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Birds Fly, A Cat Tries

As children, we are taught to believe in ourselves, have faith, and never give up. All of those mantras come from parents, teachers, and caregivers. It’s during the early years of elementary school that we begin to build our self-confidence. Great picture books with engaging plots are just one way to help young children imagine the possibilities and find relatable characters who can give them the confidence boost they need.

Birds Can Fly, A Cat Tries is the adorable wordless picture book by author, T.C. Bartlett. Conveying an engaging and well-developed plot with illustrations alone is incredibly difficult, but Bartlett has more than managed to hand young readers a fantastic story for the ages. A cat who desires to fly–there is nothing more engaging than watching him give it his all. Bartlett’s story teaches readers to never give up and does so through humor, strategically placed nuances in illustrations, and a fun main character who is bursting with attitude.

As a third grade teacher currently in the middle of a unit on central messages, I am excited to incorporate Bartlett’s work into my reading block. Wordless picture books are a great resource for teachers, and watching Bartlett’s birds as they taunt the determined cat will provide my students with the perfect opportunity to brainstorm and write their own dialogue. I am confident that my students will fall as much in love with Barlett’s feline protagonist as I have.

I am giving Birds Can Fly, A Cat Tries by T.C. Bartlett a resounding 5 out of 5 stars. The sweet illustrations and expressive faces of the characters make this book a must have for elementary classrooms. I encourage any teacher or homeschooling parent who wants to teach dialogue to his/her students to include this book in their bag of tricks.

Pages: 50 | ISBN: 1733908668

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A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name

Zero just wants to get his paws on that apple. The apple, who has no name, knows not what awaits him. Zero is in no way tall enough to reach the apple with no name and needs a little help from his friends. Counting their way from 0 to 10, the ever-growing group of friends cooperate to help Zero in his efforts. His friends vary in size and shape, but they all have one thing in common, they want nothing more than to give their friend a hand. Will they make it? Will Zero ever get his apple?

A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name, by T.C. Bartlett, is the beautifully illustrated children’s book focused on counting. There are many counting books out there, but Bartlett has a whole new take on the concept. With a more advanced vocabulary that challenges readers, A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name contains bits of humor that parents and teachers will also appreciate–those are the best kinds of children’s books!

I have used my share of counting books over the years as a parent and elementary teacher, and Bartlett’s work is one of the best I have seen. There is much more to this little gem than meets the eye. Each of the different animals in the series of numbers offers readers the opportunity for discussion. Parents and teachers will easily find ways to have conversations about why and how each type of animal might want to help Zero. There are plenty of teaching opportunities to be had within the pages of Bartlett’s work.

I highly recommend this adorable counting story to anyone looking for an alternative to the traditional counting books. A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name makes a great addition to anyone building a library for infants and toddlers.

Pages: 48 | ISBN: 1733908617

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The Good Witch of the South

Sam lived an idyllic life, one befitting a princess of Oz. The only severe blemish she suffered was the mysterious disappearance of her father years earlier. Since then, Sam, her sister Elle, and their mother Glinda had lived happily together, albeit always missing his presence. Their peaceful existence began to crumble when rumors of a new Wicked Witch started to swirl, and soon Sam was prone to terrifying visions of the future that showed utter destruction of everything she held dear. With the help of some old friends, Sam set out to discover her destiny and help good triumph over evil once again.

The Good Witch of the South by T.C. Bartlett follows Sam as she embarks on an epic adventure to save not only her family but every inhabitant in the land of Oz. Bartlett has created a beautiful world that includes enough elements from the original Oz stories to appeal to fans of the classic, but the story could just as easily stand alone in the fantasy genre. The story is familiar, with the coming-of-age heroine, the apparent underdog group of unlikely allies, and devastating death all represented, but it’s done in such a way that it is an irresistible read. Sam’s relationship with her sister and her mother are so well written they easily reflect everyday familial ties, and as she learns to grow into the person she needs to be, the relationships she forms with the others around her mature as well.

I think The Good Witch of the South is about family, and what defines such. The complex story of how her family came together provides the catalyst for a large part of the action, as well as driving much of Sam’s motivations. At the same time, Sam’s journey of self discovery provides an allegory for the transition to adulthood that she is experiencing at the same time. It is a very relatable thread that runs throughout the larger plot.

I found the timeline of The Good Witch of the South to be somewhat unclear in parts, which was a slight distraction, but ultimately it was not an insurmountable obstacle. The characters were wildly different and each provided a necessary piece of the puzzle which kept the narrative flowing and prevented it from getting stale, while the fight scenes offered excellent imagery. The Good Witch of the South is inspired by the classic Wizard of Oz but takes things in a much more mature, deep, and different direction that it stands on its own as a captivating fantasy adventure story.

Pages: 354 | ISBN: 1733908625

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