by Aimee Friedman – Kasie West – Melissa De La Cruz – Nic Stone
I said I’d never read a Christmas / Hanukkah / Winter themed YA compilation again after Let It Snow. I didn’t like that book at all. However I’m a sucker for sweet holiday themed stories so I knew if I saw there was a new compilation made I’d check it out from the library. I’m so glad I did I really liked these stories, some more than others but they were all great.
SNOW AND MISTLETOE by Kasie West: ( 4 stars ) The first story in the book and the best one! I really loved everything about this story from Amalie and Sawyer secretly crushing on each other to the great road trip that followed. The story was sweet and innocent and a great way to start off this book. This was my favorite of the four.
WORKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND by Aimee Friedman: ( 3 stars ) This story I guess was okay. I was happy to find out the main character Maxine was Jewish. There are so few Hanukkah books out there for teens. So I was excited to dive into it. However it didn’t really even touch Hanukkah this holiday and all the rich traditions that come with it. I guess in a way it did show us what’s it is like to have Christmas everywhere and very little Hanukkah anywhere.
THE MAGI’S GIFTS by Melissa De La Cruz: ( 2 stars ) I just didn’t click with this one. Nothing wrong with the story really just didn’t hook me like the first two. I mean come on you sell a family heirloom to buy a gift for a friend and not get in trouble really!
GROUNDED by Nic Stone: ( 3.75 stars ) I super sweet cute story. I really enjoyed the storyline and characters. This was a first for me to read Nic Stone but I think I need to read more. If Nic Stone can write such a fully developed story in so few pages I really need to read one of their books and ASAP.
by Sharon Creech
Have you heard about this cute book Saving Winslow? It’s been on my radar for some time and today I finally was able to sit down and read it. If you have a reluctant reader this might be a good pick since it is a short book coming in at 165 pages. Sometimes short books feel like they are missing some of the storyline, but not Saving Winslow. The characters and storyline are fully developed and it really grabbed me from the first page. I think the fact that Louie was determined to save the little sick baby donkey came from the fact that his brother Gus was not home anymore because he had enlisted in the army. I think Louie felt that he couldn’t control Gus leaving but could control little Winslow. He could do everything in his power to save the sweet little donkey and it would get his mind off the hole he felt without his best friend and big brother Gus. Winslow gave hope to so many on Louie’s street as well as some headaches from a donkey braying day and night. I really enjoyed the can do positive attitude that Louie had on whether or not Winslow was going to make it. It was an uplifting story and had a very happy ending. It is recommended to middle grade readers. I’m not sure if many middle grade (6,7 and 8th) grade would pick this up. While I think once they did and start reading it they would fall for it as much as I did. I think it’s really more appealing to elementary aged kids from 3rd grade and up. It would even be a great read aloud for class reading time. It is IndieNext Fall Kids pick for ages 9-12 and I can see why. It was a solid 4 star read for me and I really was happy Winslow and gang got their happy ending!
About the book: 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, he’s determined to save him. He names him Winslow. Taking care of him helps Louie feel closer to his brother, Gus, who is far, far away in the army.
Everyone worries that Winslow won’t survive, especially Louie’s quirky new friend, Nora, who has experienced 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
by Raina Telgemeier
Ghosts is my first graphic novel that I can think of that I’ve read in its entirety without putting it aside. I didn’t want the story to end and was so bummed when I finished it. The kids at the school I work at have been begging me to read this one and I’m so glad I did! I loved the story line how it really dives into the day to day life with cystic fibrosis as a kid and how it affects not only the child that has it but the siblings and parents. I won’t go to in-depth on the description of the book since I’m sure I’m one of the last people to read it. 🙂 Catrina and her family move to upper California for her dad’s new job and they are hoping the change in climate helps her sister Maya have more good days with her cystic fibrosis. The town the move to Bahia De La Luna is rich is culture and tradition and has a huge festival every year for Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)! I have always loved all the culture – traditions – and decorations for Dia De Los Muertos. I would take that over Halloween any day. So I think between finding one of the rare few elementary and middle grade books that tackles cystic fibrosis and then includes Dia De Los Muertos I was sold one page one. The illustrations with bold and set the mood with each frame. They story line was well developed and hooked me instantly. I will be checking out her other books and might even dive into more graphic novels. Ghosts is a perfect book to read anytime of the year but would be great for a Spooktober book to read, it’s not scary but it is set in Spooktober season.
About the Book: Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.
A Story of Knitting and Love
by Michelle Edwards
illustrated by G. Brian Karas
This book is such a sweet story about how a special neighbor and little girl make hats for all their family and neighborhood friends. Mrs. Goldman is a knitter and she makes hats, mittens and even her little doggie a dinosaur sweater. Sophia is the little girl next door who helps Mrs. Goldman by making special pom poms to go on top of the hats. Sophia tried to learn to knit but it was just so hard. While on a walk one blustery cold day she notices Mrs. Goldman doesn’t have a hat to keep her head warm. Mrs. Goldman tells her she gave her hat away to someone who needed it, and is so busy knitting for everyone else she hasn’t made a new hat for herself. This gives Sophia an idea she is going to conquer knitting and make a very special hat for a very special Mrs. Goldman. She knits night and day when she is at home. After some time as passed she is finally done but it doesn’t look the greatest, what can she do to make it pretty? She knows just the thing and she goes to work creating lots and lots of pom poms. When she is done she runs it over. Mrs. Goldman loves her hat and the sweet gift makes her cry tears of joy. Now when her and Sophia walk the dog Fifi they will be nice and toasty in their knitted hats. The last few pages of this sweet little picture book includes directions on how to knit a hat. I would love to learn to knit but I’m with Sophia it is hard, a lot harder than I thought it would be. Maybe I need to be like her and just keep trying and conquer my own fear of knitting.
This library book has a great message and the illustrations are so soft and inviting. The book would be such a great one to read either at home or even in a classroom setting. If you have ever wanted to learn to knit maybe you could use the instructions to learn knitting yourself. Maybe even make it a family activity and learn to knit right along with your bookworms. There is also instructions on creating pom poms. Just think of all the fun things you can do with pom poms. You can add them to your knitted hats, make pom pom garland, add them to presents and so much more.
by Elizabeth Verdick
illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
A tiny snowplow determined to prove his worth battles a blizzard in this supremely charming story. Small Walt and his driver, Gus, take on a blizzard! All the bigger snowplows doubt that Walt has what it takes to plow the roads in the storm, but Walt is determined to prove them wrong.
Small Walt is very reminiscent to The Little Engine that Could and Katy and the Big Snow. Small Walt follows a street cleaner as he drives the smallest snow plow around the city to clean the streets during a blizzard. Kids that live in areas that have snow plows will love this book. The big snow plows don’t think a small plow can do the same works as them since he is so small. They laugh at him and no one wants to drive him. Gus comes along decides to take Walt for the plowing that night. The book flows their adventures as they clear the streets. This book would be really fun for a winter story time or class read aloud. I can just hear little ones chanting the verse “My name is Walt. I plow and salt. They say I’m small, but I’ll show them all.”
The story is sweet and shows that just because your little you can still be mighty and do things that many big kids and adults don’t think you can. If you believe and don’t give up just think of all the things you can do. The illustrations have a very vintage fill of old picture books. I really enjoyed them and they fall into the frame-able picture book illustrations for me. Over all this is the perfect picture book to have out for some fun winter reading and sure to become a classic!
by Candice Ransom
illustrated by Christine Grove
Sometimes we have in our head how we see something playing out. It may be a project your working on, a conversation or the first day of school. This book shows that things don’t always go as planned. Amanda Panda has it all figured out and knows exactly how the first day of kindergarten is going to go. However what she didn’t consider was that a: things don’t always go exactly as planned b: there are other kids in her kindergarten class and c: sometimes changes are hard but every now and then good things come from them. Over the course of the first day of kindergarten a certain little head to toe pink girl really wants to be Amanda’s friend. Bitsy is just everywhere and doing everything before Amanda can this makes Amanda very upset. So upset she decides to skip kindergarten all together and hang out with her big brother in 2nd grade. Bitsy goes on a mission to find her best friend Amanda and get her back to class. Amanda soon realizes that Bitsy might just make kindergarten fun and it’s always a great day when you make a new best friend. This one is cute and while Amanda does sneak off to a different classroom which is a big no-no the outcome is good. I do wish the author would have had a little part where the teacher talks to Bitsy and Amanda about how they can’t do that. Instead she just had it that the students and teacher didn’t even know they were late getting back to class. Besides that little part that I would have liked to be different it is a cute story. I think this would be a cute addition to any back to school reading list for your and your little bookworms or in the classroom setting. Just be sure to let them know don’t leave your classroom or class and wonder off around the school. 🙂
About the book: Amanda Panda has BIG ideas for her first day of school. But when things don’t go according to plan, and when a pesky girl in a pink bow decides to be her best friend, she walks out on kindergarten and joins her brother in second grade. It takes an unlikely partner to fix Amanda’s terrible day—and to teach her about friendship, tolerance, and how to cope with life’s ups and downs.
by Victoria Kann
I Can Read Level 1 Beginning Reading: Short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts for children eager to read on their own.
My youngest who is not a middle school-er loved her Pinkalicious when she was younger. Sadly that year didn’t last long and she moved on. However Pinkalicious is still going strong with preschool to young elementary aged readers and I’m glad. The stories are cute and sweet and most little girls go through that totally pink phase in life. This one was interesting a pink planet – is there really such a thing? Yes there is astronomer’s discovered it and it is really quite pretty and interesting.
Pinkalicious class has been given a homework assignment for school. They have to imagine what life would be like on this bubble gum pink planet. This is right up her alley, I mean when it comes to all things pink she is your gal! Peter her brother and her get into a discussion on who should go with the cute little aliens if they come down to earth. Like so many times when you go to bed thinking about something it becomes a dream and then an adventure awaits when she wakes up with a fright. This picture book is cute and might just spark some interest in the solar system. You could read it to your little pinkalicious bookworm and decide what life would be like on the pink planet just like her.
About the book: When Pinkalicious learns about Planet Pink, she has fun imagining life as a Pinktonian alien living on the pinkest planet in the universe! But what would happen if the Pinktonians paid her a visit?