The Spiffiest Giant in Town – Julia Donaldson

The Spiffiest Giant in Town shares the story of George the Giant.  As the story begins, George  is trading in his modest clothing for a spiffy new ensemble at a fancy store.  As he walks through the town that same afternoon, he encounters a myriad of animals that need help.  Kind hearted George endeavors to assist each animal he meets that needs help and before long all of his spiffy new clothing has been re-purposed to benefit the animals.  Ultimately, George discovers that being spiffy on the inside means far more than spiffy new clothes.

Houndsley and Catina – James Howe

Houndsley and Catina is a great early reader chapter book series which focuses on the unlikely friendship of a dog and a cat. Houndsley and Catina are opposites in every sense, and their differences help to bring out the best in each other.  Each book includes strong character based lessons which focus on being a good friend. Additionally, the pictures are truly charming and enhance the text.

Good Night iPad – Ann Droyd

Good Night iPad is a parody of the beloved children’s book Good Night Moon.  The text and pictures perfectly follow the original story.  Although definitely good for a giggle, there is also a more serious message present about our reliance on our electronic gadgets and the value of true quality time.  The final illustration of the book brings it all into perspective. 

Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine – Allison Wortche

Our whole family loved this book!  Whether one is looking for a book to begin a seeds and plants unit or a perfect fit for a character education unit, Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine is a winner.  Without being heavy handed, Wortche explores the ultimate reward of hard work and perseverance as well as social dynamics in the classroom.  We are already looking forward to this first time picture book author’s next book!

Giraffes Can’t Dance – Giles Andreae

Poor Gerald the Giraffe desperately wants to participate and have fun at the Jungle Dance, but as it approaches all he feels is sad.  He knows that he can’t dance and when it is his turn to dance he freezes and ends up walking home feeling very sad and very alone. 

On Gerald’s trip back home, he meets a cricket who befriends him.  The cricket shares that Gerald can indeed dance he just needs a different song.  Before long Gerald finds that he really can dance when he finds music that he loves.  He then goes on to share his new found dancing skills with the other animals at the Jungle Dance.

This encouraging story is enhanced by bright colorful illustrations.  Of particular note is the inclusion of Gerald’s true friends – the cricket and three small bugs which appear on every page.  They are most visible on the pages in which Gerald is learning to dance, but they are on every page which makes for some fun searching for young readers.

This story

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – Laura Joffe Numeroff

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is just plain fun.  The pictures command the reader’s attention and delight with the use of bright colors and whimsical images.  The tale of the mouse who seems to always have yet another request is a great tool to teach cause and effect as well as a highly enjoyable story for young and old alike.

The Amazing Tree – John Kilaka

The Amazing Tree retells a Tanzanian folk tale. During a time of great drought and famine the animals are all thirsty and hungry. They find a beautiful tree filled with ripe juicy fruit, but none of the fruit will fall no matter how hard they shake the tree. Although Rabbit suggests seeking the council of the wise Tortoise and volunteers to go, they decide to send a couple of the big animals, Water Buffalo and Elephant, to see the wise tortoise in order to find out how they might get the fruit. The tortoise instructs them as to what to say to the tree in order to get the fruit to fall, but they both forget prior to returning to the other animals and the tree. The animals decide to ask Tortoise once again and as before they dismiss Rabbit and send a few of the large animals to find the answer.  Once again, the animals forget.  Finally the Rabbit is sent and is able to remember what to say to the tree, and all the animals enjoy wonderful fruit.  In the end, all of them learn that every animal, no matter how small, can make a valuable contribution.

Harriet Dancing – Ruth Symes

Harriet Dancing caught my eye the other day as we searching for new books at the library.  Harriet the Hedgehog has a happy heart and is enjoying a beautiful spring morning.  She is having a delightful time dancing in the sunshine along with some butterflies.  Soon the butterflies stop dancing.  When Harriet inquires why they all stopped, she is told that butterflies only dance with butterflies.  Feeling very, very sad, Harriet runs away crying.  Before long, with the help of her friend Ivor, Harriet discovers that she can have fun dancing on her own as well as with her friends.  Soon the butterflies return and ask if they can dance with the group too.  In the end, everyone is dancing and having fun.

The pictures in this book are beautiful and really enhance an already charming story.

Almost Amish – Nancy Sleeth

Almost Amish chronicles the transformation of Nancy Sleeth’s family from a technology oriented “plugged in” family whose members were continually bringing the newest and the best into their home to a family that has simplified their lives in order to have more time to build meaningful relationships with their family, friends, and God. 

I think we all wonder at times if all of the technology that makes our lives easier really does make it easier when all is said and done. As a result this book sparked my interest.  Sleet examines life through the lens of ten Amish principles that focus on making a simpler, slower, and more sustainable life.
Her text is broken up into ten chapters which examine the key element of each principle:


Almost Amish provides the reader a great deal to think about…

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