Ted and Ned by Wendy Sura Thomson
Review 4 star
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Ted and Ned is a children’s picture book in rhyme. Written by Wendy Sura Thomson, it follows the journey of an ordinary boy named Ted who experiences the joy of finding a pet of his very own. Ted longs for a dog but has no specific plans on how to get one. While biking into the woods with his friend Mike he stumbles on a puppy abandoned in a big black bag. Ted falls in love with the wet-nosed, golden dog immediately, christens him Ned, and takes him home at once. His mother makes sure he’s really serious about caring for Ned, and Ted is sure he can do it. He and the puppy have developed a close bond in a very short time. Ned is here to stay.
Ted and Ned is good for those kids who are clamoring to have a pet. It’s also a nice tool to use to introduce the idea of a new pet to a small child who hasn’t considered this concept yet. Whether they get a dog or not in the immediate future, the experience of hearing Ted’s adventures in Wendy Sura Thomson’s story read aloud will pull them into that moment of instant, wonderful connection that finding your own dog is all about. As a dog owner myself, I warmed to lonely little Ned and how he found a new home with an eager child. Loyalty and long-term commitment are essential for a good pet owner and Ted’s laid-back personality and deep affection for Ned are easy for kids to claim as their own. A story that is delightful for anyone who looks forward to having a dog very soon.
Where Do All The Flowers Go? by Lisa Crystal
Review 5 star
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Where Do All the Flowers Go? is a gentle picture book about the challenging topic of grieving. Author and illustrator Lisa Crystal introduces young readers to a family of three small mice who live peacefully with their parents. On a rainy day, little Cookie, Foster, and Tidbit are worried to see that their parents, Mama and Papa Crumb, have some sad news. Grandmouse has died. She died because she was old, but Cookie doesn’t understand and thinks she personally caused Grandmouse’s death. After Cookie has a nightmare and wonders when she will die too, Mama Crumb uses examples from plants, birds, and fish to show how all things eventually die. Cookie and her brothers create memorials for their grandmother, each in their own way, to honor her.
Where Do All The Flowers Go? is a great book for children who see death as frightening, especially in the context of a loved one’s passing. I found the tone of Lisa Crystal’s book to be encouraging in an excellent way, as the abundant talk of new life being born nicely balanced the sadness of death and comparisons to simple, daily examples of life patterns in things they’ve seen every day enabled Cookie and her siblings (and children too!) to relate to such a big concept. The pastel illustrations create a hushed calmness that flows off the page, validating the mouse family’s actively hopeful theme of embracing life even more because you know it will one day end. A neatly placed reminder that death is no one's fault—it just happens—threads into the story, but grief emotions are very much at the forefront as the little mice express their feelings by doing things like planting a rose garden and writing poetry. Where Do All the Flowers Go? will serve parents and young children very well during a time of grief.
We Toot! by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans
Review 4 star
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We Toot! is a light-hearted children’s picture book with a message of positive values. It is written by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans and illustrated by Sandie Sonke. In it a group of little girls have a slumber party together. When one of the girls accidentally farts, the others are upset and can’t find the culprit. Farting isn’t ladylike—it isn’t for girls—one of them insists. But the cause of this small catastrophe steps proudly forward to say she’s unashamed to fart even though she’s a girl. Bodies are to be celebrated and actions like hiccupping, burping, and belching shouldn’t be treated more harshly just because they’re done by girls.
This children’s book has a good message deep inside it, about being honest with yourself and with other people. Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans have put together a sincere and funny story about some very real little girls faced with a situation that, though simple, gives them an opportunity to start early on being open-minded towards others. We Toot! takes the embarrassment out of normal bodily situations, like belching, by assuring children there’s nothing particularly different about being a girl! I liked the concept that conforming to artificial standards isn’t valuable—being a good person who supports other people and cares about them is what’s important. A story that puts a little rainbow and some sunshine on some happy girls who learn to help each other instead of engaging in a shower of criticisms, this book is a pleasant tool to use if you have a child who’s being judged by others.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.