Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss

next page next page close

Grumbles from the Forest

Grumbles from the Forest
by Jane Yolen, Rebecca Kai Dotlich (Authors/Poets), Matt Mahurin (Illustrator)

 ” Spell’s over, Imagine this! All because of a stupid kiss”

For a long time now we have enjoyed reading the classic fairy tales such as the Princess and the Pea, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and Three Billy Goat Gruffs. But have you ever wondered, what these popular fairy tale characters were thinking?

Did you ever wonder whether Cinderella really enjoyed wearing glass slippers? Or whether it was the mattresses and not the Pea that kept the Princess awake in the night? Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Doltlich gave some thought to these questions and came up with some interesting answers! “Grumbles from the Forest” is a collection of 13 creative poems, each beautifully illustrated on double sized pages, each giving you a glimpse on the alternate reality of these characters. Smile

In “Beauty and the Beast”, Beauty wonders whether she has made the right choice of spouse.

Grumble in the Forest Beauty and beast1

Snow White looks into the magical Mirror and wonders if really she is the “prettiest” woman in the kingdom!

Grumble in the Forest Snow White 2

And the troll wonders what he would be having for dinner tonight Smile

Grumble in the Forest Billy Goats

These are poems, some rhyming, a haiku .. each a voice from a character of these fairy tales. They grumble, plead and confide.  And if you can’t get enough, the authors invite you to think some more of your own!

It was hard to pick a favorite one from this surprisingly creative list of poems. Here is one that I really liked.. Can you guess which character this one is?

Wake up, princess, time to rise.

Open up your dreamy eyes.

Never mind the prince or kiss.

By no means were you raised for this.

Take the plot back from the witch.

Kick her spindle in the ditch!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

next page next page close

Fatima and the Dream Thief

Fatima and the Dream Thief
by Rafik Schami, Els Cools (Author), Oliver Streich (Illustrator)

A Folk Tale from Middle East!

Hassan and Fatima are siblings. They are very poor. Their widow mother works hard to provide for them. But one day she falls sick and the family is running out of food. So Hassan decides to go and find work.

After asking around and knocking on several doors, Hassan finally arrives at the castle of a wealthy master. The Master hires him on ONE important condition… that Hassan cannot lose his temper. If he does, then Hassan loses his weekly pay of 1 gold coin and all of his dreams! Hassan would never be able to dream again!

Hassan readily accepts and sets upon his daily tasks. He encounters an old woman who works to clean the hundred rooms in the castle. One room is always locked and only the old woman is allowed inside. The master of the castle visits it once a day. When he comes out of the room, he seems to be re-energized and happy. Hassan observes all of this.

Fatima and the Dream Thief inside the castle

Finally on the day of the payment, Hassan arises early. He is eager to get about his duties and earn his gold coin. He can’t wait to take it home and feed his hungry sister and mother and make them proud. But alas, the master has other plans.. evil plans. He taunts Hassan and tests his patience.  He makes Hassan do his chores over and over again. He makes him work out in the cold. Finally Hassan can’t take it anymore. Hassan loses his temper! and stomps out of the castle losing not just his gold coin but also his dreams.

Hassan returns home empty handed and dejected. His mother and sister Fatima are happy to see him home. Hassan then shares all that had transpired. Fatima listens carefully and decides to take matters in her own hands and teach this Dream Thief a rich lesson!

Fatima and the Dream Thief Master

This rather long but engaging folk tale is a choice read-aloud. This tale of wit and courage will engage readers and make you want to read it again! The story setting is exotic and the illustrations capture this beautifully. The minarets, palaces and the “Aladdin” style atmosphere is appealing.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

next page next page close

The First Drawing

The First Drawing
by Mordicai Gerstein (Author, Illustrator)

 Imaginative and Compelling

“Imagine..” begins the author and takes you back 30,000 years ago during the stone age. Imagine you were born then.. born when “drawing” was not invented. Imagine that you are a kid who lives in a large cave with your parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins and your wolf!

The First Drawing opening


You are a little kid who loves to watch animals and watch them for hours! You are a little kid who sees clouds drift above the valley. You see the shapes changing and they look like animals parading in the sky.

The First Drwaing wondering


“Papa!” you call out. “Do you see that wooly mammoth in the sky there?” Papa looks at you and says “It looks like a cloud.”

“Mama! do you see this stone looks like a bear?” you ask. “It looks like a stone” she says.

“Look! galloping horses on the walls!” you exclaim. ” Go to sleep!” says everyone in the cave.

Why can’t they see what I see?” you wonder.

The First Drawing dreaming

Mordecai Gerstein draws you into the story of the Very First Drawing. Who made the first drawing he asks? Was it an adult or a kid? When did he make it? How did he make it? What triggered him to make the very first drawing?

The First Drawing end

Told in a second person narrative, Mordicai Gerstein asks the reader to put themselves in place of the boy who sees things and wants desperately for everyone else to see what he sees! Gerstein uses acrylics and black ink and pen drawings to complete this story with a prehistoric setting. Read “The First Drawing”. Find out what the little boy might have done and accidentally created the very first drawing.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

next page next page close

Is This Panama? A Migration Story

Is This Panama? A Migration Story
by Jan Thornhill (Author), Soyeon Kim (Illustrator)

 Wonderfully narrated story about migration!

It’s Fall. It’s getting colder every day. We look outside at our backyard and see fewer birds. There are not many squirrels running around. If you were looking for a book to explain what happens to all those birds and critters then read this one!

“Is this Panama?” is a story about little Sammy, a young Wislon’s warbler. It’s getting cold and Sammy can feel it on his feet. He knows he must go to a place with warmer weather. He must fly to Panama. But Sammy has no idea where Panama is and which direction to fly. He doesn’t see his buddies around.

So Sammy decides to just fly and maybe find his way by asking someone on his way. Indeed he finds many “friends” who are also migrating to warmer places. But many of the new friends aren’t going to Panama! They are all on their way to different places. The Caribou is off to a winter forest. The Monarch Butterflies are flitting off to Mexico. The garter snake is going deep underground for the winter.

Is This Panama butterflies

Sammy is beginning to get worried. Will he able to find his way? What kind of dangers lie in wait for the little bird flying alone thousands of miles? Can anyone show him the way to Panama?

Is This Panama resting

Read this marvelous book about migration. The beautiful intricate paper collage, watercolor and pen and ink art work is exquisite and adds to the beauty of this story. The inside front and back cover of this book has sketches of different types of warblers. At the back there is a map of Sammy’s migration path with notes of where he meets his other migrating mates. The author also adds a detailed note on each of these migrating friends, who they were and why and where they were migrating to. Finally the author and illustrator duo finish off by explaining “How Animals Migrate”. I love how this book feels “complete”!

Overall this is a fantastic book to read for a vast range of ages. Booklist review says “ A truly educational journey“.. I couldn’t agree more!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

next page next page close

Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education

Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
by Elizabeth Suneby (Author), Suana Verelst (Illustrator)

A tale of 2 Razias! A true story.

Razia and her cousins are all curious about some developments down the street. Men and women have gathered around an empty lot in their village. Some important looking people were laying down large stones on the ground. Women were passing out chocolates wrapped in shiny papers. Just then grandfather, Baba gi, walks over to the girls and announces “This is where my school once stood”. He says “ Now they are building a new school… for girls“.

Razias Ray of Hope inside

Razia cannot contain her excitement. Every night Razia would fall asleep dreaming about going to school like her brothers. She begs her Baba gi “Please Baba gi, ask Baba and Aziz if I may go too! I MUST go!”

Razia’s family is a traditional Afghani family. They live in a time of danger. Baba, the head of the family works in the farm. Aziz and Ahmed , Razia’s two elder brothers helps at the farm. Razia’s two younger brothers Jamil and Karim go to school and study at night. They attend the boys’ school in the next village.

Razias Ray of Hope

Little does the family know that Razia has learnt to read and write on her own! She has memorized the Dari alphabet and she could spell her name. She takes scraps of newspaper that the baker wraps the bread in and learns to read from there. But Razia is afraid to tell anyone about her special skills. She must keep quiet.

But now Razia cannot wait for the school to open. A special school for girls! It was indeed a dream come true. Whenever she sees Baba gi she whispers and asks him, “Did you ask Baba and Aziz yet?”  Baba gi replies that he is waiting for the right time.

Razias Ray of Hope Baba gi

Many months pass. Razia watches the school building rise brick by brick. She hears the other girls in the village chatter about the nice woman (the other Razia) who started the school.  She sees girls going back home with registration forms in their hands. She sees them carrying away crisp new uniforms too! Yet there is no answer from Baba gi.

Finally one night Baba gi asks for an audience. He speak to Baba and Aziz. He tells them “Some of you were not even born yet.. long before the evil entered their country, long before Taliban and long before when women in Afghanistan were educated.” He says” Razia wants to go to school and I support her desire“. He goes on to make a case for Razia trying to convince Baba and Aziz to see how things would only get better for the family, for the village and ultimately for the country if and when girls are educated.

Razia waits breathlessly for a response. Will she finally get to go to school? Will she be able to live her dream?

As I write this book, I am reminded that today in the 21st century there are girls in many parts of the world who wish to do so much more than they ever dreamed of. There are girls like Malala who stand up for what is right and never give up. I can only imagine little Razia’s impatience to learn because I have never known what it was NOT to have school.

This is also a true story of the other Razia. The Razia who started the school for girls. Razai Jan was named one of CNN’s Heroes in 2012 for her incredible work in changing the lives of the girls in Afghanistan.

Razias Ray of Hope Razia

Razias Ray of Hope Baba school


This is indeed one of the most important book that I have read. Not only is this story inspiring, but deeply moving and touching. Which is why this is a MUST read.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

next page next page close

Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment

Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment
by Wendy Macdonald (Author), Paolo Rui (Illustrator) 

The Farm Boy and the Scientist

 Every week Massimo, the farm boy, would deliver lunch to his uncle in the MOST unusual way! He would drop the food off a bridge onto his uncle’s boat. Massimo had to be very precise since he did not want his uncle’s food to get all wet.

Galileo's Leaning Tower Experiment Experimenting

One day a stranger stopped to see Massimo throwing stones in the water. At first the stranger thought it was a game. “It’s not a game, sir” Massimo said. Massimo explained that he was watching to see how fast the stone would fall. “Why does that concern you?” asked the curious stranger. Massimo explained about his food delivery system and pointed out the approaching boat.

Then Massimo picked up the cheese and load of bread. Just as the boat passed under the bridge, Massimo dropped the two parcels. Massimo was happy that the food landed right inside the boat. But the stranger was intrigued… He had just noticed BOTH the packages landing on the boat at the same time! Considering that one was heavier than the other, shouldn’t the heavier package have landed first?

Galileo's Leaning Tower Experiment Meeting

The stranger was none other than Professor Galileo. Having introduced himself to the boy, he then returned the next week to see Massimo “drop” the food off with his uncle on top of the bridge. Mystified, Professor Galileo decided it was time to prove Aristotle’s theory wrong. A difficult task for the two.. because Aristotle had a reputation of being very smart!

After that Massimo and Galileo tested out the theory of falling objects several more times with the same results. They tried it out with a crushed ball of paper and a rock. The test proved Aristotle was indeed wrong. But will they be able to change people’s minds? Why not? asked Massimo. Let’s show them! he said enthusiastically. And so they did!

Galileo's Leaning Tower Experiment Day of

This is a wonderful book, an example really, of how to teach children important science topics. Not only does the historical fiction tell us about the physics of falling objects, but also how experimenting and learning hands on is the most exciting way to learn. This has not changed over generations! Back in 1589 when Galielo had just become a Professor at University of Pisa he began doing experiments to learn how and why things move. It is believed that he dropped things from the Leaning  Tower of Pisa. Author Wendy Macdonald tried it out herself when she read this particular legend. And then she presented this amazing and clever story of farm boy Massimo (fictional) and the experiment of falling objects!

Excited after reading this book, DD and I took time to test it out ourselves.. with the exact same results Smile

Join us! and if you manage to “capture” the moment.. share it with us !

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

next page next page close

Bustle in the Bushes

Bustle in the Bushes
by Giles Andreae (Author), David Wojtowycz (Illustrator)

 Creepy Crawly FUN!

“What’s that in the bushes?” you ask.. come take a closer look, come out and see! Your backyard is alive with some marvelous, energetic bugs Smile

This is wonderful collection of poems introducing 15 amazing insects. Meet snail, slug, worm, spider, fly, beetle, earwig, stick insect, ant, caterpillar, ladybug, centipede, bee, dragonfly and the grasshopper.

Bustle in the Bushes Beginning


Each poem is written in a gentle rhyme. Each poem features a different bug and includes an interesting fact about it. And each poem about these “minibeasts” are accompanied by bold colorful illustrations! Aimed at readers 3-7 years, this book is an instant charmer. Curious kids will discover adorable creepy, crawly, slimy creatures that hide in plain sight.

 Bustle in the Bushes S

It was hard to pick a favorite one! They are all delightful and easy to read and listen. Now we are looking forward to Giles’ “Commotion in the Ocean” and “Rumble in the Jungle”!

“Did you like those minibeasts?

What a lot there are!

Flying, crawling, slithering

And jumping, oh so far!”

So grab this adorable book of poems and head to your nearby park. Dig into those bushes and maybe you will find a “ladybug or a dragonfly or maybe a beetle or bee”! Smile

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

next page next page close

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters
by K.G. Campbell (Author, Illustrator) 

Yikes! Dreadful is right!

 Lester was told that Cousin Clara will be coming over to stay with his family. Due to some unforeseen and most unusual Surprised circumstances, Cousin Clara house is lost forever! Lester is not too concerned. He goes about his usual business. When Cousin Clara comes over, things are just fine and dandy.

Lester's Dreadful Sweaters Cousin Clara visits

Until one day Cousin Clara declares, “I made you a sweater”. “How kind.. ” thought Lester.. until he saw it!

Lester's Dreadful Sweaters the first one

It was probably the worst sweater ever! In one word, it was indeed DREADUL! But of course he had to be polite and say thank you to Cousin Clara. Worse still, he had to wear it to school! Cry Needless to say that Lester’s day was not a pleasant one at all!

But then later Lester’s new sweater ends up in the wash all shrunken and shriveled and useless of course. Lester thinks of it as an extremely mysterious circumstance Wink

But Cousin Clara is unfazed! “Not to worry” she declares and keeps at her knitting clickety-click. And lo, next day there is yet another GHASTLY sweater ready to be worn.. just in time for school !

Lester's Dreadful Sweaters the terrible turquoise

And so goes the tale of “Lester’s Dreadful sweaters”. A brilliant story, witty and cleverly done. Campbell’s pencil and crayon artwork is perfect for this story. The colorful sweaters matches Lester’s humiliation and situation perfectly. Lester’s misery and disappointment is extremely relatable and enjoyable at the same time!  The horror of finding a STACK of sweaters was the last thread in this tale of misery.

No matter how hard he tries to rid his sweaters, Cousin Clara whips them out just as fast! And at the end, there is really only one option for poor Lester.  The surprise end will leave you wanting more.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

next pagenext page
thumbnail Grumbles from the Forest article post
thumbnail Fatima and the Dream Thief article post
thumbnail The First Drawing article post
thumbnail Is This Panama? A Migration Story article post
thumbnail Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education article post
thumbnail Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment article post
thumbnail Bustle in the Bushes article post
thumbnail Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters article post