Volume 4, Issue 3 (March 2017)


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!