Grandad’s Island

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies (Candlewick Press, 2015) is a book that I have been thrilled to read, I adore the illustrations Benji Davies creates, they are vibrant and just jump off of the page.  Not to mention this is a book that deals with a little boy, Syd, who loves his Grandad.  Sid lives next-door to his Grandad and he knows just where the key is to be able to stop in and visit him anytime.  However, one day Syd stops by and his Grandad is not where he normally is, he is in the attic.

In the attic there is a secret metal door, once this is opened it leads to a ship and slowly the rooftops meld into the sea and they are off.  With exceptionally fun language “Steady she goes”, “Land Ahoy”that just makes this story all the more touching.  Once they arrive on the island there is lots of work to be done.  The island starts out shaded and dark, but soon with the help of the local inhabitants Syd and his Grandad have created quite a lovely spot.  Syd and Grandad explore the island and all that it has to offer; enjoying each others company and you assume they always have.  It is the most perfect place.  As Syd is preparing to leave this magical place he has so enjoyed with his Grandad; his Grandad says, “Syd, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.  You see…I’m thinking of staying”  As you would imagine Syd worries that his Grandad will be lonely, he assures him that no he won’t.  This spread in the book is by far one of the most glorious illustrations, it is bright, it is cheerful, all of the animals are there with smiles and perfect little spots have been created a chair with tea and gramophone and of course the lovely little shack that they worked on together.

This book is a wonderful look at love and loss in a way that petites can understand – as Syd sails away you feel that sense of loss.  For someone like me who barely needs a reason to cry, I found tears streaming down my face.  I love that attention is paid to the journey home and how it seemed much longer without Grandad.

Syd is home safe and sound and the follow day goes to check on Grandad, but he isn’t there, he runs to the attic to check there and the big metal door has vanished, it is then when a surprise comes…Syd has received a lovely surprise.

I think this book is a brilliant look at loss.  It is subtle, it is beautiful, heartfelt and overall a lovely sentiment on what loss looks like, how even though someone is not physically there, they are always with you.



The Perfect Book for Sensitive Souls

My eldest daughter is a sensitive soul.  A petite who worries about what others think and sometimes struggles with being shy, not all of the time, but there are times where she’s worried that others are laughing at her and not with her.  Sometimes that worry stifles her confidence.  I am sure most of you can relate to this in some way.  There are lots of sensitive souls walking among us.  As a mom, teacher and book lover I look for books that resonate, that are important and have the potential to impact my girls.

Source: Candlewick Press

Source: Candlewick Press

Recently we borrowed Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif from the library this book does all of these things.  This is the story of Frances Dean a petite who loves to dance, she is moved by the wind and the birds signing in the trees, she loves to dance – it is her passion.  The only problem is that she is unsure of dancing when others may be watching.  She is worried that they will see her.  This is something that I could relate to immediately, my darling daughter does the same thing, and that is when my heart skipped a beat, Frances Dean is like so many little girls and boys, who have hidden talents that they are apprehensive to share.

Frances Dean goes from smiling and dancing everywhere she goes to being incredibly sad, she forgets how to dance, she even slumps down on her park bench, which worries her bird friends who she always danced freely with.  The birds in this story show Frances Dean  another little girl who can sing and sings even when people might be watching, Frances Dean wonders if she will be able to be like the little girl and share her talent without worry.  She builds her own confidence and when she feels comfortable and is ready, then she begins to share her talent and passion with those around her.  What she discovers is that people love her dancing and that they even want her to teach them her moves.

One thing that I love is that her parents aren’t featured in the problem solving.  Frances Dean works to build her confidence and does it herself.  I think that this is the first story I have read where the petite is empowered on her own.

This book is beautifully written, even the inscription by Ms. Sif is sincere and completely touching.

To all those who live with all their heart

This book is absolutely perfect in every way.  As a teacher I have taught many students who were sensitive souls just like Frances Dean, this book is so much more than a picture book about a little girl, it is inspiring, confidence building and empowering.  This book should be in all classrooms and school libraries.

Happy Saturday,

The Princess in Black

I’ve mentioned before my petites love of all things princess (here).  A few weeks ago I was doing some research on early chapter books for her and one title keep popping up – The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale with illustrations from the amazing LeUyen Pham.

The Princess in Black

This book is all about Princess Magnolia, who is a perfectly charming pink frilly dress wearing princess.  However, when her monster alarm sounds she is ready to change into her alter-ego The Princess in Black.  The Princess in Black is fearless and knows just what to do to save the goats from dangerous monster who is threatening to eat them.  She does this all while sneaking out of a tea party with Duchess Wigtower.  The only real problem is that the Duchess is sneaky – will she find out what Princess Magnolia is hiding?  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

What I love about this book, where to start.  I’ve read a huge amount of princess stories and this one is by far my favorite.  I thought I may need to sell the petite on it, since she is so used to her Disney princesses, however, this book needs no arm twisting – that is what happens when you read a truly wonderful story about a strong willed heroine.  It is a perfect early chapter book – the chapters are shorter and really engaging.  It is a real page turner, numerous times in reading the story my petite begged me to read just one more chapter.  She was just dying to know what would happen and to be honest, so was I.

I also love the illustrations, they are vibrant and really fun.  The book itself is high quality, the pages are thick and glossy and really sturdy for little hands.  Another aspect that is by far my favorite, this book is not just for girls.  This book is for any petite that likes adventure, if you like a strong will protagonist who saves the day, then this book is for you.  The Princess in Black is awesome!

I am thrilled that book #2 is slated to come out sometime in the fall, which will be a welcome addition to our shelves.  This is a great book, I am sure your petites will enjoy it as much as mine did.  Here is a bit more about this fabulous book.  Enjoy!

Source: Candlewick Press

Source: Candlewick Press