Monthly Archives: September 2013


“Please don’t stomp here. There are seeds and they are trying,” reads a sign in the yard. In up-and-coming author Julie Fogliano’s book, And Then It’s Spring, the reader follows along in the process of waiting for spring with a little boy. This beautiful book explains the way in which the world works. Along with the delicate illustrations of previous Caldecott Award winner Erin Stead, Fogliano tells the story of a boy who plants his very own garden and then must wait patiently as the brown of winter turns into the bright green of spring.

“Please don’t stomp here. There are seeds and they are trying.”

I really enjoyed this book and I think it could be used for children of all ages. It takes an interesting topic about how our world works and combines it with the story of a child and beautiful illustrations to make it enjoyable for all. Whether you’re looking for a book to help explain the way the seasons work and gardens grow or a nice book to read at bedtime, you can’t go wrong with And Then It’s Spring.


Reviewed by: Hannah Woodward

Sentimental Sunday: Wonder


There are few problems that children in America today will face at school that are greater than the problem of bullying. As someone who was on the receiving end of intense bullying throughout middle school, this book resonated with me deeply. The negative consequences of bullying are vast, and the effects of bullying can lead to incredibly destructive behavior; as such, children need to know what these effects are and what they can do to stop bullying.

Wonder, by R. J. Palacio, is a book that does all of this and more – all while being a best seller. Published in 2012, Wonder has done nothing but impress readers all over the country, and I am no exception. Palacio is a fantastic writer, and he uses his incredible skill to take the reader on a marvelous journey throughout the pages of Wonder. Filled with highs and lows, Wonder explores the world through the eyes of a child who has forever been the object of scrutiny, and as you read about his journey, the awful world created by bullying is revealed.

Don’t despair, however, for this is not a book that leaves you sad and despairing about the state of the world we live in; ultimately, it is a story of hope, courage, and friendship that helps readers of all ages to treat others with love and to really think before we make a snap judgment about those around us. Read this book – it will change your life.

Will Harrington

The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes!


The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes by Anne Mazer is one of my favorite book series of all time! I read the first 15 books when I was ten years old, coincidentally, the same age as the protagonist Abby. Since then, there have been five more books written. The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes is a relatable, clever and realistic series about a young girl who journals about her daily experiences as a ten year old girl living in a family with two older sisters and a younger brother, all of whom she feels are superior to her in some way. I remember reading through this series quicker than I’ve read through any series, because I always wanted to know what was happening to Abby Hayes in her amazing days. About a week ago, I searched for the series at Barnes & Noble and couldn’t find it, but fortunately, my parents were able to bring a few of the books down when they visited this weekend.


When I read about Abby at the age of ten, I felt as though I had a true friend. The struggles she faces in the fifteen books I read are some that I could easily relate to, for even if I don’t have a younger brother and I never tried to buy roller blades, I do know the feeling of not knowing where you belong within your family or a group of friends, not knowing what your talent or defining characteristic is, and even the desire to earn something for yourself. These are all themes present throughout the book series that most pre-teens can relate to.


Re-reading the first book reminded me of how personal the book feels, for it is written in two styles that alternate. Part of the book is written in the third person with black ink, while the other part of the book is written from Abby’s perspective in a purple font that is more similar to a pre-teen’s handwriting. The latter is taken from Abby’s journal as she writes about the issues she’s facing, what she is thinking, and how she is feeling. I related to Abby, as I believe most children around the age of ten would. Abby and I were happy together, sad together, and angry together. I definitely recommend this series for children around this age who enjoy journaling and reading realistic fiction.


Post by Sarah D’Amico


The Trouble with Cauliflower by Jane Sutton


The Trouble with Cauliflower, by Jane Sutton, centers on Mortimer and his belief that he has a day of bad luck anytime he eats cauliflower.  One day, his friend, Sadie, makes him dinner.  He eats four helpings of cauliflower stew, and the next day is a disaster! He burns his breakfast, and even worse, fails his driving test.  He won’t be able to get the car of his dreams: a purple sports car with green wheels.  Sadie comes up with a plan to prove to Mortimer that cauliflower doesn’t really give him bad luck and that it’s all in his head.  She tricks Mortimer into eating a surprise vegetable casserole. The next day, he has the best day ever.  He goes to the Summer Fun Fair and even wins a free pizza!  Over pizza that night, Sadie reveals that she tricked Mortimer.  Even though he ate the cauliflower that was in her surprise vegetable casserole, he still managed to have a great day.  Stay tuned: does it rain every time Mortimer drinks lemonade?

This book is very fun, and helps children explore incorrect explanations for events.  Sometimes, it  may be able to spot someone else falsely connecting two unrelated occurrences. The illustrations, done by Jim Harris, are fantastic.  They are very realistic and detailed.  The mouse hiding in each picture adds another reason to pour over the pictures.

Reviewed by Emily Kreid

Traditional Thursday: The Persian Cinderella


Everyone knows the classic story of Cinderella.   A beautiful, yet lonely girl with two evil stepsisters, a magical fairy godmother, a pair of enchanted glass slippers, a carriage made from a pumpkin, and the happily ever after with her handsome Prince Charming.  Well, what if the story had a bit of a cultural twist? 

In Shirley Climo’s The Persian Cinderella, we encounter a new type of princess.  Meet Settareh, a young and lovely girl in Persian society trying to escape from the exhausting demands of her household.   While it seems that this story is the same with a difference in name, the setting and cultural accuracy is a defining feature of this book. The Persian Cinderella diverges from the traditional tale of Cinderella as Settareh is placed within the very male-dominated and religious society of Persia.  Many customs found in Persian society are accurately depicted within Settareh’s interactions with her family, and even strangers.  For example, instead of living with her stepmother and stepsisters like in the classic tale, Settareh lives with her aunts, cousins, as well as her distracted, yet kind father signifying the major role family had within this culture. 

The beautiful illustrations done by Robert Florczak of the mosques, town markets, and of arabesque art is central to not only the understanding of Persian values, but to the realistic depiction of this society.  This book is ideal to teach children about traditions and customs found within other cultures. By drawing comparisons with stories that they are familiar with those of other society’s, they would be able to find similarities and differences within two distinct regions and cultures.  I would recommend this book for 3rd through 5th grade, but I think any class examining Middle Eastern traditions could definitely benefit from reading the Persian tradition of the beloved Cinderella.



Reviewed by: Hannah Ladendorf

Trendy Tuesday: Grumpy Goat


“Stop and smell the flowers.”  It may seem like a goofy or childish saying, but it’s so true.  Even now, as busy college students consumed with work and everything else, it is easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed, grumpy and sluggish.  We are not the only ones who may feel this way at times: elders and even children too.  Similarly, Brett Helquist touches on the case of grumpiness in his book, Grumpy Goat.

The book starts out with a grumpy goat pushing everyone around him away with his scary and bad attitude. Later you read and see what has the power to have such a large impact on the goat to be able to finally let the farm animals around him in. Helquist writes, “See how stopping to smell the flowers really can change everything.”  I think this is a very powerful line because it sums up the meaning of the whgrumpygoatole book. Once the goat found something he loved, he was able to stop being mean and let the other animals around him in. The book put off an important message that once you “stop to smell the flowers” you can get more out of it than you thought. The goat was able to get new friends that stayed with him through hard times and was also there to enjoy the good days at the farm. I think this story is something that anyone can relate to, and can make you think back and see what little things have brought good memories back to you or have given you the power to see things differently.  And maybe then you won’t have as many grumpy days.  So go out and enjoy this Tuesday: whether it being curling up inside with a book hiding from the rain, splashing in puddles, or dancing in the rain.  Enjoy life— it’s too short to be grumpy all the time!

-Brooks Weber

Leonardo the Terrible Monster


ImageHave you ever just found that no matter how hard you try, you just aren’t good at something? Well, you’re not alone. Leonardo feels the same. In Mo Willem’s book, Leonardo the Terrible Monster, readers connect with a little monster that just can’t seem to scare anyone. Children will smile as Leonardo is compared to his other monster friends. Whether it’s his lack of teeth, his height, or his personality, it seems like Leonardo just can’t measure up.

So Leonardo sets out to find a the wimpiest kid out there with his mind set on scaring “the tuna salad” out of him.Poor little Sam didn’t see it coming. So Leonardo sneaks up on Sam, scares him, and leaves Sam in tears. But Sam is quick to tell Leonardo that he isn’t scared. It turns out that Sam is just having a bad day. And Leonardo makes a good decision. Leonardo figures out that it’s okay if he isn’t a very good monster, because he can still be a pretty good friend.

This book is a cute story that is easy for children and adults of all ages to enjoy and connect with. It’s okay if you aren’t good at the same thing everyone else is, you can still find something special to do. I enjoyed this book immensely due to the combination of humor and a valuable lesson for all.

Reviewed by Hannah Woodward

“Sentimental Sunday”: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge



It’s Sunday, so I’m feeling rather sentimental. I chose to review Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox because it reminds me of my Nana. I was genuinely moved by this sweet story addressing dementia. I had to work to hold back my tears throughout the entire book. Earlier this year, I lost my Nana to Alzheimer’s disease, so this story really hit home for me. When Wilfred Gordon learns that his elderly friend, Nancy, has lost her memory, he thoughtfully sets out to find them for her. As Wilfred Gordon goes around asking everyone what memories are, he gets many different answers. Fox did an amazing job depicting how a child may interpret the complex concept of memory loss, and the genuine helpfulness that comes so naturally to children. I also love how she conveyed the message that memories may seem so different from multiple perspectives. For some they are sad, for some they are funny, and for others they’re warm and feel like home. The quirky, yet lovely, illustrations by Julie Vivas make this book even better as they flow across the seam of the book.

I recommend Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge for children ages 3 to 8. However, I think this is a touching story that people of any age could benefit from reading, especially those with a loved one suffering from dementia. Even as an adult, I could read this book over and over again (if a box of tissue was supplied, that is).

Reviewed by: Sara Bunch

Inside Out and Back Again: Winner Wednesdays

Inside Out and Back Again: Winner Wednesdays

This National Book Award winner written by Thanhha Lai is about a family moving from Vietnam to the US because their country got destroyed by the Vietnam War. The children had to pack up and leave and come to the United States. In the boat to America, the family had to sleep on mats together. The sister had to sleep by one of her brothers and he didn’t smell very good. When they got to Alabama they had to learn to live in a very new culture.

This book was amazing. I would totally recommend this book to anyone. What made it different is that it was a story in poems. I though the author did a great job writing the book. I would give this book 5 stars.


Haley Kellar

Series Saturday: Fancy Nancy


Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 3.31.18 PMIn “Spectacular Spectacles” , by Jane O’Connor, Nancy is jealous of her friend for having glasses so she desperately tries to make her eyes worse in the hopes of getting some herself. In the end Nancy’s mother helps her to realize that she does not have to ruin her eyes to have glasses, instead she can do something creative. The Fancy Nancy series is full of lighthearted stories that are great for early readers. Vocabulary acquisition is one of the main reasons we read to children. The Fancy Nancy series presents new vocabulary words explicitly, describing them as  “fancy” ways to say other words. For example in  “Spectacular Spectacles” , O’Connor presents the word “distressing” :

“ In school her eyes hurt a lot. It is very distressing. (That’s like upsetting- only fancier). “

I enjoyed these books because they are not only fun for kids to read, but they facilitate the development of a more complex vocabulary. I think the way in which Jane O’Connor frames new words simply as fancier words is very clever because every child loves pretend they are fancy from time to time!  At the back of each book there is a list of all the “fancy” new words that children will have come across by the end of the story. The Fancy Nancy Series is leveled, allowing children to see their progress as they continue to read. This series is definitely a great choice for new readers looking to have a sophisticated vocabulary!

By Isabelle Despins