Volume 4, Issue 12 (December 2017)

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Christmas with Snowman Paul

by Yossi Lapid, Joanna Pasek. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This sweet depiction of childhood whimsy flows across the pages with warmth and happiness in soft, endearing watercolor images. The text flows as freely as the imagination in this loving tale of Christmas joys, and the heart of sharing. Holidays are a great time to remember, and when we come together with openness and heart, anything is possible. Snowman Paul will vouch for that!

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We Wish for a Monster Christmas

by Sue Fliess, Claudia Ranucci. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a fun-loving, brightly-colored, and greatly-illustrated story about two siblings who want something just a little more special than the usual toys for their Christmas gift, to the happy tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Its lighthearted beat is sure to bring giggles and the lyrics will make this a favorite sing-along for the holiday.

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Magic Fish Dreaming

by June Perkins, Helene Magisson. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Poetry can whisper in the wind and carry the imagination softly with it, or beat loudly like a drum and stir the heart’s complacence. Rhyme and rhythm have encouraged awareness and learning in our children from a very early age, and it’s great to see poetry books like this leading them to an appreciation for this great art of expression. The words, layout, font, and color palette, as well as the illustrations by Helene Magisson are truly a wonderful visual experience in themselves.

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Mice Skating

by Annie Silvestro, Teagan White. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This book pleases from start to finish. The illustrations of Teagan White, along with the colors and texture, bring this warm and endearing story to life. Friendship and the joy of sharing bring any favored activity to its greatest heights. At a time when most mice are burrowing underground, Lucy and her friends find heartwarming delights.

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Jeannie’s Crab Lake Christmas

by David Mulford, Christine Cathers Donohue. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The story carries a sentimental and wistful yearning for happier times, when harmony and peace existed between people and the creatures that lived among them. In a fun flight of imagination, Jeannie is reminded of the joy and affections that this harmony can provide, and determines to be more intentional in lending her life and her environment to it. Illustrations by Christine Cathers Donohue are warm and inviting, giving visual affirmation to the heart of the story.

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Have You Seen My Tail?

by Kaitlin Puccio. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Ever find yourself on a wild goose chase for something you thought you lost, only to find you never had it at all? When Corky, a happy Corgi pup, is told by other dogs at the park that he is missing his tail, it sends him on a quest to figure out where he lost it. His travels lead him to a wise peacock that settles his journey and gives him peace of mind. This adorable little story holds a big impact.

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A New Song for Herman

by Paul McAllister, Emily Brown. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

These lovable monsters will win your heart in this story of fear, friendship, and bravery. Fear can cause us some sleepless nights, and the only way to get back to normal may be to come face to face with it. The adorable artwork by Emily Brown is a heartwarming touch to this all-around winning tale.

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The Nocturnals: The Moonlight Meeting

by Tracey Hecht, Rumur Dowling, Waymond Singleton. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The Nocturnals is a Level 2 reader in the Grow & Read program. It is an entertaining story of friendship and sharing, and educates us about those who are different from us. Tobin, a sweet pangolin; Bismark, a loud-mouthed sugar glider; and Dawn, a serious fox, introduce their nighttime world to early readers. Children will love to learn about new creatures and their habits. This level 2 reader is aimed for grades 1-2, and encourages reading aloud with longer sentences, problem-solving skills, and a growing vocabulary. I’m eager to experience more readers in all three levels of this great program!

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Grandma Forgets

by Paul Russell and Nicky Johnston. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is such a sweet outlook. I wish I’d read it sooner. When loved ones start to forget, we want to pull them back into our memories. Not wanting to let go when we feel them slipping from our reality. This touching story brings us such a sweetness of the joys that can still be found when we are willing to visit their world, instead of the struggle of trying to hold them in ours. The illustrations are as tender and loving as the subject they express. This is truly an honor to the forgetting, who are never forgotten.

Emma Gets Braces!

by Baron D. Hall, Omar Hechtenkopf. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Our appearance is the first thing that meets another’s attention and when it takes on flaws, we can feel bad about ourselves and seek for helpful ways to remedy our concerns. A visit to the dentist can be scary for children and adults alike, but Emma is excited to correct and enhance her appearance by getting braces. The book’s simple, straightforward approach will help ease, and understand the process for those who may be facing it with dread. It’s rhythmic text and upbeat illustrations by Omar Hechtenkopf will surely shine a positive light on the process.

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Gregory and the Gargoyles

by Denis-Pierre Filippi, J Etienne, Silvio Camboni. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

In this new comic book style series, we find a sulky, smart-aleck kid who gets in over his head and finds quite an adventure. Though we find ourselves thrown back in time with magic, dragons, and gargoyles, we still find family issues and child routines, making personal connections easy for its readers. This fun fantasy, with its engaging illustrations, is a great way to encourage reluctant readers. The comic book layout makes reading light, spurring the reader’s interest to keep its pace. It’s reading for fun!

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Leo’s Gift

by Susan Blackaby, Joellyn Cicciarelli, Carrie Schuler. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Oh, the gift. That special thing that flows with ease and fills all the cracks and crevices of our lives with joy! For Meredith, it’s basketball that fills her mind and interest while she hammers out her tunes in piano practice. But, for Leo, it’s the sweet sound of music that fills his heart as he quietly sits in the shadows listening to his sister play. The piano soon gives him a voice, helps his confidence soar, and propels him to embrace the treasure inside him and share it with the world. A true gift.

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A World of Cookies for Santa

by M.E. Furman, Susan Gal. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Sure to become a treasured favorite during the holidays. Every page describes holiday cookie treats that children make for Santa all across the globe. Not only is this book packed with fascinating facts and beautifully written paragraphs that describe countries and their cookie making traditions, it tugs at readers’ heartstrings as they imagine these young children eagerly waiting for Santa as they carefully craft their Christmas cookies. I would love a sample of each recipe included in the back of the book! This stunningly illustrated book is perfect for holiday season read-alouds, cookie exchanges, and even a geography around-the-world classroom unit!

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Inky’s Great Escape

by Casey Lyall, Sebastià Serra. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Octopus stories might be the next big thing because this underwater delight will elicit many giggles from readers of all ages. This delightful tale begins with Inky coming out of retirement from his local aquarium to dip his tentacles into one last great escape … to the ocean! Readers will love Inky’s planning process as he plots the perfect escape. I love the pages that give us a peek into aquarium life, and the conversations between sea creatures are incredibly clever. Readers will be fascinated by this unique tale, especially when they realize it is based on a true story!

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I Saw Anaconda

by Jane Clarke, Emma Dodd. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

A lift-the-flap book? Yes, please! Hungry anacondas in a cumulative story format? Even better. This brightly-colored picture book will not only elicit giggles, but full-blown belly laughs as the reader keeps up with the anaconda’s insatiable appetite. Swallowing a tick, then a skink, along with frogs, piranhas, and even a gator, this anaconda has a full tummy and is still not stopping! The tried and true cumulative storyline has a fresh twist with these swampy characters only to have a huge pop-out explosion at the end that will surely make you s-s-smile.

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

by Dan Santat. Reviewer: Julianne Black

This book is absolutely beautiful. We follow Humpty Dumpty’s rest and recovery after his fall, his

transition back to the wall, and the strength it took to get back on top. Includes the added bonus of an unexpected ending that will surely tweak your view of Mr. Dumpty from this point forward. Deliciously textured illustrations, emotionally impactful layout, and design choices paired with a fresh view of the nursery rhyme bring it all home. Older children will especially adore it due to its graphic novel-style story telling and behind-the-scenes feel on the character. Great gift book full of everything we have come to expect from the fantastic Dan Santat.

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The Wise Animal Handbook

by Kate B. Jerome. Reviewer: Julianne Black

If you combined Old McDonald’s Farm, the Chicken Soup books, and the motivational poster people together to make a book, it would turn out like this! Adorable short clips of advice on everything from eating healthy, to how to treat friends, to adjusting perspective—The Wise Animal Handbook uses vivid animal photography to impart wisdom on young animal lovers. It makes a great storytime book on particularly chaotic school days as the subject matter, rhythmic text, and beautiful images give off a refocus vibe that settles and calms. This book has a wonderful feel-good finish to it, the picture book equivalent to a warm cup of tea.

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The Secret of Nightingale Wood

by Lucy Strange. Reviewer: Diana Perry

It’s 1919. Mama is ill, father has taken a job abroad, and Nanny Jane is too busy to pay any attention to Henrietta and the things she sees—or thinks she sees—in the shadows of their new home, Hope House. All alone, with only stories for company, Henrietta discovers that Hope House is full of strange secrets: a forgotten attic, ghostly figures, mysterious firelight that flickers in the trees beyond the garden. One night she ventures into the darkness of Nightingale Wood and what she finds there will change her whole world. I think this is the perfect book for any young reader who is coping with a tragedy. Henry finds the courage to maneuver through the problems to come out with a most lovely ending.

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Best Buds Under Frogs

by Leslie Patricelli. Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11

Best Buds Under Frogs is a funny and beautifully descriptive story of fourth-grade life. Lily’s insight into her life is very engaging. She just moved with her family and started a new school. Her first day is disastrous, which I can relate to ... my first time at sleep-away camp I had a similar experience. Kids do not react to that lightly. I wasn’t as lucky as Lily to find a friend like Darby to come to my rescue. Darby and Lily form their own club called the Rizzelrunk Club. But can Lily and Darby’s friendship survive when Darbys’ BFF moves back unexpectedly? Read the book to find out!

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Karma Khullar’s Mustache

by Kristi Wientge. Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11

Karma Khullar’s Mustache is a heartfelt story. It’s about a girl who is about to start middle school and the growing pains she faces. Her home life has been turned upside down including moving, the death of her grandma, her BFF finding another new blonder BFF and basically leaving her in the dust. Not to mention things changing with Karmas’ body hair, including facial hairs on her upper lip! I can completely relate to this story and tell you firsthand it’s not so easy being a kid and growing up, especially if you think you don’t have anyone to really run things by. I can especially relate to the death of a grandma, who is your best friend and loves you unconditionally. The great thing about Karma Khullar is she’s willing to grow and figure it out.

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Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset

by Sarah Ashwood. Reviewer: Diana Perry

The mystery of other worlds is not one Hannah Winters ever thought she’d solve. However, the day she spots a brown-robed stranger with a magical staff in a neighbor’s field is the day she also discovers Aerisia, a magical land beyond Earth’s sunset. Here in Aerisia, Hannah is believed to be the Artan, a legendary heroine prophesied to deliver Aerisia from the Dark Powers. She tries in vain to tell everyone that she is not the Artan, just plain old Hannah from Earth. But events come into place and she begins to question everything she knows. A fast and furious read that even adults will enjoy.

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Voiceless Whispers (The Azurite Encounter, Volume 2)

by Jane Frances Ruby. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Grateful for their help, Desiree has kept secret an ancient tribe living in remote areas of the Grand Canyon. During a visit to the Canyon’s South Rim Village she encounters the tribe’s medicine man in search of an ill tribal youth. Desiree discovers that only she can help cure the youth, but it risks exposing her secret and sacrificing her life. This story is very visual, both with the mastery of creative words and also with the great illustrations of the Grand Canyon. Young readers will learn much about Native American tribal life and customs as Ms. Ruby describes the characters and locations so vividly, you almost feel like you’re right there with them.

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The Way to Bea

by Kat Yeh. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Seventh-grader Beatrix Lee feels like nothing important. Her only talent is writing Haiku poems. Bea struggles with normal teen life as she tries to find her place in the world. This book is packed with adventures: a crumbling wall that is supposedly a portal to the land of the Goblin King, a labyrinth that is really not a labyrinth, and her secret poems that she writes in invisible ink and hides away until one day … someone writes back! What a great mystery venue to teach self-confidence to young readers. A book to put anyone in a great mood just by reading it.

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Code 7: Cracking the Code for an Epic Life

by Bryan R. Johnson. Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11

Code 7 is an engaging, entertaining story with important life insights. The story takes place at Flint Hill Elementary School and follows the lives of seven different children who go to this school. In each of the seven children’s stories, we learn big life lessons of courage, self-esteem, choice, responsibility, etc. I don’t want to give all the lessons away, but the story’s “codes to live by” strive to make the world a better place. Code 7 is an inspirational book that can inspire both kids and adults to live an epic life!

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Have Sword, Will Travel

by Garth Nix and Sean Williams. Reviewer: Diana Perry

It is strange enough that Odo and Eleanor have stumbled upon a sword in a dried-up river outside their village. It is even stranger that Odo is able to remove it from where it’s buried. And it’s remarkably strange when the sword starts to talk. A real page-turner, all young readers will love this tale and not want to put it down until the end. This book will pull children into the story as they travel along with Odo and Eleanor and share in the fantastic adventure and dangers while remaining safe at home.

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Dinosaur Empire

by Abby Howard. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Fifth-grader Ronnie studies for her class quiz on the history of dinosaurs. Her neighbor, Miss Lernin, is a retired paleontologist and together, they travel back in time as Miss Lernin explains the different ages when dinosaurs ruled the earth. I loved the educational value of this book all wrapped up in a fun-toread story format. This is the ultimate educational dinosaur book in a time-travel venue with relatable characters. Everyone who reads this book will love it, even the grown-ups!

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StarPassage: Book 1, The Relic

by Clark Rich Burbidge. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This new young adult series from award-winning author Clark Burbidge blends fantasy and heart into an entertaining saga. These young teenagers bind together in hope, and the unseen powers of life unite to help them on a quest to set right what war has terribly upset. In bringing a gentle awakening to a very harsh reality, PTSD is looked at from a broader spectrum, and we are emotionally left with the whisper of truth: being a casualty of war is not limited to those who fight. StarPassage offers hope to believe there is a passage out of darkness, and to be whole again. It’s a great adventure.

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The Gifted Storyteller

by Gregg Korrol. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Great story! What starts as casual and free-flowing, begins to pick up speed and totally catches you up in the momentum. It challenges with an irresistible effect, bringing you face to face with a deeper reflection of self and a greater appreciation for the world around us. If we let the story carry us through its pages with an open mind, we can’t help but come out a little wiser, fuller, and maybe even a little happier, than when we went in. It truly should grace an end cap in every bookstore.