Middle Grade Book Review ~ Bob

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

I think if you asked, most adults would confess to having imaginary friends or to knowing someone who had one. But what if those imaginary friends weren’t so much imaginary as simply forgotten? Then you might have a story something like this. Olivia has traveled to her grandmother’s house in Australia for only the second time in her life. She was five when she was first there nearly 6 years ago but she can’t seem to be able to remember anything about that visit. Until she gets to her upstairs room and opens the closet to find Bob.

Bob is a small greenish creature who looks a bit like a zombie and has been dutifully living in the closet since Livy ushered him inside six years ago and promised him she’d be right back. Now that she’s finally returned the two friends have a lot of catching up to do. Slowly things start to come back to Livy and she realizes Bob’s magic both made her forget and is now helping her to remember. But they haven’t been able to figure out just who (or what) Bob is or how to help him get back home (wherever that might be) or how to help her grandmother who is going to lose her farm because of the years long drought they’ve been experiencing. It’s not until Livy and Bob are lead to a well while searching for a neighbor boy that’s gone missing that they find all the answers.

There’s something sweetly magical about this little tale. It feels like it could be loosely based on a folktale but seems to be something original, from the minds of two award-winning authors. I’d love to know more about their process of writing this story. It’s told from both Bob’s and Livy’s points of view so perhaps each took charge of one of the characters. However it came to be its utterly charming and deserves wide readership. Check it out!

Bob book review

 

Bob

Written by: Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead

Illustrated by: Nicholas Gannon

Number of Pages: 201

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, 2018

Age Range: 6-10

Rating: 4/5

Looking for more suggestions for books about imaginary friends? Try the brilliantly executed The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat, or Patricia Polacco’s Emma Kate.

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Picture Book Review ~ The Rabbit Listened

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

The other day I shared a few books that I qualified as “shelf-esteem” books. Those with stories that help to build or encourage a healthy self-esteem in children. There are also tons of books that would qualify as “lesson” books. Some are very pedantic and preachy but the best show by example how to handle situations that come up in every day life. Today’s spotlight is one of the best of the best.

Taylor builds something wonderful but when it gets ruined his friends come by and offer to help. The chicken just knows Taylor wants to talk about it and clucks non-stop but Taylor doesn’t feel like talking. The bear feels angry and starts shouting, the elephant wants to remember exactly the way things were, and each other animal has their own ideas of how to help Taylor cope but he’s not ready to do any of those things. When the Rabbit comes by Taylor doesn’t notice so he snuggles up close to the boy and soon Taylor opens up. He listens as Taylor talks and shouts moves through all his stages of grief and anger and recovery and dreams of the next great thing he plans to build.

This is absolutely the sweetest little story and a great lesson in friendship. So often we figure that our way of dealing with something is the best way rather than really listening to what our friends need. It’s a great reminder for kids and adults alike.

The Rabbit Listened book review

The Rabbit Listened

Written and Illustrated by: Cori Doerrfeld

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018

Number of Pages: 40

Age Range: 3-100

Rating: 4.5/5

The Rabbit Listened book review2

Picture Book Review ~ Yellow Favorites

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

We’ve had more than our share of gloom this winter (though I am grateful we haven’t dealt with some of the super cold temps the rest of the country has faced.) We’ve usually had a few good snowstorms and I’ve been able to get out and use my snowshoes at least a couple of times by now but all we’ve had is a bit of rain and lots of gray skies. So I’m shifting my focus a bit. I’ve got some more winter faves to share with ya’ll but they’re going to be put on hold in favor of something a bit more cheerful.  Here are a few bright and sunny covers that caught my eye at the last trip to the library. Maybe they’ll warm up your neck of the woods just a little.

Boo Who Book ReviewBoo Who

Written and Illustrated by: Ben Clanton

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 3 and up

Rating: 4/5

A shy little ghost is new at school and while the other creatures are happy to include him (once they see him) it’s not as easy as they’d all like. He has no arms and things fly right through him so the typical games of catch and tag are out of the question. But eventually they all find a game that works and learn a lesson about friendship and being yourself.

You probably know by now that I love Ben Clanton’s work. He’s got a Mo Willems touch to his books and has a gift for creating simple but utterly charming characters that pack a punch in an equally deceptive story line. This book is no exception. It’s okay to be shy, it’s okay to be different, everyone has something to contribute. Those are lessons we would all do well to remember.

Around America to Win the Vote Book Review

Around America to Win The Vote

Written by: Mara Rockliff

Illustrated by: Hadley Hooper

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 5-10

Rating: 4/5

An unknown (to me) story of two brave, bold women who took to the roads in 1916 to raise awareness for the suffrage movement. They loaded up their yellow car with a typewriter to document their story and a kitten to keep them company and drove around the country (literally) encountering blizzards and mobs and mud and more.

Gosh, I loved this! The yellow is predominant in the illustrations as it was used as a symbol of the suffrage movement and besides being the color of their car the women were greeted with banners of yellow and dresses of yellow and entire parties of yellow. The author has included some great back matter about the vote, automobiles, the time period, and the lives of these every day heroes. Hooray for women and all they do to enact change and do good!

Around America to Win the Vote

My Little Book of Big Freedoms Book Review

My Little Book of Big Freedoms

Illustrated by: Chris Riddell

Number of Pages: 40

Age Range: 4-8

Rating: 3.5/5

The hugely abstract concepts identified as Human Rights by Amnesty International are beautifully illustrated by Chris Riddell in this small volume perfect for little hands. There’s a giant dog representing Safety, a polar bear symbolizes Togetherness, and a lion stands for Freedom. The over sized animals loom large but protective of the children sharing the pages. Children will probably still not grasp the full understanding of the concepts but they’ll feel the importance of them and there will definitely be dialogues opened. This is a gem for adults as well.

Big Book of Little Freedoms Book Review 2

I’ve got more sunshiney tales to share so tune in later this week for episode two. And until then, stay warm, my friends!

Picture Book Review ~ Come With Me

Come With Me Book Review

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Come With Me

Written by: Holly M. McGhee

Illustrated by: Pascal Lemaitre

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 4-10

Rating: 4.5/5

After watching the news, a young girl is scared of all that she sees and wonders what she can do to help make the world a better place. Her wise papa beckons “Come with me” and together they venture out into the city where they take the subway and have a chance to be kind to strangers. When the news is still negative she approaches mom who also invites her to “come with me” and they head to the local grocer where they see families of all kinds shopping for supper. Wanting to do even more the girl goes out on her own (and her parents, showing continued and extended braveness, allow her to go) and makes some friends along the way which finally allays her fears and ends up changing the world.

This is a simple, yet beautiful tale of a young girl (and her parents) learning to be brave and making a difference even when it seems like the problems are insurmountable.

Music Monday ~ Frank Turner

I was introduced to Frank Turner a few years ago when a group of friends and I embarked on a postal music swap.  We’d been living in the same area just outside of DC and we were all getting ready to move on to new places and new stages of life. One of our last get-togethers included some amazing food followed by a music sharing session. We’d each compiled a mix CD of some of our favorite tunes and bands that had been meaningful at different parts of our life in hopes that the others would find similar solace as they listened in their new places miles and miles away.

It was such a hit that we decided to keep it up. Over the next couple of years we occasionally added and subtracted a few other participants but the three of us remained constant and it was always a great day when you got a CD in the mail. There were old favorites that circulated and new favorites that came along and Frank Turner was one of those new favorites.

He’s got a fabulously rough (sometimes angry) British sound occasionally channeling the likes of the Dropkick Murphys/Flogging Molly but with a poignancy to his lyrics that speaks directly to my soul. He puts on a fabulous live show, though he does have a bit of a potty mouth (so be warned if that kind of stuff bothers you!)  I highly recommend you take a listen! And if you have any suggestions for a new listen, post them in the comments below.  I’m always up for a new favorite!

Middle Grade Book Review ~ Saving Marty

Saving Marty Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Saving Marty

Written by: Paul Griffin

Number of Pages: 195

Age Range: 8-12

Rating: 5/5

There are books that grab you by the lapels and shake you until your soul falls back into place, particularly when you didn’t know your soul was out of place to begin with. I admit, it may have just been my mood that day but this book, my goodness!

Marty was the runt of the litter. And just like another literary runt, he’s more than just a pig. Marty doesn’t befriend a spider, but he does think he’s a dog and consequently gets his owner Lorenzo into a bit of trouble, and also out of some trouble as well.

Eleven-year-old Lorenzo wants nothing more than to be a hero like his father who died in the war. His best friend Paloma is the only thing that makes life bearable until Marty comes into his life. The three are inseparable and spend their time singing songs Paloma has written (Renzo accompanying her on his father’s guitar), trying to avoid the town bullies who have it out for Marty, and hanging out with Renzo’s grandpa.

But then Paloma wins a songwriting contest and a scholarship to an arts school in another town. Marty causes a dangerous accident and is doomed to be sent away as well. And then Renzo learns a truth about his father he doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to process.

This book had all the feels and then some. Renzo is the best kind of underdog, perfectly lovable and heart-breakingly sweet. The story is timeless. The text is punctuated with hand-written copies of Paloma’s songs and letters to and from Renzo’s dad. If you like stories filled with honesty and hope, put this on your to read list!