Rain Reign

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

Fifth grader Rose Howard loves homonyms, prime numbers, rules, and her dog Rain (whose name has two homonyms). Rain is the one of the few gifts Rose’s father has ever given her, and their bond is a strong one. When nearly everyone else–including Rose’s father–gets irritated by Rose’s obsessions, Rain is always there to provide a comforting and calming presence.

Comfort and calm is something that Rose will sorely need in the days to come. Hurricane Susan is making a beeline for Rose’s small Massachusetts town, and her precious routines will be tossed to the winds. The power goes out, creeks turn into rivers, bridges are washed out, trees fall…and Rose’s father lets Rain out of the house without checking on her return.

When the storm finally passes through, Rose realizes that her dog is missing. Did she forget her way home in the horrible storm? Was she carried downstream by the powerful currents? Where is Rain? Rose doesn’t understand how her father could have let this happened, but she’s determined to find her beloved dog…even if that means letting go of her routines.

Rose searches high and low for Rain. She enlists the help of her uncle, her teachers, and even her classmates. Rose does everything humanly possible to find her dog, but how will she handle it when she finds more than she was looking for? Will her world be thrown into yet another storm, and how will Rose–a girl who needs routine and consistency–deal with the fallout? How will she handle the many changes to come? Read Rain Reign by the brilliant Ann M. Martin to find out.

Rain Reign is a phenomenal book with wide appeal–to students, educators, and parents of autistic children.

Rain Reign is also a great book for students who have fondness for word and number play. This could even come into play in language arts or math lessons. Class studies of this book could include looking for homonyms that weren’t mentioned by Rose or finding prime numbers out in the “real world.” And don’t even get me started on how this book could be used to illustrate character’s voice. Read one chapter, and you’ll see that for yourself.

If you’d like to promote Rain Reign in your library or classroom, feel free to use the book trailer below.

Dog vs. Cat

Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Dog and Cat are both going to live with Mr. and Mrs. Button. Unfortunately, these two very different pets have to share a room. Everything starts out okay, but it doesn’t take long for them to start annoying each other.

Dog is messy, chatty, and likes to sniff everything. Cat is neat, quiet (except at night), and claws everything in sight. They decide to divide up their room, but that doesn’t end well, either.

When there’s a new arrival in their home, Dog and Cat realize they must put aside their differences and figure out how to deal with the situation–together.

Will Dog and Cat be able to find common ground? Will this new arrival change everything? Find out when you read Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall!

Dog vs. Cat is a charming book that will appeal to readers young and old. Young readers will enjoy the story of how Dog and Cat are different and eventually come together. Older readers will delight in the fun little details in the illustrations. With any age group, Dog vs. Cat is a wonderful read-aloud and is perfect for discussions about perspective, working together, and appreciating differences.

I created the book trailer below to promote Dog vs. Cat in my own library. Feel free to use it in yours!


Gaston, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson, is a nominee for the 2016-2017 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Mrs. Poodle loved her four puppies, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Three of the puppies stayed very small, had lovely manners, and were very graceful. Then there was Gaston. Gaston didn’t look like the other puppies. He had to work very hard to be like them, and things didn’t always go his way. But they were a family, and they loved each other.

One day at the park, the Poodle family came across the Bulldog family. It didn’t take long for them to realize that something was amiss. It seems that Gaston, who was actually a bulldog, may have been mixed up with Antoinette, a tiny member of the Bulldog family who was actually a poodle.

Mrs. Poodle and Mrs. Bulldog decided to let Gaston and Antoinette choose where they belonged, and they quickly discovered that, though they might look similar to their new “siblings,” they acted very differently. What if they were right where they were supposed to be all along?

Gaston is an adorable book that is perfect for children (and adults) who are adopted or part of blended families. Its message of belonging with the people who love and accept you is a great one.

Gaston is a great read-aloud, and I think young readers will love comparing and contrasting the poodle and bulldog families, even though there is a bit of stereotyping involved here. (Poodles are supposed to be feminine and tender while bulldogs are masculine and tough.) Gaston and Antoinette challenge those stereotypes, but teachers, parents, and librarians might want to give those misconceptions a bit of attention.

If you’d like to promote this book in your classroom or library, here is a short book trailer I created.

A Million Ways Home

A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

After Poppy Parker’s grandmother suffers a stroke, the girl is sent to live in the North Shore Children’s Center. Poppy hates it here (with good reason), and she’s willing to do just about anything to reunite with her grandmother…even run away.

Poppy tries to make her way to the hospital to see Grandma Beth, but things quickly turn south. After a brief stop at a convenience store, Poppy becomes the sole witness to a horrible crime, an armed robbery and murder. The suspect knows her face and her name, so Poppy is placed under police protection, specifically in the home of Detective Trey Brannigan and his mother, Marti.

It doesn’t take long for Poppy to feel safe in this temporary home. She likes her caregivers, and she enjoys helping Marti at the animal shelter. She even manages to make a couple of friends–one human and one canine. Lizzie, the human, is a girl with troubles of her own. Gunner, the canine, is a beautiful German Shepherd who isn’t all that different from Lizzie. Both of them need someone to love them and be patient with them, and that person is Poppy.

Even with all these positives, though, Poppy longs for things to go back to the way they used to be. She wants her grandmother to get better. She wants to go back to their apartment and not have all these worries weighing on her. Surely, life can one day be normal again for Poppy and and her grandmother.

Unfortunately, things aren’t so simple. There’s still the matter of a dangerous criminal on the loose and looking for Poppy. Also, Grandma Beth isn’t recovering like Poppy hoped she would. Things are looking bleak, and Poppy doesn’t know what to do.

Will Poppy ever be able to return home? Will her grandmother get better? Will the police ever catch the guy putting Poppy in danger? And what will happen with Lizzie and Gunner?

Learn how Poppy navigates through the waters of uncertainty, friendship, grief, and love to find her way home when you read A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget.

I’m My Own Dog

I’m My Own Dog by David Ezra Stein is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

In I’m My Own Dog, readers meet a dog who is his own master. He fetches his own slippers, walks himself, tells himself to roll over, and throws sticks for himself. He even gives himself a good scratch from time to time. There’s just one problem. This dog has an itchy spot on his back that he just can’t reach. What’s a poor dog to do?

When he simply can’t stand it anymore, the dog lets someone scratch his back for him. After that, the little guy follows him home. Well, the dog can’t just leave the fella out in the rain, so he lets him come inside. Eventually, the dog trains the guy. The dog gets a leash to lead his new friend around, he shows him interesting things like squirrels, and he teaches him how to throw a stick.

The dog realizes that his new human may come with some problems–like constant yapping and making messes–but maybe he’s worth keeping anyway.

All readers–no matter their ages– will find something to love in this book. It is a wonderful twist on the typical pet story, and it could lead to some interesting discussions on perspective. It is sure to be a hit as a read-aloud with young students, and any dog lover will find something to chuckle over.

I also think that I’m My Own Dog may also be a good fit for readers who see themselves as loners. (I’m including myself in that group.) Yes, it’s good to be independent and comfortable with oneself, but having a friend or a helping hand sometimes is just what a person–or dog–needs.

If you’d like to use the book trailer I created for this book, see below. Just remember to give credit!

Rags: Hero Dog of WWI

Rags: Hero Dog of WWI, written by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Petra Brown, is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Rags tells the true story of a small dog who made a big difference. Rags began his life as a mutt in the streets of Paris, but a chance encounter with an American soldier, Private James Donovan, during World War I changed this dog’s life.

Rags became a mascot of sorts for the Army’s First Division, and he and Donovan became inseparable. Rags assisted Donovan on missions and saved many lives in the process. He was a true hero who remained loyal to his best friend through good times and bad.

Any reader, young or old, who likes inspirational stories, especially those involving animals or wartime, will appreciate this story. It might be a difficult read-aloud given that it’s kind of hard to read through a veil of tears. Even so, Rags is an excellent book that will appeal to a wide audience.

Mister Bud Wears the Cone

Mister Bud Wears the Cone by Carter Goodrich is a nominee for the 2016-2017 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Young readers first met Mister Bud and Zorro in Say Hello to Zorro! and Zorro Gets an Outfit. In Mister Bud Wears the Cone, this terrific twosome is back with another tale of dog life.

It all starts with a “bad hot spot.” Mister Bud has a boo-boo, and the only way to keep him from making it worse is to treat it with ointment and put this poor pup in the “cone of shame.” Neither Mister Bud nor Zorro is happy with the situation.

Zorro doesn’t like that his schedule has been disrupted, and he’s not thrilled that Mister Bud is getting so much attention. As for Mister Bud, the cone is no picnic for him either. He can’t reach his treats or water bowl, he can’t see Zorro when they’re playing, and he runs into things when chasing after Zorro. It’s a mess.

Discover how both Mister Bud and Zorro handle the cone–and the horrible disruption to their normal lives–when you read Mister Bud Wears the Coneby Carter Goodrich!

If you’d like to promote this book in your classroom or library, feel free to use the book trailer below.