Little Fish

Author & Illustrator: Emily Rand
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65162-9
Pages: 10
Price: $24.95

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Two tiny orange goby fish are frolicking in the waves when suddenly a giant shoal swims by and sweeps one fish away. Little fish is alone on an adventure, visiting a turtle, avoiding a hungry grouper, darting quickly away from a shark, and finally arriving safely back at his home.

This unique carousel picture book actually folds out completely, anchored by a ribbon that holds the two covers together, inside out. Children can follow the scenes in 3-D, as animals and scenery pop out from the page. (See image above.)

Bright colors, a happy ending, and a fun cut-out pop-up book will delight small children, as they follow the little fish around and around each scene. I highly recommend Little Fish.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


A Prairie Devotional

Author: Wendi Lou Lee
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian / Devotional
ISBN: 978-1400213269
Pages: 192
Price: $16.99

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Wendi Lou Lee played the character of Baby Grace, along with her sister, Brenda, on the TV series, Little House on the Prairie. In A Prairie Devotional, Wendi shares memorable quotes from the show, along with her thoughts on how they relate to her own life. After surviving a brain tumor, Wendi wanted to share her Christian faith, in the hope that she could inspire others through her writing.

This unique devotional book contains 91 daily readings of about two pages long. Each is centered on one scene or episode in the TV show, and Wendi expands on it, telling stories from her time with the show and also from her life. She shares some snippets of information about the cast, but mostly writes about herself and her family. Even though she was once a TV star, Wendi is very down to earth, and readers will relate to her ordinary life stories.

Wendi’s strong faith in adversity shines as a light for others who might also be going through trying times. A Prairie Devotional would make a great gift for any Little House on the Prairie fan.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Button & Popper

Author & Illustrator: Oili Tanninen
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65201-5
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

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Button and Popper live in an apple tree with their parents and ten siblings. But the weather is turning colder and there are no more apples to eat. The pixie family must find a new home. Mother and Father try to find a new place to live, but no one wants to let a pixie family with twelve children stay there.

Taking matters into their own hands, Button and Popper set out to tackle the problem themselves. After nearly exhausting all the possibilities, they spy Professor Prilli at the fish market. A basket switcheroo lands them in Professor Prilli’s home – a very nice home that would make the pixies happy. They’re shocked when the Professor announces he’s going on a long journey, and the pixie family is most welcome to stay there while he’s gone.

Button & Popper was originally published in Finland in 1964, during a time the author despaired of finding a suitable place to rent with two small children. She only used three colors in illustrating it, so it would be cheaper to print, and therefore more affordable to people who wanted to buy it. The cute story and happy ending will leave children smiling.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

journal, self improvement

Dream Big: A Five-Minute Goal Journal

Author: Karl W. Gruber
Publisher: Althea Press
Genre: Self-improvement / Journaling
ISBN: 978-1-64152-763-7
Pages: 156
Price: $14.99

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Setting a big goal takes determination and focus. It often helps to put our thoughts and desires on paper, in order to crystallize our thinking. Dream Big: A Five-Minute Goal Journal gives us the space to do this.

This goal setting journal walks us through five steps. First, we need to clarify our ideas, then affirm our possibilities, strategize for success, and express our gratitude. Finally, there is a series of daily questions designed to focus our intention on goal realization and gratitude. This makes up the majority of the book, as it reminds us to focus on our goals every day.

The author is a Law of Attraction Life Coach, and Dream Big is consistent with this way of thinking. By focusing on what we want and expressing gratitude, we can attract the goals we seek. If you’re looking for a positive approach to goal setting, this journal could be just what you need.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Maybe He Just Likes You

Author: Barbara Dee
Publisher: Aladdin
Genre: Middle Grade
ISBN: 978-1534432376
Pages: 304
Price: $17.99

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Mila is surprised when some boys join her and her friends in a birthday hug. But when one of the hugs goes on far too long, she’s embarrassed and uncomfortable. Soon after, different boys touch her or want hugs, making her feel weird. She doesn’t think any of them actually like her, and they don’t seem to be flirting. Why are they doing this to her?

When Mila attempts to tell her friends, they don’t seem concerned. One even accuses her of making up their attention. So she stifles her feelings and hopes the boys will stop. When she’s given the unexpected opportunity to take karate classes, she learns how to speak up for herself. And when one of the boys misbehaves in a public setting, she finally speaks up in a way that everyone has to take notice. Finally, the school recognizes what’s been going on, and Mila is able to have peace, at last.

After all the abuse Mila has been through, the reader might feel that she’s ready for the boys to be strictly punished. But when she’s asked to meet with everyone involved, in a group session, she hesitantly accepts. There, she is able to express to the boys how much their actions hurt her. Healing and understanding follow, as everyone sees how this behavior affected her.

Maybe He Just Likes You sends a powerful message to kids that bullying takes many forms, and no one needs to put up with it. Speaking up might feel awkward or uncomfortable at the time, but they need to do it to protect themselves. This book also reminds girls that their bodies are their own, and no one has a right to touch them unless they’re okay with it. I highly recommend this book for all middle grade kids, and I encourage teachers to include it in their curriculum. This is a message that needs to be heard.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Great Compromise

Author: Julia Cook
Illustrator: Kyle Merriman
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-44-0
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

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Cora June is having a very bad day. She wants to make spaghetti for Fantastic Flavor Feast, but her partner, Wilson wants to make tacos. She wants the class to take their field trip to the zoo, but they voted along with Wilson to see the state capitol instead. She wants to play dodge ball at recess, but Wilson wants the class to play soccer. These two children have very definite ideas of what they want, and neither one is willing to give in.

Finally, as they bicker over blue and red ice pops, their teacher steps in. It’s time for both of them to learn how to compromise. She explains how they should have handled each of the situations they found themselves in that day in a mature and respectful way. But she also reminds them that they should never compromise if it will place them in a harmful or dangerous situation.

The Great Compromise would be a great tool for home and classroom, showing kids how to handle situations when they won’t be able to get their own way. A guide for parents and educators provides additional tips.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, humor, tween

Squirrel in the Museum

Author: Vivian Vande Velde
Illustrator: Steve Björkman
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Middle grade
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4167-9
Pages: 112
Price: $15.99

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Twitch, the squirrel, has heard stories about wolves who eat squirrels. Twitch doesn’t want to be eaten, but he has no idea what a wolf is. So when the students are going to the museum, he decides to tag along and see if he can learn about wolves.

No one expects to see a squirrel in a museum, so the staff are understandably upset, especially when the squirrel becomes a disruption to the exhibits and proves difficult to catch. But when it appears that Twitch might meet a fate worse than wolves, an unexpected hero comes to his defense.

Squirrel in the Museum is a madcap adventure to the museum through the eyes of a squirrel. Fast-paced, zany action will delight young readers who will enjoy reading about Twitch’s escapades.

Reviewer: Alice Berger