Wolf and Dog by Sylvia Vanden Heede. Illustrated by Marije Tolman. Translated from the Dutch by Bill A. Nagelkerke. U.S. edition: Gecko Press, 2013.
“Dog is Wolf’s Cousin. Wolf is Dog’s cousin. That’s strange because: Wolf is wild. And Dog is tame.” The differences and similarities between these canine relatives provide ample material for this funny and charming easy novel in short verse lines. Wolf has bad table manners while Dog is a tidy chef, but both are familiar with the nuisance of flea bites. And although only Dog can read, Wolf enjoys nothing more than a good rhyme; in fact, he believes “rhyme’s sublime.” While each tries to outwit the other, both are nearly undone by a feisty forest cat. The social dynamics are a gem—wolflike, doglike, and childlike. Small illustrations help strike just the right note of warmth and whimsy. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Illustrated by Jim Madsen. HarperCollins, 2002.
An excellent collection of interrelated short stories will appeal to newly independent young readers ready to tackle one or more of these acessible stories. Young Ray Halfmoon lives with his grandpa in Chicago. In each chapter author Cynthia Leitich Smith places Ray and Grandpa into a believable adventure with a manageable challenge: summer fishing, baseball team, lonely holiday situation, contest, etc. Because her main characters have a Seminole-Cherokee heritage, the author has woven important Native cultural details into her narrative. Her adroit uses of colloquial language also earmark this fine collection of brief contemporary fiction. Smith herself lives in Texas, and is a mixed blood, enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. CCBC Categories: Books for Beginning Readers and Newly Independent Readers. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Odessa Again by Dana Reinhardt. Illustrated by Susan Reagan. Wendy Lamb Books, 2013.
Odessa Green-Light still has a hyphenated last name, but her family has been de-hyphenated since her parents’ divorce. Determined to stop her dad’s pending remarriage, Odessa discovers that if she jumps on a certain spot in the bedroom of the house she’s just moved to with her mom and brother, time turns back. The first time she goes back twenty-four hours. The next time she goes back twenty-three. Odessa figures this means she has twenty-two chances left, but that’s plenty of opportunities to undo a bad grade on a quiz, erase an embarrassing moment, or be nicer to her little brother. Plenty of opportunities to make things better or to make them worse: to create some good luck (is it luck of you know in advance what will happen?), or to make her future stepmother angry in hopes she’ll call off the wedding. As Odessa’s chances to change things dwindle, she begins to think more carefully about what she can change, what she wants to change, and what really matters to her in Dana Reinhardt’s breezy novel. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center