ReFoReMo…Week One Results

For those of you who don’t know what ReFoReMo stands for, it’s READING FOR RESEARCH MONTH. It’s a month long challenge to read tons of great picture books as mentor texts and really study the different components of what makes up great writing.

I’m going to be reading over 100 books during the month of March for this challenge, and reading the blog posts like this one…http://www.reforemo.com/2021/03/reforemo-day-5-literary-advocate.html…to determine how things like tension, character arc, point of view, etc. helps a writer create a stronger story.

My local library couldn’t get me all the books required for this challenge, but I’m getting enough to understand and appreciate some of the really special books out there just waiting for someone to take them home for a little read time. Here are my favorites from this past week…

  1. SWASHBY AND THE SEA by Beth Ferry, illustrated by JuanaMartinez-Neal…This one is my FAVORITE book of week one. The drawings are lovely and I really enjoyed the heartwarming way Swashby’s neighbors took the time to connect with him.
  2. MABEL: A Mermaid Fable by Rowboat Watkins. It’s adorable how Mabel deals with being “different” and how she changes her mindset by the end of the story.
  3. FRY BREAD by Kevin Nobel Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez Neal…I just realized this is the same illustrator as the one for SWASHBY which is why I probably enjoyed the artwork of this book. I’m also part Cherokee, so learning more about Native American traditions interest me.
  4. I AM DARN TOUGH by Licia Morelli, illustrated by Maine Diaz…I work with kids every day and love how the main character in this book finds the inner strength to overcome the obstacles in the story.
  5. LIFT by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat…this book comes in a very close second to SWASHBY as my favorite mentor text for week one. I adore the illustrations by my KidLit colleague, Dan Santat, and the story is such a lovely tribute to a child’s imagination. The almost graphic novel style doesn’t hurt either…
  6. DO I HAVE TO WEAR A COAT? by Rachel Isadora…Picture books celebrating the seasons will almost always capture my attention and this one is no different. The artwork is whimsical and all the different options for the seasons evoke fun adventures.
  7. PARKER LOOKS UP by Parker & Jessica Curry, illustrated by Brittany Jackson…There are many things I admire about Michelle Obama, and I found this book both a lovely tribute to the strong woman Michelle is as well as all the wonderful possibilities to be found for one special little girl.
  8. NO SMALL POTATOES: Junius G Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas by Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Don Tate…This book’s artwork is created by another Kidlit colleague favorite of mine. And I absolutely love the “rag to riches” story of this fabulous, hard-working man who created his own destiny through hard work. This one is technically for week two, but it came in early and I couldn’t wait to read it!
  9. THE NEXT PRESIDENT by Kate Messner & Adam Rex…I LOVE how my KidLit colleague, Kate Messner presents an angle on our presidents I’ve never seen before! The artwork is beautiful and the story is captivating!

I can’t wait to see what week two brings!

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KidLit author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna offers occasional BOOK NOOK REVIEWS of great children’s books and offers WRITERLY WISDOM to new and established writers. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Children’s Book Insider and AWAI. Donna loves dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donasdays

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Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/donnalmartin

LinkedIn: Donna L Martin/Story Catcher Publishing

Goodreads: Donna L Martin

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Adam Stower

 

troll

 

Title: Troll & the Oliver
Author/Illustrator: Adam Stower
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

Every day when Oliver goes out, Troll tries to eat him. But catching Oliver is very tricky—he’s fast, sneaky, and just too clever! It is only when it looks like Troll has given up and Oliver celebrates victory that—CHOMP!—he gets eaten, and it turns out that Olivers don’t taste very nice after all.

 

Why you should read it:

 

It was the clever book design that first caught my eye. With a partial peekaboo cut-away cover, I was immediately drawn into wanting to find out who this cute little kid was and why a Troll seemed to be after him. The whimsically silly story reminded me somewhat of the old Road Runner cartoons where poor Wile E Coyote endeavors to catch a pesky road runner for a midday meal. Kids will also like the surprise ending after Troll discovers an Oliver might not be as tasty as he once thought! Author/illustrator Adam Stower’s lovely illustrations will delight young readers. A great addition to any home library.
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**
5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take it or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams, is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. And coming to the Titanic Museums soon in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Adam Stower

 

Troll

 

Title: Troll & the Oliver
Author/Illustrator: Adam Stower
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

Every day when Oliver goes out, Troll tries to eat him. But catching Oliver is very tricky—he’s fast, sneaky, and just too clever! It is only when it looks like Troll has given up and Oliver celebrates victory that—CHOMP!—he gets eaten, and it turns out that Olivers don’t taste very nice after all.

 

Why you should read it:

 

It was the clever book design that first caught my eye. With a partial peekaboo cut-away cover, I was immediately drawn into wanting to find out who this cute little kid was and why a Troll seemed to be after him. The whimsically silly story reminded me somewhat of the old Road Runner cartoons where poor Wile E Coyote endeavors to catch a pesky road runner for a midday meal. Kids will also like the surprise ending after Troll discovers an Oliver might not be as tasty as he once thought! Author/illustrator Adam Stower’s lovely illustrations will delight young readers. A great addition to any home library.
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**
5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take it or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Sally M Walker

 

winnie

 

Title: Winnie
Author: Sally M Walker
Illustrator: Jonathan D Voss
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Ages: 7-9

 

Synopsis:

 

Who could care for a bear? The remarkable true story of a bear that one day became a household name and the soldier who cared for her.

 

Why you should read it:

 

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t heard of Winnie the Pooh, but I don’t think everyone knows the Winnie character was based on a real, live bear. Ms. Walker’s book is based on the true story of a bear rescued by a soldier. The soldier, Harry Coleburn, decides to raise the bear and forms a friendship lasting several years before Winnie finds a new home at the London Zoo.

As a writer of creative fiction, I found the authenticity of this story fascinating as I’m sure readers of all ages will be interested in finding out the history behind the classic stories of Winnie the Pooh.

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Margaree King Mitchell

 

jed

 

Title: Uncle Jed’s Babershop
Author: Margaree King Mitchell
Illustrator: James Ransome
Publisher: Alladin Paperbacks
Ages: 9-11

 

Synopsis:

 

Everyone has a favorite relative. For Sarah Jean, it’s her Uncle Jed. Every Wednesday night he comes over to her house to give her daddy a haircut and a shave.

What makes Uncle Jed special is his dream of opening his own barbershop one day with shiny sinks, real barber chairs, and outside, a big, tall, red-and-white barber pole. Even when life’s hardships and unexpected family emergencies get in the way, Uncle Jed never loses sight of his dream.

 

Why you should read it:

 

Sometimes it takes an oldie, but a goodie to remind us of what’s important in life and that’s our dreams. During a time when the spotlight is on diverse books, it’s nice to discover a strong story spotlighting the love and devotion of an African American family during a time of social unrest.

Illustrator James Ransome creates realistic portraits of a family struggling through the times right before the Great Depression and author Margaree King Mitchell touches our hearts with a poignant story of one man’s dream fulfilled almost before it was too late.

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Daisy Corning Stone Spedden

 

titanic.jpg

 

Title: Polar The Titanic Bear
Author: Daisy Corning Stone Spedden
Illustrator: Laurie McGa
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Ages: 9-11

Synopsis:

A young boy’s toy bear begins a journey all the way from the shelves at F.A.O. Schartz toy store in New York City to far off places halfway around the world before ending up on the Titanic. Will Polar and his young master make it off the great ship alive?

Why you should read it:

During my research for my own creative nonfiction book about the Titanic, I came across this cute book based on the true story of a toy bear’s journey around the world. Young readers will not only learn about a little boy named Douglas Spedden, but will also have a peek into the lives of the rich during the Edwardian era where the latest adventure was a gangplank away.
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Deidre Gill

 

outside.jpg

 

Title: Outside
Author/Illustrator: Deidre Gill
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

What happens when you step outside?

 

Why you should read it:

 

Perfect, playful imagination flow through the pages of the wonderful picture book by debut author/illustrator Deidre Gill. Stunning illustrations capture the world of one little boy’s imagination as he goes outside to play. When he can’t entice his older brother to join him, he makes some friends of his own and steps into a fantasy world where dragons are real and anything can happen!

 

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

 

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Marissa Moss

 
spy

 

Title: Nurse, Soldier, Spy…The Story of Sarah Edmonds
Author: Marissa Moss
Illustrator: John Hendrix
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Ages: 9-11

 

Synopsis:

 

When Frank Thompson sees a poster requesting recruits for the new Union army, he is ready and willing to enlist. Except Frank isn’t his real name. He is really Sarah Emma Edmonds. Dressing like a man, she becomes a soldier, battlefield nurse, and even a spy in this incredible true story of one woman’s fight for her country’s freedom.

 

Why you should read it:

 

I’m really fascinated with the “human side” of history and find myself reading a lot about the Civil War lately. This well written story by author Marissa Moss allows her readers to step into the shoes of an otherwise genteel lady as she fights beside Union soldiers trying to free the slaves and unite a country. Kids will be amazed at the life Sarah led and the dangers she endured during a time when “ladies” were thought to be nothing more than gentle creatures to be protected from the horrors of the real world instead of vibrant, strong women capable of protecting themselves as well as those around them on the field of battle.
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: April Pulley Sayre

hoppy

 

Title: If You’re Hoppy
Author: April Pulley Sayre
Illustrator: Jackie Urbanovic
Publisher: Harper Collins
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

If you’re hoppy
and you know it,
you’re a…frog.

If you’re hoppy
and you know it,
you’re a frog.

Or…

 

Why you should read it:

 

When I first picked up this book I expected a retelling of the traditional children’s song, “If you’re happy and you know it”.

I was pleasantly surprised.

This delightful, whimsical tale lets young readers to hop, slop, growl and flap their way through a menagerie of funny animals as they try to decide just what kind of critter they might be. The pastel artwork seems larger than life and will sure to be a hit with readers of all ages.

 
Like-o-meter Rating scale**:  5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Jeff Mack

 

duck

 

Title:  Duck In The Fridge
Author/Illustrator: Jeff Mack
Publisher: Two Lions Publishing
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

When Dad was a boy, he discovered a duck in the fridge! And more ducks all over the house. He tried everything he could think of to get rid of the ducks with no success until he finally came up with a clever idea to get the animals to fall asleep. And himself too.

Why you should read it: 

I must admit when I first started reading this story I wasn’t really connecting to the plot and the illustrations weren’t exactly grabbing me. But by the time the ducks start taking over the house I was hooked. It reminded me somewhat of Tara Lazar’s humorous book, THE MONSTORE, and the dilemma her main character had getting rid of a pesky little sister. This book ended up being a cute read and probably would be enjoyed by younger children.

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 4 out of 5…think about it.

**Rating scale**

 5 out of 5…grab it!

 4 out of 5…think about it.

 3 out of 5…take or leave it.

 2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

 1 out of 5…forget about it!

 

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