Bobbie The Wonder Dog by Tricia Brown

Bobbie the Wonder Dog 61imub6xbFL__SX408_BO1,204,203,200_Bobbie the Wonder Dog: A True Story

Tricia Brown, Author

Cary Porter, Illustrator

WestWinds Press, Fiction, Apr. 12, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: A lost dog’s journey, Human-animal relationships, Animals

Opening: “Bobbie was going on vacation! Just as his favorite man finished securing the luggage, the mix-breed collie jumped up in one easy leap. This would be his riding place.” 

Book Jacket Synopsis: Frank and Elizabeth Brazier decided that they needed a farm dog and their two daughters needed a friend. They fell in love with a six-week-old puppy, with a bobbed tail, and named him Bobbie. He was the perfect herding dog for their farm animals. When the Brazier’s stopped farming to run a restaurant in town, they decided it was best to leave Bobbie on the farm with his new owners. Days later Bobbie showed up at the restaurant.

In August 1923, the Frank and Elizabeth took a trip from Silverton, Oregon to visit relatives in Indiana. Bobbie was known to jump off the back of the car and chase a rabbit and then show up an hour later further down the road. The evening they arrived in Indiana, Bobbie was with Frank when a pack of wild dogs chased after him. This time Bobbie didn’t return. The couple searched everywhere and there was no sign of Bobbie. They made the trip back home not knowing if he was all right.

Six months after Bobbie was lost in Indiana, a dirty and skinny dog limped into Silverton. Bobbie’s paws were raw and bleeding, but he had traveled nearly 3,000 miles home to Frank and Elizabeth.

Why I like this book:

I am a sucker for a really good dog story, especially when it is based on a true story. Tricia Brown’s heartwarming story about this famous collie is destined to become a classic.  Both children and adults will relate to the love and unbreakable bond between Bobbie and his owner, Frank.

Brown’s storytelling is compelling and her pacing keeps readers fully engaged. The author’s attention to detail demonstrates the amount of research done to portray Bobbie’s unbelievable story as accurately as possible. Bobbie’s 3,000-mile journey that fall and winter across mountain ranges, across rivers and through bone-chilling weather, shows his loyalty to Frank and his family. Bobbie just wanted to go home. All the characters in the story are memorable. The ending makes you want to curl up with the book and start all over again.

Cary Porter’s large, richly textured illustrations are bold, colorful, emotive and significantly contribute to Bobbie’s story. They capture the vintage 1923 automobiles and tractors, the first gasoline pumps, rickety wooden bridges, sleepy towns with dry good stores, dirt roads and cobblestone pavements. The characters are dressed in period clothing. Perfect marriage of stunning artwork and text.

Resources: This is a beautiful book for families. It will prompt many questions from children about what would happen if they lost their pet and how important it is to have pets registered with chips. Encourage kids to come up with a plan if they lose or find a lost pet. Make sure you read the author’s page about the real Bobbie (1921-1927) and his remarkable journey that sparked nationwide interest. Bobbie became a star overnight and people flocked to Silverton, Oregon to see him.  Silverton erected a statue and a seventy-foot mural to pay tribute to their famous dog.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

One Million Men and Me

Children's Books Heal

One Million Men and Me 

Kelly Starling Lyons, Author

Peter Ambush, Illustrator

Just Us Books, Inc., 2007, Historical fiction

Suitable for:  Kindergarten and up  (Ages 5 nd up)

OpeningMy cousin, Omari, said no girls were allowed.  But Daddy took me.  Our bus rumbled through ebony night.  My head snuggled into Daddy’s warm chest until pink rose around us and the driver called, “Washington, D.C.”   A father takes his daughter, Nia, on a long bus trip to take part in a march with one million men.  They walked peacefully, sang songs and “stood tall and proud as mighty oaks, the men, Daddy and me.”  They listened to speakers like Maya Angelou, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Minister Louis Farrakhan.  Everyone held hands in unity.  Nia notices that their faces were filled with pride and their hearts filled with hope.  Everyone seemed to know everyone as they all nodded, smiled and hugged each other.  At…

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Stickley Makes a Mistake! by Brenda S. Miles

stickley-makes-a-mistake51jrzhny88l__sx401_bo1204203200_Stickley Makes a Mistake! – A Frog’s Guide to Trying Again

Brenda S. Miles, Author

Steve Mack, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Aug. 15, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Frogs, Animals, Making mistakes, Perfection, Perseverance, Rhyme

Opening: When Stickley was young, he didn’t like making mistakes. “Oh no!” he’d say, and he wouldn’t try again. He wanted to be perfect.

Book Synopsis: Stickley didn’t like making mistakes. With help from his Grandpa, Stickley learns to hop up, try again, and say “oh well” when he makes a mistake. Nobody’s perfect, and good things can happen even when you make mistakes — like putting blueberries in the pancake batter instead of chocolate chips. When Stickley writes 1 + 1 = 3 on the blackboard, he asks for help and a polar bear hands him an ice cream cone with two sweet scoops.

Why I like this book:

Brenda S. Mills’ has written a charming and important sequel to her popular Stickley Sticks To It book. Stickley is so afraid of making a mistake, that he’s afraid to try when he messes up. It is important for children to learn that making a mistake is part of their learning process.  They grow from their mistakes. And, some mistakes can be fun. The language is artful, with a careful use of prose that is also lyrical at times.  “No one is perfect, / so practice your best! / If you’re stuck on a problem, / ask for help with the rest!”  Steve Mack’s illustrations are colorful, lively and full of personality. Stickley’s expressions are priceless.

Resources: The book includes a Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers with tips for helping children to embrace their mistakes, learn from them, and keep trying. Stickley Makes a Mistake, is an important book for preschools and elementary students.  This is a good book to read at the start of the new year, to help children know that perfection isn’t the goal — the fun of learning.  And since many parents don’t like making mistakes, it’s a fun book to read with your child.  It will encourage many fun discussions.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

last-cherry-blossom-9781634506939_p0_v2_s192x300The Last Cherry Blossom

Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author

Sky Pony Press, Historical Fiction, Aug. 2,  2016

Pages: 240

Suitable for Ages: 11-13

Themes: Hiroshima, Children of war, WW II, Love, Loss, Traditions

Opening: “Get under your desks — now!” Yakamura-sensei shouted above the lonesome wail of the air raid siren.

Book Synopsis:  Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her five-year-old cousin, Genji, are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage.  And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan’s fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden from its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombings of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.

Why I like this book:

Kathleen Burkinshaw’s debut novel is powerfully penned, authentic, emotionally raw and deeply personal. It is a captivating journey about life, love, secrets, pain, loss and hope that will tug at your heart long after you put the novel down.

Even though there are frequent air raid drills and black-out curtains, traditional Japanese life continues with a strong sense of community. The first half of the story focuses on family, cultural traditions, food preparation, ceremony, ritual, and the beautiful cherry blossom and New Year’s festivals. There are family secrets, the angst of adolescence and enduring friendships. Readers will easily fall in step with the pace of life in Japan before it begins to change.

The story is character-driven, with Yuriko narrating. Reader’s will be captivated by Yuriko’s curiosity, spirit, and strong will, which is nurtured by her papa, who publishes the newspaper. Their bond is tight and he tells her bedtime stories of their samurai ancestors and how they are the last branches of their family tree. Yuriko shares secrets and a love of jazz music with her best friend Machiko.

The plot picks up momentum as more soldiers are being sent to war and not returning home. Rumors spread that there isn’t enough scrap metal to build Japanese planes. The Emperor sends out propaganda that the Japanese are beating the Allies in the Pacific.  But, the Americans bomb Nagasaki.  Air raid sirens are going off many times daily. And in a blink of an eye there are war planes flying low overhead.  Sirens sound. There is an eruption of bright light and loud sounds. Yuriko’s world implodes that tragic day.

This is a dark period in humanity’s history 71 years ago. Children will learn that Japanese children shared the same fears as the children in Allied countries during World War II.  Her novel speaks to the enduring will to survive. It is my hope that Burkinshaw’s novel will help readers humanize historical events that have radically changed our world and take them more seriously as they become our future leaders.  The author’s mother shared her story because she felt “the use of nuclear weapons against any country or people, for any reason, is unacceptable.”

Resources: There is a very helpful glossary of Japanese words and expressions that are used throughout the novel, an Author’s Note, and Statistics About Hiroshima.

Kathleen Burkinshaw wrote The Last Cherry Blossom based on her mother’s story of growing up in Hiroshima during World War II. She was twelve years old when the bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945. Visit Kathleen Burkinshaw at her website.

Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post. 

Note: Watch for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, which will be celebrated on Jan. 27, 2017. Hashtag: #ReadYourWorld.

First Snow By Bomi Park

first-snow-61gpbjzlq4l__sy415_bo1204203200_First Snow

Bomi Park, Author and Illustrator

Chronicle Books, Fiction, Sep. 6, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 2-5

Themes: Snow, Snowmen, Snow Angels, Inspirational

Opening: “Shhhh, listen… do you hear something? Pit, pit, pit against the window. Glistening, floating in the night.”

Synopsis: A little girl awakens to the sound of snow flakes pit patting against her window.  She quickly dresses in her boots, coat, scarf and hat and sneaks outside to the quiet hush of the snow flakes falling. She begins to roll a small snowball, which grows bigger and bigger as she wanders across the town, along rivers, through the woods, past a bear, and into an open area where a group of children are busy building snowmen and enjoying a magical day in the snow.

Why I like this book:

This enchanting and quiet book by Bomi Park captures the joy and magic a child experiences in a first snow of the season. The minimal text flows nicely, giving the black and white pencil illustrations (with a splash of red) time to draw readers deeply into the journey of a little girl rolling her snowball across town. Park’s dreamy illustrations show the simple wonderment of the story and allow readers time to imagine themselves playing in the new snow. She also uses a lot of white space and many wordless pages in this small book designed for small hands. First Snow is a perfect bedtime snuggle book. Verdict: This book will be a winner with toddlers and young children for many years to come!

Resources: When the first big snow arrives, take a walk, catch snowflakes on your tongue, build a snowman, and make snow angels. Enjoy the experience.

Bomi Park was born and lives in South Korea. First Snow is her debut picture book. It was first published in South Korea. A student of piano, psychology, and architecture, she discovered that drawing was a perfect way to communicate love to her family and friends.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Favorite Holiday Books

Tis the season… I wanted to share some of my favorite holiday books that have found a permanent home on my bookshelf! Warmest wishes to all of my followers for a joyful holiday season! I will return January 6 with a Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

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Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Richard and Tanya Simon, Authors, and Mark Siegel, Illustrator, 2015

Oskar’s mother and father believed in the power of blessings. So did Oskar…until the Night of Broken Glass. His parents put him on a ship to America. He had nothing but an address and a photo of a woman he didn’t know — “It’s your Aunt Esther.” — and his father’s last words to him: “Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings.” Follow Oskar as he makes his long walk through New York City to his aunt’s home.

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The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale About The Rockefeller Center Tree

 David Rubel, Author, and Jim LaMarche, Illustrator, 2011

Henry’s father comes up with an idea to make money the day before Christmas. He borrows a truck, and he and Henry head for a grove of spruce trees.  They cut them down and drive to New York City to sell them as Christmas trees.  They find the perfect spot near the Rockefeller construction site in Manhattan.  The workers help them unload the trees.  Before heading home, his father decides to give the last trees to Frank and his construction workers.  Frank takes the tallest tree and the men decorate it with cranberries, pinecones and tin cans — the first Rockefeller Christmas tree.  Henry makes a star out of newspaper.  Before he hangs it on a tree, Henry makes a special wish.  He takes a pine cone from the tree to remember that magical day.

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The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved the Day

 Michael Keane, Author and Michael Garland, Illustrator, 2012

Twas the night before Christmas at NORAD’s home base/ Not an airman was stirring, each one was in place/Ready and waiting for the very first sight/Of good old St. Nick on his Christmas Eve flight.”  Every year the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa as he delivers gifts to children worldwide.  But, Santa and his reindeer get lost in a blizzard.  He disappears from their radar.  Will NORAD be able to find Santa with their high-tech equipment and help Santa deliver presents to the children in the world? Children will love the suspense and can go to the NORAD Santa’s Tracker site on December 24 to join in the fun this year.

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Twas Nochebuena: A Christmas Story in English and Spanish

Roseanne Greenfield Thong, Author and Sara Palacios, Illustrator, 2014

‘Twas Nochebuena / and all through our casa, / every creature was kneading tamale masa. / For one of our holiday tradiciones, / is making tamales — / not one, but montones!”

It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re invited to a Nochebuena celebration! Follow a family as they prepare to host a night filled with laugher; love and Latino tradition. Make tasty tamales and hang colorful adornos (decorations) on the walls. Gather to sing festive canciones (songs) while sipping champurrado (hot chocolate).  After the midnight feast has been served and the last gifts have been unwrapped, it’s time to cheer, “Feliz Navidad and to all a good night!”

smallest_gift_of_christmas

The Smallest Gift of Christmas

Peter H. Reynolds, Author and Illustrator, 2013

When Christmas morning arrives, Roland races to the living room and finds the smallest gift ever with his name on it.  He closes his eyes and wishes for a bigger gift.  Not happy, he wishes again and again. Larger gifts magically appear, but they don’t satisfy Roland.  Frustrated, this feisty and determined boy sets off in a rocket to search the universe for the biggest gift. Looking back at earth, Roland realizes what he wants most.

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The Christmas Wish

Lori Evert, Author and Per Breiehagen, Photographer, 2013

Anja, who lives in the arctic region, dreams of being one of Santa’s elves. She watches the position of the North Star at night and memorizes the great map  at school as she prepares for her trip. Leaving behind presents and a note for her family, she bundles in Nordic clothing and straps on her skis so she can travel through the deep snow. Along the way, a bird, a horse, a musk ox, a polar bear and a reindeer help Anja on her journey to find Santa Claus at the North Pole.

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Oh, What a Christmas

Michael Garland, Author and Illustrator, 2011

Everything started off the same magical way Christmas always does.  Santa and his reindeer took off from the North Pole, loaded with presents for all the boys and girls around the world.  Santa called out to his reindeer as the sleigh raced across the starry sky.  Then POP! RIP! S-T-R-E-T-C-H!  The harness that attached the reindeer to Santa’s sleigh was tearing.  With one final BOING! it snapped in two!  Ho! Ho! –oh, no!” The reindeer fly off into the night.  Santa and his sleigh full of toys plummet to the earth and crash into the side of a barn.  A sleepy sheep peers from the barn…along with  a pig, a goat, two cows,  a horse and a hound dog.  Santa’s eyes twinkle as he surveys the barnyard animals.  Maybe he has found a solution so the children of the world won’t be disappointed.

May you be filled with the peace of the season and have a blessed New Year!

Patricia

Toby by Hazel Mitchell

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Hazel Mitchell, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep. 13, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-6

Themes: Rescue Dogs, Boy, Animals, Moving

Opening: “Hey, bud! Can you help me unpack? Sure. Dad…could we get a dog?”

Synopsis: A boy and his father move into a new house. The boy convinces his father that they should get a dog. They visit a local animal rescue center and the boy immediately likes a dog named Toby.  Toby is shy and overwhelmed in his new home. He doesn’t want to play and eat his food. He hides under tables, curls up in a ball, and leaves some doggy puddles. Toby is having a difficult time adjusting. But the boy is patient, persistent and hopeful that Toby will settle into his new home.

Why I like this book:

Author-illustrator Hazel Mitchell’s heartwarming story about Toby will both tug at your heart and put a smile on your face. Toby is adorable even though he has a tough time adjusting to the boy and his new forever home. The boy really wants to connect with his new dog. He understands Toby better than anyone because he has moved into a new home and neighborhood. That’s why the boys wants to adopt a new best friend. I can’t think of a better match!

The boy narrates the story. The text is spare and reveals a kind-hearted and sensitive boy who eagerly wants to bond with Toby. The boy expresses so much tenderness towards Toby, even when he chews a pair of glasses and tramples his father’s garden. The ending is endearing.  Mitchell’s illustrations are rendered in soft pastels. They are expressive and lively. Make sure you check out the end pages in the book. They set the stage for the story and wrap it up quite nicely. Verdict: Toby is a winner! I can’t wait to give Toby to my great-grandson for Christmas! He loves dogs.

Resources: Make sure you read the author’s note at the end of the book about Mitchell’s own pet rescue experience with her white poodle — the real Toby — who inspired this book.  If you are interested in learning more about adopting a pet from a rescue shelter, visit your local shelter with your parents.

Hazel Mitchell has illustrated numerous books for children, including Imani’s Moon. Toby is her author-illustrator debut. Originally from Yorkshire, England, she now lives in Maine with her husband and a brave rescue poodle named Toby, whose eight-day disappearance drew national attention when the story was shared across social media. Visit Hazel Mitchell on her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Book Fridays (PPBF) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.