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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Posted in Uncategorized

Spotlight On: Our Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro

Our Love Grows image excerpt

I adore Our Love Grows; it’s a perfect read-aloud for growing boys and girls (who will never be too big for a loving lap, right?). Enjoy this spotlight from the publisher, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, and please wander over to my review if you want more info.

Our Love Grows, Written and Illustrated by Anna Pignataro (April 5, 2016; Hardcover, ISBN 9781492634188)

Our Love Grows coverTitle: Our Love Grows

Author: Anna Pignataro

Release date: April 5, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for Our Love Grows

“[Pignataro] creates delicately ethereal landscapes for the pandas to traverse—forests dense with pine and bamboo, snowy hillscapes—while showcasing a playful tenderness in their explorations and interactions… Pitch perfect in its spirit of cozy reassurance.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review!

“A sweet story for parents to share with their young children. The theme is straightforward and told in rhyme. The book conveys a similar message to Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You, and the engaging artwork greatly enhances and complements the story. The pen and paint illustrations have a soft tone and will give readers a warm feeling.” —School Library Journal



About the Book

Like the sky, and the trees and the child she holds… A Mother’s Love Grows.

In the deep green forest, Pip asked,

“Mama, when will I be big?”

Pip is an adorable, roly-poly little panda who sees the world changing and growing. But Pip is feeling a bit left behind. Luckily Mama is there to show playful and curious Pip that, like the trees in the forest and the stars in the sky, he’s growing and changing too. And no matter how much Pip grows, the one thing that will never change is how much Mama loves him!

Our Love Grows on Goodreads

Buy the Book:


Barnes & Noble

Books a Million


Anna Pignataro author photo

About the Author

Anna Pignataro is the creator of the bestselling books Mama, How Long Will You Love Me? and Mama, Will You Hold My Hand? Her works have been translated into eleven different languages, and she has won numerous awards including the Crichton Award for Illustration. She lives in Australia with her family.

Connect with Anna Pignataro:




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Posted in Animal Fiction, lift-the-flap, Toddler Reads

Book Review: Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1980)

where's spot

Recommended for ages 0-4

It’s supper time, and Sally the Dog is looking for her puppy, Spot. She looks for him behind doors, under stairs, inside clocks, and other hiding spots and encounters his friends on her search. But where’s Spot?

Part of the popular “Spot” series of books by Eric Hill, Where’s Spot? offers toddlers and preschoolers familiar characters and cartoon-like art with bold, black lettering for sight-word learners.  For printables and online games, parents can point their browsers to  For the youngest Spot fans, make sure to check out his board books!