Alone Like Me

Evans, Rebecca. Alone Like Me. New York: Anne Schwartz Books, 2022.
Life is lonely for Liling when she moves to the city. Her parents have to take her along to their places of work, and she has to spend her days quietly not being noticed. When her father takes her to a park, she has to endure taunts from other children. But then she meets another lonely little girl and a gentle friendship begins. Set in China, this picture book shows what life is like for children who are not entitled to an education when they move from the place where they were born. A glossary and pronunciation guide are included, as well as an afterward telling more about life for children who move from rural to urban settings. Recommended for readers 6 to 11 years old.

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The Rough Patch

Lies, Brian. The Rough Patch. New York: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
Everything is wonderful. Until it isn’t. Evan’s best friend – his dog – dies. And life becomes dark and angry. Until, in autumn, Evan takes a pumpkin from his garden and goes to the town fair. He sees some friends, wins a prize, and goes home with a new puppy. A story of loss and grief but also hope. A perfect picture book, told not only with words but also with illustrations. A 2019 Caldecott Honor Book. Recommended for readers 5 to 11 years old. 

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Yours in Books

Falatko, Julie and Gabriel Alborozo. Yours In Books. Petaluma, CA: Cameron Kids, an imprint of Cameron + Company, 2021.
Owl is tired of all the visitors disturbing the peace and quiet of his life in the forest. So he writes a letter to Squirrel, the owner of a bookstore, to request a book on how to soundproof his home. Squirrel replies. Unfortunately, that book is out of stock. How about a different book? And so begins a correspondence, a friendship, and a slow realization that perhaps guests aren’t so awful, after all. Perhaps a party, even, could be fun. An absolutely brilliant picture book. Highly recommended for anyone of any age who would like to enjoy some light-hearted humour right now! 

P.S. The book titles in the story hilariously summarize the relationship between Owl and Squirrel. After reading the book, you might like to summarize your own relationships with friends by making up imaginary book titles.

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Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened

Blejwas, Emily. Like Nothing Amazing Every Happened. New York: Delacorte Press, 2020.
Twelve-year-old Justin lives with a mystery: how did his father – a military veteran – die? Was it an accident or suicide? Who will tell him the truth? This 210-page novel portrays the effects of post-traumatic-stress-disorder and the complexities of history in a small Minnesotan town in 1991. Highly recommended for readers 11 to 14 years old.

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Saving Winslow

Creech, Sharon. Saving Winslow. New York: Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
Louie’s father often brings home small animals needing to be rescued. Most of the time, they don’t survive. Louie usually doesn’t have any better luck. The worms he brought home? Dead after two days. The lightning bugs? Dead after three days. But Louie – missing his older brother who is stationed far away as a soldier – is determined. When his father brings home a motherless mini donkey on a cold January morning, Louie decides that this time he will succeed: Winslow will live. Beautifully written and heart-warming, this 165-page novel is most highly recommended for animal lovers 8 to 12 years old.

P.S. Of course, all Sharon Creech stories are amazing works of art. But this one is outstanding in its introduction to themes to encourage conversation between children and adults. How can you love someone if you know they might disappear? How do you regain hope after loss? How can you joyfully help someone fulfill their purpose in life even though it means they will leave you? 

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The Best Christmas Ever

Ohi, Ruth. Fox and Squirrel, the Best Christmas Ever. Toronto: North Winds Press, 2016.
What makes a great Christmas? Snow! Presents! Fancy food! And a Christmas tree, of course. Two friends go for a walk in the woods to find more decorations in this cheerful picture book with full-page water colour illustrations. Highly recommended for children 3 to 6 years old.
P.S. You, yourself, might like to take a nature walk with a friend afterwards.

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A Busy Year

Lionni, Leo. A Busy Year. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2021.
Two mice – twins – befriend a tree on the first day of a new year. Every month – as the seasons change – they visit her and care for her until it is winter once again. A charming board book – with a humorous Christmas surprise at the end – recommended for children 4 to 8 years old.

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