June Book Reviews
Author: Pam Heller

For Younger Readers
If You Want to See a Whale
by Julie Fogliano

This is a gentle story of a young boy and his two friends (a basset hound and a bird). It is told in a series of vivid, looping, brief poems that explore the relationship between patience and reward in a subtle and tender fashion. Each poem begins with the phrase, “If you want to see a whale…” and continues with simple yet profound advice, such as “you will need a window,” “time for waiting,” “time for looking” and “time for wondering…is that a whale?” There is even advice on avoiding distractions. This charming read-aloud leads you on a path of imagination and ends with a satisfying moment of awe. For ages 2 to 6.

The Dark
by Lemony Snicket

Little Laslo is a boy who suffers from a common childhood fear – he is afraid of the dark. However, the darkness in his home is not just an absence of light, it is an actual entity. Dark lives in the basement during the day and tends to roam the house at night. So Laslo sleeps with a night-light and Dark doesn’t enter his room, until…Laslo’s night-light burns out. Dark enters Laslo’s room and beckons him to follow to the basement. Laslo demonstrates courage and follows with his trusty flashlight. Dark leads Laslo to a small dresser and ominously bids him to open the bottom drawer. And that is where Laslo finds a supply of night-light bulbs! Dark continues to live in the house, but Laslo is no longer afraid of it. For ages 3 to 7.

For Older Readers
The Matchbox Diary
by Paul Fleischman

This is a story about an Italian-American immigrant uniquely sharing his childhood memories with his curious great-granddaughter through the objects he saved in matchboxes. These items were saved to commemorate important events in his life. The loving bond between the girl and her great-grandfather grows throughout the book as this inspirational story of immigration unfolds, revealing the memories brought forth by simple keepsakes. This is a story of hardships, perseverance, hope and joy. The little girl hopes she too will “write” her own story someday. Readers may be inspired to do so as well. For ages 6 to 12.

by Vince Vawter

Victor Volmer is an 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959. Due to a serious stutter, he can barely say a word. For the month of July he takes over a friend’s paper route and finds he is faced with the task of communicating with a variety of different characters. One character in particular poses a dilemma: the neighborhood junkman, a bully and a thief, puts Victor’s life in danger. What makes this story unique is that it is told in first-person narrative and is written in a blocked paragraph style with no commas and multiple spaces between paragraphs. This publishing choice puts the reader in Victor’s head and thus makes reading the story reflective of the character’s struggles with speech.

This book is a realistic and memorable coming-of-age novel. For ages 10 and up.

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