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  • Writer's pictureClover

Thankful for ...

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Though it might sound redundant, the phrase rings true—gratitude paves the way to happiness, making us better bees and human-bee-ings. This month your bee bestie Clover is particularly grateful to introduce young readers to three beautiful new books. Each book focuses on something Clover’s sure you’re grateful for—home sweet home, books and the stories they tell, and our animal friends.

Page On! Enjoy.

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

Lose yourself in the history and wonder of “Farmhouse,” author/illustrator Sophie Blackall’s newest nugget of literary gold. This lovely tribute to home and family came about when Blackall bought property in upstate New York. On the land was a falling-down house where 12 children were born and raised.

Though the house was set to be demolished, Blackall honored the home and the land’s glory days by gathering old objects she found inside and out, incorporating them into her story using her own unique, artistic style.

Blackall imagines the lives of the family that lived there over the years, from the time they were babies until the youngest child, all grown up departs, leaving the house quiet and solitary. “And the house gave a sigh and slumped on the stone....”

But not to fret—or have regret—the house was reborn thanks to Blackall’s care and ingenuity—treasured old objects she found are incorporated in her detailed illustrations, and the family’s story is once again told, “… in this book that you hold.”

Middle Read

“A Book, Too, Can Be a Star: The Story of Madeleine L’Engle and the Making of a “Wrinkle in Time,’” by Charlotte Jones Voiklis, highlights the wisdom that comes with asking questions and being patient as we await answers—answers that often come from books and writing, something Madeleine L’Engle realized.

Early on, Madeleine observed the fulfillment her parents found in their professions and hobbies. Her father was a writer and her mother was a pianist. Madeleine noticed that “music, like writing, is another way to tell a story, to answer the call of the stars.” This was meaningful for a child who was impressed with the glory of the heavens and stars that decorated the night sky.

Madeleine remained inquisitive, constantly asking “why.” In school she struggled to fit in, often felt “lonely” though she was never “alone.” She found solace in books and writing and eventually “became more confident in her stories and began to write and perform in plays.”

The arts and natural world fed Madeleine, awakening her creativity. Though she struggled getting her stories published, she continued to write. Her perseverance paid off—an attribute predominant in this thoughtful biography written by Madeleine’s granddaughter. Illustrations by Adelina Lirius project the theme of wonder woven into Madeleine’s life journey.

Oldest Read

Author C.C. Harrington beautifully blends multiple themes in “Wildoak,” a book that celebrates the connections we have with animals and the world we share. Engaging chapters alternately tell the story of Maggie Stephens, an animal/nature lover, and Rumpus, a young snow leopard sold to a monied woman who has no idea how to care for a wild animal.

Maggie is a likeable but angst-ridden 11-year-old who struggles with stuttering. Reading aloud in class, or trying to address an adult, paralyzes her. Mr. and Mrs. Stephens love and support her, but an effort driven home by her harsh father, a perfectionist in all things, threatens to land Maggie in Granville for treatment.

Maggie abhors this idea—she’s heard unsavory things about the institution. In a last ditch effort to help their daughter, the couple decides Maggie might benefit from a change in scene and send her to Cornwall, on the southern edge of Britain, to stay with Maggie’s mother’s father, an eccentric inventor with a heart of gold.

As Maggie’s transition plays out, readers get to know Rumpus and learn of his antics, innocent but destructive actions that result in him being ousted from the home of the woman he was living with. Rumpus is taken to Cornwall, where he’s released into an ancient forest. The cub must fend for himself until Maggie finds and cares for him, a secret she keeps to herself. Amazingly, Maggie doesn’t stutter when she talks to Rumpus.

Naturally, Rumpus and Maggie face challenges as the snow leopard grows, problems they couldn’t, or didn’t want to foresee, in “Wildoak,” a pageturner with a hair-raising conclusion.

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

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