Courageous Kids

Written By Michael Dorris

What if you lived on a beautiful island before the time that Europeans came to the New World?  This book is set in just that time and place.

Morning Girl and her brother, Star Boy, live in a close-knit family and clan on an idyllic island.  But they are as different as night and day.  Set in Taino culture, the story follows both children as they discover who they are and how they belong to their family and their world.

Michael Dorris; the author, is a member of the Modoc tribe and an exceptional writer as well as a trained anthropologist.  His portrayal of life in this early Native American setting is both accurate and unforgettable.  This is a beautifully written and memorable book with an interesting historical twist at the end.


Written by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated By James Ransome

What if you were a child during the terrible time period of slavery?  How would you endure the hardship and challenges?

This book is a realistic portrayal of a young girl named “Sweet Clara”.  At the age of 12, she’s taken from her mother to work on another plantation as a field hand.  But her kind “aunt” Rachel has a plan to get her away from that difficult and back-breaking work.  She teaches young Clara how to sew.

As a young seamstress in the big house, Clara hears about many things in larger world around her, such as the Underground Railroad and the prospect of freedom in Canada.  But how can a young girl without a plan or a map hope to make it to freedom?

Clara finds a way to combine her sewing skills with both courage and patience and the chance to make a break toward freedom appears.  Can her quilt guide her and the ones she loves to a place of safety and peace?  Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt is an unforgettable story sure to inspire readers of any age or background.


Written by Teresa Bateman

Illustrated By Kelly Murphy

What would you do if suddenly all the luck in the world disappeared?

This is an enchanted and enchanting story about the wee folk of Ireland and one clever heroine named Fiona. The book tells the tale of a Leprechaun king who decides to hide all the luck in the world away from the humans.  The results are terrible as cows will not give milk, chickens won’t lay eggs and potatoes won’t grow in the fields.  And people simply don’t know what to do.  All except clever Fiona.

How can a human outwit a Leprechaun king and make things right? Pick up this charming book and find out how a good heart and a clever mind can sometimes change even the more dire situations.


Written And Illustrated by Dav Pilkey

It’s Fall and class trip time!

Eight adventurous young students set off to visit a farm in the country and come home with a surprising new love for turkeys.  How will the teacher respond?  And the farmer?  In a wonderful and whimsical turn of events, the turkeys become part of everyone’s Thanksgiving celebration  – as invited guests instead of main dishes!

I really enjoy books like this that are simple and fun and incorporate kids of various colors and nationalities into a lively story.  This is a sweet, funny, light-hearted book, perfect for reading as part of Fall festivities.

Comments Comments Off

Written by Yoshiko Uchida

Years ago I stumbled across several volumes of books for young readers by Japanese American writer, Yoshiko Uchida.  I fell in love with her ability to tell a compelling story from the eyes of a young person and this is one of my favorite volumes by her – the Rooster Who Understood Japanese.

It’s about a little girl named Miyo and her neighborhood.  Although a handsome rooster lives next door and is the pride and joy of her elderly neighbors, it becomes a problem for another resident who threatens to call the police because of it’s early morning crowing. Miyo is afraid the beloved pet will have nowhere to go and will become someone’s meal.  So she takes on the mission of finding a home for this special bird – a rooster that understands Japanese.

Uchida has a gift for weaving realistic details into her stories in regard to prejudice and the difficulties faced by Japanese Americans in the USA during the 1950s – 1970’s. Her young heroines succeed by using grace, cleverness, persistence and patience and have a way of making their world a better place, despite the obstacles they are forced to overcome.

And the rooster?  There’s happy ending there, too.  But you have to read the book to find out how it all turns out.

Comments Comments Off

Written By Ronald Roy, Illustrated by Vo-Dinh Mai

Can a small boy in a tiny fishing village rescue a huge beached whale?  Is it an impossible task? Impossible or not, Yukio looks into the eyes of the whale and promises that he will bring 1,000 pails of water to keep it alive until the tide comes back in.

Illustrations by Vietnamese artist Vo-Dinh Mai appear as wonderful woodcut images on the inside book cover.  The interior pages are gentle black and white drawings that share the urgency of the story and the powerful desire of this young boy to make a difference.

A tale of compassion in action, woven together with the story of a young child, his father and grandfather come together in an inspiring book you will want to read over and over again.

Comments Comments Off

Written by Kathy Tucker, Illustrated By Grace Lin

Once upon a time there were seven Chinese sisters – 6 older girls and one young baby.  They all lived together happily together, each with their own unique set of talents.  Then one day, a hungry dragon arrives and is bent on stealing the baby sister.

How will the other six sisters save the day?  It’s a wonderful, heroic tale of how each person’s unique talents make a difference in the world.

A beautiful, fanciful story with great girl/female role models!

Categories : China, Courageous Kids
Comments Comments Off

Retold/Written and Illustrated by Ed Young

It’s interesting how some story themes find their way all around the world.

Lon Po Po is very much like the story known as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. In this story, a loving mom must leave her three smart and clever daughters – Shang, Tao, and Paotze – to visit their grandmother on her birthday.  She gives them instructions on how to be safe, but the wolf nearby is clever.

He knocks at the door and declares that he is Grandma.  Then he blows the candle out and tries to find other ways to get close enough to harm the girls.  But the three sisters are not fooled – they outwit the wolf at every turn with brilliant and clever moves – overcoming evil with a sharp mind and a good heart.

Although the cover of the book and some illustrations can appear a bit scary for youngest readers, the book is uplifting and has a happy ending.  It’s great to see young girls in strong roles – ready, willing and able to overcome evil with the power of their mind and their heart.

Comments Comments Off

By Emily Arnold McCully

It’s exciting being Mirette.  She lives in Paris, France over a hundred years ago and her mom runs a boardinghouse where circus folk and other performers come to stay.  After Mirette does her chores she gets to hear all about their lives and travels and the wonderful things they do.  Then one day, her mom’s boardinghouse is visited by a mysterious performer who loved to walk the high wire but won’t go back to his trade anymore.  Can Mirette change his mind?  Can her interest and desire to be a high-wire walker rekindle his spirit?

This is a beautiful book that really speaks to what a difference an adult can make to a child and a child can make to an adult.  Bravo!

One caveat, here.  The book shares the exciting art of high-wire walking without a lot of precautionary warnings.  If reading this to your kids or your class, make sure you give them good basic warnings that this type of activity requires a high level of skill, practice and proper adult supervision!

Categories : Courageous Kids
Comments Comments Off
Written by Allan Zullo and Mara Bovsun
You might be surprised to hear that some of the heroes of the Holocoust were teenagers.  This book tells the story of six brave young people who risked tremendous harm to take a stand for others.  A great book for discussing concepts such as “what difference one person can make” and what people choose to do when faced with injustice.  Although recommended for preteens and teens, this book is a compelling story for all ages of readers.
Suggested Reading Level:  Ages 8-12

Comments Comments Off

Written by Peter Roop
Abby and her four sisters are caring for their sick mother on a lighthouse island in New England when a terrible storm hits.  Abby’s Dad tells her she must keep the lights burning to save the passing ships.  This beautifully illustrated book tells Abbie’s heroic tale based on an actual 17 year old girl during a tremendous storm in 1856.  Exciting and inspiring reading.
Suggested Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Comments Comments Off
Written by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrations by James E. Ransome
What might it feel like to be a slave running for your life toward freedom?  Deborah Hopkinson’s book captures all the urgency and suspense that a trip to freedom might entail as told through the eyes of a young girl.  Rich illustrations bring this historical fiction story to life and tell the tale of how quilts and other hidden signs made for meaningful markers on the Underground Railroad toward freedom.
Suggested Reading Level: Ages 4 – 8

Comments Comments Off
Written by Susan E. Goodman
10 year old Cora lives on the Prarie and loves nothing better then helping her dad, an old time doctor before the days of modern medicine.  She travels with him to meet the different people who have settled their area.  This true story based on a pioneer girl is exciting and eye-opening, especially when she and her Dad get caught in a huge, consuming prarie fire and Cora’s courage helps them to survive.
Suggested Reading Level: 6 – 9

Comments Comments Off
Written by Ron Roy
Illustrations by Vo-Dinh Mai
Little Yukio comes face to face with a beached whale and he makes a promise to the animal to save him.  Can a little boy from a village who hunts whales actually save one?  What does it take to make this happen?  This is an older book with black and white illustrations but a compelling story about the power of a child’s vision and how a community and the relationships betweens fathers and sons can make a tremendous difference.
Suggested Reading Level – Grades 1 – 3

Categories : Asian, Courageous Kids, Dads
Comments Comments Off