‘Whale in a Fishbowl’ by Troy Howell & Richard Jones Is a Touching Picture Book about Belonging

whale in a fishbowl

“Whale in a Fishbowl” By Troy Howell and Richard Jones is a picture book that children will love. They will intuitively know that whales don’t belong in fishbowls. They will know that Wednesday, the whale who lives in a huge fishbowl in the middle of the busy city certainly does not belong there.

And Wednesday knows that — deep down. But the fishbowl is the only home she has ever known. When she occasionally catches a glimpse of the sea, her heart leaps, although she doesn’t know why.  She just leaps to see that tiny speck of blue.

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‘All Our Wild Wonder: A Poem’ by Sarah Kay and Sophia Janowitz


“All Our Wild Wonder” is a small book, but the brilliant tangerine cover surrounds the rectangle containing the title and an illustration of a hand holding a dandelion that is releasing its seeds into the world. It’s a small package containing a powerful poem.

At the center of the poem is Mrs. Ribeiro, “an Indian woman the size of a nightlight,” who glided through the school so effortlessly that children thought she floated. This diminutive principal was so devoted to the students at her school that she would leave meetings whenever a child needed her — even just to read to, or to show a gold star, or to see a finished project.

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‘My Red Velvet Cape’ by Dana Sullivan Is a Marvelous Mixup for a Superhero-Loving Child


A picture book that will cheer up any prospective birthday boy or girl is “My Red Velvet Cape” by fabulous author/illustrator Dana Sullivan. There is so much to love about Sullivan’s newest picture book including the misunderstanding (Sullivan loves misunderstandings, just check out “Ozzie and the Art Contest“), the incredibly hip mom and grandma (go hip grandmas!), the bright and colorful watercolor and ink illustrations, and the sweet ending.

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‘Ozzie and the Art Contest’ by Dana Sullivan


In “Ozzie and the Art Contest,” Dana Sullivan teaches young readers some very important life lessons. Ozzie, a bright blue dog, is very excited when his teacher announces that there will be an art contest. Ozzie loves to draw and he is sure he will win.

He quickly reads the instructions on the way home and uses his skills in folding paper to make a paper airplane out of the instruction sheet. Once home, he begins to draw his picture of a goat. His good friend agrees to model for the picture. Ozzie just knows he’ll win the contest — he knows a lot about goats!

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‘The Summer of Broken Things’ by Margaret Peterson Haddix Illustrates What Makes Family in this Touching Young Adult Novel

broken things

In “The Summer of Broken Things,” Margaret Peterson Haddix departs from her beloved sci-fi stories, and she includes no hidden children, just two teenagers from very different families — and very different socio-economic backgrounds — who are going to spend the summer together in Spain. But there is something hidden from their past.

Although Avery and Kayla have known each other since birth, it hasn’t been a close relationship. Originally, Avery was told that Kayla’s mother was friends with her nanny. But even after Avery no longer needed the nanny, Kayla’s mother still brought gifts for Avery at holidays. When Avery’s dad is going to Spain for the summer, he suggests that Avery and a friend go with him. She’s stunned that the person accompanying them isn’t really a friend, it’s Kayla Butts from the middle of nowhere.

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‘The Night Dairy’ by Veera Hiranandani: An Historical Fiction Middle Grade Novel About the Partition of India

the night diary

In “The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani, readers will get a chance to learn about a piece of history that is not often included in children’s books — the partition of India. In fact, this adult reader learned much about that historic event.

While many adults know that upon gaining independence from Great Britain, India was divided into India and Pakistan, one a Hindu country and the other Muslim, adults like me know little about the actual event and how smoothly (or not) the transition and partition went. It did not go well.

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‘The Window’ by Amelia Brunskill Is a Beautifully Written YA Mystery


How did Anna die? That’s the question that her twin sister, Jess, can’t get out of her head in the novel “The Window” by Amelia Brunskill. Identical twins Anna and Jess were inseparable growing up, but lately, not so much. In fact, after Anna’s death, Jess starts to investigate what really happened, and what she uncovers is that Anna was deliberately increasing the distance between them.

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‘Front Desk’ by Kelly Yang: Superb Middle Grade Fiction Kids (and Adults) Will Love

front desk

In her fiction-based-on-real-life novel “Front Desk,” author Kelly Yang hits every note perfectly. The main character is authentic (maybe because it’s based on Yang) and readers automatically like her. She’s far from perfect on many levels, so readers will be able to identify with her. Although the plot is not about murder or mystery, it’s really gripping.

It’s about a ten-year-old girl named Mia Tang whose mother tells her she will never be able to write, who mans the front desk of a motel so that her parents can clean rooms and wash sheets and towels, and who isn’t able to dress like the other kids in her class because her parents have no money.

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‘Your Robot Dog Will Die’ by Arin Greenwood Is a Thought-Provoking Coming-of-Age Young Adult Novel about Integrity and Loving Animals


In “Your Robot Dog Will Die,” author Arin Greenwood packs a lot of ideas for readers — especially young adult readers — to ponder. Why do most of us love our dogs so passionately that if we didn’t have real dogs, we just might grow to love robot dogs as much?  But fear not, the story doesn’t just have robot dogs. There are real dogs, too, for the reader to fall in love with, although Billy the Robot Dog does seem worthy of a good amount of love as well.

Nano is the seventeen-year-old main character, who because of her very isolated life on Dog Island seems much younger. She and the other two children on the island, Wolf and Jack, have never left the island — a place where six wild dogs exist in a world where dogs are basically extinct. In this future time, the world has changed in ways that are not appealing. There is little water because of a huge drought, so those on Dog Island drink recycled urine and are not able to bathe with real water. Worse than that, scientists trying to genetically improve the dog species ended up with dogs who attacked people because of a mutant virus that then spread to all dogs.

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