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Hands down one of my favorite picture book this summer, with unique illustrations that show subtle details readers will love looking at again and again. In this imaginative tale showing the bond between a father and daughter, Jo’s dad is the one who travels across seas and makes sure every message in a bottle gets to the right home, and Jo wants to be a great adventurer just like him, but her fear of the water gets in the way. Jo’s imagination “goes overboard” when she thinks about what monsters lurk beneath the water’s surface, with illustrations that perfectly capture the capture the fears of “every child” in glorious fashion. Until the day Jo’s dad comes down with a bad sea cold, and Jo knows no one else with deliver the bottles unless she does. I continue to find new details every time I read this book. The illustrations are bold yet whimsical, and they perfectly portray this whale of a story that should find its way onto every reader’s bookshelf.

Hiding, by Henry Turner
Clarion, 2018, $17.99
ISBN-13: 978-0544284777

Ages: 12+

Genre: YA fiction, thriller, suspense, paranormal, relationships, class, stereotyping, family life, first love, twist ending, 

I love when that happens...

Books to enjoy right now... Summer-Fall 2018

I love this picture book so much I immediately bought two as gifts, one for my daughter’s high school graduation, and one as a new baby gift. Simply put, I think every person who picks up this book can’t help but love it, because everyone EVERYONE can see themselves in one of the animal characters. Not only does the book promote kindness, it teaches kids to recognize feelings and emotions, it promotes self-esteem, and also breaks down bigger concepts into simple language, like bravery. “Stand beautiful,” is says, “Be true to who you are! And stand up for others. That’s standing beautiful.”

A young girl starts out on a walk and visits friends while making new ones and spreading a message of being proud of who you are, from the inside out. From the first giraffe through a wide variety of animal characters and boys and girls, including a young boy in a wheelchair. And the author knows from experience how sometimes it’s hard to stand proud of who we are. Chloe Howard was born with a foot deformity that required five major operations by the time she was fifteen. Through her hardships, she is now on a mission to empower people of all ages to embrace their uniqueness and boldly  face their beautiful selves. Visit for more information about Chloe and her message.

I love books that make you think, and The Hiding is one that will keep you reading and continue to linger in your mind for some time. Usually I can catch twists, but this one kept me hooked and surprised me enough I had to go back and re-read certain parts. The narrative is stylistically different, and could be considered choppy or confusing for younger readers, but reluctant readers should be hooked from the start, gradually getting to know 16-year-old Danny Preston, as he comes to find himself stuck in his ex-girlfriend's house after sneaking in an open window. Laura's parents never approved of Danny, and he was never allowed in her home while they dated,. Readers enter the house with Danny and gradually discover more about him and his relationship with Laura, through flashbacks which gradually lead to an unexpected ending that will satisfy, provoke conversation, and most-likely have readers re-reading with new understanding. 

Recently read in one sitting: 

Stand Beautiful, by Chloe Howard, illustrated by Deborah Melmon
Zondervan, $16.99
Ages 2+, ALL AGES
Genre: picture book fiction, animals, self-esteem, disability, humor, love, friendship, growing, kindness, consideration, inspiration, encouragement, tackling fears, bullies, imperfections, EXACTLY WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS RIGHT NOW!

Off & Away, written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
Disney-Hyperion, June 2018, $16.99
Ages 3-5, 48 pages, 9781484782323
Genre: picture book fiction, humor, love, friendship, fear, father/daughter, sea stories,  inspiration, encouragement, tackling fears, crossover appeal to older audiences

Page with help by Robert Carter