Willow and the Snow Day Dance by Denise Brennan-Nelson
In this sequel to Willow, Mr. Larch, the neighbor across the street from Willow’s new home “never had visitors”, never “wore a smile”, never decorated his house for holidays or planted a garden, and “posted signs that made it clear to the neighborhood kids there would be no sledding on his hill.”
Willow wanted to plant a garden and make her yard beautiful, so she started by writing letters to her neighbors asking for help. They responded by sharing seeds, seedlings, and cuttings which soon became a beautiful garden. Her thank-you notes asked for garden art project materials, which became planters, ornaments and bird houses. In the autumn, Willow’s letters invited her neighbors to share in the garden’s bounty – in exchange for donations of mittens and gloves for the school’s charity drive.
Then it was winter, and Willow and her friends dreamed of snow – but they waited and waited and waited. So once again Willow wrote letters to her neighbors, asking for help in making it snow. She gets a mysterious letter in her mailbox with a very unusual suggestion. Will it work? And if it does, will Willow and the other children get to sled down that perfect hill behind Mr. Larch’s house? [JPB BRENNAN-NELSON]
Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt
“Cynthia Voigt crafts a novel about discovery, perspective, and the meaning of home — all through the eyes of an affable and worried little mouse. Fredle is an earnest young fellow suddenly cast out of his cozy home behind the kitchen cabinets — into the outside.
“It’s a new world of color and texture and grass and sky. But with all that comes snakes and rain and lawnmowers and raccoons and a different sort of mouse (field mice, they’re called) not entirely trustworthy.
“Do the dangers outweigh the thrill of discovery? Fredle’s quest to get back inside soon becomes a wild adventure of predators and allies, of color and sound, of discovery and nostalgia. And, as Fredle himself will come to understand, of freedom.” [J VOIGT]
Murder Afloat by Jane Leslie Conly
“Benjamin Franklin Orville is a boy without a care in the world. He has his own pony, he’s caught the eye of the charming girl next door. He wants for nothing, until the day his mother sends him to market to get a chicken for dinner. Suddenly Benjy is caught up in a scuffle, kidnapped with a group of immigrants and forced to work aboard the Ella Dawn — one of the most ill-reputed oystering vessels in Baltimore. He tries to plead his case, but his captors are unimpressed by Benjamin’s way with language. Soon the boy knows only hard work and hunger, a little bit of German, and a whole lot about injustice. It’s more of an education than he ever got at home. And in between his growling stomach and his aching muscles, he also experiences the joys of the sea — a gentle rhythm that rocks him to sleep at night and freedom he never felt between the fancy walls of his home. Will Benjamin ever see his home again? And if he does, will he know what to do there?” [J CONLY}