‘Vets and Pets: Wounded Warriors and the Animals that Help Them Heal’ Is a Must-Read for Animal Lovers

betsandpets.jpg

In “Vets and Pets: Wounded Warriors and the Animals that Help Them Heal,” authors Dava Guerin and Kevin Ferris tell story after story of a veteran and the animals — mostly dogs but also cats, horses, birds, and a pig — who helped them heal. In  many cases, the animals that saved the veterans helped them not only heal, but live a normal life.

The book includes a wonderful anecdote about an incident that happened during the Battle of Germantown in the Revolutionary War. A small terrier was wandering on the battlefield, and after he was captured, the Americans realized that he belonged to the British General Howe. Washington was advised to keep the dog as a trophy and that it would demoralize the British troops. Washington, however, declared a truce and had the dog returned to his owner. He realized the importance of the bond between man and dog. Continue reading

‘Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race’ by Chris Grabenstein Is a Worthy Third Book in the Series

library-race-press.jpg

Can author Chris Grabenstein keep on writing “Mr. Lemoncello” books that will have new plots and  new twists and will keep kids (and adults) entertained? From the looks of “Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race,” it appears to be a certainty.

In this third book in the series, Kyle Keeley is once again determined to win a game sponsored by Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, his idol, the famous game maker and inventor extraordinaire. Lemoncello is to libraries what Willy Wonka was to candy in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Continue reading

Cat Missing Two Legs Adopted To Be Therapy Cat For Disabled Veterans and Others

bruce.jpg

An abandoned black cat with two missing back legs was rescued and flown from New York to Ohio to begin a new life as a therapy cat for disabled veterans and others who are amputees.

The extremely friendly cat was abandoned on the streets of New York. He couldn’t walk because of missing back legs. When Mary Tschinkel of Friendly Ferals heard about him, she was determined to help. She commented about the negative stereotypes about black cats:

“I can’t tell you what a wonderful cat this is. He’s gorgeous. Black cats – people should be inspired to adopt a black cat – they are wonderful there’s nothing better than a black cat! Superstitions are stupid.”

Continue reading

‘Lemons’ by Melissa Savage: Wonderful and Thoughtful Middle Grade Fiction

lemons.jpg

“Lemons” by Melissa Savage covers some tough topics in a lovely story. The main character, Lemonade Liberty Witt, named because her mother wanted her to be able to make lemonade from tough situations, has just had a really tough situation. Her mother died.

Lem, as she is called, and her mother lived in San Francisco and enjoyed life to the fullest. Her father was never a part of the picture, and she didn’t really have other family. At least, that’s what she thought until her mother died and she went to live with her grandfather, who had been estranged from her mother, in small-town Willow Creek.

Continue reading

Sweet Eva Failed by Many Including Shelter that Doesn’t Screen Adopters or Give Basic Information about Introducing a New Dog into a Home

eva.jpg

Eva is a sweet and very friendly dog who is a volunteer favorite. But Eva, through no fault of her own, is going to be killed at the shelter because they are filled and need her kennel.

eva kissing

Eva is a dog who has been failed way too often. She has been adopted from the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center over and over, but she gets returned after a few months, or she is dumped on the streets to end up there a few years after being adopted. In March, 2016, she had been dumped at the shelter with pink-painted nails. Someone had loved her enough to spend time painting her nails, and then they left her at a kill shelter.

 

Continue reading

‘The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse’ by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

wolfduckmouse

In “The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse,” Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen create another fantastic fable that will be devoured by children around the world, just as the titular wolf devours the duck and the mouse.

The three characters, two of whom were swallowed by the wolf, must join forces to save all their lives. And ironically, the smaller and seemingly more helpless of the trio are the ones who save the day.

Continue reading

‘Bruce’s Big Move’ Author Ryan Higgins Opens Up and Shares Secret Behind Bruce’s Curmudgeonly Character and More

Bruce's Big Move High Res

With the release of the third “Bruce” book, “Bruce’s Big Move,” author Ryan Higgins agreed to answer some questions that delve deep into the heart of this wonderful series and its grumpy but lovable main character, Bruce.

Who would have thought that the character of Bruce was based on the author’s grandfather? Higgins shares that: Continue reading

‘Bruce’s Big Move’: Bruce and His Geese Are Back! And It’s a Giveaway of All the Bruce Books! #BrucesBigMove #FollowBruce

Disney-Hyperion sent me a copy of Bruce’s Big Move to review and is partnering with me for a giveaway!

Bruce's Big Move High Res.jpg

Not only is kids’ favorite picture book character back, one lucky Bruce fan will win a 3bruce bookswhole lotta’ Bruce: All three of the fabulous Bruce books, including “Mother Bruce,” “Hotel Bruce,” and “Bruce’s Big Move.”

ENTER TO WIN HERE

After “Mother Bruce” and  “Hotel Bruce” comes “Bruce’s Big Move,” a book starring the curmudgeonly bear Bruce which is every bit as sweet and touching as the first two “Bruce” books.

In this fabulous picture book, Bruce is tired of living a chaotic life with not only his four geese children but the three mischievous mice who make life noisy, messy, and filled with nonstop action. Bruce craves some peace and quiet.

He tries sending the mice away, but nothing works. They are happily oblivious to his best efforts and don’t go anywhere. Finally, Bruce decides that he and the geese must move. They find a beautiful home on the edge of a lovely lake. There is sweet solitude and plenty of quiet contentment.

Continue reading

‘Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably): A Clever Picture Book About Friendship

snappsy.jpg

“Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably)” by Julie Falatko and illustrated by Tim Miller is a picture book that is humorous, educational and even, at the end, touching.

Snappsy is kind of a grumpy guy. When his “best friend,” a chicken, wants to have all kinds of fun with him, Snappsy responds that he really just wants a quiet evening alone. Readers, adults and kids alike, will laugh as Snappsy, at the brink of frustration, explains how they are not best friends: Continue reading

Three Must-Have Picture Books for Young Animal Lovers and Others

There are three astonishingly beautiful picture books for children which should be considered for every school library or bookshelf.

howtoheal

“How to Heal a Broken Wing” by Bob Graham is the fictional account of a pigeon who flies into a skyscraper in the middle of a large city and falls to the sidewalk. People walk past, unseeing and uncaring, but when Will and his mother walk by, Will sees. Will cares. Will breaks away from his mother and goes back to the hurt bird. He gently picks it up and holds it out to his mother.

This touching story of one boy’s compassion for a bird many consider dirty and vermin-like is beautifully told and illustrated. The text is quite spare as are the illustrations. Both parents make identical gestures when they first see the bird — their hands on their heads as if to say, “Really?!” But both wholeheartedly join in the rescue attempt, the mother giving up her scarf to carefully wrap the bird for its trip to their house and the father going out to buy the injured bird a cage to recuperate in. And slowly — the author shows the passage of time through illustrations of the changing moon — the bird heals.

This is a story that will not soon be forgotten, and it might just be the book that changes a child’s life and view of those who are helpless, those whom others don’t notice, those who desperately need help. It’s a story that would certainly facilitate productive conversations about helping others and the value of life.

Quite different from the fictional story of one pigeon is the nonfiction book “Many: TheIMG_3282 Diversity of Life on Earth” by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton. In “Many,” the author presents the incredible diversity, the incredibly enormous numbers and types of plants and animals and even microbes that exist alongside of us on our planet. From two kinds of huge elephants (African and Asian) to more than 600 kinds of oak trees; from over 100,000 kinds of mushrooms to thousands of microbes in one teaspoon of dust, and from deserts to islands, from treetops to the bottom of the ocean, the author states:

“We have learned that every kind of living thing is part of a big, beautiful, complicated pattern.

The last part of the book warns about the danger of continuing to disrupt the beautiful, natural pattern that is life on Earth. “The trouble is, all over the world, human beings are destroying pieces of the pattern…” Examples are chemicals poisoning our air, rivers and oceans and fishing boats emptying the oceans and people cutting forests resulting in the extinction of animals and plants.

This book is perfect for starting a conversation or project about the environment and what we must do to protect it for our children and future generations.

IMG_3281Another nonfiction picture book is “Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals” also by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Petr Horácek. This picture book is organized by “Big and Small,” “Color and Shapes,” Animal Homes,” “Animal Babies,” and “Animals in Action.”

The largest bird, the African ostrich, is compared to the tiniest, a hummingbird just bigger than a bee. It could fit inside the ostrich’s eye. The information is presented in rhyme, which makes this a lovely book to read aloud.

“The ostrich lives in Africa
in grasslands hot and dry,
the biggest bird in all the world —
in fact, too large to fly.”

There are giraffes and lions and elephants and ants. One sepia and taupe monochromatic page titled “What Am I?” presents information about mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and more. The next page begins “Colors and Shapes” and has brilliant color illustrations of beetles with the information that there are more than 300,000 kinds of beetles. Camel with their humps, zebras and tigers resplendent with stripes, and a panda grace the pages of this chapter.

This is not a picture book for a quick read. Rather, this is a picture book that youngsters will want to peruse slowly as they absorb all the information. They will learn that even a crocodile is tender when it comes to her babies.

“No one thinks of crocodiles as gentle;
tenderness is something for the doves.
But when baby crocodiles are hatching,
it’s hard to say they don’t get Mother’s love.”

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by Candlewick Press for review purposes.

 

‘The War I Finally Won’ Is the Amazing Sequel to ‘The War that Saved My Life’

the war.jpeg

It’s rare when a sequel is just as beautifully written and just as touching (maybe even more so) than the first book. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley accomplished this difficult feat with “The War I Finally Won,” the sequel to “The War that Saved My Life.”

Ada is the main character in both books, and it’s her story, that of a child who has endured unimaginable abuse and cruelty, who has struggled through life with a disability, yet who emerges strong and brave. That story has enthralled readers and made tens of thousands of them weep.

Continue reading