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  • Writer's pictureClover

Rising to the Challenge

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

With summer on our doorstep, Clover and the hive-fivers give thanks last year is past us, when “Rising to the Challenge” became paramount. Each Bee Buddy had to dig deep to adjust to a grueling time that tested our hearts and minds. To commemorate our sacrifices, Clover has chosen books featuring characters that also meet challenges head on and became the better for their struggles—just like us.

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

Everyone should have a pal as daring and intuitive as the little scamper in “Brave as a Mouse.” The crafty mouse puts its life on the line to help his fish friend in an entertaining, beautifully told and illustrated by Nicolò Carozzi.

Mouse and goldfish enjoy each other’s company and play together in creative ways forming a bond despite the fish being behind the glass of its fish bowl.

Fun abounds as they enjoy each other’s company until suddenly “…three others wanted to play, too.” The “others” are kitties three, their presence apparent in looming shadows on the page, the goldfish eyeing them with trepidation.

The black cats check out the fish bowl, drawing ever nearer, as mouse looks on at a safe distance. Suddenly mouse has an idea—an escape plan that leads to a scary chase—the second idea culminates in a big splash and freedom at last.

This charmer has spare text, its lovely pictures playing a starring role in a book certain to be cherished by the young and young-at-heart.

Middle Read

Italian Gino Bartali, 1914-2000, made a name for himself as a cyclist, winning the Tour de France not once but twice. “Bartali’s Bicycle,” by Megan Hoyt, recalls the Italian’s enviable cycling accomplishments, but also brings to light Bartali’s humanitarian efforts to save Jewish lives during World War II, heroic efforts the humble man didn’t like to talk about.

In preparing for his first Tour de France, Bartali got to know his country because of the miles he rode in training—eight years of pumping up hills and riding along the wind-swept coastline. In July 1938, Bartali had his first Tour de France win.

Soon, however, worry and sorrow overcame him as “Strange new ideas began to spread across Italy. Armies marched. Generals barked order.” World War II erupted and Jewish people were persecuted—among them Bartali’s neighbors and friends.

In bold, emotion-packed pictures by Iacopo Bruno, the tale of Bartali comes to life, his admirable feats and humility a shining example of his courage. Today his wise words continue to touch hearts: “Some medals are pinned to your soul, not your jacket.”

Oldest Read

Be prepared to buzz through “Alone,” a survival story in verse that’s simply breathtaking by Megan E. Freeman. In this marvelous read set in a small town in Colorado, we meet 12-year-old Maddie, a typical tween with ordinary problems, tackling life’s little ups and downs as she babysits her siblings, and tries to adjust to living half time with her mom and halftime with her dad.

Little problems become big ones when Maddie and her besties put a plan in motion to have a “secret sleepover.” Two of her friends will tell their parents they’ll be spending the night at the other girl’s house, and Maddie will tell her Dad she’s staying with her mom. In actuality, the threesome will overnight in an empty apartment Maddie’s grandparents own.

This devious arrangement goes up in smoke when a national emergency occurs. Maddie suddenly finds herself alone—all alone in her town—her only company a dog she discovers that becomes her faithful sidekick as she struggles to survive, isolated from those she loves, cut off from a world now foreign to her, without power or the ability to communicate via phone or Internet.

Maddie must dig deep and hone her mental and physical skills to live one day at a time as her test of fortitude continues. “Alone” will set your heart to racing and imagining how you’d survive day-by-day if you faced Maddie’s life-threatening dilemma.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2021, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.

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