Archive for September 28, 2016


Written and Illustrated by Hazel Mitchell

Fall in love with this heartwarming tale almost as quickly as the boy falls in love with his new dog.

When a young boy and his father move into a new home, the boy asks for a dog. At the local animal shelter, they disagree briefly on which dog is right for them, but the dad lets the son choose, since it will be his responsibility. The first days with Toby are rough, as he is afraid of everything and does not know his doggie manners. But, gradually, as Toby and his boy learn from each other and form a bond, life gets better. They play together, go on walks, and even hunt for shoes. They learn to sit and stay and make friends.

Mitchell’s beautiful illustrations capture the emotions of all three characters. She shows all the actions involved in adjusting to their new life together. The end pages are especially delightful.

The author’s note about the Toby who inspired this story should encourage people to visit shelters and be as loving as the boy in the story. Parents and teachers should be prepared to discuss puppy mills and how they affect different animals differently. Also, discussions about responsibility and training animals may be incorporated.

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  • tobyTitle: Toby
  • Author/Illustrator: Hazel Mitchell
  • Published: Candlewick, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Fiction, Animals
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8093-0


Fiona’s Little Lie (Felix and Fiona)

Written and Illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Six-year-old Fiona’s heart is in the right place, but she’s so easily distracted. She is so excited when she is chosen by Miss B to be her best friend Felix’s Birthday Elf. This means she can make a fuss over him and provide the treats to celebrate his birthday the next day. Miss B writes her a nice note for her mother to ask for cupcakes, but she loses the note in the car when she sees a caterpillar. Naturally, there are no cupcakes. To cover her blunder, Fiona makes up a story about being robbed of the treats. Quickly caught in her lie, Fiona must apologize not only to Felix, but to Miss B, the class, and those accused of stealing. Fiona feels even worse when Felix describes how much he was looking forward to the cupcakes. Having found the note in the car, Fiona’s mom saves the birthday party. Anything but bran bars!

This sweet little book has a lot to say not only about the consequences of lying, but also about the true roles of friendship. Lessons taught, lessons learned.

The cute, fuzzy creatures that are Fiona, Felix, and the others add to the fun.

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  • fionas-little-lieTitle: Fiona’s Little Lie (Felix and Fiona)
  • Author/Illustrator: Rosemary Wells
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Picture Book, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7312-3



Octopus Escapes Again!

Written and Illustrated by Laurie Ellen Angus

How talented is an octopus? As talented as it needs to be to survive all the predators that would love to eat it. In this informative picture book, the author follows an unnamed octopus as she works to find a meal of her own. First, her quest for shrimp is interrupted by a sea turtle. She hides inside an empty shell. When she spots some small fish, an eel is on the prowl. She escapes due to her ink. Next, a shark closes in, and she shoots away quickly. A large fish grabs one arm. The arm breaks off, and the octopus escapes again. The arm will grow back. A gull tries to get her. She uses her natural camouflage. Finally, she catches some clams for dinner.

The many animals highlighted in this tale are discussed in much more detail in the Explore More sections. In addition, the author suggests several interesting activities where kids can learn more – both about the octopus and the other animals present. Some great online videos are also mentioned.

The writing is fun and the illustrations give the “being there” feel for underwater adventures. Recommended as the focus for a stand-alone unit or as further exploration related to food chains or sea creatures.

 Buy on Amazon

  • octopus-escapes-againTitle: Octopus Escapes Again!
  • Author/Illustrator: Laurie Ellen Angus
  • Publisher: Dawn Publishers, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Nature, Animals
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-578-3
  • Extras: Explore More – For Kids, Explore More – For Teachers and Parents