Book Reviews
© 2022
The most charming swamp creature since Pogo, this alligator is sure to win the hearts of children. The Book Reader The book and CD is a MUST READ for everyone who cherishes children and who shares the best with them...          Joan Franklin Smutny Director for the Center for Gifted Northern-Louis University, Evanston, lL Deborah Bel Pfleger, who wrote the music really understands children. This is a grand story to read aloud to  children. Ohioanna Library Association, Columbus, Ohio Aside from the thoughtful story and contagious music, Arlie was a catalyst for some very interesting classroom discussions... Laura Joss, Music Teacher                             Strongsville, Ohio Arlie is a hit! The 3-year old knows all the songs and the 7-year old sings while she reads along. Laurie, Parent West Virginia Arlie the Alligator lent itself very easily to a staged musical performance...the songs practically taught them- selves! Laura Joss, Music Teacher Strongsville, Ohio Thank you for writing Arlie! My daughter did her oral books report on Arlie and she received an “Awesome!” You book has also been a help to children here at the center. Many of the children who come here need to learn to “bellow” in appropriate ways. Deborah Megyes Gifted Program Coordinator & Parent of Gifted Children Akron Child Guidance Center Akron, Ohio                                                                                                 If I Were A Road, If I Were A Table, The Great Bridge Lowering As an educational consultant, it has been my pleasure to use and recommend Sandra Warren’s books. The three titles that are consistent favorites are, If I Were A Road and If I Were A Table and The Great Bridge Lowering. There is always a need for quality literature that motivates children to think. The words and illustrations in the books combine to challenge young readers to think creatively about seemingly ordinary things, a road, a table and a bridge. They stimulate questions and a sense of wonder. In today’s classrooms, teachers must teach to state standards. The most important standards, and, the most difficult to teach, deal with critical thinking. If I Were A Road, If I Were A Table and The Great Bridge Lowering are effective teaching tools that provide a starting point for developing better thinking habits in students while, at the same time, fulfilling several state standards. That makes all three books very, “Teacher Friendly.” Of course the kids who read the books would just say they are really different and fun! Nancy Johnson, Educational Consultant Marion, Illinois Being Gifted: The Gift - Video Study Kit The Gift, invites both teachers and parents to walk into a world of knowledge about the world of the gifted child so that both can feel comfortable and effective supporting talents and abilities. The film (DVD) and the splendid guide that follows provide a creative catalyst to eliciting thought and perspective concerning identifica- tion and application of activities and strategies useful to all who work with gifted children. The package is designed to stimulate new views and challenges misconceptions commonly held about gifted children and gifted education. It is refreshing and delightful and can be used in parent groups, in-service, classes of the gifted and for individual viewers who are looking to extend a framework on gifted education. Joan Franklin Smutny Director for the Center for Gifted Northern-Louis University, Evanston, IL ...not only describes me as a child (where were you 30-years ago?) but also my five-year old who just started kindergarten. Parent of a gifted child It helps me see things from my children’s point-of-view.          Parent of gifted children I have had the time to view the video seveal times, and each time I find yet another reason to enjoy it. THe characterizations by the children are excellent; aspects of growing up gifted are addressed in a positive, straight forward manner.          James Delisle, PhD. Being Gifted: Because You’re Special From The Rest and Teacher’s Guide to Parents of the Gifted/Parents of the Gifted’s Guide to Teachers Sandra Warren’s books help to provide useful and timely suggestions to help the gifted child reach their full potential. ...these small books are gems that may serve as a lifeline to those seeking answers. Ohioanna Library Association, Columbus, Ohio Teacher’s Guide to Parents of the Gifted/Parents of the Gifted’s Guide to Teachers This uniquely devised paperback, designed to build helpful relations between parents and teachers, can be read from either side. ...Parents are encouraged to look at the role they play in helping their children grow into whole human beings. the list of what gifted children need Warren adds a list of what gifted kids DO NOT need (parents who value the gift over the whole child... Teachers are reminded that....communication with parents can be enhanced if teachers are open and honest with parents, develop listening skills and continue to increase their knowledge of the gifted. Warren gives tips for starting a community organization to build supportive relationships for the education of gifted children. NAGC - Parent-Community News Advocating for YOUR Gifted Child - Video (DVD) Study Kit Parents who attended my Parent’s Meeting loved the video! I asked them what parts were interesting or Ah- Ha moments and several issues came out about; “that’s my breakfast table at home,” “my kid writes novels,” etc. It was an easy move to get into their own issues because of the way it was presented. They wanted to know how our teachers relate to gifted kids, how our homework policy works. Basically, the issues brought up were turned to our own district and it’s policy; very effective! Two parents said they would like to help plan parent group events for next year. Jean M. Reed, GT Coordinator Tipp City, Ohio
Arlie the Alligator: Story-song picture book, CD, Ebook, Mp3
We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High     School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway
A fascinating and little known story about the home front in World War 2. All students of History should take note about what can be done when one puts their mind to it.                                                                                                       Donald M. Goldstein, Ph.D.                                                                                                      Co Author of At Dawn We Slept                                                                                                      and Miracle At Midway When Americans were called upon to “do their part” following the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, the students of South High School in Grand Rapids, Mich., did more than their share with their contri- bution to the 1942 “Buy a Bomber” campaign. Writing in the simple, unadorned terms of small-town America during wartime, Warren, a writer from the South High class of 1962, captures the patriotism and community spirit that sparked the students to canvass door-to-door. She chronicles the eager pupils who raised more than $75,000 in sales of war bonds and Defense Loan stamps in order to buy a fighter plane. The drive continued to bring in donations and the students subsequently collected more than $300,000 to purchase a B-17 bomber, which was named The Spirit of South High. (Unfortunately, the bomber crashed in a farmer’s field during a training mission in bad weather.) Warren honors the school leadership, students, and local merchants with lofty praise, while noting some additional  government support. This bit of local history is a reminder of unheralded resolve and determination by students during WWII.                       Publishers Weekly/Book Life                                                                                                 Publishers Weekly/BookLife I read Sandra's book. It is well written and researched. I recommend it for the history, the human faces and stories, and the superb writing.                                            Julie Murphy, Ph.D. This extraordinary narrative, We Bought a WWII Bomber, isn’t just about a school accomplishing unbelievable heights in the government sponsored “Buy a Bomber” campaign, although by the time I completed the book, I did feel a little jealous that I didn’t attend this remarkable school. While author Sandra Warren gives readers a glimpse into the reality of life during war times, her research takes us beyond the halls of Grand Rapids, Michigan’s South High into the bomber itself during its final hours and into the community it impacted. This is a not-to-be-missed story of determination and valor.                      Gretchen Griffith
This book is amazing. Real people, a real town and a impossible goal. I never set the book down, it was that good. I found myself reading out loud so my entire family could be on the same wonderful journey I was on. The pictures were perfectly placed to remind the reader that this happened, it is a true story from WWII. Did you know this took place? I didn't. I never learned about this in history class and I wonder if kids today would ever band together for a cause like this. Well done Sandra Warren! I loved it. Leslie Bauman
I loved reading this story - it was so interesting! I learned a lot about how life was stateside during WWII, what the children did, and military aviation during that time. The children of South High who raised their money for the plane are very inspirational.        A. Dane
A Very interesting book! Being from Grand Rapids, I really enjoyed learning things about my home town  that have been hidden in the past. So proud of the war efforts that took place at this time. The book is well  written and very informative.						       Billy C.
Spivey’s Web/Spivey’s Christmas Web  (new title/same story) First I need to say that I critiqued this book when it was a manuscript and I loved it from the very beginning. Sandra Warren has created a spider to adore, one that spins a web on her own terms. Sandra's previous children's book was about an alligator who thought differently than other alligators. This one continues with that theme and introduces Spivey, a creative thinker who designs a web of her own making, despite being ridiculed by the other spiders. I was already rooting for Spivey and her independent nature, but when I saw the finished product with its fantastic, over the top art work by Susan Fitzgerald, I really felt that I knew Spivey and her feelings. This book has a Christmas twist at the end, so be prepared to feel warm and cuddly even if it is a spider.                                                                                       Gretchen Griffith I loved it as did my twins.                                                                   Sarah Knudsen
Shows what the Schools At War accomplished during WWII. Outstanding. It is based on the true WW II Story of a High School that bought stamps and bonds to underwrite the cost of a B-17 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber and Christened the bomber at the local Airport.           Tom Kane
I sent for this book to give to my teenage granddaughters because it is a historical novel, based on a true WWII story. The narrative is written in clear, persuasive language and kept my interest from beginning to end. After reading the story my wife said: This is a great gift for the girls! I'm glad she approved. A book for the entire family!                                              Sergio & Tania Clavijo
Told in two points of view, SHE STARTED IT ALL brings the story of the "forgotten" bomber-a plane purchased with money raised by Michigan students during WWII--into Joe Gerrard and Sandi Howard's eighth grade classroom. Of course, when the two students receive their history assignments they don't know what lies in wait for them. All they know is that they receive topics they don't like. Sandi wants to cover the music of the time period and instead is asked to report on WWII aircraft; Joe wants to do a project on the bombers he's passionate about, but instead he's required to research United States War Bonds and War Loan Stamps. Their teacher, Mrs. Bradley, says, "As you work through your projects, maybe you'll discover something that will make history itself." A statement that proves to be true in unexpected ways. If you add to this set-up the fact that Sandi is a shy "Brainiac" with a secret crush on Joe and that he is the popular jock at school--then you have a recipe for conflict. In fact, their constant misperceptions of each other and the cliff- hanger endings to each chapter make the book a page-turner. The author does a good job of including historical facts so that the reader learns about WWII without feeling over- whelmed with information. The contemporary setting of a modern middle school and authentic language also makes the book accessible to today's readers. I'm a huge fan of using facts in fiction (including real people when possible) as well as inter-generational stories. Both of these are present in this novel. Both Sandi and Joe receive help from elderly primary sources which adds further authenticity to the story. As for the ending? Well, let's just say it's perfect.                                Carol Baldwin, Author, Teaching The Story 
 Great Middle Grade Fiction!
She Started It All
Obsessed By A Promise! A very well written book that you just can't put down until the end! The ending is quite a surprise.                                                                                                                   Teresa Westover 3.5 [Stars] rounded up to 4. Blue Saunders, eleven years old and Bo, his four-year-old brother, are horrified the night their Pa is arrested and dragged from their shabbyrooms in a dilapidated apartment building in New York. It’s 1929. Their mother is dead. When they are able to talk to their Pa through the barred windows of his jail cell, they can hear him wheezing and coughing. When the boys are unable to pay the rent, the landlord throws them out on the street and hard times become even harder times. Stel, a young golden-haired orphan girl who lives in a cardboard box teaches the boys how to beg. Soon, two more youngsters have joined them to make a little gang of child beggars. Warren’s narrative plinks the heartstrings. Warren does a great job of scene-setting as she details the busy streets of New York City, the rundown apart- ments, and the lives of four of the children after police take them to St. Catherine’s Home for Wayward and Orphaned Children. Stel hangs onto her mother’s necklace and Bo manages to keephis father’s homemade belt buckle in spite of the nuns’ efforts to take away all the children’s special effects. Blue, still on the streets, keeps Bo’s broken toy soldier. The children hold on to these mementos from their past lives. Blue discovers St. Catherine’s and thinks he sees the children but they are sent out on the orphan train to be placed in homes across the country before Blue can do anything about it. He questions himself; did he really see them? Blue will search for Bo for many years; many of them within NYC because he doesn’t know about the orphan train until later. The title for the book is perfect because Blue is taken over by his obsession to find Bo. It becomes the driving force of his entire life. He promised his Pa to look after his brother. Although he eventually becomes a successful businessman, the specter of losing his brother hovers over him like a failure he can never reconcile. Warren’s characters come to life. My favorite is O’Rielly, who owns a grocery store and meets Blue when he’s eleven, living on the streets. O’Rielly is such a warm character. He saves Blue from the clutches of the police, fixes Blue a hearty breakfast and offers him a job at the store in exchange for room and board. Blue is so over- come with emotion by the man’s offer that he jumps up and runs off, saying he’s got to pay his way, going back to the cardboard box to retrieve what little money he has and all his worldly possessions including Bo’s toy soldier. He writes a message on all sides of the cardboard box and on the brick wall, for the gang if any of them return, saying that Blue can be found at O’Rielly’s grocery. Mr. O’Rielly tells Blue he needs a name befitting a working man, and Blue becomes J.T. for his real name is John Thomas Saunders. Warren’s story is mostly well-paced. I really enjoyed the short chapters, feeling like they kept up good momentum. There were only a few places where my interest lagged, but I was quickly reeled in by the ever-changing circum- stances of Blue/J.T.’s world. The ending surprised me. I thought I had everything figured out, but I didn’t. Through- out the narrative, Warren’s use of details authentic to the time period gives it a great deal of credibility. My parents were born during the Great Depression, so I feel a deep connection with that time period because of stories they would tell. There’s deep integrity to many of the book’s characters, which I really enjoyed, as well as some great life lessons to be learned from the course of J.T.’s life. I found this a very worthwhile reading experience. Recommended to anyone interested in historical fiction or an excellent story told through the eyes of fascinating characters. *Sandra Warren is a local NC author. This review reflects my own unbiased opinions.                                                                                                            Libby (4 Stars on Goodreads)
   Author Sandra Warren  
Once I started reading this book, it was difficult to put down! I found it fascinating learn about the Orphan Trains and definitely want to know more. The characters were engaging. I found myself rooting for them, crying at times, and even wanting to give them a reality check. The plot was suspenseful and had some well-woven twists to it...making me hold my breath till the end!                                                                                                                Denise (5 Stars on Amazon)                                 
One of the best books I have ever read, will read more of your books!           Janice (5 Stars on Goodreads)