Book Reviews

The Doll Hospital written by Kallie George and illustrated by Sara Gillingham is a warm and reassuring story about a visit to a special hospital just for dolls. Dr. Pegs opens the doors of the hospital and predicts a slow and easy day. This proves not to be the case, however, when little patients begin to arrive one right after the other.

First, it’s a porcelain doll by the name of Portia with a broken arm, followed by Scoop, a stuffed doll with a stomach ache, then comes Baby, a talking doll with a broken pull string and finally Teddy, a stuffy, who has lost one of his eyes!

Alarmed at the number of emergencies, Dr. Pegs calls in a special group of Nesting Doll Nurses to lend a helping hand. Working together they gently glue Portia’s arm back together, untangle the talking Baby doll’s voice string, give Scoop new stuffing to alleviate his stomach ache and repair Teddy’s eye with just the right button!

The illustrations are as charming as the story. Young readers will want to hug each of the four small patients who look all cuddly and in need of help. The adorable pictures are fashioned in gum drop colors of lemon yellow, strawberry pink, minty green and lip-smacking orange.

The Doll Hospital written by Kallie George and illustrated by Sara Gillingham is a gentle story about going to the hospital for some tender loving care and repair. It is perfect for children 3-7 years of age. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018). 


BLOOM: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli with words by Kyo Maclear and pictures by Julia Morstad is a uniquely-told and splendidly-illustrated picture book biography for children 6-9 years of age.

Schiaparelli, born in Rome in 1890, tells her own story in first person inviting the reader to be by her side as she realizes when she was born her parents really wanted a boy and they thought her appearance very plain when compared to her pretty older sister. Her dear Uncle Giovanni, however, encouraged her to bloom by calling her beautiful.

Throughout her childhood she tried to figure out what made things beautiful. She saw beauty everywhere and began improvising by putting two things together to create a new third thing of beauty. Later in her career as a fashion designer in Paris she would combine lace with leather and tree bark with velvet. She became known for bold colors, whimsical designs and her signature hot pink! “I say no to the expected. I say yes to my childhood dreams and the colors that once fed me: scarlet, mauve, periwinkle, green…and PINK!”

The illustrations in this book, rendered in liquid watercolor, gouache and pencil crayons, energetically capture the essence of what Schiaparelli created. The illustrations are eye-popping!

The back material includes notes from both the author and the illustrator plus more delightful pictures and a photo of the designer.

BLOOM: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli with words by Kyo Maclear and pictures by Julie Morstad is a beautiful picture book biography about creativity and the imagination for children 6-9 years of age (Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2018).


BLOOM: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli with words by Kyo Maclear and pictures by Julia Morstad is a uniquely-told and splendidly-illustrated picture book biography for children 6-9 years of age.

Schiaparelli, born in Rome in 1890, tells her own story in first person inviting the reader to be by her side as she realizes when she was born her parents really wanted a boy and they thought her appearance very plain when compared to her pretty older sister. Her dear Uncle Giovanni, however, encouraged her to bloom by calling her beautiful.

Throughout her childhood she tried to figure out what made things beautiful. She saw beauty everywhere and began improvising by putting two things together to create a new third thing of beauty. Later in her career as a fashion designer in Paris she would combine lace with leather and tree bark with velvet. She became known for bold colors, whimsical designs and her signature hot pink! “I say no to the expected. I say yes to my childhood dreams and the colors that once fed me: scarlet, mauve, periwinkle, green…and PINK!”

The illustrations in this book, rendered in liquid watercolor, gouache and pencil crayons, energetically capture the essence of what Schiaparelli created. The illustrations are eye-popping!

The back material includes notes from both the author and the illustrator plus more delightful pictures and a photo of the designer.

BLOOM: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli with words by Kyo Maclear and pictures by Julie Morstad is a beautiful picture book biography about creativity and the imagination for children 6-9 years of age (Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2018).


Out of Left Field written by Ellen Klages, is an energetic story about one girl’s determination to play in the Little League. Ten-year-old Kathleen Curie Gordan is spotted by a coach looking for ballplayers for the 1958 Little League season. So as not to draw attention to the fact that she is a girl, she gives her name, using her initials K and C, as Casey Gordan. She had been playing with neighborhood boys’ teams where she honed her “sort of curving knuckleball.” Try-outs go wonderfully well, she lands a spot on the Little League team and is told she will pitch the first game!

Her elation lasts only a brief time, however, when another player, jealous of her baseball skills, tells the authorities that she is a girl. A call from Little League informs her mother that girls cannot play as stated in the rule book. Katy and her mother take a look at the rule book and find it says, “Girls are not eligible”.

Katy decides to write a letter to the Little League requesting that she be allowed to play. Her mother gives her plenty of support. Response to Katy’s letter, however, is still negative and filled with silly reasons for the decision.

This causes Katy to do more research as to why girls should be allowed to play. She reads about incredible women baseball players such as the pitcher for The Chattanooga Lookouts Jackie Mitchell and Toni Stone, the first woman to play in the Negro Leagues, whom she eventually meets. There are 12 excellent short biographies of women baseball players featured in the back materials.

Out of Left Field written in a lively style by Ellen Klages and set in the late 1950s when integration of schools in the South was being attempted, is designed for ages 9-12 (Viking Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Random House, 2018).


Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel written by Lisa Pliscou and illustrated by Jen Corace is a beautiful picture book biography of novelist Jane Austen. The pictures effectively imagine the 18th Century English village where Jane lived on a working farm with her Mama, Papa, sister and six brothers. She helped with the chores and learned how to sew and keep house as all girls were expected to do. So, as the text says, “There was no reason to think she would grow up to be anything out of the ordinary.”

Jane, however, had an early attraction to words. Her Papa, who was also the rector of the village church and ran a school for boys in the large house, was in the habit of reading stories aloud to the family most every evening in the parlor. Jane was drawn to the sounds and rhythms that words carried when spoken. 

While recuperating from a long and serious illness she decided that she would read the many books in her Papa’s study including Shakespeare and Swift.  After attending a finishing school where she learned French, practiced penmanship, enjoyed music and dancing and generally prepared to be a lady and a wife, Jane bravely decided that her life would instead revolve around writing.

When her Papa died she and her Mama and sister needed to move in with her brother. Although she continued to write in a new and exciting way, getting a publisher was very difficult for her as it was for most women. Not until her manuscript about two sisters entitled Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811 did she feel like a real author.

BRAVE JANE AUSTEN: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel written engagingly by Lisa Pliscou with interesting back materials and illustrated with great charm by Jen Corace is a fine introduction to Jane Austen for ages 7-10 ( Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2018).


Pages