I Broke My Trunk! – by Mo Willems (2011)

i broke mytrunk

This delightful children’s book is part of Mo Willem’s “Elephant & Piggie” collection. The books in this series feature the unusual friendship of an elephant and a pig. Most of the stories are about getting along with others, dealing with emotions, and other things that young children are learning.

But this book has a slightly different twist. It shows what happens when you try too hard to please everyone. While it’s a good thing to share and try to make your friends happy, sometimes you can overdo a good thing. That’s when you end up hurting yourself – like Elephant and his broken trunk. This story will make everyone in your family laugh, but behind the humor is some really good advise about not allowing people to push you too far.

An Invisible Thread – by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski (2011)

An Invisible Thread

When we think of life-long friends, what comes to mind are: kids we went to school with, neighbors we hung out with, and college roommates we kept kept in touch with after graduation. Our friends tend to be about the same age as us, and have shared interests.

That is what makes the story of Laurie and Maurice so different. They weren’t the same age, race, or socio-economic status. They met by chance – or was it chance? Maurice was an 11-year-old black kid panhandling to feed himself, since his mother was a drug addict incapable of providing for him. Laurie was an advertising executive walking down a busy city street in Manhattan when Maurice asked her for money. She shook her head no, kept going, then stopped and went back. Instead of giving him money, Laurie took him to the nearest McDonalds and fed him. And that was the beginning of their life-long friendship.

Maurice and Laurie met every Monday to talk and eat together. The other days of the week, Laurie would pack her young friend a huge brown-bag lunch, and leave it with the doorman of her apartment building for Maurice to pick up while she was at work. An invisible thread drew them together, and became stronger as time went by.

This true story is incredible. Even though it seemed that Laurie and Maurice had absolutely nothing in common, they did. Both had fathers that had failed them, one being a violent alcoholic and the other being an absent drug addict. What I took away from this book was: 1, God brings people into our lives at just the right moment, even if it seems random, and 2, keep your eyes open because you might be the “Laurie” or the “Maurice” in someone’s life.

The Green Glass Sea – by Ellen Klages (2006)

The Green Glass Sea

It was a strange and unsettled time for Dewey Kerrigan. The world was at war, and her father had joined a group of scientists in a secluded area of New Mexico. What they were working on was top-secret, and the little town did not appear on any maps. With her dad constantly working, and the other girls at school treating her with scorn, Dewey was lonely. To keep her mind occupied, she salvaged metal parts from the scientists’ junkyard and built all sorts of gadgets. As time went on, she did develop some friendships, but never felt completely at home.

I enjoyed the historic setting of this novel. It portrayed the frantic rush of scientists, the daily life on the compound, how children often fended for themselves, what the bomb site looked like, and the secrecy of the government. This book received the Scott O’Dell Award For Historic Fiction, and several other awards. It is definitely worth reading.

Ira Sleeps Over – by Bernard Waber (1972)

Ira Sleeps Over

For a lot of kids, their first sleepover at a friend’s house is a milestone. When young Ira is invited to spend the night at a friends’s house, he is excited. What fun it will be! They can stay up way past their bedtime, play with flashlights, and tell spooky stories in the dark.

But as Ira thinks about the sleepover, he wonders whether he should bring his teddy-bear along or not. This leads to some anxiety about being laughed at. His family is divided in their opinions of whether he will be laughed at or not. What will Ira do?

Although this book is an oldie, it’s a great story. My husband read it to our sons so many times that they almost had it memorized. It’s easy for kids to identify with Ira’s dilemma. How we feel about our treasured stuffed animals remains the same, whether it’s 1972 or 2018.

Island, Book Three: Escape – by Gordon Korman (2007)

Island book 3

This is the finale to the “Island” trilogy. One of the six friends is on the verge of death, and the situation seems impossible. But despite the odds, they work together to save a life. In doing that, all their lives are saved.

This story is outstanding! It conveyed so well the concept of perseverance, no matter how hopeless the situation is. It also showed six young people putting aside their differences, coming together as friends, and stepping into adulthood.

Links to reviews of books 1 and 2:





Island, Book Two: Survival – by Gordon Korman (2007)

Island book 2

The second book in the “Island” trilogy picks up right where the first one ended. The six teens are on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. At this point, they realize that if they want to survive, they have to put aside their petty disagreements. They start working together to find food, water, and shelter.

It isn’t long, however, before they discover that they are not alone on the island. And the other people are definitely not there to help them. To make matters worse, one of the six becomes seriously ill. Their only hope is to find some way off the island. Desperation binds the six together, and a plan is made to get at least one of them back to civilization.

I loved the growing friendship between the six teens in this book. Instead of constantly thinking of themselves, they began to think of others first, and what they could do to help and protect each other. Compassion and growing friendship made this a great read.

My Hands Came Away Red – by Lisa McKay (2007)

My Hands Came Away Red

What do you do when you’re 18, aren’t sure that you want to get more serious about your boyfriend, and haven’t a clue what to do with your life? You go on a mission trip. Cori commits to a ten-week assignment with a team of young people going to an island in Indonesia to help construct a church. First comes boot camp, to help the team learn the customs, language, and physical hardships of the task and area they will be going to.

Then it’s off to the island. The work is hard, but rewarding. They not only finish the construction project, but build close friendships with some of the islanders. Everything seems perfect – until the day that a conflict between differing religious groups boils over. At that point, the only option for the team is to run for their lives.

This book, although fictional, had an intensely real feel to it. It’s almost as if the author has lived the story, or is close to someone who went through a similar experience. The flavor of the book seemed like a cross between a couple other books I’ve read in the last few years – “If We Survive” by Andrew Klavan
https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/if-we-survive-by-andrew-klavan-2012/ and “Tomorrow When The War Began” by John Marsden.
This book had it all – great characters, deep friendships, lots of action, psychological terror, and spiritual struggle. I would highly recommend this novel to readers of almost any age.

Nineteen Minutes – by Jodi Picoult (2007)

Nineteen Minutes

Peter and Josie had been close friends since they were in diapers. They understood each other perfectly. Peter was a small, sensitive boy who didn’t really fit in with the other boys, as he was bookish instead of athletic. From the day he entered school as a kindergartner, he was a target for bullies. As long as Peter had his friend Josie – his only friend – he was able to bear the taunting of the other kids. But by middle school, Josie had abandoned the friendship to become one of the cool kids. By high school, she was the steady girlfriend of the most aggressive bully.

At first, Peter reported the bullies. But the school’s attitude was that boys will be boys, and kids will always play pranks on each other. Telling someone actually made the situation worse, and Peter soon learned to just take the abuse and keep his mouth shut. But a simmering pot can only go so long before boiling over. There came a day when Peter carried guns to school and went on a shooting rampage. The story goes back and forth from present-day to different points of his childhood and adolescence.

Fortunately, this story was fictional. But for many kids, this is a scenario they encounter all the time. Why do some people feel the need to torment someone that they deem to be inferior? Why do others just pretend not to see the abuse? And why do so many adults continue to hold the opinion that teasing and bullying are just a natural part of childhood? There is nothing okay about it, and it can permanently damage the people that it is directed at. We’re all God’s children, and no one has the right to treat others as garbage.

The Good Nearby – by Nancy Moser (2006)

The Good Nearby

I have to admit that I picked this book because I really liked the picture on the cover. Who wouldn’t? The little girl looks so carefree. The story begins with seven-year-old Gigi. She’s an only child who is mostly ignored by her parents. But Gigi has a grandma that loves her to pieces, and tells her that she can be “the good nearby”. Whatever is going wrong in the world, she can be the “good” that God put in someone else’s life.

The book jumps back and forth from her childhood to adulthood. She endures a miserable marriage to a man who treats her like garbage. Then some other women who care about her come into her life. They are a blessing to her, and in the end she blesses them in an unusual way.

The themes of domestic abuse and supportive friendship run side by side throughout the book. The love of a grandmother and her strong faith in God also were a major part of the story. The novel reminded me that each one of us has the ability to share the love of Jesus with those around us.



The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend – by Katarina Bivald (2016)


I absolutely loved this novel of Sara, a young Swedish woman whose life is wrapped up in books. Books are more real to her than real life. She orders a book from an elderly woman- Amy – in the tiny town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. The two women, who both live to read, become pen-pals, exchanging both letters and books. Amy urges Sara to come for a long visit, so when the store Sara works in closes, leaving her unemployed, she figures it’s an opportune time to visit America.

Things don’t turn out quite as she expects. For one thing, the town that sounds so adorable in Amy’s letters turns out to be a shabby, nearly-abandoned community. And another thing – Amy has just died. So Sara is in a town where she knows not a soul, and has no idea what to do next. The townsfolk convince her to stay in Amy’s house for a while instead of immediately returning to Sweden.

The rest of the story tells how she tries to share her love of books and reading with those around her. Sara gets to know the eclectic residents of the town, and finds friendship, love, and a sense of home for the first time in her life.

Note: There is some sexual content – although not very detailed – and references to categories of books that some readers may find objectionable.