Friday, December 19, 2014

A Quiet and Soothing Tale for the Holidaze

Kuma-Kuma Chan written and illustrated by Kazue Takahashi.  Museyon Press, 2014. $12.99.  Recommended for ages 2-5.

"I sometimes wonder what Kuma- Kuma Chan does during the day?

Japanese author and illustrator Kazue Takahashi poses a seemingly simple question in this  2001 Japanese book, newly translated into English. However, the deceptively simple answers and accompanying illustrations reveal an important, almost Zen-like quality that should resonate with all of us.

 Kuma Kuma Chan ("cute little bear") lives alone in the mountains, in a place difficult for visitors to reach. So how does he spend his day? Well, after waking up, he fixes himself a big salad with lettuce and tomatoes from his own garden. As he pours milk in his coffee, he draws small pictures.  He carefully sweeps the  house and does some shopping.  Then a nap is in order. Later, he gazes at the clouds and listens to the falling rain. In the spring,  he pulls weeds, and in the summer he needs to cut his fur to stay cool.  Fall is good for love songs and winter would is perfect for reading and following a patch of sunlight around the room.

Alone, but not lonely, Kuma-Kuma lives an unhurried, simple but purposeful life, free from all the clutter and distractions of our modern world. He enjoys his solitude and finds joy in his routines, taking time to live in the moment, and observe what's going on around him.

Visit Good Reads with Ronna to see my full review. Thanks to Ronna Mandel for allowing me to review this book and keep it for my library. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give Thanks for Illustrators


What a treat our K-3 students had last week! Keika Yamaguchi, illlustrator of Puddle Pug and Sick of Being Sick, talked to our four K-3 classes (nearly 100 students) about her work as an illustrator. She also read the book Puddle Pug, and left each class with some original artwork.


During her presentation, Keika displayed some of her childhood drawings and told the students that as a child she didn't think she was a good artist- so her parents did drawing assignments for her. When she received so many compliments on "her" artwork, she became concerned that someone would discover her secret. So she practiced and grew better. She led the students in a discussion about what they found difficult (one boy said learning how to play baseball) and let them know that practice would help them improve. When Keika was five, she and her family moved from Japan to the United States. While learning English, she used her art to make friends


Using slides and original art work, students were able to follow Keika's illustrative process for Puddle Pug from early sketches to revisions to final product. Students were delighted to find out that Keika actually played with mud, splattering it on paper to see what it ooked like so she could paint it more realistically in her illustrations.  

Students had time to ask questions and found out that Keika is working on two picture books due out next year. She showed the students a few illustrations from each book. 

Lastly, based on students suggestions, Keika created a poster sized Percy for each class, adapting each one to students' responses to her questions.

Keika's informative and kid-friendly visit was engaging, well paced, and enjoyed by all. In addition to learning more about the illustrator's role in a book, students also learned a few valuable life skills: something difficult can be perfected with practice and there's a process involved to many projects that requires creative exploration and revision before completion.

For days after the visit, parents told me how much their children loved the visit. Our annual book fair coincided with her visit and her books sold like hotcakes!

We look forward to a future visit from our new friend, Keika

Visit Keika's website to learn more about her work.





Monday, November 17, 2014

A new series for young independent readers ... from the team that brought you Rapunzel and Calamity Jack.

Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Candelwick, 2014. Reviewed by parent and library volunteer, Jasmine George.

The Princess in Black is a charming read that turns the typical princess tale on it's head.  The book tells the story of Princess Magnolia, who at first glance seems to be your run of the mill, frilly dress-wearing, sparkly tiara-sporting princess.  She is at her castle enjoying scones and hot chocolate with the very traditional and very nosy Duchess Wingtower, when her monster alarm rings.  After awkwardly excusing herself, she sheds her frilly pink dress and becomes the Princess in Black; a wall-scaling, horse-riding, monster-wrestling heroine.  As the Princess in Black, she must contend not only with protecting the kingdom from the monsters who occasionally venture out from beneath the ground in search of goats to eat, she must also work to hide her secret identity from the prying eyes of Duchess Wingtower.  The Duchess believes everyone has something to hide, and is determined to prove that Princess Magnolia is not as proper and perfect as she seems.  This book is less about challenging gender roles and more about challenging expectations in general.  Best suited for children ages 4 to 8 years, The Princess in Black is sure to delight as it invites readers to explore their own self-identity and explore the ways in which they do or do not fit the perceptions that others (parents, teachers, etc.) may have of them.  

Thanks to Candlewick Press for the giveaway copy and to Jasmine George for reading and reviewing it. Please visit their  Princess in Black website. for more information about this book including "Seven Things You Didn't Know About the Princess in Black." Also Visit Shannon Hale's Official Website to learn more about the author and her books.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Flashback Friday: a swashbuckling tale with an unlikely heroine

Bloody Jack: being an account of the curious adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, a ship's boy by L. A. Meyer,  Harcourt, 2002. Highly recommended, appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Set in 18th century England,  a thirteen-year-old orphan, Jacky Faber, signs up as ship's boy aboard the HMS Dolphin. Spunky and clever, Jacky quickly learns that life aboard an 18th century British navy vessel, chasing pirates, can be dangerous. But that's nothing compared to what might happen if someone figures out that Jacky is really a girl. For those children who enjoyed Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avon, 1990) and are ready for something more robust and mature,  I highly recommend Meyer's swashbuckling and adventurous sea tale.   His attention to historical and period detail gives the story an authentic voice without overwhelming it. Oh, and Jacky is in touch with her feminine side-- there's a bit of romance, too. The tenth title in the series, Wild Rover No More was released posthumously and that is how I found out that (much to my shock and dismay) that Meyer passed away this past July. The last title, ironically, hints that Jacky's luck may have (finally) run out.

 Publisher's Weekly  wrote a brief but engaging article about him and included a wonderful story on what inspired this series.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Percy Jackson's POV



Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan and illustrated by John Rocco. Disney/Hyperion, 2014. $24.99. Recommended for ages 9-12


When approached by a New York publisher to “tell all” about the gods, Percy Jackson asks:


“Can we do this anonymously? Because I don’t need the Olympians mad at me again (Percy Jackson, p. ix).”


Despite his understandable concerns (irking the gods can be dangerous to your health), Percy, in typical teen fashion, humorously narrates nineteen stories about the Greek gods, weaving in snarky comments and observations.  Surprisingly, blending these dark and grim stories with irreverent humor makes the myths (a little) less horrific.  Here’s Percy’s interpretation of an exchange between Kronos and Rhea concerning their children and ...um…. Kronos’ food choices:



“He [Kronos] stuffed Hestia in his mouth and swallowed her whole.
Just like: GULP. She was gone.
As you can imagine Rhea completely freaked.
“My baby!” she screamed …”
“Oh wow,” Kronos belched. “My bad …(p. 23).”


Percy’s title for each myth, not only reflects his wit and humor, but lets the reader know how Percy will interpret that myth.  Demeter Turns Into Grainzilla puts a spin on a pop culture monster (Godzilla) when Demeter becomes a monster after her daughter, Persephone, is abducted by Hades.

Read my full review at Good Reads with Ronna






"... a gem waiting to be discovered ..."

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009, $10.99. Highly recommended for ages 7-10.

“Dyamonde Daniel was a gem waiting to be discovered … so what if she had wild-crazy hair and was skinnier than half a toothpick (p. 1)?"

Dyamonde Daniel’s boundless spirit cannot be quelched despite some recent setbacks. Her parents’ have divorce, she and her mother have moved to a an unfamiliar neighborhood. Their new apartment only has one bedroom, so Dyamonde sleeps on the couch. She misses her best friend and still feels like an outsider at her new school. How come she doesn't have a new best friend?

So Dyamonde is sympathetic to new student Reed “Free” Freeman when he enters her 3rd grade class after the start of school.  However, despite her friendly overtures, he’s grumpy and rude. Finally, taking her teacher’s advice, she decides to ask him why he’s so mad. Turns out that, like her, he’s got some pretty big family problems to deal with. Dyamonde can certainly understand, and, supported by her positive attitude, Free opens up to a friendship which brings comfort to both.

Smart, spunky, and determined, Dyamonde possesses an awareness and confidence that most children her age (and even some adults) don't have. Her willingness to confront problems creatively and not bow to peer pressure make her a wonderful role model for young students dealing with interpersonal relationships.

This is the first in a series by the talented and prolific Nikki Grimes. The author has written a highly readable and satisfying story that feels realistic, but not gritty and sends an upbeat message without being too preachy or too "heavy."  R. Gregory Christie’s cubist-like illustrations, sprinkled throughout the 80 page book, lend themselves well to the urban New York setting, but this is a story that is easily relatable to all young readers. Other titles in the series include Rich, which looks at issues surrounding poverty and wealth when Dyamonde and Free find out that a classmate lives in a homeless shelter. In Halfway to Perfect Dyamonde helps a friend address body image when other classmates make fun of her weight.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Flashback Friday

Code Name Verity (Young Pilots series) by Elizabeth Wein. Disney Hyperion, 2012.

"I am utterly and completely damned. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do ..."  

"Verity" to her captor SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden (p. 5)."

Thus begins Wein's powerful YA novel about friendship, bravery, and survival set in WWII England and France.

A young British agent, code named "Verity," disappears after being shot down over Nazi-occupied France. Maddie, the plane's pilot and Verity's best friend, is rescued by British agents and local members of the French Resistance. Deeply distressed about Verity's disappearance, Maddie never gives up hope that her friend is out there somewhere ... and still alive.

Verity turns out to be a valuable Nazi prisoner and following some grueling torture sessions, she's given a choice: sell out and tell everything or face execution. Verity agrees to this and begins to walk a very thin, very dangerous line. Can she give the Nazis just enough information to keep herself alive while also documenting the story of her friendship with Maddie?  Von Linden finds the story compelling, but his superior grows impatient with the lack of results.

As bits and pieces of information surface about Verity's location, Maddie and the Resistance fighters devise a daring rescue plan ... but can they get to Verity in time?

Wein's dramatic and compelling novel is set in England and Europe and depicts how war and survival impact societal norms and blur distinctions between gender, race, class, and nationality,  The story is told from both women's POV, their heroic stories finally culminating on a French bridge in a plot twist that literally left me gasping out loud. Mature scenes (torture, inhumane treatment, and wartime violence) make this appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Code Name Verity is the winner of several awards and honors including  The Edgar Award, the ALA's Michael L. Printz Award (honor) for excellence in Young Adult Literature and is listed in the ALA's  Outstanding Books for the College Bound.

 Wein's web site  is a must see, a treasure trove of information and resources about the author and her books.  Teachers or book discussion groups should check out Disney Hyperion Books' teaching guide for this book as well as one for Rose Under Fire (see below), a companion novel in Wein's Young Pilot series. Each guide contains research and activities suggestions, discussion questions,  an author interview, and more. Also see Egmont Publishing's book trailer.

The Bolinda Publishing's audio version of this book was read by Christie Morven and Lucy Gaskell, talented readers who amazed me with their skills in bringing to life the many different characters-each with their own distinctive accent.

 Rose under Fire (Disney Hyperion, 2013) is Wein's companion novel to Code Name Verity and is set in WWII England and Germany. Young American Rose Justice enlists in Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary and is captured by the Germans while on a mission. She is sent to the infamous women's concentration camp,  Ravensbrück. There she is befriended by several women, including a Russian pilot, a French writer, and a "Ravensbrück rabbit," a small, but tough and tender survivor of the Nazi's cruel medical experiments on living people. The women band together to support, care for and protect each other ...but can they escape execution?  Rose under Fire won multiple awards including the Schneider Family Book Award. Visit Wein's web site for more information on Ravensbrück, the "Ravensbrück rabbits," women pilots and more.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month!

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera with paintings by Raúl Colón. Dial Books for Young Readers, August 7, 2014. $19.99. Recommended for ages 8-12.


"Although there have been incredible contributions by Hispanic Americans since the beginnings of this nation, their pioneering roles often have been overshadowed and their identities besmirched by terms such as 'alien' and 'illegal." (p. 7).



Many people have heard about the achievements of famous Hispanic Americans such as Roberto Clemente, Sonia Sotomayor and César Chavez. However, how many people know ...

1. which Hispanic American won a Nobel Prize in Physics?

2. who defeated the British at the Siege of Pensacola (FLA) in 1781?

3. who was the first Latina astronaut?

Don’t know? Find out by reading-and relishing- this book! This is an eye-opening and inspirational celebration of  people whose achievements and accomplishments are just begging to be shared with children.  

Read my full review at Good Reads with Ronna.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A warm and humorous book for beginning readers


Annie and Simon: the sneeze and other stories by Catharine O’Neill. Candlewick Press, 2013. $15.99. Highly recommended for ages 3-7.

Cheerful and talkative Annie, and her big brother Simon are back for another adventure. Each of the four short stories in this second volume focuses on the two very different, yet loving, siblings, delivering gentle messages about relationships, perspective, caring, and sharing.


“Living Things” is a perfect introduction to both characters. The wise-beyond-his years Simon uses his binoculars to observe nature at the lake, while Annie draws what she sees-or thinks she sees. Her scribbly drawings are not always accurate and what she believes she knows isn’t necessarily true. An exchange about frogs is humorous and telling:


“Knees? Frogs with knees? Oh, Simon. Tee-hee.  Tee-hee.  Tee-hee.”
“Good grief,” said Simon (p. 5).


Under Simon’s patient tutelage, Annie begins to understand more of the world around her than just what she sees or thinks she knows ...

See my full review at Good Reads With Ronna.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A creepy start for October


The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. Sourcebook Fire, 2014. $16.99. Recommended for mature readers grades 8+

"I am where the dead children go... (p.1)."

Before you begin this book lock the doors, draw the curtains, turn on all the lights, check under the bed (if you dare), tell your children not to bother you with trivial requests for dinner and homework help, then try to read this book.

Okiku, a  young woman cruelly murdered centuries ago,
has traveled across continents and years,  gruesomely avenging murdered children and releasing the victims from this world. She, herself, is unable or unwilling to escape this existence. 

In  21st century America, she is attracted to Tark, the moody, teenage son of a Japanese mother and an American father. In him she senses an evi trapped in his tattoos.  This presence is gaining strength and becoming more and more threatening to Tark.  Can Okiku help him?


Chupeco has skillfully woven together several elements from American and Japanese cultures into a chilling and horrifying story in the vein of The Ring, The Grudge, and the Exorcist.  Clues about Okiku and Tark pasts are woven into the narrative, creating much suspense as past and present come together in a remote area in Japan. There, three powerful women will attempt to exorcise the evil spirit from Tark. Can they do it without killing him? 

Most of the novel is quite dramatic and atmospheric and I  especially found the juxtaposition of contemporary Japanese (and American) life with traditional Japanese beliefs fascinating.  Despite scenes of horror and gore, Chupeco's beautiful and descriptive writing enhances the legendary and other-worldly quality of the story:

"... like a leaf caught in the throes of a hidden whirlpool, slipping down without sound, away from sight. They [the dead] roll and ebb gently with the tides until they sink beneath the waves and I no longer see where they go (p. 1)."

 The first chapter can be found at Sourcebooks Store. Visit the Young Adult author's web site for more information about her and her writings.  


Review based on Sourcebook's e-galley downloaded from NetGalley

Monday, September 29, 2014

“QUIET VOICES IN THE LIBRARY!”


A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker,  illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Candlewick Press, 2014.

That grumpy old bear and his faithful friend, Mouse, are off to my favorite place, the library.

Bear believes the trip is “... completely unnecessary...”  and points to his fireplace mantle, where he has seven books, including one on pickles.   Still … he did promise Mouse he’d go.

At the library, Mouse unsuccessfully attempts to find Bear a book he’ll enjoy. After being shushed for being too loud, the increasingly irritable Bear is about to go when he hears the librarian reading a story. When Mouse, suggests they leave, Bear hollers “QUIET VOICES IN THE LIBRARY!” The librarian invites them to the storytime. Enthralled, both stay and they return home with seven books including The Very Brave Bear and the Treasure of Pickle Island.

As with her early Bear and Mouse books, Becker’s story is humorous, well paced, and rich in vocabulary.  It makes a rollicking read aloud and can be used by adults to engage and inspire both young readers and older writers with word choices like: bellowed, squished, tucked-away, and extravagant.

With colorful watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations, Denton wonderfully captures Bear and Mouse’s contrasting personalities and creates reassuring settings with brief and expressive strokes.

My K-3 classes had a ball with this book and were engaged throughout the story.

Read my full review and find out more at Good Reads with Ronna.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Celebrating the Freedom to Read


Banned Book Week (Sept. 21-27, 2014).


My school participates in the American Library Association’s Banned Book week each year by reading a picture book to the entire school that has been challenged or banned. We’ve read Tomie de Paola’s Strega Nona and Justin Richardson’s And Tango Makes Three. This year, we will read Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach. This lovely story, based on the author’s childhood memories, was challenged in Spokane, Washington elementary schools in 1994 because it was thought to stereotype African Americans by showing them eating fried chicken and watermelon and drinking beer (from Robert P. Doyle’s excellent resource Banned Books: challenging our freedom to read. Chicago: ALA, 2104, p. 271).


Discussing issues surrounding book banning and challenges can be pretty difficult for children in grades K-3, even 4th graders. Concepts such as Freedom of Speech are too abstract or technical. So I try to boil it down to something simpler: this is a day when we celebrate having the right to choose what to read.


With older children,  the learning and the discussions are very interesting and lively. Using materials from the ALA’s Banned Book Week and the National Council Teachers of English web sites, we can discuss Constitutional issues, why books are challenged or banned, what constitutes a challenge or a banning, and so on. Nevertheless it doesn't sink in until I show them the challenged books. You should hear the gasps, the shouts of dismay, the outrage ... their beloved authors-Roald Dahl, Judy Blume,  Lois Lowry, and way too many more-challenged? Banned? Why?  Understanding the reasons behind the challenges is often quite a struggle-even for adults.
 I ask the students to understand that even though there is a right to read freely, some people, with good intentions of protecting children, will challenge this. It’s up to us to protect it.


After the read aloud, we follow up with a D.E.A.R.  (Drop Everything and Read) where the entire school reads a book of their choice for fifteen minutes. It’s a wonderful and positive way to end this event.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Illustrator Keika Yamaguchi


Presenting Keika Yamaguchi and her latest book Puddle Pug written by Kim Norman and illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi.  Sterling 2014. Recommended for grades K-3.

I had the good fortune to meet Keika at Sunday's Once Upon a Time Bookstore's Educators' Night (September 21, 2014). Keika  kindly shared the process that led to her illustrations for Puddle Pug.

Keika, it turns out, did not like to draw as a child and her parents would do the drawing for her school assignments. She began formal art instruction in middle school and is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design. Keika also interned at Disney.

Before beginning any project, Keika jots down ideas or scribbles some thumbnail sketches. Then she likes to play-literally!  For Puddle Pug she actually played with mud and grass and leaves to experience the main character's experience and accurately illustrate Percy's world,  his physical movements and expressions. She passed around her preliminary sketches and drafts,  including a mock up of the book.

About the book: Percy is an adorable dog who loves puddles. He's found several he likes even
recording their location on a map.  Still he is unable to find just  the right one ... until one day, he hears a lot of splashing next door. Peering through the fence he finds the perfect puddle. It's " ...cool, brown water ... squishy, swishy mud..." There's just one (very large) problem: this puddle belongs to Mama pig and her piglets and she's not too keen on sharing ... until Petunia, the "too tiny" piglet goes missing and Percy comes to the rescue.  Author Kim Norman's story includes frequent alliteration and repetition ("...the too-tiny pig .,, in the too-tiny puddle ...) which becomes rhythmic in parts of the story. Inventive word choice ("...thick as turtle stew puddles..."), and Keika's lively illustrations, make this story very engaging and a great read aloud.

For more information on Keika Yamaguchi and her books, visit her website, Keika's House.com

Thanks to the folks at Once Upon a Time Bookstore  for a wonderful evening and for everything they do for teachers and librarians. We also heard from Nicole Dufort from Random House. She turned me on to a few books which I will share with you later. I staggered out with two very heavy bags of books, posters, bookmarks, a bag or two of popcorn, and a rather large, but lightweight, Captain Underpants display! Who could ask for more?

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates





The Brilliant World of Tom Gates written and illustrated by Liz Pinchon. Candlewick Press, 2014. $12.99. Recommended for ages 8-12.

The British are coming, the British are coming ...
with the brilliant and hilarious world of Tom Gates.

It’s the first day of  a new school year and 5th year (5th grader) Tom  Gates writes in his journal:

“Woke up-listened to music
Played my guitar
Rolled out of be (slowly) ...
Played some more guitar
Realized I hadn't done my ‘summer reading homework’
PANICKED … (p. 3).”
Beside the words “woke up,” Tom draws of pair of sleepy eyes. This wonderfully chatty book is accompanied by a multitude of hilarious doodles and eye catching font types.

At school, Tom’s teacher, Mr. Fullerman has moved him to the front of class. In his journal Tom wails:

“This is a DISASTER. How am I going to draw my pictures and read my comics? Sitting at the back of the class, I could avoid the teacher's glares. But I am SO close to Mr. Fullerman now I can see up his nose (p. 6).”  

Guess what Tom doodles in after “nose.”

For Tom, forgotten homework assignments, playing tricks on annoying students, and other antics keep him in perpetual trouble - and coming up with convincing excuses for his behavior. Tom's attempt to get out of an assignment by claiming he spilled water on it is hysterically rendered in a smeared doodle (p. 47).

At home, Tom must also deal with his moody teenage sister, Delia, and his eccentric grandparents,“The Fossils,”  who love to experiment with such unsavory food combinations as pizza with banana topping.

When Tom finds that  Dude3, his favorite band, will perform in concert locally, he is determined to attend.  Things go sour (and get real funny) when his best mate’s dog eats the tickets.

The comic doodles and varying fonts, while creating a busy page, make the story more visual for reluctant readers.

Visit Good Reads with Ronna to see my full review.

Monday, September 15, 2014




Pure Grit: how American World War II nurses survived battle and prison camp in the Pacific by Mary Cronk Farrell. Abrams Books for Young Readers, February, 2014. $24.95. Recommended for ages 12 and up.


“I wondered if I would die and how I would die. I hoped to be quiet and brave.” Nurse Maude “Denny” Williams as U.S. Troops surrendered to the Japanese (p. 67).


Pure Grit  is the dramatic story about the 101 U. S. Army and Navy nurses taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II. Farrell demonstrates that while women’s military service has been basically ignored by historians, their contributions have been enormous. These unsung heroes faced the same dangers of war that the male soldiers did, while caring for the wounded and comforting the dying.


In the early 1940s,  the U.S military assignments in the Philippines were pretty routine and included a swinging night life. That quickly changed following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Philippines.  Nurses, inexperienced with treating battlefield wounds, rose to the occasion and assisted huge numbers of wounded and dying soldiers under grueling and frightening conditions. Malnutrition, due to severe rationing, and unsanitary conditions became very serious issues. One nurse wrote:


“This morning I sat down to “breakfast” which consisted of a tablespoon of cold beef hash on a dirty plate (no water for washing dishes) ... and nothing more available until 6pm …” (p. 65).


Read my full review at Good Reads with Ronna

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Goldie Takes a Stand; Golda Meir’s first crusade
by Barbara Krasner, illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Kar-Ben Publishing, August 1, 2014. $17.95
Review based on an uncorrected advance copy


Barbara Krasner, author and blogger, has always had a passion for Jewish history.  She has combined this passion with an interest in writing children’s books and has selected a dynamic subject for her first children’s book.


In  early 20th century Milwaukee, nine year old Goldie Mabowehz, became concerned when poor immigrant classmates could not afford school books. Determined to help, she created the American Young Sisters Society and “ ...naturally appointed [her]self president.”


But how could she and her friends raise the money? Efforts such as charging her mother’s grocery store customers a little extra, naturally failed. Giving up something she loved (candy) saved her a penny, but it wasn’t enough.  Never wavering in  her determination,  she  persuaded a local hall owner to let her use his hall,or a community-wide fundraiser. Free. Amazingly, he agreed and she and her group organized a successful event, collecting enough money for school book purchases.


Krasner’s upbeat and gently humorous, first person narrative makes the story intimate and accessible to young children, helping them to empathize with Goldie’s determination to improve her classmates’ situation. While the conversations are fictionalized,  the event is true. Krasner’s bibliography includes the primary sources she referred to , other resources, and an end note. Illustrator Kelsey Garrity-Riley’s interest in collecting old objects paid off and her charming and quaint gouache and collage illustrations, digitally enhanced, recreate authentic early 20th century urban life (check out the wall paper!).

Read my full review at Good Reads with Ronna .