Open the Doors to You by Casey Rislov and illustrated by Allie Strom introduces the readers to all of the possibilities they may find by opening different doors—both real, physical doors, and the more abstract doors of opportunities. With literal doors, opening the door to home leads to love and laughter and the door to school leads to learning. More abstract are the doors to sports, music, and the neighborhood. While some younger students may need help with the switch to the figurative, older students will start thinking about the various “doors” in their lives and which ones they enjoy going through. This is an interesting way to present opportunities and begin having children think about self-awareness. The illustrations show dynamic multicultural families doing a variety of activities, with a few two-page picture-only spreads that show the importance of family and community. The illustrations, combined with the in-text questions provide a good basis for using this book as a read-aloud with children: “Which door will you open next?”
Jennisen Lucas, Library Media Specialist
Park County School District 1
We all have that one friend or one summer that helped define who we are and how we perceive the world around us. Swing Sideways is the debut novel of Wyoming based author Nanci Turner Stevenson who masterfully shares one such story. Annie wants to break free of who she once was and when she meets California she knows she has found that friend who can help her. California is the girl we all wished was our best friend growing up, brave, adventurous, and unencumbered. She is spending the summer with her estranged grandpa but hopes to find the ponies that she is convinced will bring her mother home. Annie helps California on her mission, and just when it seems they will be successful, Annie learns the truth. Although this book is written for 8-12 year olds, I found myself caring more and more about these characters with each chapter. I highly recommend this Indian Paintbrush nominee and have already purchased Swing Sideways as my annual Christmas gift for friends and family of all ages.
Connie Hollin, Library Media Specialist