‘Must Love Dogs: A Howliday Tail’ by Claire Cook Brings Holiday Cheer and Sweet Tails to Readers

mustlovedogs6

The bestselling “Must Love Dogs” series by Claire Cook allows readers a chance to enter the never-boring life of Sarah Hurlihy as she negotiates a romance with her boyfriend/fiancé John. Her close-knit family, including her very Irish and very funny father, complicate the story in the way that only family can.

In this sixth tale in the series, Sarah and John have bought Sarah’s family home and are trying to figure out how to make the home theirs. It’s difficult with sisters and brothers coming to their childhood home whenever they want, while that hilarious but very hard-to-handle dad, the clan’s patriarch, lives in the home in his own “apartment,” or man-cave, as he calls it. Sarah’s assistant from the preschool. Polly, who is recently divorced and pregnant, has also moved in.

Continue reading

6 Fabulous Children’s Picture Books for Gift-Giving

There are many, many wonderful picture books that would make fabulous gifts for children in the holiday season or anytime. To pick just six of the books that children will enjoy at any time of year was difficult, but each book will perfectly fit a need for young children in a range of ages and interests.

“ABC Dream” is an incredibly beautiful alphabet picture book by Kim Krans. Each page of illustrations is a work of art, and children will love finding and naming all the things in each letter’s page. Each page is thoughtful and lovely. Read the full review here. (Random House)

“Nanette’s Baguette” is by ever-popular, ever-clever author and illustrator Mo Willems. In this story, Nanette is finally allowed to go to the bakery and get the baguette. Willems is careful to describe baguettes (warm and wonderful-smelling). And the book is filled, completely filled, with rhymes for baguette and Nanette. For example, “Look! There’s Mr. Barnett with his pet, Antoinette! Nanette pets Antoinette. Did Nanette forget the baguette?” The story is sweet and appropriately predictable, and kids will want to hear it over and over again. (Hyperion Books for Children)

iwantmyhat“I Want My Hat Back” by Jon Klassen is a picture book that belongs in the library of every toddler or young child. Children from three and through third grade will enjoy this clever story on several levels. The youngest readers will simply enjoy the story of a bear who wants his hat back. Those who are ready to make inferences will greatly enjoy realizing that through the language in the dialogue, Klassen reveals what has really happened. There are two stories going on; one is the literal story and the other is what must be inferred. Read the full review here. (Candlewick Press)

A picture book about a floating cat named Papillon will enchant children. In “Papillon Goes to the Vet,” A. N. Kang persuades children that going to the vet (or doctor) is not a terrible experience. When Papillon swallows a toy, he feels sick and is unable to float. But an overnight at the vet’s cures Papillon and he’s good as new the next day. (Disney -Hyperion)

Children love rhyming books, and Corey Rosen Schwartz is an expert at creating fractured fairy tales with great rhythm. “Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale” is a book that she labored over for years. It’s about Cinderella and her twin sister, Twinderella. This imaginative fairy tale take-off is filled with fractions and math and twins galore. Unlike many fairy tales, in this one the main character loves to do math! Read the full review here. (Putnam Books)

And a picture book that will be appreciated by older picture book lovers is “7 Ate 9: The 7ate9Untold Story” by Tara Lazar and very cleverly illustrated by Ross MacDonald. The story is filled with double-entendres, homophones, and idioms. 7 is the “prime” suspect when 9 goes missing. During the course of the story, they visit the “pi” shop where the waitress, B, has the scoop. Finally, to the delight of readers, Private I puts two and two together to solve the mathematical mystery. It’s a story that can be read over and over to squeeze out every bit of cleverness. Read the full review here. (Disney-Hyperion)

Please note: This review was based on the final, hardcover picture books provided by the publishers for review purposes.

 

 

5 Children’s Picture Books With Messages for Young Readers

This holiday season, or any time of the year, it’s wonderful to find picture books that share  uplifting messages for young readers. Many picture books, fiction and nonfiction, allow young readers to think about issues such as fairness, inclusion, and just that it’s okay to be different. Here are some really thoughtful books that will open children’s horizons in wonderful ways.

Continue reading

Holiday Books about Winter and Christmas are Perfect for Cold Weather Reading

A very sweet tale, “William’s Winter Nap” by Linda Ashman and Chuck Groenink, will warm the hearts of animal lovers everywhere. Told in a lovely rhyming cadence, the Williams-Winter-Nap-Cover-Draftreader meets William, who has finished his hot cocoa, climbed into bed, and readied himself for a long winter’s nap. But as soon as he gets settled, there is a tap on his window. A chipmunk is cold and seeking shelter, and William welcomes him into the snuggly bed. But a knock on the door brings a porcupine begging for “a smidge of space.” Soon, more animals (who do actually hibernate) come to the door, but the last animal is a surprise. Can a bear fit into the bed with the other five? This is a sweet tale of friendship and helping animals in need. Children will love seeing how they all manage to fit. In this day of children having their own bedroom and sleeping alone, it’s fun to imagine sleeping with a posse of friends. (Disney-Hyperion Books)

Continue reading

‘Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen’ Is a Beautifully Illustrated and Narrated Book about the World of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’

middle earth

If there is one book that lovers of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” would love to own, it’s this book: “Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen, Building the World of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.” This weighty (literally, maybe five pounds) book is filled with photographs, information, architectural drawings, and quotes about the entire process in creating the Tolkien world.

Continue reading

“La Belle Sauvage”: Lyra’s Return

bookofdust

Philip Pullman’s latest beguiling novel,“The Book of Dust, Volume One, La Belle Sauvage,” marks Pullman’s return to the strange, eerie, beautiful world of Lyra Belacqua. Readers all over the world (OUR world) who loved the previous Lyra trilogy, His Dark Materials, will surely be profoundly moved and satisfied by this volume — because the novel is, indeed, profoundly moving and satisfying. Continue reading

‘The Trust’ by Ronald H. Balson Is a Thrilling, Action-Filled Suspense Novel

the trust.jpg

In “The Trust,” Ronald H. Balson, takes his readers to Northern Ireland on a whirlwind tour of Ireland and its troubles — both current and past. Liam Taggert, the Chicago detective who, with his lawyer wife Catherine, are the main characters in all Balson’s books, must deal with the past when it comes back to haunt him in this touching, thoughtfully-written story.

When Liam’s uncle Fergus dies, he leaves his property in a secret trust with Liam as the trustee. Liam is reluctant to return to Northern Ireland for the funeral, but Catherine urges Liam to go and reconcile with the family he hasn’t seen in years. Liam, who has been estranged from his Irish relatives for almost two decades, is thrust into the middle of a maelstrom. After Fergus is murdered, other Taggerts are targeted and some are killed. Liam must use his detective skills to try to find the murderer before everyone in the family is killed.

Continue reading

Sebring, Florida Dogs Have Until Monday to Find Rescue or Die

monday.jpg

Some of the dogs written about in “31 Dogs Have Nothing to Be Thankful for; All will be Killed Before Thanksgiving” were rescued and others were given a reprieve until Monday the 27th. That’s the way it goes in small county shelters. If enough space opens up, the dogs who were going to die get additional time to find a home and leave the shelter alive. But that also means that there is a never-ending cycle of dogs who are urgently in need of rescue.

The dogs who are still in need of rescue are Brinds, Tony, Shyla, Arie, Derby, Bailey, Howze and Plumo. There are also a few new dogs.

Continue reading

‘The Great Shelby Holmes Meets her Match’ by Elizabeth Eulberg Is the Second in the Clever Middle Grade Series

shelbyholmes

Shelby Holmes was introduced to readers in “The Great Shelby Holmes,” the first book in the series by Elizabeth Eulberg. In the second book, “The Great Shelby Holmes Meets her Match,” narrator John Watson brings to life another mystery that he and Shelby solve, and in the process gives the reader another view at the complicated genius of Shelby Holmes.

She’s a pint-sized fourth grader who has skipped two grades. Watson is a newcomer to New York City, and in the first book, Shelby shows him around the neighborhood. In this book, Holmes and Watson start school.

Continue reading

31 Dogs Have Nothing to Be Thankful for; All will be Killed Before Thanksgiving

Tony

Update: Belle, Moon, Rosa, Parker, Silver, Pork Chop, Murry and Maggie (she wasn’t posted yet) have all been RESCUED by Bishop Animal Shelter,SPCA of Manatee County, Please honor pledges at www.bishopspca.org The volunteers at Sebring, FL say, “Thank you!!!!”

Tony was caught on camera with his tail mid-wag. He’s looking sweetly at the photographer with a gleam in his eyes, his body raised up as if hoping that the person taking the picture will stop and give Tony some affection. He wants it, desperately. And now Tony is one of many dogs who will be killed on Tuesday, November 21, unless he is pulled by rescue or adopted.

Tony isn’t petite or graced with curly locks. His nose doesn’t wrinkle up like a Boston Terrier’s. He doesn’t have a long plume of a tail like a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. In fact, Tony looks like many of the other dogs at this shelter. He’s a mix — that healthy blend of many breeds that gives the lucky ones longevity and few diseases and the unlucky ones death at the local county shelter.

While city and suburban shelters receive a mix of purebred dogs and mixes, rural county shelters like the Highlands County Animal Services get mostly mixed breeds, many of which look like pit bull mixes and hunting dogs. The shelter’s director tries to learn about the dogs and their personalities, but as with  most shelters, and especially small ones with few resources, dogs’ behaviors in shelters are often quite different from their behaviors in a home. That’s why responsible shelters advise adopters to take all animal introductions slowly and give new animals time to decompress and relax. (Read a great article about this here.)

Continue reading