Wanda’s Roses – Pat Brisson

Wanda’s Roses is a delightful tale of optimism and determination.  Wanda takes it upon herself to transform a vacant lot filled with weeds and garbage into a rose garden.  Mistakenly believing that a thorn bush is actually a rose bush preparing to bloom, Wanda begins cleaning the lot so that the plant can get more air and light.   As she works on cleaning the lot each day she talks with various neighbors.  She shares her enthusiasm about the soon to bloom roses with each of them.  Although each adult she shares her excitement with clearly knows the plant is a thorn bush and not a rose bush they cannot help buy be inspired by her spirit.

Wanda ultimately gives paper roses to her “rose bush” and invites all of her neighborhood friends to the rose garden for tea and muffins.  Little does she know that by end of the tea party it truly will be a  rose garden thanks to the  help of her friends.

The Gift of Nothing – Patrick McDonnell

The Gift of Nothing is a special little book.  The main characters are a cat named Mooch and a dog named Earl who are well known to readers of the Mutts comic strip.  The Gift of Nothing marks their first appearance in a book.

Mooch is on the search for the perfect gift for his friend Earl.  He is stumped as to what to get him since he seems “to have it all”.  As a result, Mooch decides to give Earl nothing.  He goes out to search for nothing and learns that “nothing is not for sale”.   Ultimately, Mooch wraps a box that has nothing in it and presents it to his friend and they enjoy nothing together.

Children and adults alike can enjoy The Gift of Nothing.  The pictures are spare; the words are few; the message is loud and clear.

Someday – Alison Meghee

Someday is an extremely touching book.  The reader is allowed to share the journey of “growing up” with mother and daughter.  With each page you are introduced to another stage of the child’s life and the interaction of mother and child.  One of my favorite parts of the book depicts the mother watching her sleeping daughter.  The reader is reminded that when the daughter dreams, mom dreams too.

The illustrations truly make the words on the page come to life.  They are almost magical in the way they are able to capture the love between mother and child.  Peter H. Reynolds illustration work is truly delightful.

This little book is a gem!

The Clever Stick – John Lechner

The Clever Stick is an enchanting tale.  Who would ever imagine using a stick as the main character of a children’s picture book?!  I found this one on the new picture book shelf at our local library and quickly realized I had found a winner.  The expressive pictures couple perfectly with the smart text.

The stick is clever in countless ways from solving problems to enjoying poetry, but since he cannot speak his cleverness is not fully known.  The stick’s journey of self-discovery takes the reader to unexpected places that ultimately delight.

This book is a perfect to share as a read aloud!

Love Your Heart – Tim McGraw and Tom Douglas

Love Your Heart is the second collaboration by country singer Tim McGraw and Tom Douglas, and it is a true delight.  Spunky and sweet Katie cannot decide which talent to use in the School Talent Show.  She explores a number of different options and finally decides on a one of a kind extravaganza-like performance with her beloved dog Palio.

As Katie waits to perform at the Talent Show with Palio, she finds her friend Sophie crying backstage.  Without missing a beat, Katie sacrifices her own plans to help her friend.  The resulting conversation with her father is touching and provides a wonderful beginning for further discussion.

This book is outstanding in many ways.  I loved the illustrations.  Abigail Marble’s work is lovely and truly enhances the story.  I also really appreciated being presented with a story in which the special relationship between father and daughter is featured.

Love Your Heart would be a marvelous Valentine’s gift for a little girl from her Daddy!

While this complimentary book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers, no other compensation was given.  All remarks are my personal and honest opinions.

Ish – Peter H. Reynolds

Ish is another gem written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.  Deceivingly simple text and pictures provide a powerful message in this follow up to The Dot.  Ramon loves to draw more than anything else in the world until his brother makes a mean spirited comment about his efforts.  A comment that Ramon takes to heart to such a degree that he no longer wants to draw at all.

Little does Ramon know that his artistic efforts have found a place of honor in his sister’s room.  Marisol sees the potential in each picture.  A stunned Ramon questions his sister as to why she would want the pictures especially since they do not look exactly as he would have hoped.  She quickly points out that the vase of flowers looks vase-ish.  Ramon is so soon able to see the art work in a whole new way – approaching it “ish-fully” rather than focusing on making it just “right”.

A great book for children as well as adults.  I love it!

Testing Miss Malarkey – Judy Finchler

High stakes testing has become part of the culture of public education.  Testing Miss Malarkey pokes fun at the test obsessed culture that sadly has permeated so many schools.   Although Miss Malarkey assures the students that “THE TEST” is not important, what the students are experiencing at school tells a very different story – Multiplication Mambo at recess and brain food being served in the cafeteria.  At home things are equally odd with mom demanding that a main idea worksheet be completed after a bedtime story.  Ultimately, it seems all of the adults are very concerned about “THE TEST”.

Iggy Peck, Architect – Andrea Beaty

Creativity and self expression are celebrated in Iggy Peck, Architect.  Iggy Peck is a little boy who loves to build.  Part of the charm of his creations lies in the nontraditional building supplies he often utilizes.  When he reaches the second grade trouble strikes.  His spirit appears as though it will be broken as a result of his teacher who does not see a place for building in second grade.

A class trip quickly changes the view of his teacher Miss Lila Greer.  After the unexpected collapse of a bridge Iggy Peck is able to rally his classmates and build another which allows the class and Miss Greer to cross back over the stream and get back to school.  After the rescue, the importance of encouraging Iggy as well as the other students in class is recognized and Iggy become a weekly guest speaker who extols the merits of building.

Engaging pictures and clever use of rhyme makes this one a favorite!