The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library by Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. Book Review.

The Tiny Hero contains well-done black and white illustrations for each chapter.  There are 324 pages but the type is large and well spaced. This book is immediately engaging. Even though it is written for children ages seven to twelve, I was completely hooked.

The reader can’t help but love the little hero, Eddie, a tiny bug who braves the huge halls of the school, dodging a spider, a mouse, and lots of squishers (humans who stomp on bugs), in order to find his missing aunt.

Aunt Min is special. She has taught Eddie to read and told him many stories she overheard in the school library. These are books every child should experience from the works of Dr. Seuss to E.B. White. Avid readers will nod their heads with understanding whenever these books are mentioned. You may want to find those you haven’t read.

The novel supports reading and libraries at a time when many are shrinking or disappearing. Little Eddie reminds us of all the reasons we love a children’s library and why it cannot be replaced by a computer terminal.

The first quest for Eddie is to save his aunt and then protect his foolish little cousin who has followed him. The second one is to save the library from a substitute librarian (sister of a powerful administrator) who wants to board up its beautiful windows, remove all the books, and turn it into something less expensive. It seems an impossible task for a little bug to stop the demise of the beloved library when even the principal has trouble asserting himself but Eddie is committed and clever.

This endearing, suspenseful, and thoughtful book will connect with children and parents alike. There are acts of courage and sacrifice, a great deal of humor, subtle ethical topics, and tributes to our most cherished children’s books. I love how we see the world through the eyes of a small, defenseless creature who only wants to survive with his family. (A good discussion could follow about how some humans are “squishers” of small insects and how this contrasts with the compassion other people show to the small and defenseless.)

This book doesn’t touch on the topic of bullying but I believe if children are taught to show kindness to the smallest and most helpless, they are less likely to bully others or to be speciest. Little Eddie and his family are adorable ambassadors for compassion.

Highly recommended. Buy link

I was given a copy of this book for review.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


New Video – The Sense of Smell

This is the script for the video for primary/junior students.

The video is here.

The sense of smell

Did you watch the video on the sense of taste? Then you already know smell is an important part of tasting. But your sense of smell is also important for other reasons.

Your sense of smell can find and identify odors. Odors are things you can smell. There is a big word for this sense – olfaction.

Our sense of smell can keep us safe.

The odor of rotting or moldy food will warn us not to eat it.

Smelling food can help us decide if it is something safe to eat.

A person’s odour can also help doctors treat an illness or injury. Sometimes they can smell an infection.

Our sense of smell can warn us of dangerous gases.

The odour of smoke warns us that a fire is near.

We may not know it, but our sense of smell can also warn us if someone is angry or upset. Their odor will change.

Other people’s odours help us to decide if we want to spend more time with them.

What you eat will change the way you smell to others. You might love the taste of garlic but other people might think it makes you stink.

Every single person smells differently from everybody else. We all have a special odor. If you cover up a baby’s eyes, it will know which person is their mother just from smelling their mother’s skin.

There is a big word for the sense of smell. Olfaction.

Where does olfaction happen? Up inside your nose. There are two patches called olfactory receptors. They work with your brain to figure out smells.

People have a pretty good sense of smell. We have about five or 6 million yellowish cells on our olfactory receptors.

But many animals have a stronger sense of smell than we do.

A rabbit needs to have a good sense of smell to survive. It has about 100 million of those olfactory receptors. This helps them to smell food like wild cabbage and to smell danger like foxes.

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell. A dog has about 220 million olfactory receptors. That is why they make such excellent trackers for finding lost children by using their sense of smell.

Bears have even a much better sense of smell than dogs. That’s why they are so good at hunting food. That is why you should not keep snacks or even soap that has a yummy odour inside your tent when you’re camping. You don’t want to have a night time visit from a hungry bear!

Women and girls have a better sense of smell than men and boys.

Everyone doesn’t like the same smells. Some people are even allergic to certain smells.

Perfume and hairspray can give some people headaches, make their eyes and nose run, or even make it hard for them to breathe. If you are going to be in a crowded place, don’t wear perfume or cologne.

Some places like schools and hospitals have signs that say “scent free zone”. This means you are not allowed to wear strong smells like perfume because it might may someone sick.

People spend a lot of money trying to make themselves smell good to other people but there is no way to tell how others can smell you. However, if you do not want to smell bad, being clean is important.

Brush your teeth after every meal.

Wash your hands carefully after using the toilet or playing outside.

Shower or bathe often with warm water and soap and especially after you have been sweating.

Some people like to put herbs in their bathwater because the smell of vanilla or lavender can be very relaxing.

Smells of nature can make you feel good. Trees and other plants help to clean the air and make it smell healthy. Open your window to give your room a fresh, healthy smell.

Here is a smell experiment you can try. Have someone put a different scent on individual cotton balls by soaking up liquid or rubbing it against a solid. Keep them in separate sealed plastic bags or jars. However, if you are going to use something powdery or small, like a spice, be careful about inhaling it. Only put it in a jar with a top with tiny holes or gauze on top.

You can try vanilla, coffee, chocolate and more. I will give you a list of ideas. You try to figure out the smells or you can have two of each one and match them up. Make itsure you don’t look. Wear a blindfold.

Things can happen that makes our sense of smell weaken.

People lose much of their sense of smell when they get old and when they have certain illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.

Head injuries can damage your sense of smell. Be sure to wear a proper helmet when playing risky sports.

You might not be able to smell very well if you have a cold. But it will return when you feel better.

Allergies, just like colds, can make it hard to smell odours.

Smoking will really damage your sense of smell.

Take care of your sense of smell and it will help to take care of you.

Ideas for Your Experiment

vanilla, coffee, chocolate, lavender, spices, dish soap, shampoo, garlic, onion, herbs, vinegar, pickle juice, ketchup, fruit peelings, sawdust or wood chips, a flower, cut grass, baby powder, cornstarch, pine needles, hay, candy, perfume, toothpaste, wet teabag, icing sugar, lemon juice, lime juice, soy sauce, butter, pepper, salt, soil.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Author Illustrator Claudia Marie Lenart Three Random Questions Interview

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome Claudia. I’m so excited to be interviewing you. I love your illustrations.

I first encountered you when I reviewed Prince Preemie, written by Jewel Kats and illustrated by you using your fiber technique. Could you tell us what exactly you use in your illustrations?

Claudia Marie Lenart:  Thank you Bonnie! My illustrations are created from wool and other natural fibers, such as alpaca and mohair. In the books I illustrated for Jewel, I sculpted characters out of wool, through the needle felting technique, and posed them in scenes made primarily of wool or against a wool painting backdrop. Needle felting is a technique in which you use a barbed needle to repeatedly poke rolled up wool, which felts the fibers together. In Seasons of Joy, the book I wrote and Illustrated, all of the images are wool paintings, which I created through needle felting, and some pressed wool painting, a technique that comes from Eastern Europe. In pressed wool painting, wool fibers are laid out on a wool canvas; a heavy piece of glass from a frame is laid on top, and then you press against the glass to bind the fibers. The techniques are similar, except that the wool paintings can easily be framed and exhibited.

Ferrante: Where did you learn this technique? Have you used more traditional arts styles before developing this or did you go straight into fiber work?

Lenart: I am self taught. I did start with a book that described the basics of needle felting, but then taught myself after that. A friend on Etsy, from Eastern Europe, shared the basics of pressed wool painting with me and I took off from there. I have dabbled in art since childhood, drawing, watercolor painting, and colored pencil drawing. My mom taught me to knit, crochet, sew and embroider from an early age. I think the arts and crafts came together in needle felting.

Ferrante: Why did you decide to write a book on your own, Seasons of Joy: Every Day is For Outdoor Play? Will you be writing more in the future?

Lenart: I can remember always thinking “someday I’d like to write and illustrate a children’s book,” and that was long before I became a professional artist. I was a journalist, so I think my friends might have expected me to write a children’s book. It was a surprise that my first published works were as an illustrator. Some years ago I created a wool painting for our local Waldorf school. It depicted children playing outside throughout the seasons. People really connected to the work and I sold several more re-creations to families across the world, as well as prints. I thought it needed to be a book, so I sat down and wrote verse to capture the feel of the painting and then created 12 wool paintings, some based on the original painting.

I have other children’s books in various stages, however, my next will be another in the Seasons of Joy series. Where Seasons of Joy: Every Day is for Outdoor Play encourages children to get outside, explore nature and engage in imaginative play year round, Seasons of Joy: Growing Our Food in Backyards and Farms will encourage preschoolers to connect with whole and natural foods, to form a concept on where food comes from, to encourage future sustainable food growing and healthy eating.

Ferrante: I think your work would make wonderful prints for nurseries. Do you sell these on your Etsy page or do you keep all your book illustrations?

Lenart: Yes, I do sell prints of my wool paintings on Etsy and they do make lovely nursery art. I am not currently selling the original paintings, but I would take commissions to make a similar wool painting.

Ferrante: The stuffed animals on your Etsy page seem more like works of art than toys. Is that how you are marketing them? Do they stand up to rough child’s play or are they meant to be set on display? The animals and children are absolutely enchanting. Have you ever had a “show” of your artwork?

Lenart: Yes, the animals are more for display than active play. They would hold up to very gentle play and storytelling. I have not had an official art show – something to look forward to someday.

Ferrante: I was very pleased with the prose in this book and relieved you did not try to make it rhyme like many indie authors do. It was readable and poetic. What is your writing experience?

Lenart: As a young adult I wrote a lot of poetry and took a couple of college classes. Of course, I worked as a journalist for many years. Yes, I wanted the verse to feel very natural; where the verse rhymes, it happened naturally in the writing process.  I did revise quite a bit and consulted with a poetry editor.

Ferrante: Is there something new in the works that you would like to tell us about?

Lenart: My next book with a food growing theme. Seasons of Joy:  Growing Our Food in Backyards and Farms All Year Round

Ferrante: As a child, what was your favourite place?

Lenart: The beach. I grew up in Chicago near Lake Michigan, so had lots of opportunity to walk in the waves, build sandcastles and I love swimming in the cool waters.

Ferrante: If you lived underwater, what aquatic animal would you be?

Lenart: A mermaid or a dolphin.

Ferrante: What’s your worst obsession?

Lenart: For worst, I would say social media, because, while it has many benefits both personal and for my business, I am guilty of spending too much time and wondering where the hours went.

Ferrante: Thank you so much for answering both my serious and random questions. I learned a lot today. I’m looking forward to your next book. It is definitely an important and timely topic. Best of luck with all your projects.

Note: Seasons of Joy: Every Day is for Outdoor Play was reviewed yesterday on this blog.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Seasons of Joy: Every Day is For Outdoor Play written and illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart.


Amazon BUY LINK 

I previously reviewed a book that was illustrated by Lenart. I loved the illustrations and was greatly impressed by its uniqueness. I gave the book 5 stars. This picture book is Lenart’s first attempt at writing as well as illustrating. I am very pleased to see that she has competence in both areas.

The book explores the four seasons, three pages dedicated to each one. The story is written in poetic prose and although there are occasional rhymes, it does not try to be a rhyming book. On each page, children participate in imaginative, child driven, outdoor activities. For example, in spring, they play like otters in the water, create a fairy bed, and pretend they can fly like the butterflies. All the activities the children do are either free or inexpensive. All they need is a safe space outside and an imagination.

The prose is lovely.

“We sway to the wind’s song under crimson showers.”

“We play until the sun paints the trees a copper hue.”

The illustrations are even lovelier. I am amazed at what this artist can do with fibers. The deer looks as though it could leap off the page. The children are innocent and adorable without being saccharine. Many of the pictures would make beautiful prints for a nursery. I especially love the winter scene with the falling snow.

Highly recommended.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a review.



Link to Prince Preemie review


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


My Videos for Kids, Parents and Teachers on Youtube Bonnie0904

Preschool to Kindergarten – counting to 5 for teachers and parents- Counting to 3 on the Cheap

Preschool to Kindergarten – counting to 5 for teachers and parents – Counting to 5 on the Cheap

Preschool to Grade 1 – counting for children – Sing to Ten and Down Again

Preschool to Grade 1 – counting, number recognition ideas for teachers and parents- Play and Learn with Number Mats

Preschool to Grade 1 – physical activity & more for children – Come On. Let’s Play.

Kindergarten – numbers, shapes, counting for children- Do You Believe in Fairies (not narrated)

Preschool to Grade 2 – classification of animals & more for teachers and parents – Educational Play with Animal Puzzle Mats

Kindergarten to Grade 3 – animal rescue, fractured folktale for children – The Gingerbread Man

Kindergarten to Grade 3 – (book read aloud) – focussing on the task at  hand, nutrition for children – Never Send Callie

Grade 1 to 3 – sound, a balanced life, problem solving – Too Quiet, Too Noisy 

Grade 1 – mixing paint colours – Mixing Colours

Grade 1 to 3 – human body for children – The Fascinating Sense of Taste

Grade 1 to 3 – human body for children – The Sense of Smell

(The other senses will be coming soon.)

Grade 1 to 2 – opposites for children – Opposites #1

Grade 1 to 2 – opposites for children – Opposites #2

Grade 1 to 3 – animal rescue, fractured folktale for children – Three Little Pigs are Rescued

Grade 1 to 3 – (book read aloud) worrying – Then the Tooth Fairy Won’t Come

Grade 1 to 3 – traditional fairytale with legos & graphics for children – The Snow Queen

Grade 2 to 4 -(book read aloud) gratitude brings happiness – Rayne Shines

Grade 2 to 4 – fractured fairytale told in rhyme with fashion dolls for children – The Real Princess (The Princess and the Pea)

If you would like me to create a video on a specific topic for children aged 1- 10, please leave a comment.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

So Close It Hurt – Recycled Sundays


If I counted the hours I’ve spent filling out entries for sweepstakes and draws and multiplied it by minimum wage, then added in money I’ve spent on tickets, I could probably pay for my dream holiday: a cross-country balloon ride.

But the lure of winning some thing still draws me like a gape- mouthed, bug-eyed bass waiting to be clubbed. The chance to win an unusual prize is irresistible. It’s pretty senseless, considering that even when I win, I lose.

The first competition I remember winning was an environmental poster contest in grade 4. Mine illustrated the damage caused by litter to wildlife. I won a set of fishing lures, which I never dared use because I might actually catch a gape-mouthed, bug-eyed bass and have to club him on the head.

A month before my wedding, I correctly guessed the weight of a gold brick and won two enormous blue glass ashtrays. Not only do neither my husband nor I smoke, but our home is a no smoking zone. We used the ashtrays as candy dishes for a few years before selling them for $.25 at a garage sale.

My children seem to have better luck. My daughter won a poster contest which provided her with more chocolate than I like to see her eat in a month. Then, in a final round, she won her 85th stuffed toy, a four-foot-high Peter Rabbit which continues to trip me to this day.

My children have won books, small toys, and theater tickets over the years. This inspires me to keep trying for the big prize: air fare to Toronto for a weekend of theater, or a train ride through the Rockies, or the primitive thrill balloon ride which has fired my imagination since I first read Around the World in 80 Days. At least it did until Canada Day, 1990, a date that lives in infamy.

We attended the anniversary celebration at Chippewa Park. With Anne of Green Gables style enthusiasm, I entered my name for a draw. Not just an ordinary draw. The draw of a lifetime. Four lucky winners would be picked to go for balloon ride. Not up and down on a rope, but across country, riding on the wind. Unfettered, free, gloriously at one with the elements.

“Would you like to enter?” The woman behind the table asked my children.

“Sure,” they replied.

A week later, I received a telephone call. My daughter’s name had been drawn for the balloon ride.

“The handwriting looks like a child’s,” said the young man.

“She’s 11,” I responded.

“I thought so,” he said. “Sorry, but she’s disqualified. She has to be 18.”

I explained how she had come to fill out the ticket. That was too bad. I offered to take her place. No substitutions allowed. I offered to pretend to be her. Sorry he had already selected another name. Why then had he phoned? He thought we should know.

Of course. Just like we should know that french fries have too much cholesterol, taxes have not reduce the national debt, and areas the size of France have been clear-cut in British Columbia. I live for the joy of acquiring this kind of knowledge.

I still haven’t given up on contests. Charitable draws and lottery tickets still find their way into my pockets. I figure after such a cruel twist of luck, the fates owe me. Now if I could just suppress the need to pop every stupid balloon I see.

November 10, 1991.

The McVentures of Me, Morgan McFactoid – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow! by Mark S. Waxman. Book Review.


This is a humorous novel written for Junior grade children.

Morgan is a loner, not by choice but because he doesn’t seem to fit into the social landscape around him. He has a special relationship with his grandfather, Poppy, who encourages Morgan’s experimentation and attempts to invent new things.

Unfortunately, Morgan’s school life is dominated by a bully named Buckholtz. The bully is jealous that Morgan is already shaving and continually threatens him. This culminates in a promise to beat Morgan and shave his face and head. Morgan decides to invent a product that will remove facial hair without shaving. He believes if his red whiskers disappear, Buckholtz, who is three years older, will not feel the need to pummel him. However, because of the storm, his formula is changed and Morgan discovers something that is worth even more money than a hair removal product.

In the midst of all of this, a beautiful, smart and popular girl named Robin moves across the street. Morgan is shocked by her friendliness and her ability to spout random facts like he does. But Robin has mixed feelings about Morgan and his invention. Things get even more complicated when investors begin to bribe, woo, and threaten Morgan. In the end, Morgan has to decide what he values most.

Kids will love the humor, ethos, bumbling affection, and random facts scattered throughout this book. Morgan is a lovable and relatable character. Morgan’s final decision is sure to spark some interesting conversations. Well recommended.

Buy link. 


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Wolfie by Ame Dyckman. Book Review.


 Click here to buy Wolfie the Bunny

Ame Dyckman answers the ever puzzling question of nature versus nurture. She comes down squarely on the side of nurture.

In this story, a wolf pup is left on the doorstep of a rabbit family. Mama and Papa instantly love the baby wolf but their daughter, Dot, lives in terror of being eaten. Wolfie, who constantly wears a pink bunny onesie, adores Dot and follows her everywhere. The wolf is raised on carrots but still grows to be more than twice the size of Dot who continues to keep her eye on him. When a bear tries to eat Wolfie, mistaking him for a pink bunny, Dot comes to her adopted brother’s rescue. After this, Wolfie adores her even more and Dot accepts and trusts him.

This is an hilarious story about the power of love and inclusion.

OHora outlines his characters in thick black lines. He uses only yellow, cream, white, green, black, red, pink, and grey in his pallet. There is no blue, purple, or brown. It gives the pictures a soft, sweet tone.

Whenever Dot is claiming, “He’s going to eat us all up!” the font changes, the letters are in bold text, and words are out of alignment. This brings home her dramatic terror.

This combination of writing and illustration has produced a book that is sure to be a family favorite.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Buddy’s New Friend by P.T. Finch. Book Review.

If you are thinking of getting a dog and already have a cat, this is the perfect book to share with your children before hand. The author understands animals and deals with them compassionately.

Buddy’s New Friend buy link

The children realize that Buddy, their cat, is lonely when everyone is away. (Although cats are not pack animals, they are mentally healthier with another animal.) The family decides to get Buddy a dog for company. When one of the children suggests a pet store the father says, “Well, the pet store is one place to get a dog. But I think it would be nice to visit an animal shelter.” I inwardly cheered. Most people don’t realize that pet stores often get their dogs from puppy mills where females are bred to death, dogs are kept in crowded dirty cages, and animals are not given veterinarian care. Mommy explains that shelters are for dogs and cats who need a good home. This makes the children even more enthusiastic.

At the shelter, the children play with the puppies. Then they notice an older dog. The caretaker explains that it is a gentle, quiet dog so they take him. How wonderful! Older dogs are usually put down because everyone wants a puppy. I love that this book encourages people to think differently.

Unfortunately, the new dog, named Sam, behaves in a way that upsets the cat. Buddy becomes distressed and afraid. The little girl cries because she thinks Sam will be sent back to the shelter but these parents know what they are doing. They work with the pets to help them accept each other. In the end, the dog and cat are friends. Fabulous.

The author then lists a page of discussion questions for families. I think they provide a valuable jumping off point for parents who will read this to their children.
The illustrations are highly professional, clearly demonstrating both the people’s and the pet’s emotions. This is also a diverse book.

This is a caring and well-informed story that children will enjoy and parents will appreciate. Excellent!

Queek’s Race in Outer Space by Carrie Mortleman. Book Review.


This is a fairly challenging book for children just beginning to read longer texts or early chapter books which doesn’t seem to fit the idea of rhyming. Hellie the elephant and her friend, Queek the mouse, decide to go to Mars to challenge the aliens to a race. The aliens are generous hosts and the elephant wins by trumpeting and zipping across the finish line just ahead of the alien. The winner receives a prize supplied by the aliens. There are humorous and slightly suspenseful moments.

The first page reads:

  • Queek is a scrumptious sugar mouse
  • who glimmers in the sun.
  • He lives in a yummy cookie house
  • with Hellie, who loves to have fun.

The syllabication is off – seven, six, nine, seven. Writing in rhyme is not the best choice for most authors. The last line also klunks because the rhythm is broken.

Some of the sentences are awkward in order to make them rhyme.

  • Very tired from the flight, they landed, feeling blurry.
  • All the aliens stared in fright to see creatures so furry!

The next page reads:

  • Hellie the Hovercraft elephant is an elephant who can fly
  • she flitters and flutters
  • and splitters and splutters
  • and zooms up in the sky.

Since this book employs a lot of difficult words, I think it’s important to use them in their proper context. Splitters are devices for cutting software and splutters means to choke or spit. I understand that she is trying to make a rhyme but since there are so many other difficult words in the book, this could be confusing for a child starting to read larger books on his own. There are several large words used correctly such as frustration, tremendous, stupendous, precarious, hilarious, croissants. They often rhymes quite cleverly. There are also some odd phrasings like “feasted keenly.” and “a hefty blast”. The book ends with a glossary translating ten alien language statements.

On page 7, there is a knock knock joke coming out of nowhere which ends, “I must come in and use the toilet.” It features a sign on what appears to be a swirl of feces but later turns out to be Mars.

The illustration is an odd combination of flat drawings of the mouse and elephant and 3-D style computer graphics. This can be effective when the pictures are blended together carefully however most of these illustrations were not comfortable to the eye.

I received an e-book copy for review.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages