Mad About March Picks
Updated: Jan 28
Basketball might be center stage in March, but Clover scores high marks for a trio of books sure to keep students glued to the page. Plan on reading overtime with these three-pointers sure to entertain and inform.
With an assist from Clover, you’ll meet a boy with a laughable, language issue, a frustrated kid whose creative juices are stymied, and a menagerie of creatures and humans living in a village where kindness has been forgotten.
The Community Literacy Foundation, with support from its sponsors, provides these books to 39 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at CommunityLiteracyFoundation.org.
Creative and just plain fun sums up “Chester Van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme,” a side-slapping, rib-tickler by Avery Monsen. From the cover, it’s obvious that Chester is flummoxed. You see the boy, always prime when coming up with rhymes, is stumped, his uncanny gift has hit the skids. The realization hit Chester hard when he woke up one morning.
“He felt almost queasy. To match up two sounds, it was always so …simple for him.”
It’s no longer easy for the youngster who “…loved rhyming, in poem or song. It always felt right, but today it felt…not right. VERY not right.”
When Chester arrives at school his classmates try to help him but Chester can’t shake his despair, even when they sit ragged him in a “velvety chair.” It’s a heck of a predicament for Chester—and one without a fix, until a thought occurs to the youngster when he’s walking home from school and observes people in his town working at their various jobs. It’s then that Chester’s keen insight turns on his mental light, freeing him from his quandary.
Illustrations by Abby Hanlon capture the range of feelings Chester undergoes in this book with a moral for young and old.
Anyone who has ever tried to put a creative thought on paper, will have oodles of empathy for the main character in “The Story of a Story,” by one of Clover’s favorite authors, the prolific Deborah Hopkinson.
No matter how ready you think you are to write, sometimes you can hit a snag, like the boy in the book. He approached his desk on a snowy day with pencils at the ready, but his thoughts immediately froze like the landscape outside his window. Try as he might, the boy stared at “…a mostly empty page.”
Goodness knows he had his own experiences to draw on, and his own imagination, but they only resulted in “squiggles” and “doodles…the words (wouldn’t) come.”
After tossing balls of paper around him on the floor, the boy thinks maybe a cookie will help, that a sweet distraction might be just the ticket. His walking away from his writing task turns out to be the best move the boy makes, which is often the case for all of us wordsmiths.
This treasure of a book reminds writers to look outside themselves as well as inside for inspiration, raising our awareness about how nature can break a stalemate as it does in this meaningful book illustrated by award-winning artist Hadley Hooper.
Readers will flock to “The Ogress and the Orphans,” a wonderous fairytale by Kelly Barnhill featuring 15 winsome orphans, their loving caretakers, an evil mayor and a female ogre with a heart of gold.
The setting for this engrossing page turner is a town in shambles where a vibrant library and school once stood until the community was decimated by a raging fire, a disaster that broke the spirit of its citizens, rendering them self-centered.
Once the townspeople were avid book lovers, but without their library there are no new stories to read. Once the people supported their school, but then a smooth-talking new mayor takes office and all financial support for the community dries up.
The children of Orphan House and their caretakers, aged Matron and her husband Myron, manage to retain their values and believe in good—but without financial support of the Orphan House it becomes increasingly difficult. The hungry children grow dependent on food left for them by an unknown benefactor who also gifts townspeople with treats and delights the mayor with pies, though they fail to sweeten him up.
There’s lots of love and lessons in “The Ogress and the Orphans” a story for our times about the importance of reading, about being a good neighbor, and treating everyone with respect, no matter how different they initially might seem to us.
Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2022, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.