While the book’s lengthy prose seems aimed at lap readers, the soft illustrations and gentle tale make it an excellent...

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Rodney and Rachel

A mouse couple learn the value of trust and love in this illustrated retelling of the Noah’s Ark story.

Rodney and Rachel mouse feel very small as they watch all the larger animals go into a huge boat. They’re not sure why they’re there, only that they had to follow their hearts and come. “Are you sure this is where we’re supposed to be?” Rachel asks in excitement, as they watch all the other animals enter the unknown beyond the ark’s door. They’re especially interested in the man who greets all the animals like they are old friends. The mice make their way up the long loading plank into the boat. But while the bigger animals make running up the ramp look easy, Rodney and Rachel struggle. How are such tiny creatures supposed to make such a long journey? The man looks out of the boat, but doesn’t spot them as the sky darkens. Rachel slips as the rain makes the ramp wet, but Rodney won’t leave her. Just as they are about to lose hope, they are “lifted by warm, gentle hands.” Rodney realizes that the expression he sees on the man’s face is love. The rain pours down outside, but the animals, including the two mice, remain safe and warm with Noah. There’s no real twist to the Noah story in this debut book, but young readers just learning about the ark should find the two mice narrators appealing, while empathizing with their feelings of smallness. A clear parallel is drawn here between Noah’s love for the animals and God’s love; though it is never mentioned outright, parents can use the tale to draw that connection if they wish. The illustrations are in muted colors, offering the same kind of comfort provided in the text: there’s nothing to fear here. Even during Rachel and Rodney’s lowest moments, a reader remains confident of a happy ending.

While the book’s lengthy prose seems aimed at lap readers, the soft illustrations and gentle tale make it an excellent choice for bedtime.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6264-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2016

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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