Monthly Archives: July 2015

Arrowhawk

Arrowhawk
by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Henry Holt and Company, 2004
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12

Illustrator Gabi Swiatkowska and writer Lola M Schaefer bring alive a true story about a hawk that was wounded by and lived with an arrow running through its body for several months.

When Hawk takes an arrow in his side, he learns he can fly and gets him to the top of a Red Oak tree where he can rest.  He cares for his wound as best he can.  But after two days he is hungry and set off to find what he can.  He learns to negotiate with the arrow and goes after easier food to catch.  One day Hawks gets the arrow tangled in tree branches and snaps off part of the arrow.  Life is a bit easier.  One day he spots a field of mice, easy prey, and when he drops down to feast, his claws become entangled in a netting.  Rescuers remove the arrow and care for Hawk until he is fully healed.  They return him to his home and release him.

An afterword shares details of the Hawk’s story.  Geared more for the reader 6-11 years old.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

 

Red, A Crayon’s Story

Red, A Crayon’s Story
by Michael Hall
Greenwillow Books, 2015

Mislabeled, a red crayon cannot perform as others expect him to.  When he draws a fire engine and it is not red, his teacher says he needs more practice.  Yellow suggests they make an orange, but it turns an unexpected green.  “He’s got to press harder,” says Army Green.  But, alas, Red just can’t make the color red.

Then one day, Berry sees Red for who he really is and asks him to make an ocean for his boat.  Red says he cannot, but Berry encourages him to do so.  Red finally does and he makes a wonderful blue ocean.  Accepted for who he is and able to express himself freely, Red makes a bluebird, a blue whale, blueberries and even a glorious blue sky!  He is free to be himself, at last!

Living my life as an extrovert instead of the quiet child I am, I understood this story on an intuitive level.  I loved it!  It speaks to anyone who is trying to be someone they are not.

Read the many reviews on Amazon from teachers and librarians who have had great success using the story as a teaching point on differences.

If you like this review, check out Exclamation Mark, which follows a similar theme of fitting in when you’re different.

Read reviews on Amazon.

Prickly Jenny

Prickly Jenny
by Sibylle Delacroix
Owlkids Books, 2015
Originally published in France.

Jenny is having a ‘prickly’ day where nothing is going right. She’s grumpy at breakfast and “doesn’t say good morning because, really, what’s so good about it?”  On a day trip to the fair with her dad, she grumbles and drags her feet.  And naptime is for babies!  She says, “Leave me alone!”, but cries when her mom goes away.  She just doesn’t know what she wants.  She is all out of sorts.  The truth is, she just wants to be loved.  Prickly Jenny will remind youngsters, that “tomorrow, when she’s bigger, it will get better.”

If you have a Prickly Jenny or Jack, they may relate to having a prickly day and identify with the story.  But watch out, your child may bring this book to you when you’re feeling prickly!

Read more reviews on Amazon.

 

Stella by Starlight

Stella by Starlight
by Sharon M. Draper
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015

In the middle of the Depression, Stella and her brother Jojo observe a burning cross and figures in bedsheets.  When they tell their parents, their entire community is called to meet in their kitchen to discuss strategies.  Children are warned to always walk with someone else, they are frightened to even walk through town.  Stella is a bright girl, trying to figure out who she is and is shaped by the fear of the community.  Her father, who is unwilling to not be accepted as a man, is one of three men who show up to register to vote where the rules are different for Negroes.  He takes Stella to be his motivation and she witnesses the blatant discrimination.  Stella confirms who one of the KKK is and is forced to risk her integrity to ask him for help.  A high-tension, deeply-moving story right up to its satisfying end.

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Hungry Coyote

61NriCj2FOL._SL250_Hungry Coyote
by Cheryl Blackford, illustrated by Laurie Caple
Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2015

Hungry Coyote addresses the trend of coyotes living in or near urban areas.

On its cover, a coyote stares you in the face, and you want to open the book to see what is inside.  Written in a rich, poetic voice that speaks of survival and illustrated with winter’s freezing details, you enter a winter land and sense the tough times wildlife has, in particular, the coyote.  But the coyote is smart and a survivor and uses its ability to adapt to its environment.  They’ve learned to live invisibly alongside human dwellers in urban areas.  The author includes information about City Coyotes and what to do if you encounter one.  Highly recommended book.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

 

Stick and Stone

Stick and Stone
by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

Stick and stone are alone and lonely, until they meet up on a playground.  Immediately they become best friends.  When stone is ‘attacked’ by a prickly pine cone, stick stands up to the bully and defends his friend.  Later, stick is in trouble, but how can stone help?  This story of friendship is short, simple, poetic, and fun.

Illustrations seem to pop right off the page  and wow the readers.  Illustrator Tom Lichtenheld has created characters with winning personalities.  A wonderful story in so many ways.  Excellent for a toddler’s library.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Ellie’s Story, A Dog’s Purpose Novel

Ellie’s Story, A Dog’s Purpose Novel
by W. Bruce Cameron
A Starscape Book, 2015

Ellie, a German Shepard, tells her story from the time she was a pup through her experiences as a trained search and rescue dog.  She shares how she was trained.  She shares the excitement and stress of searches, when lives are at stake and everyone is counting on her nose.  And she shares the thrill and importance of her being a chopper dog.  All part of her work, she shares the loss of her trainer when he is injured in a rescue and her own injury while on a rescue.  A heart-warming and a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat story.

Readers will develop their own thinking skills as they read how Ellie thinks through challenging situations.

Smick!

Smick!
by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Juana Medina
Viking 2015

Told in 34 words and the simplest of drawings, readers are introduced to a playful puppy named Smick.  Eager to run, Smick chases after and returns a stick, until he hears a ‘cluck’, a new sound to the puppy.  Curious, he investigates, while his master calls out “No, Smick, no!” afraid Smick might hurt the tiny chick.  But, alas, the chick and Smick become friends and chase sticks together!  A fun story.  One a young one can use as a first reader.  With 20 of the 34 words rhyming, a child will delight in the fun sounds.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Who Wants a Hug?

Who Wants a Hug?
Jeff Mack
HarperCollins, 2015

A big huggable bear hugs all his friends and everyone hugs him back.  Except Skunk.  Skunk determines that no one wants to hug him because he smells bad and declines.  Each time he declines, bear says, “I’ll save you one for later.”  Skunk decides he doesn’t like bear—he’s too happy–and decides to teach bear a lesson.  He throws a stinky mackerel at bear, but misses and it ricochets back at skunk.  He plans for garbage to fall on bear, but it falls on skunk.  After several humorous attempts, skunk gives up. Bear asks him if he’d like that hug now.  “I guess I’ll have a tiny one,” says skunk.  But Bear only knows how to give a great big bear hug.  Well, Skunk loves the hug, but bear jumps back crying “PU!”  Skunk wants another, but bear dashes off crying he’ll, “save you one for later?”  But Bear returns with a clothespin on his nose and hugs skunk.

Clever story showing how easy it is to jump to conclusions and how obstacles can be overcome.  A story on diversity that toddlers can understand.  And who doesn’t want a great, big bear hug?

Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry

Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry
by Vern Kousky
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015

Otto the Owl simply loves poetry, but it makes him stand out and different from everyone else and others soon take to calling him names.  He doesn’t understand the teasing, for “What could possibly be wrong with poetry?” But so sensitive to their taunts, he decides to run away.

After quoting poetry of others, he is inspired to speak his own poetry and, alone, directs his attention on the moon.  When done, he is surprised to see others looking up at him, entranced by his words.  He decides poetry is to be shared, and confidently shares his poems. Soon “the forest comes alive with the glorious sounds of poetry.”

Author Vern Kousky introduces young readers to the joy of being different and to great poets by sprinkling brief quotes from poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Joyce Kilmer and Chrisina Rossetti.

Read more reviews at Amazon.