El Vacío

Julia was a happy girl, until one day everything went away, leaving her a big “vacío.” Her “vacío” was huge; cold came through it, and monsters emerged from it. She tried to fill it with food, social media and medicine, but nothing helped. In a moment of extreme frustration and tiredness, Julia collapsed and cried without comfort until falling asleep. Suddenly, a voice coming from the ground told her to look through her “vacío.” When she did, she saw and felt colors, melodies and magic worlds that gave her a sense of connection to herself, to others and to nature. She began approaching people differently and noticed that they also had their own “vacíos” and wonderful worlds. Julia’s “vacío” started to shrink, but rather than disappearing, it remained as a window into Julia’s magical worlds; a reminder of the importance of feeling connected to the world.

Featured in WOW Review Volume X, Issue 4.

Animal City

Nina journeys to a secret jungle city populated by animals, plants, and lost objects. The reason for her visit: story hour, where a book’s power holds the wild in thrall. The animals are eager for stories about space, the sea, and other worlds. But their favorite story of all is the one told here: a story about a mysterious place, laden with legend and lore, and now overtaken by nature. Five Pantone colors infuse each illustrated spread with a vibrant, electric energy, making this powerful celebration of nature—and stories—as vivid visually as its narrative is engrossing.

Miguel’s Brave Knight

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra finds refuge from his difficult childhood by imagining the adventures of a brave but clumsy knight.

Middle Bear

Susanna Isern’s melodic picture book tale uses repetition throughout and offers an upbeat and positive message to middle children everywhere. It’s a subject that is not often addressed in this format. With its hero’s quest theme, the story has the feel of a modern-day fairy tale. Manon Gauthier’s spare artwork and understated palette perfectly capture the poignancy of the bear cub’s emotional journey. Though the book focuses on the role of middle children, it really celebrates every child’s efforts toward self-discovery, as they seek out their own special place in the world. It also offers a wonderful opportunity to highlight the character education subject of perseverance or a lesson on empathy.

The Surrender Tree: Poems Of Cuba’s Struggle For Freedom

Who could have guessed that after all these years, the boy I called Lieutenant Death when we were both children would still be out here, in the forest, chasing me, now, hunting me, haunting me. It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in concentration camps with too little food and too much illness. Rosa is a nurse, but with a price on her head for helping the rebels, she dares not go to the camps. Instead, she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish–Rosa does her best for everyone.

Read more about The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom in WOW Review.

Bonjour Camille

It’s Sunday morning, and Camille has so many things to do! From jumping on the bed (of course) to choosing a new favorite color, drawing faces on thousands of balloons, hiding all of the umbrellas, seeking out the unexpected on a map, and more, Camille teaches young readers the importance of being guided by a boundless imagination. Bold colors, graphic patterns, and expressive collage capture Camille’s whirlwind of a morning, not to mention her uniquely expansive perspective. Children and adults alike will embrace this celebration of childhood’s many delightful surprises.

The Last Song

Living in Toledo, Spain, and raised a devout Catholic, Isabel cannot know her privileged life is about to unravel. The tolerant society she is used to has been turned upside down by the Spanish Inquisition and the Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada. Now even the walls have ears, and no one is immune to rumor, suspicion, a resentful servant, or a neighbor bearing a grudge. Still, Isabel feels safe from the burnings and torture. After all, her father is a respected physician in the court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Then Isabel is betrothed to an abusive man she thoroughly dislikes, and for the first time, her doting parents are united against her. The reason becomes all too clear when they reveal to her their family’s Jewish roots. By marrying their only child into a respected old Catholic family, they hope to protect her and dispel any suspicion that they have not always been devout Christians. Despite their efforts, Isabel’s father is arrested and tortured by the Inquisition, and it’s up to Isabel to concoct a desperate plan to save his life – and her own.