“The True Story of Ten Dogs: Stay”
By Michaela Muntean Photography by K.C. Bailey and Steve Kazmierski
For ages 4–8 If you could capture the magic of the circus in a picture book you’d end up with “Stay.” This fascinating tale tells the story of Luciano Anastasinia, a seventh-generation circus performer, and his loveable canine crew. Anastasinia rescues his pups from the pound and decides to learn a thing or two about them before deciding how to put an act together. He discovers that Penny is a cross-eye bichon fries and Bowser is a kleptomaniacal beagle mix. Not a trainer, Anastasinia shows remarkable patience with his animal buddies and develops a true understanding of how to work with them. If you find something you like to do, work is fun. And that is how they put together a successful circus act.
The vivid photographs that illustrate “Stay” tell a wonderful story of understanding and love. When combined with playful text a fantasy trip to the big top develops with a tale about overcoming obstacles and second chances that even young readers can understand and enjoy.
“Fiercely & Friends: The Big Something”
By Patricia Reilly Giff Illustrated by Diane Palmisciano
For ages 5–8 This early chapter book adventure is the first in a new series by Newberry Award honoree Patricia Reilly Giff. It follows Jilli, her best friend Jim and her rambunctious dog Fiercely. In “The Big Something” Jilli and Jim are playing in the back yard when they see a big red something being built on the other side of the fence. What could it be? And why is there a lady in a witch’s hat painting ice cream cones and gumdrops on it?
Thinking that she is a witch, Jilli and Jim race back to Jilli’s house only to discover that Fiercely is in the witch yard. Will they rescue Fiercely? What is the big red something? Who is the witch? Everything is answered with a fun and light-hearted ending that will make young readers happy to read the next book in the series – “The sneaky Snow Fox.”
“Eye of the Storm” By Kate Messner
For ages 10–14 We’re destroying the environment with internal combustion engines. The weather is getting crazy because of it. Corporations are evil and the military can’t be trusted. And if you work too much you’re harming your children. If you believe at least a couple of these statements you’ll love “Eye of the Storm.” However, if you think that these statements are political propaganda you’ll want to keep this book out of your children’s hands.
All political views aside, there are greater problems with this story. “Eye of the Storm” is a tornado-driven adventure that follows 13-year-old Meg and her science summer camp comrades as they try to save the planet from an evil mastermind that wants to use tornadoes to control the world. It’s full of action – one storm after another – which adds excitement but the characters and plot are woefully thin. The science, which begins as a very interesting aspect of story, is quickly over-explained until the science is simply convoluted. So if you want a storm-driven story that delivers, try the “Storm Runner” series instead.