Harry Potter and On Wisconsin (Authors)!

AH, HARRY POTTER—fond memories were recently rekindled with the recent gift of the ILLUSTRATED Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (thank you daughter #2). An unbelievably gorgeous book with such beautifully detailed illustrations that I would often just sit and stare at the page to take it all in. I really didn’t intend to READ the entire book (again for the umpteenth time.) But I was drawn in AGAIN, and thoroughly enjoyed it. What’s fun is that this is the British English version . . . so it was all favourites and colours and crisps and biscuits and car boots and lifts etc… However, then shouldn’t the cover have read “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”??? NOT Sorcerer’s Stone. Hmmmmm.

Our eldest was 11 when the first book was originally published--the same age as Harry in book 1. We all grew up with Harry! I read the first books to the younger kids chapter by chapter at bedtime, until they were old enough to read on their own. (I must confess, to reading ahead some nights after their bedtimes. . . who could blame me???)











And, I would happily collect the entire series in this illustrated format (by the way – ahem – family? Do you read my blog???) PURCHASE HERE. 

Now for some other excellent books – all by Wisconsin authors.


Who Is Singing? By Janet Halfmann

I love books that are both fun and educational. This is such a pretty, colorful book with a story that leads the reader through different locations, celebrating the distinctive calls of many different bird breeds. This definitely serves a ‘first bird watching’ book for the young people in your life. And what fun would it be, to perhaps give this as a gift along with the gift of time to see how many you can spot near your own home? I particularly like the activity offered at the end, encouraging young readers to come up with their own words or sounds for the bird songs they hear.


Have you ever heard a bird whistle wheet, wheet, wheet, birdie, birdie, birdie? That's the song of a cardinal. Every bird's song is different. Bird songs often sound like familiar words. That makes it easier for us to tell Who Is Singing? This book is a celebration of birds and their songs, like the robin's cheer-o-lee, cheer-up. Young children love hearing and repeating the sounds that animals make. While enjoying the musical sounds of birds, children will learn that the song of each bird is different. Children may even learn to recognize some of the songs. This book also includes interesting facts about the birds written in lyrical prose, plus more fun info in the back matter.



Meena Lost and Found by Karla Manternach

Number three for Meena Zee!! Manternach continues with the escapades of Meena, a colorful, lovable girl with some quirky habits (which most of the adults in her life don’t appreciate as much as she does.) This multi-layered character (who in past books deals with an epilepsy diagnosis and friendship ups and downs) is now working so hard to be a good friend. But change is coming, and we don’t know if Meena will get the happy ending she desperately wants. The author skillfully takes us on Meena’s emotional journey--so well so--that at one point I was wiping away tears. Witty dialogue, fun settings & situations, and realistic, relatable characters make this series a winner for readers of all ages.


For graduates of Junie B. Jones, the third novel in the Meena Zee series follows lovable Meena as she tries to keep her best friend, Sofí​a, from moving away. Everything is going Meena’s way. Her seizures are under control, she’s started the Finders Keepers Club, and she’s trying hard to be a better friend. So when Sofía’s cat, Oriol, goes missing, Meena is the first to help her look. But when Meena learns Sofía’s family might be moving far away, everything starts to fall apart. Worst of all, Sofía seems more worried about finding her cat than leaving Meena behind! With a little help from her trash collection, Meena sets out to locate Oriol and keep Sofía close. But what if being a good friend means losing what she loves most?



Revenge is Necessary by Bill Mathis

I found myself speed reading near the end of this book because there were so many twists and turns and I was dying to find out how everything would end. Normally, I am pretty good at figuring out where a story is going, and I love, love, love it when I’m wrong. All the hints and clues were there, but the author did an excellent job of giving us alternative motivations for the villain(s) in this story. Well executed and sharply written with complex characters, some who are good (but perhaps not too good) and others who are bad (but possibly sympathetic by the end.) This book is an excellent case study in human behavior . . . what drives people to do ‘bad’ things?


Shaw Skogman, a taciturn, successful farmer, erupts and attempts to kill his wife and son by firing a shotgun at them. Shaw ends up with a severe leg wound but chooses to die rather than accept a lifesaving amputation. His wife and family learn more shocking things about him as they discover the separate life he led in plain sight. Elderly farmers and their spouses died. Was it of natural causes? How did he acquire so much land? What was the relationship between him and Melvin, his nervous right-hand man? Shaw’s first wife committed suicide—or did she? What roles do a gay undertaker, a closeted sheriff, and two gay teens play in discovering the answers? Finally, what secrets did his second wife have?


What have you been reading lately that you'd like to recommend. Feel free to use the comments to let us know! - Valerie



Thanks so much for including Who Is Singing? in this great review roundup. I love your comment about gifting the book along with spending time bird watching together! Happy Reading and Happy Bird Songs!

You're welcome -- it's a delightful book!! Anything that can get kids outside and into nature is a good idea in my opinion--and to do it in such a fun way is victory!! - Val

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