The Boy Who Cried Ninja Cover

It helps that the boy who actually cried “Ninja” is named Tim, but even if his name was Tom or Sam or Joe this would still be an amazing book that Kirkus Reviews called “Hip and trendy…with a timeless theme.”

Written by Alex Latimer, an author and illustrator from South Africa, he also created “Penguin’s Hidden Talent,” which I wrote about in an earlier post

Alex Latimer photo

Alex Latimer

Starting out with pencil drawings that then get digitized and colored, he creates a magical comic-strip like world in which we meet ninja’s, pirates, and time-travelling monkeys. And the story moves forward quickly without missing a beat. Loads of fun!


Bring On That Beat Cover

Rachel Isadora is a former ballerina turned author/illustrator who works to capture music in book form. With words that fly off the page like the best jazz lyrics and joyous, infectious illustrations of musicians at play (literally and figuratively) – she celebrates that magic and mystery of this most American of music forms. Breathtaking.


Rocket Writes a Story cover photo

I am really taken with Tad Hills work – from his DUCK AND GOOSE  board books for early readers to this two book series for the more advanced about a dog who learns to read and then finds the courage to write. I wrote about the first book, where a tweety-bird like teacher helps inspire the cutest little pup to learn to read. The New York Times review of this first Rocket chronicle lauded Hills for bringing a “sweet but not saccharine touch to a common struggle of childhood.”

How Rocket Learned to Read Cover

The story continues as Rocket, who is now a firmly established reader, gets encouragement from his teacher to WRITE.

Kirkus Reviews gets it right, noting a plot that “moves along at a measured pace” and “stresses the step-by-step process of Rocket’s endeavors.” Hills illustrations, in oil and colored pencil, are touching and “lovingly depict the characters and events.” The book doesn’t just chronicle a writer’s first start, but also the special relationship between teacher and student, and the role encouragement and gentle prodding can have in getting a new writer to blossom. Heart-warming.

Tad Hills with the real Rocket   Tad Hills with the “real” Rocket (Kirkus Reviews)