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The Remarkable Story of Willie the Crow

When a young hunting dog and a crow decide to be friends, the dog pack does not know what to think. They hunt birds, yet a crow wants to hang out and be friends with them. Willie, the crow, is undeterred by the gruff hunting dogs and enjoys playing with the puppy Patch. While playing, Willie flies over the pool, and Patch, not paying attention, falls in. Turns out Patch does not know how to swim. None of the dogs know how to swim. They run to find the Labrador Newt thinking he can swim, but he is terrified of the water. Finally, through some encouragement from family and friends, he jumps in to save Patch.

The Remarkable Story of Willie the Crow: A Hickory Doc’s Tale, written by Linda Harkey, is a creative picture book about the friendship between two unlikely animals. The pack of dogs is concerned that a puppy hanging out with a crow is wrong, and they try to convince their senior dog Doc to put an end to the friendship. Doc, however, is a thinker; he looks at the situation and, rather than jump to conclusions, evaluates the benefits. He backs up his decision by pointing out that Willie the crow has worked with them to save Patch rather than just flying off and leaving her to drown. The message of inclusion and acceptance makes this children’s book a great addition to any book collection.

Illustrator Mike Minick has done an excellent job capturing the emotions of the dogs and Willie. Each page is vibrant and engaging. Even without the text, the story is clear from the marvelous drawings. Children will laugh as they learn a valuable lesson about friendship and family.

The Remarkable Story of Willie the Crow: A Hickory Doc’s Tale is a captivating tale about friends, family, acceptance, working together, and believing in yourself. Parents and educators will love having this picture book to read to children in and out of the classroom.

Pages: 38 | ASIN : B07LCKSXSW

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Animal Acres

Sammy Skunk lives on a farm, Animal Acres. One night he wakes up from his nap to a strange sound. Finding his dinner, he looks up and sees a strange animal, a raccoon. Sammy has never met a raccoon before and notices how they are different, but this does not deter him from making a new friend. After inviting the strange animal over to share his dinner, they end up spending the night together playing and exploring.

What do a skunk and a raccoon have in common? Both love to explore and play at night, and both have stripes. While their stripes go in different directions, they still manage to become friends and go on an adventure together on the farm. Animal Acres by Colby Becknell Hardison is a cute picture book that doubles as a children’s coloring book.

Sammy Skunk and Rocky Racoon quickly become friends over a shared meal. They share stories about their lives, Sammy from the farm and Rocky from life outside the farm. They realize that being different is not harmful and can lead to great adventures exploring their friend’s world.

This creative story is more than just a picture book; children can color the pages as they read along with the story, which makes it more memorable. Learning that just because they are different doesn’t mean they can not be friends is valuable lesson for young kids. This imaginative story will allow children to explore the idea of friendship and adventure. The drawings are not overly detailed, making them great for younger children to color that may not color fine details yet.

Animal Acres is an amazing coloring picture book and is perfect for children and adults that are young at heart. The fun drawings add to the story, and readers will have to add their own flair to their adventures as they color the pages.

Pages: 24 | ASIN : B08NT884F3

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Lilbeebye Stings Bully

Lilbeebye is a young girl with a secret. She appears normal on the outside, but in reality, she has secret powers. She can change into a superhero bee that stings honey love into the hearts of those who are bullies. Lilbeebye believes that everyone can be good and kind they just sometimes need some encouragement. When her friend Sally becomes the victim of a bully Lilbeebye rushes into action to sting the bullies and restore peace to the school playground. Later that day her older sister gets into a fight with her friends and Lilbeebye must spring into action again and sting them all to restore the love and goodness inside them.

Lilbeebye Stings Bully by author Theresa Shields is written on a level for older elementary-level students. The first half of the book is a fun story about Lilbeebye’s superpowers and how she helps people learn to be kind and good. There are colorful and engaging illustrations that introduce the topic of bullying to children. This half of this imaginative story would be great for early elementary students to help open discussions of bullying as well.

The second half of this book is much more serious and better suited for older children, eight to twelve-year-olds. The second half of the informative book is not illustrated and brings up topics such as cyberbullying, emotional abuse, and even suicide. There is good information on social media bullying, posting pictures and texts that are embarrassing or hurtful. Shields explains how these things are not harmless teasing and how hurtful they can be to people.

While this complex children’s book uses the church as a way to present ideas of community and sharing of information it is not overly religious and could be used by secular groups to start conversations on bullying.

Lilbeebye Stings Bully is a thought-provoking children’s book. Educators and parents will find this to be a useful book for opening up discussions on bullying to children in elementary school and provide a chance to discuss deeper topics of bullying with older elementary students especially those getting ready to enter middle school.

Pages: 29 | ASIN : B085PW2YX5

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Secrets, Gifts, Family

Willie the crow wants to eat the pack’s dog chow. The problem is he promised to not eat it from the kennel, and the other bowls are in the house with the Food Giver. To get to the bowels he must enter through the dog door, and this turns out to be harder than expected. Willie nearly drowns and gets stuck in a plant. After being rescued by Patch twice he makes it inside. There he taps on the refrigerator door and the Food Givers arrives and give him a small packet of walnuts and he flies out the window before the pack gets in and sees him. Willie keeps his special treats a secret from the pack

Doc, Willie, and the Pack: Secrets, Gifts, Family written by Linda Harkey returns readers to the Lazy Dog Hacienda. Willie the crow is part of the family that lives here. Willie however has a secret, he gets special treats from the Food Giver and is afraid to tell the pack about them. Instead, he brings the empty wrappers to Zeke as gifts making up stories about where he found them. Eventually, the truth comes out thanks to a newspaper article that was done on Willie that the pack saw.  

This entertaining picture book talks about family, keeping secrets, and friendships. Young elementary-age children will love the colorful illustrations of Mike Minick and the expression all the dogs have. This light-hearted story has a great message about friendship and family that they will be able to relate to. The adventures of Willie trying to get into the house will have children and adults laughing and asking, can crows get glasses, because clearly, poor Willie needs them.

Doc, Willie, and the Pack: Secrets, Gifts, Family: (A Hickory Doc’s Tale) is an engaging read for classrooms, libraries, and parents to read to children. It will make a great early reader for children learning to read with the vibrant artwork to help tell the story.

Pages: 52 | ASIN: B07XLHR2SZ

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This Ancient Parable Has A Modern-Day Twist

Beverley Rayner
Beverley Rayner Author Interview

Barclay & Berk Builders retells the parable of the wise and foolish builders with charming illustrations and easy to understand language. What inspired you to retell this specific parable from the Bible?

As a children’s school librarian I am always on the lookout for good, read-aloud stories.

This ancient parable has a modern-day twist. The story is about working together, caring for one another, helping each other and primarily life’s choices. I wrote this story to appeal to a wider non-Christian audience but the sounds of a busy worksite will especially appeal to boys.

I enjoyed the art in the book. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator James Hensman?

James is a professional artist who has his own colorful style and humor. This is his first illustrated picture book, and his seagull character, Gulliver S Gull, is now showing up in his most recent paintings. View and purchase his art at www.jameshensman.net.

What do you hope young children take away from your story?

Stories are always multileveled, so whatever a child takes away from the reading experience is good. I hope children will enjoy the characters, and the art while perhaps discovering what a parable is. If a child remembers to help others–that’s a bonus! and on a deeper level to comprehend that this story that Jesus told is about our everyday choices and building a firm life-foundation by following God.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next two projects are a historical Canadian novel for grade five, and a gift/picture book for children and adults, on the Promises of God. Possibly both published in 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Award-winning children’s author Beverley Rayner and artist illustrator James Hensman have teamed together to produce a cleverly-told and colorfully-illustrated children’s adaption of the well-known parable of the wise and foolish builders. Based on Jesus’ parable in Matthew, chapter seven the book teaches with a narrative that will appeal to a young audience ages five-eight, without diminishing the integrity and intent of Jesus’ words.

Tales of the Monkey King

Monkey is capable of some marvelous things. He wishes to be a master in virtually every area, Small but mighty. His thirst for knowledge is unmatched, and his abilities outshine everyone around him. When he transforms into the famed Monkey King, it is just the beginning of his fantastic journey. Monkey is, however, quite a character. He never fails to be the center of any and every bit of chaos. Monkey is filled with intensity and determination from his temper to his strength. There is no one else like him.

Tales of the Monkey King, by Teresa Chin Jones, is a retelling of classic Chinese tales of the famous Monkey King. Jones delivers a fabulous series of chapters tracing the making of the Monkey King through his outrageous adventures to the fascinating end of his journey. Along the way, readers will meet captivating characters and find themselves in awe of the fantastic and, sometimes, harrowing situations in which Monkey and his cohort find themselves.

I was taken with the colorful characters and the vibrant language throughout the book. Though there are beautiful illustrations placed sporadically throughout the chapters, readers will have no trouble visualizing the characters and exquisite settings. Jones does a fantastic job of building Monkey and his comrades into strong mental images for her readers. In addition, the more challenging text structure and choice of verbiage will push young readers. I can see Tales of the Monkey King as a beautiful read-aloud addition to any classroom.

As a teacher, I appreciate the added summaries at the beginning of each chapter. Teachers and students alike will find these little bonuses helpful when picking up reading where they left off. As I usually spend a little time reviewing previous chapters before reading, I can see these summaries making that much more manageable and bringing my students and me quickly up to date. In addition, young readers will find the summaries an easy way to review on their own.

I truly enjoyed reading Monkey King’s escapades and seeing Jones’s work as a real asset to upper elementary and middle school classrooms. Folklore is an essential part of literature education, and I highly recommend Tales of the Monkey King to any fan of classic folk tales and legends. Monkey is sure to bring a smile to readers’ faces.

Pages: 277 | ASIN : B091721V92

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Of Love and Pies

Of Love and Pies is an engaging picture book written and illustrated by Sheila McGraw. The narrator suggests that every time she says I love you a baker will bake three or five pies. It starts out with pies for breakfast lunch and dinner. Everyone loves having pie whenever they want. Soon there are more pies than anyone, even a giant the size of a mountain, can eat. There are pies all the way to the moon! Pies start making messes that can’t be cleaned, and unwanted guests of bugs and rats show up. This creates a problem of too many pies and the question, can you say I love you too much?

As the author and illustrator, Sheila McGraw has created an astonishing children’s book that provides a visual representation of love in a whimsical way that will grasp children’s attention. The awe-inspiring illustrations will delight young readers, as McGraw has made sure to include representation of multi-cultural families. Understanding I love you can be a challenging concept for toddlers and small children. What is love? This visual of pies make it a tangible idea.

Unlike many children’s books that can grow repetitive reading or overly simple illustrations, this children’s book will delight the parents and caregivers reading this enchanting story. As the story continues, people realize that there is such a thing as too many pies; and if you live where saying I Love you makes heaps of pies, you’ll need to cut back on saying I love you. The narrator must come up with a compromise that works for the town, has fewer pies, and still feels right to them. It validates the storyteller’s emotions and provides a solution for everyone.

Of Love and Pies is a magical picture book intended for toddlers and young children. However, the artwork and exciting story that has not been oversimplified will make it enjoyable for adults to read.

Pages: 34 | ASIN : B092SXNGYY

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Imani’s Undersea Adventure

Imani is a young Black girl visiting the aquarium with her grandfather. At first, she is scared of the sharks she sees swimming by in the tanks. But then, her grandfather tells her about sharks, scuba diving, marine biologists, and marine archaeologists. These conversations lead to deeper discussions about Imani’s ancestry and family history.

Author T. M. Jackson has written a captivating children’s book that touches on many topics of importance. The story starts with a simple visit to the aquarium and learning about a scuba diver and their equipment. It then introduces readers to Black marine biologists Ms. Jasmin Grahm and Ms. Carlee Jackson and the first certified Black female scuba diver Ms. Shirley Marshall – Lee. Next, Imani’s grandfather explains the significance of their achievements in the world of marine science and for Black women. Readers will learn about Black history in an age-appropriate manner from her grandpa’s stories. For example, stories about how slaves were brought to America and how Black families could not swim in pools; thus, many never learned how to swim. These topics are often glossed over or omitted entirely for the early elementary age level. Ms. Jackson, however, has presented them in a manner that is educational and conversational. Readers will feel like they are walking through the aquarium with Imani and her grandfather.

Accompanying this thought-provoking children’s book is the richly detailed artwork of Darwin Marfil that captures the wonder of Imani and the thoughtful pondering of her grandfather as he teaches her about her past. Included at the end of the book is a list of resources that families and teachers can use to explore aquatic and marine sciences more in-depth.

Imani’s Undersea Adventure is a profoundly thoughtful children’s book that will captivate children. Teachers and parents will appreciate the accurate historical information presented eloquently and in an age-appropriate manner.

Pages: 36 | ASIN : B09JVSJN8W

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