PB Story Reviews: 14 Cows for America and more!

I wrote this a while ago and realized I hadn’t hit ‘Publish!’ Here it is… I love reviewing children’s books! I reached out to Peachtree Publishers, a local company located close to me, and requested the following books to review as they looked like good reads, and they were! 14cowscover

Amazon Summary: 

In June of 2002, a very unusual ceremony begins in a far-flung village in western Kenya. An American diplomat is surrounded by hundreds of Maasai people. A gift is about to be bestowed on the American men, women, and children, and he is there to accept it. The gift is as unsought and unexpected as it is extraordinary. A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely from American and Maasai as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away.  Word of the gift will travel news wires around the globe. Many will be profoundly touched, but for Americans, this selfless gesture will have deeper meaning still. For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hope and friendship.

My thoughts:

This book is a New York Times Bestseller so my interest was piqued! It’s nonfiction which I love and has some beautiful illustrations. Kimeli, a Masai, comes back from America to visit his village and share the story of 9/11. How they react with support and warmth for the American people, people they have never met is pretty astounding. For the Masai people, the cow is everything, and to give 14 cows for America is a powerful symbol indeed! If only we could learn from the Masai people’s generosity!

Favorite Quote:

“Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort.”

LookInside! feature on Amazon here.


Amazon Summary: Babba Zarrah lives in a tiny village in the snow-covered mountains. The children love to visit her. They settle down on her big, old story blanket and listen to her imaginative tales. One day Babba Zarrah notices that Nikolai needs new socks, but she has no yarn. Every question has an answer, Babba Zarrah tells herself, I just have to find it. After the children leave, she unravels part of her story blanket and knits him some nice warm socks.

Not long after that, the postman is surprised to find a scarf wrapped around his mailbag. The grocer mysteriously receives a shawl to keep her warm. On the woodpile outside the school is a pair of mittens for the schoolmaster. Meanwhile, the story blanket is getting smaller and smaller. When the villagers discover Babba Zarrah s secret, they decide to give her a surprise of her own.story-blanket-2


My thoughts:

This book is a great read aloud story in which children will need to make inferences as Babba Zarrah unravels the story blanket in secret to knit warm items for the people of the village. Not until midway do children start figuring out that something seems v.fishy and that Baba Zarrah is unraveling the story blanket! As the blanket gets smaller and smaller, the children of the story decide they need to get Baba Zarrah a new blanket for more stories. A great story to show the spirit of giving and the magic of stories. The illustrations are also quirky and whimsical.

Favorite Quote:

“Every question has an answer,” said Babba Zarrah. “I just have to think of it.” She poured herself a glass of sweet tea to help her think. Before she had taken three sips, Babba Zarrah knew what to do.

“I will unravel a little of the story blanket and use the wool for Nikolai’s socks!” she said.

I love the way the author wrote, “before she had taken three sips…” V.child friendly language!

Saturdays and Teacakes


by Lester Laminack (Author), Chris Soentpiet (Illustrator)

Amazon Summary: “When I was nine or ten years old I couldn’t wait for Saturdays. I got up early, dressed, and rolled my bicycle out of the garage.” So begins author Lester Laminack’s poetic memory of the adult who made him feel incredibly special-his grandmother. Every Saturday, the narrator, a young boy, rides his bicycle up and down country roads past farms, a graveyard, and a filling station, until he reaches his beloved Mammaw’s house. She is waiting for him. While she picks tomatoes, he pushes the lawnmower through the dew-wet grass. Afterwards, he always helps her make teacakes from scratch, breaking the eggs and stirring the batter. But the best part, he remembers, is eating the hot, sweet cakes fresh from the oven. Children will understand the special relationship of the narrator and his grandmother. Set in a small town in the Leave It to Beaver days of the mid-sixties, the story evokes a gentler and more innocent time and place. Young readers will almost hear the sounds of bicycle wheels on gravel and the criiick-craaack-criiick of a metal glider in Laminack’s richly detailed prose. Award-winning illustrator Chris Soentpiet’s images beautifully capture the relationship and the place, perfectly depicting the simplicity of an earlier time.

My thoughts:

This story is such a beautiful one. A great read for those who have a special grandmother! The illustrations are gorgeous water colors and the story relates an adventure of the little boy visiting his grandmother’s house. The setting of the story is around the mid-sixties so the illustrations are quaint and fun to see the different in times from then and now.  Today, a bicycle ride all alone to grandma’s house may be considered unsafe for some, but in this time and era, it was what was done, and done with such happiness and peace.

Favorite Amazon Review:

I thought this teacher review was a nice one.

Great to use with middle school students!

By A. Bagnall on December 22, 2009
I used this book as a “jumping off” activity with my 7th grade language arts class. I read the book aloud to them and we discussed what they liked about the book. Then they wrote their own memoirs. It was a huge success!

Favorite Quote:

Every Saturday Mammaw was there, sitting on her old metal glider and waving. She was waving to me. No one else. Just me.

I love how special this little boy feels!



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