If I Could I Surely Would


My husband spent his career as an economist—first as a professor and then with his own firm devising ways to save money for consumers of electrical power.

But what soothes his soul is playing his guitar and writing songs.  The title of this blog is about what he would do to make our world a better place if he could.  He now also plays the fiddle, mandolin, harmonicas and a penny whistle.

So my blog this week is about children learning what is special about them.


The first story is about a girl who wants to follow in her father’s footsteps, but also find a way to keep him close in her mind while he travels for his job.

A Photo for Greta

Anna Alter

Illustrated by Anna Alter

Greta loves to spend as much time as possible with her dad, who travels all over the world taking photographs of famous people and events.  She really misses him when he’s gone and wishes she could do something photo worthy so her dad will take her picture.  When he goes to the circus, Greta dresses in circus clothes and when he comes home he takes her picture.  The next day she wears her tutu because her dad is photographing a ballet.  Again he takes her picture.  On the nights she goes to bed before her dad gets home, Greta’s mom shows her the photo album.  The book is a sweet story of the daughter/father bond reflecting the author’s time with her own father.  The suggestions at the end of the book about projects a child can do related to photography are nice, but a bit old for the intended audience; although probably doable with the help of an adult or older sibling.  The exercises and the book itself might help a child expand her visual horizons.

BIBLIO: 2011, Read to a Child!/Borzoi Book/Alfred A. Knopf, Ages 3 to 5, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-0-375-85618-1

ISBN: 978-0-375-95618-8


Errol doesn’t think he’s special until his dad helps him understand his uniqueness.

Errol and His Extraordinary Nose

David Conway

Illustrated by Roberta Angaramo

All the other animals at Errol’s school seem to have a talent, but nobody, including Errol, thinks the little elephant does.  He can’t swallow lots of stuff as the anaconda can or change color as the chameleons can or hide in plain sight as the zebra can. He falls down with a bump when he tries to dance.  So when the students are to participate in a talent show, Errol is very sad; after all what can he do?  But his father gives him a book about elephants and he discovers there’s lots he can do—especially with his very useful nose.  In the talent show, Errol picks up a feather, snorkels in a tank of water and gives a water and light show, astounding and amazing the whole audience.  He wins the talent contest with his extraordinary nose!  And, along with the other students, he learns he has a great talent for making friends.  The obvious theme of finding one’s talents is sweetly told and the drawings are cute.

BIBLIO: 2010 (orig. 2009), Holiday House, Ages 5 to 7, $16.95

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2262-3


The last book has a moral, as do most books.  But the moral of this one is stop sitting inside playing a video game when you could be outside getting exercise playing a real game.

Surprise Kick

Tad Kershner

Illustrated by Andrés Martinez Ricci

Written under the pen name of Zach Riley, the message of this book is to have confidence in yourself and to try real sports rather than just video games.  Cody is the champ at video soccer, regularly beating his best friend, Mud.  But when Cody’s parents take away his video game and insist he actually play soccer in a field, with real opponents, the protesting champ discovers real soccer is a different game entirely.  He feels his teammates don’t have his back and even Mud sort of abandons him, he thinks.  Even worse, he’s an awful player.  He keeps feeling sorry for himself and jealous of how well Mud is doing. But after hearing his grandfather tell stories of crashing in the jungles of Vietnam, Cody decides to stop complaining and start practicing.  Things start to get better for him and his team, eventually heading to the league championship game.  Of course Cody makes the winning goal, thrilled with the trophy he gets to take home.  His parents have a party for the team.  His mother says Cody and his teammates may play a soccer video game, but Cody opts for a real game of soccer.  Nice story, with lots of energy, but I find it strange for parents to be called by their given names when the action is from the child’s point-of-view.

BIBLIO: 2013, SportsZone/ABDO Publishing Company, Ages 8 to 12, $27.07.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT:  Middle Reader

ISBN: 978-1-61783-536-0


Please leave me your comments and remember that we are all special in our own ways.


4 thoughts on “If I Could I Surely Would

  1. Dear Sarah,
    What a neat tribute to your sweet hubby! So proud that music makes him happy!


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