“Naveed – Through My Eyes” John Heffernan

The explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

From the winter of war comes the spring of hope.

Naveed Cover

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     I found this book while browsing the kids chapter books at my local library. It was one of those books the librarians shelve cover out so it caught my eye rather quickly. I picked it up and after reading the summary decided it sounded like a book I should read and maybe later add to my kids homeschool reading list when they are the appropriate age. I often grab a chapter book along with the younger kids books and if they sound like something that would interest my four year old now, I read them to him. My four year old is much too young for this book but it’s absolutely a book I’ve added to our reading list for later years. 

“Naveed” offers two unique perspectives that, as an American, I don’t often get to see. An Australian solider and a young Afghan boy. Naveed may be a child but his struggles are anything but small. Naveed’s mother relies on him to provide for the family and Naveed works hard to do so. He also provides for his younger sister who, due to a bomb, has lost her legs. Naveed carries a heavy load of responsibilities but it’s clear that he carries them with love. Naveed’s love for his family is beautiful. He has known nothing but war and it’s touched every single piece of his young life.  

After a bomb took away his father and severely injured his sister, Naveed’s family lives in a hovel and their situation is precarious. The land lord is a bad man who has even worse friends and cares for no one but himself. He sets his eyes on Naveed’s mother and I held my breath with worry about Naveed’s family and how or if they would find a way out of that nasty man’s reach.

Naveed is adopted by Nasera (the dog) and his life takes on a whirlwind of change. By chance he meets Jake and opportunities open that he never thought possible. Naveed’s world is almost broken by a relative (whose really broken himself) and for a time, everything is thrown into chaos once again.

I want to talk about that chaos for just a minute. In the west, we are so quick to see a terrorist and dehumanize them. We don’t think of all the things that built up and turned this otherwise unassuming person into an extremist. Heffernan brings humanity back in this tale and gives us a look into what goes into the makings of a terrorist. It’s not harped upon but Heffernan gives us a window into a world I don’t think we discuss or even acknowledge nearly enough.

Kudo’s to John Heffernan for doing his part to put a very human face on a very ugly war. May his stories enrich our lives and encourage us to find peace with one another.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Naveed | Series: Through My Eyes |  Author(s): John Heffernan  |Publisher: Allen & Unwin / Publication Date: 9-1-2015 |Pages: 216 (Print) | ISBN: B00YVBQO8Q |Genre(s): Middle East / War / Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-05-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

 

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Books That Matter

As a parent, one of my main goals is to raise my kids to care. Not just care, but care deeply. I want my kids to see other’s suffering and genuinely want to change it. I am doing my best to contribute to a generation that has the skills (emotional, educational & physical) to face the trails headed their way. Trials like deep inequality, rampant homelessness, lack of adequate food, clothing, health care and sadly the repercussions of perpetual war. I want my kids to feel empowered to make changes. A good way to do that is to give them a deep understanding of each issue. Books are a great tool to achieve this.

Malala Yousafzai Quote

    When I was growing up war was just the way things were. No one took the time to explain to me that there were other ways to handle attacks from other countries. I remember sitting in my classroom in middle school as the Twin Towers were hit by those planes. We watched the people jumping from the buildings on our tiny bulbous screen hung in the top corner of our classroom. About the time my teacher realized that people were jumping to their death in front of a class of children she turned the TV off. 

Another teacher came into my class and the two of them angrily discussed blowing those terrorists to smithereens. My classmates heatedly discussed how America would kill them all. In middle school…the KIDS went straight to death. There was no talk of any other way to handle the attack. I remember sitting and looking at all that anger and hate and all I could feel was devastation at the choice those people jumping had been forced to make. My mind reeled with the horror I knew was coming to the country responsible. I knew in a round about kind of way what happens in wars. I knew because every chance I had I was reading story after story about anything and everything. I cared because from a very young age my brain was used to thinking from anothers perspective.

I want my kids to think diplomatically and find solutions other than to kill everyone. I want my kids to understand that a handful of people from a country do not represent an entire populace. I want my kids to find solutions to complicated issues.

Einstein Quote about peace

  One way to do that is to read them or have them read stories that illustrate the consequences of war and poverty. I recently stumbled upon the “Through My Eyes” series while browsing books in my local library. At 20 months and 4 years my kids are still too young to read these but you can bet I will introduce them later. I suggest you read through them and introduce them to your kids when appropriate. 

Naveed CoverThe explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

Amina CoverAmina lives on the edges of Mogadishu. Her family’s house has been damaged in Somalia’s long civil war, but they continue to live there, reluctant to leave their home. Amina’s world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her father because his art has been officially censored, deemed too political. Then rebel forces kidnap Amina’s brother, forcing him to become a soldier in Somalia’s brutal ongoing war.

Although her mother and grandmother are still with her, Amina feels vulnerable and abandoned. Secretly, she begins to create her own artwork in the streets and the derelict buildings to give herself a sense of hope and to let out the burden of her heart. Her artwork explodes into Mogadishu’s underground world, providing a voice for people all over the city who hope for a better, more secure future.

 

Shahana Cover‘Open your eyes. We will not hurt you.’
The boy quietens; his eyes open.
‘Where are you from?’
The boy stares at them both; then says, ‘Who will you tell?’

Shahana lives alone with her young brother in the shadow of the Line of Control, the border patrolled by Pakistani and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. Life is hard, but Shahana ekes out a living with her beautiful embroidery. Then she finds a boy lying unconscious near the border. Zahid is from across the Line of Control, and Shahana takes a terrible risk by sheltering him. But how can she give Zahid up to the authorities when she knows he’ll be imprisoned – or worse?

An unforgettable novel about one young girl in war-torn Kashmir.

Emilio CoverFor high-school student Emilio Garcia Lopez, it’s an ordinary school day. But that evening the knock on the door announcing the arrival of his police officer cousin Juanita, flanked by a tall man in the uniform of the Federal Police, will turn his ordinary day into the beginning of a long nightmare. Emilio’s mother has been kidnapped in broad daylight from a hotel car park by unidentified criminals, who appear to know a great deal about her business and who have mistaken her for a wealthy businesswoman. An action-packed story set in a contemporary conflict zone.

 

 

Malini CoverMalini lives with her parents and young sister, Banni, in northern Sri Lanka. As the civil war heads towards its catastrophic end, Malini and her family are herded by Tamil Tiger troops towards the coast where they and thousands of other Tamil civilians will act as human shields. When Malini’s father pushes a phone into her hands and tells her to run off into the forest with Banni, Malini does as she is told. But then the shelling begins, and Malini has no way of finding her mother and father. With the role of parent thrust upon her, Malini has no choice but to travel to her grandfather’s village a long way inland. She and Banni will need to keep off the highways and stay alert for soldiers. But where will the next meal come from? Who can they trust? Where will they shelter? And will they ever be reunited with their parents again?

Zafir CoverZafir has a comfortable life in Homs, Syria, until his father, a doctor, is arrested for helping a protester who was campaigning for revolution. While his mother heads to Damascus to try to find out where his father is being held, Zafir stays with his grandmother – until her house is bombed. With his father in prison, his mother absent, his grandmother ill and not a friend left in the city, Zafir must stay with his Uncle Ghazi. But that too becomes dangerous as the city becomes more and more besieged. Will Zafir survive long enough to be reunited with his parents?

Children’s Book Review “REX” Simon James

From the inimitable Simon James, a heartwarming story about a surprising dinosaur adoptive dad.

Once upon about 65 million years ago, a terrifying tyrannosaurus roams the earth. He spends his days raging through the jungle, scaring every other dinosaur in sight with his fierce roar. Then, one night while he is sleeping, an abandoned egg cracks open and out pops a tiny dinosaur who decides right then and there that this scary tyrannosaurus is his father. And so begins the touching story of a little dino and his search for a dad—a tale sure to resonate with families of all stripes.

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When it comes to Children, there is undoubtedly a huge demand for anything Dino. Both of my kids love dinosaurs and we have thoroughly exhausted two libraries worth of anything and everything Dinosaur. The same themes are often seen but when I picked up REX, I found a story that was not only fun for the kids but also dealt with a weighty issue.

See, there are a lot of kids out there who either have no family or live in a single parent household. Speaking as a child who was abandoned by both of my biological parents, there is a truck load of emotions that accompany these situations. As a kid who loved to read, it seemed that every book I picked up was about families or the main character had a family member who was trying desperately to find them.  

There really isn’t much children’s literature that deals with adoption or abandonment. This book handles it well. 

When we first meet little Rex, we know he is abandoned and that emotion is merely mentioned but not explored on. I was dissapointed until I read further and discovered that it is handled. This book doesn’t deeply examine this situation but in my mind, it’s perfect for its age range. It hits on the beginning of what children like me are looking for… association. Just to know that someone (even a make believe Dinosaur) knows about my life would of let me know as a child that I was not as alone as I felt.

Fantastic job. 5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: REX | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Simon James  |Publisher: Candlewick  / Publication Date: 7-12-2016 |Pages: 40 (Print) | ISBN:  978-0763672942 |Genre(s): Preschool / Adoption / Foster / Orphan |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 1-02-2017 |Source: Copy from Library.

Best Dinosaur Books For Kids!

Do you have a kiddo who is absolutely obsessed with Dinosaurs? My three year old son and even my one year old daughter are entranced by everything Dino! They live and breathe Dinos! They sleep in Dino pajamas. They eat off Dino plates. Heck, they even have Dino silverware. Having this level of obsession in my home has given me an insight into some pretty great Dinosaur books for kids. Let me tell you, there’s a whole lot of them. Here is a list of ten that we have read (not yet reviewed) and loved!

Treat the Dino lover in your life!

  rex-cover  revenge-of-the-dinotrux-cover

oh-my-dinosaurs-cover     how-do-dinosaurs-go-to-sleep-cover

im-a-t-rex-cover  thats-not-my-dinosaur-cover

oh-say-can-you-say-dinosaur-cover     saturday-night-at-the-dinosaur-stomp-cover

dinosaur-dig-cover     dinosaur-dance-cover

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What Dino books have your kids attention? We would love to see your list!

Book Review “There Was An Old Sailor” Claire Saxby & Cassandra Allen

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This playful, rhyming picture book offers a fresh and fun new take on the song There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. In Claire Saxby’s telling, a white-bearded, big-bellied sailor sets things in motion by swallowing a krill. He then goes on to swallow progressively larger sea creatures, each meant to catch the preceding one. Every new introduction is followed by a retelling of all the previously eaten animals, and I don’t know why he swallowed the krill — It’ll make him ill. The sailor’s tale finally ends when he swallows a whale, then with a burp … set sail. The burp allows all the other creatures to be released out of his mouth and back into the sea, presenting the surprise of a happier ending for the sailor than for the old lady in the song.

The story is perfectly complemented by Cassandra Allen’s jaunty, simple and playful illustrations, which provide a terrific source of visual clues for pre-readers looking to recognize words. The rhyming and repetition will make this a favorite read-aloud choice for storytime, as children will happily participate in reading the repeated sections, which are so easily and quickly memorized. In addition, there is a ?Fishy Facts? spread at the back of the book that contains a true fact about each animal in the story (including ?A blue whale can eat millions of krill a day!?), which would make for a fantastic introduction to a discussion on the size of sea creatures and the food chain.

there-was-an-old-sailor-cover

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I love pretty much everything about “There Was An Old Sailor”. From it’s clever cadence to it’s fun illustrations you and your child will have a blast reading this story!

My three year old son has even memorized some parts and loves to say them with me. The story is silly but will make your kid do plenty of thinking and not just about sea animals. My son flat said that swallowing some of these animals whole is impossible. When I challenged his statement with “He could of chewed them”…my son hit me back with “No Mom, it pacifically says SWALLOWED not CHEEEEWED”. Yes, I meant to put pacifically….that’s how he says it.

I love that this is an actual story instead of information dumping. Kids want to learn but they also want to do it in fun innovative ways. Not just repeating over and over the same facts in the same ways.

This book is unique and fun! I’m glad we found it! You never know, this book may sneak it’s way onto the Christmas list.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: There Was an Old Sailor  | Series:  N/A  |  Author(s):  Claire Saxby & Cassandra Allen |Publisher: Kids Can Press / Publication Date: 3-1-2014 |Pages: 32 (Print) | ISBN:  978-1771380225 |Genre(s): Children’s Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-20-2016 |Source: Copy from Library

Book Review “Biggest, Baddest Book of Bugs” Anders Hanson & Elissa Mann

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Flutter into the world of creepy, crawly bugs! The Biggest, Baddest Book of Bugs will take you on a journey to uncover the most dangerous and fascinating insects, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes. Discover amazing bug abilities, strange behaviors, and crazy camouflage. Hang on to your hats! Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Super Sandcastle is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.

bugs-cover

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This is a informative and fun book about creepy crawlies! What kid doesn’t like bugs? My two are fascinated by their tiny wings and legs and their amazing eyes! 

While at the library I let the kids pick whatever children’s books they want. More often than not a few books like this pop in the bag and I do my best to encourage their curiosity. 

BUGS had just the right amount of information mixed with fun to keep my mini readers entranced. The cover is bland and I expected the pictures to be a bit boring but they weren’t at all! Might work on that cover a bit though. It’s not very eye catching.

The only complaint (other than the cover) that I have is that this series ( Biggest Baddest Books for Boy) is incredibly sexist. I dislike teaching children that some things are aimed toward their gender and those are the things they should be interested in. I’m very unhappy with this categorization. Bugs are for everyone. Period. 

Due to the boring cover and sexist categorization I’m rating this book at 3 stars.

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The Technical Data:

Title: Biggest Baddest Book of Bugs  | Series:  Biggest Baddest Books for Boys  |  Author(s): Anders Hanson & Elissa Mann |Publisher: Abdo Publishing Company / Publication Date: 12-1-2013 |Pages: 24 (Print) | ISBN:  978-1617834059 | Genre(s): Non-Fiction / Children’s / Insects |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-11-2016 |Source: Copy from Library 

Book Review ” A Place To Call Home” G. A. Whitmore

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A Place to Call Home is the heartwarming and inspiring story of an abandoned white German shepherd puppy named Toby and his cross-country search for a forever home. Narrated in part by the animal characters in the book, the reader experiences Toby’s world through his eyes and those of the animals he meets on his journey.  

Toby’s life begins on a farm where the carefree, happy days he has known come to an abrupt end when his breeder decides to “dispose” of him and his sister Tara because of the color of their fur. With the help of a kind farmhand, the two puppies escape unharmed.

After a tumultuous time during which Toby is shuffled from place to place, he is finally adopted, but he quickly realizes his new family has deep-seated issues that put him in danger, and what seemed like an ideal home, turns into another place he must escape from.

As Toby struggles to find a forever home where he can feel safe and secure, he experiences some painful losses, but he also makes new friends–friends who will help him to trust humans again and teach him the power of love.

Inspired by a true story, this middle grade/young adult novel can be enjoyed by dog lovers of all ages.

a-place-to-call-home-cover

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First lines: Toby huddled beneath the small table in the corner of the room. His eyes darted back and forth in fear. The corner – at one time a place of refuge, a place to escape from a man and his wrath – had now become a trap.

Whitmore has written one of my favorite kinds of narratives with “A Place To Call Home”. Reading from the perspective of an animal (especially mixed with human narratives) has always been something that fascinates me.

I think part of what makes this book so great is that Whitmore pours her love of animals into every page. I think these are some of the most developed animal characters I’ve met that weren’t in a fantasy novel. 

Toby’s tale is a tough one to follow but very realistic. Humanity, for the most part, looks at animals as stupid. Which really is a shame since there is scientific evidence to prove their intelligence. For people who deeply love their animal companions, the idea of them being intelligent has always been a no brainer.

Toby’s tale is an emotional and thought provoking journey to find a forever home. However, it is so much more than just a story. It bring to light various issues that dogs face at the hands of human beings. This story spotlights the trials that humanity puts on anything or anyone that is deemed inferior.

As a dog mom, there was a lot of things that happened in this book that made me angry. I hope that this story elicits a similar response in society. Angry people make changes. Dogs and other animals have very positive effects on human lives. I hope that in the future humanity has more of a positive effect on them than we have had in the past.

5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: A Place To Call Home  | Series:  N/A  |  Author(s): G. A. Whitmore |Publisher: Outskirts Press / Publication Date: 2-19-2014 |Pages: 302 (Print) | ISBN:  978-1478700739 | Genre(s): All Ages / Contemporary |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-8-2016 |Source: Copy from Author

Children’s Book Review “The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot!” Scott Magoon

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A classic tale with a timeless message gets a hugely hilarious twist.

He’s big. He’s funny. He’s not real. Or IS he?

This clever twist on “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is told from the point of view of an unexpected narrator and, through snappy text and lighthearted illustrations, demonstrates the value of telling the truth, the importance of establishing trust, and (of course!) the possibility that a beast you created to get attention can become a real-life friend.

the-boy-who-cried-bigfoot-cover

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This adorable retelling of the age old fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” will have you laughing out loud! My littles enjoyed the easy to understand story and my three year old even picked up that the story warns against lying. The author also throws the mini-reader for a loop by introducing one big word…Tenacious. Believe me, my son noticed. The second that word came out of my mouth he was asking me what it meant. Needless to say, I’m impressed!

The illustrations have muted colors but I feel that it helps to partner with the story instead of overwhelm it. 

I enjoyed reading this story to me son and will be keeping an eye out for further books from this author.

5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot | Series:  N/A  |  Author(s): Scott Magoon |Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books / Publication Date: 2-5-2013 |Pages: 48 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1442412576  | Genre(s): Children’s / Pre-school |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-6-2016 |Source: Copy from Library 

Book Review “Magic Beach” T. Johnson

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Mikey Sanchez is an 11 year old 5th grader from the inner city. Like most kids his age, he looks forward to summer vacation. However, he had no idea this summer would be one he would never forget. While spending time at his Aunt and Uncle’s beach house in North Carolina, Mikey would meet two new friends, Skip and Danni. Together the trio would form “The Beach Club”. During the summer they would spend time riding body boards, camping out on the beach, visiting the local water park and solving a magical mystery that would shake the entire town. “Magic Beach” is the first volume in the “Beach Club” series by author T. Johnson. Look for additional volumes and other titles by this author in the future.

Magic Beach Cover

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First lines: It was the last day of school and Mikey was counting down the seconds. “Three….two….one” RRRRIIIIIINNNGG! The school bell sounded and 5th grade was history.

Magic Beach’s target audience is roughly upper elementary and lower middle school age. I say this with a bit of hesitation because I feel like it could fit a broader age range depending on the child. I read it to my almost three year old son and he ate it up. 

The story is simple but is fun and exciting. It has plenty of relatable points for kids as well as enough action to keep them interested. The adults in the story are realistic and I enjoyed how they played a part in the story instead of taking a back seat. To me, putting adults in stories for kids helps enforce that adults aren’t their enemy. We are their caretakers and friends as well. 

Mikey is a regular kid. His life isn’t perfect but he doesn’t dwell on the things or people he doesn’t have. It was nice to read from such a grounded kids perspective. I think there is way to much emphasis on kids who are in single parent homes losses instead of what they gain from the experience. 

Johnson has written a fun, exciting and realistic (ish) story. I enjoyed reading it and I know my son did as well. 

Total hit in my house. 5 star book!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Magic Beach | Series:  The Beach Club |  Author(s): T. Johnson |Publisher: Outskirts Press / Publication Date: 11-21-2012 |Pages: 132 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1432793166  | Genre(s): Action & Adventure (Mid-Grade)  | Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-25-2016 |Source: Copy from author

 

Children’s Book Review “Solomon Crocodile” Catherine Rayner

synopsis

In his swampy home, Solomon is looking for fun but nobody wants to play. The dragonflies tell him to buzz off, the storks get in a flap, and the hippo is downright huffy. But then somebody else starts making a ruckus . . . and for once it is NOT Solomon. Could it be the perfect pal for a lonely croc? Matching vibrant art with rollicking words, Scottish artist Catherine Rayner has created a funny, reassuring story about a rambunctious youngster who chases off the friends he’s trying to make.

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This is a sweet story about finding a like-minded friend. In a lot of ways this story reminded me of my son.  As I was reading it to him for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder if my son sympathized with Solomon. After having the book for several days I can safely say he does. 

My son is a very energetic almost three year old and, like Solomon, is always getting into trouble. Not trouble per say, more like he is looking to have fun and make friends. 

You wouldn’t think that would be such a big deal for such a small child but, it is. Solomon has a lot of fun doing things that others don’t find very fun at all. Like Solomon, my son often has these same issues.

My son’s favorite part of the book is the ending. He told me it’s because Solomon has a friend.

Beautiful story.

Five Stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Solomon Crocodile | Author(s): Catherine Rayner | Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux  / Publication Date: 12-20-2011 |Pages: 32 (Hardcover) | ISBN: 978-0374380649 | Genre(s): Children’s Fiction  | Language:English |
Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 6-8-2016 | Source: Copy from Library