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Bouquet of May Picks - Blooming Good Reads

With spring full to bursting, Clover is eager to introduce young readers to her Bouquet of May Picks. While every batch of honeys Clover suggests are standouts, your bee buddy’s especially excited about the books she’s sharing this month. The Picks are not only captivating, they’re a delight to bee-hold with memorable illustrations that complement their special stories. Get ready to embrace a trio of charming books, page-turners all.

The Community Literacy Foundation, in partnership with Neighborhood Reads and with support from its sponsors, provides these books to 40 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at

Youngest Read

She’s back—Marla Frazee, a sweet friend of Clover’s. Marvelous Marla wins hearts with her stories. She’s done it again with “In Every Life” a book with artwork worthy of abundant ahs. This beauty is based on a Jewish baby-naming blessing that celebrates our connections, one to another.

Shafts of soft sunshine grace the cover, lacy golden leaves surrounding a child running to embrace a waiting grandfather, the man’s arms open with anticipation. This illustration and others throughout the book highlight the emotions we feel, from birth to the ever after.

“In every birth, blessed is the wonder” shows a mother expecting a baby. Other vignettes on the spread highlight individuals caring for their infants—daddies, big brothers, moms, grandparents, all cherishing the newborn that’s uniquely theirs.

“In every smile, blessed is the light,” celebrates joy, its vignettes featuring times that delight us—the pleasure of having an ice cream cone in each hand, the surprise of a spring snow on daffodils, and the endearing warmth that comes with sharing a book.

Though the Jewish blessing has spare words, Marla’s illustrations speak volumes, as they focus on hope, comfort and love. “In Every Life” is another lovely gift from Marla to her devoted readers.

Middle Read

“Make Way: The Story of Robert McCloskey, Nancy Schön, and Some Very Famous Ducklings,” by Angela Burke Kunkel, is the story of two artists who followed their dreams, even though the paths they took weren’t what they’d envisioned.

Growing up in Ohio, Robert McCloskey, had lots of energy and a gift for creating. When he grew up and went to art school in Boston, he had grand plans to “… draw, and paint, and carve…(but) his work (was always) dark and heavy.” On his way to class, Robert cut through the Boston Public Garden where he’d “smile at the ducks.”

Many years later, in a city just outside Boston, a rambunctious girl was growing up. Nancy Schön loved to sculpt, creating three-dimensional objects. Nancy’s passion took her to the library where she discovered the works of great artists. But when Nancy sculptured, her work faced endless rejections.

When the Great Depression hit, and Robert needed to make money, he thought he’d write a children’s book, but he experienced rejection too—his came from a children’s book editor. She told him that his work was too serious. He heeded the editor’s advice, lightened up, and wrote “Make Way for Ducklings,” a 1941 children’s classic based on the ducks he had seen in the Boston park.

“Make Way,” creatively charts the progression of how Robert and Nancy’s dreams intersected resulting in a gift for the ages. Retro-like illustrations by Claire Keane give this amazing story a vintage quality that fits the duck bill.

Oldest Read

A peculiar set of circumstances face Peter, the 10-year-old protagonist in “The Magician’s Elephant,” a book certain to delight by the much-awarded, beloved Kate DiCamillo.

Peter, an orphan being raised by an eccentric, old soldier is tasked with going to the market to buy fish and bread. The boy is waylaid when he spies a fortune-teller’s tent—suddenly the coin in his pocket burns a hole in his consciousness. He could use the money to discover the fate of his younger sister, to learn if she has, in fact, died like he’s been told.

The coin can only be used to answer one question, the fortune teller warns Peter, and so he proceeds, overjoyed to learn his sister is alive. “How will I find her,” he asks the fortune teller.

“Follow the elephant” she says, a directive that confuses Peter because there are no elephants in sight.

Soon one does appear, thanks to a trick gone awry performed by a magician who tries to conjure a bouquet of flowers for Madam LaVaughn, a lady in the audience, but instead causes an elephant to come crashing through the top of the tent, landing on her legs, and crippling her.

After this strange, yet captivating beginning, readers follow Peter’s quest to find his sister, along the way coming into contact with some unusual, wholly original, at times quirky characters. Though Peter wants more than anything to be united with his sister Adele, he retains his empathy for others, including the forlorn elephant, held captive after the tragic incident, an accident he really can’t be blamed for.

Once again, DiCamillo holds us transfixed, her magical way with words filling the pages of “The Magician’s Elephant,” now available in an animated feature film too.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2023, Community Literacy Foundation.

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