Category Archives: Ages 4-8

Holes in the Sky

Holes in the Sky
by Patricia Polacco
G.P.Putnam’s Sons

A story that will stay in the heart long after it’s read.

It opens with a Patricia, her brother, and their babushka laying in a field at night, staring up at the stars. Their grandmother knows her end is near and shares how the stars are holes in the sky where she can look down on them when she is gone.  Their babushka passes, the farm is sold and they move to California. There, Patricia looks for a sign that babushka is watching over her, but finds none. A new life begins, with new people, and new challenges, but she can’t see the sign that babushka is watching over her…until she does, and sees her babushka was there all along.

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Vincent Comes Home

Vincent Comes Home
by Jessixa Bagley, illustrated by Aaron Bagley
Roaring Book Press, 2018

Vincent, the ship’s cat, has a difficult time understanding this place everyone called ‘home’. The Captain and mates raved about it, but Vincent doesn’t understand.  After many months at sea, the ship arrives at home port and, for the first time in his life, Vincent went on land.  He followed his shipmates and learned what home meant and why it was so special.  But then he realized he didn’t have a home, until…

A heart-warming story ideal for new explorers, complete with illustrations of a ship’s galley, cargo, and ports of call.

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What Do You Do with a Chance?

What Do You Do with a Chance?
by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
Compendium Inc, 2017

Another thoughtful and inspiring book by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom.  Filled with a boy’s gentle self-reflections and illustrated in loose drawings that fill out the story, this is a book that inspires both children and adults.

One day a young boy saw “a chance” flutter by and he wondered what to do. He wanted to grab it, but was unsure and it flew away.  The next time a chance showed up, he still wasn’t sure, but reached for it any way.  He missed it and fell, and others laughed at him.  Embarrassed, he decided never to reach for another chance. Soon he noticed he never saw any more chances. In time, he decides he can be brave for only a short time to take the chance.

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Perfect

Perfect
by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Cathy Fisher
Graffeg, 2017
Originally published in Wales.

A tender story of a boy who finds he cannot love his baby sister when she arrives and his struggle to find his way to do so.

Another rich, moving story by Nicola Davies.  We learn about the boy through his love of swifts nested in the roof above his attic bedroom.  He’s a deep, caring boy.  He imagined  “racing and chasing, screaming with laughter and delight” with his baby sister when she came home, but, instead she lay quite still. Sad, he went outside, alone, and cried for his loss.  All summer long he couldn’t love his sister, no matter how hard he tried. He found solace in watching the swifts.

Then one day he found a baby swift on the ground. He picked it up and stretched out its wings and legs.  “Perhaps, I thought, it only needs a little help.”  He took it to his attic room and lifted it to the sky and it flew away.  He turned to his sister’s crib and thought, “Perhaps, … she only needs a little help.”  He picked her up, went outside to lay on the grass and told her of all his dreams of them together.

The illustrations show the emotions surrounding each scene: outside, inside, in his dreams.  In this dark time for the boy, blackness shrouds many pages of soft colors depicting his emotions.  Beautiful images.

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You’re Safe With Me

You’re Safe With Me 
by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry
Lantana Publishing, 2018

The positive messages and story are perfect for this bedtime book, but it was the cover’s detailed India-styled drawings that pulled me in. Each page is beautifully illustrated with rich colors and details.  I had to slow down and carefully study each one so I wouldn’t miss the nuances of their story.

The story itself takes place in an Indian forest at night. Night sounds for little ones are normal and the baby animals sleep through them.  But when a storm passes through, the new night sounds frighten the young animals. Mama Elephant walks through the forest, comforting each animal.  In a lyrical voice, she explains what each noise means.  For instance:

Swish-swish! The trees moved.  Ooh-Ooh! The wind moaned.  The little animals  woke up and whimpered.

“Don’t worry about the wind,” whispered Mama Elephant.  “He’s an old friend of the forest.  He brings us seeds from faraway lands.”

Mama Elephant reassures each animal of the thunder, lightning, the waters in the river and other sounds.  Her explanations cleverly introduce nature’s cycles and explain how each sound supports their forest.

The positive, lyrically-written story with its stunning illustrations make this a book that will reassure its readers.

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The Rough Patch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rough Patch
by Brian Lies
Greenwillow Books, 2018

Evan and his dog did everything together, until the unspeakable happened.  His dog passed. Evan acted out his emotions.  He ripped apart his garden that he and his dog once shared and he let weeds grow in the garden’s place. Evan’s anger shows up on every page, until…

In minimal words and in illustrations that clearly show the emotions one feels when someone close passes, we watch Evan struggle with his emotions.  Half the story is in the illustrations.  A comforting book for those who have lost a pet.

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Can I Be Your Dog?

Can I Be Your Dog?
by Troy Cummings
Random House, 2018

ARFY, a mutt living in a box near Butternut Streets, sends a letter to each home/business on the street asking if he can be their dog. He cleverly targets each letter specifically to the family/business inside.  At the yellow house, he shares he is potty trained, has his own squeaky bone and is willing to work with them on their pet cat.  At the fire station, he offers to fetch boots and claims he knows his way around all the fire hydrants.  Desperate, he even tries the dump, but is told to get lost.

Then, one morning, he wakes up with a letter addressed to him!  Who could it be from?  A great surprise ending.

The story completely tugs at the reader’s heart, as ARFY tries so hard to find himself a home.

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Lucy and the String

Lucy and the String
by Vanessa Roeder
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018

Illustrated in black and white drawings, with generous splashes of red string woven in, we meet a curious and clever Lucy.  A seamstress, she sees a string on the ground and, of course, pulls it.  And pulls it until she finds Hank—with a bear’s bare bottom—at the end of it.  Hank’s not so happy.  Lucy tries to cheer him up and cover him up, but he’s not impressed.  After many attempts she finds something that Hank likes, but when she cuts the string, to cut him loose, something even worse happens.  Find out how this friendship story, with a lot of loose ends, is sewn up.

Lucy and the String is written in a playful, poetic voice.  The author/illustrator knows just how to keep the tension and mystery going through the entire drama.

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Hannah’s Tall Oder, An A to Z Sandwich

Hannah’s Tall Oder, An A to Z Sandwich
by Linda Vander Heyden,
illustrated by Kayla Harren
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

Add together a spunky girl, humor and rollicking rhyme and you’ll get a read-aloud delight in Hannah’s Tall Order!

Young Hanna walks into McDougal’s and orders a sandwich with 26 ingredients from A to Z—literally!

Green peppers,” said Hannah.  “Sliced thin, if you please. And drizzle on lots of sweet honey from bees.”

Extra humor is added in the illustrations, as Hannah’s monster sandwich grows and grows and the sandwich maker gets more and more frazzled as Hannah continues her list of items she wants included, and the other customers get more and more amazed and alarmed!

And this book even ends with the funniest twist—which I won’t share.  You must read this book to appreciate all its humor.  A guaranteed kid-pleaser.

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Neema’s Reason to Smile

Neema’s Reason to Smile
by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Lightswitch Learning, 2018

Author Patricia Newman cleverly weaves Africa into every scene in her story, Neema’s Reason to Smile.  From elephants taking mud baths, she introduces Africa culture with descriptions that include, “…my bare feet trace the dusty path that unwinds like a cheetah’s tail…” and “A thought buzzes like a mosquito.”   Newman also shows how the whole village supports Neema’s dream.

In this story, Neema wants more than anything to go to school, but she and her mama don’t have enough money.  Everyday Neema sells fruit to drop a coin or two into her dream basket.  One day she sees a girl running by in a school uniform. Excited there might be a new school she could attend, she follows the girl, but several times she stops to sell fruit and loses sight of the girl.  Neema persists everyday she goes to market until she finally arrives at the school.  Her dream met, she assigns a new dream to her basket.

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