Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech

Saving Winslow

By Sharon Creech

Joanna Cotler Books (Imprint HarperCollins) Fiction, Sep. 11, 2018

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Pages: 176

Themes: Donkey, Rescue, Farm Animals, Loss, Friendship, Neighbors

OpeningIn the laundry basket on the kitchen floor was a lump.  “Another dead thing?” Louie asked.  “Not yet,” his father said.

Synopsis:

Louie doesn’t have the best luck when it comes to nurturing small creatures. So when his father brings home a sickly newborn mini donkey, Louie lifts the donkey from the basket and holds it close. The donkey nuzzles his neck and makes a small sound that sounds like please. He’s determined to save him.  Louie names him Winslow. Taking care of the donkey helps Louie feel closer to his brother, Gus, who is  far away in the army.

Everyone worries that Winslow won’t survive, especially Louie’s new friend, Nora, who has experienced a loss of her own. But as Louie’s bond with Winslow grows, surprising and life-altering events prove that this fragile donkey is stronger than anyone could have imagined.

Written in the spirit of Creech favorites Moo and Love That Dog, this standout tale about love and friendship and letting go will tug at the heartstrings.

Why I like this book:

Sharon Creech’s storytelling is so sweet and full of heart. Although her novel is about a boy saving a donkey, there are other themes cleverly woven throughout the story — a boy struggling to find his purpose, a girl who has felt loss and is afraid to get close to Winslow, and a family dealing with a son serving his country overseas. Winslow unites the family.

Louie is such a kind-hearted and determined character. After holding the donkey, he immediately accepts “the mission” to do everything in his power to save the newborn donkey’s life — even when his parents and friends are skeptical the donkey will survive a day, let alone a week. He holds the donkey tight to his chest and rubs him with a blanket begging Winslow to live. Nora is a quirky character. She thinks Winslow is “icky,” looks like a possum-goat and doesn’t see the point in becoming attached to a donkey that’s going to die anyway. Yet she sure spends a lot of time around Winslow.

Animals lovers will treasure Winslow’s story. The plot is convincing, the text is spare and it is a quick read. It is a story that can be read out loud to younger children. Visit Creech at her website.

Sharon Creech has written 21 books for young people and is published in over 20 languages. She is the author of the Newbery Medal winner Walk Two Moons and the Newbery Honor Book The Wanderer. Her other work includes the novels Hate That Cat, The Castle Corona, Replay, Heartbeat, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Ruby Holler, Love That Dog, Bloomability, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, and Pleasing the Ghost, as well as three picture books: A Fine, Fine School; Fishing in the Air; and Who’s That Baby? Ms. Creech and her husband live in upstate New York.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Library copy.

The House on Dirty-Third Street

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Jo S. Kittinger, Author

Thomas Gonzalez, Illustrator

Peachtree Publishers, Fiction, 2012

2013 Christopher Award and the Social Justice Literature Award

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Moving into an older house, Repair and reconstruction, Neighbors, Hope

Opening:  Mom said starting over would be an adventure, so I imagined a tropical island with palm trees and buried treasure.  Not thisAll the houses on Thirty-third Street were old and run down, but the one with the For Sale sign was the worst.  I’d call the whole place “Dirty-third Street.”

Synopsis:  A mother and daughter work to turn a hopeless, rundown, and dirty old house into a loving family home with hard work, faith, hope and the support of their new friends and neighbors.

Why I like this book:  This is a moving story by Jo S. Kittinger that taps into the deep disappointment a girl feels when she has to move into a house that is falling a part. It is a timely story for children about moving, and starting over after the loss of a home due to divorce, job loss or weather events like  floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes.  It also is a story about hope,  faith and community.  Thomas Gonzalez captures the girl’s disappointment on the book cover as she peers through a window into the house.  His beginning illustrations are drab and somber sketches with hints of pale pastel blue against the pen and ink sketches.  The girl’s expressions are priceless.  However, as neighbors and church members lend a hand to fix the house, color subtly appears in the illustrations.  The House on Dirty-Third Street is an excellent collaboration between author and illustrator. Visit Jo Kittinger at her website.  It is also a great book to share with kids during World Habitat Week.

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Resources:  The United Nations has declared the first Monday of October World Habitat Day , which will be celebrated Oct. 7.  It is a time to recognize the basic need for adequate housing worldwide.  Habitat for Humanity will sponsor activities Oct. 6-12, 2013.  This is a wonderful opportunity for families to understand, sign up and participate in building and renovating homes in their local community.   Lesson plans and activities can be found at Habitat LearnsFormer President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn will focus their work projects in California, Colorado,, New York and New Jersey.  The Carters have participated for 30 years.

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

Sheila Says We’re Weird

Sheila Says We’re Weird

Ruth Ann Smalley, Author

Jennifer Emery, Illustrator

Tilbury House Publishers, Fiction, April 2011

Suitable for:  Ages 5 and up

Themes:  Energy Conservation, Green Living, Neighbors, Differences

Opening Sheila lives next door.  She’s friends with my little sister, Tina.  Sheila asks lots of questions.  She hangs over the back fence when we peg clothes on the line.  “Why Don’t you drop those in the dryer?  Did it break?  Sheila asks.”  “This is our solar dryer, Sheila.  The clothes get dry without using any electricity.”

Synopsis:  Sheila follows her neighbors through the seasons when they plant a garden and grow their own food, mow the lawn with a push mower, brew sun tea, ride bicycles to the farmer’s market to buy local food,  mulch trees and plants with leaves, and use a wood burning stove to warm the house.   She finds their lifestyle interesting, but unfamiliar and weird.   But, Sheila enjoys the home-grown meals made with fresh vegetables and playing with Tina in front of the fire.  Perhaps they are weird in a good way.

Why I like this book:  What a great way to introduce kids to energy conservation!  Ruth Ann Smalley, is a holistic educator that writes about green living.  She won a Moonbeam Bronze Award for Picture Books for her book.  Living green can be a tough subject for kids who are used to modern conveniences.  But, it is important.  And Smalley has tackled the subject in a fun way.

Resources:  Click on Tilbury House Publishers  and Reach and Teach for activities and resources in the classroom.

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