Robin’s Song by Barbara Alfaro

If your child stutters, DON’T pass up this heartwarming tale

“Robin’s beautiful singing voice healed the scratchy places in listeners’ hearts.”

This is a touching detailed fairy tale in the tradition of Grimm or Anderson. There are levels of curses as well as needs — “The witch put a second curse on the king, a thing worse than the loss of his voice – the loss of hope.” The tale also addresses the human condition in astute and compassionate ways.

Stutterers (and parents of stutterers) will find a lot to love about this book. First, the reality of stuttering is described frankly and with insight. “In a way a stammerer interrupts himself with his stammer and then others also interrupt him.” At the same time, the value of all voices, stuttering or not, is clearly recognized: “Still, something in Robin was uncomfortable. It was as if he secretly knew, even though it may be damaged, you should never give up your own voice.”

Honestly, this is one of the most touching children’s fairy tales I’ve read in a long time. It has real potential to become a classic BUT there are a few problems holding it back right now. There are a handful of typos (nothing that interferes with comprehension – just annoying. A missing “the” where “The letter told of witch’s curse”; an extras period appearing at random in the middle of a sentence: “At the end of the song the king gave a great sigh. and handed Robin a letter”.

More damaging is the poor formatting. While it’s more than readable, there’s no page break up front so the copyright notice runs into the first paragraph. I think it’s likely that a number of readers will be put off by that blatant poor formatting and never bother to read the actual story, which would be a shame.

The biggest drawback though is the lack of illustrations. This is a story that cries out for deep richly detailed drawings. I sincerely hope the writer hooks up with an illustrator and issues a new version of this story.

Snakes! (Discover Your World Series) by Michelle Zimmerman

Excellent early reader non-fiction book on a topic sure to hold the attention of little boys. I read this book with my 4- and 6-year-old grandsons. They were captivated! The photos were crisp and engaging — especially when the boys enlarged them to focus in on the fangs or the cobra’s hood. There were enough details to keep me interested (and learning!) along with the boys. This reminded me a lot of the New True books that I used to read with my own kids when they were little. Lots of facts presented simply but not dumbed down. Great combination.

This is the second book in this series that I’ve read with the grandkids this week. I hope to read more – as they’re written!

Wishing Whale by Francis Keene

This is a beautifully illustrated picture book. It’s one of the few I’ve seen that completely works on the Kindle format. Most times, you end up with illustrations that are too small or tiny text. This one transferred beautifully with full tablet-sized illustrations, engaging educational text, and brilliant colors.

Thumbs up from me and both grandkids!


Cats! (Discover Your World Series) by Michelle & Kurt Zimmerman

I read this book with my 6-year-old grandson, Liam. The photos are adorable! There was just enough text on each page to engage early readers without overwhelming them. And the facts were really fascinating. We’ve always had cats – going back decades now – but I had no idea that a cat can jump up to 5 times its height or that one third of all American households have a cat.

Liam and I give this book two thumbs up!

The Three Prankster Mice by John E Dorey

I read this book with my 6-year-old grandson. Or, I should say, we read it together, alternating pages.  Each page had just the perfect amount of text for an early reader. Short and sweet, but not dumbed down into nothing but “sight” words.

The story was cute and conveyed a lesson without being absolutist which is a flaw of too many children’s books. I really liked the horse’s ending comments, “Don’t say ever. There is fun that can be had from a good joke or even a friendly prank…. But Today little one, was a result of taking things too far…”

The illustrations were engaging – brilliant color and crisp characters but with an unexpected depth and texture to some of the elements, like the grass and the mice’s fur.

Most important to this review – My grandson asked if we could read it again. Highly recommend!

The Snail Who Forgot The Mail by Sigal Adler

I loved the illustrations in this one – very Monster’s Ink style, and great vibrant colors.

And it was a nice pleasant story to read with my 4-year-old grandson. He enjoyed the story. Having said that, I found the moralizing a little too “hit you over the head” and some of the rhymes just too obviously forced:

“Everybody cheered for the courageous little snail,

He stood up to the monster king and his advice did prevail.”

For me anyway, word usage and sentence construction like “his advice did prevail” seemed a bit much for the Kindy-crowd.

And I *really* disliked the auto-play music when I viewed the book listing on Amazon. Beyond annoying!

– Read via Kindle Unlimited.

The Adventure of Froblicious the Frog by Kelly Santana-Banks

This was a cute book. My 4-year-old grandson definitely enjoyed it. The illustrations were wonderful – and very nicely sized for display on the Kindle fire.  The length and word choice were very good for early readers.

My only complaint here is that I had a hard time with the name of the title character. I found “Froblicious” awkward to pronounce and I thought that detracted from the cadence of the rhymes when read aloud. That could be just me though.

If you’re looking for a nice short picture book that works well on Kindle, this is a good choice.