Written by Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
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The town of Bonnyripple is a civilized place where no one ever holds a grudge. Why? Because any and all arguments are to be immediately delivered on a scroll of paper to old man Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper.
Ruffled feathers, petty snits, minor tiffs and major huffs, insults, umbrage, squabbles, dust-ups, and imbroglios – the Grudge Keeper received them all, large and small, tucking each one carefully away in his ramshackle cottage.
Over time, though, the grudges add up. They stack so high in Cornelius’ cottage that he can barely move. Then one day, a storm blows into town and causes quite a commotion. Items are ruined, neighbors bicker, feelings are hurt, and come morning the entire town is upset with each other. They march straight to Cornelius to drop off their grievances. But what do they find? A literal mountain of grudges and complaints and backhanded compliments all tossed together in a blown-about heap. And buried underneath it all is the poor grudge keeper. The townspeople must put aside their differences and work together to save him.
Wheeler does an excellent job creating the fairy-tale town of Bonnyville with her ink-and-watercolor illustrations. Watch how the color pallet shifts with the town’s mood, especially when the storm approaches – literally and figuratively. Rockliff uses plenty of alliteration and tongue-in-cheek wordplay to make the story fun to read and fun to listen to; this would work well as a third grade read aloud and could promote discussion on getting along and resolving conflict.
For a great interview with the author and illustrator and an insider’s look into the picture book-making process, visit The Making of the Grudge Keeper on the publisher’s website:
- Title: The Grudge Keeper
- Author: Mara Rockliff
- Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
- Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2014
- Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
- Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
- ISBN: 978-1-56145-729-8
- Genre: Picture Book, Fiction, Humor
Written by Chris Platt
If you like horsey books, or even if you don’t, this short book has a lot to offer. Ali is a well-behaved thirteen-year-old who lost her beloved horse in an accident and whose brother, Danny, comes home from Afghanistan minus one leg. Meanwhile, she is keeping an eye on a possibly senile neighbor whose two horses are obviously neglected. When her friend, Cara, talks her into sneaking out to check on the horses, they discover the horses are in very bad shape. The girls report the neglect anonymously, but Ali’s parents still figure out she sneaked out. So Ali ends up with the responsibility of nursing the horses back to health. The author includes a lot of information about the problems sick horses face. Danny and the sicker horse form a special bond, helping them both.
The author does a great job of showing the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder from a young family member’s perspective. Ali knows her brother is not the same as when he went to war, but she’s not able to put a name to it right away. The reader will also see all the difficulties in trying to help abused and neglected animals. Where do you draw the line between being a good neighbor and interfering? Third graders who are just learning of some of the problems in the world will love to read about how Ali works out all her problems. The fascinating story will provide a lot of reinforcement for literacy skills.
- Title: Wind Dancer
- Author: Chris Platt
- Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2014
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 126 pages
- Genre: Contemporary fiction, horses, PTSD
- ISBN: 978-1-56145-736-6
- Extras: Multiple resources about PTSD
Written by Kay Winters
Illustrated by Larry Day
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The poetry created by Kay Winters breathes life into the story of the Oregon Trail and the many emigrants who traveled there in the thirty years of its use. Between 1830 and 1860 overlanders made the trek in farm wagons pulled by horses, mules or cows. Most people sought free land and riches to be made on their own terms.
They sent letters back home that helped to preserve their adventures; good and bad. People were born and died along the trail. They were married, injured or became sick or lost.
Each poem in this collection is written from the perspective of a particular individual. Women, men, children, Native Americans, and even the captain of a wagon train all have their say and give the story the feel of realism.
Third grade readers will be enthralled by the journey and the chance to think about and pretend they are along for the trip. The illustrations are colorful, active and realistic enough for readers to feel part of the square dance, the river crossing, or the hail storm.
Teachers and librarians can use this text in the core curriculum for literacy skill development in reading as well as in the areas of writing poetry and/or memoir. It would be a valuable addition to any library.
- Title: Voices from the Oregon Trail
- Author: Kay Winters
- Illustrator: Larry Day
- Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014
- Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
- Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
- ISBN: 978-0-8037-3775-4
- Genre: Historical Fiction in Poetry/Oregon National Historic Trail
- Extras: Historical Notes/Further Reading Lists