Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport

This is a story about Ada Ríos who lives in Cateura, Paraguay.  This is an extremely poor town where many adults (some children) work in the landfill, digging through the garbage in hopes of finding something to sell or recycle.  Ada’s Violin is based on a true story when  a man comes into the town for his job as an environmental engineer and falls in love with the people…so much so that he wants to change the way the children think about their futures in such a town.  He desires to give them meaning and hope to their everyday existence in a town based around a landfill.

At the end of the book, a large chunk of the true story is there, teaching us that Favio Chávez comes to town to train the gancheros (“gleaners” who eke out a living by finding and trading recyclable materials) about safety practices while working in the landfill.  He got to know the people of this village.  His concerns for their children led him to teach music to the children in order to try to keep them out of gangs and away from trouble.  As a musician himself, his interest, along with several others, spurred a whole new way for this village and others like it in Paraguay.  Without enough instruments, he enlisted some of the men to help him make violins, flutes, clarinets, guitars, and percussion instruments from items of the landfill.

The children each had an instrument then and attended practice on Saturdays with home practice in between.  After a time, they began to sound better and better.  The community began to hear sweet sounds coming from their children’s Saturday orchestra practices.  This led to hope for all even amidst a town filled with the stench of a landfill.  As they grew to sound like an orchestra, they were asked to give concerts around their nearby villages and then across Paraguay.  They now have been in many countries.  Money has come in and has helped change the community too.  New homes have been built away from flood-prone areas.  The adults have gained pride through their children; the children have been given hope through their accomplishments.

Favio Chávez began with ten children.  Over two hundred fifty have participated in it as of the writing of this book.  This one orchestra in Cateura has been a model for other children around the world.


There is a documentary about the orchestra:

Frontline did a story on the village and orchestra in 2007.

CBS/60 Minutes did a segment in 2013 on them called The Recyclers: From Trash Comes Triumph

YouTube: ; there are many more on YouTube.

Age Range:  4 – 8 Years


SUSAN HOOD has been in the world of children’s stories for many years.  She was a children’s book editor at Sesame Workshop, and a children’s magazine editor at Scholastic and Instructor Magazine, the Children’s Content Director of Nick Jr. Magazine.

While working as an editor, she wrote many children’s books, including board books, concept books, interactive books, nonfiction and beginning readers. She has published books with Disney, Fisher Price, Penguin Putnam, Scholastic, Sesame Workshop and Simon & Schuster, to name a few. In addition to writing for children, she has written for parents and early childhood educators in The New York Times, Nickelodeon’s ParentsConnect, Sesame Street Parent’s Guide, Working Mother and more.

Susan lives with her family in coastal Connecticut, and enjoys spending the summer sailing with her husband along the coast of Maine.  You can find Susan @


SALLY WERN COMPORT  has been drawing since she was a girl, making her first income when she was 15 by drawing furniture for newspaper ads for the local franchise of Ethan Allen.  Since then, she has been using her skills in many different ways.

Comport is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design; she earned her graduate degree from Syracuse University.  She guest lectures and teaches at Maryland Institute College of Art.  She founded W/C Studio Inc., a commercial art studio.  She also established Art at Large Inc. to produce large scale commissioned original works for interior and exterior wall spaces for commercial, residential and institutional clients.

In 2004 she cofounded a Public Art initiative and subsequent non-profit organization called ArtWalk and is currently serving as Curator, Artist, and Designer for that community organization.

Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Illustration in New York.  She can be found @


Book Information:

ISBN-13: 9781481430951
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Pages: 40
Product dimensions: 10.30(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Posted in Adult Fiction, Book, Book Review, Classic, Reading, Young Adult

UNCLE TOM’S CABIN by Harriet Beecher Stowe


“The way of the wicked is as darkness; he knoweth not at what he stumbleth.”

Written in 1852, this book continues today as a classic novel about slavery, racism, hope and the Christian faith.  It was written to educate as well as to remind future generations.  It was a best-seller, selling 10,000 copies in the United States in its first week; 300,000 in the first year.  It also sold then, and still sells today, in the international market.  It has been on banned book lists since its publication.  Today, many school districts and/or states ban it due to language, racism, and/or Christianity.

Mrs. Stowe was from the Northeast United States.  The United States Congress passed the Compromise of 1850. It was intended to address the concerns of slave holding and free states, yet it helped galvanize the abolition movement.  Mrs. Stowe formed her stance on slavery because of this law.  Among the provisions of the Compromise of 1850 were the end of the slave trade, but not slavery, and the creation of a stricter Fugitive Slave Law. Helping runaways had been illegal since 1793, but the 1850 law required that everyone help catch fugitives.  This law erased any protection that a fugitive had had.  Anyone on the street could be picked up and accused of being a fugitive from slavery.  Thus free Blacks were often picked up and sent into slavery.

She was angry, believing her country was now requiring her to comply with a system that she believed was unjust and immoral.  While she and her husband, Calvin Stowe, were living in Maine, she disobeyed the law by hiding runaways.  Mrs. Stowe lived in Connecticut, Ohio, and Maine, yet she knew slavery through several avenues.  While in Ohio, she and her husband were a part of the Underground Railroad.  Her brother met a plantation owner who was cruel and evil as the book’s Simon Legree.  She traveled to Kentucky where she visited plantations with slaves.  She felt the message of slavery needed to be espoused clearly and loudly. She shared her frustrations and feelings of powerlessness with her family.  It was then that her sister-in-law suggested she do more: “…if I could use a pen as you can, Hatty, I would write something that would make this whole nation feel what an accursed thing slavery is.”  This letter touched Mrs. Stowe to the heart.  She was determined to write “if [she] lived.”

The story follows two lines.  One is Tom who chooses to stay with his family rather than run away once he finds that he is to be sold to pay debts of the plantation owner.  He hoped that his family would be able to stay together if he did not run.  The second is Eliza who finds that her young son, Harry, is also to be sold for these debts.  Eliza chooses to run away with Harry.

We follow Eliza and Harry as they wind their way on escape routes, running just ahead of slave hunters, being protected by Quakers missionaries along the way to arrive safely in Canada.  We also follow Tom from plantation owners who treat their slaves gently and kindly to being sold to a harsh slave trader who then sells Tom to other plantation owners.  The final one is the cruel and violent Simon Legree.

Slavery and the slave trade separated families, husbands from wives, mothers from children.  Punishments, fierce and gruesome, showed that slaves were treated as less than human.  Freedom came for some; others received promises of freedom, but when the master died suddenly or he racked up a lot of debt, those slaves were sold “down the river.”

There are moments in the story filled with hope and love, people desiring to help others.  There are times filled with cruelty and fear, people filled with hatred.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin is fiction yet is based on a conglomerate portrait of slaves, owners, families, and abolitionists.  It has the genuine mixture of story/subject, characters, settings, and emotions to make it a classic and a bestseller.  It is an excellent story, although so hard and harsh at times, yet carried along with hope and love.


Harriet Beecher was born June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, CT to the Rev. Lyman Beecher (1775-1863) and Roxanna Foote Beecher (1775- 1816); the sixth of 11 children.  The Beechers expected their children to make a difference in the world, and they truly did:

  • All seven sons became ministers (the most effective way to influence society in that period)
  • Oldest daughter, Catharine pioneered education for women
  • Youngest daughter, Isabella was a founder of the National Women’s Suffrage Association
  • Harriet believed her purpose in life was to write. Her most famous work exposed the truth about the greatest social injustice of her day – human slavery

Stowe began her formal education at Sarah Pierce’s academy, one of the earliest to encourage girls to study academic subjects and not simply ornamental arts.  In 1824, she became a student and then a teacher at Hartford Female Seminary, which was founded by her sister Catharine.

In 1851, The National Era’s publisher contracted with Stowe for a story that would “paint a word picture of slavery” and that would run in installments.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly turned out to be more than 40 installments before it was published into a book.

In all, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s writing career spanned 51 years, during which time she published 30 books and countless short stories, poems, articles, and hymns.


This has been a book I have wanted to read for years and years.  I finally decided it would fit into my library of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon, two excellent non-fiction books.




Book Information

ISBN-13: 9781593081218
Publisher:  Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 02/01/2005
Series:  Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.32(d)
Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

STEAMBOAT SCHOOL by Deborah Hopkinson


Illustrator:  Ron Husband

Steamboat School was inspired by a true story.  It took place in Saint Louis, Missouri, before and around 1847.  Reverend John Berry Meachum had a strong desire to educate children in the years prior to the Civil War.

His own life was one of hardship and struggle as Mr. Meachum was born into slavery in 1789.  He worked to buy his own freedom and his father’s by the time he was 21.  He journeyed to St. Louis looking for his wife and children.  He worked as a carpenter and cooper (barrel maker) to earn enough to purchase their freedom, as well as a residence for his now-free family.

By 1826, he had been ordained a Baptist minister and became pastor of St. Louis’ First African Baptist Church.  While there, he began teaching black children in the basement of the church.  (In the true story, he taught free and enslaved blacks, children and adults alike.)  The school was called “The Tallow Candle School.”  In 1847, with racial tensions mounting, Missouri enacted a new law forbidding “Negroes or mulattoes” to be instructed in reading and writing.  His school was shut down.  But Reverend Meacham did not give up.

Early one morning, under the cover of darkness, he gathered his students and rowed them out into the Mississippi River to a steamboat in which he held class.  This school has been called the “Floating Freedom School.”  The river was considered Federal property, thus under federal jurisdiction.  Children and adults continued to learn because of the courage of this man.  His students grew in courage, as well, while learning to read and write.  One such student became a consul to Liberia.

This book has two pages at the end with actual historical events and background which aided in the writing of this historical fiction.  It is an excellent story to learn more about slavery and the freedom that came through education.  The courage of a single man made a difference in many lives.  Some 300 Blacks went through one or both schools of Reverend Meacham.  There are resource pages with websites and books to further one’s learning of the Meachams and of this period.

The Meacham home was part of the Underground Railroad.  In 2001, the Mary Meacham Freedom Crossing became the first site in Missouri to be recognized as part of the United States of America’s National Park Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

Age Range:  3 – 5 Years


Deborah Hopkinson is the author of more than forty books for young readers including picture books, short fiction, and nonfiction.  Most of them are history-related.  Sky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building won an ALA Notable and Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book, Apples to Oregon won the Golden Kite Award and Spur Storytelling Award, and in 2013 she received both a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction honor and a Robert F. Sibert honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.  She has won many Oregon awards for a number of her other books, too.

Deborah Hopkinson was born in Massachusetts, lived in many cities, and now resides in West Linn, Oregon (near Portland).  She can be found @ and @


Ron Husband worked at Disney Feature Animation for thirty-eight years and holds the distinction of being the first African American Supervising Animator at Walt Disney Studios.  He has animated many well-known Disney films including The Lion King, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasia 2000, Pocahontas, and Atlantis.  He illustrates children’s books and activity books.  He recently authored his own book about drawing, Quick Sketching, published by Focal Press.  He has retired from Disney, but continues to share his talents through workshops and speaking engagements.

Ron lives in San Dimas, California, with his wife. They have three children and three granddaughters.  Find him @ and on Google Plus @



Book Information:

ISBN-13: 9781423121961
Publisher:  Disney Press
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Pages: 40
Product dimensions: 10.30(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



Originally published in Spain, 2015

Translated into English by Mara Lethem for publication in 2016

“Lucas was convinced he was born to fly.”  From a very young age, Lucas watched all that flew or floated in the air.  As he grew, he made his own wings and tried to fly with them.  When they failed, he would make a different pair of wings and try once again.  He asked Santa and made birthday wishes for wings…ones that “really” would let him fly.  But none of them worked.

One birthday, his mother told him that there were other ways to fly.  She placed a book in his hands.  Lucas did not understand what she meant, but he read the book while in their garden patio.  He loved the story so much that he got another book from the family bookshelf….and then another and another.  He began stacking one book on top of another as he read them. It grew taller and taller.

Each story taught Lucas something, whether it was history or science facts, about new places he had never been, or about places that did not even exist, but the mind would travel there through the book.  He met literary characters as you will recognize on many pages.  Each book gave Lucas wings to fly.

This book is quite clever as it encourages reading to such a fun and fine degree.

The illustrations are delightful and in subtle colors over each double-paged spread.  As you read the words and spend time with the art, the reader senses motion and flight.

  • Age Range: 5 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3


Rocio Bonilla was born in Barcelona, 1970.  She received her degree in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona.  She began her career through various disciplines such as painting, mural painting, photography, advertising.

Motherhood changed her career though as she abandoned advertising and created “Once Upon a Time,” a company dedicated to decorating children’s spaces with hand-painted murals.

In 2010, Ms. Bonilla combined illustration of children’s albums with mural painting.  She has published several papers in journals, illustrated posters and nearly thirty books with different publishers.

As an author, she has published three titles: “Face Bird,” “The Highest Mountain of Books in the World” and “What Color is a Kiss?”  originally in Spanish and into several translations. 

She can be found @ and



Book Information

  • Hardcover: 42 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Pauper Press (September 1, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441319999
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441319999
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.5 x 11.7 inches
Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

THE WHISPER by Pamela Zagarenski


This is a book about the joy and delight in reading and imagining.  It is a book about creativity and having fun.  It is a beautiful book in color, in creation, and in childhood (no matter what age one is!).  As I looked upon each double-page I felt a delight in the visual as well as where my mind began to take me.

“There once was a little girl who loved stories.  She loved how the words and pictures took her to new and secret places that existed in a world all her own….” 

The little girl’s teacher loans her a book.  It is a special book to this teacher because her grandmother gave it to her as a gift.

As the little girl heads home, the book is under her arm and is slightly open.  The words are escaping from the pages and into the air.  We, then, see a fox holding up a net and catching the escaping words.  When the little girl gets a chance that night to open the book, she is sadly disappointed to find the book has no words, no stories.

Yet, she continues to look through this book.  As she does, she hears the wind and a whisper: “Dear little girl, don’t be disappointed.  You can imagine the words.  You can imagine the stories.  Start with a few simple words and imagine from there.  Remember: beginnings, middles, and ends of stories can always be changed and imagined differently.  There are never any rules, rights, or wrongs in imaginings–imagining just is.”

She looks carefully at each double page picture and imagines what story it could be telling.  She starts slowly with a few words, the beginnings.  For each reader, the story is his or hers to imagine because each double page has a beginning, leaving an unfinished sentence such as, “He promised…” or “Last week…” or “Tiger had something important to say….”  Along with these unfinished sentences, the reader will find the word-catching fox and a rabbit, bees with a honeycomb, a crown, art all over and around each set of pages.

The art inspires one’s creative juices to flow.  As I read the beginnings of the little girl’s stories, I thought that one could use this beautiful book in so many luscious ways.  Of course, each beginning initiates a story.  Then, I would love to sit with a child without reading those beginnings and let the child tell me a story.  Or she/he could write a story by visually feasting upon the art.  Most children today are so electronically connected  that their imaginations can often be like a well run dry.  This book could easily be used as a tool to spark that creativity, that imagination.  Let us use books such as this one to fill those wells back up to full.

I felt so inspired myself.  I found the book in our public library and will surely want to own a copy to use with the children I tutor as I did during the Spring semester with a second grade girl.

Age Range: 4 – 7 Years (and older)


Pamela Zagarenski is so creative.  She loves to draw and paint and has been using these creative outlets as long as she can remember.  She uses the natural world and her vivid imagination for her ideas.  She says, “I do all of my sketch work for my books in my journals. I have lots of ideas. ..some things become ‘real’ and others don’t.  I just play, and I write, and eventually the pieces come together to form something in paint and words.” 

The Whisper is her first book as both the illustrator and the author.  Prior to this, her art has won Caldecott Honors Awards for Sleep Like A Tiger by Mary Logue–CALDECOTT HONOR 2013 and Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman–CALDECOTT HONOR 2010

You can find her art @

She has a Twitter account as well @


Book Information

ISBN-13: 9780544416864
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Pages: 40
Product dimensions: 8.70(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Posted in Book, Book Review, Middle Readers, Reading

LISTEN, SLOWLY by Thanhhà Lai


Mai is twelve and has high hopes to spend her summer vacation on a nearby California beach with her friends, including a certain boy…expressed as “HIM” throughout.  But her family has a different idea for Mai.  She and her father are to take her grandmother, Bà, to Việt Nam, possibly for a short visit, possibly much longer.

Bà’s husband, Ông, never returned from the Việt Nam War where he was held captive as a POW.  A detective has found a guard who had been with Ông in the Prisoner of War camp.

Bà has need for closure after all of these years have passed since flight from her home country to California with her children and without her husband and since the war ended.

As Listen, Slowly begins, Mai certainly does not want to be going to Việt Nam.

This story is about relationships between family members, between friends.  It is about caring for others over oneself, about respect, and about country whether it is your country or your parents’ or your grandparents’.

Bà is old, yet she is wise.  She loves her family, her village in Việt Nam, and her home of Sài Gòn.  She misses Ông terribly.  Bà is given a special trip into the tunnel where Ông had been kept captive with the guard where she finds a message on a wall.  It was written by Ông, allowing Bà to have a sense of peace and to know closure with Ông.  Bà shares, Fate did not grant him the privilege to see our children reach adulthood or the pleasure to witness our wrinkles writing stories on our faces, but in the time we were allowed, we knew our treasure. 

Family and friends find room in Việt Nam to be with one another, listening to hearts and not just to words.  Bà says to Mai:  I tell you of loss, my child, so you will listen, slowly, and know that in life every emotion is fated to rear itself within your being.  Don’t judge it proper or ugly.  It’s simply here and yours.  Learning to listen, listening…slowly, is a beautiful lesson for all.

Mai returns to California a bit more grown up, cherishing her special relationship with her grandmother.

Just as Inside Out and Back Again is a unique and special story by Thanhhai Lai, this second book of hers is one as well.  Tangling, untangling, and weaving people and places together makes this an especially fine story.  Learning more about the Vietnamese culture broadens my perspective on a people who have endured much from many.

Age Range: 8 – 12 Years


A New York Times Book Review Notable Book

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year


Thanhhà Lai fled Việt Nam during the Việt Nam War. She was relocated in Alabama, USA.  She attended college at the University of Texas, Austin, graduating with a degree in journalism.  For two years, beginning in 1988, Ms. Lai worked for the Orange County, California, The Register newspaper, covering Little Saigon, the local Vietnamese community.  She went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts from New York University.  Thanhhà Lai settled in New York City, where she taught at Parsons, The New School for design.  She can be found @




Book Information

ISBN-13: 9780062229199
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers 
Edition description: Reprint
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

LET’S PLAY! by Hervé Tullet



A yellow dot, a black pen line, giving directions to the reader…

A yellow dot wants to play with the reader, giving directions from page to page…

The reader follows the directions, joining the yellow dot, making loop-de-loops together, going through a tunnel, up stairs, over bumps…

A yellow dot joined by blue and red dots for more fun together…

The reader, always part of the fun…

Colors, shapes, movement and letting one’s imagination run with a yellow dot…

As with Mr. Tullet’s other books, Press Here and Mix It Up, there is silly fun to be had in this latest book.  Mr. Tullet is extremely creative in such a simple book.  A child, as well as adults, will smile and laugh and play throughout the book.  There is very little on most every page, yet each page speaks volumes.  I love this one as much as I did the other two.  I reviewed Press Here and Mix It Up also.  His illustrations are simple, “rendered in paint,” a few colors, a few shapes and lines…pages filled with play and joy!

Age Range:  3 – 5 Years


Hervé Tullet was born in 1958 in Normandy, France.  He studied fine arts and decorative arts.  He worked as an Art Director for ten years.  In 1994, his first children’s book was published by Seuil Jeunesse : Comment Papa a rencontré Maman.  He received the Prize for Non-Fiction at the Bologne International Book Fair in 1998 for Faut Pas Confondre.  He has written and illustrated well over 50 books for the young child and is now recognized as one of the world’s most innovative children’s authors.  Known in France as ‘the prince of preschool books’, Tullet invites young minds to think imaginatively.  He has written a book for adults called  Art Workshops for Children. 

He has lived in Paris most of his life, but recently moved to New York City.  Publishers Weekly wrote of this move 11/05/2015:  “Ideally, the move to the States will put Tullet in the position to be able to engage longer-term residencies.  ‘My idea is to find places with a big audience. I want to settle down, I want to share…. I want to figure out how to work with a neighborhood, city, town, art students, begin workshops with these people, with children, families, teachers and librarians…. And naturally in that time we could make art, and turn everything into an exhibition. The exhibition [itself] could be a work in progress, [which would] start from an empty space, and fill it for one, two, three months, whatever.’” **

You can find him on facebook @

and @





**  Author-Illustrator Hervé Tullet Moves to the U.S. by Publishers Weekly, Nov. 05, 2015:

Book Information

ISBN-13: 9781452154770
Publisher:  Chronicle Books, LLC
Publication date: 03/29/2016
Series: Let’s Play Games Series
Pages: 68
Product dimensions: 8.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading


Groundwood Logos Spine

Illustrator — Sydney Smith

A wordless picture book

A beautiful book for pondering the depths of gentleness, kindness, compassion

A little girl walks hand-in-hand with her father along city streets, waiting at a bus stop, and through a city park.  Along the way, she pauses to pick up volunteer flowers that are growing in sidewalk cracks, in walls, and in other spots.

The flowers, held tenderly in her hand, become gifts to the small, the lonely, the forgotten, the unseen, and the loved.  Her simple, sweet presents remind me of the humble, the innocent, and those who give love unconditionally.

The illustrations are done in sepia tones with black ink while the girl is wearing a red hooded jacket.  The closer she gets to home and the more flowers she sweetly gives, the more color appears on each successive page.  Sydney Smith uses pen, ink, watercolors, with digital editing.  The illustrations are perfect for this tale involving the reader’s eyes and heart.

This book has been printed in 10 countries and 8 different languages, having won awards in both the English and the French versions.

Age Range:  4 – 7 Years


In 2015, the French edition  won the Prix Libbylit in Belgium for best picture book.

Won the Governor General’s Award for Literary Merit/Illustrated Children’s Books in 2015, English

The New York Times Best Illustrated Books List

International Board on Books for Young People’s (IBBY) 2016 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award

Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

Goodreads Choice Awards Best Picture Books


JonArno Lawson has a BA in English Literature from McGill University.  He is the author of thirteen books for children and adults. He has given a large number of workshops in children’s poetry, and taught children’s poetry in the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature Program at Simmons College, Boston, and at iSchool at UBC.  He is a four-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Children’s Poetry. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.   He can be found @


Sydney Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia, and has been drawing since he was quite young. While attending NSCAD University, in Halifax, studying drawing and printmaking, he began to realize he enjoyed illustrating children’s books.  It allowed more freedom for creativity.  He has illustrated a number of children’s books.  He has won awards for a number of the books as illustrator, including an IBBY award for Sidewalk Flowers.  He now lives in Toronto and works in a shared studio space in Chinatown “and goes to the library or the Art Gallery of Ontario on his breaks.”  He can be found @


Book Information:
ISBN-13: 9781554984312
Publisher:  Groundwood Books
Publication date: 03/17/2015
Pages: 32
Product dimensions:  8.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



37 words

a gentle book

a teaching book

worth reading again…and again

art is so Tomie dePaola

This sweet little book calls us to open our eyes and see all that is around us…the tiny and the large.  Let us be grateful for all that is set before us, from a ladybug to a flower to a rainbow as well as each another.  Having gratitude can turn our worlds around and upside down in positive ways.  Each day is new, filled with much for which to give thanks.

Tomie de Paola’s illustrations are his usual types of drawings, and so perfect for this book.  Pale yellow pages are the background for the drawings, colored with gentle aquas, greens, yellows, tans, and oranges.  He used acrylics on tea-stained Arches 150 pound paper.

Age Range: 2 – 5 Years


Tomie dePaola (pronounced Tommy da-POW-la) is well-known for his children’s books.  Over 15 million copies of well-over 200 Tomie dePaola books have been sold internationally.  He has been writing, illustrating, and being published for over 40 years.  Many awards have been given for his work, including a Newbery Honor Book (26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE in 2000), a Caldecott Honor Book (STREGA NONA in 1976), Golden Kite Award (for Illustration-GIORGIO’S VILLAGE by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in 1982), 1990 USA nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in illustration-International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), and many, many more.  In 1999, he was selected for the New Hampshire’s Governor’s Arts Award of Living Treasure.

He lives in New London, New Hampshire, with his Airedale terrier, Brontë, working in a renovated 200-year-old barn.  You can find him @



Book Information

ISBN-13: 9780823434435
Publisher:  Holiday House, Inc. 
Publication date: 08/10/2015
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Posted in Adult Fiction, Book, Book Review, Christianity, Reading

A SPARROW IN TEREZIN by Kristy Cambron


A Hidden Masterpiece Novel #2

  • Two love stories intertwined throughout the book
  • Two love stories connected by a child, grown to be elderly
  • Two love stories of two distinct time periods: one in the now, the second in World War II
  • Two love stories seeking honest relationships where two people can be themselves
  • Two love stories where the couples call upon God for their strength in the midst of seemingly insurmountable odds, tremendous suffering

Sera James (from The Butterfly and the Violin) is opening a new art gallery in California, moving everything from New York.  She is preparing to marry William Hanover at about the same time.  Everything looks like the start of a fairy-tale life for them.

BUT…William is accused of a crime he did not commit, is arrested barely before the wedding ceremony is completed.  From here, one side of this story centers around this new marriage, the fight for innocence and battling accusations that wound, struggling to hold onto hope in a future with William, and the discovery of the other side of this intertwined story.

The other side begins in 1939 when Kája Makovsky, living in Prague with her family, is forced to flee as the city is coming under the occupation by Nazi Germany.  Kája must leave behind her half-Jewish family.  In 1942, as a reporter for The Daily Telegraph in London, Kája feels the terror of this war because the “London Blitz” has arrived over England.  Through her job, she learns that Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the European continent.  Kája feels she has no choice but to return to Prague, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Survival and hope tie Sera and Kája together.  Their faith holds them up as they do their best to protect those they love and all they hold dear.  Their own lives fall into the background when far more is at stake as they each risk everything for those they care about most.  A survivor of the Holocaust (a third person) shares her story of hope from this deep, dark period of history with Sera, binding Sera and Kája across time.
It is a wonderful story.  It can be read without having read the first, but I believe it would be better to have read The Butterfly and the Violin.  I find that reading true stories of the Holocaust gives me an actual perspective of how people survived and how they aided others.  I have read Corrie ten Boom’s story as she and her family aided the Jews in Holland.  She was taken to a concentration camp and survived, although her sister did not.  Her real life is all about Jesus.  He was on her lips until God brought her home many years later.  I also like historical fiction of many eras, but like to read these Holocaust novels by Kristy Cambron for she brings faith front and center, making God so very important in the midst of this hell on earth.  I highly recommend these two books.



Best of 2015 List (Genre Fiction) —Library Journal Reviews 

Book of the Month Pick, Christian Fiction (Feb. 2015)  —Library Journal (starred review)

Received a nomination for RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best Inspirational Book of 2015

Geen musje zal Vallen (Dutch translation) —Kok Publishers



Kristy Cambron holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University.  She worked in instructional design, corporate training and communications for a Fortune-100 Corporation.  Kristy is a Speaker and Design Manager at The GROVE storytelling ministry.

Her debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, was named to Library Journal Reviews and RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best of 2014 lists, and received a 2015 INSPY Awards nomination for best debut novel.  A Sparrow in Terezin is her second novel and, as you can see from the awards listed above, it has received wide acclaim.  Kristy’s third historical novel, The Ringmaster’s Wife, was named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10 and will release in June, 2016.

Kristy is not shy about things that are important to her:  “Jesus Christ is everything.”

Kristy  lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons.  She can be found @  and and on Facebook @ and @


Book Information

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Series:  Hidden Masterpiece Series, #2  
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)