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  • Writer's pictureClover

Newfound Friends

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

Greetings from the hive—I’m a newbie in the colony. My name’s Clover, a page-turning, frequent-flyer set to suggest sweet reads in “Book Buddy,” a grand gig I’m pleased to pen and share.

Each month I’ll review three books in a theme. I thought it fitting to launch this lovely endeavor with reads about “New Found Friends,” which is exactly what I’d like to be to you, a Page Sage to inspire you with stellar stories and accompany you on reading adventures. Let’s do this!

The Community Literacy Foundation, with support from it's sponsors, provides these books to 37 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at

Youngest Read

A little girl arrives in a city depicted in shades of gray, the only color a spot of red, the moving van delivering her things to a big apartment house at 3 Ponds Lane. So begins the touching read “Neighbors,” by Kasya Denisevich.

While the child is pleased to have a room to herself, it feels ominous too—spacious and cold, the only warmth coming from a cuddly toy kitty she brought from home. In the apartment house there could be people above and below her, and she imagines them and finding a new friend upstairs or down.

“Neighbors are all around me. I wonder what they are doing right now. Are they going to bed, just like me,” she ponders, an illustration showing a cutout of the apartment house, the zigzag of the stairs and folks peopling the rooms.

She continues to pose questions about her new residence in spare text, illustrations mirroring her anticipation and fears until they grow universally large, then evolve into manageable worry and the peace that comes with sleep. Things are always better in the morning—and that couldn’t be truer for the little girl, now in red, who meets a neighbor in yellow, coloring the newcomer’s world content once again.

Middle Read

Madeline and her fluffy white dog and pup, Star, return in Lisa Papp’s newest “Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog.” What’s not to love about this adorable trio?

Star has turned 1 and is ready for a “test” the next day. He’s been in training to become a therapy dog and Madeline and her mom are sure he’ll rise to the occasion because they’ve been practicing meeting people and putting the pup into situations to make him comfortable no matter what.

Naturally Star passes. Next stop the care center, where Star lavishes love on residents, who adore the pup, all except for one forlorn gent, Mr. Humphrey, who wants nothing to do with the dog.

On a return visit, an elevator challenges Star, but he meets his fear head-on, and eagerly greets more residents, only to again be shunned by the sad “…. man in the corner.”

Never fear, Madeline and Star have tricks up their sleeves and paws — some Mr. Humphrey can’t resist in this upbeat story with lovely illustrations. A 5-star read!

Oldest Read

“Skunk and Badger” is a quirky crowd-pleaser by Amy Timberlake, the book’s characters given human qualities, and hysterically rendered in cartoons by the cleverest of clever artists, Jon Klassen.

Badger is a rock collector of mucho merit, living in a woodland cottage his Aunt Lula is letting him hole up in. He has a ploddingly ordered, solitary life, until he hears a knock on his door. Badger answers it but won’t allow entrance. There’s a skunk on his step, and a brassy one at that, one that won’t take no for an answer and pushes his way inside the home, rocking badger’s world.

It seems Aunt Lula has granted Skunk permission to be Badger’s roommate, a decision Badger can’t accept as the days accumulate. Skunk is the polar opposite of Badger—the white striper is organized, effervescent and a seasoned chef, the latter almost winning Badger over until Skunk’s affection for chickens sends Badger squawking to the rafters.

There are silly antics and laughter aplenty as these two unlikely characters butt heads in the launch of a new series sure to be tops on reading lists.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2020, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.

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