January 5, 2019

Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt, illustrated by Vin Vogel

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:39 pm by suebe2

Maddi’s Fridge
by Lois Brandt
illustrated by Vin Vogel
Flashlight Press

Sofia and her best friend Maddi spend time at the local park.  They scale the climbing wall and have a great time before heading to Maddi’s apartment. Sofia, hungry for a snack, pops open the fridge only to discover that it is virtually empty.

Maddi explains that her mom doesn’t have enough money to buy groceries and makes Sofia promise not to tell.  Sofia wants to be a good friend but it is hard for her to see all the food they have at home, food her little brother refuses to eat, when Maddi and her family have next to nothing.

But she promised not to tell.

So she smuggles fish to school to share with Maddi.  Fish does not, to put it kindly, travel well.

But she’s still determined to solve this on her own.  This time she smuggles eggs.  Eggs?  They don’t travel all that well either.

SPOILER ALERT (the next paragraph gives away the resolution)

As writers we try to create stories where young characters can rise to the occasion and solve problems themselves.  But reality means that sometimes an adult is required to do adult things.  Sofia solves the problem by breaking her promise. Brandt does a great job of showing just how heavily this decision weighs on Sofia but once she tells she can help her mother take food to their needy friends.  

Because this really is a story about friends helping friends.

Vin Vogel’s art work takes a story that is all too real, hunger in today’s world, and makes it a little less threatening.  How so?  The illustrations are cartoony but not so cartoony that young readers will miss the emotions that these characters are working through.

This book came out in 2014.  I’m not really certain how we all missed up at the time because it won a number of awards including the 2014 Christopher Award, Books for Young People, 2014 ILA Primary Fiction Award, 2015 MLA Mitten Award Honor, and a Human Rights in Children’s Literature Honor.

Add this book to your classroom shelf.  Make sure young readers and their parents can find it in your library.  Together Brandt and Vogel have created a book about a serious topic that is age appropriate and accessible to young readers.




February 11, 2016

The Thing about Yetis by Vin Vogel

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:21 am by suebe2

The Thing about Yetis
by Vin Vogel
Dial Books for Young Readers

“The thing about yetis is that yetis love winter.”

As should be clear from the cover, this isn’t a wild, blood-chilling abominable snowman story.  This is a cute, cuddly yeti yarn.

It turns out that yetis are a lot like us.  They love winter and hot cocoa. They love building with snow, wrecking what they’ve built, and playing around on the ice.  But no matter how much they like winter, sometimes the cold and snow and ice just get to be too much.

Because, just like us, yetis like summer too.  They like water games, the beach and building with sand. And, just like creative kids, creative yetis can enjoy summer fun even on a cold winter day.

This is one of those stories where the monster/animal is a stand-in for Joe Kid.  Why say “yeti” instead of “Joe Kid”?  Yetis make the book that much more fun.  But young readers are still going to identify with our young yeti. They’ll get the thrill of waking up to snow, of slipping and sledding and building.  They’ll also understand that feeling that too much of a good thing is just  . . . too . . . much.

The cartoony art work for this book was created digitally.  Young readers will love that it is fun and silly.  The adult reading to the child will love jokes hidden in the art work — be sure to look for the marshmallow bag.

I can see using this book for story time and the craft options are endless with cotton ball yetis, pom pom yetis and even pop corn ball yetis.  This book would also work well to introduce discussions on seasons and seasonal activities as well as helping kids who must deal with event let-down.  If you don’t understand “event let-down,” just smile.  You probably haven’t had to deal with it.

A fast moving, fun read for sun lovers, snow lovers and everyone in between.


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