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Review: Once Upon a Cloud (2015)

celeste 2On a recent trip to the public library, I picked up this exquisite new picture book debut by a Disney animator, Claire Keane. Oh, the illustrations in this book! Magical, lush, evocative. I could stare at the drawings of Celeste on their own and never tire of their many nuances, but then there is so much more on each page. The story follows Celeste through her dreams as she attempts to find a good gift for her mother. This book is a treasure for all of us who love to dream and believe in the power of our subconscious to lead us to answers for life’s puzzles.  It is a true example of a book where the art and text enhance each other. Highly recommended for fans of Disney animation. -Erinceleste2 2

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Review: Secrets of Selkie Bay (2015)

selkieSecrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas

Years ago I saw a movie called The Secret of Roan Inish. It was a story of Ireland, family, and selkies. That story stuck with me through the years and the Irish folklore of selkies continues to fascinate me, so when I saw this title available to read and review in advance through NetGalley, I jumped on it. I was not disappointed.

Set in an Irish seaside town, Secrets of Selkie Bay tells the tale of three girls and their Da trying to pick up the pieces after the disappearance of their mother and wife. Questions abound, adding intrigue to the story. Is it possible that their mother is a selkie, and has found her seal coat and returned to the sea? Why won’t Da spend the money in the sugar jar despite their financial distress? Could there really be an enchanted island in the mist, home of selkies and buried treasure?

I look forward to purchasing this title for our library and book talking it with our students. How many of them have heard of selkies, I wonder? Shelley Moore Thomas did an excellent job developing the characters in the book, touching on themes such as loss, family and the environment, and creating an air of magical mystery in a seaside town.

The book is not without flaws. I usually love covers done by Gilbert Ford, but this one is lost on me.  The seal drawings look pained and sad. Overall, however, this is book I will recommend highly to my students!

-Erin