We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen


All of Jon Klassen’s picture books are fabulous read-alouds which will have children and adults begging to read them over and over. There is a central theme of a hat in each of his picture books so far: I Want My Hat Back, This is Not my Hat, and the latest, We Found a Hat.

In We Found a Hat,  readers will be delighted by two adorable turtles who seem to do everything together. Who doesn’t love turtles?! The only problem is that they have found a hat, together, of course, but there is only one hat, and two turtles. What are they going to do? And they admit the hat looks very good on both of them. Just the sight of a turtle wearing a hat causes a lot of laughter, as they can’t see a fool thing while wearing the hat. The story is divided up into 3 short parts, with some repetitive phrases, but ultimately building up to a delightfully surprising end.

Klassen’s simple, but textured illustrations allow the reader to get so much out of the story. Watching the turtles’ eyes focusing on different parts of the pages will give the reader clues as to what is going on in the story and foreshadow a possible outcome. However, the surprise ending will leave readers laughing with joy. Maybe there really is a way for the turtles to be together and both have a hat?! You’ll have to read it and find out for yourselves. I would highly recommend all of Jon Klassen’s books for students in grades K through 6. The tales are really fitting and enjoyable to any age.

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems


Am I all set to tell you why I love Nanette’s Baguette? You Bet!

Mo Willems has done it again – created a hilarious tale with lasting characters and unique illustrations. Willems, rock-star author and illustrator of many favorites including the Elephant & Piggie series, Knuffle Bunny, and the Pigeon picture books,  never fails to delight young readers and adults alike. Nanette’s Baguette is written completely in rhyme, sparking silliness and creating a build-up in tempo with every new page. The story follows young frog, Nanette, on her very first trip to the bakery to get the baguette. Sure, Nanette is able to get the baguette with no problem (you bet!), but it’s what happens after she gets the baguette that will have readers in stitches. Perhaps my favorite scene from the story reads like this, “This is as bad as it can get. Maybe Nanette will move to Tibet. Tibet is as far away as you can get. Nanette would need a jet.”

The illustrations of the French village are completed by paper-model, allowing Nanette and the other characters to really jump off of the pages in a lifelike manner. Nanette’s Baguette is a joy to read aloud, even though it’s easy to get tongue-tied if you read it too quickly. This adds to the humor of the situation, of course, making it one of the best read-alouds to come across my desk in a long time. Also, I have to mention that I am hungry for a warm baguette each time I read Nanette’s Baguette. The story would pair nicely with a bread tasting time! Fabulous work, Mr. Willems!

A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

A Million Miles Away is a heartbreaking but awesome story. I’m so glad to have read it, even though I knew from the synopsis that there would be quite a bit of sad parts. The author has a knack for capturing the raw feelings of the character, including feelings of grief, anger, loss, guilt, betrayal, and love. Kelsey Maxwell and her sister, Michelle, may be identical twins, but that is about all they have in common. Michelle is artistic and spends her time being creative and quiet. Kelsey is a dancer who enjoys being the life of the party with her boyfriend and friends. Michelle is pretty tight lipped about any romantic interests, especially to her twin sister. Kelsey happens to meet Michelle’s current boyfriend, Peter, the weekend he is due to be deployed to Afghanistan. Tragically, Michelle is in a fatal car accident on her way home from the airport, leaving behind Kelsey and her parents to pick up the pieces. No one in the family but Kelsey knows about Peter, and she has no way to find him to tell him about Michelle. One day she happens to see a Skype call coming in from Peter (meant for Michelle, of course) and she picks it up. Talking to Peter (as her sister) somehow helps her cope with her grief and sadness, and seems to help Peter get through the stressful days in battle in Afghanistan. She plans to tell Peter the truth, but finds herself falling for him and soon she cannot bear to break his heart. As you can imagine, such a sticky situation cannot end well. The author did a great job of ending the book, however, without tying everything in a neat little bow. I would highly suggest this book for teens and adults alike. It’s a very sweet story which shows that even from a tragedy, love can and will endure. I’m a big fan.