Dear Book Lovers, Welcome! I am delighted that you have found The Through the Looking Glass blog. For over twenty years I reviewed children's literature titles for my online journal, which came out six times a year. Every book review written for that publication can be found on the Through the Looking Glass website (the link is below). I am now moving in a different direction, though the columns that I write are still book-centric. Instead of writing reviews, I'm offering you columns on topics that have been inspired by wonderful books that I have read. I tell you about the books in question, and describe how they have have impacted me. This may sound peculiar to some of you, but the books that I tend to choose are ones that resonate with me on some level. Therefore, when I read the last page and close the covers, I am not quite the same person that I was when first I started reading the book. The shift in my perspective might be miniscule, but it is still there. The books I am looking are both about adult and children's titles. Some of the children's titles will appeal to adults, while others will not. Some of the adult titles will appeal to younger readers, particularly those who are eager to expand their horizons.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Poetry Friday with a review of Hate that cat

I honestly cannot remember a time when I did not love to read. Books have been my dearest of companions since I was a child. I have always loved stories and the characters that inhabit them, but it wasn't until I was in school that I really understood the power of words. One of my teachers read Martin Luther King's I have a Dream speech to us and I was bowled over by it. Today's poetry book explores the idea that words and the ideas they impart can really change a person. In this case a boy learns to change his mind about something, and he also starts to understand that words, either spoke or read, can build connections between people.

Hate That Cat: A NovelHate that cat 
Sharon Creech
For ages 8 to 12
HarperCollins, 2008, 978-0-06-143092-3
Another school year has started and Jack is once more in Miss Stretchberry’s class and once again they are exploring poetry. Last year Jack wrote some amazing poems about his dog Sky, who was killed by a car. Miss Stretchberry asks Jack if he has any more Sky poems to share but he doesn’t. He has no more Sky poems in him, though he thinks he could write about a cat, a “crazy mean fat black cat.”
   Jack mentions that his uncle Bill does not think that the poems Jack has written thus far are proper poems because they have no rhyme, a regular meter, symbols, metaphors, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and all the other things that uncle Bill thinks a poem should have. Hearing this makes Jack want to “punch” his uncle.
   Luckily, Miss Stretchberry has a more enlightened view of what constitutes a poem, and knowing that she is on his side makes Jack feel a lot better. Mind you, she does get her students to explore what alliteration and onomatopoeia are, and Jack starts to enjoy the process. He creates a poem in homage to one that was written by Edgar Allen Poe, and in his poem he uses lots of sound words. Exploring what onomatopoeia can do for a poem makes Jack wonder what it would be like to read a poem that is full of sound words if you could not hear. How would you perceive a yip, a squeak, and a buzz if you could not hear them?
   Thanks to a cat that lives in his neighborhood, the “mean” cat, Jack does not like cats, but he does enjoy studying a poem about cats. Then Miss Stretchberry brings in her kittens, and Jack cannot help feeling that they are “fantastically funny.” He insists that he would not like one though because kittens grow into cats and cats are “creepy.” We then find out why Jack hates cats. He tried to rescue one and got clawed for his pains.
   As he continues to explore poems, Jack finds out that many people like cats. Even his hero, the author Walter Dean Myers, has a soft spot for felines. In spite of himself, Jack’s anti-cat feelings begin to soften round the edges. Maybe just a little. When Jack’s parents give him a kitten for Christmas he softens completely.
   As the days unfold Jack dives into exploring more and more poems. Poems about cats, of course, and poems that have stories, and sounds, and so much more. What he never expects is that the glorious words in poems will help him build a new bridge between himself and his mother; his loving mother who cannot hear words at all.
   This remarkable book takes us through a young boy’s year, a year full of exploration, discovery, and new beginnings. We see as his eyes are opened to so many new possibilities as he learns to love cats, to connect with his mother in new ways, and to appreciate fully the glory of the written word.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Books of Hope - The Odd Egg

Often we give up hope because we believe that our dreams cannot possibly come true. They are unrealistic and unattainable, we think as we set them aside. Sometimes they are unrealistic, but should we give up completely or should we adjust our goals and keep trying? In today's book of hope title you will meet a duck who does not give up on his dream. He refuses to, even when the odds are stacked against him. This duck is inspiring!

The Odd EggThe Odd Egg
Emily Gravett
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009, 978-1416968726
All the birds have laid an egg except for Duck. Then Duck finds an enormous egg that he thinks is "the most beautiful egg in the whole wide world." Alas for Duck, for the other birds do not agree with him at all. In fact, some of the birds even laugh at the big egg.
   One by one, the eggs began to hatch, to the delight of their doting parents. Soon Duck's egg is the only that has not hatched, but Duck refuses to give up. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is going to prevent Duck from staying true to his egg.
   In this perfectly paced, minimal, and deliciously funny picture book, children get to meet a duck who is not a quitter and who refuses to be swayed by naysayers. Instead, he maintains his resolve and in the end, he gets his just, and perfectly wonderful, reward. With its surprising ending and its cleverly layered pages, this picture book is sure to delight little children.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Little Fun Club Blog Tour and Giveaway

Little Fun Club blog tour. A subscription box for children's books. Great for kids ages 0-12.

There is nothing quite like getting a parcel in the mail, and for many of us a parcel full of books is a special treat. 

A few days ago just such a parcel was delivered to my house. I opened the box to find that it contained a carefully wrapped package that was neatly tied up with a blue ribbon. I carefully opened the package and in it there was a wonderful selection of  books for children. For toddlers there was Wolf Crunch, a novelty board book that has tabs to pull and a delightful, and surprising, ending. For older children there was Last Stop on Market Street, an award winning picture book that shows us that joy can be found in the most unlikely of places. Finally, there was a beautifully illustrated edition of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which would suit teenage and adult readers. 

The parcel of books was a sample of what Little Fun Club offers, and a subscription to this service would be a wonderful gift to share with children. 

About Little Fun Club:

Little Fun Club is a subscription box for children's books. It's ideal for kids ages 0-12. When you sign up, your child will receive a box containing three adventurous books every month. The books are tailored to your child's age, so you can rest assured they will always have quality, age-appropriate reading material. Each book is hand selected for your child, and no two boxes are the same.  

How it Works:

  1. Join Little Fun Club and let them know your child's age so the box can be customized for them. You can include up to three kids per box and they'll customize it accordingly.
  2. Get three adventurous books every month for as little as $25/month.
  3. Grow with Little Fun Club. As your child gets older, the books change accordingly — so you'll always receive age-appropriate books for your kids.

Good to Know:

  1. You can add a note to your child's account with reading preferences so the box can be tailored to their interests.
  2. Shipping is FREE on all boxes.
  3. Little Fun Club selects books based on merit. Books go through a rigorous selection process and are read and reviewed by the Little Fun Club team before being considered.
  4. If you receive a book that you already own, just let Little Fun Club know about it. They'll replace the book in the next box! You don't have to return anything.
  5. You can cancel or put your subscription hold at any time.
  6. A Little Fun Club subscription makes a wonderful gift for birthdays, holidays, or just because.
The final product is a box filled with education, fun, and opportunities for positive child development. They make sure each box is just right before it is sent out.  


1 month - $29/month 3 months - $27/month 6 months - $25/month   You can see what types of books Little Fun Club offers by visiting their website.

  $50 Cash Giveaway | batchofbooks.com  

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive $50 in PayPal cash Open to US and Canada Ends May 12, 2017 Use the Rafflectoper to enter. Entrants must be 18 or older or have their parent/guardian enter for them. The winner will be chosen randomly. Winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary to enter. This contest is void where prohibited by law.  

Blog Tour Schedule
April 17 - The Mommy Island 
April 18 - Writing My Own Fairy Tale 
April 19 - The Kids Did It 
April 20 - Feed Your Fiction Addiction
April 21 - Book Review Mama 
April 24 - Homebound but Hopeful 
April 25 - Looking Glass Review 
April 26 - Kristi's Book Nook 
April 27 - Natasha Reads Books 
April 28 - Create With Joy 
May 1 - That's What She Read 
May 2 - Tee and Penguin 
May 3 - Bookworm for Kids, This Kid Reviews Books 
May 5 - Word Spelunking 
May 8 - Babies to Bookworms 
May 9 - The Tangled Yarn 
May 10 - Geo Librarian 
May 11 - Savings in Seconds 
May 12 - Kid Lit Reviews

Friday, April 21, 2017

Poetry Friday with a review of The Barefoot Books of Earth Poems

Happy almost Earth Day! Tomorrow millions of Americans will finds ways to celebrate the fact that we live on a beautiful planet. Many will talk about what we can do to protect it. Others will actually do things to make our natural environment cleaner and healthier by committing to driving their cars less, by starting recycling programs, and by picking up rubbish in parks and on beaches. 

Today's poetry title serves as a tribute to Earth's many beauties, marvels, and gifts. 

The Barefoot Books of Earth Poems
Complied by Judith Nicholls
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Barefoot Books, 2003, 978-1-78285-278-0
Nature is a powerful force in our world and over the centuries its beauty and majesty has inspired countless poets to “represent the sights and sounds of nature, and the feelings that nature evokes in us.” Through their poems, these writers have celebrated nature. Some have also asked their readers to appreciate what is around them, and to look after the natural world so that it might be enjoyed by future generations.
   For this collection Judith Nicholls has brought together poems that were written by people from all over the world. We begin with the words of Mary Kawena Pukui, a Hawaiian poet, whose poem celebrates the fact that birds, flowers, trees, and ocean creatures remind us that our planet is a truly “lovely world” no matter where we live.
   In Father and I in the woods David McCord uses spare language and dialogue to remind us that the best way to be a part of nature is to walk instead of run, to be silent instead of talking, and to just “be” so that we can observe the “sky and brook and bird / And tree.”
   In Everything’s Wet we experience a rainfall, and in Winter we read of a “white horse” that brings the snow, which “filled the land with its spirit.” We encounter stars and the sun, a lark rising up into the air and filling the sky with its song. We are told about Forest, a living entity that keeps her counsel, who dreams of the world when “the earth was young,” and who is woken by the howl of the howler monkey in the morning. Just as Forest keeps her secrets, we in turn must “keep Forest.”

   The poems in this collection are beautifully varied and constantly surprising. They delight they ear, and are accompanied by beautiful artwork which delights the eye. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Books of Hope - Tarra and Bella: The elephant and dog who became best friends

One of the things I love about books is the way in which stories can uplift us. A happy ending makes us feel that good things can happen in this world, especially if the story we are reading is true. Today's Book of Hope contains just such a story. It is about an unlikely friendship that exists between two very different species of animals. Through the story we see how friendship can grow and prevail even in the most unlikely of situations. This is a powerful thing to see because, after all, friendships based on mutual respect and love really do help to make our lives worth living.

Carol Buckley
Nonfiction Picture Book
Ages 4 to 8
Penguin, 2009, 978-0-399-25443-7
Tarra the Indian elephant lives on the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. She was the first elephant to live at the sanctuary, and she likes to welcome all the new arrivals personally. Every elephant who arrives at the sanctuary soon develops a special relationship with another elephant. Winkie and Sissy are best friends, as are Dulary and Misty. However, Tarra has never found that special elephant friend and she is alone.
   One day Tarra meets a stray dog called Bella. When Tarra walks off, Bella follows her and Tarra is delighted by this development. The friendship between these two very different animals flourishes, and Tarra and Bella become inseparable. Then Bella gets very ill and the friends were separated, which makes both the animals extremely unhappy.
   As they read this very moving picture book, readers will discover that friendship can truly cross extraordinary boundaries. Though they are very different in size, and speak different languages, and eat different food, and have very different histories, Tarra and Bella have connected on a special level.
   With a simple text and wonderful full-color illustrations, this is a picture book that will charm readers of all ages.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Picture Book Monday with a review of Not Quite Narwhal

One of the things that many children struggle with is finding out where they belong in the complex society that often dominates their social life. When I was young I certainly had a hard time figuring out where I fit in. The story in this beautiful picture book describes the journey that a young narwhal makes. Through him we get to see that sometimes the best way to solve the "where do I belong" problem is to follow your heart.

Not Quite NarwhalNot Quite Narwhal
Jessie Sima
For ages 5 to 7
Picture Book
Simon and Schuster, 2017, 978-1-4814-6909-8
Kelp was born in the ocean and it soon became clear that he wasn’t quite like the other narwhals. His horn was short, he did not like eating squid, and his swimming skills were not of the best. This was not really surprising when you consider that he did not have fins and a big flat tail suitable for swimming. Instead, Kelp had a flowing tail and legs, which was rather odd. Thankfully, none of Kelp’s narwhal friends minded that he different, and so “Kelp decided he wouldn’t either.”
   One day Kelp was swept away by a current and was carried to the surface. When we poked his head out of the water he saw that he was very close to the land, and standing on a headland, illuminated by the moon, was an animal that looked just like him.
  Kelp overcame his fear of the land, figured out how to walk on it, and then began to explore, hoping to find the creature that he had seen on the headland. Eventually, after walking through a forest, he found the creature and many others like it. Kelp thought that the animals with manes, tails, and legs were land narwhals, but it turned out that they were unicorns. And he was one too!
   Kelp was delighted to get to know the unicorns and to find out things about himself that he did not know, but there was a problem. He missed his home in the sea and the friends that he had there.
   In this incredibly sweet and heartwarming picture book story, we watch as a little animal struggles to figure out where he belongs. Many people face this very same problem, and seeing how Kelp finds a solution is uplifting. This story is a celebration of acceptance and inclusivity.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Picture Book Monday with a review of Over and Under the Pond

Nature is full of miracles, big and small. For me, being out in nature is soothing, healing, and grounding. For this reason I review a lot of books about the natural world, and I was delighted when today's book arrived in the mail. The book takes us on a journey of exploration. Paddling around in a canoe with a boy and his mother, we see the creatures and plants that can be found under and above the water in a pond.

Over and Under the PondOver and under the pond
Kate Messner
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Chronicle, 2017, 978-1-4521-4542-6
One day a mother and her son climb into their canoe and paddle out onto the pond. Looking into the water, and seeing something moving beneath the surface, the boy asks his mother “What’s down there?” She tells her son that beneath them is a “whole hidden world” full of creatures of all kinds.
   As they paddle past rushes, whirligig beetles skate across the surface of the water. Below, minnows swim in the grassy forests where brook trout wait for them. The boy and his mother see painted turtles sunning themselves on a log and watch as they drop into the water as the people approach.
   Among the cattails a red-winged blackbird carries grass in her beak to build a nest. Below, on the bottom of the pond, a caddisfly larva builds a nest around herself using sand and little pebbles.
   The visitors see a moose standing in the water munching waterlilies, and beneath the surface a beaver gathers tasty roots to eat. Young animals above and below the surface prepare to take the next step into adulthood: a goldfinch readies itself to fly, and tadpoles transition into becoming frogs.
   All around the boy and his mother, as the day changes from morning to afternoon to evening, above and below the surface of the pond, animals go about their business seeking out food, avoiding predators, caring for the babies, and building their homes.
   This wonderful book takes readers through a day spent paddling across a pond. We get to know the birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, mammals, and fish that call the pond their home, and see how they coexist in their beautiful environment. At the back of the book readers will find further information about pond ecosystems and the animals mentioned in the book.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Poetry Friday with a review of Animal Naps

Most people will admit (more or less freely) that when they see a sleeping child or animal they get a little squishy feeling inside. I am one of these people, and therefore my Facebook page is crowded with photos of my sleeping cats and dogs. I was therefore attracted to this book from the very start. I saw the cover and had to suppress an immediate "awwwww." The fact that the book pairs gorgeous photos of sleeping animals with beautiful poems made it a must-read title for me. I hope you get the chance to read the book for yourself.

Animal NapsAnimal Naps
Catherine Ham
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Earlylight Books, 2011, 978-0-9832014-1-0
There is something incredibly appealing about a sleeping animal, even an animal that is normally considered scary. At that moment, with their eyes closed, they are vulnerable and even cute. At that moment we can admire them (or gawp at them) knowing that they are not going to run, fly, or slither off.
   In this wonderful book the author pairs beautiful photos of sleeping animals with poems, giving us a unique frozen moment in time to look at all kinds of animals when they are dozing, snoozing, and napping.
   She begins with a trio of shar pei puppies that are piled up, their wrinkly skin loose and rippled, their eyes scrunched shut. She asks us if we think that “maybe they’re dreaming / of growing to fit into their skin.”
   Next there is a fox and we learn from the poem that foxes on their own don’t sleep in a den. As far as the lone fox is concerned “Almost any place will do.” The fox settles down on the ground and drops off after it has wrapped its “warm tail around his face.”
   Koalas are a little more particular about where they sleep. They tend to prefer a fork in a tree that offers them a secure place to nap, which they do for many hours every day.  
   Sloths also sleep in trees, which is not surprising as they rarely come down to the ground. These strange animals favor sleeping upside down. The author wonders if we should “give that a try, you and me?”
  In all, the author of this book gives us twenty-four animal portraits to enjoy. In many of the poems she provides readers with information about the featured animal, telling us about their habits, what they eat, where they live and more. The poetry forms she uses vary greatly, and readers will be delighted at the touches of humor that can be found in many of the verses.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Books of Hope - What Goes up

Have you ever noticed how many You Can't and You Shouldn't people are out there? There are a lot of them. They are the ones who tell us that our wishes can't come true, and that we shouldn't even try to make them a reality. They are the ones who tell us that we are the wrong shape to be dancers, that we are too old to learn a new skill, or that we are too young to build something from nothing. They are negative people who pull us down. Thankfully, there are a lot of people out there who are the opposite. These are the people who support us and encourage us; they often help us to pursue that thing that matters to us.

In today's Book of Hope you will meet a dragon who has a dream. He wants to fly. The problem is that Martin the dragon has wings that are so small that they can't even get him off the ground, let alone propel him through the air. Martin does not give up on his dream, and neither do his friends.

What Goes UpWhat Goes Up
Paula Bowles
Picture Book
For ages 6 and up
Tiger Tales, 2013   ISBN: 978-1589251199
Martin the dragon is sad, and the children in the village, who love Martin, are worried about their scaly friend. When they ask him what is wrong, Martin explains that he wishes he could fly. Unfortunately, his wings are just too small to support his body, and inevitably “What goes up, must come down.”
   Then Martin sees a bumblebee buzz by and he gets a splendid idea. “Stripes must be the key to flying,” he says and he quickly paints some stripes on his body. Alas, stripes are not what Martin needs.
   After Martin sees autumn leaves drift by on the breeze he decides that what he needs to do to fly is to be in a tree. Then he, like the leaves, will be carried off by the wind. After sitting in the tree for quite some time, Martin determines that dragons and leaves do not behave in the same way.
   Martin tries to be fluffy like a cloud, but when he - wrapped in dandelion fluff - leaps into the air, he and his fluff crashes to the ground. Poor Martin is feeling “so low” that the children decide to take him in hand. There must be something that they can do to help their friend.
   Sometimes something we want very badly indeed seems completely out of reach. No matter how hard we try, that coveted something is unattainable. This charming, funny, and delightfully sweet picture book story will remind readers of all ages that one cannot give up hope. With a little help from our friends, we can achieve just about anything our heart desires, even when our wings seem too small for the job.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Picture Book Monday with a review of Hank has a dream

Stories are powerful things, and sometimes the best gift we can give to those we love are the stories that we know. The sharing of a tale becomes a shared experience, and it is also allows us to give someone we care about our time and our companionship.

Today's book, with its gorgeous photographic artwork and its charming main character, celebrates the joy that storytelling gives to the teller and the listener.

Hank Has a DreamHank has a dream
Rebecca Dudley
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Peter Pauper Press, 2014, 978-1-4413-1158-0
One morning Hank wakes up and he runs to tell his friend the hummingbird all about the wonderful dream that he had. In the dream, Hank, who is alone, flies up into the sky in a hot air balloon. One would expect that little Hank might be afraid to go on such an adventure up into the sky, but he is not afraid at all.
   Hank shows his little friend how, in his dream, he sailed down a path, a path that is much like the real path that wends its way through their forest home. As he sits on a little bridge over a stream Hank tells the hummingbird how the path led “all the way to the sea.”
   In his dream Hank went higher and higher; he went far away, “past the trees” and up into the clouds, and then above them. Then he came “whooshing down” again. Hank never imagines that the description of his dream is going to have a profound effect on his little avian friend; that his dream is going to become a story worth hearing over and over again.
   This charming picture book brings back the little monkey that we met in Hank Finds An Egg. This time Hank shares something precious with a best friend, and at the end of the narrative we see how he goes on to give his friend an even greater gift.
   Using handmade characters made of fabric and felt, and wonderful backgrounds using paper, fabric and other materials, the author of this book has created an atmospheric picture book that will charm readers of all ages.
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