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2011 Reviews


									Acorns and Stew, Too
By Ruth Orbach

Picture Book Reviews (September 22, 2011)
Lenore, a young girl, happy in her life, does not want her duck friends to leave for the
winter. With good application of creativity, she saws and hammers, cuts and sews, paints
and digs. Ultimately, she finds a solution to keep her good friends, the ducks, home for
the winter.
A delightful story, sure to please even if one is short on time. Black and white ink
drawings are brightened by vibrant colored accents. This book sends a message to young
readers that one person, inspired, hard working and devoted, can accomplish anything.

For Immediate Release (September 29, 2011)
I was initially attracted to this book because of the vintage style illustrations. They
remind me of a few of the treasured picture books from my childhood. Then I read that
this was originally published over twenty-five years ago as "Acorns and Stew." This is a
revised edition with original illustrations, but updated contemporary text. These are not
vintage style illustrations, but the real deal!
Lenore loves living in her beautiful row house, with its sunny yellow door and a giant
tree right growing right outside her front stoop. She adores curling up in her cozy room,
the fuchsia comforter spread neatly across her big yellow bed. Her cat, Sam, follows her
everywhere, sleeps in her bed, and curls up under the kitchen chair while she eats
breakfast. Most of all, Lenore loves the ducks who live by the lake. She feeds them every
day and they love her right back. With all this happiness, why is Lenore worried?

Cold weather is coming and Lenore knows her ducks will have to fly away for the winter.
Cut to illustration of the little girl and the ducks with tears running down their cheeks
(and beaks). Lenore brainstorms and comes up with an idea she believes will work. She
gathers up the materials and starts sawing, hammering, painting and sewing right there in
her cozy house.

On the first day of winter, Lenore treats the ducks to a banquet table loaded down with a
feast, which includes acorns and stew (book title!), porridge, biscuits, and plums. Then
she buttons each one into the winter coats she stitched up, and directs them to the tiny,
colorful houses she built. The ducks will be able to stay all winter long!
This book cracked me up. Ducks enjoying acorns and stew, wearing overcoats and living
in brightly colored homemade houses. Completely illogical ... and wonderful. Black and
white drawings punctuated with splashes of bright pinks, oranges, and yellows give the
book such a happy feel. Now you know that if you happen to see a duck wearing an
overcoat this winter, feel free to offer him an acorn or a dish of stew.

Waking Brain Cells (November 28, 2011)
First published 25 years ago, this book has a classic feel combined with a great story.
Lenore loved a lot about her life, but most of all she loved the ducks who lived near the
lake. She visited them every day and fed them bread and other food. But winter was
approaching, so Lenore knew that soon the ducks were going to fly south. She made
them little houses to live in, fed them on stew and acorns, even made winter coats for
them. In the end, the ducks did not fly south. They stayed with Lenore.
I love the ending of this book, where the ducks stay for the winter. So often, children in
stories are infinitely creative and resourceful, but they don’t create real change. Here the
universe shifted a bit to make room for Lenore and her dreams. Orbach writes with real
joy. She delights in the small moments of creation that Lenore has, the attachment of the
ducks to Lenore is evident too. She has created a book where emotions are tangible and
hard work really makes a difference.
Orbach’s art has a vintage feel. The illustrations are done in ink on white and then
colored with wild bursts of color. The yellow is warm, the red pops, the pink is beyond
bright, and the yellow is neon. It all makes for an eye-poppingly bright book. At the
same time, the illustrations have a whimsical feel. The bright colors and the whimsy
make for an interesting contrast with one another.
I hadn’t read this years ago, so I’m very happy to find it now. Here is a sweet, clever and
empowering story for children. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Anna Hibiscus
Hooray for Anna Hibiscus!
Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus!
Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!
Written by Atinuke
Illustrated by Lauren Tobia (January 2011)
Anna Hibiscus lives in amazing Africa with her whole family, aunts, uncles, cousins,
grandparents and all! There is always someone around to laugh with, play with, even
fight with, and best of all you never have to sleep alone. But one holiday Anna's mother
decides to take Anna, her brothers, and their father on a holiday alone. The soon discover
that sometimes alone is more hectic than having many people around! A fun story about
family and love. (Ages 4-8)

Bookends– Booklist Online (January 5, 2011)
Cindy: Lynn found this gem of a series, and I am so glad. Good storytelling in early
chapter stories is always a treat and Anna Hibiscus (Kane Miller 2010) one sings on
many levels. Most stories for this age level are set in the United States so to have an
African setting is awesome, especially since the cultural details are woven into the
charming stories in a subtle way. Having just spent the holidays in a house with 23
relatives and only one shower, I can relate to Anna’s bustling household with her mother,
father, twin brothers (Double and Trouble) and many extended family members. In the
first story, Anna’s father decides to take his nuclear family to the beach for holiday, but
the rest of the family slowly is added to the mix, and the vacation is much less stressful
once they are all together again. Atinuke is a professional storyteller from Nigeria and her
craft serves her well in delivering Anna’s stories. If Ramona Cleary were from Africa,
“Amazing Africa,” then her story might resemble this one. Anna’s passion, imagination,
enthusiasm, naivete and fears are infectious and readers will be eager to continue on to
the next books in the series to find out what will happen to her next. Great find, Lynn!
Lynn: Anna and her charming family stole my heart in the first book in the series, Anna
Hibiscus. My heart was completely theirs with the second book, Horray for Anna
Hibiscus, and I’ve been urging everyone I meet since to read these. I’m a school librarian
to my toes so many of the reasons I love these books are connected to the potential for
classroom use. As Cindy says, an early reader set in another country is a rare bird and
one set in a modern African city with a middle class family is even rarer. But there is so
much more. Atinuke explores universal issues of family and growing up with grace and
humor. She presents issues of economics, class and poverty with a skillful subtly, never
lecturing but succeeding beautifully in opening young reader’s eyes.
Having recently had to search for books on economics for the primary grades for state
curriculum benchmarks, I wanted to jump and down when I read the story called Anna
Hibiscus Sells Oranges. Here is a lesson on economics that is perfectly designed for the
primary classroom. All the stories are wonderful for reading aloud or for the new
independent reader and these stories can be used in a myriad of ways. Whether it is a
story about hating to have your hair combed and braided or one about a warm climate
child yearning to see snow, these are stories that all children can connect to.
I understand the importance of helping young readers understand that Africa is not a
homogeneous place. I do wish Atinkuke had specified a country but the strengths of the
books outweigh this issue. The most important concept in the Anna Hibiscus books - that
people in other countries may do some things differently but are like us in so many ways
- is beautifully conveyed and carries the day. Two more Anna Hibiscus books are now
available and they are on my order list already. Don’t miss this outstanding and unique

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children (January 2011)
Anna Hibiscus lives in a lovely old house in Africa with her twin baby brothers (aptly
named Double and Trouble), parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. With all
these people, Anna is never lonely, and everyone does what they can to contribute to the
needs of the household. Their compound, which encloses the most beautiful garden that
Anna has ever seen, is nestled in a busy city filled with markets, lagoons, roads,
skyscrapers, and shanty towns.
   In this setting, Anna navigates through a series of adventures and learning moments
that take her anywhere from the garden to the market and well beyond, even to Canada
where her mother was born. Each of these adventures is described as a short story in a
series of four books.
    This first installment of the series kicks off with a family holiday outside of the city.
Just Anna and her baby brothers and parents. Double and Trouble are too much trouble
though, and ultimately, the entire family, grandparents and all, have converged on the
beach house to help out. In another one of the book's stories, Anna learns just how
fortunate she is when she experiences firsthand the tough life lived by the children who
sell fruits and vegetables on the street outside the family compound.
   The book series is written by a gifted story-teller, Nigerian-born Atinuke, and
illustrated by Lauren Tobia with an abundance of expressive sketches. Many of the
stories include some sort of an economics theme, including the role of markets, the
contrast between abject poverty and wealth, and the gender division of labor within the
home. Although the author does not specify which country Anna is from, which could
contribute to unrealistic generalizations, the
books provide young readers with a unique view of the wonders of life in a large
extended family in an urban African context.
Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children (January 2011)
Anna Hibiscus lives in a lovely old house in Africa with her twin baby brothers (aptly
named Double and Trouble), parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. With all
these people, Anna is never lonely, and everyone does what they can to contribute to the
needs of the household. Their compound, which encloses the most beautiful garden that
Anna has ever seen, is nestled in a busy city filled with markets, lagoons, roads,
skyscrapers, and shanty towns.
         In this setting, Anna navigates through a series of adventures and learning
moments that take her anywhere from the garden to the market and well beyond, even to
Canada where her mother was born. Each of these adventures is described as a short story
in a series of four books.
         This second book in the series has Anna taking a big step: she has become old
enough to attend school. As her father reminds her, growing-up children need to go to
school so they can work to make Africa a better place. Anna certainly has her work cut
out for her when she is selected to sing a solo for a visiting president from another
country. Her learning also progresses outside of school, especially when she
accompanies her aunty and uncle on an errand to another part of the city where children
beg and scavenge through trash to survive.
         The book series is written by a gifted story-teller, Nigerian-born Atinuke, and
illustrated by Lauren Tobia with an abundance of expressive sketches. Many of the
stories include some sort of an economics theme, including the role of markets, the
contrast between abject poverty and wealth, and the gender division of labor within the
home. Although the author does not specify which country Anna is from, which could
contribute to unrealistic generalizations, the books provide young readers with a unique
view of the wonders of life in a large extended family in an urban African context.

Biblio Reads, (February 17, 2011)
Anna Hibiscus is destined to become a favorite, memorable character in children's
literature. The stories are fascinating, well-told and fun even though Anna encounters
hardship outside her family's compound, and modernity attempts to trounce tradition.
Again, Atinuke weaves family love and blessings amid poverty and hardship, blending
the two in the honest and innocent perspective of Anna who tries to help those in need.
In this third book Anna is preparing to visit her grandmother in Canada and she is so
excited about the chance to see and play in snow. As the family helps her prepare she
worries about leaving them for a month and wonders if they will miss her. You will love
the family ties and values and Anna's big heart. You will feel the dry, hot, dusty heat of
harmattan (the season when the sand blows over the land), you will sigh with anticipation
as Anna prepares for her journey and you will laugh at her twin baby brothers (Double
and Trouble) and their antics as they get in the way and make mischief.
For those who have read the first two Anna Hibiscus books and loved them, you will not
be disappointed.

NC Teacher Stuff (February 22, 2011)
Anna Hibiscus is back in two new books (at least new to the U.S.) and the stories are just
as charming as in the first two books. In Good Luck Anna Hibiscus!, Anna and her large
extended family are preparing to send her on a visit to Granny Canada so Anna can visit
her mother's homeland. Cold and wintry Canada is very different from tropical Africa, so
Anna's family has a lot to do to get her ready. Each of the four sequential stories in the
book contain lessons learned through the lens of a loving African family. In Have Fun
Anna Hibiscus!, Anna goes to Canada to visit her grandmother and learns new life
lessons in a different culture. Spending time with Granny Canada and her dog Qimmiq
gives Anna an expanded perspective on life and a new appreciation for both Canada and
The Anna Hibiscus series of short chapter books have been some of the most satisfying
books that I have read recently. Rich characters and settings abound in these stories.
Anna is a winning protagonist who is not perfect, but always seeking to do good. Her
family, in Africa and Canada, are loving, warm people who are funny and opinionated.
You will want to read both of these books so you can compare the two cultures and
observe the changes in Anna's thinking. The conflict between the old and the modern will
make for interesting discussion with your students. These books would also be great
mentor texts for how setting affects the plot of a story.

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children (January 2011)
Anna Hibiscus lives in a lovely old house in Africa with her twin baby brothers (aptly
named Double and Trouble), parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. With all
these people, Anna is never lonely, and everyone does what they can to contribute to the
needs of the household. Their compound, which encloses the most beautiful garden that
Anna has ever seen, is nestled in a busy city filled with markets, lagoons, roads,
skyscrapers, and shanty towns.
         In this setting, Anna navigates through a series of adventures and learning
moments that take her anywhere from the garden to the market and well beyond, even to
Canada where her mother was born. Each of these adventures is described as a short story
in a series of four books.
         Anna begins and ends this third book with two different scenarios preoccupying
her thoughts. In the book’s first story, the dusty African wind known as the Harmattan
has blown sand from the Sahara Desert all over the city. The next four months will bring
no rain, only dusty, dry wind. While the family’s compound has a well that will supply
them with enough water if everyone is very careful, Anna is distressed to learn that many
children in the city have no water, and she thinks of a way to help. By the last story, Anna
is preparing to visit cold Canada, home to her grandmother and an abundance of ice and
         The book series is written by a gifted story-teller, Nigerian-born Atinuke, and
illustrated by Lauren Tobia with an abundance of expressive sketches. Many of the
stories include some sort of an economics theme, including the role of markets, the
contrast between abject poverty and wealth, and the gender division of labor within the
home. Although the author does not specify which country Anna is from, which could
contribute to unrealistic generalizations, the books provide young readers with a unique
view of the wonders of life in a large extended family in an urban African context.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
The amazing African world introduced in the first two Anna Hibiscus books has turned
from lush to dry and dusty. It's harmattan season, when the wind blows sand from the
Sahara Desert, nearly Christmas time. Soon Anna Hibiscus will travel all the way to
Canada to visit her other grandmother and see snow. Four linked stories describe
incidents from daily life: careful dry-season bathing with buckets, family nap time,
shopping for cold-weather clothes in a modern department store and a more satisfying
traditional stall and the week Anna’s family seems to have forgotten her—until they
produce their going-away surprises. As in other titles in the series, these gentle stories are
illustrated on nearly every page with Tobia's gray-scale sketches. Accurate cultural
details will appeal to readers curious about life in an unfamiliar world. This suburban
family compound in a generic sub-Saharan country reflects the author’s own Nigerian
childhood. The third-person narration moves briskly, with plenty of dialogue. Novice
readers may find unfamiliar dialect challenging: “In dis your compound you throw water
for ground," a peddler selling fruit outside the family home complains, pointing out that
while Anna's family uses leftover wash water to water the plants, city children have no
water at all. Once again, Anna demonstrates a growing social consciousness. Readers
may begin Anna's story here; they will certainly want to go back to read earlier stories
and will look forward to learning what happens next. (Fiction. 5-9)

In the Pages... (February 15, 2011)
Good Luck Anna Hibiscus! and Have Fun Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
These are delightful beginning chapter books (ages 5-9). Anna is a dear little girl that
lives in Africa - you see her world from her fun viewpoint and learn about the wonderful
African culture at the same time. My beginning reader devours these!!! Don't miss any in
this series!!

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children (January 2011)
Anna Hibiscus lives in a lovely old house in Africa with her twin baby brothers (aptly
named Double and Trouble), parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. With all
these people, Anna is never lonely, and everyone does what they can to contribute to the
needs of the household. Their compound, which encloses the most beautiful garden that
Anna has ever seen, is nestled in a busy city filled with markets, lagoons, roads,
skyscrapers, and shanty towns.
         In this setting, Anna navigates through a series of adventures and learning
moments that take her anywhere from the garden to the market and well beyond, even to
Canada where her mother was born. Each of these adventures is described as a short story
in a series of four books.
         This fourth installment in the series sees Anna embarking on her much-
anticipated month-long voyage to Canada to visit her grandmother. Anna experiences a
roller coaster of emotions, including great sadness in saying goodbye to her family, sheer
excitement from seeing and feeling snow for the first time, and utter panic in facing a dog
inside of grandmother’s house. She does not know what to feel when a group of children
invite her to join them for skating and sledding. They seem to be interested in her only
because she is from Africa, not because she is Anna Hisbiscus. Anna will have to speak
her mind and let them know she does not want to be prejudged before she can truly enjoy
herself in these new winter activities.
         The book series is written by a gifted story-teller, Nigerian-born Atinuke, and
illustrated by Lauren Tobia with an abundance of expressive sketches. Many of the
stories include some sort of an economics theme, including the role of markets, the
contrast between abject poverty and wealth, and the gender division of labor within the
home. Although the author does not specify which country Anna is from, which could
contribute to unrealistic generalizations, the books provide young readers with a unique
view of the wonders of life in a large extended family in an urban African context.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
Raised in a suburban compound among an extended African family, Anna Hibiscus
travels to Canada to visit her other grandmother and see snow. These four connected
stories describe her departure, her first joyful experience of snow, making friends and
celebrating Christmas with her grandmother. Through Anna's eyes, cultural differences
become clear. She wakes alone for the first time in her life. She misses familiar spicy
foods but enjoys chocolate cereal. She struggles to put on tights and warm clothes. She
fears her grandmother's dog. At home, dogs live outside and might bite, but in Canada,
Quimmiq rescues her from a snowdrift. In this thoroughly modern world, Anna calls her
family on the phone, takes pictures of everything, and even packs a cooler full of snow to
take home to her baby brothers. This fourth in the series adds an extra dimension to the
cultural richness of these titles by making the contrast between worlds explicit. Christmas
is both familiar and new, with different foods, old and new carols and one splendidly
decorated tree instead of lights everywhere. The Nigerian-born author has drawn on her
own childhood travel to make this experience real for young readers today. On every
spread, Tobia’s sketches, black and white with gray fill, add interest and appeal. A
welcome addition to the sparse collection of stories for young readers about modern
African life. (Fiction. 5-9)

Waking Brain Cells (April 4, 2011)
In the first two books about Anna Hibiscus, readers were treated to a glimpse into life in
Africa among a large extended family. But Anna Hibiscus has even more family, a
grandmother who lives in Canada. Book three in the series tells the story of Anna
Hibiscus’ preparations for heading to Canada for the first time. The first few stories
reintroduce Anna Hibiscus’ family, including her baby brothers who get into all sorts of
trouble. The other stories tell of trying to find warm clothes suitable for a Canadian
winter in Africa and how her family gives her a send off. Book Four follows Anna
Hibiscus to Canada starting with her plane trip. Those of us in North America will see
snow with fresh eyes, enjoy Anna Hibiscus’ first attempt at ice skating, and will enjoy
getting to know her grandmother’s dog too. This series continues to be a celebration of
family, expanding now to far-flung families and new adventures.
        Atinuke tells all of her stories with a storytellers structure and tone. There is
repetition that echoes throughout the series, tying them all together nicely. At the same
time, her structure remains easy and friendly, offering an inviting cadence to old and new
readers alike.
        The entire series is illustrated by Lauren Tobia. The illustrations weave
throughout the book, creating a window into the cultures shown in the stories. They
make the book welcoming for newer readers who will find a great friend in Anna
        If you were a fan of the first two Anna Hibiscus books, make sure to check out
these two as well. They are just as lovely as the first. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Pugent Sound Council for Reviewing Children’s Media (April 2011)
One of four Anna Hibiscus books straight out of the UK by Nigerian born Atinuke. These
stories are set in her childhood memories of living in Africa.
        Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa. Hot Africa... so the stories begin.
With unexpected but easy to read African dialogue or patois, this story immediately sets
the tone of something new, something curious. Each little chapter stands alone, but
consolidates into the whole story of Anna leaving to visit her white Grandmother in
Canada. A very heartwarming glimpse of how it takes a loving, fussing, caring, extended
family to get one little girl ready for her first trip. After reading this one, I could easily
buy the other books in this series. Starred review, Kirkus Reviews.

Seven Impossible Things – Kirkus Reviews (April 8, 2011)
“Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.” This is how most chapters begin, the
introductory information making it so that you could pick up any story at any point,
though they’re all interconnected, and follow. Anna’s life is very different from that of
the typical American suburban family: She lives inside a big compound with her
Canadian mother and African father; her grandmother and grandfather; her aunties and
uncles; lots of cousins; and her twin baby brothers, Double and Trouble. While most
Americans merely appreciate on a theoretical level the notion of a village raising a child,
Anna’s family lives it: “It is not good to be alone,” she hears her family whispering to her
mother on one particularly stressful day in Book 1. “We have to help each other. A
husband and three children is too much for one woman alone.”
         Though her life in Africa is culturally different (and children will learn about
daily, suburban African home life), what makes these books work is the universality of
Anna’s inner world, one full of exclamation marks and joy. (“Anna Hibiscus started to
sing. First her heart, and then her mouth joined in” are my two favorite lines.) She lives
with a loving (sometimes frustrating) family; she longs for adventure (to see snow in
Canada, where her maternal grandmother lives); she feels pride when she conquers her
fears (Granny Canada’s dog with the pointy teeth in Book 4, not to mention singing in
front of her entire school and a visiting president in Book 2); and, by paying attention to
the world around her and with a bit of nudging from her family, she learns about social
justice (sharing her allotted amount of water with the poor, parched girls on the street
during the time of the harmattan winds in Book 3).
         Books 1 and 2, released in 2010, escaped my attention then. With last month’s
release of Books 3 and 4, I’ve finally found them. And I highly recommend them. Like
Anna, both my heart and my mouth join in. These are funny, delightfully child-centered
stories. I hope we are treated to more of Anna’s adventures.

Biblio Reads (February 27, 2011)
he only complaint I have about Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus--or any of the Anna Hibiscus
books--is that I come to the end too quickly! In Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus, we meet
Granny Canada and watch Anna discover what it's like to visit a cold country, play in the
snow and make friends who have never met a girl from Africa before. Anna handles the
differences between her home country and Canada with courage and grace and opens the
young reader's mind to a world much larger than his/her own country and culture.

The Horn Book Magazine (May/June 2011)
STARRED “Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.” So begins each linked
short story in this series, loosely based on the author’s own childhood in Nigeria. Set in
contemporary Africa, the stories put the reader smack-dab in the middle of Anna’s large
family, including her parents, twin brothers Double and Trouble, aunts and uncles, and
many, many cousins. This is a modern family, with cell phones and laptops. In these third
and fourth entries in the series, Anna’s eyes are opened to life outside her big white
house. In Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus!, harmattan winds from the Sahara cover the land
with dust. Anna realizes that the children outside the gate do not have the same access to
water and she, along with wise adults, comes up with a plan to help. In Have Fun, Anna
Hibiscus!, Anna flies to snowy Canada to spend a month (including Christmas) with her
white grandmother, whom she has never met. Everything is on a small scale in these
books, allowing the reader to easily identify with the situations. Anna does not try to save
Africa from drought; she just tries to alleviate the thirst of her neighbors. Like the rest of
her family in Africa, Anna fears dogs, but she comes to love Granny Canada’s beloved
Qimmiq. Tobia’s detailed illustrations add depth and energy to the stories—showing
Anna in all her emotional states and giving new readers the visual support they need.
Readers ready for chapter books will love Anna and her sprawling family.

Educating Alice (May 12, 2011)
Atinuke’s Anna Hibiscus Books
I am overdue writing this post about the remarkable, amazing, and wonderful Anna
Hibiscus books by Atinuke. After reading Betsy’s review last summer I requested the
books and fell completely and totally in love with them. Since then I’ve been delighted to
see others in America become equally smitten, say the folks over at Horn Book who have
just given two in the series well-deserved stars. My special thanks to reviewer and
teacher Robin Smith who just now reminded me of them as she mentioned them on the
ccbc-net discussion list as exemplars for raising issues of economic differences for
For those still unfamiliar with this charming series, the books are from the point of view
of a young biracial child, Anna Hibiscus who lives in “… Africa. Amazing Africa.” In
each of these early chapter books mostly set in an unnamed city, professional storyteller
Atinuke gently, authentically, and lyrically strings together a series of episodes that
present life for one extended Nigerian family. There are threads tying each set of stories
together — Anna’s anxiety about having to sing in front of an important audience or her
visit with her Canadian grandmother — but it is the individual little stories that make
these books so powerful.
Having lived and taught in Sierra Leone I’m fairly obsessed with bringing material to
American children that communicate an authentic viewpoint of life in West Africa.
While she does not identify Anna’s home country, author Atinuke’s background is
Nigerian and I can only say that what she describes rings true to me from my own
experience a few countries to the west. (I’m going back to Sierra Leone this summer for
the first time which will be quite an experience!) Like Robin, I too admire Atinuke’s deft
handling of the class and economic issues that are familiar to me from my time in West
I’ve heard some complaining about the author’s decision not to identify Anna’s home
country and I have to say I disagree. The choice to begin each story with a lyrical
storytelling trope — that Anna lives in “amazing Africa” is lovely and clearly an artistic
choice. Yes, some Americans have trouble understanding that the continent of Africa is
not a country, but that doesn’t mean every book written for children and set in Africa
must identify the country in order for American children to get the right idea. Even
without naming the country, Atinuke does one of the best jobs I’ve seen giving a feel and
sense of what life is like for one West African child. And because of that I’m looking
forward to her new series, The No. 1 Car Spotter, this one from the point of view of a
young boy living in an African village.

*** Has been named an “LMC Editor’s Choice 2011” selection. LMC Editors’ Choice
list comprises the following: “The selection of the best of all the exceptional titles
reviewed in LMC the previous publishing year … selected because of their significance
and value in the school setting. Some cover important or controversial topics or issues;
some cover unusual topics not previously explored in the K-12 market; some offer a
different approach to a familiar topic or reflect a new trend. “

Meridian Magazine (June 3, 2011)
Anna Hibiscus, by Atinuke, is a new series that features a little girl and her family and
friends as she lives in Africa. The stories are rich and enriching as you begin to
understand a different culture far away. "Good Luck Anna Hibiscus!" and "Have Fun
Anna Hibiscus!" are the latest installments.

Read Kiddo Read (July, 2011)
In this first of a series of four chapter books we meet the exuberant Anna as she goes
about her life in “... Africa. Amazing Africa.” While the city Anna lives in is never
identified, the story is based on the Nigerian childhood of author and professional
storyteller Atinuke.
The stories are uniformly delightful – from a beach vacation with her African father,
Canadian mother, and twin baby brothers where Anna learns the value of her extended
family to an experience that helps her better understand the profound economic
disparities that exist in her world. Told in episodic chapters that are perfect for single-
reading sessions, each book in the series has a connecting theme moving Anna a little
farther outside the compound where she lives with her grandparents, uncles, aunts, and
cousins. Like all young children joining the bigger world, Anna learns simple lessons
with the gentle and supportive assistance of her adult family members and the readers
learn along with her. In Hooray for Anna Hibiscus, she begins school, making her five or
six, and manages after great trepidation to sing in a stadium for a visiting head of state.
The final two books, Good Luck Anna Hibiscus and Have Fun Anna Hibiscus, focus on
her preparations for and then visit to her Canadian grandmother at Christmas time where
she achieves her desire to experience snow. Adding to the joy of these charming stories
are Lauren Tobia’s deceptively simple black-and-white illustrations; they represent
Anna’s energy and the life around her beautifully.
Perfect for emergent readers to read on their own, this book and the rest of the series
(Hooray for Anna Hibiscus!, Good Luck Anna Hibiscus!, and Have Fun Anna Hibiscus!)
are also great read-alouds. For children wanting more of this sort of story, Grace Lin’s
The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat or Sara Pennybaker’s Clementine series
might serve well. And for more on contemporary African life through the eyes of a
biracial child, check out Penda Diakite’s I Lost My Tooth in Africa. (July 13, 2011)
And "Anna Hibiscus," by Atinuke is the first in a series from Britain now being published
here. Anna lives in "amazing Africa" with her extended family. Young readers will be
enchanted by their introduction to life and culture in Africa with Anna. Adult readers of
Alexander McCall Smith's #1 Ladies Detective Agency books will understand the charm
of gently being immersed in a new land. For ages 7 and up.

Jean Little Library (July 15, 2011)
Anna Hibiscus is back! When I first discovered these beginning chapter books, I
completely fell in love with them. They are unique in the beginning chapter book genre,
especially realistic stories, which is overwhelmingly full of obnoxious and/or quirky girls
in school with the occasional boy-constantly-in-trouble character. Anna Hibiscus takes
the reader to a whole different culture and will introduce children to the idea that books
really can make you travel to a fascinating and completely different land, something
which is often advertised (how many times have you seen posters for traveling with
books?) but rarely fulfilled except in fantasy.

In her third book, Anna Hibiscus and her family are living through the Harmattan, when
the wind blows sand over their garden and the city and water is a precious commodity. In
her first story, Anna and her family are carefully guarding their water to drink, wash, and
keep their most beautiful garden green. But when the girls at their gate who sell oranges
tell them of the drought in the city, the family decides together to water the children of
the city instead of their garden. In her second story, Anna gets in big trouble because of
her twin brothers Double and Trouble. But in the end, her grandparents make everything
right. Anna’s third story reminds us of her promised trip to her mother’s relatives in
Canada and the fulfillment of her wish to see snow; before she can go, she needs warm
clothes and we get to see the contrast between the various stores in the city and the
warmth and love between Anna’s mother and her mother-in-law. Finally, Anna is having
second thoughts about her trip, especially when everyone seems to have forgotten her
already! How can she go away for an entire month? But then her family shows her their
wonderful surprises and she knows she will take their love with her on her wonderful

Anna is a cheerful and sometimes stubborn little girl whose experiences in a family,
culture, and country very different from the United States will fascinate beginning
chapter readers. She tends to look very young on the covers, so you will need to do some
booktalking to get kids to take a break from their usual bland fare of girls and boys like
them in schools like theirs in towns like theirs.
School Library Journal (August 1, 2011)
Gr 1-3–Fans of the series will not be disappointed in these latest books about Anna
Hibiscus. In the first, the African child and her family help her prepare for her first trip to
Canada to visit her grandmother; the second book continues with her actual trip and the
fun experiences in the snowy north for the Christmas holiday. Once again, Atinuke
handles the complexity of life in Africa (and the differences between life there and in
North America) with deftness and grace. Serious concepts like racism, poverty, and
social activism are covered as simply and expertly as dealing with taking the blame for a
sibling’s misbehavior without becoming heavy-handed or unsuitable for early chapter-
book audiences. Although elements of Anna’s life may be foreign to some readers, her
sweet nature and youthful troubles are common to children everywhere. The expressive
black-and-white images that weave seamlessly through the texts enhance the stories
beautifully. “Anna Hibiscus” is a lovely, rare bird of a series, providing a modern view of
another culture in warm, approachable language.

Meridian Magazine (June 2011)
Anna Hibiscus, by Atinuke, is a new series that features a little girl and her family and
friends as she lives in Africa. The stories are rich and enriching as you begin to
understand a different culture far away. “Good Luck Anna Hibiscus!” and “Have Fun
Anna Hibiscus!” are the latest installments.

The Classroom Bookshelf (September 26, 2011)
Master storyteller Atinuke is back with two new early chapter books in the Horn Book
Award-honored series about the delightful African girl who has captured the spirit,
adventure, innocence, and questions of childhood. In Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus!, Anna
prepares for her first visit to her maternal grandmother in Canada, while in Have Fun,
Anna Hibiscus!, Anna finally travels to Canada for the Christmas holiday season. As in
the first two books of the series, each chapter can work as a single read-aloud, beginning
with the memorable lines, “Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa,” offering a
separate episode in Anna’s life, and highlighting the importance of family support. The
chapters provide both mirrors and windows into a childhood that is simultaneously
familiar and foreign: in one, she must find clothes warm enough for her first snowy
winter; in another, she suffers false accusation that she ate a whole jar of sweets when in
actuality she was trying to stop her infant twin brothers from doing so; and in still another
chapter, she grapples with the notion that Granny Canada treats a dog as a friend and
family member ("Dogs live outside and eat rubbish"). With the help of Lauren Tobia’s
appealing pen-and-ink illustrations, Atinuke presents the portrait of Anna and her
extended family as devoted and determined; middle-class, multicultural, and modern;
good-natured and generous; strong and sensitive. Furthermore, Anna continues to explore
issues of privilege, prejudice, and social class, learning a new life lesson at the end of
each chapter. However, the set up is entirely buoyant and engrossing—and Atinuke’s
voice so nuanced and captivating—that the books deftly avoid sounding didactic. If you
or your students haven’t yet made friends with Anna Hibiscus, get ready to be instantly

Growing Up Santa Cruz (September 28, 2011)
As I’ve said before in this column, the well written, easy-read chapter book is an elusive
item (as rare as a thin fantasy novel for 5th to 8th graders*). Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke is
so good that you could read it aloud to your 6 to 9-year-olds as easily as your 7 to 10-
year-olds could read it independently. It is rare that an early chapter book is worth
reading aloud; there are only a handful that I can think of: Lady Lollipop, Bink and
Gollie, How Oliver Olson Changed the World, Jake. Add Anna Hibiscus to that very
small roster. And it’s a series. And they’re all equally delightful. Each chapter is a gem—
autonomous—just enough for a bedtime read.

“Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.” Many of the stories begin like this.
Anna lives in a very large, white house, in a compound plump with mango trees, in an
unnamed West African city near the coast along with her extended family of parents,
twin toddler brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a multitude of cousins. Anna is
perhaps 7 years old: smart, funny, and kind. Each chapter is one of the small, daily
adventures lucky children have: singing alone in a school program; buying winter clothes
for a visit to “Granny Canada;” worrying about the return of an aunt, working out of the
country, who may have forgotten traditional ways and values (she has not); working out
how to help the children who sell fruit at the gate of the compound (Atinuke is not
condescending towards privileged, middle-class Anna, or towards the children at the
gate). We learn about different points of view without the author trying to teach us. I
don’t know how Atinuke does this, but she does.

In one story there’s a horrified discussion among the relatives about a child sleeping
alone, lonely, in her own bedroom. There’s a small sigh from Mom, who is from Canada,
and white, and who remembers that time alone can also be nice. Anna’s dad, catching the
sigh, plans a small holiday upriver with just the members of the immediate family. I love
it; it’s not stated, his understanding his wife’s desires. It’s just love and so he does it,
although really, he’s pretty profoundly uncomfortable, and the writing is so vivid, we too
are uncomfortable. And we love her (the mom) and all, but how can you have a real
vacation with just five members of your immediate family? All the stories are like this.
You are Anna Hibiscus, and you learn a lot about yourself and others. It’s just lovely.

This charming, approachable, gentle series, with its warm, expressive language, is a
welcome window into an unfamiliar, wholly-familiar world.

East Lansing Public Library (October 4, 2011)
We all know about the Newbery and Caldecott and (I hope) the Printz awards. Another
award I respect is the Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards. An honor book this year is
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke… so I looked it up to read it.
 For some reason I thought it was about a girl growing up in Hawaii. I guess it was the
“hibiscus “ in the title (talk about stereotyping!). But Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa.
Amazing Africa. These two sentences are the start of every chapter, and the 4 books in
this series are amazing books.
 It’s unusual because I think there are few books for beginning chapter book readers that
take place in other countries, and none that I can think of in Africa. By getting to know
Anna, readers take a look at our own American culture through her eyes, and see that
there are many ways to live in our world.
 Anna lives with her big, extended, loving family in a compound in the middle of a city (
the country is never named).
 In the four books, Anna learns about others in her city who are not as privileged as she
is, is surprised that her Canadian mother grew up in a house with only her mother and
father and her own room,(how lonely!), overcomes stage fright when she is asked to sing
in front of the president of her country, and visits her grandmother in Canada and sees
 The author, Atinuke, is a storyteller, and the tales do have a kind of rhythm to them.
They would be great to read aloud. More stories from Amazing Africa, please, Atinuke!

A Book and a Hug (October 2011)
Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore. No, we've headed all the way to Africa. Meet
Anna Hibiscus and her wonderful family full of children named Miracle, Sweetheart,
Double, Trouble, Angel, Joy and Charity and her Auntie Comfort who lives in the United
States and her grandparents for whom the entire family bends a knee out of great respect.
There is Uncle Tunde who understands what Anna needs and who shares his heart and
his cell phone for texting when a text just must be sent. There is the wisdom of the
grandparents who worked so hard so that Anna Hibiscus could live in a great white house
with orange trees and not have to sell oranges on the streets. There is Granny Canada
who invites Anna HIbiscus to come to visit her to see the wonder of snow. Will Auntie
Comfort break the grandparents' hearts when she comes to visit by ignoring her African
roots? What lesson will be learned when Anna Hibiscus tries to break out of the silence
and boredom of her compound by selling oranges from the family trees? Will Anna ever
see that mysterious wonder called snow? Can Anna's mother get the peace and quiet she
needs by getting away from the chatter and intrusion of so many family members who
sleep together, eat together, work together and play together? The richness of family
comes roaring through and the storytelling is a joyful collage of tradition, wonder, and
gratitude. Four stories are told with such insight into the universal hearts and minds of
children and the messages are warm, wise and reassuring us that the world is truly a
wonderful place to be. Heartwarming and not to be missed. 112 pages Ages 7-10

A Child’s Bookshelf (November 2, 2011)
If you have an elementary-age child looking for a new storybook friend, then you will
delighted to discover Anna Hibiscus.
Each of the four stories in this collection begins with simplicity: “Anna Hibiscus lives in
Africa. Amazing Africa.” Inspired by the life experiences of the Nigerian-born author,
Atinuke, the sensory bustle of Anna’s city reflects a deep and abiding rootedness, a
sincere love of place.
But it is Anna Hibiscus herself who makes each story sing. Anna lives with her mother,
her father, her brothers (Double and Trouble), her grandparents, her aunties, her uncles
and more cousins than she can count. She lives in a very large house where the children
all climb the old mango tree and Uncle Bizy Sunday shops and cooks for everyone.
Family is the center of Anna’s life, a net that cradles her through each of her adventures.
In “Anna Hibiscus on Holiday”, Anna’s Canadian-born mother wants a nice, quiet
vacation. She travels with her husband and children to a small island with a beach
cottage. Solitude isn’t as grand as it seems, though, as the twins insist on crawling off the
veranda and there isn’t a break from cooking or cleaning. What’s a family vacation, after
all, without a little more family along?
In “Auntie Comfort”, Anna learns that moving away, even across the ocean, doesn’t
mean losing your roots. When Auntie Comfort comes to visit from America, Anna is
worried that Grandfather will be disappointed, that Auntie Comfort will have forgotten
“the proper African way.” Rich with details of daily life — finger bowls and tailors and
cellphones – this story highlights both the tight bonds and the elasticity of Anna’s
extended family.
“Anna Hibiscus Sells Oranges” offers a wider view of the city, outside the walls of
Anna’s compound. Fascinated with the girls who sell oranges on the street, Anna defies
Grandfather and sells the fruit of her family’s garden. Grandfather’s subsequent lessons
in compassion and economics give Anna a new, more mature perspective on work and
In “Sweet Snow”, Anna longs to see, touch, and taste the Canadian snow of her mother’s
stories and pictures. When Granny Canada offers to fly her over for a summer visit, Anna
has to find a sensitive way to let Granny know how much better a winter trip would be.
Her creativity and sincerity win over everyone in her large and lovely family.
My own family has fallen in love with the curiosity and effervescent energy of Anna
Hibiscus. Boo-Monkey, my five year old, listened raptly as I read to her. Seven-year old
Rainbow Girl read the book on her own, and then she read the remaining three books in
the series. She loved them all.
As for me, I’d like to move in with Anna Hibiscus and her uncountable cousins. I’d like
to climb the mango tree and navigate the city’s lagoons in a canoe and eat the delectable
cooking of Uncle Bizy Sunday. In leiu of all that, I’ll keep reading these stories to Boo-
Monkey, enjoying the company of our new storybook friend.

Book Notes (November 2011)
Anna Hibiscus is the heroine of a series of books by Atinuke (Kane Miller). Anna lives
with her large extended family in a compound situated in an African city. With so many
cousins around, Anna never lacks for playmates. The aunties and uncles all have
essential roles that contribute to the way the family functions. Anna's mother grew up in
Canada and obviously had to adjust to this communal outlook. However, the very first
story in the first book reveals the advantages of having many people to look after one
another when Anna, her parents, and brothers try to take a vacation by themselves.
Before long, everyone migrates from the city to the beach to help the holiday run
smoothly. By making Anna's family relatively prosperous and placing them in a city,
Atinuke avoids the images of starving Africans in refugee camps or remote tribal areas
that often dominate the news. In later books Anna's wish to see snow comes true when
she visits her grandmother in Canada. However, her African family makes sure she does
not forget them. Atinuke's love for "amazing Africa" and the people who live there shine
through the pages and in the character of Anna. The books would be good read-aloud
selections since each chapter has a narrative arc of its own while advancing the overall
Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus
Flowering Minds (November 21, 2011)
This book is the fourth book in the Anna Hibiscus series written by Nigerian author,
Anna Hibiscus is a young helpful, caring, brave, adventurous girl who lives in Africa.
She has never been away from Africa, where she is surrounded by her parents, siblings,
aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Anna Hibiscus is going to go to Canada to visit
her grandmother. There are a number of first experiences in this book for Anna Hibiscus:
traveling on a plane, seeing snow, having a dog in your home, meeting Granny Canada,
playing with kids from a different background. Anna Hibiscus beautifully handles the ups
and downs, that come with experiencing a new culture and place. When it is time to
return home to Africa she is sad to leave, but is anxious to tell her family about all the
wonderful things she did like sledding, her best friend Qimmiq, and of course chocolate
This book has a great balance telling a story that any child could relate to and introducing
aspects of multiculturalism.
Anna Hibiscus may be from Africa, but some of the experiences she has such as seeing
snow, trying to make new friends, being around a dog for the first time. She could have
easily been a girl from Florida visiting a cold, snowy, Canada for the first time. The
author does a great job at capturing the excitement and the not so great things that come
along with being in a cold environment. For instance being in a cold place means getting
used to wearing lots of layers of clothing and being cold when you first get out of bed in
the morning. But being able to see snow falling or go sledding makes it all worthwhile.
Aspects of multiculturalism can be observed, when you see Anna Hibiscus adapt to
Western food which comes in packages and isn’t quite as spicy as her native food. But,
she does love her new discovery chocolate cereal. She is afraid of dogs since in her
hometown dogs are strays, running around carrying diseases. Neither she nor her family
can fathom having a dog in your home. Anna Hibiscus learns a dog can be your best
This book as so much heart, which is why I love it. One of my favorite scenes in the book
is when Anna Hibiscus responds back to a statement made about her inability to ice skate
since she is African. Anna Hibiscus replies “My name is Anna Hibiscus … I could not
skate because it was my first time. Not because I am African.” I love this line and only
wish I had this book, when I was growing up in rural Pennsylvania as one of a handful of
immigrant Indians. I love Anna Hibiscus’s courage to stand proud. One of the funniest
scenes for me was early in the book when Anna and Auntie Jumoke are on the plane and
Anna gets hungry. Auntie Jumoke comments on the food cart “That is not food … It is
plastic, pretending to be food.” Auntie then pulls out of her bag boxes filled with their
native food. This totally reminded me of my grandmother and Aunty who take food with
them whenever they travel.
I think this book is applicable to all young girls no matter whether they be Caucasian,
African, Asian, Latino, or any other place in the world. It has something for everyone.
Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus

                              The Fanfare books are selected by the reviewers and editors
of The Horn Book Magazine from the more than five hundred books we review each
In this third entry in a remarkable early chapter book series set in Africa, Anna hatches a
plan to help her neighbors in need after a drought. As usual, Anna and her sprawling,
contemporary family are relatable, while Atinuke’s focus on the everyday and her spot-
on dialogue mesh flawlessly with Tobia’s lively illustrations.

The News Star – “Recommended Holiday Titles for Young Readers”(December 8, 2011)
Looking for chapters book for early to advanced readers? The "Anna Hibiscus" series by
Atinuke, involving a young girl living in an enormous family in Africa, is a delightful
way to introduce children to engaging stories and an adorable heroine while broadening
their horizons at the same time.
Anna Hibiscus’ Song
Written by Atinuke
Illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2011)
In amazing Africa, Anna Hibiscus discovers her own special way to show her happiness
after trying out what other family members do.
From her perch in a mango tree, Anna Hibiscus observes the activities of her extended
family in the compound where she lives. Her grandparents relax, her aunties pound yam,
cousins scatter corn. Atinuke (Anna Hibiscus, 2010, and its sequels) brings Anna to a
picture-book audience in this gentle evocation of modern West African life. Tobia
illustrated the Anna Hibiscus chapter books with gray scale drawings, but here she
presents Anna in full color. Digitally tinted drawings begin with endpapers revealing
Anna’s home, which is set between a shoreline and a bustling city, by day and by night.
Varying from vignettes accompanying the text to full-bleed full-page and double-page
spreads, these illustrations emphasize the warmth and love in her family, as described in
the simple, dialogue-rich text. Though unmentioned in this story, they reveal what
readers of the earlier books know: Anna is comparatively light-skinned; her mother is
white. All the adults dress in a Nigerian style; the girls wear simple dresses. The large
figures and rich colors against the white backgrounds show well to a group.
Anna’s arms are always up; she’s ready to embrace the world. Young readers and
listeners will surely embrace her as enthusiastically as chapter-book readers already have.
(Picture book. 3-7)

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children (August 2011)
The endearing character Anna Hibiscus has returned, this time in full color in a lushly
illustrated picture book. Anna’s positive outlook and good cheer run abundant as she
engages with members of her extended African family in the family compound. She
especially likes playing with her cousins and helping her aunties to pound yams in the
    This book offers young children a brief glimpse of one of the economics themes found
in the Anna Hibiscus easy readers, namely the gender division of labor within the home.
As with the easy readers, this picture book illustrates some features of the daily way of
life of a large extended family in an urban African setting.
Publishers Weekly (August 8, 2011)
With this effervescent tale, Atinuke introduces younger readers to the African heroine of
her early chapter-book series. As Anna Hibiscus sits in a mango tree watching her family
members’ various activities, she “feels so happy, she almost floats out of the tree.”
Bouncing from one relative to another, she proclaims her happiness, and they all tell her
what they do when they’re happy: Grandfather counts all the reasons why, Grandmother
squeezes her husband’s hand, aunties pound yam, Uncle Tunde dances to music from the
car radio, Papa tells Mama how much he loves her, and Mama sits “still and quiet.”
Anna’s “happiness grows” with every encounter, and she eventually discovers her own
way to best express her joy (the title provides a hint). In Tobia’s cheery illustrations, the
family’s vivid clothing contrasts with the cool greens of the lush vegetation. Focusing on
the tight bond between the characters, Tobia accentuates Anna Hibiscus’s outsize
personality and loving rapport with her family. Readers will easily identify with Anna’s
glee—“I am so happy, I think I am going to explode!”—and find it infectious.

Book Page (August 10, 2011)
 “Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa / Amazing Africa.” For those who have enjoyed the early
chapter books about young Anna and her close-knit family, this is a familiar refrain. In
Anna Hibiscus’ Song, the first picture book collaboration between author Atinuke and
illustrator Lauren Tobia, readers get a beautifully expanded view of Anna and the world
she inhabits.
Anna is one lucky girl. Sitting in her mango tree, she can see so many things: her
grandmother and grandfather on the veranda, her aunties pounding yams, an assortment
of cousins and uncles and even the chickens busily pecking in the courtyard of the home
she shares with all her relatives. She is overcome with happiness just thinking about how
wonderful life is. As each of Anna’s family members weigh in on how they deal with the
exhilaration that comes with deeply rooted contentment, Anna grows more and more
overcome with joy until she is sure she will burst.
Atinuke, born in Nigeria and now living in Wales, is a gifted storyteller. Her short, clean
sentences and lively dialogue imbue the text with joy as Anna leaps around, peppering
her many relations with questions. Tobia’s illustrations are a perfect complement to the
story. Pencil drawings, enhanced with a rich color palette, add effervescence to the tale,
depicting the multi-hued textiles worn by the characters and the vibrant flowers and birds
in the family garden.
Anna’s joie de vivre is contagious and young readers who have paid careful attention to
the title will surely predict how Anna’s joyfulness will manifest itself. Let’s hope that this
picture book is the first of many “songs” that Anna’s creators will sing.

NC Teacher Stuff (August 22, 2011)
Anna Hibiscus is so happy that she isn't quite sure what to do with herself. Living in
amazing Africa with her extended family brings so much joy. Grandfather suggests that
she hold her hand out and count the reasons why she is so happy. There are simply not
enough fingers to hold Anna's happiness. Other family members give suggestions (e.g.
dancing, helping pound yams) and each one increases Anna's joy, but none of them feels
exactly right. Finally, Anna's mother mentions that she likes to sit still and quiet when she
is happy. Anna tries this and something wonderful happens. She hears the birds and they
inspire her to create a song. This is the outlet for her happiness that Anna has been
I am delighted that the character of Anna Hibiscus is now appearing in a picture book.
The chapter books are favorites of mine and this book will be equally appealing to
younger readers who are not familiar with Anna. Students know all about being happy
and will be able to easily make connections. This would be a great opportunity to channel
those thoughts through a graphic organizer like a bubble map or to create a book of all
the things that make us happy. For beginning writers, this would be an engaging activity.
I also love that the setting of the book is a place that is unfamiliar to most students and
therefore a fresh perspective. Anna Hibiscus' Song is a terrific introduction to a beloved

Picture Book Reviews (September 24, 2011)
Anna Hibiscous lives with her family in Africa. She is a happy and vibrant girl but she
doesn’t quite know how to articulate it. She listens to her grandma, grandpa, mama,
papa, auntees, uncle and cousins explain what they do when they are happy. Anna
Hibiscous tries out each suggested method and is finally lead to her own form of
A wonderful book experience that includes dialog and artistic content indigenous to
Africa. The feel of the book and the quality of print heighten the pleasure. I only wish
the talented author offered more insight as to the cause of Anna Hibiscous’ happiness, but
certainly one can speculate that a life surrounded by a full, hardworking and attentive
family and the amazing landscape of Africa would bolster anyone’s mood. ♥♥♥♥

School Library Journal (October 2011)
Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. From her perch in the mango tree, she surveys her
extended family and is so happy that she does not know how to express her joy. Each
relative tells her what they do when they are happy and she tries all of their methods.
Finally, her mother tells her to sit quietly, so Anna climbs back up into her favorite tree
and sits still. Soon, the birds come to the tree and sing. Then Anna Hibiscus knows what
she can do–sing. And she does. This simple, predictable tale has a warm, loving feeling,
and the plot and theme are universal. Children everywhere will think about what they can
do when they are so happy that they cannot contain themselves. Large, colorful cartoon
illustrations depict the action and help readers anticipate the story’s climax. The end
pages show a large urban setting, yet the illustrations reveal the extended family living in
close, friendly quarters filled with lush vegetation. The text, illustrations, and format
convey a sense of unity that stimulates aesthetic appreciation.

The Horn Book (November/December 2011)
Fans of Atinuke’s chapter book series will enjoy this picture book; those new to Anna
Hibiscus’s life in “Africa. Amazing Africa” will have their appetite whetted. In the
mango tree in her family’s compound, Anna Hibiscus observes her large loving family
and feels so happy, “she almost floats out of the tree.” She says to each relative, “I am so
happy! What can I do?” Grandmother says she holds Grandfather’s hand when she’s
happy. In their turns, Uncle Tunde dances, the aunties pound yams, the cousins play, and
Papa tells Mama how much he loves her. Anna Hibiscus copies them, but her happiness
cannot be adequately expressed until she finds her own way—in a glorious song. Tobia’s
textured watercolors, using a muted green and brown palette, allow the young
protagonist’s fuchsia dress to pop, drawing the viewer’s eye to her. Readers will
appreciate the full-color art (the chapter-book art is black and white) that depicts the
richness of the gardens, avian life, and glorious clothing the aunties wear. Children might
notice the different colors of skin, too, from Mama’s white skin to Anna Hibiscus’s light
brown skin to the rich dark brown of the rest of the relatives.

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (December 2011)
This is the picture-book debut for Anna Hibiscus, who lives in "Amazing Africa" and
who has previously appeared in a series of early chapter books. In this exuberant story,
Anna perches at the top of a mango tree, looking down on the members of her extended
family and rejoicing in her good fortune to the point where she is so happy that "she
almost floats out of the tree." Her family members offer advice on less precarious ways
of celebrating joy, from counting the reasons for happiness to dancing to doing
cartwheels, and each encounter makes Anna even happier until she is almost bursting
with delight. In the end, Anna chooses to sing, and she composes an on-the-spot jingle
about her happy feelings that she belts from the top of the mango tree. There's not a
whole lot of plot here, and the happiness theme could grow a bit thin were Anna not such
a vivacious, affectionate child; instead, this is a rightly patterned ode to joy that
features a close-knit extended family in an interesting setting. Tobia's airy illustrations,
homey lines tinted with planes of digital color, vividly capture the warmth of Anna's
family and village and offer relevant cultural details (the aunties' patterned head wraps
and skirts, the lush gardens). Anna herself is portrayed as an energetic little girl with light
brown skin (her father is black, her mother white) and cornrows, zinging around town in
her raspberry-colored dress. Partner this with Cunnane's Chirchhir Is Singing (BCCB
I 0/11) for a melodious pairing of irrepressible African girls who just can't stop
themselves from expressing their joy.

Jean Little Library (November 25, 2011)
Anna Hibiscus stars in her own picture book! After several great beginning chapter
books, the team of Atinuke and Lauren Tobia have created a lovely and joyous picture
Anna Hibiscus is happy, so so happy! She goes to each member of her family in turn,
asking what they do when they are happy and is invited to join in squeezing hands,
pounding yams, turning somersaults, dancing and more. Anna Hibiscus' joy grows until
she finds her own special happiness activity - singing!
The simple, joyful text celebrates the everyday happiness of life, while Lauren Tobia's
illustrations show an exciting world very different from that of American children, but
still full of special places to go and things to do, and loving families.
Children and parents will want to think about their own happy things to do and explore
the simple, uncomplicated happy things in life like spending time with family, singing
and dancing, after reading this exuberant tribute to family.
Verdict: This picture book is a great introduction to the wonderful world of Anna
Hisbiscus. Kane Miller is now a subsidiary of Usborne, so librarians and parents will
want to either order direct from Usborne or Kane Miller, or purchase a like-new copy on
Amazon, since this book may not be available through your usual vendor. Definitely
worth a little extra effort though!

Book Talk, King County Library System (December 1, 2011)
Nigerian storyteller Atinuke has written several early chapter books starring happy little
Anna Hibiscus, but Anna Hibiscus' Song is her first picture book. Anna lives in "Africa,
amazing Africa," with her large extended family. In this story, Anna is so terrifically
happy she doesn't know what to do with herself, so she goes around asking each of her
family members what they do when they're happy. Grandma, Grandpa, aunties, cousins,
Uncle Tunde, Papa and Mama all give Anna different ways to express happiness, but
Anna decides her best way is to sing.
A more joyful picture book would be hard to find. Lauren Tobia's illustrations are
friendly, bright and full of energy. Of course, this book is significant not only for the
quality of the writing and art, but also for its setting. There aren't many picture books
published in the United States about modern middle-class families in Africa. Anna
Hibiscus' Song provides a window into a different culture and an ebullient picture book
reading experience. It would be a great book to share with 3- to 7-year-olds during the
holiday season when spirits are high.

The Artful Parent (December 8, 2011)
Since I first posted about how much we loved Anna Hibiscus, we've re-read the entire
series a couple more times. Back to back. And sometimes Maia has asked for random
chapters from one of the books. She likes them that much. And I like the writing and the
characters well enough that this is a pleasure and not a chore.
Apparently a bunch of you bought the series after I posted about them (what did you
think?) and so the publisher was kind enough to send me the new picture book version of
Anna Hibiscus. Written and illustrated by the same talented duo—Atinuke and Lauren
Tobia—Anna Hibiscus' Song is full of color and joy and perfect for younger children.
It's lovely…
Anna Hibiscus is still the same loveable Anna Hibiscus she is in the chapter book series,
and she still "lives in Africa, amazing Africa," but the story is shorter, simpler, and, of
course, more lavishly illustrated.
In this picture book version, Anna Hibiscus is happy and seeks advice from various
family members for outlets for her happiness. She tries counting blessings, dancing
(above), and finally bursts into song.
This is a sweet, sweet book.

Politics and Prose, Holiday Favorites (December 2011)
Nigerian-born author Atinuke first caught our attention with the Anna Hibiscus chapter
books. Now she and illustrator Lauren Tobia welcome younger readers to the same
enchanting world in Anna Hibiscus’ Song (Kane/Miller, $15.99). Surrounded by her
family in their home, Anna Hibiscus is so happy that she doesn’t know how to express
her joy. She asks all of her relatives – parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and
cousins – what she can do. Each of them has a different way of being glad, and Anna tries
them all. Finally, she discovers what she can do when she is happy: sing! Ages 3-6. JLM
The Best Family in the World
Written by Susana López
Illustrated by Ulises Wensell

The Horn Book Guide
Contrary to her fantasies, orphan Carlota's terrific new parents don't turn out to be pastry
chefs, pirates, etc., but they do bring her yummy pastries and pretend to dig for buried
treasure. The light-handedness of the storytelling belies the book's depth, and the
domestic scenes of Carlota and her new family are as wondrous as the scenes she
Big and Little
By Ana Martin Larrañaga

Washington Parent (July 2011)
Planning a vacation with baby? You can maximize suitcase space without minimizing
read-aloud fun with four board books that come packed in their own sturdy cardboard
sleeve. An added bonus: all four for the usual cost ($7.99) of one. Friendly parent-and-
child critters accompany cheerful rhymes about a day spent in one of four places. Little
ones can “Stomp in the Swamp” with elephants, “Splash in the Sea” with blue whales,
“Snuggle in the Snow” with polar bears and have “Fun on the Farm” with chickens.
Rollicking and reassuring, each romp ends with a cozy hug under a night-time sky.
The Big Snuggle Up
Written by Brian Patten
Illustrated by Nicola Bayley

Growing Bookworms (August 17, 2011)
Honestly, who could resist a picture book called The Big Snuggle-Up? Not me. The Big
Snuggle-Up was published in England by Anderson Press and brought to the US by Kane
Miller. It's a simple story set in a small stone house in the country. As a winter storm
approaches, the narrator invites a scarecrow in out of the snow. The scarecrow is
followed by animal after animal, a cumulative list building on each page spread.
Eventually, everyone settles down for a quiet, cozy evening.
Brian Patten is a well-known British poet. His soothing text works well for read aloud,
from the very first page:
"I asked a scarecrow in out of the snow,
Please by a guest in my house.
The scarecrow said, "Can I bring a friend,
For in my sleeve lives a mouse.""
Patten uses just the right verbs for each animal, as when a "robin peeped out from its
freezing nest" or when a cat "allowed itself to be let in". I think my favorite part is:
"A donkey looked in and said,
"I'm unable
To find my way back to the stable.""
Each page spread ends with:
"Into the house and out of the snow
Came ..." (a list of animals)
The growing list of animals invites children to participate in the reading, as they
remember dog, cat, fawn, etc. Children will certainly remember the refrain at the end of
each list "and an old scarecrow."
I like that Patten doesn't always choose conventional rhymes, matching, for example
"fur" and "chair". I think this keeps the text from being too sing-songy. I think that "Into
the house and out of the snow" is going to become part of the vocabulary of my home
(even though we don't have snow here).
Much as I liked the text, what made me love this book were Nicola Bayley's detailed
colored pencil illustrations. Light glows from the windows of the little stone house -
anyone can see why the animals would find it inviting. The scarecrow is cheerful and
friendly, with a pine branch sticking out of his hat and a jaunty, ever-so-slightly floppy
posture. The animals practically step from the page, with bright eyes, and every hair or
feather lovingly depicted. Readers will want to try to stroke the squirrel's tail, and feel the
butterfly's wings. The donkey is particularly adorable.
Even as the animals are detailed and realistic, Bayley adds whimsical details, like the
scarecrow turning on the water faucets for the heron in the bath, and a cozy armchair
missing part of a leg, propped up on a pile of books. Kids will enjoy searching for such
details. The butterfly can be found, through careful searching, just about every page,
adding additional visual interest.
Bayley is best known for her detailed illustrations of cats, and her affection for cats
comes through in this book, too. When a cat joins the party, he casts a baleful eye on a
butterfly that lands on his tail. He then proceeds to be scene-stealer in several subsequent
In short, The Big Snuggle-Up is aptly named, and the perfect read for a cold winter night.
It's a wonderful combination of rhythmic text and soothing yet visually intriguing
illustrations. Highly recommended!

Kirkus Reviews (September 14, 2011)
Predators and prey alike arrive to snuggle into a boy’s cozy cottage to sleep through a
winter storm in this visually breathtaking work from illustrator Bayley and British poet
The unseen young boy’s initial invitation, extended to a scarecrow, opens the door for all
manner of beasts to ask for refuge. Before night fully falls, the fireside is packed tight,
with creatures ranging from donkey and owl to fox and fawn. Rhyming couplets
introduce each newcomer, while the refrain cumulatively lists each animal that has found
shelter from the storm: “A robin peeped out from its freezing nest, / ‘Would you mind if
you had another guest?’ / Into the house and out of the snow / Came a robin, a butterfly, a
mouse, and an old scarecrow.” Not all of Patten’s rhymes are music to the ears, however,
as when he rhymes “fur” with “chair” and “flew” with “snow.” But Bayley’s gorgeously
realistic animals, which appear so lifelike that they could step right out of the pages, more
than compensate. Indeed, they appear so real as to seem incongruous when juxtaposed
with the more cartoonish scarecrow, with his bright colors and patterns.
A sweet complement to a wintry night by the fire snuggled up in a lap… but beware
those who take a page from the boy’s book and invite in a menagerie of their own.
(Picture book. 3-7)

The Midwest Book Review (September 2011)
The bitterness of winter’s cold is nothing to be left out in. “The Big Snuggle-Up” tells of
one vicious winter day where a scarecrow enters the house to get warm. But he’s not the
only one looking to get warm, as others join him and they learn that there’s more to
staying warm and happy than hot cocoa and the fire. A story of friendship and that there
is always room for more of it, “The Big Snuggle-Up” is excellently composed and
illustrated by Brian Patten and Nicola Bayley, a choice addition to any picture book
Picture Book Reviews (September 26, 2011)
Autumn is over and a scarecrow isn’t dressed for the snow. He is invited into a small,
warm house and the welcome is extended to his mouse friend. One by one, all sorts of
animals find warmth and comfort under the same roof.
This rhyming tale helps young children identify a variety of animals in an appealing and
realistic artistic style. It is also a good example of sharing and caring. The add-on verses
are fun for kids to read aloud. ♥♥♥♥♥

School Library Journal (October 2011)
A child invites a scarecrow to come in from the snow, and the scarecrow asks if he can
bring a mouse with him. A butterfly, a robin, and other woodland creatures soon join the
group until the house is full of friends all snuggled and warm around the fireplace. Patten
tells this simple story of generosity and kindness with delightful rhyme, meter, and
alliteration. The poem begs to be read aloud, lilting and dancing on the tongue: “A
squirrel scampered down from a sycamore tree,/‘I’ll bring you some nuts, if you’ll shelter
me.’” Children will enjoy joining in at the end of each stanza when the growing list of
visitors is repeated. The text is printed in a large, easy-to-read font on a cream-colored
background and surrounded by Bayley’s colored pencil and crayon illustrations. The art
is meticulously crafted, with attention given to every hair and whisker. The style of the
pictures is similar to Bayley’s illustrations for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book
(Candlewick, 2005), but they are done on a larger scale and in slightly softer hues. The
scarecrow is a little cartoonish, but the animals look realistic and soft enough to pet. A
lovely book about sharing and compassion.
The Bloomswell Diaries
By Louis L. Buitendag

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
Steampunk elements, a quest by a boy for his disappeared parents (who are actually
British secret agents) and a desperate effort to rescue his older sister from sinister forces
combine in this briskly paced adventure story set in an indeterminate past, most likely the
early 20th century. Benjamin Sebastian Bloomswell has been brought from his home in
London by his parents, who are going off on yet another “business trip,” to stay with an
uncle in New York City for his safety. Things get ugly and dangerous quickly: News of
his parents’ apparent death abroad hits the newspapers; Uncle Lucas is dispatched in a
hurry; and Ben is kidnapped by nefarious goons and placed in an unsavory “orphanage,”
from which he soon escapes. Risky, adventure-filled escapades ensue, and Ben eventually
and improbably makes his way his sister in Switzerland, who is equally in danger. While
much that occurs throughout is exciting, many plot details are wrapped up too neatly and
too quickly, and many interesting points don’t seem to coalesce. Familiar tropes and a big
but contrived surprise at the end—siblings off on a thrilling quest, unknown malevolent
characters, the mysterious fate of the children’s parents and a brief reference from out of
nowhere to a murky scientific experiment lurking in the wings—will appeal to readers,
particularly undemanding ones. (Steampunk. 9-12)

Booklist (April 1, 2011)
When young Benjamin Bloomswell’s peripatetic parents head off on yet another
mysterious trip, the boy is left with his American uncle for safekeeping. Alas, the parents
vanish, and the uncle is (presumably) murdered. As for Benjamin, he finds he must then
flee for his life, pursued by bad guys and the malevolent tin men who are their enforcers.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg in this first novel that combines mystery, science
fiction, and old-fashioned adventure. Accordingly, the path to closure is strewn with red
herrings, so many that the reader will join Benjamin in thinking, “Oh, this is so
confusing!” Ah, but it’s confusion that keeps the pot of the plot a-bubble to the end.
Speaking of which, not until the cliff-hanger will readers realize this is the first volume in
a prescribed series. Some may cry foul, but most will have enjoyed this romp of a tale
enough to look forward to answers in a subsequent book.
Charlotte’s Library (March 7, 2011)
Young Ben Bloomswell is used to his parents going off on business of their own; they
always come back. But this time is different. This time, they've taken him from England
to stay with his uncle in New York, while his sister is sent to a boarding school in
Switzerland, part of his parents' plan to keep them safe.
And this time, his parents might not be coming back for him. A newspaper article claims
they're dead. His uncle warns him that his parents have made powerful and ruthless
enemies--men who would love to have young Ben as a hostage. But his uncle proves
powerless to keep him safe, and disappears under mysterious circumstances.
With evil men who's motives he doesn't understand at all pursuing him, Ben sets off on
his own to try to get back to Europe--first to find his sister, and then to find his parents.
But to get there, he'll have to escape from the kidnappers who have imprisoned him in an
most unpleasant orphanage, become a stowaway on board a ship (carrying very unusual
passengers indeed) and face an army of metal automatons....all the while not knowing
who to trust, and desperately seeking the answers to his questions about his parents--what
have they been doing, to acquire such fearsome enemies, and more importantly, where
are they now?
The Bloomswell Diaries is a very nice take indeed on the Child Fleeing from Mysterious
Bad Guys story, and I enjoyed it lots. Here's why.
1. The story moves briskly in a series of swoops from one perilous situation to the next,
but not so briskly as to be dizzying, and the relatively peaceful ocean voyage in the
middle provided a nice break from the swooping. I like things to be brisk, but I also don't
want to be overwhelmed--I thought Buitendag's pacing was just right.
2. The writing pleased me lots (my inner editor was beautifully quiet throughout); it was
neither too verbose or too terse, and there was a lightness to it that made the reading of it
fun. Lots of the explaining is done with very natural sounding dialogue, and although we
are privy to some of Ben's thoughts, we are not overwhelmed by the author spelling them
out for us in too great detail.
3. Ben is very much an Every Boy--there's not much to his particular character that made
him distinct in my mind--but his normalcy worked well here. He's anxious, uncertain, and
not gifted with special gifts--smart enough, and sharp enough, to make it through, but not
so much so as to be unrealistic.
My one substantial complaint concerns the metal automatons. I have nothing against
them, per se, and, in general, like the added interest they can bring. But I think that they
need a bit more historical depth and assorted cultural reverberations than Buitendag gives
them. The book would have been essentially the same story if they had been flesh and
blood...and so I was jolted from my acceptance of the story when they were on stage.
But perhaps in the sequel (surly there will be one, because although one ending is
reached, there's lots more that needs to happen), the world building will become clearer
and I'll enjoy the story even more!

Reading Review (April 18, 2011)
The Bloomswell Diaries is an interesting book that I found myself really enjoying. The
story seems to place in the 1940's or some time close to that. But, the story doesn't seem
to take place in our reality. Why do I say that? I say this because there are tinmen in the
story. The tinmen are robots that are used for all kinds of things and seem to be quite
plentiful all over the world. So, this story seems to take place in an alternate reality to our
own reality. Cool . . . I like that.
This novel is the first book in a series, but I'm not sure how many books there will be
before the story concludes. As for the storytelling, I quite enjoyed the plot and the writing
and found all of the characters to be interesting. Young Readers will instantly bond with
Benjamin Bloomswell and root him on as he evades the bad guys as he makes his way to
Switzerland with his new-found friends, Mr. Holiday and Whip.
Louis L. Buitendag has created an interesting world full with an old-time feel that can
also seem a little menacing. At first I thought the story had the feel of the books in A
Series of Unfortunate Events. But after a while I found this not to be true. This book has
its own distinctive feel and it isn't quite gloomy like the series just mentioned. Yet, I
could draw some interesting comparisons, but I won't. Let's just say that I found the story
to be highly entertaining and quite a fun read.
I would like to know more about the tinmen. I cannot quite figure out how they shoved
Ben inside of one. I look at the tinman on the cover and just don't see how he could fit
inside one of them. There isn't much information in this book about the tinmen and I can
only hope that we will learn more about them in future books in this series. The artwork
on the book cover is in a style that I really enjoy. Plus, I think the artist, Adam Ziskie,
make Ben look like Charlie from the 1971 movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate
Factory. I also think that is kinda cool.
Overall, The Bloomswell Diaries is a great start to series that has a lot of promise. The
book ends and Ben still has to go off and find his parents. So, the story is far from over. I
cannot wait to see what adventures Ben will find in the next book.

ReadKiddoRead! (May 2011)
The Bloomswell Diaries is a steampunk adventure story, centered on eight-year-old
Benjamin Bloomswell. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term, steampunk is a new science
fiction genre. Think Jules Verne, steam-powered machines, airships, and Victorian
aspects.) While Benjamin is no hero, the events that occur in the novel would test any
child’s character, and readers watch as Benjamin rises to the occasion.
A surprise visit to Uncle Lucas in America takes Benjamin from his safe London home
when his famous mother and father are called away on unexpected business. There
Benjamin reads in a newspaper that his parents have been declared dead. Confused and
scared, Benjamin asks his uncle, who does not confirm his parent’s death, but rather
reveals that there is more to the Bloomswell family than young Benjamin knows. The
family has enemies who want to steal their fortune.
That very evening, kidnappers break into Uncle Lucas’s home. Benjamin is captured and
taken to a gloomy, foreboding orphanage. It is there Benjamin learns the true nature of
the plot against his family, and realizes he is the only one who can save them.
A brave escape leads Benjamin to a shipyard, where he gains passage to England. The
voyage brings new challenges, each of which Benjamin overcomes with courage and
perseverance. Adversity and danger take a back seat to Benjamin’s newfound bravery.
Little did Benjamin know, but he was a hero all along.
The world of The Bloomswell Diaries is one where thieves dwell in shadows, mechanized
Tinmen run on clockwork, and nobody is to be fully trusted. The book’s texture is
distinctly turn-of-the-century, yet imbued with a fantastic steampunk flavor. The
combination heightens the adventure, which is nonstop - every turn of the page brings
new conflicts, difficult obstacles, and challenging characters that Benjamin must defeat in
order to rescue his family. While the action is daring and exciting, it is without
unnecessary violence to make it inappropriate for younger readers.

Book Trends (September 23, 2011)
Review: Imagine your life, only two days after your parents leave you with your uncle,
you read the newspaper with a nice cup of tea and see an article about your parents' death.
This is the life of Benjamin Sebastian Bloomswell in The Bloomswell Diaries by Louis L.
Buitendag who is a great author who put many of the elements to create a great book into
The story begins in England, a nice and cozy place to relax and enjoy yourself. Ben's life
never happens to change though considering he isn't allowed to leave the house when his
parents aren't home (which they never are). His parents always have important meetings
to go to for business, ones that Benjamin cannot attend. Now, Ben's life finally has a
chance to change as he must go live with his Uncle Lucas in New York City, while his
sister Liza goes to Switzerland for a school.
Benjamin has never been separated from his sister, and the only thoughts he ever has are
about her and about his parents; he never worries about himself first. Then, one day, he
gets taken by a police officer and is thrown in a mysterious building - one without any
friendly invitation. Doors and windows are cracked and broken, there are creaky
floorboards and stair steps - all the things you need for a haunted house. When Benjamin
realizes he's in an orphanage, countless questions come to mind. How did it come to this?
Why did he have to go to New York (the only question he wonders too)? How is his
sister doing? Where is Uncle Lucas?
The Bloomswell Diaries is a book that in not only filled with suspense, but it also incudes
a little humor and plenty of imagery to make it feel like you are the main character. Once
I started reading, I just couldn't stop! The book is very well detailed, creating strong
mental images of all the places Benjamin visits throughout the book. This helps to make
the story feel more realistic and compelling. The Bloomswell Diaries is an awesome
book, and I would recommend it to any middle school reader.

Madigan Reads (November 18, 2011)

This is a fast-paced action/chase/adventure written with plenty of boy appeal. There's a
bit of mystery as Benjamin Bloomswell is left with his uncle while his parents are on a
business trip. Soon, he's shocked to discover that his parents are being reported dead in
the newspapers. As he makes his escape from an orphanage in order to reunite with his
sister, he's forced to stowaway on a ship headed from New York to Europe.
The story didn't feel as steampunkish as I expected. Except for the rarely seen mechanical
clockwork men there aren't very many sci-fi'ish touches. Benjamin hides inside one when
he's smuggling himself across international borders. This is a solidly middle-grade level
read - there's not even a hint of romance, and the main part of the story focuses on the
mystery of what's happened to Benjamin's parents. There's an almost dreamlike sense
behind the chase scenes, as Benjamin escapes from one pursuer, only to have to stay one
step ahead of another generic bad guy.
While this is an American-published book, it has the feeling of having been translated - it
feels just a touch alien, which is not at all a bad thing. Fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of
Unfortunate Events, or The Incorrigible Children of Aston Place by Maryrose Wood,
who are looking for more stories of plucky, determined orphans fighting against
conspiracies and impossible odds will enjoy The Bloomswell Diaries.

A Book and a Hug (December 2011)
Ben Bloomswell has grown up with parents who are often gone. They always come back,
but this time things are different. For starters, his parents have sent him to stay with an
uncle in America instead of having him stay in England. His sister has been sent back to
her boarding school in Switzerland as part of their parents plan to keep them safe. Ben
wakes up his first morning in the states to discover an article that claims his parents have
died. His uncle tells Ben that his parents have made enemies in their work—enemies that
would love to take Ben hostage. However, before his uncle can come up with a plan to
keep him safe, he mysteriously disappears. Pursued by men who want to kidnap him
whose motives Ben doesn’t understand, Ben escapes capture from them and their robotic
automatons that carry out the demands of the bad guys. Ben decides he must find a way
to get to Europe to protect his sister, and then together theywill search for their parents,
whom Ben feels must still be alive. This novel is full of action, and will be a hit with fans
of adventure stories. The story moves quickly and keeps readers on the edge of their seats
wondering if Ben will accomplish his goals. The one complaint is that while the
important story line is resolved, there are other unresolved plot lines at the end of the
story, guaranteeing a sequel is probably (hopefully) on its way!
Boom Bah!
Written by Phil Cummings
Illustrated by Nina Rycroft

The Horn Book Guide
An impromptu parade features high-spirited farm animals and their kitchen instruments.
Soon the whole barnyard is booming, bahing, and tra-la-la-ing. Rycroft's large, clean
pencil and watercolor illustrations are as exuberant as Cummings's bouncy rhyming text,
which, with its quick tempo, keeps the pace lively and the volume up. Grab a cup, bowl,
or whatever you can find, and join the fun.
By Susanne Gervay

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2011)
This Australian import powerfully depicts the lasting damage of third-degree burns.
Katherine, almost 18, suffers from the many aftereffects of the severe burns she sustained
as a toddler. She lives with her loving older sister, Rachel, and her slightly controlling
Italian mother. Her father, who abandoned the family shortly after Katherine’s accident,
is now trying to reestablish a relationship with them, one of many issues Katherine faces.
As she contrasts her life to that of her lovely best friend, Jessie, she deals with bullying
by a classmate, the clumsy, ambiguous romantic advances of William, the willingness of
some adults to classify her as disabled while she strives for normalcy—by relentlessly
driving herself on a swim team, for example—and, primarily, her quest to improve the
appearance of her scars. Her italicized inner monologues, contrasting with the present-
tense, third-person narration, gradually move from angry and self-pitying toward a more
mature self-acceptance, but they fail to ring true given the extremely spirited actions
she’s taken. “I’m sick of it. Unfair. Unfair. Just leave me, that’s right,” she thinks when
she arrives home to discover her mother and sister are still out. This relentless negativity
diminishes Katherine’s appeal as a character.
While vividly documenting the devastating aftereffects of severe burns, this effort never
fully captures the protagonist’s spirit, making for a frustrating, emotionally draining read.
(Fiction. 11 & up)

Booklist Online (November 28, 2011)
Most teenage girls look in the mirror and see at least one thing they’d like to change.
Katherine envies them. A horrible accident left a three-year-old Katherine severely
burned and led to a childhood of operations and pain. Now she only wants to be a normal
teenager, to date and hang out with her friends without living in the shadow of her scars.
Will one more surgery finally make her happy and beautiful? Gervay, acclaimed
Australian author of the Jack series, is recognized for her ability to highlight a tough
issue, eliminating ignorance and leaving her readers with an unforgettable impression.
Here it’s examining the pain, both physically and emotionally, that a burn victim carries
for the rest of his or her life. How Katherine has to fight the continued difficulties from
her accident to attain a life of normalcy is eye-opening. The dialogue is lyrical but at
times unconvincing as a teenage voice. Despite that, Katherine’s journey—learning
where contentment lies, and the truths she discovers—applies to us all.— Bethany Fort
Cats, Cats!
Dogs, Dogs!
By Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2011)
There's neither bark nor bite to be found in this brief ode to a toddler favorite.
Uninspired rhymes describe individual dogs' physical appearance (shaggy, little, etc.) or
their character (including stubborn, lazy or sad). Awkward phrases are expressed with a
forced exuberance, unlikely to inspire any potential canine enthusiasts. “Big dog, big dog,
what a giant you are. / You're almost as big as a little car!” A husky bulldog receives a
portrayal that's more stereotypical than original: “Fat dog, fat dog, just look at you eat / I
think you've had too many treats!” Each puppy boldly dominates its page, while visual
elements (such as a bone) extend to the facing page, where the text is placed. The
conclusion places a mirror in the center of a facial outline; the gushing voice encourages
youngsters to imagine their similarities to the pups. Static expressions keep motions
frozen in time. The uniform textual layout fails to provide enough variety to capture
young children's interest, but some examples cast a knowing wink to adult pet-owners,
who may recall familiar experiences (as when the hound trembles when the vacuum
cleaner approaches). The feline companion (Cats! Cats!) receives the same trite
Just doggone blah. (Picture book. 1-3)

Kiss the Book (October 2011)
This is a short picture book about all of the different kind of dogs. It doesn't actually talk
about dog breeds. It rhymes and has cute pictures. You read about fast dogs, lazy dogs,
shaggy dogs and more. At the back of the book, there is a mirror and you can see what
type of dog you look like.

Picture Book Reviews (September 24, 2011)
Cats can be fluffy, sneaky, angry, silly…descriptive words portray the persona of cats.
This book expresses the many personalities, emotions and traits of felines in rhyme. A
mirrored end page is a happy surprise conclusion. Simple, vibrant drawings attract the
attention of young readers. Heavy stock paperback. ♥♥♥♥

Picture Book Reviews (September 24, 2011)
The many different physical and character traits of a variety of dogs are described in
simple rhyme. Dirty, happy, lazy, pretty, shaggy, fast and more.
An easy read and enjoyable introduction to adjectives for beginners to read alone or fun
to read aloud to the very young. A reflective page at the end gives children a chance to
gaze at themselves and contemplate the traits that define themselves. Simple, colorful
cartoon drawings throughout. Heavy stock paperback. ♥♥♥♥
Chloe and Levesque: Over the Edge
Chloe and Levesque: Double Cross
Chloe and Levesque: Scared to Death
Chloe and Levesque: Break and Enter
By Norah McClintock

Reading Reviews (February 2011)
Double Cross is a book that I enjoyed a lot more than the first book in the Chloe &
Levesque Mystery series, Over the Edge. There wasn't as much teenage angst and I really
liked getting to know Chloe Yan a lot better. Again, I must repeat that even though the
series is entitled Chloe & Levesque Mystery, Chloe's step-father, Levesque, really isn't in
the book all that much. Ross Jenkins played a bigger role in this story than Levesque did.
I kind of thought that maybe some of the main character in Over the Edge would appear
in this book, but only Ross Jenkins did. Not a big loss in my mind, because this book was
much better than the first on in this series. The story was more interesting and the plot
was better developed. The character of Jonah was not very likable and I though he was a
little over the top with all of his anger issues. He never seemed to trust Chloe until the
book was nearly over. Gosh, if someone was helping me solve the murder of one of my
parents, I probably would be a little nicer to that person.
Norah McClintock has created another wonderful story in Double Cross. I really like the
main character of Chloe Yan and actually hope to learn more about her in future books.
As for Ross Jenkins, I hope that he is used more in future books and will become more of
a main character. Then there is Levesque. Someday he must learn that Chloe is pretty
good at tracking down the truth and that she needs to have some actual training. Yes, she
is only in high school, but as the Chief of Police, he should be able to teach her some
things. I also wonder why he doesn't play a larger role in these stories?
This series is intended for readers 11 and older, but I think that the true target audience is
about 14 and older. This has something to do with the subject matter, which is usually
murder, and the amount of teen angst in the stories. Still, the book has nothing bad in it
that would offend someone in fourth grade, so if a Young Reader likes a good murder
mystery, then they may really enjoy these stories.
Overall, Double Cross is an excellent tale that kept me highly involved in the reading
wondering if Chloe was going to be able to find out what really happened to Mary
Shackleton. I cannot wait to see what kind of mystery she stumbles upon in her next book
entitled Scared to Death. It sounds kind of frightening.
Book Trends (March 9, 2011)
I have read many creepy mysteries, but this is the best suspenseful mystery I have read.
Norah McClintock has succeeded in writing another gripping mystery in the Chloe &
Levesque series. The details on every page make you daydream the story in your head.
Break and Enter is a very suspenseful book because the plot makes you read all the way
to the last page to see who lives to breathe again. In this book I like how Chloe starts off
hating everyone, but her relationships with her enemies change when they start to do
things for each other. This book is special because from the first sentence the book is
interesting and many books do not get to the point until the second chapter. Norah
McClintock nailed this book with a boatload of creative writing and filled it with
suspense along the way. In my opinion, the ending was exceedingly thrilling because of
the detailed action and the dangling question of who will die next. To conclude, Break
and Enter is a book that shows you the thrills of crime and murder. This book is great for
people who like horror movies because it can create one in your head. Break and Enter
will make you want to read all the other Chloe & Levesque books as well. Norah
McClintock does a great job writing crime novels so do not read alone at home.
Review written by Ravi (6th grade student).

Kiss the Book (July 1, 2011)
Mr. Lawry has a bone to pick with Chloe and someone is using that tension to make
matters worse – going so far as to frame Chloe for murder. Add in Davis, a cocky
transplant from Toronto who hates everything about small town East Hastings, including
everything to do with the school newspaper and Chloe is not destined for an easy time.
In order to clear her name and solve the murder, Chloe will have to put herself into
danger again.

Scared to Death
Book Trends (February 4, 2011)
I think this book is an amazing story with interesting characters and ominous tension
rising throughout the book. Chloe is a smart character who is open to new ideas which, is
one of my favorite things about her. She is also the one telling the story. What I don't like
is Chloe is impatient and she likes to complain, but that is mostly shown in her thoughts
and not her conversations. Levesque is a quiet and grumpy character who is a serious
policeman. Ross, who is Chloe's friend and Jake are both suspects in the book. They both
liked Tessa and have bad alibis, which make them prime suspects. Also they are both
very hard for me to like because they are both one sided and do not listen to anybody.
The author has a wonderful use of dialogue, and the conversations reveal a lot about the
characters. The best thing about this novel is the plot which is well thought out and has a
high level of suspense. The ending wraps up the book completely making it a good stand
alone novel in the series. You get hooked right when you learn Tessa's death is not an
accident which is only right after the first chapter. I think this book is set at a medium
pace until the ending where the action rises. The paranoia looming over Chloe about
someone watching her keeps the excitement up throughout the book. I suggest this book
for middle school kids and anyone looking for a good mystery.
Kiss the Book (July 1, 2011)
Chloe is not really great friends with Tessa, so when Tessa shows up looking for
Levesque, Chloe is quick to point her at the police station and out of her life – for good,
as it turns out, because Tessa is found dead not long after. Now Chloe is on the hunt for a
murderer, but is it the on-again-off-again boyfriend or is it Ross, the editor of the school
paper and Chloe’s friend, who seems to have been seeing Tessa on the side? Or is
someone else, with a darker purpose, lurking in the wings. I have finally got my hands
on most of McClintock’s titles. She is from Canada, so we haven’t seen much of her in
the U.S. before now. Now I have 31 titles by her on my shelves – she has definitely
turned my holy trinity (Cooney, Duncan, Nixon) has now become a quartet!

Reading Reviews (August 17, 2011)
Scared to Death is another murder mystery that occurs in the small town of East Hastings,
Ontario, Canada. Chloe Yan finds herself wondering why another student at her school
has died and would like to know who is involved. Even though her step-father is chief of
police, he doesn't give her much information. He only wants her to stay out of it. In fact,
he usually keeps the details of the murder to himself, and Chloe has to do her own
investigating, which he doesn't know about. I wonder if Levesque will ever notice that
Chloe is a pretty darned good investigator.
Once again, Norah McClintock has dreamt up a nasty little murder in s a small town.
Does it matter that it takes place in Canada rather than the Untied States? No, our two
countries are pretty similar. Does it matter that Chloe is only in high school? No, she
seems to know how to discover and follow a lead. Does it matter that Chloe's step-father
is chief of police? No, he is little to no help. Police business, and all that. What matters is
that these stories are well-thought up and very well-written. Young readers will instantly
bond with Chloe Yan and become deeply involved in the stories.
What I like about the Chloe and Levesque Mysteries is that they are not gruesome. The
high school kids are well-developed and believable. I should know as I have a sixteen
year old daughter and I also work in a high school in a small town. I find that I always
look forward to picking up and starting a new book starring Chloe Yan and wonder what
kind of trouble she will find herself in. I do wonder how so many kids can be killed in
East Hastings, though, without thinking that something is seriously wrong with the town
folks. I have worked at my school for eight years and there hasn't been a single killing,
and Chloe has experienced three in nine months. That seems like an awful lot of kids
Overall, Scared to Death is another really great novel about a killing of a young girl who
was seeking out help, but didn't find it in time. I never fear that Chloe won't get to the
bottom of the mystery, even though sometimes it feels like she isn't making any headway.
So, if you are looking for a great mystery series starring high school students, pick up a
copy of this book today. You will love it.
The Church Mouse
By Graham Oakley (January 2011)
Arthur the mouse likes living in the church, and it's safe because Sampson the church cat
treats Arthur like a brother. But Arthur was lonely since there were no other mice living
there. Then Arthur gets a great idea, and the parson agrees to give it a try. So Arthur
heads into town to find other mice and invite them to live in the church with him. They
do odd jobs for the parson and in exchange the mice will be paid in the best quality
cheese. The mice love the idea and all seems to be working out quite well, until the day
Sampson falls asleep during the sermon and dreams about chasing mice. The people of
the congregation are outraged and refuse to come back until all the mice are gone, but can
Arthur and Sampson redeem themselves before it's too late? A beautifully illustrated
story about friendship and acceptance. (Ages 9-12)

Children’s Bookwatch (February 2011)
“The Church Mouse” is a quaintly charming illustrated tale about an English church
mouse named Arthur who decides, after conferring with his pastor, to invite many mice
friends to live with him in his church. The church cat, Sampson, is a gentle soul who
never threatens Arthur, and cheeses of several different types are promised for all if the
mice live up to their promise to tidy things up at the church. Unfortunately the plan works
rather too well, and the mice begin to overpopulate the church. Even Sampson, the
mouse-babysitting cat, goes on a rampage during harvest festival and chases stray mice.
But one spooky night an intruder tries to steal the church’s valuable candlesticks.
Sampson and Arthur and the mice spring into definitive action. The amazing creative
teamwork solution that is fabricated by Sampson and the many mice will keep children
laughing and giggling for days. Incredibly detailed watercolor and ink illustrations
accentuate the quirky humor always present in “The Church Mouse.” With its unusual
partnerships and unusual creative solutions, “The Church Mouse” is a must for children
ages 5-9.

The Horn Book Guide
All the denizens of that church in a busy little town, not very far away, are back--Arthur,
the original lonely church mouse, Sampson the cat, the officious schoolmouse, etc. The
cover of this reissue is different from the 1972 original, but inside can be found the same
detailed illustrations and child-appealing events (e.g., mid-sermon melees, burglars,

Through the Looking Glass Reviews (November 2011)
In a busy town, in the church, lives a mouse called Arthur. Arthur’s best friend is
Sampson, a cat who has heard so many sermons about “the meek being blessed” and
universal brotherhood, that he treats Arthur like a friend and not like a dinner on four
   Though Arthur has a good life, he is a little lonely. Then one day he gets a brilliant
idea, which the parson approves. Arthur goes into the town and he invites as many mice
as he can find to come and live in the church. The parson will pay the mice in cheese, and
in return they will do some odd jobs around the church. The town mice love this idea.
What could be better than a life in a place where there are no mouse traps and no nasty
cats or dogs or other dangers.
   The plan works very well for a while. The mice clean up the church, polish the brasses,
arrange flowers, and other chores, and in return they are fed by the parson and have a life
free of care.
   Then one Sunday Sampson falls asleep during the sermon, and when he wakes up he
discovers that he is chasing mice all over the church, causing chaos. In his dreams
Sampson dreamed that he was his former unreformed self, the self that chased mice
instead of befriending them. The people in the congregation are furious, and they demand
that the parson get rid of the mice or they will “never come back.” The parson has no
choice but to ask the mice to leave.
   In this delightful picture book, readers will see how a friendship develops between two
unlikely animals, and how that friendship is tested and saved. With wonderfully detailed
illustrations and a text that is touched with humor in all the right places, Graham Oakley
gives readers a tale that children and adults alike will enjoy sharing again and again.
Conspiracy 365: December
By Gabrielle Lord

Book Trends (December 15, 2010)
Gabrielle Lord does not disappoint in her final installment in the Conspiracy 365 series.
December is a tad longer than other books in the series, but every page is filled with one
hair-raising event after another. Readers will find their stomach in knots as they plow
through page after page of exciting plot. The book ends with a 1 ½ page epilogue. Here is
where Lord could have done more. Readers have been reading about Cal and his friends
and family for an entire year. They've become entranced by Cal's journeys and he has
nearly become "real" in their lives. A longer epilogue would have been much appreciated
as dedicated readers hate to see the year come to a close. Nevertheless, the Conspiracy
365 series will always be the first series recommended to school libraries and middle
school readers everywhere. In a world filled with technology where kids can become
absorbed so easily in Wii or Xbox, it's comforting to know that there are writers out there
who can break the mold and write a book, or even a series, that will have kids putting
away the games, shutting off the computers, and absorbing themselves in a book!
Dancing Through the Snow
By Jean Little

Jen Robinson’s Book Page (June 3, 2011)
Dancing Through the Snow is lovely, too. It's the sort of book that makes the reader think
and stop to appreciate things. It brought tears to my eyes on several occasions, and also
made me laugh out loud. It's a quiet book, set in the snow of a Canadian winter, but there
are moments of pure joy (like the one captured on the cover).
The story begins as 11-year-old Min Randall girds herself up for being rejected from her
fourth foster home, right before Christmas. Min was abandoned "in a washroom at the
Canadian National Exhibition" when she was three, and has been largely unwanted ever
since. She surrounds herself by virtual walls, and hardly ever speaks. When an
unexpected rescuer scoops her away from social services on a whim, taking her to a
warm, loving household, Min knows better than to trust her good fortune. But she can't
help having her cold heart thaw out a bit, as she spends what is for all practical purposes
her first real Christmas.
Dancing Through the Snow is about what it feels like to be abandoned, and what it feels
like to be finally wanted. It's about learning to trust, and what makes up a home. It's also
about puppies, sledding, coping with bullies, and the horror of the tsunami in Indonesia.
Dancing Through the Snow is about love and family and blueberry pancakes.
Min is a complex character, one who evokes sympathy, but is too strong to evoke pity.
Here she is:
"Min herself despised people who blubbered. Crying let your guard down and made you
easier to hurt. As the door banged shut behind the two women, Min set her jaw and sat,
waiting for the paid to come out and reveal what they had decided to with her next.
Pressing her feet flat on the floor, she reached back automatically for the comfort of her
braid. Her back was rigid, as though she had been carved out of stone like the family
downtown. Or wood maybe. A totem-pole girl. But the thick rope of hair she clutched
was warm and soft -- and hers." (Page 19)
The Canadian winter is everywhere through the text, like this:
"The doctor drove on through the late afternoon. Snow was still falling in lacy, lazy
flakes. The oncoming evening had turned their cloudy white to a soft grey. Despite the
islands of yellow light cast by the streetlamps, the dusk deepening into night was
strangely eerie and Min, peering out the window, shivered." (Page 30)
There are lots of literary references in Dancing Through the Snow, from classic to
modern. As in my first book of the day, there is a family read-aloud.
The plot in Dancing Through the Snow relies on a few coincidences, but I was willing to
set them aside to lose myself in Min's story. I can imagine re-reading Dancing Through
the Snow around Christmastime, and appreciating it even more when I know for sure how
it's going to end.
Dancing Through the Snow is a beautiful novel for middle grade readers. I know that I
had a phase in which I liked reading about orphans and foster children -- Dancing
Through the Snow should be a nice companion to The Great Gilly Hopkins, Anne of
Green Gables, The Pinballs, and the like. Highly recommended.
Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool
By Odo Hirsch

The Horn Book Guide
Four times a century, the Bell family offers gifts to the town as thanks for their
generations of great wealth. That wealth has now run nearly dry, however, so when it's
his turn, Darius's father has little to offer but a wheelbarrow of vegetables. This gentle
Australian-import parable about family history, loyalty, and pride makes for a satisfying

Politics and Prose, Holiday Favorites (December 2011)
Darius Bell’s family lives on a sprawling estate that has been in his family for over a
century. Once a generation, payment is due for the estate in the form of a gift presented to
the town, but the Bells’ money has run out and a magnificent gift is out of reach. When
an earthquake breaks open the ground in Darius’s beloved woods, Darius discovers the
Glitter Pool. Will the underground treasure help the family save its home? In Darius Bell
and the Glitter Pool (Kane/Miller, $15.99), Odo Hirsch tells a story whose sense of
wonder makes it a perfect read-aloud to share with the whole family. Ages 9-12. DMC
The Dog Who Loved Red
By Anshumani Ruddra

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
Raja, an Indian family’s dog, chews everything that’s red: shawl, shoes and socks, and he
and his friend, Champ (a Dalmatian), love playing with a red ball. When the ball becomes
lost, he goes in hot pursuit, asking the gray pigeons and the orange kitten. He spies his
red ball in Mr. Mehta’s backyard, but Mr. Mehta hates dogs—he always turns his blue
hose on them. But Raja bravely slips under the violet gate, leaps onto the green cooler,
slides under the silver car and gets it! When Raja returns home, he is covered with brown
mud, pink netting, blue cloth and a peach sock from the assortment of colored objects he
encounters in making his escape. His reward as a hero? A bath! The bright illustrations
highlight each color cited, but they appear cramped on the pages. Moreover, the scratchy
typeface often becomes lost against the backgrounds when it is placed over illustrations.
There are better picture books on color than this Indian import—the Caldecott Honor–
winning Red Sings from Treetops, by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
(2009), and the ebullient I Ain't Gonna Paint No More, by Karen Beaumont and
illustrated by David Catrow (2005), being just two. The only thing going for it is the
Indian setting and names, as well as the endearing way sausage-dog Raja wags his
tail. (Picture book. 4-7)

Biblio Reads (February 13, 2011)
Silly dog! Your little one will love the mischief Raja gets into and identifying all the
colors as they appear in the story. The ending is sure to make you chuckle.

In the Pages... (February 15, 2011)
Need another fun dog book?? This is it!! Anitha Balachandran's The Dog Who Loved
Red is one that will fit in so well with your unit on dogs, colors or just another fun read!!
Raja is a dog you can't help but love AND learn about colors at the same time.
GUARANTEED laughs and you will hear "read it again!!" :)

Pugent Sound Council for Reviewing Children’s Media (April 2011)
This exuberant story celebrates the colors in our surroundings and would be useful for
teaching younger elementary children about colors. Raja is a mischievous dog who loves
red. When he gets in trouble for chewing Mr. and Mrs. Lal’s red clothing, Tanvi takes
him to the park. In search of the red ball he and another dog like to play with, he wreaks
havoc in Mr. Mehta’s yard. On the way, he discovers wonderful colors like fuchsia and
maroon. Human and animal characters are expressively drawn, and color words are
emphasized in the text with different fonts and colors. It is also refreshing to see Indian
Americans represented.

Margo Dill’s Read These Books and Use Them (March 14, 2011)
*Picture book for preschoolers through first graders
*Cute pup as main character
*Rating: The Dog Who Loved Red is an excellent way to teach or review colors with
small children! Cute story and even cuter illustrations.
Short, short summary: Raja the dog loves red! He chews on red things in the house, and
so Tanvi takes him to the park. Raja sees his friend Champ, a Dalmatian, and they like to
play with an old, red ball together. But the ball gets lost. Of course, Raja has no problem
tracking it down because it’s red! While he is retrieving it, he runs into all sorts of colors
like a big, blue hose and a violet gate. When he comes home, he has a rainbow of colors
on him, and he gets quite a reward! (I won’t reveal it, but dogs won’t want to listen to the
last page. )
So, what do I do with this book?
1. While children are enjoying the cute story in The Dog Who Loved Red, allow them to
pick out the different colored objects that are listed in the book. For really young
children, you can ask them to pick out the object in the book and then pick out something
with the same color in the classroom or at home.
2. Raja’s favorite color is red. Make a bar graph of your students’ favorite colors once
you finish this book. Give each student a stickee note (square-shaped) and ask them to
write their favorite color on it out of the colors mentioned in the book. Across the bottom
of a chalkboard or dry-erase board, write the color words. Then ask students to bring up
their stickee notes and create a bar for each color. To do this, students “stack” their
stickee notes one on top of the other to create a bar. When the activity is over, everyone
will be able to see what the most popular color is in class.
3. As a shared writing activity, write a new ending for the book. What is a different treat
that Raja could get for finding the ball?

Booklist Online (February 14, 2011)
Nothing red is safe from Raja’s chompers. Thankfully, Tanvi, his owner, has a respite:
taking him to the park to play with his doggie friend, Champ. The problem, however, is
that their favorite red ball is missing. They ask the gray pigeons and the orange cat, but
they’re no help. “Luckily,” Balachandran writes, “Raja had red radar.” He sniffs out the
toy in mean Mr. Mehta’s backyard and sneaks through all sorts of colored objects before
dashing away with the ball and emerging from the yard a multicolored mess. The plot
moves in fits—what starts as a story about a family’s problem becomes an animals-talk-
to-other-animals tale before finally settling into the main event of the rescue mission.
Balachandran’s illustrations, however, are a jumbled, messy delight, using what looks
like colored pencils to create the endearingly lopsided, off-center world in which Raja
romps. All color words are printed in color so readers can identify similar tints in the
illustrations. The casual use of an Indian setting is also appreciated.
Kiss the Book (July 1, 2011)
Raja loves red. He loves to chew red. One of his favorite toys is a red ball that he plays
with when he’s with his friend, Champ. Champ, however, has lost his ball and needs
Raja’s help. Can Raja and Champ find the red ball?
A cute picture book with fun illustrations. The text is simple to understand, but does a
great job of telling the story. A good read aloud for young children or early readers who
like dogs and colors. PRE-K, EL(K-3).

The Education Resource Center (August 16, 2011)
The Dog Who Loved Red by Anitha Balachandran is a great book to review colors with
children while reading a fun adventure story. The story follows a dog, named Raja, who
has a sense for the color red. Raja shows the readers how he gets himself in some
precarious situations because of his love of red. He chews a red shawl and red shoes. This
all changes when his sense comes in handy when his friend, Champ, loses his red ball.
Raja asks all the other animals if they have seen Champ’s ball. Each animal that Raja
speaks with, and other details in the story, are described with a color. The text of the
color is written in the corresponding actual color. For example, when Raja speaks with
the orange kitten about the missing ball, the word “orange” is written in orange type. The
pictures also incorporate the colors into the scenery and objects discussed in the text to
represent the colors. On the page that describes the violet, the picture shows a pretty
violet gate.
Overall, I recommend the book for any elementary reader who is interested in animals
and adventure. It would be especially interesting and helpful for students who are
learning or reviewing colors. I would suggest this book for a teacher to read to his or her
class as a way of reviewing colors, but also as a book for independent readers to read on
their own. Anitha Balachandran incorporates colors into her illustrations as well as her
text to make it easy for readers to match up color words to colors.

Through the Looking Glass Reviews (September 2011)
Raja is a dog who loves red things, and whenever he can, he finds something red and he
chews it. One day Raja chews Mr. Lal’s grey and red socks and he is such a nuisance
that Tanvi decides to take Raja to the park.
  Usually Raja and his dog friend Champ play with a red ball, but today the red ball is
missing and Champ is very upset because he “can’t find it anywhere.” Raja asks the other
animals if they know where the red ball is, but none of them are helpful. Then Raja sees
the red ball lying in Mr. Mehta’s garden, which is a truly terrible thing because grumpy
Mr. Mehta hates dogs. Somehow Raja has to get the red ball back without getting caught.
  Young children are sure to enjoy this color filled picture book with its loveable main
character. Young readers will find it hard not to cheer for Raja as he does his best to
rescue the treasured red ball from the dog hating Mr. Mehta.

Paper Tigers (July 2011)
When Raja’s chewing habit puts him out of favor with her parents, Tanvi decides to take
her frisky, red-loving dog to the park. There the pair meets Raja’s Dalmatian buddy,
Champ, but the canines’ favorite (red) ball is nowhere to be found.
This second book by talented young illustrator and animator Anitha Balachandran (Mr.
Jeejeebhoy and the Birds) tells of Raja the dog’s colorful adventure to rescue his favorite
ball from the back yard of mean Mr. Mehta, the neighbor with yellow shorts, a violet
gate, a silver car, brown flowerpots, a white sheet hanging on the line, and a blue garden
hose he turns on dogs to chase them out of his yard.
Balachandran’s bright illustrations live up to her previous work in this book about color
in which each color-word is printed in ink of that color and made to stand out so that
children soon recognize not only the colors but the words for those colors as well.
Though it is a simple story that could take place anywhere, Raja and Tanvi’s world is
distinctly Indian: Raja’s first chewing casualty is Mrs. Lal’s red sari shawl, for instance.
The Dog Who Loved Red is an inviting book for young children who will relate to the
plight of naughty, messy, playful dogs and the kids who love them. The characters and
setting reflect diversity, though diversity itself is not a theme of the book, making it a fun
story for learning about color and a wonderful addition to library shelves.
Dorje’s Stripes
Written by Anshumani Ruddra
Illustrated by Gwangjo and Jung-A Park

Publisher’s Weekly (January 24, 2011)
Nestled in the Himalayas is a Buddhist monastery where monks live with a Royal Bengal
tiger named Dorje, who has an unusual characteristic: in his two years at the monastery,
he has lost all of his stripes. But when the youngest monk notices that Dorje has a new
stripe, Master Wu tells the story of how hungry, weak, and afraid Dorje was when he first
arrived. He also describes entering Dorje's dreams, where he learned that each of Dorje's
vanished stripes represented another tiger killed by hunters. Working in brilliant, seeping
watercolors, the Korean illustrating team plays up the mystical elements of the story
(Dorje almost appears to be aflame in some scenes, and they show murdered tigers
floating on small rocks against a celestial backdrop), while underscoring the dangers the
tigers face (one is shot in mid-leap, blood exploding from its chest). But the new stripe on
Dorje means he has found a female companion, bringing hope for Royal Bengal tiger
populations. A closing note about the tigers' vulnerability adds urgency to this subtle
story about preservation and survival. Ages 5–9. (Mar.)

In the Pages... (February 15, 2011)
Dorje's Stripes by Anshumani Ruddra and Illustrated by Gwangjo and Jung-a Park is the
story of Dorje - a beautiful Royal Bengal tiger - but a tiger with no stripes. What a great
multi-cultural story - Master Wu, a Buddhist monk in Tibet, tells this story about why the
tiger has no stripes and how he may yet get his stripes. I liked this - it is totally different
than other picture books and gives us a wonderful glimpse into the culture of Tibet.

Young Adult Books Central (February 15, 2011)
A Buddhist monastery in the Himayalas has a companion in its midst—a Royal Bengal
tiger named Dorje. But Dorje is unusual; he has no stripes. As the elder monk, Master
Wu, begins to tell the tale of the unmarked cat, the other monks learn why Dorje’s stripes
have vanished.
Gently and sensitively told, the fictional Dorje’s Stripes communicates the plight of the
endangered Royal Bengal tiger through Dorje’s experiences in the wild. Readers should
be aware that a bit of eastern mysticism trickles into the story as Master Wu travels into
Dorje’s dreams to learn his background.
An end note provides additional facts on the endangerment of this species.
A quiet, simple book that animal lovers will enjoy.
Biblio Reads (February 24, 2011)
Wonderful! A tale that succinctly targets the plight of the Royal Bengal Tiger in an
imaginative and magical story. Learn why Dorje has no stripes and what it means for his
kind. I loved the watercolor illustrations and the way the moods of the tiger were
captured. A touching story with real life implications that will teach young children the
importance of caring for these animals.

School Library Journal (April 2011)
Dorje is a Royal Bengal tiger. During the two years that he has lived in a small Buddhist
monastery, his stripes have disappeared, one by one. Then one day, the youngest monk
notices a new stripe. One of the elder monk’s explains that Dorje’s original home was in
a dense jungle full of beautiful tigers until men came hunting them for their skins and
sport. Every time one was killed, Dorje lost a stripe. In order to survive, he found his way
to the monastery. Now he has met a female Royal Bengal tiger in the forest and his
stripes are beginning to grow back, offering hope that the animals will survive. This
heartwarming story is enhanced by stunning watercolors that add to its peaceful tone and
suggest a quiet beauty as well as depict the actions and emotions of each character. The
last page provides facts about the survival of the Royal Bengal tigers, India’s national

Waking Brain Cells (June 21, 2011)
In a small Buddhist temple in the Himalayas, the monks have an unusual visitor, a Royal
Bengal tiger named Dorje. Dorje is very unusual himself, because his coat has no
stripes. In the two years since he arrived at the monastery, they disappeared one by one.
One evening, the youngest monk noticed that Dorje had one stripe again! One of the
monks tells the story of when he entered Dorje’s dreams and saw that as Dorje lost each
stripe, a tiger had died. Now there was a new tiger in the wilderness, a female tiger, who
seemed to have taken a liking to Dorje. Soon perhaps, his coat will fill again with stripes.
Inspired by the tragic loss of tigers in India, this story vividly tells of the loss in a way
that children will easily relate to. The story is quietly told through Dorje himself and the
voices of the monks. It is a story that speaks gently about horrors beyond children’s
comprehension, making them tangible and understandable.
Ruddra’s tone is one of respect and awe for this creature. He takes his time to tell the
story to its fullest, offering inspiration along the way. The illustrations are glowing with
bright colors that capture the coat of Dorje and the world of the monastery. The
watercolors have been allowed to bleed a bit, creating auras around things. At other
times, the painting is tight and controlled. The two play against each other, showing the
wild next to the tame.
This is a lovely and inspiring book about threatened species. It captures the plight, the
loss and the recovery in one beautiful story. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Kiss the Book (July 1, 2011)
In a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, there lives a tiger. Many years ago, a weak, near-death
tiger named Dorje appeared needing help. At first, the tiger was shy and afraid of the
people in the monastery, but, eventually, he warmed up to the monks. Over the years, as
the tiger went into the jungle, he would reappear and have less stripes on his back. Less
stripes meant that there was one less tiger in the jungle. One day, however, a stripe
reappears on the tiger’s back. Is there hope in the wild?
The text is simple and easy to understand. The illustrations are beautiful. This book
would be a good read aloud for preschoolers who like tigers. Pre-K, EL (K-3).

The Midwest Book Review (August 2011)
"Dorje's Stripes" is a book written about the Royal Bengal Tiger, the largest Asian cat,
which is vulnerable and endangered as a species. It tells the story ofDorje, a Royal
Bengal tiger without stripes who is sheltered by a monastery in the Himalayas. When
Dorje first came to the monastery, he had been very badly treated by humans, and he had
lost his stripes. A monk witnesses Dorje's anguish and decides to try to understand, help,
and comfort him by entering his dreams. He learns that Dorje is gradually witnessing the
dying out of his species. Every time a tiger dies, Dorje loses a stripe. This is what has
driven him all the way from Bengal to Tibet. But one day a monk notices a new stripe on
Dorje. He has met a female tiger and mated, and there is hope that the Royal Bengal tiger
clan may once again thrive. Beautiful watercolor, delicately tinted paintings help tell the
story of Dorje's Stripes" in an unforgettable way. Surely "Dorje's Stripes" will help to
sensitize the world to the plight of the threatened Royal Bengal Tiger and help motivate
action towards its protection as a species.

Paper Tigers (August 2011)
A small Buddhist monastery nestled in the mighty Himalayas is surrounded by a vast
forest. “Everything about the place spoke of quiet beauty,” reads the first page of Dorje’s
Stripes. Perhaps the most quietly beautiful aspect of the monastery is its most unusual
resident: a Royal Bengal Tiger named Dorje.
When Dorje arrived, Master Wu explains, he was weak and had not eaten for days. Upon
regaining his strength under the monks’ care, Dorje began hunting for himself again, but
every time he returned from the jungle, he had one less stripe. Eventually, he was left
with nothing but two little dark spots above his eyes, but this evening Cheekoo, the
youngest monk, notices that a new stripe has appeared on Dorje’s shoulders! What could
it mean?
Master Wu tells the monks that he entered Dorje’s dreams shortly after his arrival and
learned that the tiger’s clan was disappearing as a result of greedy hunters attacking tigers
for sport and also hunting their prey. The mighty cats who escaped slaughter were left to
starve. Every time one of his clan died, Dorje lost a stripe. Dorje’s new stripe fills the
monks with great hope as Master Wu reveals that he and Dorje discovered a female tiger
that morning as they walked in the forest.
A note that follows this story, beautifully illustrated in lush watercolors by the Korean
team of Gwungjo and Jung-a Park, explains the plight of the Royal Bengal Tiger, India’s
national animal. Less than 1,500 wild tigers live in the mangrove forests of the
Sundarbans in Bengal today, having been hunted from a population of more than 40,000
at the beginning of the twentieth century. This powerful and majestic animal is now one
of the Earth’s most threatened species, but the story of Dorje is one of hope. “Dorje only
knew cruel men before he met us,” explains Master Wu, but just as the tiger – and
perhaps eventually his clan – recovers under the monks’ care, so can future generations
work to change the fate of this beautiful animal.

Puget Sound Council for Reviewing Children’s Media (October 2011)
A royal Bengal tiger finds refuge in a remote Himalayan monastery in this fable
illustrated with warm impressionistic watercolors. Akin to Douglas Wood’s “Old Turtle”
and Jon Muth’s “Three Questions” this is a teaching story with meaning for wildlife
conservation and the Buddhist values of kindness and compassion. As the story is told, a
tiger “Dorje” (a name given to the “thunderbolt” of Enlightenment in Tibetan Buddhism)
arrives at the monastery emaciated and stripe-less, seeking refuge from hunting/poaching
that have decimated other tigers in his clan in Bengal. Dorje recovers from near
starvation and under the monastery’s protection regains a black stripe as a female tiger is
seen in the forest near the monastery and hope for the clan is restored. Kane Miller
publishers deserve note as they continue to provide titles of high aesthetic and lasting
value such as in this story’s gorgeous blending of artwork and story which convey deep
respect for wildlife and will engage students in consideration of a distant land and
Dying to Tell Me
By Sherryl Clark

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2011)
After moving to a rural Australian town, Sasha’s unwelcome premonitions lead her to
solve a string of art thefts while tackling her own issues.
Ever since her mum left, Sasha’s “life has turned into a huge, weird disaster area.” The
sad, anxious Sasha knows her dad’s trying hard to hold the family together. When he
accepts a police job in Manna Creek to “make a new life,” Sasha decides she’ll give
“moving to the back of nowhere” a chance, just to make him happy. Unimpressed with
the drab town, the bedraggled house behind the police station and the hostile locals who
resent the new cop’s kids, Sasha and younger brother Nicky explore with their new pet
police dog, King. Sasha’s freaked out when she finds that she and King can communicate
telepathically and even more upset when she starts dreaming about local people, past and
present, who are about to die. Is there something wrong with her? Should she tell her
father or repress everything? In an authentic first-person voice, Sasha fumes at her
missing mum, reacts negatively to Manna Creek, supports her father and brother and
conveys her fears about her telepathic powers as she leads the tense, fast-moving plot to
A stronger-than-she-realizes heroine uses her disconcerting telepathic gifts to help others
and heal herself in this satisfying adventure.

Voya (October 2011)
Following a move to a small town in the Australian bush, and a concussion from an
accidental fall, Sasha begins to develop strange mental powers that include premonitions
of deaths and the ability to talk to her new dog. Soon Sasha is embroiled in solving two
mysteries, separated by a hundred years, while trying to keep a grip on her new gift. If
this sounds like more promising ideas than can be successfully developed in a brief
novel—that is because it is.
While the early scenes of Sasha struggling with eerie sensations and images of death hold
a certain visceral power, the novel moves too quickly into using her gift to solve crimes,
especially as the crimes themselves read like police procedurals. Meanwhile, her
communication with her dog walks a strange line between humor and seriousness, as if
Clark could not decide on a tone; in the end, this whole relationship squanders its early
potential in favor of deux ex machina–like pronouncements from the dog that help solve
the mysteries. None of this is to say that the novel is without merit. Clark’s prose is
fluid—at times even mesmerizing—and the fast pace may help readers ignore the novel’s
flaws. Characterizations are brief but usually pointed. And the novel’s strengths are
similar enough to popular ESP-based novels such as Lisa McCann’s Wake (Simon Pulse,
2008) that it could easily attract a strong teen audience, especially if Clark writes a
sequel.—Mark Flowers.
Extreme Adventures, Book 1: Crocodile Attack
By Justin D’Ath

Reading Reviews (January 2010)
Crocodile Attack is a rip-roaring adventure-type book that I absolutely love. Here you
have a kid stuck in a situation that is full of deadly peril and he is able to keep his head
together. One exciting thing after another seems to happen in this story and it kept me
reading late into the night. I just couldn't put it down! I didn't want to put it down! I just
had to finish it . . . and quickly.
         Sam Fox is an interesting character that Young Readers will instantly bond with.
His main goal is to keep his two year old cousin safe from the robber, the flooded river, a
deadly snake, and hungry crocodiles. To do that, he will have to survive all of these
things himself. Oh, and don't forget all of the rain and wind that accompany and tropical
storm. Nissa is a cute little character and I loved how she called Sam, "Tam."
         I really enjoy stories that move along quickly and are filled with tense drama and
a lot of action. The first book in the Extreme Adventures series delivered just that. Justin
D'Ath has put pen to paper and created a series that I know I am going to fully enjoy. I
was already thinking about the second book while I was reading this one. All I know is
that I cannot wait to start the next book.
         Boys will really enjoy this series. Girls who like a lot of action will enjoy it too.
After all, the series is called "Extreme Adventures." I can tell you that the story is quite
extreme and the book is stuffed full of adventure and dangerous situations. Anyone out
there that is an adrenaline junkie will love this book.
         Overall, Crocodile Attack is an excellent book that will keep a reader flipping
pages while the find themselves immersed into this wild and crazy story. Like I said
earlier, I cannot wait to see what happen with Sam Fox in his next adventure. The book is
entitled Bushfire Rescue.
Extreme Adventures, Book 3: Shark Bait
By Justin D’Ath
Reading Review (April 3, 2011)
Shark Bait is another very exciting book in the Extreme Adventures series starring Sam
Fox, an Austrian boy. Sam never looks for trouble . . . trouble just seems to find him.
This time, Sam must survive the night floating in the warm ocean waters with a young
Japanese boy that doesn't speak or understand English. They survive sharks, sea snakes,
nearly drowning, and then end up battling animal poachers. There is no way that I would
want to spend the night suspended in the water with predators swimming all around me.
That would scare the bejeezus out of me. Both of these boys are brave, very brave indeed.
        Once again, Justin D'Ath has put pen to paper and created another fun-filled,
action-packed, wet adventure for us to read. As with all the books in the series, the quick
paced of the story keeps the reader highly involved, biting their nails and they witness
Sam escape from each harrowing situation. This is the kind of books that boys absolutely
love, and possibly girls too. This is action to the maximum!
        I realize that these books are meant for Young Readers ages 9 and older, but I
really love reading them also. They are a very quick read for me, but I find that the books
always satisfy my need for action and suspense, just like the series Conspiracy 365. I
have become an action junkie because of these two wonderful series and I find myself
wanting more and more. All I can say is, "Bring it on, Kane Miller!" I'll be ready for
more of these types of books anytime.
        Overall, Shark Bait is a great story that will keep Young Readers glued to the
pages. The action is plenty and I found myself floating in the open water with the boys
sharing the danger with them. I look forward to seeing what kind of sticky situations Sam
Fox finds himself in during his next adventure in Scorpion Sting. That sure sounds
Extreme Adventures, Book 6: Man-Eater
By Justin D’Ath

Book Trends (March 4, 2011)
I love Man-Eater. What I like about this book is as quickly as in the fourth paragraph
action and problems start stirring up. This means the reader doesn't need to read a chapter
all about the character or background before getting to the action. Also, Man-Eater
includes multiple facts about the animals Sam goes against in the text. " It was a honey
badger… they are the meanest animals in the world. Even though they're no bigger than
corgis, honey badgers have been known to chase lions from their kills." I love this
because not only am I reading a fiction adventure story, but I'm also learning some
information from it. Next, I love the creative solutions the author thought of to get Sam
out of trouble. I would never have thought of doing what Sam does for a solution to some
of the situations. This is a fantastic book that anyone would enjoy reading.
I rate Man-Eater with five stars.
Extreme Adventures, Book 5: Spider Bite
By Justin D’Ath

Book Trends (March 7, 2011)
Around the first few pages I was already hooked. My excitement filled my own body
with anticipation. The hurry and tension got higher and higher with each page, and the
better it got the faster I read so I was reading pretty fast and I was kind of disappointed
when I was done. The ending made me want to read more and see if the brothers ever get
reunited. The genre is realistic fiction because this could have happened to anybody in
Australia. Sam demonstrated good inferring and thinking skills. Sam's main goal was to
land until Jordan got bitten and changed course for the hospital. Next chance I get, I am
getting the next book in the Extreme Adventure series.

Reading Review (August 2011)
Spider Bite is yet again another very exciting book in the Extreme Adventures series by
 Justin D'Ath. This book is packed with adrenaline-pumping events that will leave the
reader breathless as the action unfolds before their eyes. Poor Sam . . . he always seems
to find himself in very dangerous situations. The good news for us is that these
circumstances are very thrilling and we get to go along for the ride safely from wherever
we are reading these books.
I really enjoy the Extreme Adventures books and always know that when I pick up one of
these books, I am prepared for a roller coaster ride of a story. In this story, Sam must not
only deal with being stuck in a hot air balloon and not knowing how to pilot it, but a sick
brother who will die in less than 24 hours unless he is treated. Oh yeah, we cannot forget
about the zoo and all the wild animals in there that he has to face, like bears, lions,
snakes, and more. Now this is what I call a breathtaking adventure.
Justin D'Ath is a master at writing stories that will keep the reader sitting on the edge of
their chair. The action is non-stop and the tenseness in the book will leave the reader's
heartbeat pumping hard as they gobble up the pages following Sam though all of the
traumatizing events. Young Readers, especially boys, will love Sam Fox and wish that
this could be happening to them. I highly recommend the Extreme Adventures series to
all readers who love a fast-paced story chocked full of action and adventure.
Overall, Spider Bite is another excellent story that made me bite off all my fingernails as
Sam successfully navigated one exciting challenge after another. I cannot wait to see
what happens in his next book entitled, Man-Eater. Uh oh, that sure doesn't sound very
From Pie Town to Yum Yum
Written by Debbie Herman
Illustrated by Linda Sarah Goldman

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2011)
You don’t have to be a geographer (or a toponymist, to get really specific) to take
pleasure in odd place names, and there are far too few gazetteers out there for a new one
to come amiss.
Herman’s contribution, then, is welcome, despite its weaknesses. First the strengths:
Herman proceeds alphabetically by state, focusing on one curious place name and
providing an explanation of its origin (or multiple possible explanations). Another dozen
or so humorous place names are noted (with a few given very brief expository treatment),
and a number of unusual state facts are delivered. Well and good, but this material, which
can easily stand on its own, is bedeviled by a near-desperate striving for laughs. Not
content to let the strange place names pull their comic weight, Herman douses them with
corniness and puns and running jokes and enough exclamation marks to curl a Monkey’s
Eyebrow (that’s in Kentucky). Another weakness is the artwork. Maps are a hotbed for
artistic expression, but—except for the cover, which allows for color—Goldman’s maps
feel anemic (the place names under discussion are not located on her state maps),
scratchy and overly whimsical, with accompanying line drawings that are arbitrary or in
anxiously eccentric pursuit of yet more mirth.
Still, there is a bedrock of toponymic glory here, certainly enough to make some readers
fall in love with geography.

NC Teacher Stuff (August 15, 2011)
From Pie Town to Yum Yum is a book that illustrates why I love nonfiction. It is indeed
stranger than fiction. With this book, you have an entree of fascinating facts with two
sides of weirdness and humor. Top it off with a dessert of comedic illustrations and this
makes for a great read. Debbie Herman starts off with an explanation of toponymy, which
is the study of place names. Knowing the history behind a town name can help you get a
sense of the local culture. After the foreword, each of the fifty states (from Scratch Ankle,
Alabama to Hole-In-The-Wall, Wyoming) is represented by a two page spread with a
paragraph about the unique town featured on the left. The right side has a list of other
intriguing town names in the featured state along with information about state geography,
history, and destinations to visit on a road trip. My fair state is represented by the town of
Bat Cave which is located in the mountains. The irony is that Bat Cave is not far from
Transylvania County and when the fog gets thick, it can get quite spooky.
Students in your home state will enjoy finding out which towns they have visited and
trying to decide which town name is their favorite. I would also ask them to create a
name for a town and explain why they made this selection. Books like From Pie Town to
Yum Yum can serve as a gateway to getting students interested in history. The sense of
humor in the text and illustrations will keep them engaged and perhaps they will be
prompted to do research on their own. If there is a volume two of this book, I'm
nominating Lizard Lick for the North Carolina section.

Publishers Weekly (August 22, 2011)
Ever heard of Witch Island, Maine, or Hot Coffee, Miss.? Readers are introduced to these
surprising locations and many more in a quirky but educational guide. With a light touch
and plenty of puns, Herman moves alphabetically through the states, exploring the origin
of one town in each, while providing intriguing snippets of U.S. history. Though the
explanations are often more pedestrian than the names --- Disco, Ill., derives from the
“discus-shaped valley” in which the town resides, and Home, Kans., was named after the
post office – trivia hunters ought to enjoys the book’s irreverent spirit, echoed by
Goldman’s energetic pen-and-ink cartoons.

Reading to Know (September 19, 2011)
Our travels for the fall are not over yet. We're not really the type to take a lot of summer
vacations because we're not bound by school schedules (as of yet.) We really are
enjoying the freedom and flexibility to explore when everyone else is in school so that we
can avoid crowds and the-height-of-vacation-season-traveling-costs. It IS fun to travel
(more so once the children are all sleeping through the night.) I think I like to travel more
in my head than in actuality at the moment (Diapers? Check! white noise maker?
Whoops! Forgot to pack that!) but it's fun to dream and plan for the future.
One book that makes the idea of traveling (and getting to know the United States a bit
better!) is From Pie Town to Yum Yum. (It's also just a fun fact book for geography buffs
or people with a decent sense of humor.)
From Pie Town to Yum Yum explores the wacky names that exist for towns and cities
through the United States. Like, for instance: Boring, Oregon. Or what about Oddville,
Kentucky? Wynot, Nebraska? Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Where are these
cities and how exactly did they come by their rather unusual names? Well, this book will
help answer those questions! (I like trivia books about odd and strange things.)
This book takes you alphabetically through the states, pointing out odd names for towns
and cities, and giving you a brief history of how each one received its name. It is filled
with cartoons to illustrate absurdities and, of course, maps to show you where everything
is located. It's a curiously clever book, new from Kane Miller, and caught my attention in
their new release line-up. It's just plain awesome, that's what! Definitely not Dull Center,
Wyoming. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.) Just plain good fun in a crazy sort of way, leaving
you wondering about the people who named these places!
If you're curious - take a peek! And next time you find yourself on a road trip you might
want to jot down the names of the towns you pass through. It's a crazy world out there!
Booklist Online (October 5, 2011)
From Scratch Ankle, Alabama, to Hole in the Wall, Wyoming, Herman takes readers on a
state-by-state tour that highlights many of our country’s funnier toponymic towns and
byways. Along with explaining or (since history is often silent on the details) speculating
about the origins of a highlighted hamlet’s moniker, the author lists a dozen or so other
oddball place-names for each state and adds a more sober-sided column of straight facts
and prominent events or locales worth visiting. In multiple free-spirited, freehand pen-
and-ink vignettes on each spread, Goldman takes several names and runs with them—
creating fanciful landscapes, hilarious signs, small animal or human figures making bad
jokes (“Do you think the Pumpkintown Pumpkin Festival has squash tournaments?” “Are
you out of your gourd?”), and loose but recognizable maps. A Stopover (KY) with this
Jolly (GA, TX) Outing (MN) will leave Only (TN) a few readers finding their own Sweet
Home (AK, OR) Odd (WV) or Gross (NE). A Liberal (KS) resource list makes this even
more Ideal (SD) for any Library (PA).
The Garden of Empress Cassia
By Gabrielle Wang

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2011)
Using a box of enchanted pastels, 12-year-old Chinese-Australian Mimi Lu creates a
fantasy garden with supernatural properties.
Mimi’s relationship with her parents is frustratingly superficial, until her father leaves to
attend his dying brother. Oblivious to the bullying she faces at school, he pressures her
only to succeed. After her art teacher recognizes her talent and pain and gives her the
ancient pastels of Chinese Empress Cassia, she immerses herself in drawing a beautiful
garden on the sidewalk. Those in emotional pain can magically step into the garden and
be healed. Working together, Mimi and her mother offer tea to the crowd that forms
around the garden, shared work resolving their emotional distance. But Mimi’s worst
bully steals the pastels, potentially deadly in the wrong hands, and she must try to get
them back. Partly because of this Australian import’s sheer brevity, only Mimi springs to
life. Other characters are nearly colorless, and often stereotypical. While the bicultural
issues Mimi faces offer a rich canvas for potential exploration—never fully developed—
resolution of her problems comes too readily and predictably. Tiny, attractive pencil
sketches begin each chapter, but don’t add measurably to the presentation.
Hinting of a spell of unearthly enchantment with its mystical healing garden and the
good-hearted artist that creates it, this effort offers promise but ultimately is more
charcoal sketch than pastel panorama. (Magical realism. 9-12)
A Garden for Pig
Written by Kathryn K Thurman
Illustrated by Lindsay Ward (January 2011)
Pig likes apples, but he's just tired of eating them all the time. He has apples for
breakfast, lunch, and dinner day after day. Pig wants something different, like vegetables!
So Pig jumps in the garden and tries to find something different to eat, but Mrs. Pippins
ties Pig up so he can't dig around in her garden anymore. But Pigs wish for vegetables
comes true in a way he didn't expect. (Ages 4-8)

Kids Lit (January 27, 2011)
Pig lives on an apple farm where they grow lots and lots of apples. And what does Pig
get to eat? Apples, apples, and more apples. Mrs. Pippins owns the farm and she makes
all sorts of apple dishes for pig to eat, but he is sick of apples all the time. What he really
wants to eat are vegetables! So Pig breaks into the vegetable patch and begins gulping
down squash, seeds and all. When Mrs. Pippin finds him in the garden, she is not happy.
She ties Pig up. When she catches him trying to break the rope, she shuts him in his pen.
Though Pig tries to escape, he can’t. But he is determined not to eat any more apples!
Pig notices the next day that his pen looks a lot like a garden. And after digesting the
squash, he has the seeds he needs to make one.
Thurman’s words are simple and have a jaunty rhythm to them. There are wonderful
sounds woven into the book that children will enjoy mimicking. Pig’s determination and
tenacity as well as his creative solution to the problem add to the appeal.
Ward’s collage and cut paper illustrations have a warmth to them. This is accentuated by
the use of fabrics that offer a texture to the images. In the apple orchard, there are words
on the paper that make up the leaves: apple recipes. The illustrations are large enough to
read to a group. And goodness knows, the poop event at the end will be a hit!
A friendly and warm introduction to gardening in an organic way, this book is a happy
addition to gardening story times. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

The Horn Book Guide
Pig, bored with the apples that farmer Mrs. Pippin provides, gobbles up the vegetable
garden, then wishes he had vegetable seeds to plant. Luckily, when nature calls, "Ploop!
Out come the seeds!" Pig, with his patch of brown over one eye, and farmer Mrs. Pippin,
with her sticklike legs in wellies, make an endearing pair. Lots of organic gardening
advice is appended.
The Gobble Gobble Mooooooo Tractor Book
By Jez Alborough

The Children’s Bookwatch, Reviewer’s Bookshelf (January 2011)
When the humans sleep, the animals get their fun in. "The Gobble Gobble Moooooo
Tractor Book" is an entertaining and short story surrounding Farmer Dougal's tractor and
his barnyard animals who decide that the tractor can be a good source of fun and
entertainment for them. With full color art and story by Jez Alborough, "The Gobble
Gobble Moooooo Tractor Book" is going to give more than enough enjoyment for young
elementary readers, highly recommended.

The Children’s Bookwatch, The Preschool Shelf (January 2011)
"The Gobble Gobble Moooooo Tractor Book" is a lusty, noisy, merry farm animals'
sounds story that will charm children ages 2-6. Farmer Dougal is sleeping late, so all the
animals pretend to mimic the sound the tractor makes when he turns the engine on. For
some reason, the tractor sounds come out a little different from each animal. For the
sheep, it baaaas, for the cat, it purrrs, and for the turkey, it gobble gobbles! Will Farmer
Dougal ever wake up? What if the animals manage to make the tractor go? Children will
love the colorful foldout illustrations and the wildly funny sounds from all the different
animals. "The Gobble Gobble Mooooooo Tractor Book" is a delightful experience for
preschool children to read and love.

The Horn Book Guide
Some farm animals re-create a tractor's sounds (e.g., rumbles, honks) with their own
baas, moos, etc.--until Farmer Dougal awakens, convinced that someone is stealing his
wheels. The littlest listeners and readers will be in hog heaven with the abundant imitable
animal sounds and the mischief-spiked barnyard-set illustrations.
Hannah Duck
By Anji Yamamura

Through the Looking Glass (June 2, 2011)
For six days a week Hannah Duck is “peaceful and content,” staying at home with Gigi
the parakeet and KameKame the turtle. On Sundays Hannah goes for a walk and this
makes her very anxious and worried. Every Sunday she looks through the park gate, and
every Sunday she turns around and goes back home. She just can’t make herself walk
through the gate into the unknown.
   Every Sunday Gigi and KameKame ask Hannah how her walk went and Hannah
pretends that everything went well and that she had a good time. Then one Sunday
Hannah decides to come clean. She tells her friends that she doesn’t like her Sunday
walks because they scare her. When he hears this, Gigi offers to go with Hannah. Perhaps
if she has a friend with her, she will not be so frightened to try something new.
   Going someplace that is unfamiliar makes many people feel anxious and unsure. Often
they avoid going someplace simply because they are afraid of it. In this book, Anji
Yamamura addresses this issue with sensitivity and warmth, showing young readers how
rewarding it is to overcome your fear of the unknown. After all, you may discover
something that will make your life happier and richer. She also celebrates the power of
friendship, showing to great effect how friends can help one do things that are seemingly
A Hockey Story
By Richard Torrey
Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2011)
Young Joey has a case of the belly butterflies on his first morning with his new hockey
What if everybody else is better than him or the coach is mean or no one talks to him or
he has to go to the bathroom? “My stomach hurts.” But he starts to gather himself by
getting suited up (the soothing presence of his parents helps, too). Sure, he puts his gloves
on first, which doesn’t work, and he gets his skates on the wrong feet, which doesn’t
work either, but the other kids are all nervous and fumbling, so he’s just part of the gang.
Then he hits the ice, and things click: a nice pass, a goal, a high five. Though Torrey’s
artwork is all delicate lines and generally light washes of color, it conveys the angst and
the action with notable success. What he catches so well are the flutters and
apprehensions, which are instantly recognizable for anyone who has ever experienced the
joining a new team. And satisfying indeed is the message sent by the new coach: “He
says if we always try our hardest, we’ll get better every time we play. But mostly he tells
us to have fun.” No nutty hockey dads need apply.
A welcome, salutary message all around. (Picture book. 4-8)
Hush, Little Beachcomber
Written by Dianne Moritz
Illustrated by Holly McGee

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
“Hush, Little Baby” receives a bright makeover, with seagulls and sand pies replacing
mockingbirds and diamond rings. Repetitive phrases may mirror the soothing lullaby's
format, but this blissful beach day opens with a more enthusiastic call for action. “Hey,
little beachcomber, what do you say? / Let's take a trip to the beach today!” The
possibilities appear endless, as various families and friends bask in the sun and ride the
waves. The cheerful voice remains optimistic throughout. Whether the picnic overflows
with food or birds scrounge for tasty treats, there’s always another way to enjoy the warm
weather. The lilting text naturally progresses through each experience. An upbeat
resolution concludes the outdoor outing. Pastel spreads flash with smudges of golden
color, with their hazy hues dominating each page, the brief rhyming text highlighting
each featured activity. Thick strokes convey the water’s intensity, while squiggled lines
shade in each face. Clean white edges maintain the focus on the energetic pictures within.
The absence of concrete borders allows the soft shades to ebb and flow, resembling the
ocean’s calming crash. Overall, a fresh take on the joys of the salty sea. (Picture book. 2-

In the Pages... (February 15, 2011)
Hush, Little Beachcomber by Dianne Moritz and illustrated by Holly McGee is a fun
picture book set at the beach and read to the tune of "Hush, Little Baby" - yep, this one is
clever and fun! My girls loved it - and they joined right in to sing along because they are
already familiar with "Hush, Little Baby". This one would be so great with a beach unit
or story hour.

Biblio Reads (February 27, 2011)
Have fun singing this book to your little one to the tune of Hush, Little Baby. Each
illustration shows what fun can be had at the beach and all the many people and children
that can be found there, too. I think the fact that you can sing this one will appeal to ages
2-5 and make this a go to book for fun.
Booklist (May 1, 2011)
The song “Hush, Little Baby” goes on vacation as it moves to the beach. Here, a
multicultural cast of characters makes its way to the seaside. Some kids “don’t say a
word” and then “sit and watch that small shore bird.” And if that shore bird runs away?
“Let’s wade out in the cool sea spray.” The pencil-and-wash artwork takes on the look
and feel of children’s own pictures, yet there is no doubt this is done by a practiced hand.
Portraying adults and children of many ethnicities having an outing, this should have
wide appeal. The song is not referenced anywhere except in the title, so even those
familiar with it may not realize at first that this is an homage. Once they do, it will be
easy to put the nicely scanning lines within the framework of the familiar melody. Those
not wishing to actually sing will certainly have a lilt to their reading.

Meridian Magazine (June 16, 2011)
Hush Little Beachcomber, by Dianne Moritz, and illustrated by Holly McGee, is a
delightful take on the children’s rhyming song titled “Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a
Word.” This little tyke is going to the beach where the sandcastles, waves, picnics and
much more are waiting. So what are you waiting for? The wonderful blended chalk and
paint seem to ebb and flow with the surrounding water. This book captures all that waits
at the beach!
I Can Say Please
I Can Say Thank You
By Tamsin Ainslie

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2011)
An Australian import tackles manners for the very young.
A little girl takes her stuffed cat and rabbit, along with her pet hedgehog, on an idyllic
picnic. Each double-page spread sets up a statement or question (“Would you like to hold
my hand?") that advances the day's events with an accompanied, expected answer ("Yes,
please!"). Brief phrases in direct, appropriate language serve each natural page turn.
Though the "Yes, please!" response never changes, the toys and youngster take turns
directing and accepting requests. A soft sweetness—there's no hint of saccharine—
nurtures the child's maturing independence as she organizes the festivities with absolutely
no adult involvement (or any conflict to be seen). Respectful conversations between the
preschooler and her friends appear fresh and unforced. The playthings' full-force
involvement sets the creative stage; her dressed pals rifle through the basket, nibble on
sandwiches and dip their toes in the water. Minimal backgrounds and pastel borders keep
the focus on the action at hand. Slight alterations to facial expressions highlight a quiet
reflection. A companion piece, I Can Say Thank You, follows a similar route as the
friends explore their surroundings.
A wholesome, pleasant demonstration of politeness for toddlers just discovering the joys
of imaginative play. (Picture book. 1-3)

Kiss the Book (October 2011)
Back cover: “Learning to say thank you has never been such a delight!” This is another
incredible book by Ainslie. There are few words, but the pictures tell all. We spent a lot
of time studying and enjoying every page- just as we have her other books. The
illustrations are incredible. This book could be used in a unit on manners.

Kiss the Book (October 2011)
Back cover: “Learning to say please has never been so much fun!” This is another
incredible book by Ainslie. There are few words, but the pictures tell all. We spent a lot
of time studying and enjoying every page. The illustrations are incredible. This book
could be used in a unit on manners.
I Lost My Mobile at the Mall
By Wendy Harmer

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children (January 22, 2010)
Elly Pickering’s parents demonstrated the expected level of anger and frustration when
Elly lost her cell phone for the third time, this time at the mall. With the economy going
through adjustments due to the global financial crisis, her mom and dad both agreed they
would not pay for another replacement. Mom worked as an events planner for clients
who had begun to scale back, and Dad worked as a driver for a courier truck company
that was close to laying off
        With the household budget getting tighter, her parents suggested that Elly try to
find a part-time job and save up for a new phone; in the meantime, going without her cell
phone might do Elly some good. Elly, however, thought differently. She was completely
hooked on her cell phone and computer for having constant access to her friends and her
gorgeous boyfriend Will.
Yet when a series of on-line picture and comment postings started to spiral out of control,
Elly had to wonder about the degree to which technological devices could have prevented
or actually caused these problems.
        With the global financial crisis serving as the background setting, this young adult
novel encourages readers to think about changes in spending priorities for families
experiencing more stringent budget constraints and the threat of job loss. The book has
another prominent theme, cyberbullying, which has gained increasing media attention.
Because the story is rooted in humor and teenage angst, it will attract readers who might
otherwise avoid a novel about these serious topics.

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2011)
The title says it all: Losing her cell phone triggers a cascade of ever-widening techno-
disasters for Elly Pickering, the book’s high-functioning Aussie protagonist. Next, her
BFF Bianca’s boyfriend, Jai—not an Elly fan—posts unattractive photos of Elly on
FacePlace, and Elly’s loyal sister, Tilly, hatches a scheme to pay Jai back. This goes
horribly wrong, leading to a rift between Elly and Will, her strong, silent, surfer
boyfriend. Elly’s parents berate her for losing her mobile, but they also are techno-
dependent, as becomes all too clear when the family home is burglarized. Photos,
correspondence and study notes vanish, revealing the truth that text messages and email
are ephemeral and hardware-reliant, unlike the cherished letters from Elly’s grandfather
to her grandmother, carefully preserved for 50 years. As Elly adjusts to her technical
deprivation, she discovers the pleasures of paying attention to one thing at a time; could
multitasking be overrated? The story clearly wants readers to consider whether we really
want to make our distracted, fleeting lives move even faster. Readers don't linger in
philosophical territory, though. Technology’s role in complicating our lives is the story’s
engine, but the power of love and friendship to get us through the ensuing mayhem is its
heart. The net result is an entertaining, thought-provoking read. (Fiction. 11 & up)

Coffee for the Brain (February 21, 2011)
This is the perfect book for teenage girls. That is all I kept thinking about while reading
this novel. I told my daughter if you were a teenager this would be the book for you. Elly,
the main character cracks me up. She is real, she is authentic. What I liked about her was
the fact that you gained the sense of drama that comes with growing up, but it was not
whiny drama. She is in love, she has friends, she wants to fit in, but when her phones
turns up lost everything falls apart.
I found this to be quite a humorous story. I laughed quite a few times throughout the
story. I also liked the message of the story. It opened up my eyes when I started to think
about how kids today probably don't have letters that they write back and forth anymore
like we used to. They don't write letters and send in the mail. There is something so
personal and powerful in receiving a letter that these kids are missing out on. It has
caused me to think about writing more letters from now on.
I hope to read more from this author as I think she has done a good job with her novel.
Being that it was written in Australia I learned a few things. One, they don't call 911 for
an emergency, but they dial 000. That is crazy! I also learned a whole new language of
text messages. Some of the phrases I had to look up to see what they stood for. Another
sign I am getting old.
This book contains a great message, how to cope without technology. It addresses the
realistic thoughts of a teenagers as their brains are filled with ADHD as they bounce
around from being mad at mom, to sarcastic remarks, feeling hunger, and then wondering
about the weather all at the same time.

I Lost My Mobile at the Mall
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (April 2011)
Fifteen-year-old Elly has lost her third cell phone, and she’s sure this time she faces
certain death at the hands of just about everyone: her parents; her best frenemy, Bianca;
and her boyfriend, Will, because along with her phone, she lost a ring that he gave her.
Since she has no landline, either, she’s cut off from everyone and can’t even report her
phone missing. Her technology crisis is about to get a whole lot worse, though. She learns
that Bianca’s boyfriend has posted a page of embarrassing pictures of her on FacePlace,
she sees online pictures of her beloved boyfriend in a compromising photo with another
girl, she herself posts pictures of Will in a fit of break-up revenge, and then all of her
family’s computers are stolen while they are out. Now she’s completely cut off from
everyone and can’t undo the damage until she finally finds Will face-to-face and learns,
in classic rom-com fashion, that it’s all been a terrible misunderstanding. The plot is
contrived and predictable, and characterization can be stock: Will, for instance, is an
Aussie dream, an achingly cute surfer dude with a heart of gold who worships the ground
she walks on almost as much as he worships the waves. Elly’s voice, though, effectively
evinces the constant edge of hysteria one would expect in a comedy of errors such as this,
with a distinctive Aussie twist. She presents as an utterly typical fifteen-year-old fully
dependent on her devices, full of exasperated impatience at her parental lectures on
financial responsibility and what it was like before computers and cell phones even as she
is forced to assent to some of their points when technology threatens to wreck her life.
The combination of storybook romance and exaggerated comedy sweetens what is
ultimately a light-hearted cautionary tale that makes its point without asking anyone to
take it too seriously. KC

Book Trends (March 2, 2011)
All in all, Wendy Harmer did a great job in I Lost My Mobile at the Mall. Not only does
she sound exactly like a teenager herself but throughout the entire book I found myself
laughing, crying, and agreeing to everything that Elly goes through. The
misunderstandings of parents with teenagers' technology, the mishaps with best friends,
and going for two weeks without your mobile! This book is so amazing that I found
myself dreading the end of it. On the author's information on the back of the book, it says
that this book is the first book that Wendy Harmer has written for teenagers. I hope it
won't be her last! One thing that attracted me to the book was the word "mobile". I knew
it was the practical way of saying "cell", but I didn't know who used that word! When I
learned that the book took place in Australia, then I knew, and as a result I really wanted
to read it because everything about Australia is something that just catches my attention. I
hope that Wendy Harmer wins an award for her book, because I certainly think she
deserves it. This book is so interesting…so different. I have never really read a book
before that connects with a teenage girls' mind and life so well. I felt as if some of the
experiences that I have faced were in the book as well. I finished this book in a matter of
three days…that is how much I loved it. I don't think any other rating of stars or reviews
could cover my feelings for this book. As a young readers request, I ask Wendy Harmer
Review written by Amber (6th grade student).

Books YA Love (November 11, 2011)
When she loses her cellphone at the mall (again), Elly can’t even report it missing until
her Mum gets home from some fancy event she’s organizing - no landline at home, of
course. When her parents refuse to buy Elly another cellphone, she finds herself
completely out of the loop, unable to text her friends or send photos or talk to her cute
surfer boyfriend. Time slows down to a crawl with every minute that she’s out of
Not that life in Oldcastle is at all exciting. Everything in their Australian coastal town has
a British name – the shops, the pubs, even Elly and her sister and her parents and her
pets! With the Pickering family coat of arms hanging on the bathroom wall, who can take
all this seriously? Now, not having a cellphone in ninth grade – that’s serious! She can’t
even talk to her best friend about it – no mobile phone means no calls to far-off
Queensland where Carmelita moved last year.
When the family’s home computers are stolen, Elly feels fully cut off from everyone as
planning for the ninth grade dance goes into overdrive.
Why do her big sister’s new silver sandals fit Elly better than they fit Tilly? What is
boyfriend Will doing in that photo on Bianca’s phone? Does her grandmother really want
to learn how to use a computer? When will Carmelita’s advice letter arrive? And where’s
the Post Office anyway?
Australian comedienne Wendy Harmer’s first book for young adults brings the
effervescent Elly to life as a “teen on the edge of technological breakdown.” (One of
5,000 books recommended on
I Love Words
By Françoize Boucher,

School Library Journal (October 2011)
Designed as an individual activity book, this oversize paperback doubles as a source for
classroom wordplay with riddles and secret codes. Simple two-color line drawings and
hand-written text have the feel of a child’s personal effort, but the charts are easily
adapted for board work. Helpful for quick fill-in lessons.
It’s Almost Time
Written by Debbie Bernstein LaCroix
Illustrated by Sarah Chalek

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2011)
The chiming, booming, cuckooing and ticking noises of various clocks are celebrated in
this enthusiastic, though flawed and poorly titled outing.
A gently anthropomorphized horse and blue jay eagerly await the stroke of 12, killing
time by listening to the various sounds of the clocks that surround them: “Thump, thump,
thump, thump, / a giant clock ticks. / Tickety-tockety, / Tickety-tockety, / a smaller clock
clicks.” Once the clocks read noon, LaCroix drops the rhyming verses to describe in
detail the sound of each clock’s chiming, using excellent verb and adverb choices to
“play” the sound for readers: “Bum, bum, bum, bummmm, serenades the anniversary
clock sweetly.” Chalek’s paintings provide vital clues to readers, who may not be
familiar with the wide variety of clocks presented in the text. Unfortunately, she makes
one large misstep, as she matches the text “one minute to cuckoo” with an image of a
clock whose hands point to 11:48. Otherwise, the horse and blue jay display quite a bit of
enthusiasm for their collection of clocks, reacting appropriately to each of their sounds—
annoyed at the alarm clocks, soothed by the baby’s clock, which plays a tune.
Clock lovers may appreciate this, but others may simply want back the time they spent
reading it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Picture Book Reviews (September 24, 2011)
Pocket watches, cuckoo clocks, wrist watches, pendulum clocks, anniversary clocks,
alarm clocks, digital clocks and grandfather clocks all keep time together for a superior
build-up of the passing of the minutes in anticipation of a simultaneous chime to ring in
the new hour.
I remember the grandmother clock (daintier than a grandfather clock) in our childhood
home with a small chime to mark every quarter of the hour and a glorious, church-like
chime to celebrate the beginning of a new hour. My sisters and I often ran to the clock so
we didn’t miss the soothing sounds. It remains a beautiful memory. How wonderful that
Debbie Bernstein LaCroix has chosen to elaborate on this exciting, often overlooked
experience. Sarah Chalek’s vibrant artwork nearly lifts off the pages and you practically
hear the ticking, alarms and chimes. ♥♥♥♥♥
Boro Magazine (October 17, 2011)
The best children’s books aren’t just for kids. It’s Almost Time – written by Debbie
Bernstein LaCroix and illustrated by Astoria’s own Sarah Chalek – is a prime example of
this sentiment, with its worldly knowledge translated into unassuming, rhythmic language
and dynamic illustrations.
   Boasting a fresh take on age-old wisdom and brilliantly colorful artwork, It’s Almost
Time is a story sure to engage audiences both young and old.
  The story features two main characters, a horse and a blue jay, who meander as friends
through the sights and sounds of clocks and the passage of time. Each page is vibrantly
colored, with Chalek’s illustrations bringing both characters to life through loveable
expressions and meaningful subtleties. The text is loaded with onomatopoeia that drive
the story forward effortlessly while capturing the reader in a world full of sound.
   It’s Almost Time is published by Kane Miller, A Division of EDC Publishing, and is
available online or at most major bookstores. Sarah Chalek received her BFA in
illustration from Syracuse University. Her work has been featured in the American
Watercolorist Magazine and in the Society of Illustrators Student Show.
Market Day!
By Victoria Roberts
Illustrated by Tomislav Zlatic (January 2011)
This fun four board book kit with pop-up market and press-out characters will keep little
ones busy learning and having fun. The four board books cover shapes, colors, opposites,
and numbers. And young readers will love the animal characters in the story and to play
with in the market. A fun way to learn! (Infant-Preschool)

Gifts and Decorative Accessories (December 2010)
Read and Play
Learning is Fun When it is More Like Play.
Market Day! is a set of four early learning board books in a carrying case that is also a
pop-up scene with punch-out characters. $19.99. For ages up to 3.
My Japan
By Etsuko Watanabe

READING MATTERS, the official journal of the South Carolina State Council of the
International Reading Association (SCIRA)
“My name is Yumi and I’m seven years old. My family and I live in a house in the
suburbs of Tokyo. I’m in my room. Can you see me?” (unpaged). The pictures reveal all
of the rooms in her house including Yumi’s bedroom where she is seated at a desk. The
first few pages of the book feature double-paged spreads of the other rooms in her house
while the remaining double-page spreads focus on typical aspects of her life in Japan
such as transportation, the first day of school (which begins in April), the school day,
Japanese writing styles, and public baths. There is also attention devoted to traditions and
celebrations like New Year’s Eve, Sports Day, and Children’s Day. Many objects in the
pictures have captions and one or two sentences about them. For instance, on the page
that focuses on Yumi’s bedroom, the following sentences accompany the picture of a
futon. “In Japan we sleep on futons. They are light and very easy to fold and carry. When
you air them out in the sun, they feel warm and fluffy. Mmmmm, very nice to sleep on!”
(unpaged). I think children will enjoy reading this book and comparing the similarities
and differences between their lives and Yumi’s life in Japan.
Noodle Pie
By Ruth Starke

Kiss the Book (February 11, 2011)
Andy's going to Vietnam for a visit, but soon learns this is going to be a trip like none
other. He meets his extended family, all of which live in the same house, and they seem
to be some of the greediest people he's met. Apart from that, the nice, big, family
restaurant Andy's been hearing about, turns out to be a dump. So, Andy and his cousins
decide to reform the restaurant (Phuong Nguyen) into a new, and improved restaurant
called, Noodle Pie. I really enjoyed reading this book. It was so well written, and very
interesting to learn about culture in Vietnam. It's probably in my top twenty books list.
EL,MS- ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: HW
The No 1 Car-Spotter
By Atinuke

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2011)
Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, otherwise known as No. 1, is not only the best car-spotter
in his African village, his electric ideas improve village life.
Nigerian-born Atinuke (Anna Hibiscus, 2010, etc.) introduces an energetic new character
and an unusual setting in her latest title. While Anna’s suburban life resembles that of
American children in many ways, No. 1 lives in a tiny village with “few compounds and
many goats and several cows.” The men, and even many of the women, have gone off to
the city to make money, leaving single-parent families and elderly grandparents. No. 1
helps his family in the fields, runs errands and goes to market, but his favorite activity is
car-spotting—identifying the cars that pass on the road by sound and sight, as his
grandfather did before him. As in Anna and her sequels, these four interconnected short
stories revel in the language and rhythms of oral storytelling. In one story, No. 1
convinces a cousin to chop up a dead Toyota, turning it into a Cow-rolla. In another, his
father makes an unintended use of wheelbarrows given to the village by the NGO man.
The gentle humor is reflected in Cadwell’s gray-scale cartoon drawings on every page.
First published in England in 2010, this promises another engaging chapter-book series, a
treat for lively middle-grade boys. (Fiction. 7-11)

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children (August 2011)
Oluwalase Babatunde Benson lives in a small African village in between the forest and
the river and a No. 1 road into the city. Everyone calls him No. 1 because he can spot and
identify cars coming toward the village before anyone else can. The women of the village
believe that spotting cars does not have much value, so they put No. 1 to work in a
variety of other tasks such as collecting firewood, hoeing the fields, sweeping the
compound, and herding the cows and goats. Like most other men in the village, No. 1's
father works in the city and sends money home, so much work remains to be done in the
    No. 1 is reliable, but he is also spontaneous and a quick thinker. These traits come in
handy when the village routine is interrupted by some unexpected events, including the
collapse of the wood cart that No. 1’s family uses to take their food items to sell at the
market. Not only does No. 1 come up with an innovative solution for transporting their
wares to the market, he also manages to provide his Auntie Fine-Fine with a small beauty
makeover and help his ailing grandmother get the medicine she needs.
    Penned by gifted story-teller Atinuke, this collection of short stories offers readers an
engaging glimpse of a small rural African community at work and at play. The stories are
built around themes related to family relations, social networks, markets, and the division
of labor within the home. While the text touches upon the hardships of living in a poor
village, the stories emphasize the small victories, humor, and touching moments that add
new meaning to the characters’ daily way of life.

ForeWord Magazine (Sept/Oct 2011)
Oluwalase Babatunde Benson scales palm trees to collect nuts for oil in his small African
village, alerting neighbors to approaching traffic so they can ready to sell their wares. His
grandfather taught him the gift of identifying a distant car solely from its engine noise; a
proud No.1 Car Spotter and his cohort, Coca-Cola, share the hardships and humor of
daily life in this wonderfully quirky, contemporary, and down-to-earth first in a series.
The language is musical and the story will tickle your funny bone. Ages nine to twelve.

A Fuse 8 Production (August 20, 2011)
When I discovered the amazing, remarkable, one-of-a-kind, never before seen Anna
Hibiscus books by Atinuke last year I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It just didn’t
seem possible. A contemporary early chapter book set on the continent of Africa? To
understand how rare this was visit your local library sometime. Ask for fiction about
Africa that takes place today for early readers. Specify that you’d rather not take out a
work of older fiction that’s deadly serious, but rather something light and fun. And while
you’re at it, why don’t you ask for the moon as well since you’re just as likely to get that
as what I’ve just described unless it’s Anna Hibiscus (in America anyway). Now Anna is
joined by yet another Atinuke character. No. 1 lives in a rural village with his family and
friends and his stories, like those of Anna Hibiscus, linger in your brain long after you’ve
read them.
Meet No. 1. He’s what you might call a car spotter. If there’s a car driving past his
village, you can be sure he’ll not only spot it but identify it and long before anyone else.
Life in No. 1’s village isn’t easy, of course. If a cart breaks down then everyone’s got to
figure out how to get the produce to the market (it’s No. 1 who comes up with a brilliant
solution). If a woman wants to get lipstick at the market she sometimes will have to send
a boy (No. 1 ends up doing the right thing entirely by accident then too). If people need
chores done they have to rely on the kids (a problem when No. 1 wants to only help the
auntie who makes the best food). And if someone gets seriously sick… well, sometimes
it’s not always No. 1 who comes up with the solutions to problems. But he’s always
around to help out.
I adore Atinuke’s ear for language. This book just begs to be read aloud as you go
through it. Pitch perfect bedtime reading fare, that’s what you have here. You get such
magnificent lines out of it too. For example, there’s the section where No. 1 aids a single
particular mama in the hopes of getting some of her delicious akara. At one point the
author just writes, “As I was an able-bodied boy in the vicinity of a shouting mama I
started to run around as well.” Something about the construction of that sentence just
pleases me to no end. Later No. 1 explains to Coca-Cola that he can’t risk helping him
out anymore because he might end up with a name like 7Up. Coca-Cola, visibly upset,
points out that his own nickname is from a soft drink. I love No. 1’s method of
comforting his friend. “That… is because Coca-Cola is the number one soft drink. Some
people prefer Fanta. It is true. And some people prefer Sprite. Some people don’t touch
Coca-Cola. But Coca-Cola is still number one.” As pep talks go, I’ve never heard one
entirely based on pop. I love that.
Anna Hibiscus was great, taking place as it did in a middle class compound in the middle
of a big city. One of the joys of the books, in fact, is that the author is not afraid to show
that Anna is a relatively privileged girl who has to come to terms with the fact that just
outside the walls of her home live children with significantly less. No. 1, in contrast, lives
a very poor life in a village. It is exceedingly difficult to write about poor characters
without being either horribly depressing or too happy-go-lucky for your own good.
Atinuke strikes precisely the right balance here. First off, you have a child character who
doesn’t go to school, so that’s amazing right then and there. Additionally, three of the
four stories acknowledge the difficulty of No. 1’s life but these problems appear as
challenges to overcome. Then the author has the guts to write a story where the hero’s
can-do spirit faces the simple facts of his situation. His grandmother is sick and there’s
apparently nothing anyone can do since they haven’t the money to pay a doctor. It’s a
gutsy move on Atinuke’s part to include a tale this serious, happy ending or no. When
people read early chapter fiction they expect giggles and good times entirely in the
Horrid Henry vein. Meaning and reality are unexpected and, as it happens, entirely
One of the criticisms lobbed at Anna Hibiscus was the fact that Atinuke mentions Africa
but not the country in which the story takes place. Here in America we have a bit of a
time convincing kids (and some adults) that Africa is a continent, not a country. It was
pointed out to me that Atinuke is a storyteller and her mentions of Africa (glorious
Africa) were made very much in the storytelling tradition. Be that as it may be, The No. 1
Car Spotter begins in a slightly different fashion. “On the continent of Africa, you will
find my country.” Still no mention of what that country is, but it appeases those adult
readers worried that Atinuke’s books reinforce unfortunate assumptions. Besides, the fact
that the characters eat akara (a Nigerian fried bean cake) is sort of a give away right there.
One objection that was lobbed at “No. 1″ worth mentioning was the fact that no one in
the boy’s village seems to have their own name. No. 1 says right off the bat that his real
name is Oluwalase Babatunde Benson but that’s about the only real name we see.
Everyone is Coca-Cola, Nike, Uncle Go-Easy, Auntie Fine-Fine, etc. Traditional names
are few and far between. While this is true to a certain extent (though the small children
Beke, Bisi, and Bola are mentioned) I wasn’t particularly perturbed by it. Nicknames are
clearly a part of this village’s culture and while it would be nice to see a couple real
names thrown in there once in a while, I didn’t feel that the book lacked any for the loss.
Warwick Johnson Cadwell is the illustrator for this book, and his contributions prove to
be just as important as those of Atinuke herself. A Brit, his style is hard to pin down. All I
can say is that his pen and inks in this book have a life of their own. There’s energy and
movement to this man’s style. More than that, the art is better than the usual fare we see.
Cadwell seems to have a fondness for a kind of Picasso-esque style where you see the
two eyes of a person’s face at once, even though their cheek might be facing you. You
also sometimes get the feeling that he’s reluctant to lift his pen from the page. It’s enough
to make me suspect that the Etch-a-Sketch inadvertently influenced many a budding artist
back in the day since the people in this book often look as though they’ve been instructed
from a single sinuous line.
A village where most of the men go off to work in the city and the women are left home
to tend to the crops is a village I can believe in. Kids will believe in it too, but just as
importantly they’ll want to know more about it. That’s the thing about Atinuke. It isn’t
just that she writes about places and people that no one else does. It’s that she makes
them interesting and fun. No. 1 is the kind of guy kids are going to want to know more
about. Good thing he has more adventures in the pipeline. A great, almost necessary book
and one that you’ll be delighted to discover.

NC Teacher Stuff (September 6, 2011)
On the continent of Africa, you will find my country. In my country there are many cities,
all with skyscrapers, hotels, offices. There are also many smaller towns, all with tap
water and electricity and television. Then there is my village, where we only talk about
such things.
Thus we are introduced to the engaging character Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, who
goes by the name "No. 1". His nickname comes from being the best car spotter in the
village and perhaps the world. A car spotter is one who can hear an engine and know
what kind of car is approaching. It is a hobby learned from his grandfather. A road runs
right by the village, so there is plenty of opportunity for car spotting while working to
clear brush, collecting palm nuts for their oil, or sitting under an iroko tree. All of the
men enjoy this sport while the women think it is a waste of time. And time cannot be
wasted as it is the day before going to market. The people of the village sell the products
they have grown and collected in order to buy needed things (salt, kerosene, pencils for
school) that cannot be grown or hunted. Disaster strikes the village when the cart for all
the goods breaks in half. The only vehicle in the village is a broken down Toyota Corolla
that was abandoned long ago. All of the villagers are in despair over the cart, but a spark
of an idea comes to No. 1. He runs most of the day to the neighboring town where his
older cousin Wale lives. Using ingenuity and laboring all night, Wale and his friends
bring to life No. 1's idea. A Toyota "Cowrolla" that runs on cow power.
As with her earlier Anna Hibiscus series, author Atinuke takes us to Africa and connects
the reader's heart to wonderful families who love one another, argue, and work together.
All four stories in this book are filled with humor and warmth, but also grounded in
reality. Life is tough for these villagers, but they manage to survive and thrive despite not
having many material possessions. No. 1 and the Wheelbarrow, the last story in the book,
is particularly affirming. I love the language in the conversations and the stories behind
the names of the characters. I look forward to reading more stories about No. 1 and his
family and friends.

Booklist (October 1, 2011)
Oluwalase knows about African cities with skyscrapers and about smaller towns with
electricity, running water, and TV, but in his poor village in the bush, they “only talk
about such things.” Living near the main road, he has learned from Grandfather how to
spot fancy cars speeding toward the cities, and he is thrilled when a Toyota Corolla
breaks down and is abandoned nearby. Then, when the village wagon falls apart,
he figures out how to use the Toyota to get the villagers’ goods to market, where they
trade their palm oil, yams, and rice for necessities such as salt, sugar, kerosene, pens, and
shoes. With a wry blend of realism, farce, and heartbreak, Nigerian-born Atinuke’s small
chapter book, illustrated with spare line drawings, tells a contemporary story of a kid who
saves the day. Readers will be hooked to the end as tension rises and there is no way to
get Grandmother medical care––until, once again, Oluwalase shows that he is number

* The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (November 2011)
Nigerian-born author Atinuke, author of a series of books about Anna Hibiscus, returns to
the topic of life in a small African village in this irresistible outing with a new
protagonist. Our hero, Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, is known to one and all as No. 1
because he is "the No. 1 car spotter in the village, maybe in the world!'' Four chapters,
each with a self-contained plot, chronicle No. 1 's adventures as he uses his automotive
knowledge to solve the problem of the village's broken cart, goes to market with his
family, helps out his friend at his mother's food stand, and contributes to the effort to
get his ailing grandmother to a doctor in the city.
Atinuke has a Beverly Cleary-esque gift for depicting daily-life details with both humor
and authenticity. No.1's narration is absolutely awash in likability, with a boy's-eye view
of lively village life (when his best friend, Coca-Cola, obediently leaps into action at his
mother’s commands, No. 1 reports, "As I was an able-bodied boy in the vicinity of a
shouting mama I started to run around as well") that’s as relatable as it is funny.
Plotting is solid in its own right, whether in the comedy of No. 1 's panic at having to
buy mysterious grown-lady stuff from a market stall or the gentle emotional dilemma of
his wanting to help his friend but not be identified merely as his sidekick; particularly
touching is the guilt he feels when he thinks his family has misused the gift of a village
visitor. Beyond all that, however, is the author's exuberant style, which makes No.1's
joyous voice into one that could turn a walk to the corner into a high-spirited adventure,
and which gives the dialogue of family and village the pacing and rhythm of a musical
as everybody in the crowd weighs in on everything.
Even readers half a world away will feel instantly at home in No. 1's village, and they’ll
relate to universal dynamics such as the authority of grandparents and loyalty to friends.
Yet the picture is also rich with details of the area: the goods the village brings to market
("our palm oil and our yams, our onions, our tomatoes and our chili peppers, our
baskets and our dried fish ..."), the enticement of car-spotting in a place where cars are
pretty rare, and the difference between the towns where they have "tap water, electricity,
and television," and the village, "where we only talk about such things." Nor is this
simply a bland travel-brochure portrait: there's matter-of-fact acknowledgment that the
men have all gone to the city to make money, which they send back to their families, and
that the money needed for a doctor is more than the village can generally manage.
Mostly, though, it's the story of one effervescent kid and his friends and family, a group
whose exploits are ripe for reading aloud or alone. Black-and-white illustrations fill the
pages, occupying roughly half of most spreads, making the book even more accessible,
and accentuating the inviting energy. The narrow slashes of linework and stylized faces
have a distant kinship to Gregory Christie, while the art’s comic flair recalls the work of
Ramona illustrator Alan Tiegreen. Ramona herself would certainly find a kindred spirit in
No.1, and her fans -- and any kid looking for a flavorful series of adventures worth the
effort even for novice readers -- will take No. 1 to their hearts.

The Horn Book (November/December 2011)
Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, called No. 1, is the best car spotter in his African village.
His unnamed country has cities and towns with skyscrapers, hotels, offices, tap water,
electricity, and televisions, but in his village they “only talk about such things.” In their
limited spare time, No. 1 and his grandfather sit by the side of the road, calling out the
makes and models of cars. “It is what we men do…What Grandfather does not know
about spotting cars is not to know.” In the first story of four, when the village’s only
market cart breaks, it’s No. 1’s ingenuity, the seeds of which have been planted by his
grandfather, that saves the village (aptly, the solution involves a disabled car). One of
Atinuke’s gifts is her ability to tell her stories with humor while introducing serious
topics to younger readers. Here, we meet a boy who learns to face the challenges of life
in a village where the men have left to seek work in the city. Whether it’s helping to man
the market stall, shopping for lipstick for Auntie Fine-Fine, working for food, or
worrying about his sick grandmother’s lack of money for a doctor, we see a boy who is
willing to pitch in and to think about solutions. Stylized black-and-white illustrations
have the energy to match No. 1. Frequent perspective changes, exaggerated facial
features, and light pen line add movement, giving readers the idea that No. 1 and his
friends are 978-1-61067-114-9 small selection of books—particularly early chapter
books—about modern Africa.

Mitali’s Fire Escape (November 21, 2011)
Highly Recommended: THE NO. 1 CAR SPOTTER by Atinuke
Used to be that you'd look far and wide in vain to find a funny, heartfelt chapter book set
in another continent, especially one featuring a boy. That's why I'm so excited to
recommend THE NO. 1 CAR SPOTTER series by Atinuke, the story of a delightful lad
growing up in a small African village. First published by Walker Books in the UK, these
early readers and fantastic read-alouds are published in the U.S. by Kane Miller.
Oluwalase Babatunde Benson is known as "No.1 car spotter" by friends and family
because he can identify every make of car that goes by on the busy road that passes the
village. Divided into four self-contained chapters, this first in a series by Atinuke (author
of the Horn Book honoree ANNA HIBISCUS series) chronicles No. 1's everyday
adventures, from serving customers at Mama Coca-Cola's roadside stand to (unwittingly)
helping his father find a new job.
"Atinuke has a Beverly Cleary–esque gift for depicting daily-life details with both humor
and authenticity," says the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. "A great, almost
necessary book and one that you’ll be delighted to discover," says librarian Betsy Bird,
blogger for School Library Journal. I wholeheartedly agree. Betsy also adequately
defends Atinuke's decision to set the books in a village somewhere in "Amazing Africa,"
instead of specifically in Nigeria.
I had the pleasure of hearing Atinuke read from the book at the Wisconsin International
Outreach Children's and Young Adult Literature Celebration this past weekend and it was
candy for the ears. Here's a clip of the author, in case you're not yet convinced that you
need to buy this book and read it pronto with the nearest and dearest children in your life.
Politics and Prose, Holiday Favorites (December 2011)
Far away from Africa’s big cities is a town so small that traffic almost never passes
through. Nigerian-born author Atinuke takes readers to this village through the stories of
The No. 1 Car Spotter (Kane/ Miller, $5.99). Oluwalase, known as No. 1 because he can
identify the model of an approaching car before he even sees it, spends his days trying to
help his extended family and friends. Always moving as fast as he can, No. 1’s plans
sometimes go awry, but Atinuke masterfully ends each of these four interconnected tales
with an unexpected conclusion.
Old Abe, Eagle Hero
Written by Patrick Young
Illustrated by Anne Lee

Civil War Notebook (February 6, 2011)
There were a few well known regimental mascots during the American Civil War, and
probably the most well known of them all was the 8th Wisconsin Infantry’s eagle Old
Abe. Patrick Young, great great grandson of Captain Victor Wolf, commander of
Company C, 8th Wisconsin Infantry, has written a children’s book about the famous bird.
        Mr. Young’s text follows Old Abe throughout his life, as a young eaglet raised by
Native Americans, his war time experiences, and his life after the war are all detailed in
the book.
        The Civil War can be a tough subject to introduce young readers. The concepts of
war and death are scary to many adults, not to mention children, but Mr. Young’s book,
with illustrations by Anne Lee, treads very carefully around these issues. Written for
readers between five to nine years old, the text does not go into the complicated issues of
the war, but rather treats it as a mundane event, and is not at all scary for the readers of
the younger set.
        Anne Lee’s water color and ink illustrations are simplistically rendered with a
gentle nod to the sensitivities of her young readers. Battle scenes are shown, but from a
distance, and therefore do not offer any graphic depictions of war, In one close up, Old
Abe can be seen dragging an unconscious soldier to safety with bullets flying through the
air and explosions all around, but even this illustration does not offer graphic or
gruesome images of the realities of war.
        “Old Abe, Eagle Hero” never once talks down to, at, or over the heads of its
young audience, though the facts of war, its causes and consequences are largely glossed
over. Through Old Abe, children can be gently introduced to the Civil War, and if they
have questions about the war, I’m sure their parents and teachers can and will
appropriately address those issues with the children.

San Francisco Book Review (April 11, 2011)
Old Abe, Eagle Hero is a slice of the Civil War that will capture the hearts of the
youngest readers. Patrick Young, great-grandson of Captain Victor Wolf, commander of
Company C of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, writes the story of that company’s
mascot, a bald eagle. Old Abe was sent to war in place of a man with a bad leg. Raised
from an eaglet, “… the soldiers loved Old Abe. They taught him to shake hands and to
drink water from a canteen.” The courageous eagle fought in twenty-five major battles.
He dragged a fellow soldier to safety and was instrumental in capturing a group of
confederate soldiers. Old Abe flew above battles and inspired his company to fight
harder. Confederates tried to capture him, but failed. After the war, Old Abe retired a
national hero and lived out his days in a two-room apartment.
Artist Anne Lee beautifully captures Old Abe’s playful antics in watercolor and ink
illustrations. Written simply, yet “gloriously,” each page shares a fascinating nugget of
the eagle’s story and gently introduces children to the Civil War.

Children’s Literature (June 2011)
Old Abe, the eagle hero of the Civil War, began life as an eaglet rescued by an American
Indian in Wisconsin and traded to farmer Dan McCann. When the war begins, McCann
cannot fight because he has a bad leg, so he sends his eagle instead. Wisconsin soldiers
name him Old Abe and make him their mascot. Almost grown, Old Abe weighs eight
pounds, but his wings spread seven feet. The Southern soldiers hate Old Abe because he
inspires his Northern friends, but they cannot capture him. A bullet does graze him and
he is cut from his perch, but he flies away to safety. He soon becomes famous. Despite
being a trickster, he is loved by his fellow soldiers. He participates in many famous
battles; he even helps capture a Southern camp. He has a fine retirement, never forgetting
his soldier friends. Lee's scenes are painted in muted, light-hearted watercolors while an
inked line creates character and action. Old Abe is the most important character, but we
also see the battlefields, the camps, and even the "big fair in Chicago." The factual story
is told directly; additional facts about eagles are included. 2010 (text orig. 1993), Kane
Miller/ EDC Publishing, $15.99. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia
Marantz (Children's Literature).
One Night in the Zoo
By Judith Kerr

The Horn Book Guide
"One magical, moonlit night in the zoo," a sequence of astonishing events occurs,
beginning with an elephant who "flew." Each end rhyme plays off the word zoo; Kerr
manages to make it all seem unforced and as light as that airborne elephant. The animals
gather on the final spread, emphasizing the book's counting-book element. Humor-filled,
uncluttered illustrations are best for one-on-one sharing.
Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon
By Lindsay Ward

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
The going-to-bed routine morphs into a fantastic adventure when Pelly notices an unusual
fixture attached to her family’s bathtub. Accompanied by her canine sidekick, Mr.
Harrison, the inquisitive child soars into outer space when her bath rockets out the
window. The lively pair meets aliens who demonstrate striking similarities to their human
counterparts. At times, the storyline’s action merely hums along—“Pelly and Mr.
Harrison got into the bathtub and floated back down to earth”—but curious details add
depth. The sun heats the alien version of s’mores (s’moons), while moon pies prove to be
a delectable delicacy. There are no unexpected bumps along the journey home, as Pelly
returns to reality just in time to hear her mother’s call. Both perspective and Pelly’s
stature vary whimsically against the vast space skies. Solid bursts of colors add drama,
and the repeated use of compact typed captions (“moon... moon... moon....”) make for
playful use of environmental print. A graph-paper background peeks through thinly
applied paint, adding a sense of scientific discovery to the adventure. The concluding
page hints at the possibility of a remarkable reunion. All in all, a light, imaginative romp.
(Picture book. 4-7)

In the Pages... (February 15, 2011)
Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon by Lindsay Ward is a picture book that I am so
excited to add to our "outer space" unit. It is the story of Pelly, a little girl and her dog,
Mr. Harrison and what happens when their bathtub has a rocket engine attached! This is
great fun and a story kids will love!!

YA Books Central (March 2011)
One evening, as Pelly is preparing for bed, she notices something odd about the bathtub.
Rockets have grown from one end. Pelly and her dog, Mr. Harrison, climb aboard the tub
and jet up and away for an adventure on the moon!
Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon by Lindsay Ward explores the delights to be
found on the moon: star catching, s’moons, and best of all, making a new friend. Though
sparse in text and abundant in simple language, this story works. It is the simple kind of
imaginative tale children will appreciate, one they might dream up themselves.
A fun twist at the end leads the reader to believe the whole story can happen all over
again elsewhere.
Margo Dill’s Read These Books and Use Them! (March 24, 2011)
Picture book, science fiction for preschoolers through second graders
*Young girl as main character
*Rating: Every child will be looking at her/his bathtub differently after reading this book!
It’ll spark imaginations for sure.
Short, short summary: Pelly is brushing her teeth, and she notices a rocket engine on her
bathtub. So, her dog, Mr. Harrison, jumps into the tub, and they take off for the moon.
When they land on the moon, they meet an alien who is very friendly. She takes them to
her house, where another alien is making none other than–moon pies! They learn about
gravity and about making s’moons. When they get back home, it’s like no time has
passed at all–Mom wonders if Pelly is almost done brushing her teeth.
So what do I do with this book?
1. Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon can really spark children’s imagination. Ask
them, “What could you travel in to the moon from your house?” or “What could you
attach a rocket engine to and take off?” Younger students can illustrate their response.
Older students can write about it. This is a great home activity for parents and children,
2. Use this book to discuss the 6 + 1 traits of writing trait, word choice. Ask students
what special words they notice while you read the book and make a class list. Encourage
kids to use this list when they are writing.
3. Use this book to open up a science discussion about the moon. What do children know
about the moon? Could this story really happen? For fun, bring in some moon pies!

Biblio Reads (February 27, 2011)
Pelly's bathtub turns into a rocket ship and she visits the moon. She and her dog, Mr.
Harrison, make friends with a little alien and they have quite a lot of fun. Imaginative,
Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon entertains the universal childhood fantasy of just
what it would be like to visit the moon and play there.

Parents Express (April 27, 2011)
Not your average story of a girl and her dog, this inventive picture book introduces
readers to Pelly and her companion, Mr. Harrison, who are getting ready for bed when
they discover a rocket engine attached to the bathtub! With no hesitation, off they fly, all
the way to the moon. They meet a young alien, share some moon pies and do some
spaceship racing and star catching before heading back for bedtime. Readers will delight
in the originality of the story but also in the illustrations, which have their own magic.
They seem quite sophisticated but also like something a child could have created.

Kiss the Book (July 1, 2011)
Pelly and her dog Mr. Harrison hop into her bathtub, which becomes a rocket and they fly
to the moon. Pelly meets an alien girl who looks a lot like her, just greener. Together they
play on the moon, defying gravity and roasting marshmallows with the sun to make moon
s’mores. Writer/illustrator Lindsay Ward captures with her illustrations the wild, wonder
of a child’s imagination. The illustrations on the moon in particular have a childlike feel
with cut out words and yellow lined paper. A great book to read aloud. Pre-K, EL
Curled-Up Kids (July 19, 2011)
This is the story of a little girl named Pelly and her dog, Mr. Harrison. One evening when
Pelly is brushing her teeth before bed, she notices something peculiar: a rocket attached
to her bathtub. She and Mr. Harrison get into the tub, and suddenly two helmets appear
and a steering wheel grows out of the drain. Before she knows it, she is traveling over the
city, through the sky and towards the moon.
After landing on the moon, Pelly and Mr. Harrison are befriended by a little alien (who
just happens to look like Pelly herself) who takes the two visitors to a house and into the
kitchen, where a grown-up alien (who just happens to look like a mother) is making
delicious-smelling moon pies.
The little alien then shows Pelly and Mr. Harrison some of the best things about living on
the moon: spaceship racing, star catching, moon rock digging, and how to make ‘smoons’
– treats made of graham crackers and marshmallows.
Pelly realizes that it is getting late and that she and Mr. Harrison must head home. They
bid farewell to the alien and return back to their planet and their home. Pelly finishes
brushing her teeth before going to bed to dream of ‘smoons. Meantime, back on the
moon, the little alien is sitting in her tub when she looks down and suddenly notices
something peculiar about her tub...
This charming story for children younger than six is about adventure, friendship and the
fundamental similarities between cultures that seem worlds apart. The illustrations have a
simplicity and understated quality about them with their muted colors that makes this a
sweet and soothing bedtime story. Recommended.

Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon
The Midwest Book Review (August 2011)
"Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon" is a whimsical illustrated fantasy about space
travel by bathtub, with adventures. Pelly and her spotted dog, Mr. Harrison notice there is
a rocket engine attached to their bathtub. They excitedly decide to go to the moon! They
meet a friendly green alien who invites them home for dinner - moon pies, of course!
Then they go gravity leaping, which MR. Harrison excels at. After many more moon
(including making s'moons, Pelly's personal favorite), Pelly and Mr. Harrison
say goodbye to their moon friend and sail back to earth in their rocket powered bathtub.
A familiar voice asks Pelly if she's done brushing her teeth, and the pair retire to dream of
moon pies. But wait! Up on the moon, a little green alien child notices something strange
about his bathtub-------! All kids of any age (but especially 4-8) will adore "Pelly and Mr.
Harrison visit the Moon" for its vitality, imaginative whimsy, and sense of fun. The
unusual labeled illustrations and choice of purple/green color combos bring delightful
detail to a wonderful fantasy.
Roll Up the Streets
By John Bladek (January 2011)
Jake Machet is new to a crummy little town filled with mean creeps and a horrible stench
that won't go away. With his new friend Sammie's help, Jake is determined to find the
cause of the stink, and his investigation leads him straight to the factory of J.P.
Rumblegut, corndog and doll maker. Jake and Sammie uncover a stinky conspiracy that
involves brainwashing corndogs, scary dolls, and sewage. Can the two sleuths destroy the
stink before it makes zombies of the whole town? A funny adventure mystery for young
readers. (Ages 9-12)

Kiss the Book (January 2011)
Jake Matchet moves to a new town, and stumbles across a mystery. Along with his new
friend, Sammie, Jake seeks to find the source behind the puzzling smell permeating
throughout the town, the citizens’ obsession with corndogs, and what the “Golden Idol”
really is. This is a fun book that, although a bit unbelievable, it is witty enough to keep
readers entertained. I especially like the use of funny footnotes and Jake’s many sarcastic
comments (although they may cause confusion for younger reader who may not pick up
on it). MS – ADVISABLE Reviewer: Margaret Winn, Middle School Teacher

The Horn Book Guide
Upon moving to a new town, Jake detects a persistent bad smell that everyone overlooks.
Determined to solve the mysteries of the brainwashing corndogs, spying dolls, and toxic
waste, he discovers the man behind it all. Though the nonstop humor sometimes strains,
Jake's plan to stop J.P. Rumblegut, the evil town "benefactor," is amusing.
Rope ‘em
Written by Stacy Nyikos
Illustrated by Bret Conover

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
Under the sea, two marine "lawmen" tangle with a desperado shark. Scout is a golden
seahorse, and Virgil a purple octopus. Both wear cowboy hats and use their unique skills
(herding and roping, respectively) to keep the peace in the ocean's O.K. Corral. One day,
trouble arrives in the menacing form of Barrier Reef Bullface, a big scary shark with a
bandage under his snout and two rows of jagged teeth. "Dabnubbit, can't an outlaw eat in
peace?" he declares as he gobbles up some of the local residents. Scout and Virgil each
try to capture him, without success. In fact, they're lucky to escape unscathed. It's only
when they work together—Scout running all around the addled Bullface while Virgil
wraps him in ropes—that they are able to corral the bandit. By sundown, the news of
Scout and Virgil's triumph over Bullface has grown "three times the size of even the
biggest fish tale." Conover's pictures are bright if uninspired, and the message of the book
is a solid one, but the text only serviceable. Moreover, the book's design is awkward, with
the words often crammed together at the edges of the pages. Are young readers more
likely to be inspired to work together, or to roughhouse? (Picture book. 4-7)

Biblio Reads (February 13, 2011)
It just goes to show you that a little teamwork can go a long way. I loved this western,
plunged-under-the-sea tale of friendship. When competition gets the best of them and
they can't catch Bullface--the meanest, hungriest shark in the sea--Scout and Virgil
'pardner up' and get the job done. Narration and illustration pardner up as well and add a
mighty western flair to this underwater tale.
Rope 'Em! by Stacy Nyikos and illustrated by Bret Conover is a book that has "lots of
laughs" written all over it! The story of a lassoing-octopus and a round-up'ing seahorse -
the best cowhands ever!! You will love this story set in the O.K. Coral!!

Reading to Know (March 10, 2011)
This book is just awesome and amuses me to no end. Rope 'Em!, written by Stacy Nyikos
and published by Kane Miller, combines two of our greatest interests. ANY long term
reader around here knows that Bookworm1 has been obsessed with sea creatures for
some time. We have been inundated and drowned out with octopuses, sharks and whales
around these parts. Then, recently, we've been learning about life in the Wild West as part
of a thematic unit. When I saw Rope 'Em! (available through Usborne Books and More) I
just knew we had to take a look at it!
It opens as follows:
   "Scout and Virgil were the O.K. Coral's best cowhands ever. Scout could herd any fish
- feisty, frisky, even ferocious. And Virgil could rope and tie one in six seconds flat."
Scout is a sea horse and Virgil is an octopus and the two work together to herd fish.
However, one day, Bullface, the "biggest, meanest, hungriest bull shark for miles
around," comes a'callin' and Scout and Virgil's partnership and skills are put to the test.
This is an under the sea western story and the value of teamwork, cooperate and
friendship. I think it's hilarious and, of course, Bookworm1 connected to it entirely right
from the get-go!
This is definitely a unique combination of themes for us but I think the story works well.
We have enjoyed it thoroughly and now must share it with you all. If you get a chance to
hunt it down and check it out - do!
Samsara Dog
Written by Helen Manos
Illustrated by Julie Vivas

Shambala Sun (January 2012)
Some books influence how we think, while others like Samsara Dog have the ability to
transform it. This story by Helen Manos (Kane/Miller Book Publishers) is about a dog
that is reborn again and again until at last it attains enlightenment. It begins with the dog
living on the streets. In this life, “Dog loved nobody. Dog trusted nobody.” Each
successive life, the dog finds greater companionship and kindness, and each of his deaths
is mourned more than the last. Finally the dog meets a boy living by the ocean and they
become inseparable friends. At the end of the dog’s life, the boy thanks him for his great
love, and the dog’s heart is filled with joy. He passes away peacefully, never to be reborn
again into samsara, the realm of cyclical existence. It’s a moving story that’s beautifully
told. If you’re not comfortable with the notion of rebirth, this book might not be for you.
But if you’re open to it, and wish to help your child understand it, Samsara Dog is an
invaluable tool.
By Anne Crausaz

Publishers Weekly (January 17, 2011)
With an emphasis on taste, smell and outdoor activity, Crausaz guides readers through
the seasons of the year in this understated and evocative French import. Crisp, delicate
digital artwork set against mostly plain backgrounds keeps the focus on the freckled,
rosy-cheeked girl who peeks through a cherry tree’s branches in spring (“It’s cherry time.
Are they as sweet as last year’s?”), plays in the sand of a beach come summer and enjoys
“one last taste of snowflakes” before winter turns back to spring. Exuding an overall
serenity, the book should have children seeking out the sights, smells, and sounds of the
passing seasons.

NC Teacher Stuff (February 2, 2011)
Seasons is a vibrant French import that features a rosy-cheeked little girl guiding the
reader through different attributes of the four seasons. For example, in summer, "new
smells are growing in the vegetable garden: tomato and basil, verbena and mint." Author
and illustrator Anne Crausaz uses digital pictures to help set the mood for each season.
The artwork and text easily take you back to earlier years and places where you have
experienced particular sensations connected to a season. When I see the young girl in a
blackberry patch, I think back to picking blackberries as a child and the joy of eating
blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. The springtime illustrations make me think of
beautiful flowering trees like the dogwood. In class today I read to my students about Leo
Lionni's Frederick who gathers the colors and the words of the seasons to help his mouse
family make it through the harsh winter. Seasons is my Frederick at the moment, giving
me wonderful memories of each of the four seasons.
If you teach a unit on change, this book would be a superb addition to your collection.
We're currently talking to our students about using "sparkle" words to create better
visuals in our writing. Seasons would be a helpful resource in your teaching if you are
trying to do this. Instruction to young children about similes could also be boosted by an
examination of this text and illustrations.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
This French import features a black-haired girl who experiences a simple, sensory
progress through the seasons. The few sentences per spread are directed to readers. “Can
you hear that? You’re not scared, are you? It’s just a summer storm... / the air is warm,
but the water is cold.” Each sense is engaged, in summer, in addition to hearing storms
and feeling water, readers see fireflies, smell tomato and basil in the garden and taste
“sand in your mouth!” The graphically designed, flat-dimension illustrations are both
attractive and subtly effective in pairing the senses with the seasons as the girl enjoys the
special moments of nature year-round. The simple shapes and graceful lines play with
perspective and contrast to enhance the sense of movement while retaining a unity of
aesthetic. A sturdier binding than the paper-covered boards would be better for library
use, but those families that discover it will find it a refreshing change from glossier,
louder American picture books. A sort of visual haiku. (Picture book. 4-7)

In the Pages... (February 15, 2011)
Seasons by Anne Crausaz is a picture book that goes through the seasons with a new and
refreshing look at how things change. The illustrations are a style unlike I have seen
before - they are simple and yet the striking contrasts in color are beautiful. What a
wonderful and unique look at the seasons!

Biblio Reads (February 24, 2011)
You can almost smell, taste and feel the seasons, they are so expertly piqued in the
imagination! The simple, understated illustrations along with the descriptive prose give a
rich, evocative earthy sense: smell the blossoms of spring and lay back in the tender
young grass listening to the birds singing; in summer breathe in deeply and enjoy the
aroma of fresh tomatoes on the vine and basil, pad barefoot in the rich garden soil...and
so on through the seasons. The reading level suggested is Baby-Preschool, but I can see
4-8 enjoying this book as well.

Cool Mom Picks (March 21, 2011)
Ah spring. The birds are chirping, the buds are poking through the soil, and if you ask the
sigOth, miniskirts are making appearances on the leggy 20-somethings in our
neighborhood. What's not to love? Right in time, I've found a delicious little book to help
the kids understand and celebrate the changing of the seasons.
It's called, aptly, Seasons, and Swiss author/illustrator Anne Crausaz does a beautiful job
describing the small joys and big changes that each season brings, starting with spring.
This isn't the same old "oh look--the flowers have buds" kind of book. It reads almost like
a poem, highlighting tastes and smells and sensations like how a ladybug landing on you
might tickle.
         Crausaz's work feels more Asian or European in its sensibility; don't expect any
sort of big character arc or rousing plotline here. It's just sweet and poetic and pretty, as
the author suggests you listen to the silence of the snow or taste the sweet-sour of
summer's blackberries. Kirkus described it as a "visual haiku" and I think that's apt.
Seasons is a great early reader book, or a nice storybook for a younger child. Surely it's
one we'll be pulling out every time the seasons change to see what comes next. Although
I admit I'm hoping spring lasts a good long time this year.

Bookmarkable (March 31, 2011)
From spring to fall, winter, and spring again, this beautiful book captures the essence of
each season with simple, sensory-filled illustrations.
Follow a brown haired, freckle faced girl as she delights in each season’s gift.
If a ladybug lands on you, it might tickle.
It’s cherry time.
Are they as sweet as last year?
Taste the first blackberries
sweet and sour at the
same time.

Book Play: Look for signs of spring outside. Notice new buds, green leaves and growing

Cheryl Rainfield (March 31, 2011)
Seasons will encourage children to see the joy in the natural world, to truly take in all the
sensory experiences nature has to offer, and will remind adults of that joy.
Crausaz’s lean text reads almost like poetry. It is evocative; in just short sentences, she
reminds us of our many senses and the way that we can enjoy nature–by seeing the green
of springtime, smelling the blossoms, hearing the birds sing, feeling the tickle of a
ladybug, tasting a sweet cherry. Crausaz’s text is very tactile. She reminds us of the
simple beauty and magic of the world (fireflies, leaves to jump in), and encourages us to
enjoy it. Crauzaz takes us from spring through all the seasons, and then back into spring
        Crausaz, through beautifully spare, stylized art, shows us the beauty of nature, and
the ways that we can interact with it. The leaves and flowers look almost like cut-outs,
and are often repeated in patterns on the page. Only a few colors are used in each spread–
red, green, some yellows and browns appearing most often–yet nothing feels like it’s
missing. A young girl appears in many–but not all–of the spreads; nature is big and bright
in the pages, and draws the reader’s attention.
Seasons can help introduce the outside world in a way that is soothing and cheering; it
will encourage young and old to get out in nature and enjoy its beauty. Highly

Jean Little Library (March 31, 2011)
I am breaking out of my schedule because I could not wait one moment longer to tell you
about this book. In this French picture book, a little girl walks through the beauties of the
seasons, accompanied by simple text and smooth, modernistic art.
        When I took this book out of the review box and dived in, it made me desperately
hungry for summer. I could smell and taste it that very moment. I simply had to share it,
so I decided to read it at Tiny Tots, our evening storytime. I don't normally do this
storytime, but Miss Pattie had to be at a school board meeting (our town may be getting a
4k program next year) and I stepped in. Tiny Tots is all ages, whoever shows up. This
evening, one baby, 2 18month olds, and 5 3-ish kids showed up (that was the Most
Attentive Baby Ever, btw). We talked a little about what season it was - we agreed it
wasn't summer yet, and winter was over because the snow was mostly gone, so it must be
spring. Then I opened Seasons and read the first sentences: "Everything is green. It must
be springtime. And springtime smells beautiful."
         A hush fell over the room. We read every sentence. We talked about the tomatoes
and cherries (the kids were sure they were apples). We found the ladybug. We talked
about fog. Everyone heaved a very satisfied sigh when we had finished.
         The simple text and illustrations are deeply evocative of the joys of the changing
seasons. The book circles from spring to summer to autumn to winter and back to spring,
making it a perfect story for any season. This book is gorgeous and perfect.
         Verdict: A must buy for your picture book section. I cannot recommend this
lovely, lovely book highly enough. I am deeply in love with it and I anticipate a long and
fulfilling relationship. I think I need a second copy. *happy sigh*

Booklist Online (February 24, 2011)
With simple, poetic words and accessible, energetic images, this small, square, joyful
picture book celebrates the five senses through the four seasons. On the beach in summer,
a small girl takes in the big picture: “The air is warm, but the water is cold.” She also
notices the tiniest particulars: “If a ladybug lands on you, it might tickle.” The pictures,
set against lots of white space, show the girl jumping in crackling leaves in the fall and
tasting blackberries, “sweet and sour at the same time.” The spare words show how a
child’s physical experiences help her take off into imaginative play. In winter, “the
smoke from the fire looks like it’s whispering to the clouds . . . Shhhh. Listen to the
silence of the snow.” The shelves of picture books about the seasons are crowded, but
this one stands out for its direct invitation to children to notice and wonder about the
changing natural world around them.

The New York Times Book Review (April 10, 2011)
This beautifully illustrated French import stands out from many guides to the seasons by
framing the weather in terms of a child’s sensory experience. Crausaz knows the
preschool audience well. Spring brings ladybugs; summer is about fireflies. “The wind is
blowing the ants with the seeds. Let’s follow them.” With its mushrooms, chestnuts and
fog, “Seasons” comes across as très Francais, but will appeal to all children.

The Horn Book Magazine (May/June 2011)
Plenty of picture books celebrate the various sensory pleasures that come with each
season, but this French import keeps a deliberately simple focus on the sights, sounds,
smells, tastes, and feel of elements of the natural world only—no summertime fireworks
or wintertime cocoa here. From spring to winter, the text lists items related to each of the
five senses, one per double-page spread. Spring is when everything looks green,
blooming trees smell fragrant, “blackbirds are singing about their favorite season,” a
ladybug on your hand “might tickle,” and cherries are sweet. Crausaz, a graphic designer,
provides delicately detailed flat illustrations that make gorgeous use of subtle gradations
in tone, all in a subdued palette that suits the quietly enthusiastic text. Half the spreads
show a freckle-faced young girl enjoying the outdoors; interspersed throughout, the other
half show scenes of nature—perhaps what the girl herself sees when she looks at the
world around her. After hearing about summer, when “the air is warm, but the water is
cold,” autumn’s “forest smells of moss, mushrooms and wet ground,” and winter’s wood-
fire smoke that “looks like it’s whispering to the clouds,” young listeners are bound to
jump right in with their own favorite season-specific sensations.
Parents Express (April 27, 2011)
Children’s books about the seasons are plentiful, but there’s always room for a fresh take,
especially a delightfully child-centric one. Beginning with spring and proceeding through
the seasons, the text offers simple observations by a young, dark-haired, rosy-cheeked
girl. Each is grounded in the senses. For example, “If a ladybug lands on you, it might
tickle,” and “the forest smells of moss, mushrooms and wet ground.” Crisp, graphic
images, digitally produced, stand out on plain backgrounds in nature’s glorious hues. A
French import, c’est manifique!

Book Notes (May 2011)
Anne Crausaz’s book about Seasons is deceptively simple (Kane Miller). A girl observes
her natural surroundings as the year cycles from spring through summer, fall, and winter
to return to a new beginning. However, she does more than look at her surroundings. She
listens to the silence of snow, smells the basil and mint in the garden, tastes the sweet and
sour flavors of blackberries, and feels a ladybug tickling her finger. Each season engages
all her senses and will prompt young listeners to come up with their own examples to
share. Although the book’s format isn’t large, the clear illustrations can be used with a
small group because of their fine layout and impressive graphics. They extend the text
without overwhelming it. A book worth reading at any time of year.

The Summer 2011 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview (May 2011)
"This lovely book from France is a welcome addition to the American children's book
market. Anyone who loves the clean lines and block colors of Charley Harper's books
will enjoy the simple, fresh illustrations in the book about what each season of the year
brings." -- Laura Hansen, Bookin' It, Little Falls, MN

Waking Brain Cells (June 6, 2011)
Explore and celebrate the seasons in this lovely picture book. A little girl moves through
the seasons, seeing each one through the changes in nature that occur. She experiences
them with all of her senses: seeing the green of spring, smelling the tomatoes, basil,
verbena and mint in the garden in summer, tasting the blackberries in fall, and feeling the
cold of snow in winter. This is a book that reminds all of us to treasure the time we
currently in, to slow down and notice the seasons, to savor the tastes and smells around
Crausaz’s text is spare and poetic, allowing readers to experience the moments in the
book without any excess words. A few sentences per page at most, the book takes
readers through a sensory journey where they too can remember the colors, smells, tastes,
sounds and feels of each season.
Her art is equally simple. Using only a few lines to denote facial features, the
illustrations are done in bright colors that play well against each other. The horizon is
done in colored bands, the sky and clouds in other colors, trees and leaves play against
that background. It is a stylized and very successful look for a picture book.
While the seasonal picture book shelf can get crowded, this fresh, poetic book should find
a place there. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Jen Robinson’s Book Page (June 16, 2011)
Seasons is a lovely little picture book by Anne Crausaz, originally published in France,
recently released in a US edition by Kane Miller. Seasons is, as one would expect from
the title, an introduction to the seasons for kids. Each season gets several page spreads
filled with sights, sounds, tastes, scents, and textures.
Seasons reads like an illustrated poem, with very spare text, and highly stylized pictures.
For examples, one spread is:

"Fireflies, like flying stars.
Summer has arrived!"

The background is a deep, dusky blue, dotted with pin-prick stars, while mysterious
plants and over-sized fireflies make up the foreground.
Or there's this on another page:

"Sometimes summer is the taste of sand
in your mouth!"

We see a freckle-faced girl against a blue-gray background, with minimal texture. It's not
a typical ocean scene (there's no texture to the water at all), but we can see sand falling
from the fruit in the girl's hands.
Crausaz does an excellent job of showing the ways that the seasons feel, using warmer
palettes for the warmer seasons. She highlights many of things that make each season
wonderful, from the crackling sound that leaves make in the fall to the smell of
woodsmoke in the winter.
Seasons is a relatively small picture book (8.7" by 7.2"), with no dust jacket. I think this
will make it appealing to small hands. It's a quiet book, but one that I found myself
wanting to re-read immediately. Recommended for preschoolers, or anyone who has an
appreciation for the outdoors. Truly a beautiful little book. Kudos to Kane Miller for
bringing it over from France.

Kiss the Book (July 1, 2011)
With the change of seasons comes beautiful things to look at, smell, taste, touch, and
hear. With the seasons comes new experiences.
Simple text, fun illustrations, and great descriptions. This picture book would make a
great read aloud for introducing young children to the seasons. PRE-K, EL (K-3).

Through the Looking Glass Reviews (September 2011)
Everything is green outside, and the little girl knows that it must be springtime. She can
smell blossoms and the green grass, and she can hear the blackbirds “singing about their
favorite season.”
  When she sees fireflies sitting on the plants and sending their little messages of light
into the night, the little girl knows that summer has arrived. There are tomatoes to gather
and she can smell the basil, verbena, and mint plants. At the beach she plays in the sand
and she thinks that “Sometimes summer is the taste of sand in your mouth!”
   Autumn has come, and little ants are getting lifts on dandelion seed parachutes that are
carried on the breeze. The forest “smells of moss, mushrooms and wet ground,” and the
little girl plays in the fallen leaves.
   In winter the little girl loves to smell the wood fire smoke. She listens to the “silence of
the snow” and tastes snowflakes on her tongue.
   In this book, Anna Crausaz pairs her truly lovely illustrations with a simple lyrical text
that captures the sounds, smells, sights, and tastes of spring, summer, fall, and winter.
The simplicity of the art and text combine to give the reader a reading experience that is
beautiful and sensory.
This is the Tree
Written by Miriam Moss
Illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway

Choice Literacy (August 2011)
In a few words: This book is filled with poetic language and lush illustrations. Each page
rhythmically details a different species of animal that relies on the tree. The final message
addresses the ways that all the animals are connected.
Start school with rhythm. While This Is the Tree provides interesting facts about the
African Baobab tree and engenders further curiosity about the African Savannah, its
poetic structures lend themselves to frames for student writing. Use this informational
text as a blueprint for students to create a factual book about the class, with each student
writing an autobiographical page. Invite students to generate prose poems following the
book's format, and arrange their pieces into a class book.
For example:
This is the classroom where Constance sits
with long brown hair
and black-rimmed glasses framing hazel eyes.
The Tooth
Written by Avi Slodovnick
Illustrated by Manon Gauthier

NOLA Baby (Winter 2011)
It’s another “dental” title, but its message goes far beyond brushing. As young Marissa—
suffering a tooth ache—and her mother traverse the city streets on their way to the
dentist’s office, they encounter a homeless man seeking assistance. Though her mother
shoos her daughter quickly past him, Marissa can’t stop thinking about the man in need.
Her gift at the end is simple, selfless and innocent…and immensely inspiring. The soft,
muted illustrations beautifully reflect the book’s pensive mood.

Pugent Sound Council Reviews (February 2011)
Marissa ate too much candy and visits the dentist instead of going to school. Marissa is
intrigued by a homeless man on the way to the dentist. The dentist pulls her tooth out and
gives it to her in an envelope, warning her to brush twice a day. As Marissa and her
mother walk back through the city, Marissa drops off the tooth envelope into the
homeless man's shoe box. She says, "Put it under your pillow tonight and there will be
money there tomorrow." The man smiles and the text says, "Now all he needed...was a
pillow." This is a soft, reflective story about kindness. The unique illustrations are mostly
grayscale with spots of color like Marissa's yellow shirt and the orange envelope. They
appear to be made with colored pencils adding to the story's soft feel. This would make a
good read aloud and lead to a discussion about compassion.

Sacramento Book Reviews (March 2011)
The loss of a first tooth can be a monumental experience. For children and parents alike,
it signifies an important milestone in growing up. Avi Slodovnick, in her new book The
Tooth, captures the emotions and celebration that comes with that first wiggle.
         When Marissa awakes with a toothache, her mother takes her downtown to visit
the dentist. Marissa is amazed at how different the city is– people rushing here and there,
tall skyscrapers blocking out the sun, and a homeless man sitting on a grate, a box with
change placed in front of him. Thinking about the man takes Marissa’s mind of her tooth
pain. From the office window, Marissa sees how people passing by treat him like a
nobody. When Marissa’s tooth is removed, her mother tells her to put it under her pillow
for the tooth fairy. But what if there is another fate for her tooth? On the way home,
Marissa has one more interaction with the homeless man, and it is this exchange that will
move some readers to tears because of its profound beauty.
       Illustrator Manon Gauthier’s pictures are a powerful addition to this touching
story. During an experience that Marissa could make completely about herself, she
focuses instead on the needs of others. It’s an important lesson for us all.

The Bloomsbury Review (Winter 2010/2011)
Young Marissa wakes one morning with a toothache. On the way to the dentist’s office,
she notices a seated man: “In front him was an open shoe box with money inside.”
Marissa loses her rotten tooth in the dentist’s chair and gets it back in an orange envelope
with a reminder to put it under her pillow that night for the tooth fairy. Back on the street,
Marissa pulls away from her mother and drops her tooth into the homeless man’s shoe
box. “Put it under your pillow tonight … and there will be money there tomorrow,” she
explains to him. And the book’s final line: “Now all he needed … was a pillow.” For
parents hoping to shield young kids from “reality” as long as possible, this title is a
sobering, beautifully presented reminder of our children’s wisdom, their trusting
humanity, and how they navigate the incomprehensible parts of their daily lives.

The Horn Book Guide
In town after having a tooth pulled, Marissa notices a homeless man. She gives him her
tooth to put under his pillow "and there will be money there tomorrow." The text gently
reminds us: "Now all he needed...was a pillow." The illustrations for this poignant,
understated story show drab, frowning cityfolk; soft colors highlight the main characters
and emphasize Marissa's generous gesture.
What Does the President Look Like?
Written by Jane Hampton Cook
Illustrated by Adam Ziskie

Publishers Weekly (January 31, 2011)
"Before YouTube, television, and cameras, how did people know what the president
looked like?" From portraiture and political cartoons to the advent of photography and
film, Cook explores how public perception of the presidents was shaped by the
technologies available. Time lines and sidebars highlight intersections of the political and
the technological ("1924--Calvin Coolidge becomes the first president featured in a
campaign newsreel at the movies"). For a book so focused on visual representation, debut
talent Ziskie's pale, long-limbed, and slightly trippy artwork is an unusual but intriguing
choice, and he captures the eras of Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, Kennedy, and Obama
with equal ease. Ages 5–9. (Feb.)

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)
Highlighting different presidents and moving chronologically from Washington to
Obama, Cook explains how old techniques and new technologies have allowed people to
view the president. Washington had his portrait painted, and Lincoln was the first to be
photographed, but political cartoons, stereographs, newsreels and now YouTube have all
brought the highest United States political official visually to the people. Conversational
text describes each innovation and how it affected different presidents and even history.
Information is broken up into three boxes, one spotlighting the president and technique
used to display his image, one to further explain the technique and one for “Surprising
Facts.” The format, however, is clumsy and sometimes confusing. Content assumes some
knowledge of the presidents and history. Muted illustrations show three children moving
along in time, wearing period clothing and engaging in historical events. The line
drawings are fluid and curvy, giving people long-legged strides and a retro ’70s look.
Presidents’ images are not always shown or depicted clearly, and some examples of the
innovations described, such as cartoons and campaign posters, are noticeably missing.
Thumbnail illustrations of all of the presidential portraits do not depict a clear likeness.
Backmatter includes list of online resources and websites for select presidential libraries
and museums. An interesting concept that misses the mark in execution. (Informational
picture book. 7-10)

NC Teacher Stuff (February 6, 2011)
What Does the President Look Like? is a fascinating look at the history of visual media in
the United States. Each segment of the book focuses on a president and a prominent piece
of visual media of that time period. For example, George Washington and paintings are
paired together in the beginning of the book. There is time line information about Gilbert
Stuart's portrait of President Washington and brief narratives as well. Other visual media
featured include political cartoons, campaign posters, photographs, stereographs, silent
and talking movies, television, web pages, and digital cameras. Each piece of media is
presented through the lens of how it was used by the presidents. Author Jane Hampton
Cook, who served in the White House, also explains how several of these formats work.
   You could have rich discussions after reading aloud this book. With the beginning of
the 2012 presidential campaign not that far away, this would be an excellent resource to
help explain specifically to children why visual media is an important factor in how our
leaders are elected and generally how this medium affects our lives. This could lead to
discussions and research on the role of advertising in society. I would also like to use this
book to prompt students to tackle the question of whether looks really do matter in our
culture. History can be an interesting subject when you have terrific books such as What
Does the President Look Like?

5 Minutes for Books (April 11, 2011)
Imagine a time when you, as an average American citizen, had absolutely no idea what
your national leader looked like. As wild as this idea might sound to us in today’s digital
age of immediate knowledge, this was pretty commonplace during the earliest years of
our country’s history. In What Does the President Look Like?, a new nonfiction picture
book, Jane Hampton Cook addresses the progression of the transmission of this
With the unveiling of a painting of George Washington in Philadelphia’s City Hall in
1796, the general public had the first opportunity to see a depiction of the president’s
image. Apparently, up until that time, it was usual practice to hang portraits only in
private homes, so this act also became one of the country’s first public art exhibits. Fast
forward over 150 years, and image is suspected of playing a significant role in public
perception during the presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon-
with television viewers and radio listeners coming to different conclusions of which
candidate “won.” These are just two facts that I gleaned from this interesting picture book
for older readers. Going from paintings to political cartoons all the way to today’s
inundation of photographic images, the history of public perceptions of presidents is
explored here with plenty of “surprising facts” and tidbits from our nation’s past.
Each two-page spread includes whimsical illustrations in muted colors depicting the
various time periods of the United States’ history, as well as boxes of information about
the images of the presidents over the years. My own ten year old son has enjoyed reading
through this book, not put off by the picture book format and drawn to the interesting
presentation of the information.
For a unique approach to a specific aspect of our nation’s history that informs as well as
entertains older children, pick up a copy of What Does the President Look Like?

Meridian Magazine (July 1, 2011)
What Does the President Look Like?, by Jane Hampton Cook, and illustrated by Adam
Ziskie, is a fascinating picture book that looks back in history and how Americans
“knew” what their president looked like. Before there was the invention of photography
they depended on portraitures and political cartoons from newspapers There are
interesting facts, found on each president, highlighted as well.

Puget Sound Council for Reviewing Children’s Media (June 2011)
This non-fiction book convers many interesting topics, all through the lens of the
President of the United States. Included are brief historical perspectives of photography,
printing, early political cartoons, early 3D glasses, movies, newsreels, and presidential
debates. Each one helps students understand what it would be like to learn about the
president (or not) based on the communication media available at the time.
Middle grades will glean more from this than early grades, but it’s suitable for a wide
range of learners. It’d be best paired with additional books on presidential history or the
history of public communication, because it touches on so many topics and isn’t meant to
be in-depth about any one of them. The pastel drawn illustrations are subtle, and don’t
detract from the words, but occasionally they don’t add much either. The book would
have been better if it included a few of the historical images it mentions, especially the
early years. There are helpful resource lists at the end. Not meant as a stand-alone book;
fantastic addition to an existing collection.

Curled up Kids (November 30, 2011)
This book is not about what our presidents looked like physically as much as it is about
how people have been able to look at the president.
What Does the President Look Like? gives children facts about some American
presidents as well as the developments of technological advances in media. Each double-
page spread introduces a US president and describes how the people would have seen the
president – on a painted portrait, a stereograph or a photograph, or perhaps black-and-
white television.
Each section also includes a list of surprising facts about the president featured as well as
trivia about other presidents. In the back of the book, you will find a beautifully
illustrated chart of all the American presidents plus resource materials and a list of
presidential libraries and museums.
Adam Ziskie’s double-page illustrations are equally informative, showing the dress and
environment of the time period for each of the presidents featured. For example, in the
illustration for James Polk, there is a horse and buggy in the background of a scene; in the
section for President Obama, the people are looking at a computer. The muted colors of
the illustrations add a sepia-tone effect that enhances the nostalgic atmosphere of the
Though the book is somewhat slim, Author Jane Hampton Cook fills it with trivia, vital
statistics and more about some of our American presidents and history that will appeal to
children ages 6 years and up. An enticing read that will have you learning something new
each time you open the book.
When I Love You at Christmas
Written by David Bedford
Illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2011)
A little preschool-age girl prepares for Christmas as her adoring lamb toy watches in this
sweet story first published in Australia.
The text follows a pattern of two activities that lead to a reassuring, repeated refrain:
“When you wrap your gifts / When you tie the bows / That’s when I love you.” The lamb
toy watches in smiling silence as the little girl makes cookies, decorates the tree, sings
and dances to Christmas music and makes cards. She tosses and turns trying to get to
sleep on Christmas Eve (with the lamb next to her in bed). On Christmas morning,
readers see that the cookies, the card and the wrapped presents are all for the lamb. On
one of the last pages (“when you lift me high”), the girl holds up the lamb, who is
wearing a new scarf and hat. Adult readers will see that the loving relationship between
the child and her lamb is symbolic of that between parent and child. Charming, simple
illustrations with minimal backgrounds suit the nature of the story.
A pleasing story for preschoolers to enjoy with a favorite stuffed animal and a Christmas
cookie. (Picture book. 2-5)

Kiss the Book (October 2011)
Back Cover: “Christmas time is giving time, baking time and singing time. But best of
all, it is loving time.” This incredible Christmas book celebrates all the wonders of
Christmas. From nativity scenes, to making cards, each facet of this special holiday is
explored. The illustrations are fabulous! The colors are bright, bold and inviting. This is
a great book to help celebrate the season of Christmas. We didn't love the title. After
reading the book, it makes more sense-but at first glance, it seems a little odd?

Publishers Weekly (September 26, 2011)
In a square-format, paper-over-board book, a girl prepares for Christmas with her stuffed
sheep in tow, while unrhymed verse (which turns out to be from the sheep’s perspective)
offers simple assurances of love: “When you twist the strings/ When you hang the star/
That’s when I love you.” Ainslie’s sweet illustrations suggest a world in miniature as the
girl tries to sleep on Christmas Eve and discovers her presents under the tree, giving one
to her sheep. The girl’s affection for her stuffed animal mirrors the evergreen love
between a child and guardian. Ages 3–up. (Sept.)
Picture Book Reviews (September 23, 2011)
A stuffed lamb watches as her friend bakes, decorates, dances and sings and celebrates
Warm sentiments touch us all at this wonderful time of the year. Wonderful to enjoy
with the very young huddled on the couch with a blanket and hot chocolate. With merry
shades of red and green set against clean, white backgrounds, this book pours out the
many nostalgic traditions of the holiday. Lovely endpapers of green flowers and leaves.
 Overall size is 8″x8″. ♥♥♥♥

School Library Journal (October 2011)
An unnamed narrator waxes enthusiastic over every holiday-related activity a young girl
participates in (“When you wrap your gifts/When you tie the bows/That’s when I love
you”). Who is this narrator? A parent? A grandparent? The final spread reveals that it is
the toy lamb pictured throughout. The pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations are simple
and rather charming, showing an apple-cheeked child cheerfully wrapping, decorating,
writing cards, and so on. A sentimental, additional offering.

The Horn Book (November/December 2011)
A little girl and her toy lamb prepare for Christmas—making cookies, decorating the tree,
wrapping presents, singing in a pageant—while an unknown narrator showers her with
love: “When you wrap your gifts / When you tie the bows / That’s when I love you.” The
book’s small, square trim size; generous white space on well-composed double-page
spreads; and cheerful illustrations full of eye-pleasing colors and patterns combine to
make an attractive package for the youngest reader—and the final reveal of the narrator’s
identity adds a fresh and funny spin, setting this one apart from the all-too-typical
unconditional-love picture book.
When Molly Was a Harvey Girl
By Frances M. Wood (January 2011)
When Molly's father dies her nineteen-year-old sister tells her they must take a train to
Chicago and get work as Harvey girls in one of the Harvey Eating Houses along the
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. But there's just one problem with Colleen's
plan, Molly's only thirteen, and Harvey girls need to be at least eighteen. When they
arrive Molly does her best to look and act older, and she soon finds herself longing less
for home and enjoying life in the Wild West of Raton, New Mexico. But out here there's
always the fear of train robbers, and the most infamous is Genius Jim, and Molly, Colleen
and the other girls find themselves face to face with danger. A fast-paced historical novel
young readers will enjoy. (Ages 9-12)

Teaching Tolerance (Spring 2011)
When Molly Was a Harvey Girl ($15.99) traces the adventures of a 13-yearold who,
passing for 18, joins the staff at one of the famous Harvey Houses—the restaurants at
stops on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railway in the late 1800s. Molly, the hero of
this historical novel by Frances M. Wood, is full of pluck and ingenuity, and middle
school readers will enjoy reading about her. The novel explains the opportunities and
limitations that young women could expect back in the late 1800s. And it shows the
prejudices that Mexicans and Native Americans faced during U.S. expansion.

The Fourth Musketeer (March 16, 2011)
I found this book to be thoroughly charming; the protagonist, Molly, is a
character girls will identify with, as she struggles to act like an "adult" even
though she is only thirteen. It's a great story to explore a little-known
aspect of women's history; the Harvey restaurants provided a career
opportunity for respectable girls in an era when there were very few
options. In addition, as a secondary story, we see the racism and prejudice
that existed in the West between different ethnic groups, who were not
supposed to mix socially, through Molly's friendship with Josiah and Susana.

The Horn Book Guide
After their father dies, thirteen-year-old Molly (pretending to be eighteen) and her sister
travel to Raton, New Mexico, to be Harvey Girls. Serving food all day to Wild West
cowboys, miners, and railroad men changes Molly's outlook on life. An original setting,
filled with interesting details about young women's lives in the Harvey Eating Houses,
characterizes this captivating, well-researched historical narrative. Reading list.
Who Came Down that Road?
Written by George Ella Lyon
Illustrated by Peter Catalanotto

Biblio Reads (February 13, 2011)
Imagine going back in time traveling down just one road. You will with Who Came
Down That Road?. Stand with a mother and her son on a road that leads back through
history--past her newlywed great-grandparents, past civil war soldiers, Native Americans
hunting, woolly mammoths who started the trail and finally back to the great mystery of
how life began.
    The paintings perfectly capture the mother and son on their private afternoon walk;
they are as sweeping as the imaginative tale, intriguing readers and inspiring us to look at
our own history and down our own roads with same awe and respect.

SWON Libraries CLEAR (August 2011)
The watercolor illustrations are glorious, with light shimmering through the trees and
images superimposed as well. Who Came Down That Road is a marvelous introduction to
the concept of historical time and evolution.
Who Cares?
Who Dares?
By Krista Blakeney Bell

Voya (October 2011)
In this Australian award-winning novel, Toby and Rhys are two teen boys spending a
week together at a beach house, even though they barely know each other. Toby’s mom
is working in Hong Kong for the week and his father is too busy to stay with him so
when Rhys’s mom offers to take Toby to her beach house, it seems like the perfect
solution to everybody—except Toby and Rhys. They each have secrets and tiptoe around
each other the first day, but quickly come to depend and rely on each other. Toby’s secret
is really not that big of a deal, but Rhys is dealing with a horrible situation at home that
quickly affects both boys.
Who Cares? reads like a bibliotherapy book for teens dealing with alcoholic parents.
Although the cover shows two boys sitting on a beach with a surfboard, this book is not a
lighthearted beach read. Surfing does play a role in the boys’ friendship, but the crux of
the story is Rhys’s volatile situation with his mom. A very quick read, Who Cares? will
be useful for teens who need a push to talk about their own issues with alcoholic parents.

Kiss the Book (November, 2011)
When Rhys and Toby are thrown together on a weeklong beach vacation, they are both
dreading it. When Rhys turns out to be a good surf teacher, a friendship starts. Both boys
have a big secret and trying to hide those secrets turns out to be harder than they thought.
Surfing is a common thread and adds to the fun.
I really enjoyed this book! The author creates a naturally built friendship just in time for
these boys who both really need a real friend. Students will enjoy the surfing and the

Kiss the Book (November, 2011)
Now great friends, Rhys and Toby are set to compete in a surfing competition.There are a
few mysteries in the resort town where the competition is taking place, and the boys may
need to help. They are also asked to befriend a sulky skateboarder, will they be able to
break down some barriers and make a new friend? Not to mention the excitement of the
surfing competition.
As a second book in this series, I also really liked this book! The well built friendship
between the two boys lends itself well to the added mysteries of this book. Students will
love these mysteries, as well as the surfing competition, and the skate boarding.
Who’s Hiding
By Satoru Onishi (July 2011)
This is a favorite for my two-year-old and my five-year-old alike. The book features 18
funny-looking animals (dog, sheep, lion, etc.) who stare out at the reader with innocuous
simplicity. The scenes vary ever so slightly from page to page, which begs the questions:
Who's hiding? Who's angry? Who's backwards? Who's sleeping? Onishi has created a
real gem that will keep kids busy and laughing. There's even an answer key on the last
page. What could be better?
Wild Stories
By Colin Thompson

Pugent Sound Council Reviews (February 2011)
The author wrote several books filled with animal stories and decided to combine them
all in to one 335 page book. Some stories/poems are extremely short (less than one page),
while others are several pages in length. Each story is told from the perspective of an
animal (chicken, slug, snail, tadpole, rats, mice, rabbits, dog, owl, crows, mole...).
Readers who love nature will enjoy these gentle stories, some of which have morals
while others are just stories.

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