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The Children's Bookshelf: Spellbound - September 25, 2022

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SPELLBOUND written by Jess Townes and illustrated by Jennifer Harney is a happy book for 3-5 years old children who are experiencing the coming of a new sibling.

Older sister Willow has always been “the” center of attention. She has, in fact, built a life around her own feeling that she is magical. She dresses in a blue cape and hat and carries a magic wand from which comes a stream of swirling stars. Her companion is a bunny named Houdini.

When baby Roland is born, however, things start to change! Mom sits and stares at him for hours and Dad seems to understand Roland’s every babble. Willow and her magic must take a back seat--- even with Grandma! Willow decides Roland must be a wizard! One day she gets busy by making a potion in the bathtub that will work against Roland’s power----what a mess. Dad intervenes and puts Willow in the playpen with baby Roland.

After a while something lovely happens in the playpen when Roland, trying to get his sister’s attention, finally calls her by name! That is special, indeed. They are friends forever!

The lively illustrations will catch the attention of youngsters with all the swirling stars, magical wands, and powerful rattles! The cover of the book even hosts dazzling yellow sprinkles---perfect for both tactile and visual fun.

SPELLBOUND written cleverly by Jess Townes and illustrated perfectly by Jennifer Harney is just right for youngsters 3-5 years of age who are expecting an addition to the household (union square kids, 2022).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Spellbound for parents to use with children.

The opening pages of this book show Willow’s house. It is in a forest and is built on and around the strength of trees. Give the house a name that fits the magical aspect of the house. Then draw your own picture of such a house. What other details can be added to make the house fun-spooky -----place things on the porch and around the house. Then add things to the door, the windows, roof, and the staircase. Have fun!

Questions for parents to use with young children 3-5 years of age after looking up the words mesmerize and dazzle with these young children. What does the word mesmerize mean? How does Willow mesmerize her mother? What does the word dazzle mean? How does she dazzle her dad? What happens when little brother Rowan is born? What happens to Willow while in the playpen with Rowan that causes her to love and enjoy her new brother?

When looking at the pictures, how can you tell that Willow’s wand and Rowan’s rattle are full of magic?

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.