It’s a Firefly Night
Advance Reader Copy , Children's / November 4, 2013

It’s a Firefly Night. Dianne Ochiltree, Betsy Snyder, art. 2013.  32 pages. Blue Apple Books. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of Edelweiss] My reading partner is a kindergartner, and we loved this book! The poem was simple enough to for her understand but the message behind the poem was enough to keep me interested, too. The most compelling aspect of this book really lies in the illustrations. They’re just beautiful. The pages depict open fields with flowers under moonlight, and of course, bright fireflies. They are crisp and colorful and really get across the sentiments of summer.

The Secret and the Flame

The Secret and the Flame. J. Hopfinger. 2013. Amazon Digital Services. 308 pages. [Source: ARC provided couresty of author] The Secret and the Flame is a contemporary romance that details the relationship between Emma Delaney, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University, and Dylan O’Shea, a Chicago firefighter. The book follows their initial meeting when Dylan rescues her from an apartment fire to their experiences as roommates and, eventually, lovers. Some of the other people who factor largely in their livesare Jeremy, Emma’s skeevy and meddlesome ex-boyfriend, and Mary, Dylan’s well-read mother who happens to work at Northwestern and has as penchant for Irish writers. Overall, I found the book an easy read. It was interesting from the outset and the plot kept a fairly steady pace. When you start off the book with a fire that destroys the main character’s life, it can be difficult to keep a reader engaged as life settles back to normal. The Secret and the Flame is technically sound, which I expected once I learned the author is a graduate of Northwestern’s journalism program. This is definitely a strong effort for Hopfinger’s debut novel.

A Tale of Two Daddies
Advance Reader Copy , Children's / November 2, 2013

A Tale of Two Daddies. Vanita Oelschlager, Kristin Blackwood & Mike Blanc, illus. 2010. 24 pages. VanitaBooks. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley] This children’s book takes on the task of exploring a child’s curiosity about families with same-sex parents. I was wary because there is a risk of getting too “adult” or heavy in a book with this subject matter, but the author proved me wrong. Oelschlager presents the topic in the form of innocent questions from one child to another who has two fathers. The young boy asks his playmate which of her father’s is responsible for great version day-to-day care. He responses are, of course, what one would expect of a child — simple and honest. She isn’t rude or preachy in her answers, which may be more effective with kids.

The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen
Advance Reader Copy , Children's / October 16, 2013

The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen. Diana Prichard, Heather Knopf, ill. 2013.  32 pages. Little Pickle Press.  [Source: ARC provided courtesy of Edelweiss] This is a cute story about how Patrick discovers the origins of the foods he eats on a regular basis.  According to the the author, the book seeks to answer the question, “Where does your breakfast come from?” While he helps his father prepare “World Famous French Toast,” Patrick encounters several farm animals in the most unlikely of places — his kitchen. The story itself is engaging and informative and provides an interesting way to think about where food comes from.  I read this with a 5 year old and it was very easy to have a conversation around what’s happening in the book with relation to their own experience with food.