In “Stay,” author Bobbie Pyron creates a story that will grab readers by the heartstrings as they root for practically everyone in this tale of homelessness, pride, friendship, mental illness, and above all — dogs. For in this middle grade novel, the dogs are important parts of the story and important — vitally — to those with whom they live.
Read to children, as much as possible, and repeat. Often. The secret to raising book- loving youngsters is to read fabulous books to them from infanthood and never stop until they go to college. Or maybe high school. But even older children often love reading with parents. Here are some clever and humorous picture books that also have clever and important messages for young readers. Continue reading
“I Can Make this Promise” by Christine Day explores the emotional impact of finding out about one’s own heritage and culture, and at the same time shares a part of our history that is both shocking and horrifying. This book would be an excellent companion choice to Joseph Bruchac’s “Two Roads,” about Native Americans sent to “Indian School” and the discrimination suffered by Native Americans a century ago.
“The Paris Project” by Donna Gephart is an impactful story about the fact that children are not their parents, and that no one should be ashamed of their family because our families do not define who we are. Gephart’s novels, including “Lily and Dunkin,” and “In Your Shoes,” are about kids who are different and who may be imperfect on the outside, but are perfectly wonderful on the inside. Continue reading
Children often learn about the world around them through the books they read or the books that are read to them. The books that parents and educators choose to share can have a huge impact on a child’s view of the world and the diverse people in it. By exposing young readers to diverse literature, children learn that not all children have the same experiences that they do, and they learn that others are worthy of our compassion, our friendship, and our support. Continue reading
Kids love animals, and when picture books feature animals to get across a message, or just to entertain, kids are sure to enjoy them. Here are several picture books that will include some that are destined to become favorites.
“Survivor Girl” by Erin Teagan is so good you will not stop reading it, and when you are done, you will want a sequel. Alison, the main character, has mixed feelings about her dad. She learns things about him that disappoint her, but she also learns aspects of herself that help her in life-threatening situations. If you want a good and intriguing page-turner, flip to the first page of “Survivor Girl.” Be prepared for adventure! Continue reading
What better way to introduce children to the language and ideas behind computer coding (or just codes in general) than by reading picture books that combine real information with a bit of story-telling to inform and entertain.
“How to Code a Rollercoaster” written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Sara Palacios is a lively story about Pearl, who visits an amusement park with her robot, Pascal. This brightly illustrated picture book introduces kids to the language of computers. Readers learn what words like “loop,” “code,” “variable,” and “value” mean. In fact, they also learn computer reasoning like true and false and “if-then-else.” Adults just might learn a bit about computer programming from this quick, interesting read. The author knows what he writes about because he’s a software engineer. This is not his first picture book. (Viking)
“Winterwood” by Shea Ernshaw is about witches. Specifically it’s about Nora — daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and more — descended from a long line of witches who live and practice their magic along the shore of Jackjaw Lake and in the shadow of the forest outside the town of Fir Haven.
The Walker women came out of the forest back in the days when Fir Haven was a small gold mining town, and ever since, they have lived in a log cabin between the summer cabins and the dark forest. Nora lives there with her mother, now that her grandmother has died, leaving Nora with her moonstone ring. But Nora’s mother has left to sell her honey (charming bees is her particular magic), and Nora is alone in the cabin with only her wolf, Fin, to protect her when a blizzard envelopes the town and cuts off electricity and the roads.
“Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death” by Caitlin Doughty, after two weeks in print, was eighth in hardcover nonfiction in the New York Times list of of bestsellers. Death sells. Doughty writes a book that will simultaneously make you gag and smile, but certainly won’t make you die laughing. In fact, that’s one question that isn’t answered in this book with strange facts about dead bodies and death — can you die laughing? Apparently no child asked that question. Maybe in the next book, Caitlin?
While this memoir, “An Elephant in My Kitchen: What the Herd Taught Me About Love, Courage and Survival” is, in a way, a sequel to “The Elephant Whisperer,” it’s a different story with a different writer. Françoise Malby-Anthony is a fabulous narrator, and her story brings readers to tears at times, but her strength and her determination shine through, as do her compassion and her inner goodness.
Both books are about Thula Thula, the game reserve that Françoise and her late husband, Lawrence, built together. He was the animal guy, and she took care of the lodges, booking guests and running the marketing. He was out in the field, solving elephant problems and issues with poachers, while she dealt with bad Tripadvisor reviews.
Last Friday I got a text from a young high school friend. She sent me a video of a black cat walking by her bus stop in our neighborhood. She said it looked skinny and seemed to be limping. It went up to a house where there was food outside, and when the man inside tried to greet it, it ran away.
I decided that I would try to help that cat, so after work I took a can of cat food and went to the house where they were feeding it. The woman who lived there agreed that I could try to trap the cat and get it medical care. She said that she would keep the cat if we caught it! I left canned food in the bowl she had left outside (filled with dog food). The next morning I went back and saw the food was gone. I left more food and explained that I was trying to find a humane trap and how they work. Continue reading