Wishtree

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!

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…

WE LOVE IT!!

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

Our Favorite Holiday Picture Books

Every December one of our favorite family traditions is to get a new holiday book to add to our collection. I love unpacking them every December and seeing the kids’ reactions to them. “Oh I remember this one!” “I forgot all about this book!” “I love this one!”

So today we give you three of our old favorites and a special new one for this year’s pick.

 

Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh Illustrated by J. Otto Seibold

This is one of my all time faves. I have had this book since I was a teacher in Los Angeles, and the story is warm and wonderful. Olive, the dog hears the Christmas Carol, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and thinks they are singing “Olive, the other reindeer,” instead of “All of the other reindeer.”

She goes on a super fun journey to join the reindeer team, and help Santa deliver gifts. We see it all in gorgeous, fun illustrations of Seibold.

 

 

 

Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera

Oh! What a delightful book about a spoiled rotten girl, Sophie Kringle, her spoiled rotten, little brother, and her family who all live “High atop the luxurious Bing Cherry Hotel in New York City.” Sophie adores her eccentric aunt, Auntie Claus, but can’t figure out where she disappears to every year between Halloween and Valentine’s Day. This year Sophie stows away and follows her aunt all the way to the North Pole.

Mistaken for an elf, Sophie gets put to work, and working as an elf at Christmas time is hard. But the worst surprise of all for Sophie is that her brother’s name is on the Bad-Boys-and-Girls list, the list of kids who get NO presents.

Open the pages to this delightfully illustrated book and find out what Sophie decides to do. This book will wrap you in the special feeling of Christmas and the precious words of Auntie Claus, “It is far better to give than it is to receive!”

Auntie Clause has a few other fabulous adventures in more books too!

 

Can You See What I See? The Night Before Christmas: Picture Puzzles to Search and Solve by Walter Wick

This is Jasper’s favorite, actually my kids fight over this one. I know, I know, how lovely to say my kids fight over a Christmas book. Good parenting there, huh! It’s just so much fun to search and find on every page of holiday-themed photographs.

Along with a list on each page of hidden items, don’t forget to find the wooden elf doll who first appears on the title page. This book will give you hours of puzzle solving fun!

 

 

 

And this year’s beauty, drum roll please…Red and Lulu by author and illustrator, Matt Tavares!

Red and Lulu are a pair of cardinals who live “in the branches of a mighty evergreen.” For Red and Lulu, this is the perfect tree in the perfect location, especially at Christmastime when people sing to the tree. But one day when Red flies off in search of food, someone chops the tree down and takes it away, and with it, Lulu who’s tucked into its branches.

Red follows his tree and his love, Lulu all the way to New York City where he finds them in Rockefeller Center. The tree is beautifully decorated, people are singing to it, and Lulu is safe.

Red and Lulu make a new home in Central Park where they can see each year’s Christmas Tree, and sing along with the carolers. It’s such a sweet story, but it’s the AMAZINGLY GORGEOUS illustrations that bring this story to life. Sometimes the art tells more of the journey than the words. Treat yourself to this special book this year.

Happy Holidays!!!

Eleven All-Time Favorite Pictures Books!

This list is dedicated to our friend Barb Hummel. Barb is one of those gorgeous, special people you feel lucky to meet in your life. She just makes everyone around her feel important and unique and wonderful.

I met her through my sister and like many of my sister’s gems, I’m going to claim her as mine too! She reminds my sister and I of our mom, and that is pretty awesome in itself.

Barb asked us what some of our all-time favorite books are for kids ages 3-6. Naming our favorites was easy; narrowing that list down to something manageable for a blog post was nearly impossible!

Lily, Jasper and I agreed on eleven. They are not in any particular order, and we could probably come up with fifty more of our favorites, that’s how much we love picture books, and how many amazing ones there are floating around in the world.

But for now, here are some we’ve loved for a long time. And even though Lily and Jasper are moving on to chapter books, these eleven books are still on our shelf today!

Eleven All-Time Favorite Picture Books!

1. Listen to My Trumpet! by Mo Willems

Every single book by Mo Willems is awesome!! But Elephant & Piggy, the two main characters in this series of books, are so much fun! They are silly, charming, and seem to always end on a beautiful note about friendship.

In this book, Piggy tries to impress Gerald with her trumpet playing, but the noise is so bad, Gerald doesn’t know what to do because he doesn’t want to hurt Piggy’s feelings.

For kids this age who are becoming more engaged in books and learning how to read, these books are unique with their simple but awesome illustrations, huge fonts, and easy words & phrases on each page. It’s hard to say which one is our favorite, but Listen to My Trumpet makes Jasper laugh every time we read it.

 

2. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Pictures by Oliver Jeffers

This book and its sequel are so clever and witty with each color crayon writing letters to their owner, Duncan. Some of the colors are thankful for their life, some whine, some request new things to color, two of the colors are even fighting over who should really get to color the sun.

At the end there’s a gorgeous drawing done in colors you might not think of, like orange for a whale and black for a rainbow. The final illustration is full of joy and makes us think that it’s okay to do things differently, sometimes it’s even brilliant!

 

3. Wag! by Patrick McDonnell

Another favorite author! Patrick McDonnell is one of those writers who says so much with few words. It’s seriously hard to pick a favorite book of his because they are all so wonderful and precious.

But Wag is all about love, and how Earl shows his love by wagging his tail. This book is pure love, it’s a wonderful tribute to dogs, and it’s simply beautiful. If you or your kids are animal lovers, this one is a keeper and will make you feel warm and fuzzy every time you read it.

 

4. A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham

Talk about special books that touch your heart!!!

A stranded abandoned bus appears in Stella’s front yard in her eclectic, busy, perhaps-not-so-safe neighborhood and brings Stella out of her shell.  She decides to keep the bus and clean it up. Her neighbors gather to help her, and together they all create a cool, fun hang-out place where everyone is welcome, no matter your gender, race, religion, age, even dogs are welcome!

But then the bus gets towed away!!!! NO!

Open up the pages of this precious and fun adventure to see what the neighborhood, and especially Stella does, and see whether or not they get Heaven back.

The sparrows nesting in the engine of the bus are my absolute favorite part, that and watching Stella kick butt in table soccer! Go Stella!

 

5. LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

We love the pictures and rhyming words in this gorgeous book!

LMNO Peas is hands down the best, silliest alphabet book I’ve ever read! When they were younger and learning their letters, this book could keep my kids entertained forever! And the tiny peas riding their bikes, knitting, gardening, skateboarding, doing every day things are super cute.

See if you can find the ladybug on each page. If you love this book, there’s an entire series starring the peas!

 

 

 6. The Scrambled States Of America by Laurie Keller

What a hilarious, clever adventure for the whole family – errr, I mean country.

You’d think the states would be perfectly content where they are, nestled in, fitting perfectly together like a puzzle. Wrong! Kansas is  sad and bored. Kansas wants adventure. So Kansas and her best friend, Nebraska, throw a party for all the states so they can all switch places.

Whoo – Wee!! Talk about a scrambled up mess. You might just giggle your butt off reading this book and discovering whether the states can ever put themselves back together or not. You’ll have so much fun, you might not even realize you’re learning! Again, there are more books and board games starring these goofy states.

Laurie Keller is awesome!!! I absolutely love a picture book that can entertain an adult as well as a child and Laurie Keller pulls it off!!

 

7. Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers

We love everything by Oliver Jeffers. His words are gorgeous, but that’s nothing compared to his illustrations, which will knock you over with their beauty.

A penguin arrives on the boy’s doorstep and the boy thinks of everything he can to get the poor penguin back to his home at the South Pole Only, the penguin doesn’t want to go home, he wants companionship. The moment when the boy realizes this is both poignant and lovely.

And Holy Cow! My favorite page is the last one, the illustration of looking down through the water over the whales, stunning!

 

 

8. Cars & Trucks & Things That Go! By Richard Scarry

We had Richard Scarry books when I was a kid and they are still as fun as ever.

Follow all the animals on their adventures in cars, in trucks, in all kinds of vehicles that go, and while you’re at it, see if you can find the small, gold bug on each page.

It’s a book, and it’s a puzzle, and it is so much fun!

 

 

 

9. Otis by Loren Long

Otis, a sweet, old tractor, and a calf become friends on an idyllic farm only to be torn apart when a SHINY, NEW, HUGE tractor comes to the farm and the farmer puts Otis out to pasture.

With a broken heart, Otis becomes depressed and doesn’t know what to do, until one day his calf is stuck in the pond and the only one who can save her is Otis.

This is the first adventure for Otis, but he stars in many wonderful books, including one with a puppy, one with a tornado, and there’s even a Christmas adventure!

 

 

10. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Iggy Peck, Architect is the first in a stupendous series about super smart, creative kids (BOYS & GIRLS) who color outside the lines, if you will.

Iggy Peck loves to build, and he’ll use any materials he can get his hands on to build amazing structures. That is until he enters second grade and his teacher won’t let him build.

What’s a child to do now that he’s bored silly in class? Things are not going well for Iggy, until the class gets into a situation where they might need his stupendous smarts.

The story, along with the gorgeous illustrations, is bound to become a favorite of yours too!

 

And no list in the Ohlin house of favorite books would be complete with at least one of Calvin & Hobbes adventures.

 

11. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson’s comics are our favorite comics ever!

Calvin and Hobbes are hilarious, sarcastic, and full of life! Lily and Jasper love how Calvin uses big words and never wants to do his homework, and they love to see what schemes Hobbes comes up with to pounce on Calvin.

Any of the Calvin and Hobbes collections are wonderfully entertaining, and will provide you with hours of adventures with a little boy and his tiger.

 

We hope you enjoy our favorites and we’d love to know what yours are! Happy reading!