By Emily Winfield Martin
Best For: Ages 3 - 7
The world is full of wonder – all you have to do is wander to discover it. When a family of tiny bears moves into their new tree in a big wooded forest they decide to take a “wander” through the new neighborhood. It turns into a magical adventure filled with new friends, fairies, gnomes, and benevolent creatures galore. The text is alliterative and lyrical, using creative word choices to bolster the pastoral illustrations. “Wander” instead of adventure is a prime example that connotes a meandering adventure of wonder. This is a wonderful choice for classroom story time or family reading before bedtime.
What’s good: Detailed illustrations that peacefully encourage wonder.
What’s bad: Cynics will question why the giant owl doesn’t eat the littlest family.
By Dave Keane
Illustrated by: K.G. Campbell
Best For: Ages 4 - 8
After begging for a puppy for her birthday, a young girl is disappointed to receive a tortoise instead. Dogs do so much – pant, howl, bark – and tortoises don’t. All they do is “hiss as they pull their heads in.” A tortoise is not at all what she wanted. Slowly and surely the little girl comes to learn about her new pet and the more she learns the more she becomes emotionally attached. She even takes her tortoise to “sharing day” at school. When the little girl loses her tortoise that the reader sees just how much the tortoise means to her. Don’t worry. It all ends well.
Campbell’s watercolor and colored pencil illustrations capture the little girl's many moods with a delicate and deft touch. The illustrations are lively and engaging yet offer a calming influence that makes this a good book for group story time or bedtime reading.
What’s good: Great message about finding the good in your situation
What’s bad: Not much. It’s a charming story.
By Matthew Holm and Jonathan Follet
Best For: Ages 8 - 12
Middle school is tough. When you split your pants on the first day of class it doesn’t get any easier. Marvin, the titular, character also has to deal with an impending baby brother. He feels that his life is in turmoil. Then Marvin’s parents move him upstairs to the unfinished attic to make room for his little brother. That's when Marvin wakes up to find three very large and talkative moths in his new attic room. As the story progresses a giant Shakespeare-quoting spider harasses the town and it’s up to Marvin to save the day.
Of course, humor ensues.
Of course, humor ensues.
What’s good: Loaded with humor and excitement.
What’s bad: Marvin is not very likable.