Volume 4, Issue 8 (August 2017)


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. 


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.  


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.  


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.  


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.  


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!  


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.  


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.  


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.


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.  


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.  


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.  


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.  


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.  


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.  


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!  


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.



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.  


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.  


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.  


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!  


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.  


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!  



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?  



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.