Light Up Your Winter with Stories

Island Readers & Writers, a nonprofit based in Southwest Harbor, strives to instill a love of reading and learning among children living in coastal Maine. The organization shared a few of the many books on its “Light Up Your Winter with Stories” list. To learn more, visit


“Hello Hello,” by Brendan Wenzel (Preschool-Kindergarten)

“Hello Hello” is a playful exploration of fascinating animals. With illustrations that genuinely complement the words, kids and adults will enjoy spending time pondering each page. Brendan Wenzel, winner of the Caldecott Honor award, introduces us to some unusual, and, sadly, threatened species of animals with vibrant, eye-catching colors. Be sure to take note of the wonderful end pages and the listing of animals in the back to aid in further research.

            — Alison Johnson


“Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World,” by Ashley Herring Blake (Grades 4-7).

Storms are a theme in this tone-perfect tale about 12-year-old Ivy, who loses her home to a tornado, the attention of her parents to new twin brothers, and finally the notebook where she keeps her most closely held secret. Added to the tempest already roiling inside her are feelings she doesn’t understand for a girl in her class. Could it be a crush? Deftly written and perfectly paced, this novel of first love and family love is tender, feisty and relatable — just like its heroine.

                 — Melinda Rice


“Trell,” by Dick Lehr (Grades 6-10)

Ever since she was a baby, Trell’s father has been in prison for a murder she knows he did not commit. Now 13-year-old Trell, her mother and a hard-working public defender must reexamine every detail of the case to prove her father’s innocence. Based on an actual case in the late 1980s in Boston that author Dick Lehr covered as a reporter for the Boston Globe, “Trell” is a fictionalized yet gripping examination of the criminal justice system and the corruption that can lurk among it.

                     — Taylor Mace


“Dear Evan Hansen,” by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Grades 9 and up)

This novel debuted this past fall after the success of the Broadway musical of the same name. This is an excellent study of the complex connections between two teen boys, Evan and Conner, who are both on the periphery of their high school’s society.

Evan suffers from anxiety and cannot connect with his classmates, and Conner is a lonely bully. Each narrates their own perspective on life and interactions with their friends and families. The resulting story of deceit and redemption is compelling. In the process, the reader learns about the demons that often plague a bully, and the importance of interpersonal relationships. In places, the narrative features strong language, but the story is very well told.

                   — David Evans 

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