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Sights, Scents and Sounds

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Sometimes humans take too much for granted in our wide, wonderful world—things in nature we bees pay attention to in our daily flyovers. In lush July, everyone from the drones to the queen notice our globe’s wondrous “Sights, Scents and Sounds.”

This month Clover is happy to laud and suggest books that focus on three very important senses that enrich our lives, increasing our awareness and joy without asking anything in return, other than for us to be mindful. Page On, enjoy!

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

Youngest Read

Who among us hasn’t wondered at the vast ocean and the gifts it bestows—the roll of waves sending bounty to gather, shells of every shape and size to be examined and collected? This scenario plays out in “Little House,” a poetic new book by the incomparable Kevin Henkes.

A little girl gets to shell when she visits her grandparents at the beach. She enjoys “… the waves coming in, going out. A whisper or a roar.” In the mornings she walks the sandy shore to see what treasures she can find, what “little houses” have been deposited when stars lit the sky.

The child imagines the shells as rooms in a home “A rounded orange room,” others with “… thin pale walls of pink and gray.” She glories too in the sounds she hears when she holds the shells to her ear.

She and her grandmother try to visualize what’s under the water’s surface, what fish might be swimming by, what treasures might be on the ocean floor, a bottle, a teacup or even a toy snapped up by a wild wave. The child’s grandfather is lost in the magnificence of the beach too, exclaiming the scene “Beautiful, beautiful. Just beautiful.”

And so is this lovely book, with its simple story and illustrations by Laura Dronzek that are certain to have readers pining for a trip to the beach, where lasting memories are made.

Middle Read

While all roses are a sight to behold, their regal blossoms and scent earning them the title “Queen of the Flowers,” one beauty in particular has a memorable history told in “A Rose Named Peace: How Francis Meilland Created a Flower of Hope for a World at War,” by Barbara Carroll Roberts.

It’s the tale of a determined man who wanted to fulfill a legacy passed along by his family. Francis Meilland was raised in Southern France, the son of gardeners who raised vegetables and abundant beds of roses. It was Meilland’s goal to cross pollinate roses and create a special new variety.

He worked tirelessly, failing time and again, but finally having success with 3-35-40, an “enormous rose” in shades of pale yellow and pink. It was given the numerical title because “… it was the third cross Francis had made in 1935 and the fortieth plant that had grown from the seeds of that cross.”

Meilland sent out cuttings to friends so they could experiment with the rose in their gardens. World War II erupted, putting an end to Meilland’s family’s rose gardens — the land was needed to produce vegetables, except for one small plot for roses. Mail was interrupted too, and Meilland was clueless about what happened to the cuttings he’d sent to America.

With the end of the war in 1945, Meilland was thrilled to receive a letter about his new rose’s success. “His rose … had survived a terrible war, (and) was now much more than just a beautiful flower.” Expressive illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline capture the beauty of roses and the sadness that gives way to joy in this heartfelt story.

Oldest Read

Mirabelle, a goldfinch with a lilting song narrates “Duet,” the story of a bird that befriends Michael Jin, an 11-year-old with a gift for playing the piano that takes him to heights he never imagined. This entertaining read by Elise Broach is both a tale of budding friendships and a captivating glance back at the life of Frédéric Chopin, one of the greatest composer/pianists of all time.

Mirabelle is not only lovely to listen to, she’s pretty too. Her yellow coloring enough “… to brighten the grayest day.” She brings joy to Mr. Starek, an aged piano teacher who is ill. Fortunately, he’s not too sick to help Michael, a cranky boy, perfect Chopin piano pieces he’s preparing for an important contest.

Michael doesn’t want Mr. Starek to be his new teacher. He’s comfortable with his teacher Emily, but she believes Michael is ready for a master instructor like Mr. Starek, who actually taught her to play. Emily believes Michael could be an accomplished pianist, and soon Mr. Starek and Mirabelle agree, the bird often accompanying Michael from a nearby tree.

Mirabelle, Mr. Starek and Michael grow close as the boy, under great pressure, prepares for the competition. An element of mystery enhances this page-turner when the children discover Mr. Starek’s late sister’s home houses a piano with an illustrious history. “Duet” might spawn an interest in readers learning more about Chopin, and listening to some of his piano concertos. fascinating in this quick read.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2022, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.

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