Written by Mo Willems
Illustrated by Amber Ren
Age Level: 3 - 5 Grade Level: PS – K
This is one clever book! It blends inspiration, music, and the word ‘because’ to lead you through a story.
Because Beethoven was inspiring, Franz Schubert wrote his Symphony #8 in B Minor. Because leads some musicians to an orchestra to a performance. But because of a cold, something unexpected and wonderful happens to a little girl.
A clue – sheet music begins the story, Symphony #8, and sheet music ends it with, The Cold. Here’s the link: “The Cold” by Hilary Purrington
Musical Source: https://www.laughingplace.com/w/articles/2019/05/21/Because-Mo-Willems
The Most Magnificent Thing
Written and Illustrated by Ashley Spires
Age Level: 3 - 7 Grade Level: PS – 2
This book may be six years old, but it still rings true. Girl wants to build the most magnificent thing ever. She can see it in her head, but when she tries to build it, she fails each and every time. It’s never quite right. Girl’s frustration grows and grows until she finally explodes.
Her dog suggests a walk. It works! When Girl returns, she can see how wrong parts can be made right. Read on, and you’ll discover what that most magnificent thing is.
Anything is Possible
Written by Giulia Belloni
Illustrated by Marco Trevisan
Age Level: 4 - 7
Grade Level: PS – 2
This is another oldie, but goodie. When it was a new book back in 2013, I picked it up, just because I loved the title. The inside did not disappoint. Sheep longs to fly like the birds, but of course she can’t – she’s a sheep. She turns to her friend Wolf, which was totally unexpected given the relationship between wolves and sheep, but it totally works. Totally!
Wolf thinks Sheep’s idea is too dreamy. He’s the practical one, but he gives it two good tries. He even uses math to get Sheep off the ground, which ticks off the birds. They believe flying is only for them! You’ll have to read the story to discover Giulia’s satisfying ending. Truly, anything is possible, especially in this story!
The Boy Who Wouldn’t Read
Written by Denise Walter McConduit
Illustrated by David Harrington
Age Level: 4 - 8 Grade Level: K – 3
This was one of the first books I recorded in my reading journal back in 2013/2014, but I still remember it. That’s a great thing!
This rhyming story is perfect for young readers. Its main character, a boy who doesn’t want to read. Many new readers struggle with decoding. When given a choice between reading and playing, I’d pick play too!
Our hero tries hiding under a table, but his teacher piles it sky-high with books. Then a wizard appears, and he gives our hero the ultimate solution – he takes away every single word, including the ones on traffic signs. Will our hero finally be happy? You’ll have to read to find out.
Misadventures of a Magician’s Son
Written and Illustrated by Laurie Smollett Kutscera
Age Level: 8 - 12
Grade Level: 5 – 6
I loved this story! It’s a mix of magic, mystery, fantasy, and realistic fiction. Meet Alexander Finn, the Magician’s son. He’s still grieving the death of his father when his mother moves them back to her hometown. It’s the last thing Alex wants to do, but things start to look up when he enters a magic contest. His ace in the hole – the cards his father left him. They aren’t just any cards – they come to life with real Kings and Queens, Aces and Jokers and numbered cards of each suit. They help Alex win easily but that’s when disaster strikes. The cards disappear leaving Alex heartbroken. How will he ever find them, and when he does, can he get them back from a mafia card shark? Follow the twists and magical turns until this mystery is solved. How? That would be telling! You’ll have to read this story for yourself!
Under My Hijab
Written by Hena Khan
Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
Age Level: 4 - 7 Grade Level: 1 – 2
This is a beautiful, simple book. It shows how ladies wear their hijab in different settings outside the home. I didn’t know they usually don’t wear them, at home. I liked this book a lot, but I didn’t love it. I wanted a little more information from the words.
Here’s another book I had already reviewed. I loved it, and I learned so much about Islam and its history, but it’s a middle grade novel. There’s more room to tell the story. I looked up my review, and it tops the list on Amazon for this book. WAHOO!
Laila and the Sands of Time
Written by Shirin Shamsi
Age Level: 8 - 12 Grade Level: 4 – 6
If you’re looking for a story about a different time, a different culture, this is it! Laila was supposed to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca with her father, but everything changed when cancer took him away. Her aunt and uncle take her instead, and that’s when Laila finds herself swept back to 7th century Arabia. She makes a new friend who must get her baby sister out of Mecca, and out of danger. The two girls find a caravan crossing the desert. They’ll follow it part-way then sneak away so they can reach safety in Yathrib, modern-day Medina. Can Laila navigate danger to protect the baby? Will she return home again? If you’re seeking adventure, this is the book for you!
Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer
Written by Diane Stanley
Illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Age Level: 4 - 8 Grade Level: PS – 3
Oh, my goodness! I was fascinated with Ada’s story from beginning to end. She was the daughter of Lord Byron, one of England’s most famous poets. She invented the first computer program before she died at age 36. Talk about girl power! She lived from 1815 to 1852, when ladies were not allowed to own property or vote. Wow! What a story!
Monster’s New Undies
Written by Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Tad Carpenter
Age Level: 3 - 5 Grade Level: PS – K
This story is too cute! Monster’s undies are falling apart, but he doesn’t want new ones. They’ll never be as good as his. Mom takes him to the store, but Monster can’t find anything. Follow his search for the perfect pair of new underwear. Preschoolers will love this story! So will their Mommies!
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!
Written by Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Age Level: 4 - 8 Grade Level: PS – 3
What happens when the citizens of La Paz decide the village is too noisy? They fire the old mayor and get a new one. Don Pepe passes law after law, and before long even teakettles are afraid to whistle, but silence isn’t as golden as the citizens thought. Some even leave town. Seven years later a rooster and his family move in, but he refuses to be silenced. He has things to crow about. Who has the voice that matters – a noisy rooster or a law-making mayor? You’ll have to read to find out.
Jars of Hope: How One Woman Help Save 2500 Children During the Holocaust
Written by Jennifer Roy
Illustrated by Megan Owenson
Age Level: 9 - 12 Grade Level: 1 – 5
Thanks to this book I have two new heroes, Irena Sendler and her father. He died when she was 7, but his words shaped her into the person she became. He said, “There are 2 kinds of people in this world, good and bad. It doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor, what religion or race. What matters is if they are good or bad.” Her dad didn’t just talk. He went into the Jewish neighborhoods and helped.
By the time 1940 rolled around, Irena was working as a social worker, and she went into the Jewish ghettos to help. She remembered her father saying, “When someone is drowwning, give him your hands.” The kids needed the most help so Irena got their families food and medicine, and she talked some of her friends into helping them.
By 1942 Irena saw the Nazi’s sending people to death camps so she started working to get the kids out. Babies were easy. Older children were harder. She gave them new names to practice, along with the Lord’s Prayer. Then she found them new clothes and Christian families who could save them from the death camps. The jars, that’s how she saved the names of the children and their new families. Why? So that after the war their real parents could find their children again.
There’s so much more to this story, including the end papers which tell what happened to Irena after the war, and how the author came to find and tell this story. There are even source notes if you’d like to read more about Irena. She is hero-worthy!
Whenever I read or write, I find a comfy chair with a great view. I get my favorite drink, stretch out, and let the words take me away.