I just reviewed On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman on my youtube channel Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte.


The narrator of this story tells about all the wonderous things that happened on the night the child was born. Wonderful things such as the wind whispered the child’s name.


Ordinary things like the moon staying in the sky until the next morning. Fanciful things like polar bears danced to celebrate the child’s birth.


The message is that this child, your child, was so immediately wonderful that the entire world celebrated. That your child was unique and perfect from the very minute he or she was born.


This is one of those books that will touch your heart so deeply that you might have trouble reading it without a tear coming to your eyes and a tremble to your voice. The book gives voice to your feelings.


Its best use is for children 2-5 years old. My suggestion is to use this book as a jumping off point to tell your child what happened on the day they were born or the day you first met them. Tell them about the day, who was present, what it was like when you first saw their face, what you felt when you first held the child in your arms. Each time you read this book and tell them their story you will reinforce how much they are loved.


Nancy Tillman, author and illustrator in California, wants all children to know how valuable they are.  Her multi-layered illustrations are realistic enough for children to recognize all the animals and scenes she depicts yet impressionistic enough to let the child fill in the rest with imagination.


Originally self-published, this book is now available through Feiwel and Friends of Macmillan publishing.

Two boys decide to dig a hole until they find something spectacular. Their wise dog accompanies them as they dig and dig, yet somehow managing to avoid finding several spectacular diamonds, much to the astonishment of the dog who can clearly see what they are missing. And eventually they do find something spectacular. They find their home where chocolate milk and animal crackers await them.


Whoever reads this book aloud to kids will find the contrast of the dryly humorous text versus the illustrations to be truly funny.


That is probably why this New York Times bestseller won an E.B White Read Aloud Award. Suitable for kids age 3 to 7. You might have to point to the illustrations to have the 3 year old see the humor but a 7 year old will easily get the jokes hidden in the illustrations.


The writer, Mac Barnett, lives in California. Jon Klassen, the illustrator, is from Niagara Falls Ontario but now lives in Los Angeles, where, no doubt plenty of funny things inspire him. The book’s illustrations are spare, one might think they are simplistic, but they are clear, effective and very funny.


You can buy this book from Candlewick Press or Amazon or wherever great books are sold.  And you can find more of my book reviews on youtube at Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte

Well it really snowed a lot here in Western New York this week so I thought it was a good time to review Winter Is Here by Kevin Henkes on my youtube channel Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte


This writing team from Madison Wisconsin knows winter in all its depth, sounds, sights, fun and irritations. Perfectly explained in simply elegant language and softly, gently, illustrated a young child will learn how winter arrives, stays and finally changes to spring. 


In this book, winter is fun for kids and kind to animals. Kids are told to dress warmly and animals are shown taking shelter.


If you know a child who is going to experience their second or third winter this season, this is the perfect book to prepare them for winter fun.


This book is perfect for 2 to 4 year olds and can be purchased from GreenWillow Books from Harper Collins or wherever great books are sold. And don’t forget to try your local library too.

Rhyming week has been fun for me at Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte and I hope for you too. You can find my other rhyming books by subscribing to my Youtube channel and searching around. Rhyming books work so well for young children and babies because the repetition and rhythm will soothe them, and help them learn language. Reading to babies is a great way to cuddle. They learn to love books and love learning when you read to them.


First Morning Sun by Aimee Reid and illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong is just what you need to fulfil those goals. With short perfectly rhymed sentences, we marvel with the baby at all the first experiences as baby grows from newborn until the beginning of pre-school, and then, by experiencing the introduction of a new baby to the household. We first see mother and child in the first morning, the first cry and first lullaby. The child experiences firsts with Dad too and is rocked to sleep by Grandma. As the child grows, we experience a first birthday cake, and new friends.


Jing Jing Tsong has colored baby’s world with soft pink, peach, yellow, blue and green colors. The colors are softest at the beginning of life and become bolder as the child grows in their boldness of experiencing the world. There is pattern too, and a definite Asian approach to pattern and drawing that might introduce a child to a new way of seeing and enjoying the world.


This is a lovely book to give to new parents because as they become accustomed to wakeful nights, they can look forward to the first-time baby walks or talks and grows. It is also a good book to give a family who is about to bring a new baby into a house with a toddler to introduce the toddler to what it will be like to watch a baby grow.


So, this is a great book from newborn to age 5, and especially good when there is a new baby expected.


First Morning Sun by Aimee Reid and Jing Jing Tsong was published by Beach Lane Books by Simon and Schuster. You can find this lovely book of firsts on their website, on Amazon and anywhere baby books are sold.   

I lived reviewing Sun Dog for my youtube channel Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte. A husky puppy enjoys the endless days of the Arctic summer with his boy. The two have much fun exploring their neighborhood in the land of the midnight sun. But, unable to sleep when nighttime is still light out, the puppy pushes open the door of the cabin and walks out into the well-lit night. All is well until he finds a polar bear approaching the cabin – and the door that the husky puppy left open.


The puppy finds the courage to scare away the polar bear, barking until the big husky sled dogs that he admires so much come and help him.


The illustration method used by artist Suzanne Del Rizzo is absolutely unusual and very effective. Her illustrations were sculpted with modeling clay and enhanced with acrylic paint so that even after being photographed for the book, they nearly jump off the page with reality, shape and color.


Deborah Kerbel and Suzanne Del Rizzo, who both live in Ontario Canada have created an excellent book for 4 to 8 year olds, although a sensitive 4 year old might need reassurance that nothing bad will happen. And kids who receive this book will benefit from learning a bit about living in the Arctic. 


You can buy this book from Pajama Press or Amazon or wherever great books are sold. And you might want to recommend it to your local librarian because both the book’s content and its illustration method are wonderfully unusual.  

Welcome back to rhyming week on my Youtube channel Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte. And today I have a book that captures all the happiness and excitement of bringing a new baby home. Every person in the house, Mom and Dad, brothers, sisters Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, neighbors and friends welcomes the new baby in their own way. The book is Welcome Home by Aimee Reid and Illustrated by Rashin Kyeiriyeh


The text rhymes and has exactly the type of rhythm and repetition that babies and toddlers love. Aimee Reid is a former teacher, now writer of children’s books based in Hamilton Ontario Canada just an hour our so away from where I live. As a teacher of English, special education and music, Aimee knows how children learn language, the importance of repetitive sounds, and words. The way each person welcomes the baby home is so heartwarming and happy.


This is a terrific book to be read to babies. I especially see a great use for this book if the new baby is brought to a household where other children are also present. It is perfect to sit down with this book and all the children and read it to them. If there is a 7 or 8 year old in the household they could read this to the baby and that will help both of them bond. And Yes, babies should be read to everyday and often. Babies need to hear your voice, words and language to help develop their minds and the eventual skills they need for speaking.


Now, a few words about the illustrations of Rashin Kkeiriyeh, who has a doctorate in book illustration and has illustrated over 80 books. What a team! Rashin who teaches at the University of Maryland and lives in Washington DC, has washed the pages of this book with color and movement, detail and pattern, and most of all faces. It is the faces that will attract baby’s attention when you are reading this book to your baby. I particularly loved the diversity of persons shown in this book, large and small, and all the colors that humans come in. The colors used are soft but not washed out, bold but not hard on little eyes. This is a great book for newborns to ages 8 and can be easily read by the older kids to the younger.


Welcome Home was published by BeachLane Books by Simon and Schuster. It is available from them and from Amazon and wherever softhearted books are sold. And while you are here, please subscribe to my Youtube channel Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte and click the notification bell. Thank you.  

Book report: The Hummingbird, by Italian author Sandro Veronesi, is a lifelong review of the bouncy, frustrating, sad, funny, uplifting life of an ophthalmologist in Florence. (Surely the only fiction book in the world where an ophthalmologist is the main character.) He is a man who is slow to understand others and his own life. The book's events are underpinned by insight and meaningful philosophy, while being amusing, and sad. The main character takes a long time to figure himself out, and in that way maybe he is like everyone else so maybe reading this book will help everyone else figure themselves out. My review fails to fully sketch the excellence of this book; I highly recommend it. (Published by HarperVia)   

Loved it! A sprawling history of three families (of Irish, Mexican and Japanese origin) all gathered along the American River in California. Their lives intertwine in fun, sexy and damaging ways with intelligent writing, beautiful location description, characters you care about and a real understanding of the good, bad and ugly of the 1950's- 1960's (in the first book of the trilogy). Great insight into the lives and dedication of artists and musicians too. So terrific and griping that I nearly got sunburn reading it outside. I have now ordered the next two books. All available on Amazon where they are printed to order (nice looking books and a good font to read).


Ok, update I loved the second book too! 

Here's a review of the third book:


I am sad to have finished this book, the third in this most wonderful series. But happy that all ended well for these characters that are so real and engaging. The author helpfully includes a list of all the music discussed in the book and we are working our way through the list. What breadth of knowledge the author has in remembering the events of the tumultuous 1960's through to the mid 1970's. All the details were perfect, food, clothes and society issues. A marvelous set of three excellent books. Should be a Netflix series.