Happy New Year–2017

However loosely, these three books have connections to the changing to the year, which, of course, is inspired by the coming of a New Year.  2017 is upon us.  I remember as a child wondering if I’d still be above ground when 2017 came around.  At age seven, the year 2000, seemed like forever, much less seventeen years later. And that brings me to a quote from one of my most favorite Robert Louis Stevenson poems.  My mother used to read it to me often and part of it has always stuck with me.

And when I am so very, very old,

            ‘Bout 28 or 9,

            I’ll ‘dopt a little orphan girl

            And bring her up as mine.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR to us all.  May our new year be filled with love, adventure and joy.


The first selection is two chapter books melded into one book.  The characters are sweet and the second chapter books has a celebration of the new year in it. That fits, right?


Agnes and Clarabelle & Agnes and Clarabelle Celebrate!

Adele Griffin

Courtney Sheinmel

Illustrated by Sara Palacios

Agnes Pig and her best friend Clarabelle Chicken help each other through the tough parts of several adventures.  The first four chapters are delineated by seasons. In spring, the two friends make a surprise birthday party for Clarabelle and Clarabelle pretends to be surprised.  In summer, Agnes doesn’t want to go to the beach with her parents until Clarabelle makes the day fun.  The fall story, Agnes finds Clarabelle in a department store after they get separated. In the winter story, the friends make a pizza covered with roasted chestnuts, cheese, popcorn and white chocolate chips, but decide it’s too pretty to eat.  They eat mac and cheese and admire their work of art.  Then the reader flips the book over and, voila, there are four more chapters.  Each chapter centers around a holiday starting with May Day.  Agnes and Clarabelle are now old enough to participate in the May Pole Dance, and Agnes  has a grand time, but Clarabelle discovers she’s allergic to her flower garland, she can’t squeeze any juice out of her lemons for lemonade and she gets tangled up during the May Pole Dance.  On the Fourth of July, Agnes gets stage fright when she’s supposed to twirl her baton on a float during the big parade.   Clarabelle rides on the float and Agnes pretends she’s only performing for her friend. For Halloween Agnes is a ghost, but Clarabelle scares herself with her scary witch costume, so Agnes draws a mustache on her friend. The final chapter is set on New Years Eve and the friends’ plans for saying goodbye to the old year and ringing in the New Year are foiled when they fall asleep before midnight. These stories are cute and encouraging with enough repetition for children to quickly understand them.

BIBLIO: 2017, Read and Bloom/Bloomsbury Publishing, Ages 5 to 7, $9.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Chapter Book

ISBN: 978-1-61963-137-3

ISBN: 978-1-61963-217-2


Okay, a new year means time has ticked along, but what does one minute mean?  If someone says to you give me a minute, how long do you have to wait?  Maybe the person will only be a minute, but….

One Minute

Somin Ahn

Illustrated by Somin Ahn

A lot can happen in one minute and the minute just zips by, or nothing can happen and the minute draaggss on f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Ms. Ahn has lots of whimsical drawings in her picture book, including having the hours on her clock represented by the different stages of a tree growing.  The drawings are fairly simple in nature, but still appealing, though depicting the girl with very long hair when discussing how long one’s hair grows in a minute is confusing. The child’s interaction with other creatures and other people are sweet or depict a special message. For instance, a minute is short if you’re riding on roller-coaster or a merry-go-round, but very long if the dentist is cleaning your teeth. Make sure you get to the train station early, even if you spend minutes waiting, because if you’re a minute too late, the train will leave without you. With the help of a parent or teacher or grandparent, even an older sibling, young children will learn a great deal about time and, perhaps, patience by reading this book.

BIBLIO: 2016, Chronicle Books, LLC, Ages 3 to 5, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978145215647


The new year means hope for new beginnings, so I thought this story fit into the theme.

Spare Parts

Rebecca Emberley

Ed Emberley

Illustrated by Rebecca Emberley

Illustrated by Ed Emberley

Rhoobart is very unhappy, what with being made up of spare parts that are all tattered and worn.  Not only that, he has a second-hand heart, which, on this particular day, won’t start.  Even with a twist or a yank, his heart won’t start. He tries everything he can think of, but Rhoobart’s heart won’t start. With sorrow in his head, he goes to Blaggart, the spare parts man, who doesn’t understand what Rhoobart needs.  Blaggart orders Rhoobart to look around his spare parts yard to see if he can find what he needs.  But he warns Rhoobart to watch out for Mozart, whoever that might be.  Poor Rhoobart searches and hunts without any luck.  Then he meets Mozart, which scares the already mangled Rhoobart to pieces.  Unfortunately, Mozart doesn’t start Rhoobart’s heart.  The sad misshapen creature is feeling very forlorn, but then along comes Sweetart, who jump starts Rhoobart’s heart.  What a pair they make when Rhoobart’s heart starts thunking away. This sweet story has the added advantage of being nicely written in rhyme.

BIBLIO: 2015, Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press/Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, Ages 5 to 8, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT:  Picture Book

ISBN: 978-1-59643-723-4


So break out the bubbly and gather your family and friends close to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!






7 thoughts on “Happy New Year–2017

    1. The books I review are the luck of the draw. The people at the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database, randomly pick 5 books a month for me to review. I do get some turkeys, but most of them have merit and lots of them are really good. Like my friend Sheri Levy, whose book is outstanding.

  1. Dear Sarah,
    I enjoyed reading your reviews and the thoughts that went through your head at new year’s many moons ago.

    I’m proud of you for reaching your goals for 2016. May 2017 bring you peace, happiness, good health, and prosperity!

    Never Give Up

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s