Book Review: All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann

A kindergarten to third grade nonfiction read, All Birds Have Anxiety describes the debilitating and all-pervasive nature of severe anxiety, juxtaposing emotions with beautiful yet telling pictures of birds. Hoopmann explains how everyone feels anxiety at some point in their lives and why certain anxiety can be good for achieving goals and working harder and faster when needed. Unfortunately, others have more anxiety, even when everything is going well, that prohibits everyday functioning. Negative and even frightening anxiety, as Hoopmann writes, is when nothing gets done, we want to be left alone, we cancel plans, and we feel as though everything is out of control. There are coping mechanisms such as cuddling with a pet, exercise, eating well, and going for walks, and Hoopmann ends on an optimistic note with a variety of solutions. Medication and therapy are not discussed. As other critics have mentioned, the text in All Birds…

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Book Review: Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau

Argyle Fox just wants to play outside. As he heads out the door, he grabs his cards. Unfortunately it is quite the blustery day, and Argyle’s card house and even the tiny birds are blown away. Not deterred, Argyle returns home and gathers up more toys. Armed with a fake spider, he makes a giant web even though the squirrels warn Argyle that it is too windy. As predicted, Argyle’s web topples over into a giant mess.   Over and over again, the wind foils Argyle’s fun plans, but he persists, ignoring either arrogantly or optimistically the advice of the other woodland creatures. Eventually heading home in complete frustration, Argyle’s mom gently tells him to think a little harder. Inspired and not yet defeated, Argyle builds a kite that perfectly compliments this windy day. In what can only be an act of contrition, he also builds all of his little forest…

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Book Review: The Dance of the Violin

Joshua loves making music, even with everyday household items. His parents feed into his passion, buying Joshua a violin. Deciding that he wants to play a difficult piece in a Kalamazoo competition, Joshua practices with his teacher to perfect his performance. Joshua chooses this song because he can hear, see, and feel its captivating story. Once at the competition, Joshua stumbles on his first try, tumbling an imaginary dancer onto her face. The piece falls flat. Not yet defeated and determined, a brave Joshua asks the judge to try again. The music comes alive in his mind, the room disappears, and although the reader never learns the outcome of the competition, the actual winner is irrelevant. Joshua has achieved his goal and demonstrated his enthusiastic talent for music. Joshua’s ambition and story is based on a real person, Joshua Bell, who is now a talented classical violinist. The Dance of…

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Book Review: The Fog by Kyo Maclear

Warble the warbler lives in Icy Land where he loves to people watch. One day, a dense fog rolls in but none of the other inhabitants seem to notice or care. Soon, Icy Land becomes Fog Land, and everyone falls into a new pattern of blindness, forgetting how visible life used to be. Deteriorating into the same disinterested haze, Warble is awoken from his stupor by the sound of a singing child. Together, the pair decides to reach out to the rest of the world using little origami boats to see if anyone else is conscious of the fog. As the duo receives more and more responses, the fog begins to lift. Award-winning Maclear creates a beautifully messaged tale about environmental conscious, friendship, connectivity, and humanity. Although a slightly more abstract concept for younger children, The Fog is a great lap-read for preschool-aged children to third graders. Paired with Maclear’s…

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