Haven’s Secret

Twin sisters, Parker and Ellie McFadden, could not be more different. Parker is a firecracker, always bursting with energy, which she channels into her athletic activities. Ellie is gentle and quiet with a big heart for all types of animals, even spiders. Their mom, who was an environmental scientist, inspired the girls’ love for nature and was always traveling for dangerous research projects until one fateful scuba diving mission that led to her death. Before their mom died or abandoned them as Parker likes to believe, she set aside special gifts for each of her daughters to receive on their birthday. This year, they receive two bracelets and two notes reminding them to “listen carefully,” and “sisterhood comes first,” and “the magic will follow.”

Aside from the bracelets, Parker and Ellie get an even bigger surprise when their father informs them they will be spending the summer with their Great Aunt Mabel and Great Uncle George from their mom’s side of the family. Despite Parker’s protests, Mr. McFadden insists this trip will be good for the girls and that their mother had also spent time with her aunt and uncle as a kid. The next day, George and Mabel, an eccentric pair of twins, arrive to take Parker and Ellie to their mountain home which they call Haven.

Since arriving in Haven, Parker and Ellie find strange things happening. Ellie can hear animals’ thoughts and control plants, while Parker can generate fire and heat from her hands and make the ground move. Determined to find answers, Parker and Ellie explore Haven. In their mom’s old room, Ellie finds a box of pictures and notes from her mom and another girl, Sadie. Meanwhile, Parker uses an astrolabe, a special birthday gift from a previous year, to decipher the coordinates of their mom’s last locations before she went away. After demanding information, George and Mabel explain that Haven is no ordinary farm, but a sanctuary that offers protection from The Danger, a harmful force caused by human greed. Those who possess powers, like Parker and Ellie, George and Mabel, and their mother, have the responsibility to work with the environment to restore balance.

Even with this information, Parker and Ellie become suspicious of Haven and its secrets. George and Mabel are obviously withholding information, and Mabel grows increasingly wary of Parker’s strong powers and her inability to control them. Eventually, Mabel confesses that Sadie was their mom’s twin sister, and her thirst for power led to their mom’s death. Mabel expresses concern that Parker will betray Ellie in the same way if her powers are not controlled.

Suspense increases for Parker and Ellie after their dad warns them over the phone that they are in danger and must leave Haven immediately. Suddenly, everything becomes clear when Parker cracks the last astrolabe coordinate and discovers the last place her mom was before her death was Haven. The girls realize Haven is no longer safe and Mabel can’t be trusted. Parker and Ellie must work together and trust in their powers to stop Mabel from disturbing the earth’s balance and letting The Danger win.

Haven’s Secret is the first book in The Powers Series, and the story ends with a cliffhanger teasing more adventure to come. Although the book is written in third person, the chapters go back and forth between focusing on Parker’s and Ellie’s perspective. Because of their unique personalities, readers will be able to relate to either Parker or Ellie. In addition, the novel has strong themes of sisterhood and teamwork as Parker and Ellie realize they are stronger together. The book also has important environmental themes such as practicing sustainability by utilizing recycled materials. The Danger is also a symbol for climate change and environmental neglect, and Parker and Ellie’s powers are used to support environmental activism.

With its environmental themes, Haven’s Secret is an important and timely book. Overall, it is an exciting read with all the twists and secrets Parker and Ellie uncover at Haven. The ending, especially, is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Although the pacing is a little slow in the beginning, readers will admire Parker and Ellie’s sisterly bond and get inspired to help the environment. If you’d like to read another magical book that has environmental themes, pick up a copy of Spark by Sarah Beth Durst.

 Sexual content

  • None

Violence

  • While running through the forest, “Parker’s foot skidded on the mud a second time and she pitched forward, right into a stupid tree. Face first . . . Her head flooded with pain, grimy water seeped through the knees of her jeans, and something primal rose up within her, overtaking her body and mind.” Parker is hurt.
  • A wounded cow arrives at Haven. “It’s left hind leg had a giant gash in it, almost as if the animal had gotten in a barn fight.” George and Ellie work together to help heal the cow.
  • As part of her powers, Ellie feels the pain of the wounded animals around her. As she walks closer to them, she feels “pain shimmering through every end of her body, until she was doubled over with it.” Ellie has to focus and stay strong in order for the pain to subside.
  • Ellie helps heal an injured wolf that has “a deep gash between his ribs—his blood pooled beneath him.” The animal is hurt by a growing storm caused by The Danger. We do not see exactly when the wolf was injured.
  • To protect her and her sister, Ellie blows a magical whistle their mother had given them, and “Mabel screeched as if the pain of the entire world was upon her.”
  • As Parker and Mabel fight each other, “glass shards skittered across the floor. Parker focused on the rain outside the window, drawing it into her own private tempest, thrusting it against Mabel’s wintry hailstorm. The two storms crashed together above George’s bed, and he lifted a frail arm to shield his face from the deluge of rain and hail.”
  • When Mabel’s storm falters, “the wolf Ellie had healed chose its moment to spring onto Mabel’s back.” As a result, “Mabel shrieked.” Her cries reveal she is in pain, but neither the pain nor the violence is described in detail.
  • Mabel’s rage destroyed Haven. It is implied that George and Mabel were killed in the destruction.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

 Language

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 Supernatural

  • In the prologue, The Danger, a dark, magical force attacks an unknown character. The Danger “made its presence felt in the swirling wind, the bending trees, the keening animals, the shadows cast by the waning moon . . . It filled her, and she let it. It fused to her body from the inside out, banishing all the parts she’d kept hidden and protected for so long.”
  • In a moment of frustration, Parker slams her foot on the ground and “the ground cracked and jolted Parker out of her rage. For a second her whole body rattled like someone was shaking her . . . There, clearly, beneath her sneaker, was a split in the ground.” Before realizing her powers, Parker assumes the crack was caused by an earthquake.
  • After meeting Arlo the dog, who lives at Haven, Ellie discovers she can communicate with animals. After Ellie asked Arlo if he would like to come in inside, she could feel him say yes. “It wasn’t like he had actually spoken, but a strong feeling of ‘yes’ had come out of nowhere.” Ellie continues to hear the thoughts of animals throughout the book.
  • In the forest, Parker “felt as if a million slender tendrils from the forest were fighting to pull her back and eat her alive.” This is The Danger trying to get her.
  • As Ellie walked around Haven, “she noticed buttercups springing up around her feet, almost as if to mark her path.” Later, Ellie discovers that she has some control over plants.
  • Parker produces light from her hands, and “the skin on her palms was briefly translucent, exposing what had just been jumping underneath—a landscape of sparks, a million bright pinpricks, all of them screaming and clawing to get out out out into the world—”
  • Mabel explains to Parker and Ellie that The Danger “is a malevolent, shape-shifting force created by people’s greed.”
  • After getting frustrated with Mabel for not telling the truth, Parker creates a burst of fire and light. “Parker opened her arms wide as the searing heat coursed through her and enveloped the palms of her hands.” As a result, Parker notices the mountain side of the road “was mostly uniform except for a gaping chunk in the middle, the space for the last missing piece of puzzle.” Parker had caused an explosion and shifted bits of the earth. Parker has “the ability to produce light and manipulate the earth’s surface matter.”
  • Ellie comes to realize that “all her life, she had been able to see how people were feeling, sometimes even before they saw it themselves.”
  • When George grew weak after healing animals, Ellie “stepped in and discovered she could heal animals too.”
  • Parker and Ellie notice a mysterious shadow but “light had nothing to do with it. Nothing was casting it. The shadow simply crept of its own accord. And then it was gone.”
  • When a vine begins to choke Ellie, “she visualized the vine receding, herself taming it with merely a thought,” and, “around her neck and shoulders, the vines loosened.”
  • George explains to Parker “that the powers don’t just run in our This is bigger than just us. Lots of other people have powers.”
  • As Mabel becomes more power-hungry, “showers of sparks danced from her irises and arced down to the floor trailing thin ribbons of black smoke.”

Spiritual content

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by Elena Brown

Fly High, Fly Guy!

Mom and Dad won’t let Fly Guy go along on the family road trip. They’re afraid he’ll get lost. But when Dad accidentally shuts him in the trunk, Fly Guy goes along for the ride! First, Fly Guy gets lost at the picnic site—but he shows up in the garbage can. Then he gets lost at the art museum, but he shows up as part of a modern painting. At the beach, he turns up in a shell, and at the amusement park, on Buzz’s hot dog (yuck!).

Beginning readers will have fun reading about Fly Guy’s adventures which come to life in comical illustrations. Each page has large, brightly colored illustrations. The cartoonish characters have exaggerated facial features to help readers understand the characters’ emotions. The story will give emerging readers confidence as they move from picture books to chapter books. Fly High, Fly Guy has three chapters, and most pages have one to three simple sentences. The story’s short sentences and simple vocabulary make Fly High, Fly Guy a good choice for younger readers.

Although Fly High, Fly Guy doesn’t have a lesson, the creative story will engage readers and have them wondering what Fly Guy will do next. Readers will giggle at some of the illustrations such as when Fly Guy goes to a museum and kisses Mona Lisa on the nose. The Fly Guy Series uses humor to show that reading can be fun. Readers who enjoy Fly High, Fly Guy may also want to read 13 Ways to Eat a Fly by Sue Heavenrich.

Sexual Content

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Violence

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 Drugs and Alcohol

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Language

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Supernatural

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Spiritual Content

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Firefly Hollow

There are certain things that are taught to the young fireflies and crickets of the Hollow. But Firefly doesn’t only want to learn how to fly—she wants to fly to the moon. And Cricket doesn’t only want to sing about baseball games—he wants to play in one.

Their dreams seem too big for the Hollow, and as Firefly and Cricket chase them beyond the trees, they stumble upon a giant, like the ones they have always been warned about. But this giant is different—he’s miniature, and his name is Peter.

Peter is in need of friends, even small ones, even if his dad thinks they are imaginary. But Firefly and Cricket are actual, not imaginary. And so are their dreams. And sometimes dreams, like friendships, lead to something extraordinary.

In the Hollow, both fireflies and crickets have been warned to stay away from humans, who are dangerous. “The worlds of tiny creatures and humans were unbridgeable, or at least that’s what crickets and fireflies were always told. But every once in a while, there was one—sometimes two—who ventured out of firefly nation, out of the cricket nation, to test the waters on their own.” Despite their fear, Firefly and Cricket leave the hollow and become friends with Peter. In the process, they learn that friends—no matter how small—can come in unlikely places.

Firefly Hollow shows how dreams can come true in unexpected ways. Unlike most of the Hollow’s creatures, Peter doesn’t make fun of Firefly’s and Cricket’s dreams. Instead, he helps them achieve their goals through encouragement and advice. Through the three friends’ experiences, readers will learn that true friends are kindred spirits who accept you as you are. As Vole says, “A kindred spirit is someone who understands the deepest dream of your heart.”

The Hollow is portrayed in a magical way through beautiful illustrations. Both black and white drawings and full-color illustrations appear every 3 to 7 pages. Most of the black and white illustrations focus on the characters. The colored illustrations show the beautiful light from fireflies as well as the scale of Firefly and Cricket compared to their surroundings. While younger readers will love the story, they may need help with the book’s advanced vocabulary which includes words like carapace, heedless, disintegrate, circumnavigated and kindred.

Firefly Hollow is a must-read because it is a beautiful story about friendship that shows the importance of determination, preservation, practice, and trying new things. The story also explores the idea of death by focusing on how people are missed after they die. Even though Firefly and Cricket are bugs, they are completely loveable and relatable. Readers will fall in love with the two friends who remind us that dreams are never too big.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • The Museum of Giant Artifacts has items from the human world. In the museum, “the Jar that was especially horrifying to the firefly nation. The Jar! It contained actual firefly corpses!”
  • A cricket named Gloria is injured by a human. “One lollipop stick flung carelessly from the hand of a miniature giant and now there she is—one front leg and one wing permanently damaged.”
  • Vole’s nation was washed away. “The giants who lived upstream had struck down a beaver dam. This caused the river to rise up in fury, swamping the fishing boats of the river voles and sweeping both boats and voles downriver, never to be seen again. All except one. Vole.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Many think that Cricket and Firefly are “nuts” or “crazy.” For example, when Cricket says he’d like to catch a baseball, someone asks, “Are you nuts?”
  • At one point, Peter’s father says that Firefly is insane.
  • A cricket is talking about Cricket when he says, “He’s weird and he’s a pain, but we miss him anyway.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • An elder asks Firefly, “Did you know that when fireflies get very old, they turn into stars? And what that means is that if the day ever comes when I’m not here, I’ll be up in the sky. . .Just remember that,” he said. “Remember that one of the stars in the sky will be me, and I’ll be watching over you.”
  • After crickets die, they “turn into music and we are everywhere. . .They turned into the sound of the wind, rustling the leaves on the trees. The crunch of an acorn in the fall.”

The Firefly with No Glow

Luke is a firefly who lives in a garden, but unlike his friends, Luke doesn’t have a light and “no light means no glow.” As Luke and his friends explore the world, Luke’s friends help him. But one night, a boy catches Luke’s friends and puts them into a jar. None of the other fireflies can help, but because Luke doesn’t glow, the boy doesn’t see him. Luke frees his friends. While he doesn’t have a light that glows, after he helps his friends, Luke is glowing with pride.

By reading The Firefly with No Glow, children can fly into the world of the fireflies and explore. Every page has illustrations that show the adorably cute fireflies who live in a beautiful world full of creatures—an owl in a tree, ladybugs on a leaf, and crickets playing a song. Young readers will have fun trying to find all the creatures in the illustrations. Most of the full-page illustrations show the dark blue night sky which allows the fireflies light to shine bright. When the fireflies are trapped in a jar, their frowns are evident, but the scenes are not scary.

The Firefly with No Glow is part of the Step into Reading level two, which is geared toward preschool through first grade readers. With large font and 1 to 2 short sentences per page, young readers will enjoy the simple story. However, some readers will need help sounding out unfamiliar words.

The story focuses on Luke, a firefly who is different than the other fireflies. However, it is Luke’s difference that allows him to save his friends. While Luke doesn’t have a light that glows, he is portrayed in a positive light. The Firefly with No Glow highlights how one firefly’s difference makes him the perfect firefly to help his friends. The cute, engaging story will leave readers with a warm glow and help them understand that being unique is a good thing.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A boy “catches a few of Luke’s friends. They are trapped in a jar.” Every firefly that tries to help, gets caught by the boy.

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

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Supernatural

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Spiritual Content

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Sophie’s Squash

One fall day, Sophie makes a surprising friend during her family’s sunny trip to the local farmers’ market. The friend just happens to be a squash. Sophie calls her Bernice. At first, Sophie’s parents let Sophie care for and love Bernice—taking her to storytime at the library, introducing her to the other squash at the market, practicing somersaults in the garden, and tucking baby Bernice into a crib at night with a bottle. “Well, we did hope she’d love vegetables,” Sophie’s parents humorously justify. However, as Bernice begins to get older and rot, Sophie’s parents try to convince Sophie to cook Bernice, or send her to a food donation site. Even the other children during library storytime look down on Bernice as she ages. However, Sophie is not ready to ever give up her perfect friend—so when Bernice begins to soften and can no longer do somersaults, Sophie makes the difficult decision to put her in a bed of soft soil and wait for Bernice to grow again.

Sophie’s Squash is a wonderfully gentle tale that not only teaches children how to care for the things that they love, but also shows readers how letting go can sometimes lead to new possibilities. Miller thoughtfully weaves her story of Sophie and Bernice alongside whimsical watercolor illustrations in which illustrator Anne Wilsdorf fully showcases Sophie’s somersaults, Bernice’s baby carriage rides, and multiple family trips to the farmers’ market. Even though Sophie’s Squash is longer than most picture books, two or three illustrations sit on each page and break up the text so that there is no more than five to ten lines between each image. The watercolor illustrations also work to bring the entire narrative to life, so viewers still gain a complete grasp of the story by looking only at the pictures. This, coupled with the digestible nature of Miller’s prose, makes Sophie’s Squash perfect for new and learning readers.

Throughout all the quirky shenanigans of Sophie’s Squash, Sophie’s character shines with a heroic agency and independence. Sophie’s care towards Bernice turns this silly story about a girl and a squash into a truly heartwarming story about friendship, care, and even environmentalism. By exemplifying the new path Sophie must take in order to regrow her friend Bernice, Sophie’s Squash creates a powerful metaphor demonstrating the wondrous things that can come from putting something else’s needs— particularly the needs of nature— before your own.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

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Drugs and Alcohol

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Language

  • One of the children at the library points and stares at Bernice, saying to Sophie, “What’s that spotty thing?” In the narrative, this question takes on a teasing tone that may be hard for some children to read.

Supernatural

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Spiritual Content

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by Hannah Olsson

Willodeen

Eleven-year-old Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land; strange beasts known as “screechers.” The villagers of Perchance call them pests– even monsters– but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature.
Lately, though, nature has seemed angry indeed. Perchance has been cursed with fires and mudslides, droughts and fevers, and even the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, has dwindled. For as long as anyone can remember, the tiny animals have overwintered in shimmering bubble nests perched atop blue willow trees, drawing tourists from far and wide. This year, however, not a single hummingbear has returned to Perchance, and no one knows why.

When a handmade birthday gift brings unexpected magic to Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, she’s determined to speak up for the animals she loves, and perhaps even uncover the answer to the mystery of the missing hummingbears.

Willodeen is a wonderfully relatable character who feels as if she’s odd and unlovable because she would rather spend time in nature than with people. Like many middle school readers, Willodeen is often self-conscious and struggles to find her voice. Many people make fun of Willodeen’s love of screechers because they don’t understand why she loves the ugly, smelly creatures. However, when Willodeen meets Connor, they connect over their love of all creatures. In the end, Willodeen becomes the heroine of the story when she uses her power of scientific observation to solve the town’s problem, saving the screechers in the process.

Through Willodeen’s experiences, readers will learn about the importance of community. When the town is threatened by fire, everyone joins in to help put the fire out. The theme is developed further when Willodeen and Connor go to the city council meetings—where both Willodeen and Connor find the bravery to speak up for the detested screechers. Readers will love how Mae, Birdie, and Connor’s father stand up for Willodeen and encourage her to “be what you are meant to be.” Even though Willodeen is different than others, the story shows that she has value and can contribute to her community in her own unique way.

Willodeen is also a story about caring for all nature—even the animals that aren’t adorably cute like the hummingbears. The story shows how all of nature is interconnected and how each animal has an important role in the ecosystem. Readers will love discovering how the screechers and the hummingbears are interconnected. In the end, the town learns to appreciate the screechers. And when tourists “complained about the horrible beasts stinking up the village, we learned to simply shrug and say, ‘when screechers were invented, Mother Nature made them scented.’”

Appplegate creates another beautiful story that advanced readers and middle school readers will love. The short chapters, loveable characters, and a bit of magic will captivate readers and leave them contemplating ways they can use their voice to impact their community.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Willodeen and her family are caught in a fire. Her father, mother and little brother died in the fire. Willodeen has a nightmare about the “flames grabbing for me like a hungry monster. The soles of my feet blistering. The poisonous smoke scorching my lungs.” Willodeen wonders why she “made it out” when her family didn’t.
  • Willodeen is looking at a screecher curled in a nest, when she “heard footsteps, movement. Thwap. The arrow hit with such force that the nest seemed to explode.” The screecher runs, but Willodeen sees “a thick trail of blood leading into the trees.” Later she finds the animal dead. “His eyes staring at nothing. His white snout was covered in blood.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • Every year Perchance has a fair where “ale and trinkets” are sold.

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Birdie tells Willodeen “angry tears have magic in them. . . There’s magic in all of us. Just a bit. You’re born with it, like fingers and toes and fuzzy baby hair. Some of us make use of it. And some do not.”
  • A screecher magically comes alive. “The creature has a maker, a boy with nimble fingers and a tender heart. He’s spent hours weaving weeds and thistledown in the milky moonlight, spinning her into existence.” The creature began as a screecher, made from weeds, wood, and other materials. But then Willodeen cried “for myself because I was alone and lonely on my birthday. And because I was odd and unlovable. For a long time, I let myself weep. . .” Willodeen’s “angry tears” had the magic to make the screecher alive.

Spiritual Content

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The Sequoia Lives On

From tiny seeds to the largest trees, the giant sequoia is a living wonder of nature. Numbers fail when trying to describe this ancient and tremendous tree. The giant sequoia begins life as a seed no larger than an oatmeal flake yet can grow as tall as three blue whales stacked chin to tail. The oldest sequoias have lived as long as forty human lifetimes. The largest are so enormous that twenty children holding hands can’t wrap their arms around their trunks!

The sequoia’s majesty is shown with vibrant full-page illustrations while the text explains the tree’s size in kid-friendly terms. For example, a sequoia’s seed is “a flake no bigger than an ant” but the tiny seeds will eventually be “a tree as heavy as three hundred elephants.” The sequoia’s great size is emphasized, and the illustrations show a diverse group of children admiring the trees. The Sequoia Lives On is a picture book intended to be read aloud to a child the first time. Even though each two-page spread only has 1 to 5 sentences, young readers will struggle with the complex sentence structure and difficult vocabulary.

The Sequoia Lives On teaches readers about the life cycle of a sequoia. The book pairs sequoia facts with beautiful pictures. To give readers perspective, the illustrations compare the trees’ size to the forest animals. While no book can fully explain the majesty of the giant sequoias, The Sequoia Lives On does an excellent job explaining how the sequoia is important to other living creatures including chickarees and the long-horned beetle.

Young readers curious about trees will enjoy The Sequoia Lives On. While some of the text may be confusing to young readers, the illustrations beautifully show the information given in the text. Children will be amazed as they learn about the giant trees. If you are planning a trip to see the sequoias, The Sequoia Lives On is a must-read. However, young readers who aren’t interested in trees may quickly become bored. The Sequoia Lives On will educate readers as well as inspire awe, but younger reads will need an adult’s help to get through to the end of the book.

Sexual Content

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Violence

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 Drugs and Alcohol

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Language

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Supernatural

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Spiritual Content

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Such a Little Mouse

In the middle of a meadow, under a clump of dandelions, lives a curious and adventurous mouse—such a little mouse. Every morning in spring, summer, fall, and winter, one, two, three! He pops out of his hole. And off he goes exploring in the wild world.

Spend a year with a little mouse, with his smart gray coat, with his ears pink as petals, with three twitchety whiskers on each side of his nose. The wide world holds many surprises for such a little creature.

Readers will love seeing the little mouse explore his own backyard. The little mouse finds wonder in every season and everything—a snail, a clover, a reflection of himself in a puddle. As he goes about his day, “he brings a little round seed home in his mouth. He packs it away in his storeroom, way down deep in his hole.” As winter approaches, the little mouse’s storeroom becomes full of leaves, fruits, acorns, and other yummy foods. When the snow covers the meadow and trees, “he goes, down into his warm hole.” The little mouse makes himself a meal of acorn bread and seed-and-watercress soup. Then he snuggles down with a book and a blanket. “Such a little mouse, all snug and warm, deep down in his hole, until spring.”

Even though Such a Little Mouse is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. Each page has 1 to 3 sentences that use onomatopoeia and repetition to keep readers interested. Such a Little Mouse is a wonderful story that teaches about the different seasons.

Such a Little Mouse is a sweet story that highlights the importance of preparing for winter. Even though the little mouse stops to enjoy the little things in life, he also packs away supplies for the winter. The little mouse’s days come to life in full-page illustrations that use the colors of each season. Some of the pages include panels that give readers a closer view of the little mouse’s activities. If you’re looking for more books about the four seasons, check out City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems.

Sexual Content

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Violence

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 Drugs and Alcohol

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Language

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Supernatural

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Spiritual Content

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Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective: Bad Bugs Are My Business

While on the way to the bank, someone knocks Scratch over the head and takes his money. The upset flea is desperate to find the culprit, so he goes to detective Ace Lacewing. The detective bug discovers that Scratch has a lot of enemies—a hissing roach, a carpenter ant, and bo weevil.

Ace’s investigation takes him to Scratch’s amusement park, where he goes through the Termite Tower of Terror, Anteater Falls, and the House of Mirrors. Ace’s girlfriend and the Police Sergeant Zito “The Mosquito” join Ace on his investigation. Will Ace be able to find the missing money?

Bad Bugs Are My Business uses first-person narration, which allows Ace’s personality to shine. Throughout the story, the characters use some funny insect humor. For example, while interrogating a ladybug, Ace says, “Seems like someone was trying to play flatten-the-flea with your boyfriend.”

As Ace talks to possible thieves, each one points the finger at someone else, which helps propel the story forward. In the end, it’s Ace’s knowledge of insects that allows him to solve the crime. The story has some interesting insect facts and reinforces the importance of family. Unfortunately, the message is watered down because the thief is the one who talks about the importance of family. He says, “You don’t have family, you don’t have nothin’.” In the end, the thief used his “little pupae” to hide his crime.

The picture book’s illustrations bring the bugs’ world to life with bright colors. Readers will have fun looking for all of the insect references. For example, while a group of bugs rides a roller coaster, they pass a sign that reads, “Please Keep Antenna and Legs inside.” The detailed illustrations have so many fun elements that readers will want to look at them again and again. While several pages have no words, many of the other pages are text heavy and include up to 9 sentences. Even though Bad Bugs Are My Business is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently.

Readers may not understand all of the story’s lessons, such as paying workers a fair wage. Despite this, the basic plot is easy to understand, and Ace’s investigation is fast-paced and interesting. Young readers who are looking for a fun detective story will enjoy Bad Bugs Are My Business. This creative story has all of the enjoyable elements of a mystery.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • When Scratch was heading to the bank, “Bam! He got hit on the head with a carpenter ant toolbox.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

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Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle

Simple science text and dramatic illustrations give a close-up view of the fascinating world of the dung beetle. When an animal lightens its load, dung beetles race to the scene. They battle over, devour, hoard, and lay their eggs in the precious poop. Dung is food, drink, and fuel for new life – as crucial to these beetles as the beetles are to many habitats, including our own.

Young readers may get squeamish when they think of a beetle eating dung, but right from the start Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle explains dung in a neutral tone. “Somewhere in the world right now an animal is lightening its load.” Most of the time, animal waste is called dung, but it is also called poop or feces. While humans would never consider eating dung, for a dung beetle, “one animal’s waste is the dung beetle’s treasure.”

Readers may think a picture book that illustrates poop would be gross, but at times the illustrations make it seem surprisingly spectacular. Most of the time, the dung piles look like brown balls. The watercolor illustrations use hues of nature and most of the illustrations are done in shades of brown and gold. The illustrations give a close look at the beetle’s home and body parts. While the focus is on the different types of beetles, the pictures also show the other animals that live near dung beetles. Readers will have fun looking at the elephants, giraffes, and other animals that appear in the background.

Even though Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. Each page has 1 to 6 sentences. Because some of the text is written in complex sentences with advanced vocabulary, young readers may need help. The book ends with more beetle facts, a diagram, a glossary, and a bibliography.

Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle is packed full of interesting facts and shows how beetles help the environment. By the time readers get to the last page, they will realize that dung beetles aren’t gross at all. Instead, readers will discover that beetles are amazing. “Clad in splendor, dung beetles ascend into our world. They are ancient symbols of life and renewal.”

Sexual Content

  • The book explains the mating of beetles. For example, “Tunnelers mate and stash their eggs deep inside underground vaults.”

Violence

  • Sometimes dung beetles fight for their food. “Rollers engage in head-to-head combat to defend their dung—and for the promise of finding a mate.”
  • Different types of dung beetles fight in different ways. “Tunnelers push and pry and twist and turn in underground battles . . . The bigger beetles with larger horns usually force smaller beetles out of the nest and away from dung supplies.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Secret Explorers and the Lost Whales

Meet the Secret Explorers! This group of brilliant kids comes together from all four corners of the globe to fix problems, solve mysteries, and gather knowledge from all over the planet – and beyond. Whenever their help is needed, a special sign will appear on a door. They step through to the Exploration Station and receive their mission…

In The Lost Whales, marine life expert Connor needs to use his underwater expertise to save a pod of humpback whales who have lost their way. Along with space expert Roshni, Connor sets out in a submarine to search for a way to steer the whales back on track. However, they encounter unexpected problems along the way, including lost baby whales and a fleet of boats. Will the Secret Explorers manage to succeed in their mission?

Even though The Secret Explorers are a large, diverse group of children, The Lost Whales focuses on Connor and Roshni. Even though the children are smart, they are not perfect, which makes them more relatable. Some humorous scenes are mixed in with the facts. For example, in order to get a pod of whales to swim in another direction, Connor raps. Roshni teases him by saying, “That has to be the worse rapping that I’ve heard in my life. I think I cringed my way into a parallel universe.”

The book is jam-packed with whale facts. While a lot of the information is integrated into the story’s plot, at times the lessons seem forced. For example, Connor and Roshni find red sea algae, which is bad for ocean animals. Connor thinks, “There’s no sense in blaming the algae though. They fed on farm fertilizer that had been washed out to sea and grew so fast because climate change had warmed the oceans.” Despite this, readers will enjoy learning about whales and other ocean creatures.

During the adventure, Connor and Roshni put on scuba gear and swim toward a boat. When Connor and Roshni approach the boat, they ask permission to board, and a young boy gives them permission even though he is on the boat deck alone. While this part of the plot is essential to solving a problem, parents may want to discuss why that could have been a dangerous situation.

The Lost Whales has large black and white illustrations that will help break up the text and help readers understand the plot. Characters’ thoughts are easy to distinguish because they are in bold text. While younger readers may struggle with some of the difficult vocabulary and the length of the book, the book’s educational value makes it worth parents’ time to read the book aloud to their children. The book ends with 6 pages of additional facts, a glossary, and a quiz.

The Lost Whales has a blend of action, problem-solving, and ocean life facts that will make parents and young readers happy. The books do not need to be read in order because each book describes a new adventure. Readers will be excited to read the rest of the books in the series because they cover a wide variety of topics, including archaeology, dinosaurs, space, and other high-interest topics.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • When there is a Secret Explorers mission, a “glowing shape” appears on the pantry door. When Connor goes into the pantry, “the shelves of food were gone, and instead there was a dazzling white light. Connor’s heart thudded. Wind whipped against his face, as if he were traveling really fast.” Connor is transported to the Exploration Station.
  • The Beagle can change into different types of transportation and magically takes its occupants to where they need to go.
  • The Beagle can also change shape. “The Beagle began to transform. The wheels slide away. A joystick replaced the steering wheel. Glass rose around them.” When the transformation is complete, the Beagle turns into a submarine.
  • When Connor gets back from his adventure, he discovers that no time has passed so no one has missed him.

Spiritual Content

  • None

We Are Water Protectors

Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all. When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.

We Are Water Protectors was awarded the Caldecott Medal for being a distinguished American picture book for children. Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, this book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard Earth’s water from harm and corruption. The story speaks against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was protested by the Standing Rock Sioux. The book ends with an “Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge” for the child to sign and date.

Beautiful illustrations highlight the connection between people and nature. The parts of the story that tell about the importance of water are completed in shades of blue with other natural colors. Each page has 1 to 3 sentences written in poetry. Even though We Are Water Protectors is written for children, younger readers will not understand the symbolism or the connection between the black snake and the oil pipeline. The black snake only appears in the illustrations twice, but the snake’s red eyes, red tongue, and large teeth may frighten some readers.

We Are Water Protectors is a call of action that encourages readers to be “stewards of the Earth” and to “fight for those who cannot fight from themselves.” The last two-page spread shows a group of mostly Indigenous people protesting. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t include ways that young readers can help the cause, other than signing the “Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge.” While the book shows the connection between people and nature, it misses the opportunity to show how young readers can take action.

We Are Water Protectors’ illustrations beautifully highlight the plants and animals that “cannot fight for themselves.” Despite this, the symbolism and deeper message will need to be explained by an adult. Parents should read the “more on water protectors” section at the end of the book to better explain the text to younger readers. While the story introduces the importance of water, We Are Water Protectors is better suited for older readers.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

 

Saving Kate’s Flowers

Fall is here and Kate, who is a rabbit, is determined to save her flowers from the winter cold. Mom shows her how to scoop the flowers out of the ground, transplant them into pots, and give them water. Kate pots a couple of flowers . . . and then some more … and a few more. ate has filled the house with flowers, but Dad’s sneezes mean the flowers have to go! Kate realizes she needs to find a new place for her flowers to spend the winter, but where?

Saving Kate’s Flowers is a fun story that introduces readers to different types of flowers—black-eyed susans, impatients, geraniums, and goldenrod just to name a few. The story also explains the difference between perennials and annuals. Readers will relate to Kate, who doesn’t want any of the flowers to die. When the overzealous Kate pots too many plants, her mom helps her find a way to save them. With a little help, Kate’s flowers find a new home with her neighbors.

Kate’s world comes to life in beautiful full-colored illustrations that are packed full of details. Readers will enjoy finding the snail that appears on almost every page. Butterflies, worms, and insects are also in many of the pictures. The story includes a 4-page “For Creative Minds” section in the back of the book and a 27-page cross-curricular “Teaching Activity Guide” online. Each page has 1 to 9 sentences which early readers will need help reading. Even though young readers may need help with the vocabulary, the story explains transplanting plants in a way that young readers will easily understand.

Children will love the adorable animals in Saving Kate’s Flowers, from a turtle listing to an ipod to a pug wearing pearls. Kate’s enthusiasm for plants is contagious and her kind actions show the importance of being a good neighbor. Whether you’re looking for a book that teaches about plants or just a fun family read-aloud, Saving Kate’s Flower is sure to delight. Readers who want to learn more about the joy of gardening should also read Mortimer’s First Garden by Karma Wilson.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

13 Ways to Eat a Fly

Thirteen flies become tasty snacks in this clever reverse counting book about subtraction, predators, and prey.

Science meets subtraction in this fresh and funny STEM picture book with plenty of ewww factor to please young readers. A swarm of thirteen flies buzzes along, losing one member to each predator along the way. Whether the unfortunate insects are zapped or wrapped, liquefied or zombified, the science is real—and hilariously gross. The story includes a guide to eating bugs, complete with nutritional information for a single serving of flies.

Each two-page spread shows how a different predator finds a fly to snack on. While the descriptions are not gory, squeamish readers may find the flies’ deaths disturbing. When a fly gets too close to a Venus flytrap, for instance, “Snap! Bye-bye, fly! Digestive juices inside the leaf dissolve the meaty parts of the fly.” The accompanying illustration shows a fly trying to escape from the plant.

13 Ways to Eat a Fly introduces readers to the cycle of life through rhyming lines and illustrations. The story begins with illustrations of different types of flies. Each page has an oversized number with one keyword, such as zapped and wrapped. Even though each page only has 2 to 4 sentences, the book is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. The illustrations use natural colors with pops of brighter colors. In many of the illustrations, the fly’s common name and scientific name appear underneath the fly.

Curious readers will love learning about the many animals, including humans, that rely on flies for food. Any reader who is interested in science and nature will enjoy 13 Ways to Eat a Fly. Readers will even learn about the nutritional value of flies and how humans can use them in their own meals. Readers who enjoy 13 Ways to Eat a Fly, may want to add the Fly Guy Series to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • The story shows the ways flies die. For example, a wasp “stings a fly, carries it home, and drags it down into a nest.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Because a Little Bug Went Ka-CHOO!

Just one “KA-CHOO” causes a whole chain of hilarity, from a splashing turtle to a wet hen, to a flying policeman, a sinking boat, and just about everyone crashing a circus parade! “Because that seed dropped, a worm got mad. Because he got mad, he kicked a tree. Because of that kick. . .” Turn the pages and find out what could possibly happen next!

Because a Little Bug Went Ka-CHOO! is a simple story that shows a chain reaction of cause and effect. The silly characters range from an angry worm to Farmer Brown and even a flying policeman. The simple story is perfect for beginning readers because every sentence uses the same format and only a few new words are introduced on each page. As part of the I Can Read It Myself Beginning Book Series, young readers should be able to read the book on their own.

The full-page illustrations are bright, hilarious, and have fun details. Each page adds more characters—soon cows, chickens, Farmer Brown, police officers, and even a fish follow the action to see what will happen next. Readers will have fun finding all of the familiar characters on each page. From a fish riding a motorcycle to a blue elephant in the sky, the characters will keep young readers engaged.

Because each page has 1 to 2 simple sentences that have rhythm, Because a Little Bug Went Ka-CHOO! makes a great story to read aloud. The combination of simple sentences and funny illustrations will have young children reading Because a Little Bug Went Ka-CHOO! again and again. The book allows beginning readers to gain confidence in reading. As readers follow the chaos that one little sneeze causes, they will learn that reading can be fun.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

On Beyond Bugs!

The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2 go on a journey looking for the millions of bugs that live in the world. The Cat in the Hat introduces readers to all sorts of bugs from praying mantis, to grasshoppers, and even butterflies. The Cat in the Hat tells readers interesting facts about the bugs he meets. With the help of a magnifying glass, the smaller bugs grow large enough that readers can distinguish each bug’s differences. Fleas, bees, and bugs in trees all inhabit the world, and with the Cat in the Hat, readers will learn all sorts of interesting facts.

Cat in the Hat uses Thing 1 and Thing 2 to introduce bug facts. For example, they hold up a sign that reads, “Spiders aren’t insects! This news couldn’t wait! Instead of six legs, every spider has eight!” All of the bugs are labeled and some pages have diagrams of bug body parts. The book’s format makes it easy for readers to identify bugs and their body parts.

On Beyond Bugs uses full-page illustrations with bright colors to introduce all types of bugs. Each bug’s unique features are shown through pictures. For example, an underwing moth blends into a tree’s bark, and a spittlebug hides from birds by covering itself with spit bubbles. Some of the illustrations are humorous, such as when the queen bee is being taken care of by the worker bees.

On Beyond Bugs is intended to introduce beginning readers to the importance of basic concepts about the world. Each page has 2 to 4 rhyming sentences. Readers will enjoy seeing the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2 throughout the story. The end of the book has a seven-word glossary and a list of books that bug lovers might want to read.

Young readers will enjoy the colorful illustrations and learning about bugs. However, every two-page spread introduces a new insect, which some readers may find overwhelming. On Beyond Bugs teaches the importance of learning about bugs because “The world that we know couldn’t go on without them. The butterfly, ladybug, ant, and the bee make everything better . . . for you. . . and for me!”

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Bug Girl (a true story)

Sophia loves bugs. When she was in kindergarten, some of her friends would hunt for bugs with her. But as she got older, kids began teasing her because she was a “bug lover.” Sophia was teased so much that she packed all of her bug stuff into boxes. This made her sad.

Then Sophia’s mom sent an email to a bug scientist. The entomologist Morgan Jackson wrote Sophia, encouraging her to keep studying bugs. When Morgan shared Sophia’s story, other bug scientists also helped Sophia see that loving bugs is not weird or strange. Today, Sophia is a fourth-grader who still loves bugs.

Each page of the picture book has large illustrations that look like watercolors. As Sophia’s classmates grow older and begin to tease her, the illustrations show Sophia’s sadness both in facial expressions and in dark colors. Most pages have 5 to 7 sentences as well as speech bubbles. Even with so few sentences, some pages are text-heavy which may make it difficult for younger readers to sit through a reading. Even though The Bug Girl is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child rather than for a child to read it for the first time independently. The end of the book has general information on bugs as well as “super-cool bug facts.” In addition, the book explains the cycle of the butterfly and how to study bugs in the wild.

Any child who has been called weird will relate to Sophia’s struggle. Her story allows readers to see that having a unique hobby is not strange. Sophia realizes that there are many people who love bugs. This realization allows Sophia to enjoy studying bugs without feeling like there is something wrong with her. The Bug Girl will encourage readers to embrace being different and to continue doing what they enjoy, even if others make fun of them. The Bug Girl is a must-read for any child who loves bugs. If you’re looking for another book that encourages children to embrace their differences, add Angus All Aglow by Heather Smith to your reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • When Sophia takes a grasshopper to school, “a bunch of kids crowded around me and made fun of me. . . Then they knocked that beautiful grasshopper off my shoulder and stomped on it till it was dead.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Sophia’s classmates tease her and call her names such as show-off, bug lover, and weird. The kids wonder, “Why doesn’t she like regular things?

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys

Guyku is the right story for little guys on the move!

The collection of poems captures moments of childhood across the four seasons. From fishing to throwing snowballs to playing in leaf piles, Guyku touches on the wide variety of outdoor activities that kids can do. The book is written for boys, like the title suggests, but it is applicable to all children.

Poetry can have a reputation that it is something you give to advanced readers. However, Guyku flips that notion on its head and helps young readers learn through poetry. Because each poem occupies a full page, the poems are not daunting for new readers.

Raczka and Reynolds are an author-illustrator team who are very much on the same page. The pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations capture the simplicity of the poems and the Earth-toned colors take the reader outdoors. These illustrations accompany every poem, and context clues will help struggling readers make sense of the poems. The art is subtle and encourages the reader to explore the meaning of the poem and ask questions. The eye-catching illustrations will make you laugh as you watch boys, and girls explore the outdoors and enjoy childhood. While the book is generally goofy, the illustrations do not shy away from showing an array of emotions from glee to sadness and boredom to enthrallment. Guyku does a good job of normalizing the range of feelings that people encounter, but there is an emphasis on the excitement and wonder of childhood.

Haiku poems are only three lines long; they have five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line, and five in the third line. A haiku is an observation of nature, and nature is a playground for children. The poems do not take long to read, but sometimes more can be said in a haiku than a whole novel. One of the primary rules of a haiku is that it is written in the present tense. Whatever is happening in a haiku, is happening right now! For children who are wrapped up in the moment, the format of the poem lends itself to being active. The book can serve as inspiration for the wide variety of games that can be played, activities to do with friends, and ways to interact with the outdoors.

Guyku is for kids and about kids. All of the characters are children who are doing what children do best, playing! While the poetry moves quickly and the illustrations are fun, there is a reflective part to these poems. The book encourages children to place themselves within all of the great things the outdoors has to offer and brings into question how the outdoors makes the reader feel. It is likely that a child will see themselves in the characters of the book. Guyku encourages outdoor activity in a positive way.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Paul Gordon

 

The Garden That We Grew

Two kids decide to plant a garden. They have everything that they need: a patch of soil, a bunch of seeds, and a warm sunny sky. They make sure their plants can grow by watering and weeding. As the days go by, their plants peek out of the soil and eventually turn into large pumpkins. The kids harvest the pumpkins and use them to make pie and cookies. They also make jack-o-lanterns! The kids have so much fun that they decide to save the seeds so they can grow pumpkins next year.

The Garden That We Grow is perfect for early readers. Each page has large, cartoon-like illustrations that show the kids working in their garden. Most of the pages have one simple sentence that uses rhyming, familiar words, and visual clues to help readers. Almost every page begins with “these are the. . .” The repetition will help young readers feel confident in their ability to read.

With a simple plot and colorful illustrations, The Garden That We Grow will entertain readers as well as teach them the steps of growing a garden. After reading the story, readers will want to plant a garden of their own. More advanced readers will be bored by the story’s repetition and simple sentences. Young readers who want to learn more about gardening should add We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Mortimer’s First Garden

Winter is just ending, the sky is gray, and the ground is brown. Little Mortimer Mouse munches on sunflower seeds and longs to see some green.

Upon overhearing the story of how springtime rain and sunshine nurtures little seeds to grow into great big green plants, Mortimer is skeptical, but decides to plant one of his seeds just to see if such a miracle really can happen. Mortimer finds a perfect spot to plant the seed, and then. . . he waits. And waits. And waits.

Impatient, Mortimer thinks nothing is ever going to happen to the little seed. But then something does happen. Something wonderful. Something divine. Something green! Mortimer discovers the miracle of springtime.

Mortimer’s First Garden is a wonderful story about discovering the wonders of gardening. As he waits for his sunflower to appear, Mortimer weeds, waters and cares for his growing plant. Through Mortimer’s experiences, readers will discover the joy of planting and caring for seeds and the excitement of growing a garden.

Mortimer’s environment comes to life in colorful, full-page illustrations. The illustrations are colored with muted spring colors and show the beauty of spring. Readers will fall in love with the little mouse, as he waits for his flower to grow. Readers will relate to Mortimer’s impatience, and smile when Mortimer tells God, “I wouldn’t mind a friend to help me eat these [seeds].” Just when Mortimer needs it, a friendly spider appears and the two friends snuggle down to sleep. Some readers may wonder why a spider would make a good friend for Mortimer. However, this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss the beneficial qualities of spiders.

Each page of Mortimer’s First Garden has 1-6 simple sentences that use repetition, onomatopoeia, and alliteration. The simple story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. Both the text and the pictures combine into an engaging story that highlights the miracle of a seed. Parents who are looking for more books that encourage children to plant a garden should also read We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • Mortimer hears a voice whisper, “Wait.” At first, Mortimer doesn’t know who spoke. But then, “Mortimer felt warm and protected. Then Mortimer knew the voice. Mortimer bowed his head. ‘I will wait, God. But please, make my seed grow.’”
  • When Mortimer’s seed begins to grow, he says, “Thank you, God!”
  • When Mortimer sees the sunflower, he says, “It is a miracle! Thank you, God!”
  • After all the seeds have been harvested, Mortimer prays, “And please, God, I wouldn’t mind a friend to help me eat these.”

We Are the Gardeners

In We Are the Gardeners, Joanna, and the kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From their failed endeavors, obstacles to overcome (bunnies that eat everything!), and all the knowledge they’ve gained along the way, the Gaines family shares how they learned to grow a happy, successful garden. As it turns out, trying something new isn’t always easy, but the hardest work often yields the greatest reward. There are always new lessons to be learned in the garden!

Told through both text and words, We Are the Gardeners shows the steps to becoming a successful gardener. The full-page illustrations burst with all the colors of the garden, from the bright red of tomatoes to all the greens of the plants. The illustrations are beautiful and show the joys of gardening—digging in the dirt, picking seeds, and taking time to splash in the sprinkler. Readers will enjoy seeing children helping by watering plants, weeding, and eating the fruits of their labor.

The cheerful story doesn’t only focus on all of the positive aspects of gardening. Instead, the story also shows the failures, including a dying plant and animals feasting. However, the failures are shown as learning experiences. When a plant dies, the text reads, “Some people tell themselves they are no good at something after one small failure. But no chance were we going to give up that easy.”

Readers will learn where to put a garden, the importance of pollinators, how to identify beneficial and harmful bugs, and more. However, We Are the Gardeners also teaches important life lessons, such as using books to learn, making a plan, and “every setback and failure teaches us something.”

Even though We Are the Gardeners is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for a child to read it for the first time independently. Most pages contain 1 to 3 complex sentences and some difficult vocabulary. However, We Are the Gardeners would make a perfect springtime story to read to younger children. We Are the Gardeners will inspire readers to find the perfect place to put a potted plant or make a garden of their own.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

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