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Posts from March 2017

Charlotte the Scientist is Squished: Camille Andros & Brianne Farley

Book: Charlotte the Scientist is Squished
Author: Camille Andros
Illustrator: Brianne Farley
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

CharlotteScientistCharlotte the Scientist is Squished, by Camille Andros and Brianne Farley, is about a rabbit who is a scientist, but has trouble focusing on her work because her home is so crowed (rabbits being the way they are). At her wit's end, Charlotte decides to apply the scientific method to her problem. Her lack of space ends up leading her to outer space, where it is quite, but, perhaps, just a bit lonely. Can the trusty scientific method, applied one more time, help Charlotte to come up with a better solution to her problem? 

I was, of course, thrilled to see a picture book featuring a young female scientist. The listing of, and following of, the steps of the scientific method was an additional bonus. The book even includes a bit more detail about the scientific method and some followup questions as end material. My six-year-old, science-minded daughter had no interest in the end material. As an only child, she also couldn't relate very well to Charlotte's difficulty in finding alone time. But, like me, she liked Charlotte anyway, and enjoyed her adventure. 

Camille Andros' text features direct sentences and a matter-of-fact, let's-get-it-done feel. This tone is appropriate to the science-based theme, but also a nice counter-point to the ridiculousness of a rabbit building a carrot-shaped spaceship. Here's a snippet (over two page spreads):

"She tried an experiment to make everyone disappear...
... but it didn't work.

She tried another experiment to make herself disappear.
But that didn't work either."

Brianne Farley's illustrations add both humor and heart to the story. The opening scene, in which a stoic Charlotte stands surrounded by her family, is priceless. The family ranges from babies to clingy young siblings to a male rabbit who is clearly an aloof teenager. They all have personality. The spaceship is delightful, as is Charlotte's joy when she runs across a completely empty moonscape. 

While the conclusion of Charlotte the Scientist is Squished is not surprising, I think that preschool and early elementary readers will find it satisfying. Most readers with siblings, especially younger siblings, will be able to relate to Charlotte's quest to find a bit of quiet space for herself. Charlotte is an engaging heroine, serious and science-minded, but also appreciative of things like blowing bubbles in the bathtub. And despite her differences from her family members, their mutual affection for one another comes through clearly. Libraries and classrooms serving early elementary school readers will definitely want to take a look at Charlotte the Scientist is Squished. Recommended, and going on our "keep" shelf!

Publisher: Clarion Books (@hmhkids)
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Literacy Milestone: Getting Lost in a Book


We started reading the third Harry Potter book last week (the day after finishing the second book). One morning while my daughter ate breakfast we commenced chapter three, in which Harry rides The Knight Bus. Mid-way through, my husband spoke up with a question about the day's schedule. My daughter looked up, startled. She said: "Oh. I thought I was IN Harry Potter. I forgot that I have school today." And I thought: "YES!". What I said was: "Yes, that happens sometimes, when you are lost in a really good book." Needless to say, this was a good start to the day for me. It makes me happy that she can have, and express, that experience known to book-lovers everywhere. 

HarryPotterAzkabanOne other note: As we watched the movie of the second book, my daughter remarked more than once, especially near the end, that things were not as she had pictured them. She had expected Tom Riddle to look more like Snape, but with longer hair, for example. I told her: "That's why we read the book first, so that you have a chance to imagine it your way."

As we move on to book 3, we leave the illustrated editions behind. And although I found the illustrations helpful in holding her interest at the start of the first book, I came over time to find them more of a distraction. I'm happy now to be moving on to the traditional editions, and I think my daughter is, too.

Wishing you all, and especially your children, that experience of getting lost in a book. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: March 10: Palindromes, #WorldBookDay + Rock Star #Librarians

TwitterLinks Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, #DiverseBooks, #KidLitCon, #OwnVoices, book awards, Children's Book Week, children's literady, growing bookworms, International Women's Day, librarians, nonfiction, play, reading choice, social media, teaching, Women's History Month, and World Book Day.

Book Lists + Awards

Frankencrayon2017 Children’s + Teen Choice Book Awards Finalists from @CBCBook via @tashrow  #kidlit

Fun with Palindromes for Kids | #BookList from @housefullbkwrms

Telling Her Story: 60 New Books for #WomensHistoryMonth | A biography #BookList from @amightygirl

Top 10 Historical Fiction Titles to Encourage #Diverse Understanding of the Past by Rebecca Redinger @nerdybookclub

For #IWD2017 @alybee930 shares #nonfiction on women who contributed to the fields of #math + early programming 


The #OwnVoices Gap in African-American Children's Books, shown via graph by @CCBCwisc  #kidlit #DiverseBooks

Amplifying Diversity: @medinger recommends that reviews look at Small Presses for #DiverseBooks + #OwnVoices  #kidlit

Events + Programs

CBWLogoDatesAnnouncing the 2017 Children’s Book Week Bookmarks Reveal — @fuseeight @CBCBook #kidlit  #CBW17

For #WorldBookDay @ToysRUs surveyed 1500 parents about kids + #reading | 52% say reading is a fave hobby for kids 

#WorldBookDay gives many UK children first chance to buy their own book | @GuardianBooks via @PWKidsBookshelf

STEM_Ruchi_SanghviRecommending #STEM Trailblazer Bios series for International Women's Day by @MaryAnnScheuer  #IWD2017 #nonfiction

Children's books and chocolate - a match made in heaven: Save the Date for #KidLitCon 2017, Nov. 3-4 in Hershey, PA 

Colombia Garbage Collector Rescues Books From The Trash For Low-Income Kids | @HuffingtonPost via @PWKidsBookshelf

NFL Players Visited #Schools to #TackleReading for #ReadAcrossAmerica Day | @KathrynStarke @ReadItForward

Growing Bookworms

FeathersA Look at Expository Literature + the kids who need access to it to develop a love of #reading @mstewartscience

When #Reading Speed Matters for Kids (+ when it doesn't) by @RodriguezCindyL @ReadBrightly  #LearningToRead

To Raise a Reader, parents should #ReadAloud to their children, says @ReadByExample w/ benefits list

Some heartening quotes from @CarrieGelson's #students that she show she IS growing #LifeLongReaders

GoodbyeStrangerI was also heartened by the positive response of @katsok's students to the magic of a classroom #ReadAloud novel 

This @HornBook post by @LauraAWoollett on Bonding (w/ baby) w/ books well resonate w/ MANY book-loving moms  #reading

Good advice: Tailor the #literacy activity to the interests of the kid: #RaisingReaders tip from @JGCanada

Look to #literary role models: Insight from the Kids & Family Reading Report | @Scholastic  #KFRR #RaisingReaders


Nice: "if we just sit back + allow ourselves to be open beautiful moments come to us" @Jonharper70bd @BAMRadioNetwork

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

SoHappyTogetherOn the dangers of "The #PictureBook (title) Earworm" — @fuseeight [e.g. So Happy Together] 

The Rock Star #Librarians Who Choose What Kids Read @WSJ  @MrSchuReads @100scopenotes @MatthewWinner @colbysharp

Why "Rock Star Librarian" is an Oxymoron, response to recent @WSJ piece from @alliejanebruce @ReadWhileWhite  


Children Love Playgrounds! Discover #Learning Through #Play | Cause and Effect, Perseverance + more @mamasmiles

Schools and Libraries

In Favor of the #SlowLearning Movement. By doing less extra stuff in class, kids are #learning more @pernilleripp

How #MakerMindsets Can Be An Easy Fit For Rural #Schools @LeahabShaffer @MindShiftKQED  #STEM #MakerED

Better ELA #teaching yields better math performance in subsequent years. But not vice versa. @DTWillingham  #schools

Social Media

I agree with the ideas in 3 Ways to Build Your Network (authentic sharing) by @gcouros  #IMMOOC #SocialMedia #PLN

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Otter Loves Easter!: Sam Garton

Book: Otter Loves Easter!
Author: Sam Garton
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

OtterLovesEasterOtter, lovable protagonist of a series of books by Sam Garton starting with I Am Otter, is back with a new adventure. In this installment, we learn that Otter loves Easter! Otter is a young otter who lives with an adult male known as Otter Keeper, and surrounds himself with a slew of stuffed animals. [Hmm, I never before thought about the parallels to Curious George, though Otter's adventures are far more domestically-centered.] In Otter Loves Easter!, Otter awakens excitedly on Easter morning to find a bounty of candy. He overeats, of course, finding it simply too hard to share his candy with his (stuffed) friends. After the inevitable stomachache, and a nap, Otter sets up an Easter egg hunt as a way to atone to his candy-less friends. 

It really struck me in this installment how much Otter Keeper pampers Otter. Though Otter takes the lead in every scene (we catch merely a few glimpses of Otter Keeper's feet), as a parent I found it impossible not to notice the huge pile of Easter treats at the foot of Otter's bed. And the adorable Easter breakfast waiting for him on the table, complete with bunny ear pancakes and a decorated hard-boiled egg in a cup. The Easter egg hunt, too, had to involve significant effort on the part of Otter Keeper ("Otter Keeper helped a little too, because even an Easter expert needs help from a grown-up sometimes). This Otter-centered Easter celebration is sure to appeal to young children, most of whom delight in feeling essential to their parents (particularly when lots of candy is involved). 

Otter's messy, occasionally flawed, but well-intentioned antics are full of kid-appeal, too. He puts a hand to his mouth after spilling a dye-filled cup. He looks positively miserable after binging on candy. He regrets the realization that "All the Easter eggs were in my tummy, and my friends hadn't gotten any." He is, in short, both lovable and relatable. 

The Easter egg hunt scene is particularly delightful. Otter's stuffed friends are strategically located around the yard, and the careful reader will enjoy looking among the clutter for the Easter eggs. There are also various live animals, most watching the hunt with wide eyes, and occasional disapproval. One squirrel worriedly clutches a decorated egg, his arms barely fitting around it. A cat lounges on the shed room with sunglasses, holding a drink with a straw, for some reason. This page spread is bright, chaotic fun from corner to corner. 

One other small visual touch that I liked in Otter Loves Easter! is that the end pages are decorated with Easter-egg like patterns in yellow, white, and lavender.

Fans of Otter will not want to miss Otter Loves Easter! And if you are not a fan yet, this is a good place to start. Libraries will certainly want to add Otter Loves Easter! to their holiday collections. Focused entirely on the secular aspects of Easter, Otter Loves Easter! celebrates the delights of Easter eggs and baskets, as well as the safety that comes with being a cherished child. Recommended!

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @savitakalhan, @PsychToday + @EDmerger on #ReadingChoice and #Homework

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have three articles that I've shared recently that I thought warranted further discussion. In the first, UK author Savita Kalhan shares a situation that she recently observed in a secondary school in which kids are limited to reading a pre-selected set of books on school supplied kindles. In the second article, for Psychology Today, authors Paula J. Schwanenflugel and Nancy Flanagan Knapp share an article inspired by their new book on the psychology of reading. They focus on the problems with limited students to read within narrowly defined reading levels. In both of these articles, seemingly well-intentioned schools are taking away students' love of reading by restricting choice. In the third article, Paul G. Moss outlines some issues with overloading students with homework, including the creation of negative attitudes. Such negative attitudes, of course, threaten the joy of learning. 

GreatExpectationsSad piece by @savitakalhan  about a secondary school that is sucking pleasure from kids' #reading by limiting choice 

Savita Kalhan: "But I have noticed something very worrying, and I hope it is not a trend that is being repeated in other schools.

The use of eReaders, in some schools, has taken the place of paperback books almost completely. I know of one very large secondary school where every Year 7 and 8 pupil is given a kindle preloaded with books. Older years are given a nook. They are used for lessons as well as for reading for pleasure, apparently...

The kids are NOT allowed to read anything else other than one of the books on the school kindles. If they are caught reading a paperback book, they are given a detention!"

Me: I found the situation documented by Savita Kalhan simply horrifying.Talk about taking away the joy of reading. It's bad enough to expect kids to read from a pre-installed set of titles. But to punish them for selecting their own outside choices. Words fail me. Savita theorizes that this policy is due to the need for the school to be able to measure and document what kids are reading (to justify the expense of the devices). What I know is that if my daughter's school had a policy like this I would speak up, very loudly.  

PsychologyOfReadingYes! Why you should use passion + curiosity, not #ReadingLevels to help kids find good things to read @PsychToday

Paula J. Schwanenflugel, Ph.D., and Nancy Flanagan Knapp, Ph.D.: "Most school reading incentive programs require students to read texts within a restricted range of their measured reading skill levels, either within the Lexile range just mentioned, or, if using another rating system, within five months of their measured reading levels... Many schools now even restrict the books students can check out from the school library to those at such “appropriate” levels...

Myth #1: Each text has a discrete, accurately measurable reading level...

Myth #2: Each reader has a discrete, accurately measurable level of reading skill... 

Myth #3: Readers should (almost always) read texts very near their reading level...

Passion, curiosity, and knowledge are at least as important as reading levels in helping children find good things to read. "

Me: There is a lot of detail in this article (excerpted from a new book), so please do go and read the full piece. There's quite a bit on the benefits to kids of reading above and below their suggested reading level. To me, forcing kids to read within some narrow range is clearly a way to take away the joy of reading.

I let my daughter, who is in first grade, read anything she finds lying around the house that catches her eye. (We have a LOT of books lying around the house). When something is too difficult for her, she'll plug away for a bit, and then get bored and find something else. I did teach her the five finger rule, and she finds that useful in identifying the books that she's not ready for yet. As for books that are too easy for her, I want her to enjoy those for as long as she likes. We just pulled a bunch of easy readers to donate to a book swap at her school. She was happy to jettison some of them, but some she kept because she loves the characters (Amelia Bedelia, Elephant and Piggy, Dodsworth, and, yes, Sponge Bob). 

If more schools could focus on what makes kids LOVE reading, the world would be a better, and more literate, place in the long run. 

HomeworkStrikeOverloading #homework reduces performance, stresses students + creates a negative atmosphere in classroom @EDmerger 

Paul G. Moss: "Despite a new surge in notification tools, homework assignment still remains a lawless enterprise, with even the best of willed teachers being reduced to mavericks, having to set work for their students with no idea of how much work they have already been set by other teachers. The teacher cannot tell if they may be overloading them, and this results in a range of issues...

Students spend a long day at school, and the amount of energy it takes to then have to work at home and carry on the effort should not be underestimated. Students who are overworked face the very real possibility of burning out, either physically, mentally, or probably both...

Another issue that stems from overloading students is the creation of a negative attitude towards homework. Understandably, getting students to buy into the policy is impossible when the overarching perception is that the process is unfair, inequitable, and exhausting. "

Me: This article was written with middle and high school students in mind, responding to the situation where different teachers are assigning homework, and the overall homework load is too strenuous. [This was the situation in Greg Pincus's The Homework Strike.] I worry about this issue in my daughter's future. But the problems of excessive homework (reduced performance levels, etc.) certainly show themselves in elementary school, too.

My biggest concern in this is the last point from Moss that I quoted above. Overloading creates a negative attitude towards homework. And, I would argue, towards school and learning in general.

As with reading, if more schools had a focus on (or just paid more of attention to) fostering the joy of learning, students would be much better served. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 

Upside-Down Magic #3: Showing Off: Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

Book: Upside-Down Magic #3: Showing Off
Author: Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins
Pages: 208
Age Range: 8-12

ShowingOffShowing Off is the third book in the Upside-Down Magic series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins. I enjoyed the first book in the series (review here) and seem to have missed the second, but the third book has enough background that I didn't feel like I had  missed anything significant. The Upside-Down Magic books are set in a world in which everyone has one of five types of magical abilities. In some people, however, these abilities are "upside-down" and don't work correctly. When Nory, the son of a controlling school principal, turns out to have upside-down abilities, her father sends her away to live with a more free-spirited (and tolerant) aunt. The books center around the trials and tribulations of Nory and her friends in the Upside-Down Magic (UDM) classroom at their local middle school. 

In Showing Off, Nory and her fellow UDM 5th grade classmates are worried about how to participate in the school Show-Off event, basically a talent show with group performances by each class. Nory is particularly concerned because her father is likely to attend the event, the first time she has seen him since he sent her away, and she knows that he expects her to display conventional, rather than upside-down talents. Nory's friend Pepper is also worried about the performance, because her upside-down talent involves being unable to avoid terrifying animals (of which there will be many present). The story shifts between the viewpoints of Nory and Pepper as they work to master their unruly talents, and navigate various interpersonal relationships. 

Showing Off is a fun book that combines magical challenges with universal middle school issues. If it occasionally strays near to the territory of being lesson-y (as when one girl tells another that her friends never make her feel badly about herself), the overall light tone keeps it on safe ground (like when a character who has turned into a piano feels a bit "off-key"). 

I do like Nory's voice. Like this;

"Now here she was, six weeks into the school year at Dunwiddle. It was the first day of serious rain and her feet were soaked. But what was a girl to do? Wet feet were wet feet. Nothing to be gained by moping." (Page 5)

I also appreciated Nory's personal growth over the course of Showing Off, as she comes to realize her father's limitations. I think that the goofiness of the UDM kids' abilities in general will resonate with any middle school kid who has ever felt different or awkward. Which, I imagine, is most of them. The ending of Showing Off is satisfying on multiple levels, and represents a kid-friendly wish fulfillment that will leave readers eager for the next installment. This is certainly a series that belongs in libraries everywhere that serve kids heading off to middle school. Recommended!

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Literacy Milestone: "I wish I had a book" OR Reading in the Car

LiteracyMilestoneAThe other day, as we got into the car to drive home from her karate lesson, my daughter remarked "Oh! I wish I had a book to read for the drive home." And then she realized: "But it's ok, we can listen to my audiobook." Which we did.

The drive home from karate is less than two miles, and having something to read isn't really pressing, but I certainly appreciated the sentiment. When I was a child I would never have considered undertaking the 15-20 minute drive to my grandparents' house with a book to read. For longer trips I would carefully plan out which books I was going to take. 

Alas, thanks to motion sickness I am not able to read in the car anymore (with the wonderful exception of audiobooks). But it gives me great pleasure to know that my daughter can, and wants to. 

MagicTreehouseTigerShe'll still choose her tablet when she can (and the tablet was necessary on a recent cross-country plane trip). But I made a rule a while back that she is not allowed to use the tablet for drives less than 30 minutes. That rule is paying off now, as she starts to think before every outing "What book should I bring?"

When she was younger I tried keeping picture books in the car at various points, but it never worked all that well. My daughter had only limited interest in looking at picture books by herself. She wanted someone to read to her. [Perhaps because she was so accustomed to having someone read to her.] Now that she can read to herself, however, it's a whole new world. 

You may be able to hear my sigh of contentment from wherever you are. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: March 3: Mighty Girls, Library Sleepovers, and Playful #STEM

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, #eBooks, #PictureBooks, Ezra Jack Keats Awards, free speech, gifts for girls, growing bookworms, libraries, parenting, play, raising readers, reading, schools, Sesame Street, and STEM.

Awards and Book Lists

PieceOfHomeThe 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Winners via @tashrow @EJKeats  #kidlit

Some of the Funniest #PictureBooks of 2017, according to @FuseEight  #BookList

Children's Books about Women in Politics and Women Activists, #BookList from @momandkiddo  #PictureBooks #nonfiction

Diversity + Gender

Some fun stuff here: 60 Girl-Empowering Birthday Gifts compiled by @amightygirl | All $25 or less, w/ age recs

Editorial: Tear Down That Wall: @RogerReads @HornBook on the #ReadingWithoutWalls Challenge by @geneluenyang 

Growing Bookworms

AllOfAKindFamilyA lovely story from @sunlitpages about #RaisingReaders: When a Book Finds You at Just the Right Time  #kidlit

How stuffed animal sleepover programs at #libraries encourage kids to read @CNN  #ReadAloud #RaisingReaders

Exploring Software + Websites to Support #Reading Comprehension for kids by @CompConnCarla  #teaching

This is fun! 12 Fundamental Truths About Having A Bookworm Kid | @msemilymccombs @HuffingtonPost

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

LittleMenInteresting 3-part series by @gail_gauthier on re-reading her childhood favorite Little Men as an adult 

Based on relevant studies, @DTWillingham reports that paper beats #ereaders for now, but he thinks this will change 

Interesting musings from @op_booklover on Shifting #Reading Genres: Less YA, More Adult Fiction | See comments

On beloved childhood #kidlit characters who have not (so far) been appropriated into other formats  @FuseEight 


ResetChildsBrainThis is a really good post from @momandkiddo | 4 Easy Ways to Limit #ScreenTime : Practical Ideas that Work

#Parenting: How Big is Your Worry? @NotJustCute shares tips for Helping Anxious Kids Find Calm

Schools and Libraries

On "conflict between the free-speech ideals of academic debate + a creeping self-censorship in the #classroom @WSJ

10 Neuro Nuggets for Educators (e.g. "numb buns = lame brains") @adamsteaching @BAMRadioNetwork 


How and why the lovable, mistake-prone Grover was selected to teach children about #STEM  @TheAtlantic @sesamestreet

From Dream to STEAM: Guided #STEAM Learning (for kids 3-5) Through #Play @VealHeidi @BAMRadioNetwork

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

The Fox Wish: Kimiko Aman and Komako Sakai

Book: The Fox Wish
Author: Kimiko Aman
Illustrator: Komako Sakai
Pages: 32
Age Range: 2-5

TheFoxWishThe Fox Wish was originally published in Japan in 2003, and was brought to the U.S. this year by Chronicle Books. Written by Kimiko Aman and illustrated by Komako Sakai, The Fox Wish is about two children who find magic in what might have been an ordinary day. The first-person narrator, a little girl, realizes that she has left her jump rope at the playground. She heads out to get it, taking her little brother (barely more than a toddler) with her. This is the first fanciful aspect to the story, really, since two children that young would not, today, be likely to just head out on their own without a word to any adult. Anyway, the children discover that the jump rope has been taken by a group of foxes, who are attempted to jump rope and singing a fun song. The girl ends up helping them (they are having problems with caught tails). At the end of the book, the girl has a chance to help a young fox's wish come true. 

There is certainly a message to this book, about how lovely it is watch someone else's wishes come true. But the message comes only at the end of a charming, if somewhat quirky, adventure. Kimiko Aman's text is quiet and contemplative, like this:

"But there wasn't anything left hanging from the tree branch where I'd left it.

Where could it be?

A big wind blew.

"What's that?" Lukie asked.

From somewhere nearby we could hear other kids laughing."


"Lukie and I were quiet all the way back through the park.
The light was golden and the air was warm, and in our footsteps I kept hearing the rhythm of the jump-rope rhyme."

Komako Sakai's acrylic gouache, oil pencil, and ballpoint illustrations did not originally grab me, but they've grown on me as I spend more time with the book. There's a remote quality to the illustrations, the children's faces just barely drawn in, that adds to the fanciful feel of the story. The Fox Wish feels like a tale that might be told at bedtime to children in Narnia. 

The Fox Wish won the Japan Picture Book Award, and it certainly has an international feel (though the children look more American than Japanese). I'll be interested to see how it's received by children in the U.S. Personally, I found the story charming and unusual. It left me with a good feeling, and a desire to see people's wishes come true. Recommended. 

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: March 1: #KidLit Reviews, Historical Fiction and Eliminating #Homework

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this brief issue I have four book reviews (picture book, early reader, and middle grade) and a post about a school that eliminated homework, and our own recent experience with homework. I also have one post with links that I shared recently on Twitter (I was on vacation the other week). 

Reading Update: In the past two weeks I read one middle grade and three adult novels. I read/listened to: 

  • Philip Kerr: The Most Frightening Story Ever Told. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed February 15, 2017. Review to come. 
  • Sue Grafton: W is for Wasted (Kinsey Millhone). G. P. Putnam's Sons. Adult Mystery. Completed February 15, 2017, on MP3. This is the first audio I've listened to in this series in quite some time, and I enjoyed it. 
  • Deborah Crombie: Garden of Lamentations. William Morrow. Adult Mystery. Completed February 24, 2017, on Kindle. This book was closely tied to the previous book, and I wished that I had read them closer together. But I did enjoy it. 
  • Rhys Bowen: In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II. Lake Union Publishing. Historical Fiction. Completed February 26, 207, on Kindle. This is a standalone historical novel by the author of multiple historical mystery series. Set during World War II in England, before America joined the war, this book presents a nuanced view of people's thoughts and fears, as well as glimpses into the work of British spy agencies. I thought that it was fascinating, and hope that Bowen will produce a sequel. 

I'm currently listening to X by Sue Grafton and reading Amberwell by D.E. Stevenson (not having quite gotten enough of a British historical novel fix). My daughter did not get very much reading done over the past week or so, because we were on vacation in Disney World. She pretty much crashed as soon as she got back to the hotel room every night. She did spent some time writing journal entries on the trip, though, and I am certain that she will appreciate reading those later in life. Since we've been home we've been dipping into a mix of old favorite and newly arrived picture books. You can find her 2017 reading list here

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

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