Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Soar lets readers spread their wings and face fear

Soar, by Hillary Daecher/Illustrated by Angie Hohenadel, (Aug. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-7643-5987-3

Ages 4-7

Ramone is a ruby-throated hummingbird who’s about to leave his nest for the first time. But he’s shy and he’s scared: what if something goes wrong? What if his wings don’t work? Luckily, Mom is there with comforting hugs and words. As he watches the other hummingbirds take to the sky, he screws up his courage and manages to get airborne! A rhyming story of facing one’s fears, Soar is beautifully illustrated with bright, vivid color. The rhyming meter makes for a good read-aloud, and you know what I’m going to say about flannels, right? Colorful birds are PERFECT flannel storytime accompaniment if you’ve got them! Back matter includes hummingbird facts, discussion questions, and a bibliography.


Ramone, a shy, ruby-throated hummingbird, is about to leave the nest for the first time. But his anxiety and fear keep him from taking off as he contemplates all that could go wrong. Full of kind words and encouragement, Ramone’s mother gives him room to work through his emotions, building his confidence and letting him set his own pace. Ramone watches as his friends soar through the sky, realizing all he might miss out on if he doesn’t conquer his fear. Ramone‚Äôs adventure showcases the emotions, both positive and negative, children experience as they approach new challenges. Accompanied by strikingly beautiful illustrations, this tale guides readers through Ramone’s emotional journey, showing kids that fear must be overcome in order to grow.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

It’s a Fairy Tale Summer: Girl in the Tower

girl in the tower_1The Girl in the Tower, by Lisa Schroeder/Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli, (March 2016, Henry Holt & Co.), $16.99, ISBN: 9780805095135

Recommended for ages 8-12

In true fairy tale fashion, we have an evil queen, a magic spell, and a hidden princess. Young Violet has never known life outside of the castle tower: the evil Queen Bogdana imprisoned her mother shortly after Violet was born, believing that Violet’s beauty will allow her to create a spell that will make her just as beautiful. Bogdana enchanted Violet’s father, sending him away with no memories of his wife or new baby. Mother and daughter pass their days making up stories for one another, alone in their small cell. Thankfully, the palace staff looks after the two, even creating a beautiful garden to sneak the young girl out to once in a while, where she plays with the hummingbirds that live in the garden. As Violet nears the age where the queen can work her spell, she takes Violet, telling her she will become a princess and be adopted by Bogdana and the king, but can never see her mother again. Violet’s mother makes the sacrifice for her daughter’s sake, but Violet is far too smart for Bogdana – she knows something is strange in the castle, and she’s going to find out and reunite her family.

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This is a wonderfully modern fairy tale that retains the sense of wonder and magic from classic tales. Violet is a spunky, smart young princess in training, the Bogdana is a perfectly evil queen with a deep-seated self-esteem complex. Ms. Schroeder may humanize Bogdana by letting us in on her motivation, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s done horrible things to people for the most insipid purposes, and Violet – a naturally lovely and kind foil to Bogdana’s darkness – is going to set the balance right. It’s a great book with strong heroines – her mother is pretty outstanding, herself – and I can’t wait to get this onto my shelves and into my booktalks. I love my fairy tales – the kids here all know it – so I’ll be chattering this up alongside Imelda and the Goblin King for a nice discussion on smart heroines. The black and white illustrations by Nicoletta Ceccoli add beautiful depth to the story.

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Add this one to your middle grade fairy tale collections, and take a look at some more of the artwork here:

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