Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, with illustrations by Charles Santoso

Feiwel and Friends, 2017

What a beautiful, precious, lovely book!! This is the kind of book I want everyone to read and take to heart and live by.

Lily received Wishtree from her Aunt Tricia this year for Christmas. I think Aunt Tricia is the one person in the world, I know personally, who has potentially read more books than I have. She’s as obsessed with books as we are in this house, probably more. And she teaches reading to middle schoolers. Basically, books are her life, and over the years she has introduced me to some of the most beautiful authors ever like, Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, and John Green. Not once has she recommended a book to me that I didn’t like.

So, I knew when Wishtree arrived, even though it was a gift for Lily, I would read it at some point. I should have gobbled it up immediately, because, HELLO! Katherine Applegate of The One and Only Ivan, and Crenshaw.

The book jacket makes this book sound so simple…

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.

And yet this story is anything but simple. As a new family moves into the neighborhood, Red witnesses how unwelcome some people are to the newcomers, and sets out to help them, especially the girl named Samar.

For some reason, I’m a bit obsessed with trees lately. I want an expert to walk with me through my Maine neighborhoods during the seasons and teach me how to identify them all. How to name each tree by the bark or the leaf or the way the trunk branches out. We have the most amazing, crazy, huge, oddly shaped trees in our neighborhood, maybe in every neighborhood I’ve ever been in, but for some reason right now in my life, it’s like they speak to me. I want to know them.

And Wishtree is narrated by a tree. Unique and perfect! Neither Lily nor I have ever read a book narrated by a tree, and Red’s voice swirled around us and drew us right into such a lovely story.

…if you find yourself standing near a particularly friendly-looking tree on a particularly lucky-feeling day, it can’t hurt to listen up.

Trees can’t tell jokes.

But we can certainly tell stories.

And if all you hear is the whisper of leaves, don’t worry. Most trees are introverts at heart.

I felt Red’s special voice. I paid attention. I wanted to take in all her/his (Red is both a he and a she) wisdom. And this book overflows with wisdom.

Lily first read Wishtree to herself, while curled up on the couch next to me. I listened to her giggles, her intakes of breath at crucial moments, and every few pages or so, she interrupted what I was doing to share part of the book with me.

“The skunk’s name in this book is FreshBakedBread,” she said to me at one point.

“How cute,” I replied.

“Yeah, ‘All skunks name themselves after pleasant scents,’” Lily read to me, with a gigantic smile on her face.

I won’t give any more of the names away, but let me just say how clever and wonderful every single word is in these pages. Katherine Applegate thinks of everything, every nuance, every name, every action and inaction, every emotion. I think it’s true genius when an author can use few words to say so much. Applegate takes the reader on a magical journey, paints the most stunning work of art, makes us cry and laugh, and turn the last page knowing that we have been forever changed.

If you adore trees and animals and all kinds of nature, including human nature, if you believe there’s more good in the world than evil, or if you need to believe that, open the pages of Wishtree immediately. I hope this gem finds a place in your heart, like it did ours. And may all your wishes come true!

2018-02-08T09:15:10+00:00 February 8th, 2018|Categories: Ages 7-9, Ages 9-12|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Time for Bed with Ford and Red

Time for Bed with Ford & Red by Jacqueline Leigh, illustrated by Mackenzie Fink

Mascot Books, 2017

How’s bedtime at your house with your little ones? To be honest, bedtime with my kids has never gone as I expected. Like most things, the reality of parenting is often so different than how I dreamed it would be. For us, bedtime has often been akin to the witching hour, rather than a bucolic, precious time when I lull my babies to sleep in a matter of minutes.

My kids generally hate bedtime, they don’t like, as Jasper says, “The complete boredom of sleeping.” And they don’t like to be separated from Greg or me. Even while I know this is normal, it can be difficult at the end of the day to handle these moments with care. In fact, Greg usually does bedtime in our house. His well of patience is much deeper than mine. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve generally been with the kids all day, and at the end I’m one tired mama, and he’s one awesome husband and father.

No matter who does bedtime at our house, one thing that always makes the routine better is BOOKS!!! Gosh, I even love the sound of someone reading to me.

We have had so many favorite bedtime books over the years: A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na, Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman, Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, and I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas by Kevan Atteberry

Most of the time, now that our kids are getting a bit older, Greg or I read to them from a novel at night, but they still love picture books. And Time for Bed with Ford & Red, by Jacqueline Leigh, is one of the most precious picture books I’ve read in a long time. Our kids adore it too! It is the perfect bedtime book for parents and kids alike.

Tucked in nice and cozy, a little boy, Ford, and his special bunny, Red, embark on one big dream adventure. From riding wild horses, to climbing rainbows and deep sea exploring, the pages of this book are full of silliness, friendship, connection and beauty.

Our favorite part, here at Wild for Books, is when they save the baby whale.

A fishing net drops from a ship overhead,

Tangling a baby whale in each tricky thread.

Red tugs at the net with all of his might,

So the baby and his mama can reunite.

The kids and I love that this book is full of imagination, like when the elephant arrives home with them. And Leigh’s lovely words pair beautifully with Mackenzie Fink’s fun and luminous illustrations. Personally, as a parent I love that the adventures are just what every child might find wonderful to dream about.

Filling our kids’ heads with beautiful thoughts and images as we send them off to sleep is what parents everywhere strive to do. And Ford and Red are the perfect companions to invite your kids into dreamland.

Add Time for Bed with Ford & Red to your bedtime routine. You won’t be disappointed!

These Words I Shaped for You

These Words I Shaped for You by Megan Merchant, illustrated by Basak Agaoglu

Philomel Books, 2018


I had a feeling before this gem fell into my hands that it would be special, because Megan Merchant is SUCH A BRILLIANT POET!!

And, as someone who devours books and words, I don’t say that lightly.

Words can be such simple things, but in the hands of a great writer, words can reach in and seduce your heart, caress tears from your eyes, leave you breathless with magic and hope and wonder. Megan’s poetry and essays do all of that and more. She treats words like fine strands of silk, weaving them together until they become a butterfly newly released from its cocoon.

These Words I Shaped for You, Megan’s first picture book, is the newest, dazzling butterfly to add to her collection of writings.

Illustrated by Basak Agaoglu, a mama panda carries and twirls and loves her baby through this vibrant, lyrical world. Each new page of stunning artwork matches Megan’s words beauty for beauty as you explore this book.

It’s a mother’s song, a mother’s poem, a mother’s comfort at bedtime, a mother’s reminder of dreams and exploration, and ultimately a mother’s way of teaching her child about the connections made through love, that carry us through this world. It’s a stunning love letter from a mother to her child.

Gosh, I found it difficult to pick a favorite line in this book, but I’ll leave you with these words,

“If you are quiet,

you can hear

the lulling chime of starlight

as you descend into dreams…”

If you’re ready to meet your first baby, this book is the perfect love song. If already have your babies, even if they are nine and seven like mine, this book is such a touching, precious reminder of those dreamy, first moments and all the wondrous days to follow.

Treat yourself or a new mama in your life to this stunning board book. And if you want to read more of Megan’s work, you can find her here, meganmerchant.wixsite.com/poet.



Nevermoor by Jessica TownsendNevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, by Jessica Townsend

Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2017

Lily and I love books with strong characters and beautifully drawn worlds, and Nevermoor is an absolute delight!

Open the pages to Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor and you enter a magical world full of adventure, mystery, secrets, friendships, and so many intriguing characters. The heroine, Morrigan Crow, was born on Eventide which in her world, makes her one of the cursed children. People blame her for everything. Every death, every disaster, every negative thing that happens. She’s miserable and lonely, and waiting to die on her eleventh birthday, as the curse predicts she will.

But just before she turns eleven, she’s rescued by a man named Jupiter North. He spirits her away to the secret city of Nevermoor. In this new magical world, Morrigan learns that she is to compete in four trials to enter the select and highly esteemed Wundrous Society.

As her journey unfolds, Morrigan makes friends and enemies, discovers fascinating secrets of Nevermoor, and learns that she isn’t cursed after all. But being told you’re cursed for eleven years, and suddenly trying to believe the opposite, isn’t necessarily as easy as one might think. Morrigan struggles with the truths she uncovers about herself and others, she struggles with being brave, she struggles with not having all the answers, but throughout, her true nature of curiosity, compassion and strength prevail.

Lily and I felt this book overflowed with amazingness! For fun, we decided to write about it in an interview with me asking her questions.

Tell me what you liked about Nevermoor, Lily.

I like the characters, especially Hawthorne Swift because he was so adventurous. And I like how every character she meets in Nevermoor has a unique personality. Jupiter North, the super smart but mysterious owner of the Hotel Deucalion; Fenestra the enormous, snobby Magnificat; Hawthorne Swift, a joke-playing, dragon-riding friend; Noelle Devereaux, a girl with a voice like an angel who’s also as mean as a wicked witch; Dame Chanda Kali who can sing to animals; a vampire dwarf; and Jupiter’s mysterious nephew, Jack.

Also, I thought it was interesting and crazy that she starts off in an ordinary place as a cursed child, but she gets taken to Nevermoor where everyone has an awesome talent, except for her.

What kind of heroine is Morrigan?

In the beginning, she’s a bit young and naïve, but also a bit negative because she thinks she’s going to die. Morrigan doesn’t know what her knack is, and she doesn’t want to cause Jupiter to lose his job. She wants a family to love; she wants people to like her; she wants to belong somewhere. She’s kind and brave, even though she doesn’t think she is, but being brave isn’t easy, as Morrigan finds out.

What is a knack?

It’s like a talent that people have who want to get into the Wundrous Society.

What is Wunder?

The power source for everything they use, like electricity. You can harvest it. It can also be used in bad ways.

Who is your favorite character?

My favorite character is Hawthorne Swift. He’s a jokester, he’s adventurous and mischievous, he rides dragons. And he makes a good friend to Morrigan.

Were there any parts of the book that made you mad or frustrated?

There were some parts I was kind of mad about, but I like that because I like to be able to feel emotions for your characters. Mostly the part where Jupiter won’t tell her things and it’s frustrating for her and she doesn’t know what to do. Also, the Hunt of Smoke and Shadow was super scary. And the fact that she kept thinking she was going to die because of the curse.

Are you excited to read the second book in the series?

YES! I am pumped to read the next book. There’s so much going on in Nevermoor, that I want to know all of it. I liked this book almost better than Harry Potter.

I’m pretty sure my kids like the Harry Potter series more than any other books they’ve ever read, so for Lily to say she likes a book almost better than Harry Potter, well, that is high praise indeed. If you’re looking for a fantastical adventure with a great heroine in an enchanting world, Nevermoor is the book for you.

The Bad Guys

The Bad Guys – by Aaron Blabey

Published by Scholastic Press, 2016

Okay, here’s how we Ohlins feel about this book by Aaron Blabey…


It’s clever, fun, unique and the pages are full of pure silliness. We need more silliness in the world. In fact we love the entire series!! This was one of the first series Jasper found, once he started reading, that he absolutely fell in love with.

I mean, come on, it’s about a bunch of bad guys, a wolf, a snake, a shark, and a Spanish-speaking piranha who all think they are MISUNDERSTOOD (although their hilarious rap sheets say different.)

Wolf tries to convince his pals that they are done with being bad, and instead it’s time for them to do some GOOD, like rescue a cat from a tree, even though what they really want to do is eat it!

Some of the words may be hard for a budding reader, but Blabey makes it fun by highlighting them, enlarging them, all-caps-ing them. I think he has as much fun with the fonts and layout as he does with the story. The illustrations are also fabulous, including ridiculously large eyes, suspicious smiles and a shark dressed as a lady. You’ll absolutely be in for some great big belly laughs.

If you love the first one, there’s an entire series! Come join the fun of this series as these bad guys save chickens, fight aliens and deal with a farting piranha, all in the name of GOOD!

These books grabbed Jasper’s attention and made him laugh and giggle his way through the series faster than my kids can polish off a slice of pizza. These are the kind of books that make Jasper excited about reading. He reads them out loud to all of us; he never gets tired of them, and neither do I.

I feel that if authors and illustrators like, Aaron Blabey, Kate DiCamillo, Mo Willems, and Laurie Keller could write the reading curriculum for kids in the U.S., then literally no kid would be left behind, because they’d all be having too much fun reading!!!!

Now I know we’re supposed to be “good for goodness sake” this time of year, but we can’t help but love The Bad Guys!

Jasper’s Thoughts

“Bad Guys is a book with an endles amount of series about bad guys who want to be god guys. The carekters are a shark, a parana, and a wolf, a shark and a spider. I like wolf because he’s funny. These books are helaris!”

Jasper gives this series 13 Stars!!!! *************


2018-01-08T14:06:36+00:00 December 13th, 2017|Categories: Ages 7-9, Reviews, Series|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments