Behind the Beautiful Forevers; Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity Reviewed by Connie Wooldridge

Behind the Beautiful Forevers; Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo.  Random House, 2012.  256 pages;  $27.00 (hardback).  Reading level:  adult. In 1991, when a band of laborers was trucked in from Tamil Nadu to repair a runway at the Mumbai Airport, they decided to stay. They draped empty cement sacks… [Read More]

Suite Française Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky; translated from the French by Sandra Smith.  Vintage Books, 2007.  403 pages; $15.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. Némirovsky’s novel is accompanied by some fifty pages of notes. If you read only the novel itself, you will take up a panoramic, camera’s-eye view of Paris in June of 1940. You will… [Read More]

Marmee & Louisa; The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Marmee & Louisa; The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante; Free Press, 2012. 368 pages; $26.00 (hardcover). This book is a game-changer. As LaPlante points out, “the packaging of Louisa…along with the idea that her mother was irrelevant” began immediately after her death. The world was told that Louisa… [Read More]

Etched in Clay Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Etched in Clay; The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet by Andrea Cheng; illustrated with woodcuts by the author; Lee & Low, 2013.  143 pages; $17.95 (hardcover); reading level:  ages 10 and up. Born into slavery in 1801, Dave should have lived an invisible life and died unknown.  That he didn’t is due to an almost… [Read More]

Revolutionary Friends – Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Revolutionary Friends; General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette by Selene Castrovilla; illustrated by Drazen Kozjan; Calkins Creek, 2013.  40 pages; $16.95 (hardcover); reading level:  ages 7-12. The story of the reserved George Washington’s initially reluctant friendship with the young French officer whose heart “enlisted” in the American struggle for independence from Britain, is… [Read More]

The Year of the Book – Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng; illustrated by Abigail Halpin; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. 148 pages; $15.99 (hardcover); reading level: ages 7-11. Anna Wang is just beginning fourth grade and the word of the week is “perseverance.”  “It’s when you don’t give up,” her best friend, Laura, tells the class.  Both girls will… [Read More]

Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! – Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! Written and illustrated by Hyewon Yum; Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012. 32 pages; $16.99 (hardback); ages 4-6. The five-year-old hero of this tale is well-adjusted, brimming with energy, and ready for his first day of kindergarten. His mom? Well…not so much. As the illustrations (literally!) make clear,… [Read More]

My Dear Governess; The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann – Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

My Dear Governess; The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann edited by Irene Goldman-Price; Yale University Press, 2012. 296 pages; $30.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. On May 31st, 1874, twelve-year-old Edith Wharton (then Edith Jones) wrote to her beloved twenty-five-year-old governess, Anna Bahlmann, inviting her to come to the Jones’ summer home in Newport,… [Read More]

The Elijah Door – Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Elijah Door; A Passover Tale Written by Linda Leopold Strauss; illustrated by Alexi Natchev; Holiday House, 2012.  32 pages; $16.95 (hardcover); reading level:  ages 6-10. Long ago, in a small village that was “sometimes Poland and sometimes Russia,” the Lippas and the Galinskys lived in “side-by-side houses.”  They were fast friends whose children, Rachel… [Read More]

A Pocketful of Posies; A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes – Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

  A Pocketful of Posies; A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes Illustrated by Salley Mavor; Houghton Mifflin, 2010. 64 pages; $21.99 (hardback); reading level: ages 2-6. The artwork for this nursery rhyme collection is stunning. Mavor has lovingly stitched a variety of materials (acorn caps, stones, driftwood, buttons) onto wool felt to create scenes which were… [Read More]