Volume 4, Issue 7 (July 2017)


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!