By Kelly Light

Best for girls, ages 3 – 8

The spunky little girl in this tale is hard to resist.

She’s got a flare for art and marvels at her ability to see every detail. As she races through the house creating art for her one-woman show, she is missing the important stuff right under her nose — her little brother’s love. In the end, Louise learns that she really does love Art.

That is, she loves her brother, Art. And by the looks of his creations, he loves his sister too.

It’s not only our hero’s attitude that makes us think of Eloise and Olivia tales. It’s also Light’s illustrative use of strong black lines and a single color highlighted for emphasis. In this case that single color is a bright red that is used for glasses and illustrative energy. This is a great book for young siblings.

What’s good: Energetic, easy to translate illustrations.

What’s bad: Louise’s turnaround from angry to loving is a little abrupt, but not unexpected.


“Born From the Heart”

By Berta Serrano

Illustrated by Alfonso Serrano

Best for ages 4 – 8

A unique approach to the adoption story, this book uses heart and humor to convey very real issues, struggles and joys. When Rose and Charlie want a baby, they go see a doctor. He gives them a magic potion to help, but in the end we discover that it is adoption that makes this family whole. Through fun illustrations we see that it is Rose’s heart, not her belly, that grows bigger in anticipation of the arrival of her new child. The modern and somewhat blob-like illustrations may be a little hard for children to accept. However, the use of colors and movement make the emotions very clear throughout.

This book is probably better suited as a gift for new adoptive parents, or those awaiting the arrival of their child. Children may enjoy this book once, but parents will connect to the storytelling and want to read it many times.

What’s good:Strong message about the importance of adoption.

What’s bad: Younger children might be confused by some of the imagery.


“Coming Home”

By Greg Ruth

Best for boys, ages 5 – 10

We’ve all seen the videos on YouTube, but have we really stopped to think about the story we’re witnessing? No service person goes to war alone. They take a piece of their parents, children, friends and pets with them. This story takes the reader through all the emotions while using an economy of words.

We follow one boy waiting for his reunion at the airport. While he waits and anticipates, we see a soldier and his dog, sweethearts and families find their loved ones. We feel the boy’s growing anxiety as he wonders why he is still alone on the airport tarmac. Using only a word or two here and there, the entire story is told through framing the illustrations and reading the expressions. When the reunion finally happens and he yells, “Mom!” we feel like we’re a part of the embrace. This is a great reminder of the sacrifices our soldiers and their families make to keep us safe.

What’s good:Strong illustrations that will engage even young readers.

What’s bad: The cover is a little misleading to what is actually in the book.

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