Reviews & Awards

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully presented and enhanced with fabulous, quirky illustrations filled with light and love, February 24, 2011

By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

 

This review is from: Willow and the Snow Day Dance (Library Binding)

“Willow and the Snow Day Dance” is a second book in the award-winning “Willow” series about a free-spirited girl who transforms her world and the people in it through her creativity, generosity, and exuberant compassion. Willow has just moved to a pleasant community and she can’t wait to create her garden. Optimistically, she writes notes to all her neighbors requesting their help in the form of seeds and seedlings. Her neighbors respond very positively, and she plants a beautiful garden in her house’s yard. Even the deer love her garden (too much) Another request for help from her neighbors results in unusual garden art projects from fascinating donated bits, odds and ends. Willow loves to share flowers and vegetables from her garden with her neighbors, even the hermit-like Mr. Larch, an unwelcoming neighbor who has not allowed children to slide down his wonderful hill in winter snows. When Willow shares things from her garden, she asks for donations for the mitten drive to keep poor children warm and cozy in the winter to come. Willow writes notes to thank her neighbors for all their donations. Finally winter comes, but Willow longs for snow that does not appear. She receives a mysterious letter in response to her request for snow (again, in a letter to her neighbors). It tells her a recipe to make it snow. What is it? A strange, silly, secret, surprise dance ritual that kids everywhere can do! Guess exactly what all the kids in the neighborhood including Willow are doing the very next night, in hopes of a snow day! The silliest dance that they can (with other secret, special rituals)! When Willow’s Snow Day finally comes, her secretive neighbor, Mr. Larch is actually all smiles. The children get their snow day from school and happily slide down Mr. Larch’s once forbidden hill. Is there a moral? In the magical world of Willow, all transformations for good are always possible, just as long as you keep thinking positively and putting out the best ideas and thoughts you can. “Willow and the Snow Day Dance” is a delightful story for children ages 6 and up, beautifully presented and enhanced with fabulous, quirky illustrations filled with light and love. Willow honors include Oprah’s Book Club 2010 Kids’ Reading List, National Parenting Publication Honor Award, the International Reading Association Children’s Choice Award, and Mom’s Choice Award Most Outstanding Children’s Book.

 Mary Schulte McClatchy Newspapers

“Teachers aren’t the only ones teaching in this picture book about a precocious girl who has her own ideas about what makes good art. Fortunately, Willow doesn’t bend to the strict art teacher’s rules in this poignant story about celebrating individuality and being true to your heart.”

 

School Library Journal K-Gr 3

All of the students in Miss Hawthorn’s art class draw trees that are alike, except for Willow, a rosy-cheeked little girl who paints what she sees when she closes her eyes. When the rigid, unimaginative teacher tells her that blue apples do not exist, Willow brings her one the next day. “Horrid little girl,” Miss Hawthorn says. Yet at Christmas the only gift Miss Hawthorn receives is from Willow. The child presents her with her beloved art book, which begins a transformation in the dour, unhappy woman. Miss Hawthorn begins to doodle and then to paint. Pictures are everywhere. When the children come back to school in January, they discover an inspired teacher in paint-smeared jeans and smock who invites them to help her change their room into a work of art. Soft-toned watercolors contrast colorful, autumn trees with the all-the-same green ones, show snow-covered trees that “broke when they could not bend,” and finally present the willow tree in the art room, which is a tribute to Willow. Expressive faces show wonderment and joy as teacher and students discover-as Willow has-the intense power of imagination. This book can be read alone or read aloud and is a solid choice for elementary collections.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

 

Kirkus Review

Uptight, bun-wearing Miss Hawthorn wants the kids in her class to conform to the way things “should” be painted, so she scolds Willow when she turns in a picture of a tree with blue apples instead of red, like the sample she’s posted.

Willow remains undaunted by Miss Hawthorn’s continuous scolding throughout the fall and even leaves a present for her when she leaves for Christmas break: the art book that inspired her open-minded artistic approach.

 

When the kids return in January, they find Miss Hawthorn has let her hair down and covered her classroom with imaginative murals. She joyously invites the students to grab their paintbrushes and help. “This time, everyone painted just the way they wanted.”

 

 

thereadingtub.blogspot.com/www.justonemorebook.com

Contagious Creativity: Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan, illustrated by Cyd Moore. Seething stringency and constant condemnation prove no match for good-natured self worth in this uplifting story of creativity, individuality and respect. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks! (Sleeping Bear Press, 2008)

 

apatchworkofbooks.blogspot.com

Willow, written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan and illustrated (beautifully) by Cyd Moore, is a charming story about releasing one’s inner creativity. Willow loves art class, even though it is taught by the most “un-creative” teacher. Always using her imagination, Willow takes her art assignments and runs with them, creating lovely pink trees and blue apples, much to the dismay of her teacher, who believes green trees and red apples are the correct way. With a little help from Willow, her teacher learns that being creative and using one’s imagination is not a bad thing, but instead, lots of fun! Filled with bright and vibrant illustrations, this one was an instant winner with me! Great for read alouds too.

 

In dictatorial Miss Hawthorn’s cheerless art room, students sit “in their rows, silent and still, like eggs in a carton” producing cookie-cutter busywork. “Everyone except Willow.” Miss Hawthorn does not appreciate Willow’s sweet nature or her inventive, colorful outlook on life. Willow is always in trouble with her wizened teacher, especially “for not painting things the way Miss Hawthorn wanted her to.” When she tries to share her artistic excitement via a well-loved art book full of flamingo-pink trees, blue apples and other works of wonder, Miss Hawthorn rebuffs her. “Horrid little girl.” But stony Miss Hawthorn is transformed by a holiday gift-the only one she receives-of that treasured art book, and when her students return after the holidays, they find a very different teacher, indeed. Motivational speaker Brennan-Nelson’s message hits its mark, and Moore’s energetic watercolors fairly vibrate-Willow would approve! Pair this with Peter Reynolds’s The Dot (2003) and Paul Zelinsky’s Doodler Doodling (2004) for an outside-the-lines art experience. (Picture book. 6-10)

 

San Francisco Chronicle

A student teaches her art teacher to loosen up in Willow, written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan and illustrated by Cyd Moore (Sleeping Bear Press; 30 pages; $16.95; ages 6-12).

Uptight, bun-wearing Miss Hawthorn wants the kids in her class to conform to the way things “should” be painted, so she scolds Willow when she turns in a picture of a tree with blue apples instead of red, like the sample she’s posted.

Willow remains undaunted by Miss Hawthorn’s continuous scolding throughout the fall and even leaves a present for her when she leaves for Christmas break: the art book that inspired her open-minded artistic approach.

When the kids return in January, they find Miss Hawthorn has let her hair down and covered her classroom with imaginative murals. She joyously invites the students to grab their paintbrushes and help. “This time, everyone painted just the way they wanted.”

 

Mom’s Choice Awards has selected Willow for the following…

2009 Gold Recipient: Inspirational/Motivational

2009 Gold Recipient: Distinctive Illustration

2009 Gold Recipient: Most Outstanding Children’s Book

Willow is a finalist in the Children’s Choices Book Award in the third to fourth grade category!

Willow has been selected for an Honorable Mention by the Eric Hoffer Book Award in the Children’s category.