Review: The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do

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The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do
by Ashley Spires

My Rating:

Note: The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do will be released in May 2017 by Kids Can Press.


Lou is just an ordinary girl – one who loves to play with friends and go on adventures. That is, until the adventure is something new. When Lou’s friends want to climb a tree, Lou thinks of every excuse possible for staying on the ground. One reason in particular keeps her from trying: “I CAN’T climb the tree.” When Lou tries to climb, she learns that she really can’t climb. “Not yet, anyway.”

This book is a sweet and simple look at how saying “I can’t” makes us miss out on adventures. Adding a “yet” to that sentence inspires us to give things a try until we get closer to our goal. This book pairs nicely with Ashley Spire’s The Most Magnificent ThingSpires’ writing teaches kids that by trying and learning from our attempts, we can grow stronger and reach our goals.

Classroom Connections

I can’t wait to use this book with some of my 3rd grade kiddos. In a time where the world places so much pressure on kids to be “perfect,” this book takes some weight off kids’ shoulders and shows them to trust the journey. This book is perfect for introducing growth mindset in your classroom, or for a reminder of the power of “yet.”

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Kids Can Press. in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!


Review: Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood

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Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood
by Liesl Shurtliff

My Rating:

Note: Red will be released tomorrow by Random House Children’s. A link to preorder is included at the bottom of this review.


In my experience, kids and young adults love fractured fairy tales. There’s something exciting about taking a well-known story and flipping it on its head. (The success of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs comes to mind, as does the TV show Once Upon a Time.) I knew that Liesl Shurtliff had already established herself in this genre through her books Rump and Jack, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Red!

While extremely reminiscent of the classic Red Riding Hood, Red really does spin the story around in a creative and engaging way. Through lots of role reversals, Shurtliff creates a universe where we don’t know who to trust. That becomes a great thing as Red’s journey continues and we are left in suspense. In addition, Red herself isn’t quite as innocent as the classic heroine – she has a lot of spunk! Through connections to other classic tales like Beauty and the Beast, Goldilocks and more, Red fully establishes a fractured fairytale universe and immerses the reader in it.

Great strengths of Red include the balance between humor and moments of gravity. Shurtliff includes some hilarious scenes, but also has her heroine grapple with some really big questions. (As you know, I love books that ask big questions!) Both of these characteristics make the book an awesome fit for young YA readers, as well as adults who want to revisit some classic stories.

Classroom Connections

One of Red‘s strengths is its ability to fracture the typical fairy tale and reinvent classic characters. Students can compare the Red in the book to our classic Red Riding Hood, and use evidence from the texts to support students’ selection of character traits to describe the characters.

Students can also have a go at writing their own fractured fairy tales. While this story follows Red’s journeys, it gives glimpses into the lives of Goldilocks and Beauty. Students can use those glimpses as launching off points for their own fractured fairy tales.

Book Information
Title: Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood
Authors: Liesl Shurtliff
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Release Date: April 2016
Price: US $16.99
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Random House

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Random House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!