ABC Dream by Kim Krans Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

ABC Dream; by Kim Krans; Random House, 2016. 32 pages; $16.99 (hardcover); reading level: ages 2-5. The letters on the pages of this alphabet book are the main event: large and bold, some solid black and white, others plaid or quilted (you guessed it – P and Q!). It’s the surrounding illustrations, however, that are… [Read More]

Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec; illustrated by the author; Chronicle Books, 2015.  32 pages; $15.99 (hardcover); reading level:  ages 3-6. With a board-book style cover and thicker-than-usual pages that turn from bottom to top like a calendar, this picture book is sturdy, unique, and inspired.  Each two-page spread sports two rows of animals and/or… [Read More]

Jump Back Paul; The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Jump Back, Paul; The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby; illustrated by Sean Qualls; Candlewick Press, 2015.  128 pages;  $16.99 (hardcover); reading level: grades 5-9. From the first sentence of this concise, lyrical biography a grandmotherly narrator takes the reader firmly by the hand:  “You never heard of the poet Paul… [Read More]

Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman; illustrated by the author; Abrams/Appleseed, 2015.  32 pages; $14.94 (hardcover); reading level:  ages 4 and under. What item of clothing is more fascinating to a potty-training-aged fashionista than underwear? And what food is more on the minds of the fashionista’s care-givers than vegetables? Chapman gives a nod to both… [Read More]

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

If You Plant a Seed; words and paintings by Kadir Nelson; Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2015.  32 pages; $18.99 (hardcover); reading level: ages 3-8. Seeds – both real and metaphoric – are the subject of this stunning, oversized picture book.  The biblical adage of reaping what you sow (carrots…selfishness…kindness) is conveyed in a restrained text that… [Read More]

Like a River; A Civil War Novel by Kathy Cannon Wiechman Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Like a River; A Civil War Novel by Kathy Cannon Wiechman; Calkins Creek, 2015.  336 pages; $17.95 (hardcover); reading level: ages 10 and up. The stage is deftly set in the first two pages of this remarkable novel:  we are in Ohio, the Civil War is raging, and fifteen-year-old, Leander Jordan (“Jordan like the river”)… [Read More]

Bookends – Some Suggested Christmas Reading

I like “bookend” plots that start in one place and then circle back to the beginning of things.  I like January and December because they bookend the year.  And I like bookends – the real thing – because they’re useful when you have as many books as I do.  Here are some books you might… [Read More]

The Big and the Small of it

Speaking is a part of the writing life. Initially I thought I would speak to larger and larger audiences as I became better and better known.  Two events this past weekend show how wrong I was! On Friday, October 31, I joined forces with illustrator Will Hillenbrand and Richmond Symphony Orchestra flutist Evelien Woolard to… [Read More]

Best Friends Pretend! by Linda Leopold Strauss Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Best Friends Pretend! by Linda Leopold Strauss; illustrated by Lynn Munsinger; Scholastic/Cartwheel Books, 2014. 14 pages; $6.99 (board book); reading level:  ages 3-6. The two “princesses” dressed up in sparkly pinks and purples on the cover are a sure-fire draw for very young girls. But don’t be fooled into thinking they can’t pretend outside the… [Read More]

Duck, Duck, Moose! Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Duck, Duck, Moose! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen; illustrated by Noah Z. Jones; Disney/Hyperion, 2014. 32 pages; $16.99 (hardcover); reading level: ages 2-5. The text on each page of this story about three friends – two ducks and a moose – couldn’t be more spare: You guessed it – “Duck, Duck, Moose.” The illustrations tell the tale… [Read More]