hold and bring out the ugly in us (yes, adults included). Children will appreciate the “wants” the little boy has: sweet treats, video games, popularity, and other valid childhood frustrations. Unfortunately, these frustrations take hold of him in consequential ways through a want monster named Oskar. As the story progresses, it is clear that differentiating between your needs and wants (and recognizing your impulses and managing them) will result in a much happier you. Great story to read and discuss with children and the adorable illustrations will keep them engaged from beginning to end!


alison_jay

Bee & Me
by Alison Jay

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

A bee flying through a city landscape pollinating the town with future flowers and colors galore captures the title of this wordless picture book perfectly. I love wordless picture books. For so many reasons, but mostly because the reader can interpret the message in ways that make sense to them, depending on their background knowledge, family life, and experiences. This of course enriches literature discussions (or bedtime snuggle talks) and allows us to just immerse ourselves in gorgeous illustrations, like the ones in Bee and Me. This story is a journey between a girl and a bee that shows up on her windowsill. Naturally, the bee is greeted with fear and apprehension but soon welcomed and nurtured to a plentiful, happy and purposeful life—all depicted through stunning and precious illustrations that can only be summed up with one word: friendship. The author’s note at the end reminds us of the importance of respecting our ecosystem and nature’s gifts.


arlene_stewart

The Friendship Bracelet
by Arlene Stewart

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

The Friendship Bracelet is a fun, engaging, and heartfelt book. The life of Olivia Jones suddenly starts to go downhill the moment her BFF and next door neighbor, Alex announces she’s moving to Paris. Olivia feels sad that evening when she watches Alex’s car drive away. How will Olivia spend her summer without her bestie? The good news is they do stay connected … by a bracelet! And more good news is Olivia makes some new friends. Read about Olivia’s crazy and fun summer!


gigi_priebe

The Adventures of Henry Whiskers
by Gigi Priebe

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 

This is a great chapter book for young readers. It’s got action, adventure, and great characters—everything a reader hopes for. It’s perfect for individual or family night reading sessions. The storyline is enjoyable for all ages. There is enough suspense to keep them eager for the next reading, as well as opportunities for discussions on how they may have responded in the same situations. Using anthropomorphism, the author’s creativity makes the animals appear as if they are human, which gives kids a sense of familiarity they can identify with. Centering around a community of mice, the characters are fun and loving, and their interactions and surroundings are relatable, making this an all around good read. The actual setting in England’s Windsor Castle, and more specifically Queen Mary’s grand dollhouse adds such enrichment, and can be researched to further enhance the reading experience.


vern_kousky

The Blue Songbird
by Vern Kousky

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 

Age-old sayings all emerged out of someone’s travels or experiences. “You can’t see the forest for the trees” must have found its meaning in the blue songbird’s story. Longing for a special song to sing so narrows the little songbird’s vision that she determines to set out upon a great quest to find it. Traveling around the world searching, and speaking with many wise birds, leads her to a land where the most beautiful songs are sung. To her surprise, it’s a land she once called home. Sometimes, the very thing we long for is right in front of us all along.


angie_flores

Cub’s Wish
by Angie Flores

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Sitting under a peaceful starlit sky, Cub is offered to wish upon a star. With much thought, he comes to realize his life is pretty full. What else could he ask for but to always be as happy as he was right then? Sometimes, we play the “If Only” game. “If only I were smarter, taller, prettier. If only I had more this and less of that, then I could be happier.” It’s good to have that defining moment when we truly see we have all we really need.


jose_carlos_andres

The Untold Story of the Tooth Fairy
by Jose Carlos Andrés

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Do you know the REAL story behind the tooth fairy? Whenever a child loses a tooth, a little someone takes it and leaves a small gift in exchange. It is said that the Tooth Fairy, before being a fairy, was an oyster who lived in the deep sea. Everything began when she lost her only pearl. She asked an octopus for help, the octopus asked a sardine for help, and the sardine asked a crab, and finally the crab asked a mouse for help.... Have you ever encountered the tooth fairy? Is it furry like a mouse? Does it have wings like an angel? Do you know the real story behind those missing teeth magically taken up from under our pillows? Jose Carlos Andres says he knows, and he’s willing to share the untold story with us in this delightful new book.


j.e._rogers

Kohana: A Native American Creation Myth
by J.E. Rogers

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The Native Americans always created stories to bring understanding, and to explain the unexplainable. Their stories were then passed down through time. In the story of Kohana, they tell how the wild wolf became man’s best friend—the dog. In the beginning, the Great Spirit created a beautiful world and set its boundaries. Kohana, a young mischievous wolf was part of that world. Filled with curiosity, he pressed against those boundaries. Drawn to a creature that roamed the plains on two legs, he was determined to know. In spite of warnings, he set out and formed a bond that not only lasted their lifetime, but through all time. The relationship between Kohana and the two-legged creature called man is still a powerful bond.


louise_courey_nadeau

Magelica’s Voyage
by Louise Courey Nadeau

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Magelica, with her tiny wings and long green hair, is a mystery to herself. Twelve years ago, gatherers working in a field came across a beautiful sapphire egg. The egg cracked and revealed a mysterious and magical child. She was taken in and deeply loved, and yet she still finds herself full of questions and wonder. We too may find ourselves at times wondering who we are, and why we are here. Magelica’s questions lead her on an amazing journey of discovery. A magical adventure where she finds something very special inside of her, and if she allows it to lead her, she just may find the answers to all her yearning questions, and even a greater sense of belonging. This early chapter book series is a great bridge to lead young readers into novels. It’s short enough to hold their attention, exciting enough to keep their interest, and fun enough to leave them wanting more.


louise_courey_nadeau

Magelica’s Voyage: The Rescue
by Louise Courey Nadeau

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Book 2 of our young readers chapter series opens to the stirring of Magelica’s gift in fitful dreams of a Prince in harm’s way. Searching out its meaning leads her back to the Isle of Dreams and the queen, hoping for a plan of rescue for young Prince William. The story promotes a sense of community and the power of connection. We feel the unity and love as it pulls together for a common cause, and learn the true meaning of belonging.


john_himmelman

There’s a Bug on My Book!
by John Himmelman

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a fun book for outdoor play and imagination. Children are encouraged to plop their book on the grass and discover all the ways common insects and critters creep, slither, and slide across it. The interactive text will stretch their imagination while learning fun facts about the many creatures that share outdoor living space with us. The back pages are full of interests and activities you can use to broaden the experience.


dawn_menge

Queen Vernita Journeys on an Old-Fashioned Paddleboat
by Dr. Dawn Menge

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Queen Vernita loves to spend her time traveling and discovering new wonders of this great world she lives in. Every year she sets a new plan for its 12 months in fabulous places, and meeting interesting people. The reader follows her journey, learning with her a wide variety of facts and interests. Though we only get a taste of the flavors, the queen opens many topics we can pursue for more information and create our own journey. I personally found delight in the great formations of lava columns called basalt, and there is so much to discover about the salmon’s life cycle. I also enjoyed the beautiful rose gardens, and the tranquil balance of the Oriental gardens. You can just imagine the sweet smells and comfort of their beauty. Queen Vernita shares wonderful facts with us and broadens our awareness of this great world in which we live. Get ready to explore!


jcm

The Wackenteach Series
by JCM

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

School at Pagic Elementary is definitely a little “wacky” in its delivery, but fun and effective in its intent. The children of Mr. Wackenteach’s class emerge each year, strong in self-esteem, confident in poise and posture, and broadened in a sense of community and teamwork. His wacky antics afford acceptance, inclusion, and a common bond among classmates. He is truly a teacher who would be remembered. The story is easy to read and magically opens wide for you to engage. Mr. Wackenteach carries that delightful Cat in the Hat excitement.


michelle_path

Xalien the Purple Alien: Xalien Goes to the Beach
by Michelle Path

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Our friendly little alien is back! Having made the best of a former visit that went bad, Xalien made friends with three Earth children. In a return visit, she arrives on a day planned for the beach. Xalien and the children find lots of laughs together as they learn and share their differences.


linda_christen

Henry the Blue Monkey: Being Different Is Good!
by Linda Christen

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Henry is faced with some hard decisions. Being the ONLY blue monkey isn’t always fun, and it can often be hard on his feelings. Henry has to decide how he is going to handle those hurt feelings, and decides to concentrate on all the great things about being the only blue monkey. After all, it does have some advantages. We can’t change how other people think or act, but we can choose how we think. Positive thinking brings positive feelings, and positive feelings can bring much happier behavior.


michael_smith

It Starts with a Raindrop/Comienza con una gota lluvia
by Michael Smith

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is science at its best! Uncluttered, it flows as simply and freely as its subject. The illustrations and lyrical text open the wonder of the water cycle with such ease. Children will follow with marveling interest as technical concepts transform into everyday realities they can understand. The book’s structure is solid, the artwork memorable, and the content important to us all. It would make for good discussion on family night, as you read it together and think of helpful ways we can all conserve our precious water supply. Teaching our children about the Earth’s bounty and giving them a part in preserving it will nurture respect for their surroundings and a sense of appreciation of our natural resources. English/Spanish edition.


sue_ann_kunberger

The Giddlywumps
by Sue Ann Kunberger

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Are you fighting that endless war just to see a clean bedroom floor? Battling each and every day just to try and keep it that way? If you’ve bribed, cajoled, or threatened far more, this just might be the book you’re looking for. The Giddlywumps come out at night, sneaking about looking for a mess. The messier the room, the better they like it. So, if you want to keep these creepy critters away, there is only one surefire way! This story just might end the Clean Your Room war.


helen_lester

Boris and the Worrisome Wakies
by Helen Lester

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Everyone has shared a night with the Worrisome Wakies, so this story will relate to a wide audience. Boris, an adorable badger captured so delightfully by illustrator Lynn Munsinger, can’t seem to fall asleep. He’s too itchy, too thirsty, too hungry. His PJs are tangled, his cuddle bunny is hogging the bed, and on goes the hours, leaving Boris a very sleepy badger the next day. So sleepy, he misses out on all the fun his classmates share while he naps here and there. Can he overcome his worrisome ways and enjoy all the fun the next day?


maggie_grinnell

David and Rusty’s Pirate Adventure
by Maggie Grinnell

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Everyone follows the open path in their heart as they read, and this one led me to a story of letting go. David and his pirate teddy bear Rusty were great buddies, and no doubt shared many adventures together. However, the course of this adventure may be a separating of their ways. Finding themselves stowaways on a pirate ship at sea, David’s only way back home may be to leave Rusty behind. The captain of this pirate vessel seems to have a great need for Rusty to remain. Can David let him go? Or I should properly say, can he let him stay? Personal growth and healing play a faint and tender tune in the background of this story that my heart heard loud and clear.


p.j._roberts

I Lost My Sock!: A Matching Mystery
by P.J. Roberts

Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman

I Lost My Sock! is a delightful tale that enables readers to join in on the missing sock mystery. Readers will take in Elio’s illustrations of various patterns and shades of unpaired socks and other objects to help fox find his other blue sock with polka dots. Along with practicing to identify similarities and differences among shapes and patterns, readers will also learn the irony of misinterpretation and friendship. The two main characters fox and ox will likely keep readers’ attention as they encounter wrong sock after wrong sock. Ox continues to stick by fox’s side to help offer solutions to the mystery. Will they ever find the match? Readers will need to follow along to discover the ending to the mystery. Teachers and parents shouldn’t lose sight of the ability of this book to open up dialogue about matching, sequencing of events, and friendship. 


mike_lawrence

Star Scouts
by Mike Lawrence

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Star Scouts is adventurous and entertaining. The illustrations are creative and fun. This friendship story is about being courageous and true to who YOU are. Being a new kid in town and starting a new school is not always easy and it’s worse when kids label you “weird.” We all face struggles of being different and not always fitting in. Luckily Avani finds a friend in Mabel! 


eric_kahn_gale

The Wizard’s Dog
by Eric Kahn Gale

Reviewer: Diana Perry

This is a delightful tale told from the point of view of Nosewise, a white dog who is taken in by the great sorcerer Merlin. Merlin also takes in an orphan girl, Morgana, who shows promise of having great magical powers. Nosewise feels left out when the two of them are behind the locked door where they practice their magic, and manages to wiggle through to this secret room before Merlin can close the door, changing his life forever. This story is so very entertaining that adults and children both will enjoy being whisked away to Old World England with these larger-than-life characters. This book engages readers right from the first page and takes them on a journey with whirlwind dangers, seemingly unsolvable dilemmas, and endearing relationships, all presented by brilliant writing. This is a must-read if you want to be entertained from start to end and escape into a world of old world magic.

Volume 4, Issue 3 (March 2017)

 
laura_hensley_garno

Tiny Garden Big Trouble: Loving Your Neighbor
by Lara Hensley Garno

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

When good intentions suddenly take a bad turn, three young friends are faced with some very important lessons. Overly enthusiastic, they jump ahead against warning and find themselves in big trouble. The story makes room for great family discussions on such topics as following directions, not jumping to conclusions and misjudging others, and most of all, ways we can brighten a person’s day and make them feel loved. The back of the book provides activities and a project that will help reinforce the excitement of the story.


Bedtime for Buzzy

Bedtime for Buzzy
by T.J. Hackworth

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Parents know that the toughest task of the day can often be the last task of the day. Children’s creativity seems to peak at the bedtime hour, and the games begin! Well, little Buzzy is no different. He’s not ready for bed. There’s too many adventures to still be had. This cute story takes him step by step closer to the desired outcome as each adventure shuts down for the night with sure anticipation for another day.


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Emma Beams During a Wonderful Dream!
by Dana Wall and Amber Wall

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

If your child struggles or finds English lessons no fun, bright-eyed and bouncy-curled Emma can be of help. In this fun learning series, Emma manages to tie in an easy lesson on such things as superlatives and comparatives, metaphors and similes, and conjunctions. Each story provides lively rhyming text, and colorful personalities that are sure to make learning fun. Other titles include: Emma Jane Goes on a Plane and Emma’s All Gloom as She Cleans her Room.


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Sarafina and the Not-So-Wonderful Day
by Carol A. Bacon

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The warm and appealing illustrations of this story create a perfect atmosphere for a colder, yet necessary topic of our day. Bullying is on a definite rise. Insensitive teasing can often bloom into downright meanness. It’s easy to follow the crowd and not rock the boat, but often small stands can overcome many troubles. Sarafina is faced with rejection. Her excited expectations fall in its paralyzing effects. Sometimes, it only takes one person to reach out and make a difference. Sarafina meets someone who understands, and encourages her to appreciate herself just as she is. This is a sweet and simple story, but it builds a broad and deep foundation for the stage of life to rest upon.


Julianne_DiBlasi_Black

Sleep Sweet
by Julianne DiBlasi Black

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The beautiful images, the soft dreamy color palate, and the tenderly whispered text flows like a gentle lullaby that will carry your little ones into sweet sleep. Tucking in the world’s mighty creatures, under the covers of starry skies, quilts of fluttering leaves and blankets of soft grass all fall to dreamy visions of happy things. This story, along with others, works with SpellBound, a free mobile app that uses augmented reality to turn paper books into virtual pop-up books. See the pages come alive in 3D, along with sound and animation. Reading becomes an experience!


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Helicopter Harry And The Copter Kids: Dream It, Learn It, Do It!
by Jon Wayne Faust

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Imagination, excitement, history, and education all rolled into one amazing adventure! Oh, there is so much to share. My thoughts are pushing and shoving each other to be the first ones out. Dragonflies, bumblebees, copter hands, superheroes, out of this world transformers! Each one has a story it’s begging to tell, and all at once. You’ll have to read this one to take it all in. Tucked amid all the excitement is a crucial reminder for every loving parent, grandparent, and guardian. Though we desire the very best for our children, sometimes our desires just aren’t a good fit for them. Sometimes, we can unwittingly crush their hopes and wishes by inflicting our own upon them. We too, can be a holder and keeper of their dreams, just like the da Vinci dream bank, with a little understanding and encouragement. Includes a great Copter Kids Quiz and a website where you can check your answers.


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Little Green
by Arnold Rudnick

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Disappointment can be ever so lightly folded into encouragement, and Little Green seems to keep falling into its crease. Inspired by the wonder he finds in those all around him, he reaches beyond himself to discover its newness. The little green frog wants to spread his arms and soar like the beautiful white geese, and run fast through the fields and prance elegantly on his feet like a team of horses. One by one he approaches and hears, “Anything is possible if you believe in yourself ... anything is possible if you try hard enough.” But believing, and trying, no matter how hard, could not make Little Green any more than he was. Disappointed and discouraged, he wants to give up, until he learns that anything IS possible when you give all you’ve got, except you cannot be something you’re not. A great story of acceptance, appreciation for the differences around us, and contentment with where we fit in.


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Learning My Way Series
by Mary Birdsell and Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The Learning My Way series is dedicated to children attending school in Tanzania. Each book offers an educational look into a different culture and language, while based on common things we all share such as animals, family, and colors. Looking For Our Families provides an opportunity to develop matching skills that will help prepare children for basic math concepts in the future. In this book, children will learn to pick out an object and determine which group it will match, based on the familiar concept of family. Fronts For Our Backs provides another simple learning task of matching. The ability to recognize and match these animals of the wild from both their front and back views. Colors On Our Papers brings to mind Shakespeare’s reference, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Are colors the same all over the world? Even if their name is pronounced in Swahili? Is hello still hello if it’s called njano in Tanzania? It’s fun to see what other kids are doing just like us, even if the wording is a bit different.


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Tyler the Fish and the Lake Erie Bully
by Meaghan Fisher

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

It’s Tyler’s first day of school, and he’s excited. There’s so much to look forward to! He has a great day up until lunchtime, when a mean trout fish demands his lunch. Bullying has become a rising issue in our society. Parents are finding it difficult to bring reasonable understanding to their children on the matter. Younger and younger children are having to face cruelty and injustice. Stories like Tyler the Fish are helpful resources in bridging the gaps. Illustrations by Tim Rowe are bright and endearing.


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Giuseppe’s Famous Pizza Pies
by Meaghan Fisher

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Giuseppe was good at what he did, and it brought him great joy. His talent and his personality made a perfect team, and people from all over lined up to enjoy the experience. When things go wrong, and Giuseppe’s pizza cart meets its demise, he doesn’t know what he will do. In this award-winning story, we learn that Giuseppe’s love for whathe does and the time and care he gave to those he served, made the people appreciate his craft, and willing to help him expand it. Fisher provides strong and solid principles in this lighthearted tale.


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If I Could Pull the Moon from the Sky
by Meaghan Fisher

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

If you could find a rope big enough and pull the moon from the sky, what would you do with it? Would you put it in a wagon and pull it all around? One little boy has lots of ideas in this charming picture book that inspires little readers to use their imaginations.


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Aimee and Divine Inspiration: On a Journey
by Diane Bourgeois

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Aimee sets out on her life journey. Eager to discover the wonders set before her, she embarks upon her little vessel and sails away. Where will this divine river lead? What changes will it bring? Will she find strength and love as she drifts through the magical forest of dreams? Will the cave of shadows challenge her as she steadily navigates its course? Will Aimee find her rainbow, and acquire the greatest treasure of her life? There’s only one way to find out. Embark the tiny vessel and take the journey with her, page by page in this meaningful storybook.


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Not Quite Narwhal
by Jessie Sima

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

In today’s world, family has broadened and stretched, transforming into new shapes and images. Sometimes, the lines blur and kids become confused. Unsure of how to process the changes, they can often feel misplaced and torn. Jessie Sima offers a story that can help the process and bring a happy conclusion that it’s okay to be different, and it’s okay to have two places where you’re safe and loved equally.


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Lola Gets a Cat
by Anna McQuinn

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Lola loves cats, and looks forward to owning one. When mother tells her they require much care, Lola sets out for the library to learn all she can on the subject. She pretends her toy cat is real and practices to be a diligent pet owner. So often, the excitement of wanting a pet is quickly overpowered by the reality of care and responsibility that is necessary to make it a forever experience for all. Our animal shelters are filled with tried and botched attempts. Anna McQuinn provides a sweet and delightful approach, as we follow Lola’s earnest desire all the way through to a positive outcome, and what is sure to make a lifetime memory. The illustrations by Rosalind Beardshaw will warm your heart as Lola achieves her heart’s desire.


richard_michelson

The Language of Angels: A Story About the Reinvention of Hebrew
by Richard Michelson

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Earnest desire often weds sacrifice and bursts forth change. The Language of Angels is a story of just such a union. In 1885, few Jews in Israel used the holy language of their ancestors, and Hebrew was in danger of being lost—until Ben Zion got involved. Through the help of his father and a community of children, Ben modernized the ancient language, creating a lexicon of new, modern words to bring Hebrew back into common usage. Together, father and son were able to grow, expand, and preserve it, to the joy of all.


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Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite
by Stacy McAnulty

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The age-old debate rages on. “Mom loves you best….” has echoed the halls of most homes. All the adorable animals of this story must come to realize, as does every child growing up, we are all favorites in our own special way. Everyone offers something unique to their own personality that another cannot shade or take away. When we realize that, we can all be content with our place. This is a sweet peek into an age old controversy.


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You Don’t Want a Unicorn!
by Ame Dyckman

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Wouldn’t it be great if we all could learn from one person’s mistake? Bestselling author Ame Dyckman and beloved artist Liz Climo bring us a fun-loving story with an important reminder that all is not as one may imagine, and to be ever so careful what we wish for! This is truly a snuggle and giggle storytime treat.


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The Youngest Marcher
by Cynthia Levinson

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a young civil rights activist, debuts on the dimly lit stage of our day that casts its dark shadows against a beautifully set backdrop. A story of hope, strength, and valor to be remembered and honored in the heart of a growing nation. A story where courage rose in the hearts of the youth, set to make a difference in their day. Courage determined to make a stand, believing and willing to sacrifice themselves for that belief. Audrey Faye Hendricks was 9 years old and wanted to enjoy life like everybody else. She was willing to stand for what she believed in, and helped usher in the change of a nation. This book is a treasure for all children. To know the country they call home ached with growing pains, and they still came forth with our banner waving.


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Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes
by Mary E. Lambert

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

One of my favorite middle grade books I’ve read in a long, long time. It was emotional, funny, sad, and heartwarming …. and dealt with the addiction to hoarding. Annabelle and her family are dealing with their mom’s accumulation of everything from milk cartons, old toys, sheets, dog food cans (but no dog), newspapers sorted by the weather, and more—and the repulsive effects it has on their emotional and physical well-being. Family “game nights” turn into revelations of family history and dysfunction (and a mother who genuinely wants to please her family). Despite the seriousness of topic, there is still such an earnestness and sweetness to Annabelle’s voice, it made me feel like I was hearing my best friend share her innermost painful, funny, and sordid family details during a Friday night sleepover.


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Otherwise Known as Possum

by Maria D. Laso

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

An exquisite middle grade story about a young girl nicknamed “Possum” who lives in the deep South during the President Hoover era. Told in Possum’s southern twang, the narration almost has a warmth and familiarity reminiscent of The Help—tween version, of course. With every page I turned, I loved this book more and more. I couldn’t believe how quickly I was emotionally invested in Possum and her father’s journey to discovering their life without their Momma. Despite the heart-wrenching grief of losing a parent, the story also has so many sweet and funny moments with Possum starting school for the first time, being protective of her daddy, and navigating through school friendships. I savored every description, dialogue, and interaction that exemplified Possum’s vulnerability, adorability, and bravery. I can’t wait to read this book again. Inspirational to a reader and most definitely a writer. An absolute gem.


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Wolfie & Fly
by Cary Fagan

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

An early chapter book that portrays the complexities of friendship, anxiety, and imagination in an adorable page-turning read. Renata (Wolfie, as she is nicknamed later in the story) is an only child who is smart and sassy … but elements of her reclusive personality keep her isolated and wary of fostering friendships—much to her parents’ dismay. Renata prefers to create, engineer, and build things all by herself, until one day, a next-door neighbor needs some help. Renata is reluctant to assist Livingston (Fly) until he pleads that his older brother will seek revenge on him for losing his baseball. The adventure of this unlikely pair is so fun to read and brings us back to those beautiful neverending afternoons of our childhood. Humor, tenderness, and the sweet reminisce of new friendship makes this a must read for all ages.


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Boy X
by Dan Smith

Reviewer: Diana Perry

His mother is a scientist. His dad was a soldier. Twelve-year-old Ash is something new altogether. Kidnapped, he wakes up in a strange white room in a clinic on a remote tropical island. Ash needs answers and he has 24 hours to get them. To escape, he must risk his life. But what’s more dangerous: the jungle, his captors, or the mysterious chemical injected into his veins? This is brilliantly written as, just like Ash, I couldn’t tell the good guys from the bad. It all comes together in one satisfying ending. This book could easily be and should be a movie. While there was no mention of a second book, the last sentence leads us to believe that Ash McCarthy’s adventures aren’t over yet.


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The Secrets of Hexbridge Castle
by Gabrielle Kent

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Alfie Bloom, the most unpopular kid in the world, gets a letter: He has inherited a castle! But being the owner of a castle isn’t all fun. Hexbridge conceals a centuries-old secret, the heart of a dangerous mystery that threatens to destroy everything in Alfie’s life. The story hits the ground running and never slows down. Full of mysterious people with even more mysterious names, a bear rug that talks and flies, dragons, druids, and all kinds of magical mystical things. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it does. The only disappointment was reaching the end.


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In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown
by Amy Gary

Reviewer: Diana Perry

The life of the author behind the beloved children’s classics Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny comes alive in this fascinating biography of Margaret Wise Brown. Margaret’s books have sold millions of copies all over the world, but few people know that she was at the center of a children’s book publishing revolution. She lived life bigger than most of us. Amy Gary does a terrific job of capturing the life of an eccentric, exceptional, and extraordinary woman.


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Cleo Edison Oliver in Persuasion Power
by Sundee T. Frazier

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Cleo is a girl with a big vision. She and her best friend Caylee start a brand new business, making personalized barrettes. Cleo has always wanted to meet her birth parents. She has a small chance and a little bit of hope which might lead her to them. I encourage you to read this energetic, exciting, and eventful novel, because for Cleo, nothing is impossible!