Book review: A Drop of Hope, by Keith Calabrese

Calabrese, Keith. A Drop of Hope. Scholastic Press, 2019. $16.99. ISBN 9781338233209. 305 pgs. Ages 8-12. P8 Q8

Ernest, Ryan and Lizzy are middle school students in a small, struggling town in Ohio. When they learn about local folklore describing a “wishing well,” they find it and things begin to change! Calabrese does a great job of capturing the ambiance of a small American town, its school, and its diverse inhabitants. The story’s theme is how small actions can make change in ways we don’t even think of. The kids realize that people they know need help in various ways; they don’t know exactly how to approach the problems, but their good intentions and small actions do help greatly in the end. I liked that it isn’t clear if there is some magic going on or not (at least at first), that there is an old mystery that gets solved, and that odd combinations of characters end up developing positive relationships.

VERDICT: This is a wonderful book for readers who need to read something hopeful, kind and uplifting. I think we could all use more of this these days.

January 2020 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Join the No-Plastic Challenge!: A First Book of Reducing Waste, by Scot Ritchie

Ritchie, Scot. Join the No-Plastic Challenge!: A First Book of Reducing Waste. (Exploring Our Community series, book 7.) Kids Can Press, 2019. 32 pages. $16.99. ISBN 978-1525302404. Ages 5 and up. P9 Q9

This is a very timely subject of reducing plastic waste that is full of valuable and useable information on why plastic is bad for everything to ideas for using other reusable items as alternatives. It also explains in a manner that children will understand why straws are not good, how to plan for a party and not use plastic, and also how to help clean up the waste now here.

VERDICT: This is a subject often discussed, and the way this was written will inform kids and the adults who are reading to them. The illustrations are simple yet effective, and the Words to Know at the back are a helpful tool. Great to see this children’s book to teach this important subject.

December 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: On the Night of the Shooting Star, by Amy Hest, illustrated by Jenni Desmond

Hest, Amy. On the Night of the Shooting Star. Illustrated by Jenni Desmond. Candlewick Press, 2017. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 978-0763691547. Ages 2-5. P9 Q9

This is an enchanting tale of two neighbors with a picket fence between them who have lived in their homes for a long time. They see one another, but hadn’t ever spoken. Then one night a wonderful event happens that they share, beginning a delightful friendship. The artwork is simple yet beautiful, creating the lovely story of these two neighbors.

VERDICT: This is a tale that needs to be read and enjoyed more than once. It has lessons of friendship that will delight young and old. Highly recommended.

December 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: Pretty Kitty, by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis

Beaumont, Karen. Pretty Kitty. Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis. Henry Holt, 2018. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 978-0805092325. Ages 4-6. P9 Q9

This book involves an older single man and a fun story that includes a counting and picture book all in one. A lonely man at home sees one kitty on his front step. He exclaims how he doesn’t want a kitty, so it needs to go. Then, with fun illustrations, each day an additional kitty shows up… then another… then many more. The man exclaims on each page what they might mess up, or problems they would create. As the story draws to a close, the lonely man finds he is no longer lonely. The illustrations are full of color and movement, and are great fun.

VERDICT: Children and adults will love reading this one out loud together. One can’t help but smile with every turn of the page.

December 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: Boris and the Worrisome Wakies, by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Lester, Helen. Boris and the Worrisome Wakies. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Houghton Mifflin, 2017. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 978-0544640948. Ages 4 and up. P9 Q8

Boris the badger just can’t get to sleep at night. Every night he gets the wakies, and then, when he gets to school, he always falls asleep and misses all the fun things the class does. Boris figures out how to solve his sleep schedule because he really wants to do things with his friends at school. This is a good book about getting to bed and sleeping with a schedule. The illustrations by Munsinger, who does most of Lester’s books, are full of fun.

VERDICT: Children who can’t get to sleep, and parents who want that more than anything, will find a fun story and a good lesson for this challenge. Very enjoyable.

December 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: I’m In Charge!, by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Jarvis

Willis, Jeanne. I’m In Charge! Illustrated by Jarvis. Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press, 2018. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 978-1536202595. Ages 2-6. P7 Q8

Little Rhino runs around telling all the animals that he is in charge, being sort of a bully. He says he makes the rules and he doesn’t want to share. But things happen that change his mind. The colors and simple illustrations are fabulous-very simple yet effective artwork. The words are ones that are best said aloud at story time with great volume as little rhino shouts a lot. The lesson is lightly given at the end.

VERDICT: This was mostly fun for the artwork and joy of reading it aloud. Very young children will enjoy this book. It gives a reason to chat about why being a bully isn’t a good thing.

January 2020 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention (Really!), by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Chris Hsu

Wittenstein, Barry. The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention (Really!). Illustrated by Chris Hsu. Charlesbridge, 2018. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 978-1580897457. Ages 5 and up. P9 Q8

The invention of the Band-Aid might not sound like a thrilling read, but this is actually an interesting story based on the true facts about the inventor, Earle Dickson, and how he came to invent, adjust and then mass produce something we have all used. Even adults will learn a fact or two, and there is a little humor in the author continually saying “The End” when the story evolves and continues. The end of the book has an interesting author’s note on the invention, and he also included a time line not only about the inventor’s life, but also other medical inventions created at the same 1920-1930 period.

VERDICT: This was interesting, and I learned a lot about something I have used my whole life. Everyone knows what Band-Aids are, but most of us don’t think about how they came to be. I think many ages will find the story interesting and the illustrations delightful.

January 2020 review by Lynne Wright.