What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Sibling Stories')

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 7 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Sibling Stories, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 29
1. Alphonse, That is Not OK to Do! by Daisy Hirst


Earlier this year I enthusiastically reviewed the marvelous debut picture book from Daisy HirstThe Girl with the Parrot on Her Head. Hirst's book subtly, thoughtfully and genuinely addresses the emotions of loneliness, anger and fear in a small child while simultaneously creating a setting and story that captures the imagination, creativity and curious logic of children. And, as with all the best picture books, Hirst makes this all seem effortless. Whatever countless hours, months and years of work that went into creating her picture book become an seemingly effortlessly engaging, charming story that leaves readers and listeners with so much to talk about. Hirst accomplishes the same magic with her new book, Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do!, a sibling story that is a joy to read. In fact, I read it over and over to kindergarten, first and second graders the week before writing this review and I discovered something new and wonderful about the book with each reading. And, as with her debut book, Hirst's new picture book gives readers and listeners so much to think and talk about.

Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do! begins, "Once there was Natalie," and we see a happy red monster swinging as she holds her parents's hands. A page turn brings the arrival of Alphonse. While Natalie's facial expression is less than cheerful, she, "mostly did not mind there being Alphonse." We see the two playing together, making things together and naming pigeons together, but we also learn that sometimes Alphonse draws on things Natalie has made and occasionally eats her books, which she hates.


One day, when things aren't going well for Natalie, Alphonse sends her over the edge. She finds him under the bed, eating her favorite book. If you look closely you will notice that Alphonse is eating A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban which, Hirst's bio reveals, was her favorite audio book as a child. She tells him that is not OK to do, then draws an angry picture in which a tiny Alphonse is being assailed by "a tornado, two beasts and a swarm of peas." Alone in her bath, Natalie becomes worried when she thinks she hears her drawing come to life. In a very clever twist that took me a reading or two to notice, the sounds that Natalie hears (which are being made by Alphonse as he tries to get the tape to repair Natalie's book down from a high shelf with the vacuum then a chair) do actually echo the sounds that her drawing might make. Natalie is scared, and remorseful. A two page spread shows her at the right corner of the recto, wrapped in her towel and looking worried. A page turn reveals the scene below.


Hirst ends her book with an explanation and apology from Alphonse, which Natalie responds too with sweet concern and her own apology for being mean. Alphonse then shows Natalie that he finished her picture and her expression is one of trepidation. Happily, she thinks it is "Most Excellent Fantastic!" and the two go on to draw more together.

I realize that I basically told the whole story of Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do! here, but I wanted you to get a feel for the excellent story telling on display as well as the superb, caring character that is Natalie. There are teachable moments in this book and moments where you will want to stop and talk with the listeners. Best of all, there are no adults in this book, allowing Natalie and Alphonse to work things out themselves, which is so much more powerful than having mom or dad come in and sort things out.

For a glimpse into the long process of writing this book, and the collaborations along the way that shaped it, read Hirst's contribution to Picture Book Party, a blog by Walker Books UK, partner with my favorite publisher of picture books, Candlewick Press.

The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head



0 Comments on Alphonse, That is Not OK to Do! by Daisy Hirst as of 11/9/2016 3:47:00 AM
Add a Comment
2. The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan, 88pp, RL4


Patricia MacLachlan is a big name in kid's books. Author of the Newbery winner, Sarah Plain and Tall, a classroom staple, as well as many other novels and picture books, I have reviewed only two of her books. The title of her newest book, The Poet's Dog, hooked me immediately. As did the length of the book. As a librarian at a school where the majority of students are English Language learners who are not reading at grade level, short books like this give them a sense of accomplishment needed to persevere with longer books. As an adult reader, I found The Poet's Dog to be alternately charming and frustrating, not sure what to make of this book. In the end, I decided to read it as a fairy tale and that helped quiet the the questioning voices in my head, allowing me to enjoy MacLachlan's book as I know young readers will.

The Poet's Dog begins with a haiku-like verse, "Dogs speak words/ But only poets/ And children/ Hear." This is the magical premise that sustains the story of Nickel and Flora, siblings lost in a snowstorm who are rescued by Teddy, the dog of the title. Teddy guides the two back to a cabin in the woods belonging to Sylvan, the poet. Slowly, over days, Teddy tells the children about Sylvan, who rescued him from the pound, and the children tell Teddy about the car stuck in the snowbank and their mother leaving to get help. Teddy tells the children about the poetry class held in the cabin and his love of the The Ox-Cart Man, a Caldecott winning picture book written by Pulitzer prize winning poet, Donald Hall, which he hears as a poem. Sylvan becomes ill and Ellie, a student of his, gets him to the doctor and, along with Teddy, becomes heir to his estate when he dies. Teddy refuses to leave the cabin, which is how he is able to rescue the children and keep them safe, but off the grid, until the storm clears. 

Like siblings in a fairy tale, Nickel and Flora deal marvelously with the challenges they encounter. They make a fire and tend to it, get wood from the shed and cook with the provisions left in the pantry. Taking the role of cook, Flora explains, "It's not because I'm a girl that I cook. I like it. It's in the herbs. Like science. When I grow up and have twenty-seven cats and dogs and become a horse trainer, I will have a large collection of herbs." Nickel writes in a notebook, sharing his view of life snowed in at the cabin. Teddy says his writing is, "funny, sly, and sometimes poignant. Sylvan taught me the word poignant." Sylvan thinks that poignancy "may be the most important thing in poetry." 

And, The Poet's Dog is definitely poignant. Teddy, who, it is revealed, is an Irish Wolfhound, is clearly a reliable caretaker for Nickel and Flora and readers will never worry about their eventual rescue. But, readers will begin to worry about Teddy and what will become of him. Just before Sylvan dies, he tells Teddy that he hopes he will "find a jewel or two." This proves to be a prophetic little mystery that is solved by the (happy) end of the story. So what did I find frustrating about The Poet's Dog? I think I made the mistake of not reading it as a fairy tale from the start, which left me worried and frustrated when I realized that Nickel and Flora's parents must be wild with worry upon realizing they have left the car stuck in the snow bank and that there would be no way they wouldn't be found sooner. I went into this book not realizing that I needed a willing suspension of disbelief, despite the poem at the start! I know that I will return to this book and read it again, maybe even out loud to students. It is magical in the best way, because it's about the magic of words and writing and that, even with a willing suspension of disbelief, is poignant.

One note that I feel bears repeating: I often reading other reviews of books before writing my own, to see what others are thinking and to find a perspective other than my own. I often read the reviews at Kirkus, an industry magazine. In the last year or so, every review (of children's books) makes note of the color of the characters in the book. The review of The Poet's Dog alerted me to the fact that, on the jacket art, the siblings appear to be brown skinned children with black hair while the text describes Nickel as "having blond hair, implying whiteness." Miscue on the part of the artist, Kenard Pak or calculated choice on the part of the art director and editor?

Source: Review Copy


0 Comments on The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan, 88pp, RL4 as of 10/21/2016 4:01:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers, 64 pp, RL 2



The Infamous Ratsos is a rare little chapter book written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Matt Myers. I say rare because it's not often that I get to read a book at this reading level that feels like a real chapter book, rather than a leveled reader. The Infamous Ratsos is written in simple but colorful language and is perfect for newly independent readers or even for a read out loud!

Louie and Ralphie Ratso are two brothers who hang tough, no matter what. They want to be just like their dad, Big Lou, who drives a truck and a forklift and sometimes a snow plow. There are two kinds of people in this world, says Big Lou, "Those who are tough and those who are soft." Louie and Ralphie get the message and want to make their dad proud, especially since they are trying hard not to think about Mama Ratso, who's been gone for a little while now.

Louie, who considers himself the smart one, confuses being tough with being mean, which gets the brothers into a lot of sticky situations that don't go as planned. Stealing a hat from the biggest, baddest guy on the playground makes the brothers heroes. Turns out that Chad Badgerton stole the hat from Tiny Crawley on the bus that very morning. The brothers are praised for stopping a bully. And trying to slip a homemade sandwich filled with disgusting pickled foods to the new girl only ends up making the homesick rabbit feel better, as the pickles remind her of her nana.

More mess-ups ensue, and they get funnier as they go. Finally, Big Lou gets a letter about the boys's behavior. They try to deny being helpful, thoughtful, friendly and kind, saying they want to be TOUGH just like their dad, not softies. This gives Big Lou pause and the boys have a good talk, a cuddle and even a little cry. From then on, all the Ratsos are helpful guys. Like Big Lou says, "Life is tough enough, we might as well try to make it easier for one another, whenever we can."

Love these rats, the fantastic illustrations and the wonderful message to be found in The Infamous Ratsos.


Source: Review Copy

0 Comments on The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers, 64 pp, RL 2 as of 8/30/2016 4:15:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier, 256 pp, RL 4


In 2010, Raina Telgemeier was my introduction to graphic novels. As a bookseller, I was aware of the section with graphic novels for adults and, for the most part they seemed like bleak, dark stories filled with superheroes. Upon seeing Telgemeier's book on the shelf in the kid's section, I was drawn to the mint green cover with the bright yellow, braces filled smiley face of Smile. While I was a bit suspicious, thinking this might be a more superficial story about the awkwardness of braces, I was hooked immediately when I read the first few pages, learning real, autobiographical story behind the braces. Since that day, I have eagerly awaited, read and reviewed all of Telgemeier's books (except Sisters, for some reason) and you can read those reviews here. When I became an elementary school librarian two years ago, one of my first missions was to create a graphic novel section. The shelves currently hold (when they are not checked out, which they always are) ten copies of Smile and Sisters, three copies of Drama and four sets of the four The Babysitter's Club graphic novels, including one set in the newly colored editions. And, once I get my book budget for the year, there will be five library bound copies of Ghosts sitting beside the three paperback copies I bought out of pocket.

Raina Telgemeier has a gift for creating immediately accessible characters who are as colorful and full of life as her vivid illustrations. She also is exceptionally talented at presenting families that, while they have their struggles and conflicts, are connected, supportive, loving and thoughtful. With Ghosts, Telgemeier adds a new layer to her storytelling in the character of Maya, younger sister of main Catrina, who suffers from the degenerative condition, cystic fibrosis. Maya's illness is what causes the family to move from Southern California to the small seaside town in Northern California, Bahía de la Luna. As a native Californian, I love that Telgemeier sets some of her stories here and was so excited to learn that the town of Half Moon Bay was the inspiration for the setting of Ghosts. I also got a kick out of her version of In & Out Burger, a chain restaurant that is only in Southern California.


Telgemeier introduces and balances many themes skillfully in Ghosts. There are sibling issues, like Maya's illness and how Cat lovingly protects her but also wants a life of her own, separate from Maya. Then there are family issues that arise as they settle into Bahía de la Luna, which has a large Mexican American population. When the girls learn about Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated with a huge festival and midnight party in Bahía de la Luna, Maya questions her mother about her childhood as a second generation Mexican American. And, with Ghosts, Telgemeier introduces magical realism into her story telling. Carlos Calaveras, neighbor and classmate of Cat's, works as a guide, giving tours of the ghosts of Bahía de la Luna. Cat is suspicious, then furious after she sees that Maya is enthralled with the idea of ghosts and take chances with her health to see one.




Cat tries to humor Maya and her excitement over meeting a ghost, but their expedition ultimately puts her in the hospital. Cat spends the rest of the novel coping with her guilt, making new friends, being angry at Carlos and worrying about Maya. Telgemeier ends Ghosts with the marvelous Halloween night, which flows into to the Día de los Muertos celebration where Cat has a change of heart that allows her to make connections with the abuela she never knew, forgive Carlos and make Maya's wish come true.


This is a fantastic trailer that captures the magic of Ghosts!





Raina Telgemeier's books:









0 Comments on Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier, 256 pp, RL 4 as of 9/11/2016 4:19:00 PM
Add a Comment
5. Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye by Geoffrey Hayes, 32 pp, RL 2


Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye is the sixth book featuring these bickering siblings and, as always, Geoffrey Hayes captures the intense and fleeting emotions that young children feel and how they make sense of the world around them perfectly. And, as always, his illustrations are marvelously charming and the natural world that the mice live in gently beautiful. Hayes's graphic novel series is perfect for emerging readers looking for something beyond Frog & Toad and Amelia Bedelia.


In How to Say Goodbye, Hayes has his mice brother and sister encounter death. While playing together in the fall leaves, Penny finds a salamander she named Little Red. She knows that it is dead, having a grasp of what death it. Benny reacts with anger, throwing the salamander into the bushes.


Penny gets help from Melina and the two make plans for Little Red, Benny skulking around the edges of their activities. As the they prepare for the burial, Benny and Penny have memories of Little Red, each feeling their grief in their own ways. They also find ways to honor the life of the salamander. As the story draws to an end, another salamander appears and a new friendship begins.



You can read my reviews of other 
Benny & Penny books here





Source: Review Copy


0 Comments on Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye by Geoffrey Hayes, 32 pp, RL 2 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown, 224 pp, RL 4


Jeffrey Brown is the author of the first three fantastic Jedi Academy books, as well as many other hilarious books in which Darth Vader copes with hand-son fatherhood. Now, following another passion of his, he has created a graphic novel series Lucy & Andy Neanderthal, featuring siblings, Lucy and Andy, their clan, and some prehistoric creatures.

If you have read any of Brown's other books, then you know he is fantastic when it comes to creating engaging characters. Although I came of age with it, I'm not a fan of Star Wars, yet I found Brown's Jedi Academy books completely enthralling precisely because of the characters he populated this world with. In Lucy & Andy Neanderthal, we meet the tween siblings, their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Luba, and their baby brother Danny. Margaret and Phil, teens who are part of the clan, and the creaky old Mr. Daryl. As the older sister, Lucy can seem like a know-it-all, at least to Andy. In a funny twist, Brown gives Lucy some insights beyond her era, causing the other kids to think she's weird.


Brown includes two anthropologists, Pam and Eric, in Lucy & Andy Neanderthal. The scientists occasionally appear to share facts about life 40,000 years ago in the Stone Age as well as to let readers know when aspects of Brown's book might not be scientifically accurate, starting with Tiny, Lucy and Andy's pet cat. One thing I really love about the information that Pam and Eric share are the illustrations that accompany them. Brown shows readers what actual anthropologists might see when they are at a dig site, impressing upon readers that what we know scientifically comes from finding the remains of these early humans and their civilization, something somewhat abstract that could elude them.



In this first book in the series, readers see Lucy and Andy and their clan as they hunt a wooly mammoth, with the violence of the kill off the page. We see Lucy creating some cave art on a rainy day with some very funny hijinks and critiques from the adults of the clan. In another chapter Andy's toothache ends with an explanation from Pam and Eric on Neanderthal health care, of the lack thereof. Finding the remains of a wooly mammoth leads to a chapter on Neanderthal clothing and how it was made, which is important as winter approaches. As Lucy & Andy Neanderthal draws to a close, the clan encounters another group of people who seem a bit more civilized. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book as winter sets in!




Source: Purchased


0 Comments on Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown, 224 pp, RL 4 as of 10/17/2016 5:08:00 AM
Add a Comment
7. Crossover by Kwame Alexander, 237 pp, RL: 4

I am embarrassed to admit that I had The Crossover by Kwame Alexander sitting on my bookshelf for almost a year before it won the Newbery Award this year. I read the blurb about basketball phenom Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan and couldn't get excited, even though I LOVE verse novels and am continually amazed by them. It's just that I have zero interest in sports and sports stories.

0 Comments on Crossover by Kwame Alexander, 237 pp, RL: 4 as of 2/23/2015 7:41:00 AM
Add a Comment
8. Olive Marshmallow by Katie Saunders

Olive Marshmallow is the newest book from Katie Saunders, and part of the debut line of books from a brand new publisher,  little bee books. It may seem like there are shelves full of new baby, big sibling picture books, but during my years as a bookseller, books of this genre that I wanted to read to my own growing family or recommend to customers were few and far between. I would definitely

0 Comments on Olive Marshmallow by Katie Saunders as of 3/4/2015 4:28:00 AM
Add a Comment
9. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, 217 pp, RL 4

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm is a magnificent semi-autobiographical graphic  novel that can stand next to the works of Raina Telgemeier and Newbery Honor winner, Cece Bell, author of El Deafo. Based on book sales and the check out rate of these titles in my school library, girls and boys are hungry for graphic novels like Smile, Drama and Sisters that tell the stories

0 Comments on Sunny Side Up by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, 217 pp, RL 4 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. Sam's Sandwich 25th Anniversay Edition by David Pelham



I can't believe that Sam's Sandwich is 25 years old! This book was a huge hit in our house when my daughter was little some 20 years ago, and even more so after her first little brother arrived. Sam's Sandwich is a perfectly paper engineered story of sibling pranks and creepy crawly revenge that is wonderfully rhyming and superbly illustrated.


Sam's Sandwich begins with the sneaky Sam inviting his sister, Samantha, to join him in raiding the pantry to make a super sandwich. What Samantha doesn't know is that her brother is adding some extra ingredients in the form of garden pests. Pelham's rhyming story cleverly leaves the name of the bug off the page, letting the reader guess, based on the rhyme, or lift the flap to see what is hiding. Sam's Sandwich ends with Sam telling Samantha that he is stuffed and she can eat the sandwich all by herself...



Don't worry, though, Samantha has her revenge in Sam's Snack!


Other Sam Books that followed:






Source: Review Copy


0 Comments on Sam's Sandwich 25th Anniversay Edition by David Pelham as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn K. Stout, 319pp, RL 4


A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn K. Stout is set in Hagerstown, Maryland in 1939 at the start of summer. I love a great historical fiction novel and Stout delivers a story that is filled with interesting people, places and events with an omniscient narrator and direct addresses to the reader sprinkled judiciously throughout. While the climax of  A Tiny Piece of Sky wasn't quite as dramatic as I had anticipated, it didn't make it any less memorable or enjoyable.

Frankie Baum is the youngest of three sisters with an impressive scab collection that she is hoping to expand over the long, hot summer months. Joan, the second sister, is headed out to Aunt Dottie's farm for the summer and Elizabeth, the oldest, always has her nose in a book. It's up to Frankie to tend to their pony and former rodeo star, Dixie, and hook her up to the cart and take her out for a spin. But, before Frankie can even settle into missing her sister, Mr. Baum has a surprise for the family that will keep them all very busy. He has bought a long vacant, alpine-style (just like Bavaria, where Hermann's parents were from) restaurant on the "edge of Jonathan Street -the three blocks in Hagerstown that are an historically African American neighborhood and the site of the first African American churches, city homes, and businesses in Washington County," as Stout writes in her Author's Note.

Mr. Baum is a hardworking optimist with big ideas for Baum's Restaurant and Tavern, which is heralded as an "Eating Place of  Wide Renown" on the fancy color menus he has printed up. Despite this, there are bumps along the way. The manager Mr. Baum has hired, Mr. Stannum, is harsh with the mostly African American kitchen staff and angered by Mr. Baum's refusal to put a second, segregated bathroom in the kitchen. He is even more upset when he learns that Mr. Baum plans a practice-run-pre-opening party for the whole staff and their families on July Fourth. Add to this the fact that Mr. Sullen Waterford Price, Esquire, is about to end his term as the President of the Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce and has plans to segue into the role of Mayor of Hagerstown. Price has run the Chamber of Commerce with a menacing, prejudicial hand that includes after hours visits to new businesses in town to dig up personal information about owners.

When Mr. Baum, who drives a 1937 Studebaker Dictator, doesn't bend to Price's strong arming, Price begins spreading rumors that Baum is a Nazi sympathizer and possibly even a German spy. This is fueled even further by a flyer, written in German, that Mr. Stannum steals from Mr. Baum's office and hands over to Price. Frankie, working in the kitchen, overhears just enough of these dark rumblings to begin to worry and doubt. She starts poking around at home and tailing Mr. Stannum, all the while being bullied by Leroy Price, who parrots his father's words. The night of the pre-opening family party, things come to a head - and fall apart - as waitresses call in sick, the band backs out, family friends don't show up - and Frankie runs away, sort of. She ends up in the town square where the Fourth of July festivities are underway and there she sees the "sick" waitresses, the band that bailed on Baum's playing and fliers telling the townspeople to boycott "German Businesses!" And it's there that Mr. Baum, looking for Frankie, collapses.

A Tiny Piece of Sky feels like it loses a bit of momentum at this point, but ends on a positive note, especially when you read the Author's Note and learn that Stout's grandparents and their restaurant in Hagerstown were the models for the Baum family. In fact, the press kit includes letter of support written to Stout's grandfather, copied almost verbatim in this book. I think I was hoping to see all the pieces of this story fit together with more assertion and deeper meaning than what Stout delivered. In spite of Frankie's mother's nervousness (and despite the fact that she worked in a restaurant since she dropped out of school in sixth grade to help support her family) Baum's reopens. Mr. Stannum, thanks to a secret nudge from Frankie, tries to right his wrong. And a family secret (a secret family) is revealed. All these add up and, as I said, make for a sweet ending. But my heartstrings weren't tugged and there wasn't quite the catharsis - or the downfall of Price - that I craved. Frankie Baum is a wonderful character, but I would have liked to see her develop more over the course of the story, especially after she takes a misguided outing with Dixie and ends up in the African American part of town. The episodes in A Tiny Piece of Sky remind me of the material in the press kit - more like snapshots, or vignettes, loosely tied together. As such, they are lovely and make for a very enjoyable read.

Source: Review Copy



0 Comments on A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn K. Stout, 319pp, RL 4 as of 1/25/2016 4:08:00 AM
Add a Comment
12. Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle, 314 pp, RL 5




Having been a bookseller for so many years, I am very familiar with Lauren Myracle and her two very popular series, the Winnie Years and the Internet Girls, which, told entirely in texts, emails and IMs, was especially innovative and popular (and prescient) when first published in 2004. But, having a proclivity for fantasy, it took me until now to finally read one of Myracle's books. The blurb for Wishing Day grabbed my attention immediately. On the third night of the third month after her thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes: the first is an impossible wish, the second is a wish she can make come true herself and the third is a wish made from her deepest, secret heart.

Natasha Blok is the oldest of three sisters born in under three years. In fact, her sister Darya is in seventh grade with her. Ava, their youngest sister is in sixth grade. As Wishing Day opens, Natasha is at the ancient willow tree, planted by her grandmother many times removed, the woman who started the wish tradition. Her aunts, Vera and Elena, are steps behind her, waiting anxiously for Natasha to make her wishes. Natasha's mother Klara disappeared eight years earlier, leaving her father sinking into sadness and silence and her aunts moving in to raise their nieces. Of course Natasha wants her mother back, but she also wants to be kissed and she secretly wants to be somebody's favorite.

Myracle weaves a story rich with characters. Natasha is a typical big sister, stepping in and caring for her siblings after her mother vanishes. Yet, she also let a distance grow between herself and Darya, who, with a head of red, shiny curly hair, a flair for fashion and a firm disbelief in magic of any kind, especially when it comes to the Wishing Tree. And, an even deeper secret than her three wishes is hidden under her mattress. Natasha is a writer, albeit a writer who has yet to finish a story. As Wishing Day unfolds, Natasha learns more about her mother's life before she disappeared, finishes writing her first story and kisses a boy. She also has her deepest secret self revealed when her sisters discover her writing and enter it in a local contest, is not kissed by the boy she thinks she wants to kiss her and might not even want to be kissed at all and, most surprising, discovers that she IS someone's favorite.

Myracle weaves in a thread of magic - beyond the Wishing Tree itself - in the character of the Bird Lady, an eccentric, ancient legend in Willow Hill who has a sparrow nesting in her fluff of grey hair. The Bird Lady appears every so often to utter cryptic words to Natasha, who begins finding meaningful notes around town. The ending of Wishing Day will leave you wondering and wanting more (especially more answers) and, quite happily, there is more to come because this is an intended trilogy! I suspect that the next two books will focus on serious, gorgeous, skeptic Darya and the ethereal, playful, free spirit Ava as Natasha's sisters turn thirteen and make their own wishes.

Source: Review Copy

0 Comments on Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle, 314 pp, RL 5 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Compass South by Hope Larson, illustrations by Rebecca Mock, 224 pp, RL 4



Compass South is the fantastic first adventure in the Four Points series of graphic novels written by Hope Larson and illustrated by Rebecca Mock. As I finished reading this book, I felt like I had read a complete novel, there are so many details, world building and character diveristy in this book. In fact, I was reminded of S.E. Grove's trilogy that begins with The Glass Sentence, although Larson's book is set firmly - so far - in real, not an alternative, historical landscape. Mock's illustrations, which are filled with warm earth tones, packed with movement and energy. At times, I had to remind myself of which twin was which, but, in all fairness, this is a story with two sets of redheaded twins!


Set in 1860, Compass South begins with a prologue that explains how and why twins Alexander and Cleopatra Dodge made it from Ireland to New York City with two very special items - a compass and a pocket knife. Twelve years later, the only father they have ever known (but not their birth father) has disappeared and the twins have joined the Black Hook gang, stealing to survive. When Alexander gets caught, he and Cleopatra make a deal that sends them to New Orleans with Luther, a higher up in the Black Hook gang, close on their trail. Luther has been recruited by Felix Worley, also known as Lucky Worley, captain of the black ship, El Caleuche, to find the twins and relieve them of their heirlooms. 
These threads alone are enough to keep Compass South moving at a fast pace, but Larson weaves in a few more threads that make the story even richer. Before boarding the train to New Orleans, Alexander sees an add offering a reward for the return of redheaded twins to their father, who went West to find his fortune five years earlier. Alex convinces Cleo to cut her hair so they can pose as Samuel and Jeremiah Kimball and make their way to San Francisco to collect the reward and find their father. Of course things don't go as planned, starting with a run in with red headed twin boys that lands Alex and Edwin back in jail and Cleo and Silas without a plan.

While it's a challenge at times to remember which twin is which, especially after Cleo cuts her hair, the hot head Alex is paired with Silas, who has a mysterious ailment that leaves him weak, while thoughtful Cleo ends up with Edwin, who shares Alex's temperament. I will tell you that the twin pairs both end up on ships, but what happens to them, where they end up and what Luther and Worley want with them, well, you'll just have to read to find out!

Source: Purchased


0 Comments on Compass South by Hope Larson, illustrations by Rebecca Mock, 224 pp, RL 4 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Compass South by Hope Larson, illustrations by Rebecca Mock, 224 pp, RL 4



Compass South is the fantastic first adventure in the Four Points series of graphic novels written by Hope Larson and illustrated by Rebecca Mock. As I finished reading this book, I felt like I had read a complete novel, there are so many details, world building and character diveristy in this book. In fact, I was reminded of S.E. Grove's trilogy that begins with The Glass Sentence, although Larson's book is set firmly - so far - in real, not an alternative, historical landscape. Mock's illustrations, which are filled with warm earth tones, packed with movement and energy. At times, I had to remind myself of which twin was which, but, in all fairness, this is a story with two sets of redheaded twins!


Set in 1860, Compass South begins with a prologue that explains how and why twins Alexander and Cleopatra Dodge made it from Ireland to New York City with two very special items - a compass and a pocket knife. Twelve years later, the only father they have ever known (but not their birth father) has disappeared and the twins have joined the Black Hook gang, stealing to survive. When Alexander gets caught, he and Cleopatra make a deal that sends them to New Orleans with Luther, a higher up in the Black Hook gang, close on their trail. Luther has been recruited by Felix Worley, also known as Lucky Worley, captain of the black ship, El Caleuche, to find the twins and relieve them of their heirlooms. 
These threads alone are enough to keep Compass South moving at a fast pace, but Larson weaves in a few more threads that make the story even richer. Before boarding the train to New Orleans, Alexander sees an add offering a reward for the return of redheaded twins to their father, who went West to find his fortune five years earlier. Alex convinces Cleo to cut her hair so they can pose as Samuel and Jeremiah Kimball and make their way to San Francisco to collect the reward and find their father. Of course things don't go as planned, starting with a run in with red headed twin boys that lands Alex and Edwin back in jail and Cleo and Silas without a plan.

While it's a challenge at times to remember which twin is which, especially after Cleo cuts her hair, the hot head Alex is paired with Silas, who has a mysterious ailment that leaves him weak, while thoughtful Cleo ends up with Edwin, who shares Alex's temperament. I will tell you that the twin pairs both end up on ships, but what happens to them, where they end up and what Luther and Worley want with them, well, you'll just have to read to find out!

Source: Purchased


0 Comments on Compass South by Hope Larson, illustrations by Rebecca Mock, 224 pp, RL 4 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5

I am so excited that, with Penny and Her Song, Kevin Henkes has written his first book for emerging readers. This man is so talented, across the board, and this seemed to be the one genre he hadn't tackled. Besides being a wonderful illustrator, he writes picture books with a range of complexity as well as chapter books for a range of readers. As I mentioned recently in The Changing Face of

0 Comments on Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5 as of 3/29/2012 12:12:00 AM
Add a Comment
16. Magical Mix-Ups #1: Hamster Magic, written by Lynne Jonell and illustrated by Brandon Dorman, 103 pp, RL 2

I know that I am a broken record when I start talking about the lack of creative, interesting stories being told in the chapter book format, but it really is a quantity versus quality situation when you scan the shelves. However, this has been a bountiful and exciting spring! First, the awesome Mega Mash-Ups, a DIY chapter book series from Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson debuted, then

0 Comments on Magical Mix-Ups #1: Hamster Magic, written by Lynne Jonell and illustrated by Brandon Dorman, 103 pp, RL 2 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli, 336 pp, RL 4

Jake and Lily is the newest book from Newbery Winner (Maniac McGee) and Newbery Honor Winner (Wringer) Jerry Spinelli, author of one of my favorite books for teens, Stargirl, which I really need to review here. With Jake and Lily, Spinelli brings us the story of the titular twins and the summer of their twelfth birthday when they go through changes deeper and more meaningful than puberty.

0 Comments on Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli, 336 pp, RL 4 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett with illustrations by Ann James, 60 pp, RL 1.5

While Betsy Bird calls Sonya Hartnett and Ann James' Sadie and Ratz weird and like nothing else on the shelf, she also says that "it happens to be pretty much the best book for kids published in America in the year 2012." This children's librarian and book reviewer reads (and has read) lots of kids books and she said this about Sadie and Ratz a mere four months into the year. While this is

0 Comments on Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett with illustrations by Ann James, 60 pp, RL 1.5 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall, 262pp RL 4

On the off chance that there are still a few readers out there who have not heard of this fantastic book, the first in a wonderful series, I am reposting my review from a few years ago with an updated list of similar titles kids will love. When I started this blog in 2008 the first books I reviewed were favorites of mine and books that I recommend over and over while at work at the

7 Comments on The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall, 262pp RL 4, last added: 9/1/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
20. Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5

Penny and Her Song is now in paperback!! I am so excited that, with Penny and Her Song, Kevin Henkes has written his first book for emerging readers. This man is so talented, across the board, and this seemed to be the one genre he hadn't tackled. Besides being a wonderful illustrator, he writes picture books with a range of complexity as well as chapter books for a range of readers. As

0 Comments on Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5 as of 9/26/2012 3:59:00 AM
Add a Comment
21. Nurse Clementine by Simon James

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - NURSE CLEMENTINE -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Simon James has been a favorite of mine (and my kids) for almost 20 years now, since my daughter was given his classic and most widely known book, Dear Mr

2 Comments on Nurse Clementine by Simon James, last added: 2/11/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
22. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, 218 pp, RL 4

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - ONE CRAZY SUMMER -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garica, as you can see by crowd of awards (Coretta Scott King Award, Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Medal, Newbery Honor

0 Comments on One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, 218 pp, RL 4 as of 5/20/2013 3:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
23. P.S. Be Eleven, by Rita Williams Garcia, 274 pp, RL 4

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - P S BE ELEVEN -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> With her new book, P.S. Be Eleven, Rita Williams-Garcia picks up where  her multiple-award winning One Crazy Summer, began and ended - with the Gaither sisters,

0 Comments on P.S. Be Eleven, by Rita Williams Garcia, 274 pp, RL 4 as of 5/24/2013 3:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
24. Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli, 336 pp, RL 4

Jake and Lily is now in paperback! Jake and Lily is the newest book from Newbery Winner (Maniac McGee) and Newbery Honor Winner (Wringer) Jerry Spinelli, author of one of my favorite books for teens, Stargirl, which I really need to review here. With Jake and Lily, Spinelli brings us the story of the titular twins and the summer of their twelfth birthday when they go through changes deeper

0 Comments on Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli, 336 pp, RL 4 as of 7/3/2013 3:47:00 AM
Add a Comment
25. Summer at Forsaken Lake, by Michael D. Biel, illustrated by Maggie Kneen, 329 pp, RL 4

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - SUMMER AT FORSAKEN LAKE -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> I love reading a really good summer vacation story during the summer months because it almost makes me feel like I am getting a summer vacation again. In

0 Comments on Summer at Forsaken Lake, by Michael D. Biel, illustrated by Maggie Kneen, 329 pp, RL 4 as of 7/15/2013 4:18:00 AM
Add a Comment

View Next 3 Posts