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Reading, Writing & Dreaming Belong Together

By on January 3, 2014

Begin the New Year with any of the following wonderful stories about books, poetry and writing. Not only are they fun, but reading and writing can change the world. They already have! Try one or more of these charmers and you will soon be itching to test your own skills and follow your own dreams.

by Meribeth Shank 

Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons

hikooby Jon J. Muth. Scholastic, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 2

Using poetry, author-illustrator Muth captures moments in words. With his version of the poetic form called Haiku, he creates sometimes dream-like nature poems. For fun, readers can look for the alphabet path leading through this book. Each haiku poem has a word with a capital letter. Find the letter clue and follow the alphabet to the end. Beginning with autumn, poems also trace a trail through all four seasons. Both vivid language and expressive visual images make this an enchanting picture book. (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia

biblioburroby Jeanette Winter.  Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 2

Luis is a man who loves books. His dream is to share books with children who do not have any. Luis and his wife, Diana, work together to make this dream a reality. They fill crates he has built with books. The crates hang on the backs of his burros, Alfa and Beto, as they travel to faraway villages in Columbia.  Sometimes the burros stop to drink and don’t want to go again. A bandit wants silver, but takes a book instead. When the Biblioburro arrives, happy children run to meet them.  Luis reads to the children. One day he brings pig masks for the children to wear as he reads the story of the Three Little Pigs. The children choose books to take home.  Bright acrylic paints with pen and ink, furnish the story with colorful tropical jungle plants and creatures. Author-illustrator Winter smoothly blends her primitive artistic style with lively text to create an engaging story for young listeners. This transformative story helps readers think and dream about their own contributions.  Back matter offers more information about this generous, dedicated teacher. (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

What’s the Big Idea, Molly?

mollyBy Valeri Gorbachev.  Penguin, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten–Grade 1

Molly Mouse is trying to write a poem. Her animal friends want to come up with a gift for Turtle’s birthday tomorrow. At first they all decide to draw a flower. Molly, who does NOT think this is a good idea, says so. And everyone goes off to think of another idea. Energetic watercolor, gouache and ink illustrations show expressive faces and movement, as the five friends struggle to find an idea. Molly, in a red dress, accents each double page spread, except one. When they return they all have decided separately to draw a tree for Turtle’s birthday! Oh no!  However, the four trees have prompted a solution from Molly. Together, the five friends create a charming seasonal book of trees, with poems. A perfect birthday gift for Turtle, who is delighted! (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Elephant’s Story

elephantby Tracey Campbell Pearson. Farrar Straus & Giroux, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Pre Kindergarten–Grade 1

       Elephant finds Gracie’s favorite book on the very day she lost it! Curious, he sniffs it, and all the words go up his trunk. This makes him sneeze. The letters fly out in a jumble. Elephant asks his friends for help to put the letters back into words. But alligator, seal, bear and the monkeys want to eat, play, or sleep with the letters instead. Discouraged, Elephant sniffs “the letters back into his trunk,” and goes home.mGracie comes along then, and finds her book. It is empty of words. With some effort on Gracie’s part, Elephant finally sneezes again, showering Gracie with letters. Humorous watercolor illustrations show Elephant’s expressions of surprise, disappointment, fear and delight. Largely empty white space accents Elephant’s enormous grey-ness. Blonde Gracie, wearing a red dress with candy cane tights, is a bright contrast. She shows Elephant “how to make the letters into words.” Once the words are “back in the book,” Gracie reads to Elephant, adding her own words to make a new story about their friendship. Endpapers are especially endearing, showing Elephant making the alphabet letter shapes with his body. This is a merry repetition of the book’s theme. (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Library Lily

by Gillian Shields, illustrated by Francesca Chessa. Eerdmans, $16.00 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 2 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:


by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. Viking, $15.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Grade 1-2  (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Crafty Chloe Dress-Up Mess-Up

by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrations by Heather Ross. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 2 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web:

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