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Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Reviews: Oliver at the Window and Loon Summer

Author: Elizabeth Shreeve
illustrated by Candice Hartsough McDonald
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: When his parents separate Oliver must brave many new changes. He shuffles back and forth between his parents' homes. And now he goes to preschool every day. He doesn't know the kids there or his new teacher. Isolated and alone at first, Oliver slowly becomes part of the gang. Eventually he's able to help the newest student feel welcome at school. And his lion stays with Oliver everywhere he goes, giving him just the thing he needs to adjust to all the changes: courage.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Oliver at the Window is a MUST read for children who are feeling withdrawn or sad after a divorce. On top of those difficult feelings, sometimes kids have to move and change schools because of the divorce. It's no wonder detachment can become an issue for students. Oliver is experiencing this detachment. This simple and sweet story will empower and encourage kids as they are going through this experience....and they will come out okay.

Oliver eventually begins connecting with the other kids and participating in classroom activities. Sometimes we just need a little time. A new girl shows up with the same sort of detachment going on. But it's Oliver who steps in to support and guide her because of what his own experience has taught him. It's important for kids to know that through their own life journeys - they can help each other. Oliver is a wonderful role model.


Author: Barbara Santucci
illustrated by Andrea Shine
Interest Level: Ages 9-11

From the Book Jacket: My first morning on the lake I hear the loons. "Oh-OOOO-oooo." Their sad songs remind me Mom isn't coming to the cottage this summer.

Rainie knows that this summer will be different. As she and her dad spend time together at the cottage. Rainie is painfully aware of her mom's absence. Throughout the summer, Rainie watches a pair of loons on the lake - watches them lay eggs, hatch babies, and be together as a loon family.

"You told me loons stay together for life. Why can't you and Mom?" she asks her dad.

Loon Summer is an authentic hopeful story of a child adjusting to the difficult reality of changes in her own family. As summer progresses, Rainie grows in her trust and understanding of the unconditional love each of her parents will always have for her.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Divorce reminds me of the grieving process. It's a loss...a letting go. The absoluteness of a new beginning can be especially difficult. Rainie's story will be a familiar and helpful one to many children. She still wishes and hopes things could go back to the way they used to be. I appreciate divorce bibliotherapy validating those thoughts and feelings. Children will also find healing and comfort in Rainie's dads words to her, "My wish is that you'll never forget how much Mom and I both love you. Even when one of us isn't with you." This is what kids want to hear....love. I'm excited to have this in my lending library to kids and parents. 

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