Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, the Newbery Award Winner for 1991, is celebrating its 25th anniversary since publication. It’s hard for me to imagine this book being an “old” one, but since I knew I read it as a child, I should not be so surprised.

Maniac Magee is the story of a legend, a homeless boy called “Maniac” who stumbles in to a racially divided town and manages to break barriers and build new bonds of friendship among the town residents. This legendary story takes place in a timeless yet obviously historical era, a decade maybe in the 1960s or 1970s. It seems contradictory to say it’s timeless and yet in the past; yet, that is how it feels as I read it. Continue Reading

999 Frogs (Two Books by Ken Kimura)

My son and I enjoyed 999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura dn Yasunari Murakami (May 2011) when we read it years ago, so I was excited to see the two sequels to it in our local library.


999 Frogs Wake Up (North South, 2013) is a fitting read for the beginning of spring. As the frogs emerge from the mud after a long winter, Mother Frog is disturbed when she only counts 998 of her babies. Where is the last one? When Big Brother is found to still be sleeping, the frogs decide to find out who else may be sleeping in the early Spring. I really enjoyed this book because I see the educational value of learning about animals that sleep over a long winter. As an adult, I enjoyed the anticipation, knowing that the silly young frogs would meet one of their own predators in their search to wake the other animals! My daughter enjoyed the story too.

999 Frogs and  Little Brother (North South, 2015) has a different feel to it from the others in the series, because this book starts back when the frogs are still tadpoles and it focuses on one of the frogs for a portion of the story. The youngest frog has not quite become a frog yet and must remain in the pond by himself, and he is delighted when a small young crayfish becomes his friend, thinking they are brothers. Thus, Big Brother (the littlest frog) makes a dear friend. When he eventually must leave the pond too, the friendship continues, because the young crayfish comes to the rescue of the frogs at a later date. I liked the emphasis on friendship. Although Big Brother truly was the youngest and smallest, he still could find a friend with whom to play. Never underestimate the power of a friend, even if you have 998 siblings! Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

Picture Book Sunday: Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee

Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee and illustrated by Lori Joy Smith (Kids Can Press, April 2015) is a book about friendship. Annie feels left out when a new girl moves in, because her best friend Lillemore has become friends with someone else!

I loved the simple format of this book. It is a pretty straight-forward book: jealousy at the most basic. But of course Annie learns that because Lillemore and Lilianne have a lot in common, that means that she, Annie, also has some things in common too!

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Bird & Squirrel books by James Burks


Sometimes we underestimate the attention span of our youngest children. When I saw the first Bird and Squirrel book, I thought of my 7-year-old son, someone who loves reading but may need a nudge to get interested in a new series or even genre. He has not had much experience with graphic novels, so I thought he would enjoy the book.

To my great surprise, it was my toddler daughter who was drawn to the zany illustrations and the fun story. She insisted that I read every frame in the book. Although she is young, I  was delighted to see her enjoying and responding to a different type of picture book.Continue Reading