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Children’s Book News – April 2019

The life about us is filled with vital connections whether it’s personal relationships, bonds between humans and animals or the interdependence within animal communities.  These children’s books exhibit such truths.


Wish, by Barbara O’Connor
Suggested ages: 9-12 years

Eleven-year old Charlie has a complicated life.  Her mother has “lost her way” as Charlie’s Aunt Bertha tries to gently tell her and her father, as Charlie herself puts it, “is being corrected,” her understanding of a correctional institute.  Until her family life becomes more stable, Charlie is sent to live with her Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus in the backwoods of Colby, North Carolina, which seems a million miles away from big city life in Raleigh.  Charlie looks down upon the simple, country surroundings she finds herself in and closes her heart and mind to many of the new people who come into her life.  One tradition that remains constant in Charlie’s life, however, is her daily secret wish.  Whether it’s wishing on a ladybug, a four-leaf clover, a song of a mockingbird or three birds on a wire, she always discovers a means to express her life-long wish.  As her wish remains constant and her days in Colby stretch out, Charlie continues to turn a blind eye to the openhearted, generous and forgiving ways she frequently meets up with in her new setting.  As Charlie grapples with the changes in her life, a stray dog, Wishbone, wiggles his way into her heart.  Wishbone and a new friend, Howard of the “up and down walk”, eventually become vital supports to Charlie.  Told in Charlie’s brutally candid voice, which exposes her sensitive feelings of hurt and helplessness, Wish comes to a satisfying conclusion.  Eventually, Charlie finds her place in life and is able to see beyond her past troubles to recognize the love that surrounds her.  That secret “wish” takes on a welcome new dimension.


Brave Enough for Two, a Hoot & Olive Story, by Jonathan D. Voss
Suggested ages: 4-8 years

Brave Enough for Two is an enchanting picture book that illustrates the strength of friendship.  Olive and her best friend, Hoot, sometimes have different interests.  Olive likes quietly reading while Hoot prefers exciting adventures.  But Hoot assures Olive that he’s brave enough for them both.  During a couple of daring escapades, which fill Olive with trepidation, Hoot gently comforts her – “I’m here and you’re there, and here and there aren’t very far apart.”    However, later, Hoot finds himself to be in need of a supporting friend and Olive is quick to declare that her bravery would see them through.

Voss’s watercolors and pen and ink illustrations are captivating.  Seen from varying points of view, the pictures are often spread across a double page spread, awash with action along with simple emotions.


The HoneyBee, written by Kirsten Hall and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Suggested ages: 4-8 years

With rhyming, jaunty text that begins with only a few words, the star of the book is introduced – a BEE!  He sports cartoonish looks with large eyes and a happy smile.  With a flurry of verbal and pictorial motion, Hall and Arsenault take the reader along the bee’s dotted path – “clapping, flapping” – “searching, perching.”  Then the chosen flower appears and through words and pictures, the story of  bees is told from the first sip of nectar, the gathering of pollen, the making of honey and the filling of the honeycomb. The story continues through fall, winter and spring and then the miracle of the bees’ cycle begins again.  The last page is a “Dear Reader” letter from Kirsten showcasing the remarkable bee along with suggested ways in which we can all support honeybees and the vital role they play in our world. This book is a wonderful introduction to the youngest of naturalists of the “BEEautiful Creatures”  that are bees!