From an updated classic to a new, thoughtful story filled with questions, these four dog books, picture books for young and old children, will delight all kinds of readers. Especially dog lovers — and aren’t most kids dog lovers at heart?
“Stand on the Sky” by Erin Bow is a book that stands out from many other middle grade reads. The setting and the plot are an introduction into another culture — one that seems to be another world from a life where cold food is nuked in a microwave and there’s a Starbucks on every corner. Aisulu is the twelve-year-old main character who lives with her family in Mongolia.
“The Outwalkers” by Fiona Shaw is a tough read, but not because it’s not a fabulous story. In fact, the book is intriguing from the first page and emotionally heartrending to the last. It’s dark and depressing, but at the same time it’s filled with hope and the promise of a better world. My heart beat a bit faster from the beginning to the end of the book — I was that worried about the main character, Jake, and his incredibly loyal and wonderful dog Jet.
This review was written by a junior reviewer, Jamie L., who is a fourth grader who loves to read.
“Spy Toys Out of Control” by Mark Powers is a great sequel that includes action, humor, and a little bit of mystery. Powers hooks the reader into his writing, forming a picture in the reader’s head. Once a person starts reading, this book will not be put down.
Picture books are fabulous ways to start discussions about serious topics like friendship, discrimination, kindness, and prejudice. These three picture books are wonderful examples of books that express a wide range of messages and showcase a variety of styles of illustrations. All are excellent choices for school libraries and classrooms, as well as for any child who loves books.
“Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly follows her first book, the award-winning novel “Chained.” Kelly’s writing is as beautiful as ever, and the story just as touching — and perhaps more accessible to young readers as the setting is in the United States instead of India. It’s a story about Iris, who is deaf, and the connection she feels for a whale named Blue 55, who is unable to communicate with other whales.
“The Simple Art of Flying” by Cory Leonardo isn’t a simple book at all. It’s filled with an erudite African grey parrot, a feisty octogenarian, an adolescent wanna-be medical doctor, and a pet store owner who shouldn’t be allowed to own even a goldfish. This middle grade tale is filled with quirky characters — both human and not — and a sweet message of acceptance and family. And family can certainly include our non-human family members.
Shaun Tan creates another thoughtful, insightful, simple-yet-oh-so-complex picture book with “Cicada.” The plot, on one hand, is simple. As Tan writes on the inside cover of the book, “Cicada tell story. Story good. Story simple. Story even human can understand. Tok Tok Tok!”
With “Love,” author Stacy McAnulty and illustrator Joanne Lew-Vriethoff present images that children will relate to all demonstrating that love has no boundaries, no color barriers, no species barriers, but is all-encompassing.
“Hope” by Matthew Cordell follows his beautiful picture book, “Dream,” which is “a poem of love and the book is a poetic ode in words and pictures to the power of parental care.” “Hope” features lions instead of gorillas, and the voice is one of the grandparents sharing their hopes and dreams and wishes for their grandchild.
“You will meet so many. Many who are like you. Many who are not. Continue looking. Continue seeking. And for the future, there will always be hope.”
“Watcher in the Woods” by Kelley Armstrong continues her “Rockton” series set in the fictional “town” of Rockton, in the Northern Yukon in the middle of thousands of miles of wilderness. Mixed in with the wild, the tundra, the vicious animals, and the cold is the primitive town of Rockton, where fugitives from society live. Some are victims seeking to flee their abuser(s) while others are criminals seeking to escape justice.
“Wundersmith: The Calling of Morigan Crow” is the sequel to the first book in the “Nevermoor” series, “Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow,” about a young girl who was whisked to Nevermoor just before she had been doomed to die on her 11th birthday. As an illegal immigrant in Nevermoor, the only way she can stay in Nevermoor is to pass rigorous trials to earn a place in the illustrious Wundrous Society — which she does in the first book.