Survivor Tree by Marcie Colleen has an absolutely beautiful message accompanied with gorgeous illustrations by Caldecott Honor winner Aaron Becker. It's the story of a pear tree that was left standing at the base of the twin towers after the 9/11 attack. This is the true journey of how the tree was transplanted to a safe space for a matter of nine years, then returned to the Memorial Plaza. I have read this book several times, and the hair on my arms stands up each time. This is truly a book of hope.
Dessert Island by Ben Zhu is a tale of Monkey and Fox, one who lives on a desert island and one who lives on a dessert island. The story unfolds showing how one is lucky (Yum! I get to eat everything!) and the other is not (Boo! I have nothing to eat on my island!). But then the tide changes (intentional pun) and their fortunes change as well. Circumstances then bring Monkey and Fox together, and it is then they discover what is truly important - sharing and caring! This book has vibrant pictures and is a good read aloud for 3-8 year olds.
Ten Thousand Tries by Amy Makechnie is an emotionally-charged novel about a family that is experiencing all the stress and changes of having a loved one with ALS. Twelve year old Golden has grown up in a family of soccer players who believe that to become a master of a sport requires ten thousand hours (tries) of practice. Golden, in turn, uses this mindset, believing he can help his dad beat ALS. Then, as if losing your father isn't hard enough, Golden also has to come to terms with his best friend moving away. Friendship, family and teamwork will keep you reading this book. Having lost an uncle to ALS, I found this story to be painful at times, sad at times, and celebratory at times. Have a tissue handy!
Dear Treefrog by Joyce Sidman is a wonderful mesh of poetry and nonfiction writing. In this book, a little girl moves to a new home and discovers a treefrog friend in her yard. Each page holds a beautiful poem, a fact about treefrogs, and lovely illustrations. The reader gets to travel through all four seasons learning about treefrogs, while the little girl adjusts to her new life. Who knew that treefrogs create a special chemical that keeps their insides from freezing while they hibernate underground? Not I! If you love learning while reading, you'll enjoy this book!
Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins is a heart-wrenching story of family, loss, love and empathy. In this story, 12 year old Cal has just lost his mother, who has died from cancer, and his father, who has gone to jail. Cal goes to live with his aunt and uncle and their daughter, Hannah. Written in prose, the story gingerly unfolds, weaving back and forth between the voices of Cal and Hannah. Cal's perspective is one of fact or fiction, using made up tales to cover up his feelings. Hannah's perspective is one of words and their definitions, using vocabulary to express what she is experiencing at that moment. The relationships between the characters twist and turn throughout the book, pulling you, the reader, into their world.
The Octopus Escapes, written by Maile Meloy and illustrated by Felicita Sala, is a sweet book about an octopus that loves his life in the sea. However, he is scooped up one day by a scientist. His new life is not what he desires, so he escapes and...you'll have to read it yourself to see how it ends! Bright and beautiful illustrations!
Dream Within a Dream by Patricia MacLachlan is a sweet and gentle story of a young teenage girl,Louisa, and her brother, Theo, staying with their grandparents over the summer while the children's parents are off doing bird research. Louisa meets a new friend who understands her like noone else and encourages her to pursue her writing. It's a lovely family tale of love and friendship, new awakenings, and following your heart. A great read for anyone 8 years and older!
The Magnificent Book of Birds by Tom Jackson -This is an absolutely gorgeous nonfiction book with illustrations by Walerczuk. Each two-page spread has a full color drawing of a bird, descriptions of that bird, along with an inset box of facts about the bird's habitat, lifespan, diet and size (including a silhouette comparison of the bird to a human). Who knew that a Great frigatebird's forked tail helps it to steer and do quick turns with its massive 7 ft. wingspan? So whether or not you're a bird lover, you'll love traveling around the world and reading and learning about these amazing and unique birds!
What a great combination - Kentucky author/poet Geoge Ella Lyon writing about people who have had the courage to speak out for social justice! One of Lyon's poems incorporates a quote from the subject into her poetry. Very powerful! The book includes a glossary of important vocabulary as well as background information on each of the subjects of her poems. The last poem is titled, "You!", which is a perfect segue into conversation about using your voice as a tool.
Anne Tyler, one of my favorite authors, comes through with yet another engaging story with great character development. Redhead by the Side of the Road is a wonderful depiction of a man, Micah, who has a very routine driven life that is interrupted by two separate hurdles. The title of this book is something I was able to relate to and laugh at once it is revealed. Definitely a book I recommend!
Have you ever gone down a road and wondered where it may lead? What the Road Said, by the bestselling poet Cleo Wade, is a unique story about the conversation between a road and the author. It chronicles the questions we all have as we go through the journey of our lives, and reminds us what to do when we encounter different situations along the way. At one point, the road reminds the author/reader "Sometimes we go the wrong way on our way to the right way." A great book for children and adults!
Bedtime for Sweet Creatures is a lovely book written by Award-winning author Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. The author weaves a variety of animals and their movements into her tale of the bedtime process, creating a fun story for parents and kids. The illustrator does an amazing job with the child's facial expressions, and the collages she uses throughout the story are wonderful!
Author Sy Montgomery has written this children's book based on her memoir. She tells of her adventures throughout life, and what lessons she has learned from all the "teachers" she's had along the way. Her lessons range from learning respect from the gorillas to learning forgiveness from the white-coated weasel. Lovely illustrations are icing on this cake!
Tomorrow I'll Be Kind is a follow-up to Jessica Hische's award-winning book, Tomorrow I'll Be Brave. Hische's words and illusrations weave together beautifully, showing examples of ways that all of us can make the world a better place. Through kindness, patience, honesty, generosity, gentleness and more, we can make a difference! An excellent and uplifting read, especially during this difficult time our nation is facing.
An Ordinary Day tells the story of two families simultaneously. The parallel stories are both of extraordinary love happening on an ordinary day. It's sweet and sad and beautiful all at once, with amazing illustrations.
Love You Head to Toe is illustrator's Ashley Barron's first book. In this book, she compares babies and their actions to different animals. The comparisons flow throughout different adventures in the life of a baby. Barron's cut-paper collage illustrations are quite delightful! A sweet book just in time for new parents or as a valentine book for children.
What a clever way to introduce or discuss the topic of perspective with children! R. Henderson has created a book that is read with two people sitting across from each other, allowing the illustrations to be viewed differently. What one sees is not the same as what the other sees! This gem is likely to spark some good conversations!
This is a true story about a young boy who finds refuge from the chaos of the city by building treehouses in the trees of Central Park. Unfortunately, each of the treehouses is discovered and removed. Over the course of eight years, Bob Redman builds a total of 13 treehouses in the Central Park trees!
The author first met Bob Redman when she was looking for an arborist to help prune a tree for her! Be sure to read the book jacket flaps for more fun facts.
This book is a fun cross between monsters and classic art. The illustrations have vivid colors and a cute hamster who tends to all the art supplies. The end of the book contains a section with a brief, kid-friendly description of each artist contained within. Fun and educational!
Sharon Creech describes the heart-felt journey of a young boy's love for his dog. The story is told through a poetry journal with the boy's teacher. Be prepared to shed a tear!
A delightful children's book about compassion. Susan Verde shows how each of us is instilled with amazing qualities, yet at the same time capable of making mistakes. The book teaches how to handle our imperfections with grace. Beautiful teamwork (again) with illustrator Peter Reynolds!