Book Review: Windows

Windows (2017, Candlewick Press, Picture Book)


From the publisher:

Walking his dog at dusk, one boy catches glimpses of the lives around him in this lovely ode to autumn evenings, exploring your neighborhood, and coming home.

Before your city goes to sleep, you might head out for a walk, your dog at your side as you go out the door and into the almost-night. Anything can happen on such a walk: you might pass a cat, or a friend, or even an early raccoon. And as you go down your street and around the corner, the windows around you light up one by one until you are walking through a maze of paper lanterns, each one granting you a brief, glowing snapshot of your neighbors as families come together and folks settle in for the night. With a setting that feels both specific and universal and a story full of homages to The Snowy Day, Julia Denos and E. B. Goodale have created a singular book — at once about the idea of home and the magic of curiosity, but also about how a sense of safety and belonging is something to which every child is entitled.


Windows, written by Julia Denos and illustrated by E.B. Goodale, encourages young readers to notice the world around them, and consider how people may spend their evenings in different ways. Through beautiful images of a city at sunset, the story takes the reader on a walk through different neighborhoods and offers a little glimpse of what might be happening through each window.

While the text isn’t exceptionally magical, it sets a soft, dream-like tone and works well with the illustrations. The illustrations are what really shine and make this one worth reading. In fact, adults might have fun letting children make up their own stories while looking at the pictures.

Recommended for children ages 3 to 7. Themes of home and family against a setting of night makes this a great bedtime read.

4 stars shining in your window

Windows hits shelves next month just in time for a lovely Fall stroll through the neighborhood.

Thank you to Candlewick for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Giant Pumpkin Suite

Giant Pumpkin Suite (2017, Candlewick Press, Middle Grade Fiction)

pumpkin suite

From the publisher:

Who are you, if you can’t be what you always expected? A moving coming-of-age tale of prodigy and community, unlikely friendship and growing things.

Twelve-year-old Rose Brutigan has grown seven inches in the last eight months. She’s always been different from her twin brother, Thomas, but now she towers over him in too many ways. The gap in their interests continues to widen as well. Musically talented Rose is focused on winning the upcoming Bach Cello Suites Competition, while happy-go-lucky Thomas has taken up the challenge of growing a giant pumpkin in the yard of their elderly neighbor, Mr. Pickering. But when a serious accident changes the course of the summer, Rose is forced to grow and change in ways she never could have imagined. Along the way there’s tap dancing and classic musicals, mail-order worms and neighborhood-sourced compost, fresh-squeezed lemonade, the Minnesota State Fair — and an eclectic cast of local characters that readers will fall in love with.


Giant Pumpkin Suite, written by Melanie Heuiser Hill, weaves a musical and magical tale of family and friends, and finding one’s true talent. With Rose having a passion for Bach, the story is told with many references to the composer and lots of tidbits and lesser known facts. Fans of math puzzles and music will enjoy this aspect of the writing.

The book is quite long for a middle-grade read and a bit slow to get started which might deter some readers. On the other hand, readers will feel a great sense of accomplishment by finishing such a long book.

In a market that leans heavily toward fantasy and magical realism, it’s nice to see a book planted more firmly in the real world, allowing readers to make more direct correlations between the characters’ lives and their own.

Overall, this book is interesting and well-written, just a bit slow as far as pacing goes. Recommended for readers ages 10 and up.

3.5 stars

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: First We Were IV

I apologize for the long hiatus. For whatever reason, I was having difficulties getting to my site on my laptop. But I am back now and have a new review for you all!

Thanks for stopping by and as always, I welcome your comments and input 🙂

First We Were IV (2017, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Young Adult Mystery/Thriller)

First we were iv

From the publisher:

A group of friends start a secret society in this out-of-control thriller from the author of The Telling and The Creeping that examines the all-consuming love of lifelong friendship—and what someone is capable of when they’re afraid of losing it.

Izzie loves nothing more than her three best friends, Viv, Graham, and Harry, and the bond the four of them share. And she’s terrified of their friendship falling apart next year when they go off to college. To bind them together, she decides to create something that will belong only to them, a special thing that they’ll always share between the four of them. And so they dream up the Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts. At first, it works like a charm—but when the Order of IV’s escapades get recognition beyond their wildest expectations, other people start wanting in. And soon, what started as a game of friendship is spiraling into something dangerous and beyond their control—and before it’s over, they’ll pay the ultimate sacrifice.


In First We Were IV, written by Alexandra Sirowy, readers follow the destructive path of four friends who form an order to maintain their friendship beyond high school, and instead it ends up creating something much bigger than high school friendship. Full of high school drama, bullying and teenage angst, many young adult readers will likely find this book engrossing.

There is a mystery in this book which is established at the very beginning, but the first chapter is a bit convoluted and vague. In an attempt to be super mysterious, the first chapter will likely leave readers scratching their head, but everything will be explained in time if the reader forges ahead. The book picks up after the first few chapters, and the author has a lovely writing style, but there are few truly suspenseful parts and overall the focus is on teenage relationships.

Fans of high school drama, teenage angst and secret clubs will enjoy this book, while others may feel a bit let down. Recommended for ages 14 and up due to adult situations and topics.

3 stars

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.