Volume 4, Issue 4 (April 2017)

 
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If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur
by Linda Bailey

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Dinosaur stories never go out of style. And this board book edition of If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey and Colin Jack fits right on the bookshelf with the classic children’s books. What I especially loved about this rhythmic story are the clever and unique jobs that a dinosaur could assist us with if we had one, such as a nutcracker or a coffee grinder or a diving board or snow plow. The illustrations that accompany the silly, engaging text are colorful, larger-than-life and add to the hysterics of dinosaurs participating in our everyday lives. Kids will be in stitches seeing all the shenanigans the dinosaurs find themselves in, especially when our author/illustrator team shows us everything dinosaurs CAN’T do—definitely not a grocery cart pusher or popcorn bowl holder!


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Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life
by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

If you want a fun, entertaining book that you can relate to even if you’re not in school, Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life is it! Walking through the prison-like hallways of Hills Village Middle School with Rafe Khatchadorian is not a picnic. Rafe spends every day in detention with Ms. Ruthless Donatello, a.k.a “Dragon Lady.” With his rule-breaking ways, the real question here is: Will Rafe survive?


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The Day I Ran Away
by Holly L. Niner

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This fun little story pulls at big heart strings, and creates a wistful desire to return to a time when my very courageous little boy determined he too, needed broader living conditions. And just like Grace’s mom, I helped him pack and sent him on his way. I’m sure this endearing tale will resound in great chuckles from most parents who’ve had the same experience with their little ones at one time or another. I love the illustrations of Isabella Ongaro as she depicts the patient way Daddy lets Grace unravel her tale, revealing the great relationship they share.


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Stef Soto, Taco Queen
by Jennifer Torres

Reviewer: Diana Perry

It’s bad enough that 13-year old Stef Soto struggles with not having enough money for nicer clothes and school trips, but what really embarrasses her is being dropped off at school by her family vehicle: a big, white taco truck called Tia Perla. She wants nothing more than for Papi to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be a distant memory. Then maybe everyone at school will stop seeing her as the Taco Queen. But when her family’s livelihood is threatened, and it looks like her wish will finally come true, Stef surprises everyone (including herself) by becoming the truck’s unlikely champion. This is an excellent book to teach diversity, mixed in with a fun to read life-lesson story.


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Edison’s Tackle Box
by Meghan Colvin

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This delightful story touched several spots in my heart. It’s such a joy when you see a child has found and connected with a lasting activity. Parents try to introduce their children to a wide range of interests, hoping they will find passion and fulfillments that will carry them in life. We are truly happy when they choose one that fills our hearts, too. The time Edison shares with his dad or grandpa fishing is priceless. In vivid recollection, Edison is able to pack his own tackle box, drawing from every past delightful experience. Whatever that special interest may be, it bonds hearts and brings joys that last a lifetime. The illustrations of Edison by Cole Roberts increases the overall endearment of the story.


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Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale
by Anne Mason

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Mr. Biddle is a delightful British bear. Proper in his ways, faithful in his routine, and kind in his heart. The amazing photography of Jim Zuckerman brings incredible animation as we follow Mr. Biddle on a fishing excursion, and shares a tale with his friend. The heart of the story is kindness, leading in several directions that can open discussions on great life lessons.


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Oh Brother! Why Is He My Brother??
by A. Law Shettleworth

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Siblings! You can’t live with them, and you never want to live without them. Those special people in our lives who can irritate us one minute and endear us the next. Richard and Katie share that typical sibling swing, but in the long run, Katie is sure glad Richard is her brother. This is a great story to remind those fussy family members to count their blessings.


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Tyler the Fish and Marty the Sturgeon
by Meaghan Fisher

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Tyler is back! The adorable little bass that helped clean up the toxic waste that threatened his home in Lake Erie is teaching us helpful life lessons once again. Tyler and his friend run into a big, scary fish and try to run away. But the fish isn’t there to hurt them. Tyler quickly learns that just because something or someone looks different or scary doesn’t mean it is, and being willing to help can reward us with a new friend. Tyler also learns about extinction, and the unknown troubles others face. Illustrations by Sandra Burns bring an adorable and relatable personality to Tyler and his friends.


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Mary’s Song (Dream Horse Adventures)
by Susan Count

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Heartache is an equal opportunist and holds no age criteria. Mary was disabled at the age of four by the same virus that took her mother’s life. Now 12, she spends her time reading about and sketching the desires of her heart, rather than living them. Much enjoyment fills her as she studies the neighboring horses and captures their beauty in her drawings. It was a quiet life but not a happy one, until a new friendship develops. New things open the door to hope, and new joys often follow. This is a tender story of endurance, overcoming, and the determination of love. It will surely carry an additional appeal to any horse lover.


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Have You Seen My Egg?
by Andrew Fairchild

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is one of those jump-off-the-shelf books! Everything about it shouts “Read Me!” The illustrations by Melissa Shultz-Jones capture you from first glance to final page. The characters—the heart of the story—arouse all our diligence to help Red search for his egg. A quest emerged from his sleep to his heart, and he could not give up its pressing urge until he found his dream. Along our way, there is always opposition to finding our dream. Difficulty and naysayers will always spread their gloom, but remember, Red found his treasure in the rain! This is a tremendous story of heart, fortitude, and reward. It should grace every child’s bookshelf, for it will truly abide in the halls of their memory.


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The Question is WHY?
by Jeff Yager

Review: Darleen Wohlfeil

Jeff Yager, like so many of us, raised an inquisitive toddler, and in the process came up with a fun and educational way of coping. Encouraging that ever curious mind, Yager has addressed 26 questions, one for every letter of the alphabet. These fun and thought-provoking questions will surely amuse our little ones, while satisfying that brilliantly evolving sense of wonder. A helpful must-have for any toddler bookshelf. A great pictorial alphabet chart is included for stimulating many a creative story of your own!


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Zoe the Zebra
by Roxy Morgan

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Self-esteem is not automatic or even a given, and by the time puberty throws us into the identity battle, it’s often too late. Zoe, much like many of us, lets the beauty she sees in others around her dim the beauty that is so uniquely her own. Admiration of others can lead to dissatisfaction with self, and take us on a dead-end journey to be other than what we were meant to be. Zoe comes full circle to find that her friends, and herself, enjoys her just the way she is. My wish for each individual reader is to come full circle with her, and see the true beauty that is so uniquely you. Books and characters like Zoe are great tools in the early development of healthy self-esteem and appreciation for uniqueness in ourselves and others.


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Sloth the Lazy Dragon
by Regan W.H. Macaulay

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This story has a great message with several approaches, which can make it fresh with every reading. Sloth is a very big and lazy dragon. So big, that he has gotten himself into a predicament, and now his poor choices are effecting those around him as well as himself. Strong life lessons unfold with each approach, whether it be responsibility and the need for taking action, or kindness, teamwork, and success.


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Joy & Finley: The Italian Race
by Rachel and Keith Ingram

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Joy and Finley are two adventurous sisters motor racing through Italy. Wherever there is adventure, you are sure to spot them with their faithful dog, Sir Sam. Joining races and solving mysteries, they travel about learning history and discovering new cultures. The enjoyable illustrations by Nazar Horokhivskyi carry us through the race and into deeper matters of the story, such as making choices and setting priorities. Is winning everything? Or are there greater rewards?


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The End of the Wild
by Nicole Helget

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Economy, poverty, family, and survival are all relatable issues in life. We all come to a personal awakening of social issues at some point in our lives. They can often be rude awakenings, hard on the heart, harsh on our circumstances, and sometimes life-changing on the whole. This story follows the life of an 11-year-old girl as she is faced with such issues. The characters are believable as well as lovable. Our hearts will fall in sympathy with her struggles, and rise with joy in the success of her journey. We are reminded, and encouraged, that it’s not life’s details that define us, but how we meet, and arrange them that draws out the true character within. A truly heartfelt story of love, sacrifice, and overcoming life’s obstacles.


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Super Animal Powers: The Amazing Abilities of Animals
by Ryan Jacobson

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Superheroes find their fame by their incredible abilities. Have you ever noticed their names often point us to the animal world? Batman, Spiderman, Falcon, Catwoman, Ant-Man, to name just a few. And those really cool superpowers we wish we had, like super speed, laser eyes, invisibility, and more can really be found among the animal world. A Peregrine Falcon has the super speed of 200 miles an hour when looking to capture his prey. A chameleon can change his color and blend so perfectly with its surroundings that he’s practically invisible. You’ll find these and other cool abilities that will amaze you in this super interesting and educational book.


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I See Me! Personalized Book: My Very Own Name
by Maria Haag

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Children will delight to see their name come together as these wonderfully animated animals gather for his/her happy arrival. This is a fun way to learn their letters, spell their very own name, and recognize and relate adorable animals to their letters and names. The text lends itself well to dramatic reading that both parent and child will truly enjoy. There is an animal encyclopedia in the back of the book that children can use to build other names and fun words as they grow. It will make for a very special book for that very special child in your life. 


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A Gefilte Fishy Tale
by Allison and Wayne Marks

Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman

As readers open A Gefilte Fishy Tale, they’ll find a beautiful glossary of Yiddish terms. These words serve as a backbone of the book as they help to give the story a cultural flair. Renee Andriani helps the story along by adding colorful illustrations that seem to welcome readers right into the family and comical situation of how to open a jar of gefilte fish. Why gefilte fish? Well, Bubbe Judy knows that her grandson Jack happens to love eating it for the Shabbos meal. As you read along, you’ll find that everyone seems to have difficulty turning that stubborn lid. Readers will most likely find themselves saying, “Oy! How hard could it be to twist open a jar?” Well, Bubbe Judy (grandmother), Zayde (grandfather), a bodybuilder, an inventor, a mechanic, a doctor, a dentist, a fisherman, a plumber, and numerous family members try their hand at the lid, but no one succeeds, and this makes everyone feel farklempt! As readers follow along in the story and witness each character try out their own hypothesis on this problem, they may find themselves giggling out loud. What was the solution? Well, you’ll have to read this fishy tale to find out!


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Grammy Do…
by Sandy Richards

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Who wrote a beautiful story about the precious moments we share with our grandparents? Sandy Richards did! Those of us blessed to have a relationship with our grandparents will especially appreciate the lyrical and rhythmic writing as memories and moments are rhetorically written on each page. One of my favorite sentences: “Who reads to me in arms full of cuddles?” A lovely picture of Grammy pops up every few pages and children will love the repetitive phrase, “Grammy Do!” A must-read on a grandparent’s or loved one’s lap … and a chance to reminisce about our own treasured family moments.


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If I Had a Little Dream
by Nina Laden

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

I had to read this book several times before I was able to digest and then explain how divinely written it was. The exquisite pencil-colored illustrations by Melissa Castrillon and the words so unique and cleverly written by Nina Laden create a poetic masterpiece. On each page, a child names their favorite objects, creatures, and people, and gives them different names. Not ordinary names though, names that mean something powerful and embody an attribute that comforts us. This book is about finding joy in our everyday world, the all important concept of mindfulness, and being present. If I Had a Little Dream is the epitome of a mentor text for children and teachers—appreciating the simplicity of words, adjectives, nouns, and nature—and creating our own writing masterpieces about our world and what we think is most important in it.


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Pax and Blue
by Lori Richmond

Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Pax and Blue is the ultimate portrayal of friendship, compassion, and empathy. Having a pigeon and a city setting just seals the deal for making this a relatable favorite amongst children and adults. Pax is a little boy who has a “pet” pigeon named Blue. Pax always greets Blue with a piece of toast and a bit of company on the park bench. Unfortunately, one morning Blue gets left behind in the morning hustle and bustle rush to the subway stop. A darling and captivating plot unfolds as Pax and Blue figure out how to get Blue safely home. The illustrations with ink, watercolor, and charcoal media sweep from corner to corner of the pages. The more times I read it, the more details I notice and appreciate from Lori Richmond. A story that illuminates friendship in a time where kindness matters more than anything is a must-read for all ages.


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The Pinkaboos: Bitterly and the Giant Problem
by Jake and Laura Gosselin

Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

The Pinkaboos: Bitterly and the Giant Problem is a fun and fast-paced story about overcoming your fears. The Pinkaboos is told in a cute and kind of scary way. The illustrations are fun with a lot of PINK! The Pinkaboos are in Fright School. At Fright School, not only do you learn about magic and when to use it, but you learn about how important friendships are in school and life.


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Katie Cox Goes Viral
by Marianne Levy

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Katie Cox’s entire life is falling apart. First, her parents divorce, then she has to move from her childhood home, and finally, she realizes there is no hope of them reconciling when they both have new loves. She starts writing songs as an outlet for her depression but no one likes them. She feels like she’s invisible until a video of her is placed on the internet and goes viral. Overnight, she becomes a superstar. It isn’t long before Katie starts riding high on her newfound fame. But the higher she goes, the further there is to fall. This book offers a great life lesson on what not to do for any young readers who go from being on the outside to being one of the “in” kids. An entertaining and educational story.


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The Star Thief
by Lindsey Becker

Reviewer: Diana Perry

Honorine’s life as a maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia’s study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night. Readers will enjoy trying to solve the mysteries in this adventure and will learn much about the constellations and hopefully gaze up at the night sky more. This book was so masterfully written that, just like Honorine, I kept changing my mind as to who were the bad guys and who were the good. This book unravels like a rose at sunrise, giving readers more and more, including an ending that is just as much of a surprise to its readers as it is to the main character.


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Losing a Hero to Alzheimer’s: The Story of Pearl
by Patricia M. McClure

Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Sickness and disease takes a terrible toll on a family. It never limits its blow upon one victim, but manages to squeeze the lives of all those who are close. Alzheimer’s is one such disease. Pearl’s heartbreaking story of how it crept into and overturned her family is written with the author’s hope of bringing awareness to Alzheimer’s stages and identifying its terrible effects. McClure shares candidly the stressful position children find themselves in as disease reverses the parent/child roles. Denial most always tries to protect all parties involved, but only wastes valuable time, and obscures dangerous pitfalls that may be otherwise avoided. The strongest emotion I grappled with in reading this story was the deep burden of coping with the loss of this once strong relationship as it crumbles before you. McClure’s life is overwhelmed by the need to protect the one who once so lovingly cared for hers. Being prepared won’t make this journey any less heartbreaking, but knowing the signs, breaking through the patterns of denial, and finding community and understanding along the way will.