By: Ann Greyson Publisher: Ingram Spark Publication Date: September 1, 2020 ISBN: 978-0578705088 Reviewed by: Risah Salazar Review Date: September 25, 2020
Twenty-three going on twenty-four, Myrna Ivester feels lost in life. Being roommates with her best friend, Siobhan Mulcahy, is not helping. While Myrna is not jealous of her, she can’t help but compare their achievements. Siobhan just got promoted as head nurse in her department while Myrna is, well, she’s in the medical field too and wants to help people but she is not content with that. Call it a quarter-life crisis or something else, there is certainly a nagging feeling toward her existence that she can’t quite shrug off.
Ileana Vladislava is a vampire and is the last of her kind. She is lonely, yes. But more than anything else, she is annoyed. Choosing Wightwick Hall as her new residence seemed like the best option then, as it is close to the woods where she can hunt and is away from nosy neighbors. But Lorraine Krag destroyed Ileana’s much needed isolation when she and her husband moved close to Wightwick Hall. When there’s something that Lorraine wants to know, she is relentless. Will she discover Ileana’s secret or will Ileana succeed in scaring her off?
The moment Ileana sets her eyes on Myrna, she decides she is perfect. Well, perfectly troubled. After so many years, she has found another soul that she thinks she can drag into the vampire life. After carefully planning her steps, Ileana makes her move and not long after, Myrna awakes differently than she ever had in her entire life.
Ann Greyson’s The Lonely Vampire starts with suspense and action. Amazing imagery brings the setting and characters to life instantaneously, although the world-building takes some time to establish. With a slow pacing, the bigger picture becomes visible only halfway through the book. With an alluring yet calm tone, it draws the reader in. But the constant switching of perspectives from the third to the first person makes the story hard to envision. The characters, on the other hand, are written well; they have a solid background and are relatable most of the time. It is also nice that the book is LGBTQ-friendly, although Ileana's decision to convert Myrna to a vampire so she can be with her might have some readers questioning it as it was done without Myrna's consent. Overall, however, The Lonely Vampire is a very satisfying read.
Quill says: The Lonely Vampire is a case of “do-not-judge-the-book-by-its-cover.” Admittedly, the cover can be more aesthetically pleasing but the story surely makes up for it. It is simple and shallow, but it’s entertaining enough to ignite the senses.
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Robert Hoyman, author of Limerick Comics.
FQ: As I mentioned in my review, I love the fun and playful nature of your book. What drew you to limericks and why did you dedicate your first book to them?
HOYMAN: The idea for creating Limerick Comics was born of necessity. In the early 90s, I brought from home a book that my own two sons found particularly entertaining. It was A Book of Nonsenseby Edward Lear, the quintessential British author, illustrator, and poet presenting the superb form of limericks that he popularized. As expected, my students were delighted by the humor and downright silliness. As soon as we were finished and we had run out of limericks, the kids pleaded for more.
Eager to advance their enthusiasm for learning, I headed for the school library, the public library, and the local bookstores. Surprisingly, I could find no books featuring limericks for children. At the time, in my experience, it appeared that the genre was underrepresented. As a result, I began writing my own. But my personal interest was to write about meaningful topics we encountered along the way in Science and Social Studies. The students enthusiastically created the illustrations.
In the succeeding years, I routinely shared my limericks with my students. In school districts from California to Florida, the reaction was consistent. The students were enchanted by the humor, captivating stories, and goofy illustrations. It became clear that upon retirement I would polish my old limericks, write new ones, provide a fascinating accompaniment of fun facts to inspire discourse between teachers or parents and kids, and find a brilliant illustrator to create evocative comics. The result was my debut book Limerick Comics.
FQ: How long does it take to write a single limerick? Do they come to you quickly or do they need to rummage through your head a bit before they come to life?
HOYMAN: For me, it takes a good long while. Typically I can get the first two lines and a fair idea for the direction of the story. The next three lines take more time to emerge. The final line is crucial because it serves the purpose of resolution and often story clarity. Occasionally I use it to offer an intriguing inference explained further in the nonfiction sixth panel. Some have used the fifth line of a limerick to restate the first, but I find it essential to help tell the story because five lines are restrictive enough. I really embrace the process of crafting a limerick poem with a strict adherence to anapest meter working within the constraints of word choice imposed by the number of syllables and placement of the accent. That’s the real challenge. So I ponder individual limericks for days slowly taking shape wherever I might be. I try to swim each day at our community pool nearby. While relaxing at the pool, more than once the words and phrases that fit just right beckoned, unforced, and I had to jump on my bike and pedal home frantically to write them down before they faded away.
FQ: The topics of the limericks in Limerick Comics are so varied. How did you choose the subject matter?
HOYMAN: The topics were all gathered along the way throughout my teaching journey. I chose the subject matter that I found fascinating, but I also included many topics that I remember eliciting interest, intrigue, and curiosity in my students. Some limericks were built around introducing a particular concept like bioluminescence, gastroliths, or the unusual fact that octopuses possess three hearts. Others address the natural expression of curiosity found in children. They’re always wondering where things came from. These can range from the origin of colossal roller coasters to something quite ordinary like cement.
FQ: Is there a chance you have a stash of limericks that you couldn’t fit into this book and that might make an appearance in a sequel?
HOYMAN: Yes, I have a number of them but many didn’t make the cut because they are comical and goofy. Although entertaining, they lack any educational value. I can envision someday putting them out there perhaps with a single amusing hyperbolic illustration to induce a few guffaws. However, there’d certainly be no need for a sixth panel.
FQ: When you write up a limerick, do you picture the images that will accompany the verse?
HOYMAN: Not with any great detail. I concentrate on writing a complete story with only a vague sense of the imagery. After endless revisions, I found it exhilarating finally turning the manuscript over to Steve Feldman then anxiously waiting for him to breathe life into my goofy characters.
FQ: Along the same lines, tell our readers about the process of working with your illustrator, Steve Feldman. Are you very specific about what you want for each limerick? How you want the images to appear? Colors, facial expressions, etc., or do you discuss the basics with Mr. Feldman and then let him go wild?
HOYMAN: Collaborating with Steve Feldman was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me. Having recently retired after 40 years of teaching, the daily back and forth by email was a stimulating and invigorating learning experience. Our goal was to produce a book of outstanding quality with an elegant appearance worthy of the coffee table. Steve is not only a supremely gifted artist and illustrator, but he is also the consummate professional. I like to think that I was wise enough to turn over the revised manuscript to Steve and get out of the way. I deferred to his artistic vision. I felt that we could achieve a quality result if he felt unencumbered and just had fun with it. I believe he did find the process enjoyable and the range and diversity of the subject matter really allowed Steve to showcase his versatility as an artist. Jokingly, I told him to recall his days in Jr. high school when he was drawing comics in his notebook instead of paying attention in class.
FQ: Authors are often asked if they have a favorite book among the books they’ve written. Do you have a favorite limerick?
HOYMAN: Not really. They’re like my two sons. I love them equally while appreciating their unique qualities. Like anyone, I find the subject matter in some more interesting than others. However, I guess if I was forced to pick one King Tut always brings a chuckle. “At nineteen no pharaoh was cooler.”
FQ: I see from your author bio that you’re a member of SCBWI. Would you tell our readers a bit about this organization and why you’re a member? Would you recommend other debut authors join?
HOYMAN: Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a nonprofit organization specifically for those who write for children and young adults. Their mission is to support the creation of quality children’s books around the world. Membership is open to anyone with an active interest in children’s literature. They sponsor conferences, workshops and many other events. The message boards, webinars, blogs, and local chapters make available a network of support opportunities like guidance, information sharing, critique groups etc. It has been tremendously helpful to me as I began to learn more about the writing industry and community.
FQ: While your career in teaching continued for over four decades, you also produced and directed numerous musical plays. Do you miss the creative process of theater and do you think you’d ever get involved in another play?
HOYMAN: I miss the creative process of theatre immensely. It was among the most gratifying experiences in my teaching career. I loved challenging fourth and fifth graders to learn 40 pages of script, 6 songs, and then witnessing the students use their unique, evolving skill-set to create memorable characters. They learned fluency and problem-solving in an authentic and natural way. They returned home from school each day after rehearsal singing a happy tune. I can still see their eyes when the curtain closed on opening night reflecting the look of pure relief, pride, elation, and confidence in the making. I have since encountered several of the former cast members. Not once have they recalled a top score on a state-mandated test, but all share fondly the joy and lifelong memories cherished from our musicals. Now that I’m retired, I can’t envision involvement in another play. I’ll just continue to turn to writing.
FQ: Is there another book of limericks in your future or do you think you’ll try another genre?
HOYMAN: I’ve been researching a project that is likely to result in a juvenile biography or historical fiction. I feel passionate about the need for this story to be told. Perhaps later, I’ll publish the batch of limericks referenced earlier.
By: Christine Beckwith and Dr. Wendy L. Wright Publisher: 20/20 Vision Press Publication Date: September 2019 ISBN: 978-1944913489 Reviewed by Diane Lunsford Date: September 22, 2020
Breaking the Cycle is an intimate reflection of hope, resilience and gratitude.
Dr. Wendy L. Wright is a family nurse practitioner and her co-author, Christine Beckwith, is an award-winning corporate executive. This dynamic duo come together and deliver a book that truly is anchored around the premise of hope, resilience and gratitude. The women work in tandem chapter upon chapter by starting with their respective accounts of ‘The Neighborhood’ and how it was foundational in grooming them to become the dynamic women they are today. A common theme that resonates from the onset is how parallel their lives were growing up separately, but because of that, the inevitability of them coming together later in life.
Each chapter is devoted to a passionate view of no matter where a person has come from, it is up to that person to define and embrace the possibilities of what their life can be. Of course, both women portray personal setbacks and shortcomings, but throughout their respective lives, they chose to overcome and succeed. They share the adoration and love they had (and have) for their parents and respect and acknowledge they did the very best they could. It was abundantly clear that the sacrifices they made for their children were key in instilling the confidence both women have.
It’s difficult to site the many passages that resonate with me throughout this book, but one that comes to mind immediately is the chapter on ‘No Place Like Home, Focus and Drive.’ Christine sets it up with an analogy of ‘dress for success’ and the essence it has in anchoring confidence. As the chapter builds in momentum, it is when she arrives at the premise of self-recognition that a cacophony of lightbulbs illuminates, ‘...It takes a soul that self-recognizes...The brain and the body can drive you towards sinful desires, sinful habits, sinful places, people and things. The heart is your GPS. Your soul is the map. You must align the three: heart, body and soul. There is a reason I believe that body is sandwiched between the heart and soul. Capture your body between your heart and soul and it will stay on the correct path. To do this, you must elevate your GPS and your map, and let those two steer the course and guide you to the right road. Only then can you live in true happiness...’
Dr. Wright and Ms. Beckwith have done an admirable job in writing an exceptional body of work. There was a lot of thought and consideration in place in how it is organized. Each chapter ends with an exercise of self-reflection as it prepares the reader for the next. It addresses questions key to the concept of the given chapter and allows the reader to take pause, think about the questions presented and delve into how he/she can relate to what the good Doctor and Ms. Beckwith set out to achieve in the chapter. This is a work of inspiration and is positively uplifting. It is no wonder both women acknowledged the importance in sharing their respective successes (and sometimes downfalls). This book is overflowing with life’s lessons and the beauty in recognizing hardships as it neatly ties the concepts together with the notion of the vital importance of leaving them behind in order to conquer greater mountains ahead. Well done to you both.
Quill says: Breaking the Cycle is a terrific read rife with words of encouragement and ‘can do’ epitaphs.
By: Ed Griffin-Nolan Publisher: Rootstock Publishing Publication Date: September 2020 ISBN: 978-1-57869-038-1 Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott Date: September 22, 2020
Forty years after he enjoyed some hitchhiking escapades in his youth, author/journalist Ed Griffin-Nolan takes to the road once more.
Against the advice of many sane people including some of his friends from the old days, but with the blessing of his wife who knew it was useless to try and stop him, Griffin-Nolan set out from Syracuse, NY on a rainy day in 2018 to ride by thumb to California. He had a backpack, heavier, it felt, than in the old days, filled with plenty of socks, water and some emergency foods. Upgraded from his younger days, he carried a cell phone that would allow him not only to call home but also to take pictures along the way. An inveterate interviewer, the author saw every ride as an opportunity to get to know a fellow human, and his book is about that more than anything. His first ride with Rob is typical: the driver told him about a brother who hitchhiked in the ‘70s, and offered to take Griffin-Nolan just a bit farther than at first intended. The author carried a sign with the book’s title, attracting curious drivers, and gave out armbands with the same inscription to folks along the way who took an interest in his journeying. Surprisingly, many of the folks who stopped to pick him up were females, even young women, some with children in the car – and most had stories to tell of their own hitchhiking experience. Several men talked about their departed wives, sharing an intimacy that would be unusual in any other setting. But, as the author says, “the road is a place inside us, where our yearnings meet our doubts” and “people open up more than just their car doors.”
As he recounts his travel recollections of 2018, Griffin-Nolan also harks back to the ‘70s, comparing that time with this. He found as much openness as before, perhaps more now that our culture has in some ways become more guarded and those who offer rides may be hoping for a captive audience. He encountered only one African American hitcher in 2018, whereas in 1978 there had been quite a few. He heard more overt racism from a couple of drivers than ever in the 1970s. Contrary to the warnings he’d gotten before embarking on his trip, he felt little or no sense of menace, only a couple of times instinctively avoiding offers from suspicious characters. His observations of the familial kindness of strangers in modern-day fast food joints is a highlight. And his writing is strong, allowing us to “see” him standing in a bad place on the road or dragging himself to a motel that looks so close by car but is a very long walk indeed for an older guy with a heavy backpack. The trip, which took 18 days, was filled with small, heartwarming encounters, the last ride being offered by a “grandpa in the driver’s seat and a Toy Pomeranian sleeping on my lap.”
Quill says: Griffin-Nolan’s spontaneous, unpredictable pilgrimage to revive old memories works wonderfully as a reminiscence for those who were there in the ‘70s and as encouragement for those who might contemplate such a venture now.
By: Wanda E. Brunstetter Publisher: Shiloh Run Press Publication Date: June 2020 ISBN: 978-1-64352-467-2 Reviewed by Diane Lunsford Date: September 22, 2020
Amish Friends Farmhouse Favorites Cookbook is a wonderful collection of over 200 recipes for ‘Simple and Hearty Meals...’
Ms. Brunstetter opens this delightful cache of recipes with a lovely introduction that pays homage to her many Amish friends, ‘My husband and I have had the pleasure of eating meals in many of our Amish friends’ homes on numerous occasions and have never come away hungry or disappointed...’ The book is broken down into a logical series of ‘Recipes for Breakfast,’ ‘Recipes for Beverages and Snacks,’ ‘Breads and Rolls,’ etc. What I like most about this book is the fact that one doesn’t have to search page by page if they’re looking for a little something to enhance the overall menu he/she plans to create.
To further enhance the navigation of this book, there is an index for ‘Recipes by Section’ as well as an index of ‘Recipes by Key Ingredients.’ I personally have a shelf in my pantry packed with a myriad of recipe books ranging from Betty Crocker to Martha Stewart and many in-between. Amish Friends Farmhouse Favorites Cookbookwill now grace the shelf front and center because of the ease and simplicity of navigating the pages and preparing the actual meal. Beyond the Introduction, Mary Alice Yoder shares her story of ‘Down on the Farm.’ It showcases the fact that she was born into an Amish farming family and how it is ‘...very precious to me because I enjoyed the outdoors so much...’ Further into her personal account, Ms. Yoder recollects how, ‘...At a young age, we learned to help out. As the youngest, I don’t remember being restricted from being outside if the weather was suitable, I didn’t have babysitting duties, though I would’ve loved to have younger siblings. My first chores were feeding the cats and the dog. I would sit among the straw bales and watch the cats drink warm milk right from the cows...’ There is something for everyone among the many recipes sure to please anyone’s pallet from ‘Big Batch Granola’ to a cool, Fall season’s hearty bounty of ‘Cozy Cousins Casserole.'
Wanda Brunstetter has further defined the essence of ‘comfort food’ with savory recipes among the many pages of Amish Friends Farmhouse Favorites. While I traveled across the pages, there was a common theme that came to mind: ‘this is like having mom in my kitchen with me preparing wonderfully healthy meals from a time gone by.’ As I’ve often said after I finish one of Ms. Brunstetter’s books, she stays true to her pen and loyal to her audience and continues to deliver solid, enjoyable reads whether it’s a story or cookbook. Well done Ms. Brunstetter. I have been a fan for many years and always welcome the opportunity to read your next great book.
Quill says: Amish Friends Farmhouse Favorites is a must have in any cook’s library.
The Mockingbird’s Song (Amish Greenhouse Mysteries, Book 2)
By: Wanda E. Brunstetter Publisher: Shiloh Run Press Publication Date: August 2020 ISBN: 978-1-64352-231-9 Reviewed by Diane Lunsford Date: September 23, 2020
Wanda Brunstetter pens a captivating story of grief and sorrow and focuses on the healing powers of faith in book 2 of the Amish Greenhouse Mystery Series, The Mockingbird’s Song.
Sylvia Beiler is only one of the family members who has been crippled with grief after a tragic accident that takes the lives of her beloved husband, father and brother. It’s not easy to own the responsibility of raising two young children after her husband, brother and father are killed in an accident when their horse and buggy were hit from behind by a truck. It was a moment none of the family members would forget.
Not even a year has passed since the accident and Monroe, a family acquaintance, is trying to wheedle his way back into Belinda’s (Sylvia’s mother) good graces. In his mind, her husband may be gone, but doesn’t she know he is ready, willing and able to fill the void. Henry, Sylvia’s brother, on the other hand struggles with civility every time Monroe shows up. And for that matter, how is it that he knows the exact time, every time to make an appearance just in time for the family dinner? Henry is angry. He misses his father and questions his faith. How is it possible his God took his father away? Fortunately, before he travels further down a path of ill repute, Henry turns to the wilderness and finds comfort in bird watching. Meanwhile, there are other forces playing against the family. Somebody doesn’t want to see their greenhouse business succeed. After a series of attempts against the business, it’s time for the family to band together and defeat the setbacks once and for all.
Wanda Brunstetter is, in my opinion, one of the most wholesome writers in present day. She stays true to her pen and consistently delivers heartfelt stories centered around the Amish community. There is a dash of faith, lots of hope and a strong sense of community among the characters she develops in each story. I’ve had the pleasure of reading several of her books. She breathes beautiful life into each character while she complements their reality with beautiful scenery and credible dialogue throughout the read. Something that is signature in each of her books is at the end, she always treats her audience to a few recipes from Amish country. The ingredients are attainable and the recipes themselves are easy to follow. Once again, I thank Ms. Brunstetter for another well-written book and look forward to the next.
Quill says: The Mockingbird’s Song is a warm and inviting tale that addresses the depths of grief and is complemented throughout with a message that resonates with hope.
By: Cheryl Olsten Illustrated by: Paolo d'Altan Publication Date: October 2020 ISBN: 978-1733955102 Reviewed by: Holly Connors Review Date: September 2020
Debut author Cheryl Olsten has penned a magical book about a little girl, a very special horse, and an adventure that will have every child who reads the story looking to the stars.
Lafitte De Muze is a little horse with big dreams. He was born on a beautiful horse farm in Belgium and while he had a happy upbringing, he was smaller than the other foals and had to work twice as hard to keep up. But with encouragement from his mother and father, he kept trying and never gave up. He hoped to one day find his perfect rider, and the best way to do that, he thought, was to grow big, fast, and strong.
When Lafitte was four years old, it was time to go to the annual horse sale where the horses expected to find their perfect new owners. Sadly, while all the other horses did find new owners, Lafitte wasn't purchased. He was too small. Would he ever find that perfect person to love him?
Meanwhile, far, far away, lived a little girl named Ella. She loved to look at the stars and study the constellations with her dad. But when her parents fell on hard times, she was sent to live with her aunt in Belgium. Ella's Aunt Anastasia was kind, and loving, but Ella was homesick. While Anastasia's passion was gardening, she did once, long ago, spend some time riding horses. Perhaps horses would help Ella...a trip to the nearby stable begins an adventure that both Ella and Lafitte will never forget.
Big Wishes for Little Feat is a lovely story about a little girl's dreams coming true. The story is based in the "real world" but has a slight magical twist, just enough to make young readers believe in the magic. The special bond that Ella and Lafitte develop is wonderful and while Lafitte thought he was too small, he learned that he was the perfect size for young Ella. What a great message. And as the story continues, Ella, along with readers, learn that "Sometimes wishes do come true." At over 40 pages of text, the story would be a bit too long for very young readers, but would be perfect for readers in the 7 to 8 (and a bit older) range. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and really add a dreamy feel to the whole story. Any child who loves horses will certainly adore this story as will any child that loves to dream.
Quill says: From the story, to the message it conveys, and the beautiful artwork, Big Wishes for Little Feat is a wonderful book that should be added to your child's bookshelf!
For more information on Big Wishes for Little Feat, please visit the author's website at: cherylolsten.com
By: Robert Hoyman Illustrated by: Steve Feldman Publisher: Pony Express Publications Publication Date: March 2019 ISBN: 978-1732818606 Reviewed by: Holly Connors Review Date: September 10, 2020
Debut author Robert Hoyman has hit the proverbial ball out of the park with his first book, Limerick Comics.
Limerick Comics is an absolutely unique blend of a comic-style format (and illustrations!) and catchy limericks that tell short and witty tales. Kids love comics so the format is a natural draw for them, and while not all children are drawn to poetry, limericks offer a lighthearted introduction to the genre through short and goofy rhymes. Combine the two and kids who are averse to poetry won't even realize they're falling in love with the genre. Now add in fantastic illustrations, in the comic format (kudos to Steve Feldman, the illustrator), and this book is certain to be a hit with readers age 8 and up.
The book follows the standard format of limericks which is a stanza of five lines, with one limerick/tale per page. Every page has six blocks, five of which are for a portion of the limerick and an illustration. Below that is a block of text that explains the science, or history, behind the topic.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that the topics are so varied. Limerick Comics tackles science, history, and even some general knowledge topics (food fight anyone?) so there's sure to be something for everyone. First you're reading about jesters in the Middle Ages, and then, turn the page...and you're reading about slugs:
A popular slug known as Saul, Staged marathon climbs up the wall. He didn't win races, Though charming and gracious, Encouraged and favored by all.
This is followed by the block of text which gives all sorts of information on slugs. I admit that I didn't know slugs have green blood and only one lung. Move on to the next page where you'll learn about the first person to perform the flying trapeze act, Jules Leotard. Does that last name sound familiar? Yes, the tight-fitting leotard outfits that trapeze artists wear were named after him. I admit that I learned something on almost every page. Some of the other topics covered in this fantastically fun book are the pony express, ants, food fights, cavemen, cement, blobfish, clowns and chimpanzees. Yes, the topics are that varied. Finally, on the last page is a glossary of terms that readers may not be familiar with.
When I was first given this book to review, I was a bit hesitant as I thought it might be difficult to write a review about limericks. But then I started to explore the book and fall in love with every page. It's that good. The author has done a great job of creating funny limericks that follow the five-line rhyme format in which the first, second and fifth lines rhyme, and the third and fourth lines rhyme. Nothing is forced; they all flow freely. As mentioned above, the illustrations are a perfect fit for this book - bright, somewhat silly, and with a comic-style appeal. The "factoid" section of each page isn't just a few lines of related text but instead gives useful information. In fact, they can certainly be used as a starting point for doing research on any of the topics in the book. In short, Limerick Comics is a perfect book for engaging kids and getting them to learn in a creative and enjoyable way.
Quill says: Limerick Comics is such a fun, and surprisingly informative book! You really need to add this one to your child's reading list and while you're at it, read it yourself - it's so much fun you don't want to miss it!
By: Katie Specht Illustrated by: Creative Illustrations Studio Publication Date: August 2020 ISBN: 978-8666850596 Reviewed by: Holly Connors Review Date: September 9, 2020
Getting your first pair of glasses can be quite scary for any child. Recognizing this common fear, author Katie Specht set out to help ease the anxiety with her charming new book, Henry's New Glasses.
Henry is a young man who loves doing puzzles, they're fun and challenge his creativity. As the story opens, Henry is working on an awesome puzzle that has lots of brightly-marked fish, as well as sharks and jellyfish swimming about. Henry has done the puzzle before and enjoyed watching the picture come to life, but today is different. Today he can't seem to get the pieces to come together. As he struggles with the puzzle, he asks his dad, "...why do these pieces not fit together today?" Henry's dad realizes that his son may need glasses and it's time for a trip to the eye doctor.
Henry's father sits down next to Henry and does his best to allay his son's fears about getting glasses. However, Henry isn't convinced that a trip to the doctor is a good thing. After his dad explains what the doctor will do, Henry agrees to go, but he's still nervous about the visit.
The day of Henry's eye doctor appointment arrives and off he goes with his dad to the doctor's office. There he sees all sorts of cool equipment. Trying his best to hide his nervousness, he soon becomes excited to see how all that neat equipment works. After Henry's appointment, it's time to get his glasses, and then go to school. But nobody in Henry's class wears glasses so what will happen when the young man shows up with his new, gray-framed glasses?
Henry's New Glasses is a sweet story about an issue that many youngsters are faced with - glasses. The author handles the fears that come with new glasses - will they help, what happens at the doctor's, will my friends make fun of me - with the understanding of someone who has guided her own child through the process. Watching Henry go to the doctor's office, and following along as he looks through lenses, and read letters from a chart, will help alleviate fears of children who don't know what to expect. And the author manages to slip in little things that kids will love, such as discovering that the chair Henry sits in goes up and down. There's a minor issue with the editing of dialogue (dialogue between Henry and his dad all in one paragraph), but it's not anything that would keep children from enjoying the story. Henry's New Glasses is a perfect story for parents to share with their children who need to start wearing glasses.
Quill says: A delightful story that will likely help ease youngsters fears about getting glasses.
By: Deborah Diesen Illustrated by: Howard Gray Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press Publication Date: August 2020 ISBN: 978-1534110526 Reviewed by: Ellen Feld Review Date: September 9, 2020
The sweet songs of birds - who doesn't enjoy the music of our feathered friends? In Sing Some More!, author Deborah Diesen takes the harmonies of birds to a whole new level.
Four adorable, and very energetic birds are the central characters in this charming children's story. All very different - a cardinal, a bluejay, a robin, and a sparrow - they share a common love, the love of singing. As soon as the sun comes up, these four friends start up with a song, and they go all day long!
We begin our day ahead of dawn Before a hint of light. As the sun begins to show itself We sing with all our might.
As the morning turns into afternoon, the bird friends are still quite busy singing their songs. They perch on a tree branch directly above a family enjoying a picnic. As they sing, the squirrels that were in the tree scuttle down the trunk and dash through the picnic festivities. Havoc ensues but the birds continue their song.
Sing Some More! is a fantastic book that will appeal to all animal lovers. As a bird lover myself (I have several very tame pet birds, one of whom is singing to me while I write this), I grabbed this book from the review stack as soon as I saw it. The rhyming story flows well and the illustrations of the four feathered friends are fabulous. Kudos to both the author and illustrator for creating a delightful book that will no doubt find its way onto many favorite bedtime story lists.
Quill says: Sing Some More! is a high-energy, silly, and fun book with gorgeous illustrations that will put a smile on every bird lover's face who is lucky enough to get their hands on a copy of this book.
Written and Illustrated by: Katia Wish Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press Publication Date: August 2020 ISBN: 978-1534110670 Reviewed by: Ellen Feld Review Date: September 9, 2020
What will happen when one very determined raccoon wants to make the perfect snowman and decides to share his techniques with his friends but forgets to share his tools and supplies?
Raccoon loves winter! And the best part of winter? Making snowmen! Raccoon knows that making snowmen isn't a simple process. He designs, and plans, and gets just the right tools to get the job done. He spends the whole winter practicing and finally he's ready to make the perfect snowman. Raccoon's friends are watching and so he decides to invite them to make their own snowmen, under his guidance, of course.
Raccoon instructs his friends as they work. "Only use clean snow," he tells Rabbit, but poor Rabbit has no choice but to use dirty snow because all the good, clean snow was used by Raccoon. "Make the snowman perfectly level," he tells Fox, but Raccoon is so busy using his tools that he forgets to share them with Fox. Poor Fox winds up with a rather lop-sided snowman.
When all the snowmen are completed, Raccoon has created a snowman that is beyond compare. But is it perfect? When he looks at his friends' snowmen, he sees three rather dirty, lop-sided, and goofy-looking snowmen. It's then that Raccoon realizes he was so busy making his own snowman, that he forgot to share his tools and supplies with his friends. Will they be able to work together to create a perfect snowman?
Raccoon's Perfect Snowman is a fun story that teaches an important lesson in a very subtle way. By watching Raccoon's process of making a snowman, and seeing what happens because he's so busy with his own snowman that he forgets about helping his friends, children will see the outcome of not sharing. The story isn't preachy but rather simply tells a fun story. And the outcome of their efforts when they all work together is delightful (and a bit goofy too which children will love). Wrapped up with the lovely illustrations created by the author, this is a cool winter story that will warm the heart.
Quill says: Raccoon's Perfect Snowman is a sweet story that very cleverly wraps a lesson about sharing into the exploits of a raccoon and his friends.
By: Max Willi Fischer Publication Date: January 2020 AISN: B084C377TP Reviewed by: Amy Lignor Review Date: September 1, 2020
Readers, in this book the author has given me two things I absolutely treasure: Great characters who I want to see end up happy; and, the backdrop of WWII. Enough said? Of course not. I know all of you aren’t like me. (You silly people, you.)
Lud Mueller is one of those uber-popular senior high school students who are chosen to be in at least 75% of the pictures in any yearbook. Great in sports, nice to look at, and even has a “true love” that’s just about the best marrying material you can possibly find. In other words, Lud is the epitome of ‘All-American.’
Now, Lud’s parents emigrated from Germany. They are also about to be utilized in a government war strategy in this year of 1942. Lud is seventeen-years-old with his whole future ahead of him. Suddenly, however, the world begins to turn and Lud is suddenly surrounded by the worst aspects of humanity one can find (and can still find, unfortunately). Lies and gossip stand where due process and the law once held office; everyone hates everyone and innuendo is what people use to base the bigotry and needless violence on that crops up across the nation. This is most assuredly not what Lud thought his next step in life would entail.
Even Lud, himself, has turned in the eyes of his hometown. Simply because of the generations of his family that came before, Lud has transformed from a great guy into a “dangerous enemy alien” in the eyes of his friends and neighbors. Now, exceling on a sports field just doesn’t matter anymore. What Lud will have to do is use that brain of his to get out of the situation the world’s mindset has placed him in.
Thrown and interned in the desert of Texas, those annoying, frustrating Nazi fans want to make Lud and his family absolutely miserable. Lud even opens his heart in the Lone Star State to someone and ends up having it all come crashing down because of government influence. When Hitler is finally trounced and America is considered one of the heroes who’ll make life good again, Lud should see a new path to walk down when it comes to his future, career, and restoring his broken heart. Unfortunately, just because Lud has a new outlook on life doesn’t mean the government shares that same sentiment.
Remember, this is not a new ‘occurrence’ in our government...the higher-ups separating loved ones just to then ‘brush the incident’ under a carpet and forget all about it. Not only is this powerful book based on the very real-life internment of thousands of absolutely legal German aliens and German-Americans during WWII, but it’s also written by a gentleman whose own parents emigrated to America after Hitler was shown to be exactly what he was—a natural-born loser.
The story kept me enthralled through the entirety of the book. There was a point where I was deeply saddened (but won't give away the plot point), and I was rooting through this whole thing to see Lud gain the strength and wit he needed to overcome what the government and others were unfairly doing to his family. I do have to say one of the greatest moments I’ve experienced in a book in a long time came about when Lud set his eyes on a very great icon—a perfect greeter for those who wanted nothing more than to live in this amazing country. At this moment, Lud was truly emotional, and it’s a given that any reader’s heart will be struck by the compelling, brutal, and riveting moments this book possesses throughout.
Quill says: A striking read making you a bit frustrated that time has moved forward, yet games are still being played.
For more information onAmerican Brush-Off,please visit the author's website at:maxwilli.weebly.com
What happens when a six year old little girl loses her first tooth? She gets a surprising new pen pal of course...her Tooth Fairy! This adorable exchange of letters spans the 6 years of a growing little girl named Natalie, and is quite a clever mix of a dreamy fairy tale and a series of real life scenarios.
From Tooth 1 to Tooth 20, Natalie’s spirited little Tooth Fairy leaves the most creative notes and Natalie often responds with questions like “There will be a blizzard. Will you still be able to get here?” and, “What would happen if I swallowed my tooth?” The six year journey is a roller-coaster of tears and joys, with tales of a tooth knocked out at recess to the birth of Natalie’s baby sister. They share many milestones together and the Tooth Fairy cunningly weaves life lessons into each of her thoughtful notes, like when a frightened Natalie learns she needs braces and is told “I won’t lie to you-braces are annoying. It will be worth it though, when you get that million-dollar smile at the end.”
I think this is a great book for children who are losing teeth, especially if they are apprehensive or a little scared. The author addresses so many things that can arise and the Tooth Fairy gives tons of practical advice! But my favorite part of the book are the illustrations by Deborah Melmon! And not just the flighty fairy and the awkward little girl with all the missing teeth...but each page displays a drawing of teeth, laid out in the shape of a wide open mouth, and specifically names each tooth that is lost: from “Bottom Central Incisor 1” to “Top Second Primary Molars A and B.” It’s ingenious and sneaks in a bit of education with a whole lot of fun!
Quill says:Letters From My Tooth Fairyis flighty and fun and will even teach you a thing or two about teeth and the human body.
Written and Illustrated By: Jennifer Sattler Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press Publication Date: August 2020 ISBN: 978-1534110946 Reviewed by: Ellen Feld Review Date: September 2020
Christmas is coming and it's time to celebrate with song and merriment. In author Jennifer Sattler's new board book for very young children, the tradition of song is brought to life with a very funny version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
The Twelve Birdies of Christmas gives a complete countdown of all twelve days, as per the original song. On the first page, we meet one very adorable, and funny, birdie "...in a Santa Claus beard." Turn the page and instead of seeing two turtle doves, we're greeted by two purple doves. And on the book goes all the way to twelve birdies drumming.
Author Jennifer Sattler is also the illustrator for this board book and she did a fantastic job of bringing a bunch of giggling birdies to life. Children will absolutely love the silly birds and their exploits and will likely want this book read over and over again at Christmas, and perhaps during the rest of the year too.
Quill says: The Twelve Birdies of Christmas is an absolute winner in this year's seasonal offerings.